The Daily Beast

GOP Deny, Downplay Questions About Russian Bounty Scandal


One of the few remaining areas of broad bipartisan consensus on Capitol Hill has been a tough policy toward Russia— a topic that frequently creates a stark contrast to President Trump, who has maintained personally warm ties to its leader, Vladimir Putin, and has generally followed behind Congress on Russia counter-measures.

But the cognitive dissonance between those things proved increasingly difficult to square on Tuesday for members of the GOP after reporting in the New York Times detailed that Trump was briefed on a Russian effort to place bounties on U.S. troops in Afghanistan. The report said that Trump was given response options in March but had not decided on one, instead appearing to let the issue fade.

Senate Republicans, who have shown a willingness to break with the president on foreign policy and on Russia in particular, responded to the news on Tuesday with a range of responses—skepticism, brush-asides, diatribes against the media and leakers—but few seemed to treat the story as especially legitimate or worthy of all the fuss, or as a red flag regarding Trump’s posture toward Moscow. 

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