Stay up to date with notifications from The Independent

Notifications can be managed in browser preferences.

As it happenedended1593299718

White House denies Trump briefed on 'Russia Afghanistan assassination plot'

New York Times claims 

Tom Embury-Dennis,Oliver O'Connell
Saturday 27 June 2020 08:21 BST
Trump can't explain what he'd do with a second term

The White House has denied reports that Donald Trump ignored a warning from US intelligence that the Russian military had offered bounties to Taliban-linked militants in Afghanistan to kill American troops and other coalition forces.

The New York Times reported the claim on Friday, triggering a storm of accusations that the president had failed to protect US and allied troops, including those from Britain.

Citing officials briefed on the matter, the Times said the US determined months ago that a Russian military intelligence unit linked to assassination attempts in Europe had offered rewards for successful attacks last year.

Islamist militants, or armed criminal elements closely associated with them, are believed to have collected some bounty money, the newspaper said. The White House, the CIA and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence initially declined requests from Reuters for comment on the report.

On Saturday afternoon, the White House denied Mr Trump had been briefed on the matter, but did not dispute that US troops were being targetted, something likely to give the story further life.

“The United States receives thousands of intelligence reports a day and they are subject to strict scrutiny. While the White House does not routinely comment on alleged intelligence or internal deliberations, the CIA Director, National Security Advisor, and the Chief of Staff can all confirm that neither the President nor the Vice President were briefed on the alleged Russian bounty intelligence," press secretary Kayleigh Mcenany said in a statement.

"This does not speak to the merit of the alleged intelligence but to the inaccuracy of the New York Times story erroneously suggesting that President Trump was briefed on this matter.”

See below to see how the drama played out:

Please allow the blog a moment to load


Good morning and welcome to The Independent's live coverage of all the latest developments in the world of US politics and Donald Trump. 

Tom.Embury-Dennis27 June 2020 08:55

White House silent on Trump cancelling weekend golf trip

The White House has cancelled Donald Trump's planned weekend at his Bedminster golf resort amid New Jersey's request that travellers who have visited states with coronavirus spikes self-quarantine for 14 days.

Mr Trump has recently visited Arizona, which has seen a surge in cases and hospitalisations, and a county in Wisconsin on Thursday that its state government says has a “high” Covid-19 activity level.

White House officials have declined to disclose the reason for why the trip was cancelled just a few hours before the president was scheduled to leave the White House on Marine One.

Read more:

Tom.Embury-Dennis27 June 2020 08:58

Judge orders release of more than 100 migrant children from imprisonment

A US court has ordered the release of more than 100 children held with their parents in immigration jails and denounced the Trump administration's prolonged detention of families during the coronavirus pandemic.

District Judge Dolly Gee's order applies to children held for more than 20 days at three family detention centres in Texas and Pennsylvania operated by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Some have been detained since last year.

Citing the recent spread of the virus in two of the three facilities, Judge Gee set a deadline of July 17 for children to either be released with their parents or sent to family sponsors.

The family detention centres “are 'on fire' and there is no more time for half measures”, she wrote.

Judge Gee's order said ICE was detaining 124 children in its centres, which are separate from US Department of Health and Human Services facilities for unaccompanied children that were holding around 1,000 children in early June.

The numbers in both systems have fallen significantly since earlier in the Trump administration because the US is expelling most people trying to cross the border, or requiring them to wait for their immigration cases in Mexico.

Judge Gee oversees a long-running court settlement governing the US government's treatment of immigrant children known as the Flores agreement. Her order does not directly apply to the parents detained with their children.

Gee's order says ICE can decline to release a child if there is not a suitable sponsor, the child's parent waives rights under the Flores agreement, or if there is a “prior unexplained failure to appear at a scheduled hearing”.

Associated Press

Tom.Embury-Dennis27 June 2020 09:07

Donald Trump cannot divert US military funds to pay for his long-touted walls on the US-Mexico border, a federal appeals court has ruled.

The 2-1 ruling by the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals said that a transfer of $2.5bn (£2bn) from military construction projects illegally sidestepped Congress, which has jurisdiction over the money.

The decision was a substantial win for a coalition of border states and environmental groups which have argued that using the funds for the wall is unlawful and that building the barrier poses ecological threats.

Read more:

Tom.Embury-Dennis27 June 2020 09:30

Chris Hayes, an influential US current affairs commentator, has for the first time called on Donald Trump to resign, citing the president's handling of coronavirus as “one of the worst governing failures in American history”. 

“No country on Earth this far into this pandemic that has bungled it this badly,” he says.

Tom.Embury-Dennis27 June 2020 09:56

   center no-repeat #999999;cursor:pointer;background-size: 9px 10px;top:-8px; border-radius: 2px;">↵

Facebook to label inflammatory posts from Trump and other politicians after advertisers boycott site

Mark Zuckerberg has announced that Facebook will start labelling inflammatory posts from president Donald Trump and other politicians, as America’s biggest companies suspend ads over the platform’s hate speech policies.

On Friday, Mr Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook, announced that the social media site will be updating its hate speech and misinformation policies, after more than one hundred companies joined a boycott against advertising on their platform.

Companies including Unilever, Verizon and Ben and Jerry’s announced that they would stop advertising on Facebook, as part of the Stop Hate for Profit campaign.

Read more: 

Tom.Embury-Dennis27 June 2020 10:00

Trump signs executive order 'to protect statues'

Donald Trump has signed an executive order threatening “long prison terms” as he continues to rail against widespread demonstrations to remove Confederate-era monuments and other statues across the US in the wake of renewed calls to dismantle symbols of white supremacy.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said on Twitter that “those who vandalise our monuments will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law”.

It was not immediately clear what’s in the order, as federal law already prohibits vandalising or destroying certain monuments punishable up to 10 years in prison. US Marshals could be deployed as security, according to reports.

Read more:

Tom.Embury-Dennis27 June 2020 10:15

Reporter at Trump rally contracts coronavirus

A journalist who attended President Donald Trump's rally in Tulsa last week said Friday he has tested positive for COVID-19.

Oklahoma Watch reporter Paul Monies said he was notified Friday of his positive diagnosis.

“I'm pretty surprised,” Monies wrote on Twitter. “I have zero symptoms (so far) and I feel fine. In fact, I ran 5 miles this morning.”

Monies said he was inside the rally for about 6 hours on Saturday at the BOK Center and that he wore a mask and mostly practiced social distancing, except for when he went to the concourse to get a snack. He said he was never close to the president.

An epidemiologist at the Oklahoma City-County Health Department who notified Monies of his positive result said it's difficult to determine if he contracted the coronavirus at the rally.

“I can't say definitively that I got it at the rally,” Monies said. “But it's someone I've been in contact with in the last two weeks.”

Associated Press

Tom.Embury-Dennis27 June 2020 10:35

Pence hails 'remarkable progess' on coronavirus as Covid-19 cases surge

Despite a surge in coronavirus cases in the Sun Belt region, Vice President Mike Pence on Friday bragged about what he called “remarkable progress” made by the Trump administration – even touting “rolling” retail sales as states re-open.

The vice president did acknowledge “rising cases in the southern states”, but he repeatedly said the administration's focus has been “to save lives.” That echoes Donald Trump, who on Thursday bragged about what he called America's best-in-the-world “mortality rate".

“But we still have work to do,” the VP said, calling on all Americans to do their part to help slow the disease's spread.

Read more:

Tom.Embury-Dennis27 June 2020 10:45

Judge orders former Trump adviser to report to prison next month

A federal judge on Friday ordered Roger Stone, Donald Trump's longtime friend and adviser, to report to prison by July 14 to begin his sentence after being convicted of seven criminal counts last year, granting him a 14-day extension over concerns about the coronavirus.

The 67-year-old veteran Republican operative and self-described “dirty trickster,” who lives in South Florida, had been scheduled to report to a federal prison in Jesup, Georgia, by next Tuesday. Florida is experiencing rising numbers of coronavirus infections.

Stone was found guilty by a jury last November of obstruction, witness tampering and lying to Congress under oath during its investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

US District Judge Amy Berman Jackson, who in February sentenced him to three years and four months in prison, granted the extension sought by Stone and ordered him placed in home confinement.


Tom.Embury-Dennis27 June 2020 10:52

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in