Trump was briefed that China sought to pay non-state actors to attack US forces in Afghanistan
The intelligence, which will be declassified by the Trump administration, was provided to the President in his daily brief on December 17, the official said. His national security adviser Robert O’Brien discussed the information with the President that same day, the official said.
Trump has yet to publicly call Russia out on the issue.
While it’s unclear whether President-elect Joe Biden has seen the intelligence, he would have had access to the same intelligence since he receives the President’s Daily Brief.
A Biden transition official told CNN that while they would not speak to the alleged intelligence reporting, nor the motivation behind “the release of what is reported to be uncorroborated information,” the President-elect “has no greater concern than the safety of our service members” and will hold to account anyone who endangers Americans.
“Our teams will seek to learn as much as we can about these allegations from the outgoing administration, and this is another illustration of why we need full cooperation, including from the Department of Defense,” the official added, referring to the contentious transition process between incoming Biden and outgoing Trump defense officials.
The White House didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
News of China offering cash for attacks on US forces comes as China awaits whether Biden will embrace Trump’s more punitive policies towards the nation or move to reset relations between Washington and Beijing.
Diplomacy during the Obama-Biden administration was guided for the most part by attempts at cooperation with China, rather than confrontation. But there is evidence that Biden’s views have shifted in recent years in line with the changing mood in Washington, where Beijing is increasingly viewed not as America’s potential partner, but as its primary rival.
Biden’s campaign website slams technology companies “facilitating repression in China,” and promises foreign policy “pressuring China — the world’s largest emitter of carbon — to stop subsidizing coal exports and outsourcing their pollution to other countries.”
“To win the competition for the future against China or anyone else, we must sharpen our innovative edge and unite the economic might of democracies around the world to counter abusive economic practices,” it states.
A Biden campaign ad in June accused Trump of getting “played” by China. And during the Democratic primaries in February, Biden referred to Chinese President Xi Jinping as a “thug,” and said that Beijing had to “play by the rules.”
This story has been updated with additional background information.
CNN’s Ben Westcott, Paul LeBlanc, Nick Paton Walsh, Veronica Stracqualursi, Radina Gigova, Barbara Starr, Devan Cole and Sarah Westwood contributed to this report.