Trump brands reports of Russian bounties for killing US troops ‘fake news’

Trump brands reports of Russian bounties for killing US troops 'fake news'

President Donald Trump dismissed as "fake news" allegations that Russia offered bounties for killing US troops in Afghanistan.

He said news stories about the allegations were made up to "damage me and the Republican Party".

Politicians have been demanding answers over the allegations, and Democrats have accused Mr Trump of bowing to Russian President Vladimir Putin at the risk of US soldiers' lives.

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Trump holds Tulsa rally
TULSA, OK - JUNE 20: President Donald J. Trump speaks during a "Make America Great Again!" rally at the BOK Center on Saturday, June 20, 2020 in Tulsa, OK. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
Protesters march and protest near the BOK Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma on June 20,2020. - Hundreds of supporters lined up early for Donald Trump's first political rally in months, saying the risk of contracting COVID-19 in a big, packed arena would not keep them from hearing the president's campaign message. (Photo by SETH HERALD / AFP) (Photo by SETH HERALD/AFP via Getty Images)
Members of the National Guard stand in formation as protesters march and protest near the BOK Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma on June 20,2020. - Hundreds of supporters lined up early for Donald Trump's first political rally in months, saying the risk of contracting COVID-19 in a big, packed arena would not keep them from hearing the president's campaign message. (Photo by SETH HERALD / AFP) (Photo by SETH HERALD/AFP via Getty Images)
A woman hands out face masks to Trump supporters ahead of US President Donald Trump's campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma June 20,2020. - Hundreds of supporters lined up early for Donald Trump's first political rally in months, saying the risk of contracting COVID-19 in a big, packed arena would not keep them from hearing the president's campaign message. (Photo by SETH HERALD / AFP) (Photo by SETH HERALD/AFP via Getty Images)
Supporters of US President Donald Trump wait to enter the gates leading to the BOK Center ahead of his campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma June 20,2020. - Hundreds of supporters lined up early for Donald Trump's first political rally in months, saying the risk of contracting COVID-19 in a big, packed arena would not keep them from hearing the president's campaign message. (Photo by SETH HERALD / AFP) (Photo by SETH HERALD/AFP via Getty Images)
Supporters of US President Donald Trump enter the gates leading to the BOK Center ahead of his campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma June 20,2020. - Hundreds of supporters lined up early for Donald Trump's first political rally in months, saying the risk of contracting COVID-19 in a big, packed arena would not keep them from hearing the president's campaign message. (Photo by SETH HERALD / AFP) (Photo by SETH HERALD/AFP via Getty Images)
Supporters of Donald Trump wait to enter the gates leading to the BOK Center ahead of US President Donald Trump's campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma June 20,2020. - Hundreds of supporters lined up early for Donald Trump's first political rally in months, saying the risk of contracting COVID-19 in a big, packed arena would not keep them from hearing the president's campaign message. (Photo by SETH HERALD / AFP) (Photo by SETH HERALD/AFP via Getty Images)
TULSA, OK - JUNE 20: President Donald J. Trump arrives for a "Make America Great Again!" rally at the BOK Center on Saturday, June 20, 2020 in Tulsa, OK. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
TULSA, OK - JUNE 20: Supporters wait in lines before President Donald J. Trump arrives for a "Make America Great Again!" rally at the BOK Center on Saturday, June 20, 2020 in Tulsa, OK. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
TULSA, OK - JUNE 20: A supporter sits alone in the top sections of seating as Vice President Mike Pence speaks before President Donald J. Trump arrives for a "Make America Great Again!" rally at the BOK Center on Saturday, June 20, 2020 in Tulsa, OK. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
TULSA, OK - JUNE 20: People wear face masks and shields as they sell Trump Campaign merchandise before President Donald J. Trump arrives for a "Make America Great Again!" rally at the BOK Center on Saturday, June 20, 2020 in Tulsa, OK. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
TULSA, USA - JUNE 20: U.S. President Donald Trump meet his supporters at his ''Make America Great Again'' rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, United States on June 20, 2020. (Photo by Kyle Mazza/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
TULSA, USA - JUNE 20: U.S. President Donald Trump meet his supporters at his ''Make America Great Again'' rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, United States on June 20, 2020. (Photo by Kyle Mazza/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
TULSA, USA - JUNE 20: U.S. President Donald Trump meet his supporters at his ''Make America Great Again'' rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, United States on June 20, 2020. (Photo by Kyle Mazza/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
A Trump supporter walks by a police line in Tulsa, Oklahoma where Donald Trump held a campaign rally earlier on June 20, 2020. - Hundreds of supporters lined up early for Donald Trump's first political rally in months, saying the risk of contracting COVID-19 in a big, packed arena would not keep them from hearing the president's campaign message. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP) (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)
Police officers march towards the crowd where Trump supporters and anti-Trump protestors now roam together in Tulsa, Oklahoma where Donald Trump held a campaign rally earlier on June 20, 2020. - Hundreds of supporters lined up early for Donald Trump's first political rally in months, saying the risk of contracting COVID-19 in a big, packed arena would not keep them from hearing the president's campaign message. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP) (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at the BOK Center on June 20, 2020 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. - Hundreds of supporters lined up early for Donald Trump's first political rally in months, saying the risk of contracting COVID-19 in a big, packed arena would not keep them from hearing the president's campaign message. (Photo by Nicholas Kamm / AFP) (Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images)
TULSA, OKLAHOMA - JUNE 20: Supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump react as he concludes speaking at a campaign rally at the BOK Center, June 20, 2020 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Trump is holding his first political rally since the start of the coronavirus pandemic at the BOK Center today while infection rates in the state of Oklahoma continue to rise. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
A supporter wears a "It's OK to be White" shirt as he listens to US President Donald Trump speak during a campaign rally at the BOK Center on June 20, 2020 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. - Hundreds of supporters lined up early for Donald Trump's first political rally in months, saying the risk of contracting COVID-19 in a big, packed arena would not keep them from hearing the president's campaign message. (Photo by Nicholas Kamm / AFP) (Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at the BOK Center on June 20, 2020 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. - Hundreds of supporters lined up early for Donald Trump's first political rally in months, saying the risk of contracting COVID-19 in a big, packed arena would not keep them from hearing the president's campaign message. (Photo by Nicholas Kamm / AFP) (Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - US President Donald Trump arrives for a campaign rally at the BOK Center on June 20, 2020 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. - Hundreds of supporters lined up early for Donald Trump's first political rally in months, saying the risk of contracting COVID-19 in a big, packed arena would not keep them from hearing the president's campaign message. (Photo by Nicholas Kamm / AFP) / ALTERNATE CROP (Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images)
The upper section of the arena is seen partially empty as US President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at the BOK Center on June 20, 2020 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. - Hundreds of supporters lined up early for Donald Trump's first political rally in months, saying the risk of contracting COVID-19 in a big, packed arena would not keep them from hearing the president's campaign message. (Photo by Nicholas Kamm / AFP) (Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images)
A young supporter wears a Trump 2020 mask as he listens to US President Donald Trump speak during a campaign rally at the BOK Center on June 20, 2020 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. - Hundreds of supporters lined up early for Donald Trump's first political rally in months, saying the risk of contracting COVID-19 in a big, packed arena would not keep them from hearing the president's campaign message. (Photo by Nicholas Kamm / AFP) (Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images)
Supporters cheer as they listen to US President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at the BOK Center on June 20, 2020 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. - Hundreds of supporters lined up early for Donald Trump's first political rally in months, saying the risk of contracting COVID-19 in a big, packed arena would not keep them from hearing the president's campaign message. (Photo by Nicholas Kamm / AFP) (Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images)
Delano Frazir a "Black Lives Matter" protestor holds a sign in front of National Guards in Tulsa, Oklahoma where Donald Trump holds a campaign rally at the BOK Center on June 20, 2020. - Hundreds of supporters lined up early for Donald Trump's first political rally in months, saying the risk of contracting COVID-19 in a big, packed arena would not keep them from hearing the president's campaign message. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP) (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)
Protestors for "Black Lives Matter" hold a caricature of the president as they demonstrate in Tulsa, Oklahoma where Donald Trump holds a campaign rally at the BOK Center on June 20, 2020. - Hundreds of supporters lined up early for Donald Trump's first political rally in months, saying the risk of contracting COVID-19 in a big, packed arena would not keep them from hearing the president's campaign message. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP) (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)
National Guards form a line in front of "Black Lives Matter" protestors making rude gestures towards Trump supporters accross the line in Tulsa, Oklahoma where Donald Trump holds a campaign rally at the BOK Center on June 20, 2020. - Hundreds of supporters lined up early for Donald Trump's first political rally in months, saying the risk of contracting COVID-19 in a big, packed arena would not keep them from hearing the president's campaign message. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP) (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)
TULSA, OK - JUNE 20: Demonstrators stand in garbage at a security fence before President Donald Trump's campaign rally on June 20, 2020 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Trump is scheduled to hold his first political rally since the start of the coronavirus pandemic at the BOK Center while infection rates in the state of Oklahoma continue to rise. (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images)
TULSA, OKLAHOMA - JUNE 20: MyPillow founder Michael J. Lindell (L) greets people before the start of a campaign rally for U.S. President Donald Trump at the BOK Center, June 20, 2020 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Trump is holding his first political rally since the start of the coronavirus pandemic at the BOK Center on Saturday while infection rates in the state of Oklahoma continue to rise. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
TULSA, OKLAHOMA - JUNE 20: Eric Trump and his wife Lara Trump address the crowd gathered at a campaign rally for U.S. President Donald Trump at the BOK Center, June 20, 2020 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Trump is holding his first political rally since the start of the coronavirus pandemic at the BOK Center on Saturday while infection rates in the state of Oklahoma continue to rise. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
TULSA, OKLAHOMA - JUNE 20: A supporter sits in the upper seats during a campaign rally for U.S. President Donald Trump at the BOK Center, June 20, 2020 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Trump is holding his first political rally since the start of the coronavirus pandemic at the BOK Center on Saturday while infection rates in the state of Oklahoma continue to rise. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump waves as he steps off Air Force One at Tulsa International Airport on his way to his campaign rally at the BOK Center on June 20, 2020 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. - Hundreds of supporters lined up early for Donald Trump's first political rally in months, saying the risk of contracting COVID-19 in a big, packed arena would not keep them from hearing the president's campaign message. (Photo by Nicholas Kamm / AFP) (Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images)
TULSA, OKLAHOMA - JUNE 20: Supporters participate in a prayer during a campaign rally for U.S. President Donald Trump at the BOK Center, June 20, 2020 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Trump is holding his first political rally since the start of the coronavirus pandemic at the BOK Center on Saturday while infection rates in the state of Oklahoma continue to rise. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
A supporter of the police cheers towards officers at a check point before a campaign rally with US President Donald Trump at the BOK Center on June 20, 2020 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. - Hundreds of supporters lined up early for Donald Trump's first political rally in months, saying the risk of contracting COVID-19 in a big, packed arena would not keep them from hearing the president's campaign message. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP) (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)
TULSA, OKLAHOMA - JUNE 20: Supporters participate in the Pledge of Allegiance during a campaign rally for U.S. President Donald Trump at the BOK Center, June 20, 2020 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Trump is holding his first political rally since the start of the coronavirus pandemic at the BOK Center on Saturday while infection rates in the state of Oklahoma continue to rise. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
TULSA, OKLAHOMA - JUNE 20: Supporters participate in the Pledge of Allegiance during a campaign rally for U.S. President Donald Trump at the BOK Center, June 20, 2020 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Trump is holding his first political rally since the start of the coronavirus pandemic at the BOK Center on Saturday while infection rates in the state of Oklahoma continue to rise. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
TORRANCE, CA - JUNE 20: A woman turns away in frustration after arguing with a supporter of President Donald Trump at a pro-police rally as demonstrators across the nation protest racism and police brutality on June 20, 2020 in Torrance, California. The president has attracted criticism for threatening to use police tactics against protesters near his campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma today, his first since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, and for shunning coronavirus safety measures called for by healthcare professionals. COVID-19 cases are accelerating in Tulsa and in California, where Gov. Gavin Newsom this week issued a statewide order to wear face coverings. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
TULSA, OKLAHOMA - JUNE 20: Merchandise vendors wear masks while selling campaign gear during a rally for U.S. President Donald Trump at the BOK Center on June 20, 2020 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Trump is holding his first political rally since the start of the coronavirus pandemic at the BOK Center on Saturday while infection rates in the state of Oklahoma continue to rise. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
TULSA, OKLAHOMA - JUNE 20: Supporters wait for the start of a campaign rally for U.S. President Donald Trump at the BOK Center, June 20, 2020 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Trump is holding his first political rally since the start of the coronavirus pandemic at the BOK Center on Saturday while infection rates in the state of Oklahoma continue to rise. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
TULSA, OKLAHOMA - JUNE 20: Eric Trump attends a campaign rally for his father U.S. President Donald Trump at the BOK Center, June 20, 2020 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Trump is holding hold his first political rally since the start of the coronavirus pandemic at the BOK Center on Saturday while infection rates in the state of Oklahoma continue to rise. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 20:President Donald Trump walks in the rain toward Marine One after stopping to speak to the media on the South Lawn of the White House as he prepares to depart for a rally in Tulsa, OK, on June 20, 2020 in Washington, DC. The rally is Trump's first in months since the coronavirus lockdown and his campaign acknowledged that six staff members had tested positive for the virus during routine screening. (Photo by Pete Marovich/Getty Images)
Black Lives Matter protesters (R) face off with a supporter of US President Donald Trump near the entrance to a rally that US President Donald Trump will hold later in the evening at the BOK Center on June 20, 2020, in Tulsa, Oklahoma. - Hundreds of supporters lined up early for Donald Trump's first political rally in months, saying the risk of contracting COVID-19 in a big, packed arena would not keep them from hearing the president's campaign message. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP) (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)
TULSA, OK - JUNE 20: A Pro-conservative supporter displays a message on his shirt prior to a campaign rally for President Donald Trump at the BOK Center on June 20, 2020 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Trump is scheduled to hold his first political rally since the start of the coronavirus pandemic at the BOK Center on Saturday while infection rates in the state of Oklahoma continue to rise. (Photo by Michael B. Thomas/Getty Images)
TULSA, OK - JUNE 20: A Donald Trump supporter holds a sign in support prior to a campaign rally for President Donald Trump at the BOK Center on June 20, 2020 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Trump is scheduled to hold his first political rally since the start of the coronavirus pandemic at the BOK Center on Saturday while infection rates in the state of Oklahoma continue to rise. (Photo by Michael B. Thomas/Getty Images)
Tulsa Police take Sheila Buck into custody near an entrance to a security checkpoint for a rally with US President Donald Trump this evening at the BOK Center on June 20, 2020, in Tulsa, Oklahoma. - Hundreds of supporters lined up early for Donald Trump's first political rally in months, saying the risk of contracting COVID-19 in a big, packed arena would not keep them from hearing the president's campaign message. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP) (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)
TULSA, OKLAHOMA - JUNE 20: Supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump gather to attend a campaign rally at the BOK Center, June 20, 2020 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Trump is scheduled to hold his first political rally since the start of the coronavirus pandemic at the BOK Center on Saturday while infection rates in the state of Oklahoma continue to rise. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - People wait to attend a rally with US President Donald Trump this evening at the BOK Center on June 20, 2020, in Tulsa, Oklahoma. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP) (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)
TULSA, OKLAHOMA - JUNE 20: Veteran Richard Saul carries a sign that reads "Dump Trump" as a member of the Oklahoma National Guard stands nearby ahead of a U.S. President Donald Trump campaign rally at the BOK Center, June 20, 2020 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Trump is scheduled to hold his first political rally since the start of the coronavirus pandemic at the BOK Center on Saturday while infection rates in the state of Oklahoma continue to rise. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
TULSA, OK - JUNE 20: A Donald Trump supporter shows his socks that depict President Donald Trump prior to a campaign rally for President Donald Trump on June 20, 2020 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Trump is scheduled to hold his first political rally since the start of the coronavirus pandemic at the BOK Center on Saturday while infection rates in the state of Oklahoma continue to rise. (Photo by Michael B. Thomas/Getty Images)
TULSA, OKLAHOMA - JUNE 20: Supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump gather to attend a campaign rally at the BOK Center, June 20, 2020 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. President Trump is scheduled to hold his first political rally since the start of the coronavirus pandemic at the BOK Center on Saturday while infection rates in the state of Oklahoma continue to rise. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
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Mr Trump tweeted on Wednesday that he had not been briefed on intelligence assessments that Russia offered bounties because there was not corroborating evidence.

Those intelligence assessments were first reported by The New York Times, then confirmed by US intelligence officials and others with knowledge of the matter.

"The Russia Bounty story is just another made up by Fake News tale that is told only to damage me and the Republican Party," Mr Trump tweeted.

"The secret source probably does not even exist, just like the story itself."

The president's national security adviser, Robert O'Brien, said the intelligence was not brought to the president's attention initially because it was unverified and there was no consensus among the intelligence community.

Mr O'Brien insisted that the CIA and Pentagon did pursue the lead and briefed international allies.

But he echoed the recent White House talking point faulting not Russia but government leakers and the media for making the matter public.

He told Fox & Friends that he had prepared a list of retaliatory options for Trump if the intelligence was corroborated.

United States China
Robert O'Brien (Ross D. Franklin/AP)

"We had options ready to go," said Mr O'Brien.

"It may be impossible to get to the bottom of it."

Mr Trump has been under pressure from politicians on Capitol Hill to address the reports.

Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and a small group of other House Democrats met with White House officials as Mr Trump downplayed the allegations.

The Democrats questioned why Mr Trump would not have been briefed sooner and pushed White House officials to have the president make a strong statement about the matter.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, one of the Democrats who attended the briefing, said it was "inexplicable" why Mr Trump will not say publicly that he is working to get to the bottom of the issue and why he will not criticise Mr Putin.

President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin (Susan Walsh/AP)
President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin (Susan Walsh/AP)

He said Mr Trump's defence that he had not been briefed was inexcusable.

"Many of us do not understand his affinity for that autocratic ruler who means our nation ill," Mr Schiff said.

Representative Mikie Sherrill, a Democrat freshman and former Navy helicopter pilot and Russia policy officer, said White House chief of staff Mark Meadows briefed the group.

She said the Democrats told the White House briefers that the president should make a statement.

"These are very concerning allegations and if they're true, Russia is going to face repercussions," Ms Sherrill said.

"We really pushed that strongly in the meeting."

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