US President Donald Trump's denial of media reports that he was briefed by intelligence officials of an alleged conspiracy between Russia and the Taliban over the killing of US troops in Afghanistan is "remarkable", former National Security Advisor (NSA) John Bolton said on Sunday (local time).
"It is pretty remarkable the President's going out of his way to say he has not heard anything about it. One asks, why would he do something like that?" Bolton said during an appearance on the NBC News broadcaster.
On Friday, the New York Times cited unnamed government sources who said that Trump was presented with an intelligence report that alleged that Moscow may have offered bounties to the Taliban for the killing of US soldiers.
Trump on Sunday denied ever being briefed on this matter, adding that Vice President Mike Pence and Chief of Staff Mark Meadows were also not given information about the allegations. The President slammed the newspaper for spreading what he called fake news.
In a separate appearance on the CNN broadcaster on Sunday, Bolton said that Trump's reaction showed that he did not prioritise the security of US troops.
"The fact that the President feels compelled to tweet about the news story here shows that what his fundamental focus is, is not the security of our forces, but whether he looks like he was not paying attention. So he is saying well nobody told me, therefore you cannot blame me," Bolton said.
The Russian Embassy in the United States has refuted the New York Times' allegations and called on the Trump administration to take action after the diplomatic mission received threats in the aftermath of the story being published.
The Taliban has also denied the newspaper's accusations, adding that they were an attempt at obstructing the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan.