CHICAGO (WLS) -- Illinois members of Congress from both political parties say the Trump Administration must act to protect U.S. troops in the wake of reports that Russia offered bounties to kill U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan.
But there was disagreement on the question of what President Trump knew and when he knew it, with Democratic U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley of Chicago saying Wednesday that a Congressional hearing will aim to get at the facts.
In an interview from his Capitol Hill office, Quigley told the I-Team that the House Intelligence Committee he sits on will have a full classified briefing within the next 24 hours on the reports of a covert Russian scheme to pay Taliban operatives bounties for killing U.S. soldiers and how the White House handled it.
"It is inconceivable to me that - the magnitude of this issue - he would not have been briefed," Quigley said of the president.
Multiple news reports have cited sources saying Trump was briefed in February on a Russian plot to pay bounties to the Taliban.
"The President of the United States is either not briefed on these things because people are afraid to tell him bad news, or they don't want to contradict his desire to appease Putin again and get Russia put back into the G8," Quigley said. "And obviously, I believe he was briefed and decided to do nothing."
The president tweeted that the reports were "a made up Fake News Media Hoax" aimed at slandering him.
But a Republican congressman from Illinois said he doesn't think it is a hoax.
"Look if I was president, I would have wanted to be briefed, if I was briefing the president I would want to brief him," said U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger, a military pilot who holds the rank of Lt. Colonel in the Air National Guard and represents a stretch of northern Illinois.
"But that's not a scientific decision. It's an art. So, this briefer had looked at this and said, There's conflicting intelligence I don't believe it's enough to raise to the President's level yet.' It was February 28 we're on the edge of a pandemic. So I don't necessarily fault that although there needs to be answers."
"If in fact this is true, and you know, it definitely appears to have some merit, then there's got to be some massive pushback to this, because this is completely unacceptable," Kinzinger said.
Despite their different political parties, both Quigley and Kinzinger say the American people deserve answers. And never to be lost in the political back and forth are at least three U.S. Marines killed in an Afghanistan bombing attack more than a year ago--deaths now under investigation as possible Russian hits--along with other similar deadly attacks on American service members in 2019.
"I think Congress needs to act and push the administration on a bipartisan, bicameral basis to do something to confront Russia," Quigley said.
"At this point in time the silence is deafening coming from Pennsylvania Avenue, we're hearing absolutely nothing at all from the White House."
IL congressmen Mike Quigley, Adam Kinzinger call for Trump action on Russian bounty report
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