The CIA is disputing part of a CNN report that said the U.S. removal of a Russian informant was driven in part by concerns that President Trump and his administration repeatedly mishandled classified intelligence and could have contributed to exposing the covert source as a spy.
“CNN’s narrative that the Central Intelligence Agency makes life-or-death decisions based on anything other than objective analysis and sound collection is simply false,” Brittany Bramell, CIA director of public affairs, told the network. “Misguided speculation that the President’s handling of our nation’s most sensitive intelligence—which he has access to each and every day—drove an alleged exfiltration operation is inaccurate.”
The source, who reportedly had high-level access within the Kremlin, was extracted by the U.S. sometime in 2017.
The Washington Post reported on Tuesday that the “exfiltration” occurred sometime after Mr. Trump disclosed classified information in a May 2017 Oval Office meeting with Russia’s foreign minister and ambassador, and that while the disclosure alarmed national security officials it was not the reason behind the decision to remove the asset.
Former intelligence officials also said there was no public evidence that Mr. Trump directly endangered the source, and other current officials “insisted” that media scrutiny of the agency’s sources alone was the impetus for the extraction, according to the New York Times.
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