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Senators will have access to intelligence on Russian bounties on US troops

Senators will have access to intelligence documents related to reporting that Russia’s military intelligence unit, the GRU, offered bounties to Taliban militants to kill U.S. troops in Afghanistan. 

The broad access senators will have to classified documents that were previously reserved for members of the Senate Intelligence Committee reflects the intense concern building on Capitol Hill over a bombshell report published by The New York Times on Friday.

“I do understand that multiple documents … are being made available to senators in a secure room. I just got that note as I was coming over here,” said Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiOvernight Energy: Trump wants to open up 82 percent of Alaska reserve for drilling | Trump directs aid to Maine lobster industry crushed by tariffs | Conservation bill creates strange bedfellows Trump administration wants to open up 82 percent of Alaska reserve for drilling GOP warns against ramping down coronavirus testing MORE (R-Alaska), who said she would “hope” that senators receive a briefing.

“I think it’s important to understand the facts behind it,” she said.

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerWake up, America — see what’s coming Tim Scott shares racist and threatening messages he’s received over police reform bill Trump administration ending support for 7 Texas testing sites as coronavirus cases spike MORE (D-N.Y.) on Monday morning called for Director of National Intelligence John RatcliffeJohn Lee RatcliffeTop GOP lawmaker calls for answers from White House after report on Russian bounties on US forces Bolton asks court to dismiss DOJ suit, citing failure to state a claim DOJ seeks temporary restraining order blocking Bolton book release MORE and CIA Director Gina HaspelGina Cheri HaspelObama’s ‘rule of law’ hypocrisy Former CIA chief: Not ‘right’ for Haspel to applaud at State of the Union Schiff schedules public hearing with US intel chief  MORE to brief all 100 senators on reports of Russia offering bounties on U.S. troops. 

“We need to know whether or not President TrumpDonald John TrumpIntelligence suggests Russian bounties led to deaths of several US troops in Afghanistan: report Obama called Philonise Floyd before brother’s memorial service: NYT President Trump tries to cover his tracks by attacking the rule of law MORE was told this information, and if so, when,” Schumer said. 

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiBiden’s record-setting tax increases will take your money — and your job GOP committee chair: ‘It would help’ if Trump would wear a mask occasionally Democratic officials, governors push for nationwide mask mandate as administration defends state-by-state approach MORE (D-Calif.) sent a letter to Ratcliffe and Haspel on Monday asking them to brief all House members.

“The questions that arise are: was the president briefed, and if not, why not, and why was Congress not briefed,” she wrote.

The White House briefed House Republican lawmakers on the issue Monday and is expected to brief House Democrats on Tuesday morning.

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioGOP committee chair: ‘It would help’ if Trump would wear a mask occasionally Police reform in limbo after Senate setback On The Money: Trump, GOP clash over new round of checks | Dow sinks more than 700 points as COVID-19 surge shakes Wall Street | Senate Dems raise concerns about debit cards used for stimulus payments MORE (R-Fla.) told reporters Monday afternoon that he was not aware of any Senate briefings.

“We need to be very careful about how we discuss intelligence because if you’re not a regular consumer of it, as most people are not, you don’t understand how it works. The notion of a smoking gun and intelligence are rare,” he told reporters.

Rubio warned against jumping to conclusions because intelligence sometimes represents a best guess instead of a rock-solid fact. 

“It is important to be cautious on intelligence writ large because when it’s proven to not be accurate, it can lead to things like a war or other measures that proved to be counterproductive,” he said.

Sen. Ben SasseBenjamin (Ben) Eric SasseHouse Republican accuses Facebook, Twitter, YouTube of not doing enough to combat Chinese propaganda Schumer: GOP police reform bill ‘does not rise to the moment’ Nebraska Democrats call for their Senate nominee to drop out of race MORE (R-Neb.), a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, indicated Monday that the topic is not new to members of his panel. 

“There are a lot of us in SSCI who have already spent time on this topic in the past,” he said, using the acronym for the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. “The Congress and particularly the SSCI needs to do a lot more.”

Sasse clarified that “I’m not confirming any facts.”

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