Bolton: U.S. should consider ‘very severe measures’ over reports of Russian bounties

Former national security adviser John Bolton on Sunday said the United States should consider “very severe measures” against Russia if reports are true that a Russian military intelligence unit offered bounties for Afghans to kill Americans.

“Underlining the word ‘if’ on whether it is true, I think you’ve got to consider a number of strong measures against Russia,” Bolton said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

The former official, who is making the rounds of TV networks while promoting his new book, criticized President Donald Trump’s tweet in response to The New York Times article, which broke on Friday.

“Nobody briefed or told me, @VP Pence, or Chief of Staff @MarkMeadows about the so-called attacks on our troops in Afghanistan by Russians, as reported through an ‘anonymous source’ by the Fake News @nytimes,” the president tweeted Sunday morning. “Everybody is denying it & there have not been many attacks on us.”

Russia has also denied the allegations.

Bolton said the story, if true, “is one of the most serious matters I think that has arisen in the Trump administration.”

“I’ve been puzzled over the tweet of the president saying, ‘I don’t know anything about this,’” he added. “The fact that the president feels compelled to tweet about the news story here shows that his fundamental focus is not the security of our forces, but whether he looks like he wasn’t paying attention.”

Speaking on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Bolton expanded on his point: “I think the answer may be precisely because active Russian aggression like that against the American service members is a very, very serious matter and nothing’s been done about it, if it’s true, for these past four or five months, so it may look like he was negligent but, of course, he can disown everything if nobody ever told him about it.”

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