The Central Intelligence Agency yesterday evening slammed what it called CNN’s “misguided” and “simply false” reporting, after the cable channel’s chief national security correspondent authored a hole-filled piece claiming that the CIA had pulled a high-level spy out of Russia because President Trump had “repeatedly mishandled classified intelligence and could contribute to exposing the covert source as a spy.”
The extraordinary CIA rebuke came as The New York Times published a bombshell piece late in the evening, which largely contradicted CNN’s reporting. According to the Times, CIA officials “made the arduous decision in late 2016 to offer to extract the source from Russia” — weeks before Trump even took office.
Concerns about media reporting on Russian election interference drove the decision, according to the Times, which described the source as “the American government’s best insight into the thinking of and orders” from Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“Former intelligence officials said there was no public evidence that Mr. Trump directly endangered the source, and other current American officials insisted that media scrutiny of the agency’s sources alone was the impetus for the extraction,” the Times wrote.
The purported spy refused the 2016 offer of extraction, the Times reported, citing family concerns. But the CIA “pressed again months later after more media inquiries” threatened the source, and he relented, according to the paper.
The whirlwind developments continued into the night on Monday, when NBC News exclusively reported that a possible Russia spy was now living under apparent U.S. protection, using his true identity, in Washington, D.C. — and that his life could be in danger. Sources told NBC News that the Russian living in Washington was the same individual who was referenced in the reporting by CNN and the Times, and NBC said he “fits the profile of someone who may have had access to information about Putin’s activities.”