U.S. Rep. Michael Waltz, R-Fla., drew on his experience as the first Green Beret to serve in Congress and in the executive branch, to offer some insights on Monday on reports that Russia was offering bounties to the Taliban and other groups for killing U.S. military personnel.
Waltz took to the national airwaves on Monday, speaking with Bret Baier on Fox News.
The Florida congressman questioned the timing of the reports due to the looming presidential election.
“We’ve known for years that the Russians have been supporting the Taliban through arms, through weapons, through other means…so to me, this really smacks of partisan talking points of hearing Russia and the president and trying to make hay of that in an election year,” Waltz said.
A former aide to former Vice President Dick Cheney who served as counterterrorism adviser in President George W. Bush’s administration, Waltz talked about how intelligence moved through the executive branch.
“I served in the Bush White House for Vice President Cheney. Before something gets to the president’s desk, there will be a policy process. You have to make sure something is vetted and verified. Often, intelligence agencies don’t fully agree or want to check themselves – and that’s just proper due diligence on behalf of the president’s National Security staff,” Waltz said.
“I think it’s absolutely appropriate that these things are run to ground and you present the president with options beforehand, not just kind of throw this on his desk and then tell him: ‘We’ll get back to you,’” he added.
Still, if the intelligence is correct, Waltz agreed that Russia needs to be held accountable.
“If this is true, we absolutely need to run it to ground and there should be consequences for Moscow but at the same time, there are a host of actors supporting and getting involved in Afghanistan against our interests. One has to ask: Why now? Why are they making such an issue of it right on the heels of running into a national election? All of those things can be true at the same time: We can get to the bottom of whether this is true and take real action – but also question whether there’s partisan politics behind this,” Waltz said.
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