Jim Banks: ‘Certainly Possible’ Intelligence Swamp Leaked Russian Bounty Story to Keep U.S. in Afghanistan

Incoming General Scott Miller (L), command of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, US Army General Marchio (L) and outgoing U.S. Army General John Nicholson (R) stand during a change of command ceremony at Resolute Support in Kabul on September 2, 2018. - General Scott Miller took command of US …
WAKIL KOHSAR/AFP/Getty Images

Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN) told Breitbart News Tonight the New York Times story alleging a Russian military spy unit paying Taliban-linked militants to kill Americans is the swamp’s way of fighting back against President Donald Trump’s America First agenda, including putting an end to America’s longest war.

The New York Times reported on Friday a Russian military spy unit secretly offered bounties to Taliban-linked militias for killing U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

Banks, a veteran who served in Afghanistan and a member of the House Armed Services Committee, said that he had received a briefing from the White House on the Times’ story. He said that we might never know the truth about the New York Times story because the paper damaged national security officials’ ability to investigate the claim.

The Hoosier conservative noted that Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Director Gina Haspel released a statement saying that “initial tactical reports often require additional collection and validation.”

Banks told Breitbart News Tonight SiriusXM host Rebecca Mansour, “Gina Haspel, the CIA director, released a statement, released her first-ever statement, she’s never done this before, but she released a statement saying that the intelligence was not convincing enough that it rose to the point that they took it seriously that should brief the president about the alleged bounties on American troops or American civilians serving in Afghanistan.”

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He continued, “The article in the New York Times on Friday was designed as nothing more than a hit piece to damage the president as we get closer to Election Day. It’s part of the track record of the New York Times to do this, but the problem with this particular so-called piece of journalism is that this damages the ability of our intelligence officials to do their work, to investigate claims like these from sources like the sources that they have and because of that they might not ever know the facts because the New York Times exposed our Intelligence to the Russians, exposed important and valuable classified information about how we gather this type of intelligence. I’ve got a feeling that the New York Times, in a nutshell, endangered the ability of our intelligence officials ever to track down whether or not this was a true story.”

Mansour asked Banks if the New York Times article damages President Trump’s ability to end the decades-long conflict in Afghanistan. Banks noted in his reply America should be more focused on combatting the rising influence of China.

“To your point, it’s hit pieces like this that make it much harder for the president to do his job, to get out, to bring our troops home and end the longest war in American history, but also to identify the real threats of the day … the intelligence community spent the last four days focused on refuting this hit piece when they should be focused on the greatest existential threat we face in America today which is combatting the China threat,” Banks said.

Banks said Democrats would rather focus on the Russian collusion “hoax” to distract from former Vice President Joe Biden’s weaknesses, which includes the Hunter Biden-Burisma scandal and ignoring the rising threat of China.

“Democrats want to wear out this Russian-Trump collusion hoax because they want to make hay out of that to divert attention away from the biggest weakness of all from Joe Biden and Hunter Biden, the Hunter Biden corruption issue is that Obama record fo appeasing and turning a blind eye to the nefarious actions of China,” the Hoosier conservative explained. “They don’t want to talk about that; that’s why they want to bring out this tired old Russian narrative that the American people have long moved on from.”

Mansour then asked Banks, “Going back to the whoever, whatever, might be behind this leak, do you think it could possibly be someone within our intelligence community who doesn’t want us to get out of Afghanistan? Do you think that might be the reason behind it?”

Banks said it remains “possible” some person or people within the intelligence community leaked the information about the alleged Russian bounties to keep American troops in Afghanistan.

He said, “I think that’s certainly possible; you have many people in the national security establishment that built up their careers on issues like our involvement in Afghanistan or even our involvement or engagement towards Russia as well. This is where the swamp fights back.”

Banks added Trump is “getting close to substantially drawing down or pulling out altogether” from Afghanistan.

Banks noted once the president sets his mind on something, which might include fully withdrawing from Afghanistan, it is nearly impossible to stop him from achieving that goal.

“I don’t know that would be enough to stop this president; once he decides to do something and march down a path, it’s very difficult to stop him from getting done what he intends to do,” Banks said.

Breitbart News Tonight broadcasts live on SiriusXM Patriot channel 125 weeknights from 9:00 p.m. to midnight Eastern or 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Pacific.

Sean Moran is a congressional reporter for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter @SeanMoran3.

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