WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump confirmed in an interview released Wednesday that he didn’t discuss the intelligence about potential Russian bounties on U.S. troops in Afghanistan with Russian President Vladimir Putin when they spoke by phone last week.
“That was a phone call to discuss other things, and frankly, that’s an issue that many people said was fake news,” Trump said in an interview with Axios.
Asked who had said that the intelligence was fake news, Trump said, “I think a lot of people” including people from the Bush administration, some of whom he said are “not any friends of mine.”
Instead, Trump said, he and Putin discussed “numerous things” including nuclear proliferation.
The president also reiterated that he never saw the intelligence, even though it was reportedly in his written presidential brief. The New York Times first reported the intelligence. Trump previously called the information a “hoax.”
“No, it never reached my desk,” he said in the interview, adding that his aides didn’t think it was real.
Earlier this week, Trump wouldn’t say whether he had discussed the bounties with Putin.
Reacting to the Axios interview, Biden campaign spokesman Andrew Bates said that Trump “continues to turn his back on those who put their lives on the line for our country” and “it’s absolutely despicable.”