WASHINGTON, D.C. – Representative Adam Smith (D-Wash.), Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, today issued the following statement after news reports indicated that a Russian spy operation targeted coalition troops in Afghanistan, including bounties on American soldiers.

“Recent reports that a Russian military intelligence unit paid the Taliban to attack Americans and coalition partners are deeply concerning. The U.S. intelligence community reportedly informed the Trump administration of this assessment as early as late March. Acting on this information could have saved lives. Yet, President Trump claims he had no prior knowledge of the bounties that Russia placed on American soldiers. That excuse only gives rise to more questions. Why didn’t the President receive a briefing on such a highly sensitive subject? Was this information included in the Presidential Daily briefing? If not, why not? Was this information shared with our military leaders?  

“Those who serve our country in a combat zone voluntarily put themselves in harm's way. We must do everything we can to support them. If the reports are true, that the Administration knew about this Russian operation and did nothing, they have broken the trust of those who serve and the commitment to their families to ensure their loved one’s safety.

“It is imperative that the House Armed Services Committee receive detailed answers from the Department of Defense. The American people – and our service members – deserve to know the truth about what the White House knew about these Russian operations that may have directly resulted in the deaths of American service members. We must find out exactly what was known, and when it was known, to hold the appropriate Administration officials and the Russian government accountable.”