WH does not confirm or deny Russia bounty reports

Russian bounty offers to Taliban militants are believed to have led to the death of at least one U.S. soldier in Afghanistan, according to U.S. intelligence, two American newspapers reported.

The New York Times reported U.S. intelligence officials believe at least one American military death stemmed from the bounties, citing two officials briefed on the matter.

The Washington Post reported late on Sunday that several American soldiers are believed to have died as a result of the Russian program, which the Kremlin has denied.

Reuters could not immediately confirm the reports.

Trump sought to cast doubt on the Russian bounty effort, saying on Sunday he was never briefed on the matter.

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany on Monday did not confirm or deny the reporting.

“There is no consensus within the intelligence community on these allegations, and in fact there are dissenting opinions with some within the intelligence community, with regards to the veracity of what’s being reported, and the veracity of the underlying allegations continue to be evaluated.”

The New York Times report on the Russian program on Friday cited unnamed officials as saying the intelligence finding was briefed to Trump and the National Security Council discussed the problem at an interagency meeting in late March.

McEnany said the Times report that Trump was briefed on the matter was false.

Four U.S. government sources familiar with intelligence reporting and analysis confirmed to Reuters the existence of classified U.S. intelligence reports alleging that a Russian military intelligence unit had offered bounties to Taliban-linked militants to kill U.S. and allied forces in Afghanistan.

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer on Monday demanded the top two U.S. intelligence officials provide an immediate briefing for lawmakers.

Pelosi writing, "The questions that arise are: was the President briefed, and if not, why not, and why was Congress not briefed?".

Republican Senator Todd Young on Monday expressed deep concern about the reports, and said if there was some veracity to them, Russia should not be invited to the next group of seven meetings, hosted by the U.S.