House, Senate Leaders to Get Intelligence Briefing on Bounties

The Trump administration is arranging a closed-door briefing on Wednesday for the so-called Gang of Eight House and Senate leaders regarding reports that Russian operatives in Afghanistan offered bounties to kill American troops.

No specific time or location has been determined for the session, which would be conducted by U.S. intelligence officials, according to two people familiar with the matter.

The Gang of Eight is one avenue that Congress receives classified information from the executive branch. It includes Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House and Senate Minority Leaders Kevin McCarthy and Chuck Schumer, and the chairmen and ranking members of the House and Senate intelligence committees.

Earlier Tuesday, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff commented at a news conference that he believed the Gang of Eight should be given a briefing on the reports that Afghan militia were offered the bounties to killed U.S. forces and their allies.

But he echoed demands by other Democrats, including Pelosi, that a briefing also should be arranged for all House members, as well.

President Donald Trump has publicly shrugged off allegations in reports about the bounties and has yet to demand an investigation or threaten Russia with any consequences if the allegations are confirmed — even as lawmakers from both parties have demanded the administration hold Russia accountable if there is evidence that the bounty offers occurred.

The latest Russia episode is becoming a growing political crisis for a president who is trailing his Democratic opponent, Joe Biden, in polls and struggling to defend his handling of the resurgent coronavirus outbreak at the same time as nationwide protests against police brutality and racism continue.

— With assistance by Justin Sink

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