WASHINGTON — Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden slammed President Donald Trump on Saturday for his inaction in response to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s reported efforts to offer bounties to Afghan militants to kill U.S. and allied troops.
“Donald Trump has continued his embarrassing campaign of deference and debasing himself before Vladimir Putin,” Biden said Saturday at a Asian and Pacific Islander American Vote virtual town hall. “He had has this information, according to the (New York) Times, and yet he offered to host Putin in the United States and sought to invite Russia to rejoin the G7.”
It was Biden’s first public appearance since the newspaper reported on Friday that Trump had known for months about that U.S. officials’ conclusion that a Russian military intelligence unit had offered to reward militants for killing members of coalition forces in Afghanistan.
Trump hasn’t responded to the Times report, and relevant U.S. government agencies declined to comment to the paper.
The former vice president also went after Russia’s leader, saying “there is no bottom to the depth of Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin’s depravity.”
If the Times report is accurate, Trump’s reaction amounts to “worse than nothing,” Biden added. “His entire presidency has been a gift to Putin, but this is beyond the pale. It’s a betrayal of the most sacred duty we bear as a nation — protect and equip our troops when we go into harm’s way.”
The “betrayal” applies to military families as well, said Biden, invoking his own experience as a father who sent his son Beau to Iraq a decade ago. “I’m disgusted on behalf of those families whose loved ones are serving today.”
Members of the military should “never, never, never face a threat like this, with their commander-in-chief turning a blind eye to a foreign power, putting a bounty on their heads. If I’m president, this and so many other abuses will not stand.”
If he’s elected, Biden said, “Vladimir Putin will be confronted and we’ll impose serious costs on Russia.”
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