Critics erupted Saturday after an explosive New York Times story asserting that Russian President Vladimir Putin secretly offered a bounty to Afghanistan militants for American soldiers they killed — and that Donald Trump knew about it.
Both the White House and Putin denied the story Saturday. But it was concerning enough that several critics spoke out. The hashtag “Tre45on” — using 45 from the 45th president — was trending nationally on Twitter in reaction to the story Saturday.
Democratic Presidential Candidate Joe Biden said Saturday that if true, the report is a “truly shocking revelation.”
Not only has Trump allegedly “failed to sanction or impose any kind of consequences on Russia for this egregious violation of international law, but Donald Trump has also continued his embarrassing campaign of deference and debasing himself before Vladimir Putin,” Biden said.
Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) called Trump’s alleged behavior “traitorous.”
The Times reported Friday that Trump was informed by U.S. intelligence back in March that a Russian military intelligence unit offered rewards to Islamist militants last year for successful attacks on American and coalition troops. Some bounty money was paid, American intelligence believed, according to the Times.
Despite being informed of the situation, Trump took no action, sources told the Times. Not only that, but he offered to invite Putin to attend the G-7 Summit in the U.S. in September, despite the strong objections of Canada and Britain, the Kremlin reported this month.
Sources later also confirmed the story to The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal.
Everyone in this picture is a patriot, with one exception. @realDonaldTrump apparently knew Putin paid bounties to militants to kill US troops & POTUS did nothing. Actually, it was worse than nothing. Trump last month invited Putin to the G7 summit. Traitorous behavior by Trump. pic.twitter.com/bIaQPvh8Jz
— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) June 27, 2020
Veteran journalist Dan Rather indicated the story was not out of the realm of possibility, given Trump’s mysterious slavish devotion to Russia’s president for reasons “ranging from craven to treasonous.”
Reporters are trained to look for patterns that are suspicious. And time and again one stands out with Donald Trump. Why is he so slavishly devoted to Putin? There is a spectrum of possible answers, ranging from craven to treasonous. One day I hope and suspect we will find out.
— Dan Rather (@DanRather) June 27, 2020
Former Trump friend and short-time White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci demanded Trump step down, and called him a “puppet” of Putin.
He is a puppet.
— Anthony Scaramucci (@Scaramucci) June 27, 2020
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany denied in a press briefing that Trump was informed of the bounty. “The CIA Director, national security adviser, and the chief of staff can all confirm that neither the president nor the vice president were briefed on the alleged Russian bounty intelligence,” McEnany said.
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This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.