President Donald Trump said he never questioned Russian leader Vladimir Putin about US intelligence reports that Moscow paid the Taliban to kill American troops in Afghanistan, casting doubt on the reports in an interview.
Mr Trump has said he was not briefed on the matter before it emerged in news media in late June. He has called the reports a hoax and casts doubt on them.
"I have never discussed it with him," Trump said in an interview."
Russia has denied the reports.
Asked why he did not confront Putin on the issue in their call last Thursday, Trump told Axios, "That was a phone call to discuss other things, and frankly that's an issue that many people said was fake news."
He said he and the Russian president discussed nuclear nonproliferation in that phone call.
Trump made clear he did not believe the report.
"If it were true, I'd be very angry about it. But if you tell me they're doing it, I would certainly take that under consideration," he said. "I would respond appropriately."
National security adviser Robert O'Brien has said Trump was not verbally briefed on the Russian bounty intelligence because his CIA briefer concluded the reports were uncorroborated.
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