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Exclusive: US removes top spy from Russia in 2017



A person directly involved in the discussions said that the removal of the Russian was partly caused by fears that President Donald Trump and his administration had repeatedly misclassified classified intelligence and could have contributed to the discovery of a hidden source as a spy. [19659002] The decision to make the extraction came shortly after a meeting in May 2017 at the Oval Office, at which Trump discussed highly classified intelligence with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and then-Russian Ambassador to the United States Sergei Kislyak. ISIS intelligence in Syria was provided by Israel.

The disclosure of information to Russians by the president, though not specifically about the Russian spy, prompted intelligence officials to resume earlier discussions about the potential risk of exposure, according to a source directly involved in the matter.

At that time, then CIA Director Mike Pompeo told other top Trump administration officials that there was too much information about a hidden source known as an asset. The extraction or "exfiltration" of such an operation, mentioned by intelligence officials, is an exceptional remedy when US intelligence believes an asset is in imminent danger.

An American official stated that prior to the covert operation, there was media speculation about the presence of such a hidden source and such cover or public speculation posed a safety risk to anyone who suspected that he suspected the government. This official did not identify public reporting in that sense at the time of this decision, and CNN could not find a related reference in media reports.

Asked for comment, Brittany Bramel, CIA Director of Public Affairs, told CNN: "CNN's story that the Central Intelligence Agency is making a life or death decision based on anything other than objective analysis and sound collection, is simply false.Mistak speculation that the president is handling our country's most sensitive intelligence ̵

1; to which he has access every day – Allow a suspected expulsion operation is inaccurate. "

Spokesman for Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declined to comment.White House Stephanie Grisham stated that "CNN reporting is not only incorrect but has the potential to put life at risk."

Widespread concerns about Trump in the intelligence community

The removal happened in time of great concern in the intelligence community about the mismanagement of intelligence by Trump and his administration, these concerns were described to CNN by five sources who have served in the Trump administration, intelligence agencies and Congress.

These concerns continued to grow in the aftermath of Trump's Oval Office meeting with Kislyak and Lavrov. Weeks after the decision to extract the spy, in July 2017, Trump met privately with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G20 summit in Hamburg and took the unusual step of confiscating the translator's remarks. Subsequently, intelligence officials reiterated concern that the president may have discussed misclassified intelligence with Russia, according to an intelligence source who knows the intelligence community's response to the Trump-Putin meeting.

Knowledge of the existence of a Russian hidden source is severely limited in the US government and intelligence agencies. According to one source, there was no "equal alternative" inside the Russian government providing both information and information about Putin.

CNN withheld several details about the spy to reduce the risk of facial identification.

The secret removal of a high-level Russian asset left the US without one of its main sources for the Kremlin's internal functioning and the plans and thinking of the Russian president at a time when tensions between the two countries were mounting. The US intelligence community considers Russia to be one of the two biggest threats to US national security, along with China.

"The impact would be enormous because it is so difficult to develop such sources in any disavowed area, especially in Russia, because surveillance and security are so rigorous," a former senior intelligence official told CNN. "You can't acquire that ability overnight."

Months of growing fear

The decision to withdraw the asset from Russia was the culmination of months of fear accumulation in the intelligence community

At the end of the Obama administration, US intelligence officials had already voiced their concerns on the safety of this spy and other Russian assets, given the length of their cooperation with the US, according to a former senior intelligence officer.

These concerns increased in early 2017 after the US intelligence community released its public report on Russian meddling during the 2016 election, which said Putin himself had commissioned the operation. The intelligence community also shared a classified version of the report with the incoming Trump administration, and it included highly secured details about the sources behind the intelligence. Senior US intelligence officials were considering extracting at least one Russian asset at the time, but did not, according to a former senior intelligence officer.

In the first months of his administration, Trump's work with classified intelligence additionally affected intelligence officers. In the end, they decide to launch a difficult operation to remove an asset that has been working for the United States for years.

The President was informed in advance of the removal, along with a small number of senior officials. Details of the extraction itself remain secret and the location of the asset is unknown to CNN today. Marshal Cohen of CNN contributed to this report.


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