A bombshell report by CNN has revealed that the president’s meetings with Russia’s top diplomats led the CIA to extract its best source of information on Russia’s president.
Before his 2017 inauguration day, then-FBI Director James Comey gave then-president-elect Trump a “defensive briefing” about the threat of Russian blackmail—not knowing that he was in on the scheme—and then got fired in May 2017 for refusing to kill his investigation into Russian election interference, which became Special Counsel Mueller’s probe only eight days later.
Shortly before those events, the president held a highly unusual Oval Office meeting with Russia’s Ambassador and its Foreign Minister in which he discussed classified American intelligence, which convinced the CIA that it was time to save the life of its top source in Russia before Trump could burn him. CNN’s Jim Sciutto reports:
“In a previously undisclosed secret mission in 2017, the United States successfully extracted from Russia one of its highest-level covert sources inside the Russian government, multiple Trump administration officials with direct knowledge told CNN.
A person directly involved in the discussions said that the removal of the Russian was driven, in part, by concerns that President Donald Trump and his administration repeatedly mishandled classified intelligence and could contribute to exposing the covert source as a spy.
An extraction, or ‘exfiltration’ as such an operation is referred to by intelligence officials, is an extraordinary remedy when US intelligence believes an asset is in immediate danger.”
The CIA and the spokesman for its former director, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, both denied CNN’s report on the record.
President Trump’s total disregard for keeping secrets has only expanded since he told Russia’s two top diplomats about an Israeli intelligence operation in Syria against its mass-murdering autocratic rule Bashar al-Assad.
Just two weeks ago, Trump tweeted out classified satellite intelligence, which led amateur trackers to identify the secret spying asset used to photograph an Iranian missile launch. Once a spy satellite is known, a hostile nation can hide its activities from its view.
But the identities of the people who covertly feed information to America about hostile governments is generally considered the highest level of national security because a single slip up could lead to their deaths, and discourage others from helping the US in the future.
A former Republican Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee explained to CNN’s Sciutto exactly why it is so extremely difficult to come by a human intelligence source very close to an authoritarian dictator like Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to Alternet:
“‘In terms, the folks would understand … how difficult would it be for the U.S. to develop a source like that, given exactly the restrictions and difficulties you describe?’ asked [CNN] anchor Jim Sciutto.
‘Very, very difficult,” said [former Rep. Mike] Rogers (R-MI). ‘And the reason it’s called a denied area is because the countersurveillance activities in a place like Moscow are unbelievable. And I’ve been there many times, to look at those kinds of operations. And I will tell you, that it is always the concern of the intelligence services, first and foremost, for the security of their asset, the person that’s providing this information.'”
Vladimir Putin’s aggressive counterintelligence efforts has made Russia one of the most difficult places in the world to penetrate its government secrecy, as it was during most of the 20th century.
America’s intelligence agencies undertake the utmost precautions to save a human intelligence source who risks their life to aid America’s national security by giving information about nations like Russia.
President Trump told the top Russian Ambassadors secrets he had to know would compromise American national security.
Today’s reporting illustrates in bright red lines just how blind our national intelligence agencies have become to the Russian government’s true, hostile intentions. But sadly, it’s no surprise two and a half years into the Trump administration that our nation’s national security has been put in grave risk by the president’s personal malfeasance.
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Grant Stern is an Editor-At-Large for OccupyDemocrats and published author. His new Meet the Candidates 2020 book series is distributed by Simon and Schuster. He's also mortgage broker, community activist and radio personality in Miami, Florida., as well as the producer of the Dworkin Report podcast. Grant is also an occasional contributor to Raw Story, Alternet, and the DC Report. Find out more at grantstern.com.