Washington (CNN) In response to reports that Russia offered bounties to Taliban fighters to kill US troops in Afghanistan, the White House has denied that President Donald Trump was “personally briefed” on the matter, claiming that the intelligence “wasn’t verified.”
But a US official familiar with the latest information told CNN on Monday that intelligence about the Russian bounty was included in the President’s Daily Briefing (PDB) sometime in the spring. The written document includes the intelligence communities’ most important and urgent information. On Monday night, the New York Times reported that the information was included in a written briefing to the President in late February.
Trump is not known to read his daily briefing, and instead prefers an oral briefing a few times a week.
These latest revelations come as numerous former senior intelligence officials are pushing back on the White House denials, saying it was “absurd,” “ridiculous,” and “inconceivable” that the President would not have been briefed on such critical intelligence that potentially put US soldiers in harm’s way.
The White House is considering a massive overhaul at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as the Trump administration tries to pin the blame on the agency for the bungled U.S. response to the coronavirus pandemic, according to a report. The CDC would undergo a performance review, multiple senior administration officials told Politico. The audit would likely highlight several failures, such as the inability to deploy working tests in the early months of the pandemic.
White House staffers have discussed narrowing the CDC’s mission or adding political appointees, Politico said. The goal, one official said, would be to make the agency more “nimble” and “responsive,” according to Politico. Over the last few months, President Donald Trump has been trying to deflect criticism of his response to the outbreak and could be looking for an entity beyond China to blame.
President Trump has told aides he is largely supportive of sending Americans another round of stimulus checks, believing the payments will boost the economy and help his chances at reelection in November, according to three people aware of internal administration deliberations.
However, leading congressional Republicans and some senior White House officials remain skeptical of sending more checks, creating a rift within conservative circles that could have significant consequences for the stimulus package set to be taken up by lawmakers in July. The White House has not officially taken a position on the matter.
Kevin Hassett, who returned to the White House as an unpaid volunteer in March, said in an interview that his departure is in line with the administration’s initial plan when he was brought back. Hassett said his agreement was to return to the White House for about 90 days, and he has already stayed for more than that amount of time.
But Hassett’s upcoming departure — first reported by Axios — could alarm critics who worry that the White House lacks respected economic officials to guide the nation through the economic calamity caused by the virus.
Larry Kudlow, the former CNBC commentator who is now director of the White House National Economic Council, has drawn ire this month for denying the existence of systemic racism in the United States.
The Justice Department filed a suit Tuesday seeking to block the release of a book by former White House national security adviser John Bolton, asserting that his much-anticipated memoir contains classified material.
The moves sets up legal showdown between President Trump and the longtime conservative foreign policy hand, who alleges in his book that the president committed “Ukraine-like transgressions” in a number of foreign policy decisions, according his publisher.
“The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir,” is due to go on sale June 23, and has already been shipped to distribution centers across the country.
The civil suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, accuses Bolton of breach of contract by violating his nondisclosure agreement.
The legal action was necessary, the complaint says, in order “to prevent Defendant John R. Bolton, a former National Security Advisor, from compromising national security by publishing a book containing classified information—in clear breach of agreements he signed as a condition of his employment and as a condition of gaining access to highly classified information and in clear breach of the trust placed within him by the United States Government.”