U.S. President Donald Trump told the Axios news site that he did not discuss with Russian President Vladimir Putin an alleged Russian plot to pay militants for attacks on American and coalition forces in Afghanistan.
Trump, in an excerpt of the interview released Wednesday, said he discussed “other things” with Putin in a phone call last week and reiterated his dismissal of the bounty allegations.
“It never reached my desk. You know why? Intelligence, they didn’t think it was real. They didn't think it was worthy. If it reached my desk I would have done something about it,” Trump said.
U.S. defense and intelligence officials have long been concerned about Russian interference in Afghanistan, complaining repeatedly that Moscow has been providing the Taliban with weapons and training.
A Pentagon report released July 1, while making no mention of the alleged bounties, warned Russian involvement is growing.
In his interview with Axios, Trump claimed “the last thing that Russia wants to do is to get too much involved with Afghanistan.”