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Russian bounties: Pentagon vows ‘action’ if intel confirmed

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Top Pentagon officials pledged Thursday to “take action” if the US military could corroborate intelligence suggesting Moscow paid militants linked to the Taliban to kill US soldiers in Afghanistan.

General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Defense Secretary Mark Esper spoke before a congressional committee as the Trump administration comes under pressure to explain media reports claiming the president was briefed on the intelligence — but did nothing in response.

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Milley said the information was “not corroborated.”

“We’ll get to the bottom of it. We are going to find out if, in fact, it’s true. And if it is true, we will take action,” he continued, without specifying what kind of action might be taken.

Washington has known for years that Russia has been supporting the Afghan insurgents, including through arms shipments, Milley said.

But, in the case of the Russians, “we do not have concrete corroborating evidence, intelligence to show directing. That’s a big difference,” he said.

“All the defense intelligence agencies have been unable to corroborate that report,” Esper agreed.

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Even so, he added: “The commanders take all reports seriously, regardless of the degree of credibility or confidence.”

The New York Times, followed by other US media, first reported on the intelligence last month.

The White House has said President Donald Trump was not briefed on the intelligence because it was unverified.

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But the Times, citing multiple officials, reported the intelligence was included in the written presidential daily brief back in February.

The newspaper reported that US intelligence officers and special forces in Afghanistan began raising the alarm as early as January, and that the National Security Council held an interagency meeting in late March to discuss possible responses — but the White House did not authorize any action.

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Russia and the Taliban have denied the claims.

The scandal comes with Trump trying to withdraw troops from conflict-torn Afghanistan — one of the Taliban’s key demands — and end America’s longest war.


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WATCH: Arizona man throws tantrum about masks — and his son has to pick him up and carry him out of the store

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Video posted online purports to show a man being carried out of a store in Tucson, Arizona after a loud rant against wearing masks.

"People won't learn, these people won't learn," a man in a blue shirt, shorts and sunglasses is heard saying, to nobody in particular.

"You're a bunch of idiots wearing masks, you know it's not real," he shouted.

"Look at you fools, you got a f*cking doily on your face. You ret*rd, you look like you f*cking got it off your mom's countertop," he continued.

At thq5 point, a much larger man with a mask over his beard approached the anti-mask activist.

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2020 Election

Trump campaign dispatches Pence to shore up Mormon support — after harsh criticism from Mitt Romney and Jeff Flake: report

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The president's 2020 election campaign continues to play defense in Arizona, a once reliably-Republican state.

"President Donald Trump's reelection campaign is looking to shore up support among a specific population of Arizonans: members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints," the Arizona Republica reported Monday. "Vice President Mike Pence is coming to Mesa Tuesday to help launch a 'Latter-day Saints for Trump' coalition in what appears to be a late-in-the-game play to win over LDS voters, who tend to vote Republican but hold values that clash with some of the president's."

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2020 Election

Here’s how Trump created a ‘significant threat’ to his re-election by failing on coronavirus stimulus

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Politico on Monday reported on how Donald Trump may have imperiled his 2020 presidential campaign by failing to reach a deal with Congress on the next round of stimulus.

"After a spring and summer bolstered by cash infusions from the federal government of more than $3 trillion, the U.S. economy may have to sink or swim this fall with a relative trickle of support — presenting a significant threat to President Donald Trump’s standing as he heads into a compressed reelection campaign already trailing in the polls," Politico's Ben White reported.

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