'I'm So Sorry This Man Is Your President': Rep. Ruben Gallego Condemns Trump Over Taliban Bounties Report
On Friday, the New York Times reported that Russia had been offering cash payments to members of the Taliban for killing American troops in Afghanistan — and that the Trump administration knew about this as early as March.
Arizona Democratic U.S. Congressman Ruben Gallego, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, spoke on MSNBC Saturday demanding answers.
"I just want to apologize to all our members of the military," Gallego said, visibly holding back tears. "I’m so sorry this man’s your president. This is not how it should be.”
Gallego, himself an Iraq War veteran, says the allegations — if true — are just another example of Russian aggression directed at the United States.
"Russia is a bully. It’s an aggressor. Given the opportunity they will destroy our country like they have tried to do internally," he said.
Gallego was sharply critical of the White House. The New York Times investigation said President Donald Trump had been briefed on the issue and offered a "menu" of potential responses. The White House denies this.
"Nobody briefed or told me, [Vice President Mike] Pence, or Chief of Staff [Mark Meadows] about the so-called attacks on our troops in Afghanistan by Russians, as reported through an 'anonymous source' by the Fake News (New York Times)," the President tweeted early Sunday morning.
Nobody briefed or told me, @VP Pence, or Chief of Staff @MarkMeadows about the so-called attacks on our troops in Afghanistan by Russians, as reported through an “anonymous source” by the Fake News @nytimes. Everybody is denying it & there have not been many attacks on us.....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 28, 2020
If that tweet is true, and no senior White House officials were briefed, that should raise red flags too, said Wyoming Republican Rep. Liz Cheney. "The White House must explain ... Why weren't the president or vice president briefed? Was the info in the (presidential daily briefing)? Who did know and when? What has been done in response to protect our forces and hold Putin accountable? " she tweeted.
If reporting about Russian bounties on US forces is true, the White House must explain:— Liz Cheney (@Liz_Cheney) June 28, 2020
1. Why weren’t the president or vice president briefed? Was the info in the PDB?
2. Who did know and when?
3. What has been done in response to protect our forces & hold Putin accountable?
Gallego said these revelations further highlight a common criticism of the President: that he's in it for his own interests.
"The president needs to put his personal wants, which is Russian help in the election, out of his decision process, and truly care for the United States," Gallego said.
He called on the administration to respond with purpose and protect American lives overseas.
"Russia does not understand being soft. We need to punish Russia and we need to punish them hard," he said. "They need to absolutely be disinvited from the G7. Putin should not be stepping one foot on our soil until we know exactly what’s happening here."