Trump Rips NYT’s ‘Russian Bounty’ Story, Says ‘Secret Source Probably Doesn’t Even Exist’

Officials suggest fake news was designed to undermine Trump's efforts to broker a peace deal with Taliban

Image Credits: SAUL LOEB / Contributor / Getty.

US President Donald Trump has again attacked the “discredited” New York Times over its disputed story that Russia offered bounties for the killing of US troops in Afghanistan, blasting the story as a “fake news tale”.

In a tweet on Wednesday morning Trump said the story was made up to damage him and the Republican Party.

“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 president wrote.

“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!”

In a follow-up tweet, Trump referenced the Pentagon assessment of the bounties story which found that there was “no corroborating evidence to back reports”. He asked if Americans still didn’t “understand that this is all a made up Fake News Media Hoax started to slander me and the Republican Party.” The president also reiterated that he had not been briefed on the matter because it “did not rise to that level.”

The New York Times articles on the alleged bounties rely on quotes from anonymous sources. In a new article, published Tuesday, the paper said that “electronic data showing large financial transfers from a bank account controlled by Russia’s military intelligence agency to a Taliban-linked account” was intercepted by US spies. The news outlet provided no evidence of the alleged electronic transfer.

Russian officials have vociferously refuted the allegations since the reports first emerged last week, with the Russian Foreign Ministry calling the story’s claims “nonsense”.

Officials also suggested that the articles may be part of a drive, from elements of the US intelligence community, to undermine Trump’s efforts to broker a peace deal with the Taliban and to withdraw US troops from Afghanistan.

Senior Republican lawmakers also expressed skepticism over the claims, while senior Democrats used the reports as an excuse to call for fresh sanctions against Moscow.

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