Last week, President Donald Trump finally heard the news that the Russian government was giving cash to Afghanistan's Taliban forces to murder American soldiers.
Initially, he began with Step one in the Trump list of processing a scandal: denial.
"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. Everybody is denying it & there have not been many attacks on us. Nobody's been tougher on Russia than the Trump Administration. With Corrupt Joe Biden & Obama, Russia had a field day, taking over important parts of Ukraine - Where's Hunter? Probably just another phony Times hit job, just like their failed Russia Hoax. Who is their 'source'?" tweeted Trump on June 28.
Nobody briefed or told me, @VP Pence, or Chief of Staff @MarkMeadows about the so-called attacks on our troops in A… https://t.co/jEF5MAnVmZ— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump)1593343698.0
Step two in the list of Trump processing a scandal is to call it fake or a hoax.
"The Russia Bounty story is just another made up by Fake News tale that is told only to damage me and the Republican Party. The secret source probably does not even exist, just like the story itself. If the discredited @nytimes has a source, reveal it. Just another HOAX!" Trump tweeted on July 1.
The Russia Bounty story is just another made up by Fake News tale that is told only to damage me and the Republican… https://t.co/x2I35nc8Aq— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump)1593601761.0
Predictably, the truth was revealed, confirming everything the president said was wrong.
Now it's being revealed that Defense Secretary Mark Esper confirmed that he got a briefing on the "hoax."
"Esper also made clear that he has not seen intelligence that corroborates claims that American troops were killed as a result of the 'bounty' payments, walking a delicate line between acknowledging a well-known threat and potentially clashing with the president," said CNN.com.
He joined Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley on Capitol Hill, revealing knowledge of the intelligence on the scandal.
"It was clear that both men attempted to carefully navigate questions from lawmakers, but Esper admitted exercising particular caution while addressing inquiries about whether he had been briefed on the matter and when," said CNN.
"We're going to get to the bottom of all that, but I can assure the families that the force protection of our force is -- not only for me, but for every commander all the way down the line -- that's the number one priority for every one of us. Absolutely," Milley told the members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
It only adds to another example of experts in the Trump administration contradicting the commander in chief.