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Trump Against the US Intelligence Agencies

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  • Trump Against the US Intelligence Agencies

    1.

    https://www.cnn.com/2019/09/09/polit...ted/index.html

    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.
    The decision to carry out the extraction occurred soon after a May 2017 meeting in the Oval Office in which Trump discussed highly classified intelligence with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and then-Russian Ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak. The intelligence, concerning ISIS in Syria, had been provided by Israel.
    The disclosure to the Russians by the President, though not about the Russian spy specifically, prompted intelligence officials to renew earlier discussions about the potential risk of exposure, according to the source directly involved in the matter.
    At the time, then-CIA Director Mike Pompeo told other senior Trump administration officials that too much information was coming out regarding the covert source, known as an asset. 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.
    A US official said before the secret operation there was media speculation about the existence of such a covert source, and such coverage or public speculation poses risks to the safety of anyone a foreign government suspects may be involved. This official did not identify any public reporting to that effect at the time of this decision and CNN could not find any related reference in media reports.
    Asked for comment, Brittany Bramell, the CIA director of public affairs, told CNN: "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. 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."
    A spokesperson for Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declined to comment. White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said, "CNN's reporting is not only incorrect, it has the potential to put lives in danger."
    Wide concerns about Trump in intelligence community
    The removal happened at a time of wide concern in the intelligence community about mishandling of intelligence by Trump and his administration. Those concerns were described to CNN by five sources who served in the Trump administration, intelligence agencies and Congress.
    Those concerns continued to grow in the period after 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 interpreter's notes. Afterward, intelligence officials again expressed concern that the President may have improperly discussed classified intelligence with Russia, according to an intelligence source with knowledge of the intelligence community's response to the Trump-Putin meeting.
    Knowledge of the Russian covert source's existence was highly restricted within the US government and intelligence agencies. According to one source, there was "no equal alternative" inside the Russian government, providing both insight and information on Putin.
    CNN is withholding several details about the spy to reduce the risk of the person's identification.

    2.

    https://www.cnn.com/2019/09/08/opini...rad/index.html

    President Donald Trump's desire to placate Russian President Vladimir Putin has been a running theme throughout his time in office. From discounting Russia's attack on our elections to opening the door to inviting Russia back into the G7, Trump's presidency has been marked by a desire to let Russia off the hook for innumerable illegal actions.
    Trump's approach toward Ukraine, on the other hand, has been both confusing and worrisome. Russia forcefully annexed Crimea in 2014, and the two countries are still at war in eastern Ukraine. While the Trump administration provided lethal anti-tank weapons to Ukraine in 2017, Trump is now mulling over a plan to block $250 million in military assistance to Ukraine, raising questions about how serious he is about helping Ukraine protect what's left of its territorial integrity.
    The administration's posture toward Ukraine is only getting murkier as Trump's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, is also trying to enlist the Ukrainian government to pursue investigations of personal interest to Trump.
    Any degradation of US support for Ukraine will be well received by Putin because he'll feel like he's getting a hall pass to keep breaking international law and violating other countries' sovereignty.

    3.

    https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world...cid=spartandhp

    Decades ago, the C.I.A. recruited and carefully cultivated a midlevel Russian official who began rapidly advancing through the governmental ranks. Eventually, American spies struck gold: The longtime source landed an influential position that came with access to the highest level of the Kremlin.
    As American officials began to realize that Russia was trying to sabotage the 2016 presidential election, the informant became one of the C.I.A.’s most important — and highly protected — assets. But when intelligence officials revealed the severity of Russia’s election interference with unusual detail later that year, the news media picked up on details about the C.I.A.’s Kremlin sources.
    The move brought to an end the career of one of the C.I.A.’s most important sources. It also effectively blinded American intelligence officials to the view from inside Russia as they sought clues about Kremlin interference in the 2018 midterm elections and next year’s presidential contest.
    CNN first reported the 2017 extraction on Monday. Other details — including the source’s history with the agency, the initial 2016 exfiltration offer and the cascade of doubts set off by the informant’s subsequent refusal — have not been previously reported. This article is based on interviews in recent months with current and former officials who spoke on the condition that their names not be used discussing classified information.
    Officials did not disclose the informant’s identity or new location, both closely held secrets. The person’s life remains in danger, current and former officials said, pointing to Moscow’s attempts last year to assassinate Sergei V. Skripal, a former Russian intelligence official who moved to Britain as part of a high-profile spy exchange in 2010.
    The Moscow informant was instrumental to the C.I.A.’s most explosive conclusion about Russia’s interference campaign: that President Vladimir V. Putin ordered and orchestrated it himself. As the American government’s best insight into the thinking of and orders from Mr. Putin, the source was also key to the C.I.A.’s assessment that he affirmatively favored Donald J. Trump’s election and personally ordered the hacking of the Democratic National Committee.
    The informant’s information was so delicate, and the need to protect the source’s identity so important, that the C.I.A. director at the time, John O. Brennan, kept information from the operative out of President Barack Obama’s daily brief in 2016. Instead, Mr. Brennan sent separate intelligence reports, many based on the source’s information, in special sealed envelopes to the Oval Office.
    The information itself was so important and potentially contentious in 2016 that top C.I.A. officials ordered a full review of the informant’s record, according to people briefed on the matter. Officials reviewed information the source had provided years earlier to ensure that it had proved accurate.
    The decision to extract the informant was driven “in part” because of concerns that Mr. Trump and his administration had mishandled delicate intelligence, CNN reported. But 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.

    4.

    https://www.cnn.com/2019/09/10/polit...cal/index.html

    President Donald Trump has privately and repeatedly expressed opposition to the use of foreign intelligence from covert sources, including overseas spies who provide the US government with crucial information about hostile countries, according to multiple senior officials who served under Trump.
    Trump has privately said that foreign spies can damage relations with their host countries and undermine his personal relationships with their leaders, the sources said. The President "believes we shouldn't be doing that to each other," one former Trump administration official told CNN.
    In addition to his fear such foreign intelligence sources will damage his relationship with foreign leaders, Trump has expressed doubts about the credibility of the information they provide. Another former senior intelligence official told CNN that Trump "believes they're people who are selling out their country."
    Even in public, Trump has looked down on these foreign assets, as they are known in the intelligence community. Responding to reports that the CIA recruited Kim Jong Un's brother as a spy, Trump said he "wouldn't let that happen under my auspices."



    More ignorance on intelligence matters…

    5.

    https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/polit...cid=spartandhp
    GOP Rep. Doug Collins (Ga.) on Tuesday called for an investigation into CNN over the network's report that said the CIA pulled a high-level informant from Russia amid concerns that President Trump mishandled intelligence.
    "To put it out at this time and to put it such a way that the CIA had to come out and respond to this is really a disturbing part," Collins, the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, said on Fox News.
    "I really question whose side CNN is on," the GOP congressman continued. "This is a problem we're seeing. I think it needs to be investigated. With the CIA coming out like it has, I think it has to be something we look at."


    6.

    https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/polit...cid=spartandhp

    House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff accused the acting director of national intelligence of illegally withholding a whistleblower's complaint deemed to be of "urgent concern."
    In an announcement late Friday, Schiff said he issued a subpoena to compel acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire to produce the complaint and suggested the holdup may be an effort to protect President Trump.
    If Maguire refuses to comply by Tuesday, Schiff wrote in an accompanying letter to Maguire that his panel will require him to testify in an open hearing on Thursday.

    7.

    https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/polit...cid=spartandhp

    As the door of the Gulfstream sprang open, a frigid blast of winter air filled the cabin of the jet. The hissing of its engines soon spooled down to a faded hum, and the security agents on board began making their final preparations for our arrival. They checked weapons, tested radio communications, and ran through the schedule one last time to ensure that every movement was scripted, down to the smallest detail. During this flurry of activity, our main passenger sat calmly in front of me, nodding in rhythm to a John Legend song playing over his wireless headphones.
    "No turning back now," FBI director James Comey told me with a half-smile, a nod to the unprecedented meeting that awaited him.

    8.

    https://www.cnn.com/2019/09/15/polit...raq/index.html


    But the question is: ‘Does Trump actually know and understand what ‘locked and loaded ‘ is?
    President Donald Trump on Sunday evening tweeted that the US has "reason to believe that we know" who is responsible for an attack on a Saudi Arabian oil field and the country is "locked and loaded depending on verification" following the crippling strike.
    "Saudi Arabia oil supply was attacked. There is reason to believe that we know the culprit, are locked and loaded depending on verification, but are waiting to hear from the Kingdom as to who they believe was the cause of this attack, and under what terms we would proceed!" Trump said.
    On Saturday, coordinated strikes on key Saudi Arabian oil facilities -- among the world's largest energy production centers -- disrupted 5% of the daily global oil supply. Yemen's Houthi rebels took responsibility for the attacks, but they are often backed by Iran.

    9.

    https://www.cnn.com/2019/09/15/opini...rad/index.html

    While the international community works to determine who is responsible for the most recent attack on Saudi energy facilities, the US government has already pointed the finger at Iran.
    Despite initial claims of responsibility by the Houthis, a rebel group backed by Iran, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo placed the blame squarely on Iran and said the attacks did not originate in Yemen.
    Though Iran denies responsibility for the attacks, Saudi Arabia issued a statement Sunday that the attack "either came from Iraq or from Iran." If Iran is found to be the culprit, it would make Saturday's attack just the latest in a series of escalatory attacks by the regime against the United States, our allies and our interests.

    10.
    https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world...cid=spartandhp

    Iran launched nearly a dozen cruise missiles and over 20 drones from its territory in the attack on a key Saudi oil facility Saturday, a senior Trump administration official told ABC News Sunday.
    It is an extraordinary charge to make, that Iran used missiles and drones to attack its neighbor and rival Saudi Arabia, as the region teeters on the edge of high tensions.
    President Donald Trump warned the U.S. was "locked and loaded" to respond to the attack on Sunday, waiting for verification of who was responsible and for word from Saudi Arabia on how to proceed.

    11.

    https://www.cnn.com/middleeast/live-...4c35eda64efb9e

    The US has told at least one US ally in the Middle East, that they have intelligence showing that the launch was “likely” coming from staging grounds in Iran, but they have not shared that intelligence yet. “It is one thing to tell us, it is another thing to show us,” said a diplomat from the region.
    A US official separately tells CNN that the US has assessed that the attack originated from inside Iran. The official spoke on condition of anonymity.
    No public evidence has been shared.
    What countries in the region decide to do, in reaction to the Saudi oil field attack, largely depends on what the US is willing to do, the source said. CNN reported earlier that Secretary of State is expected to speak with the UAE Crown Prince on Monday and other nations.
    The Pentagon declined to comment. The State Department and the White House did not respond to a request for comment.
    The WSJ first reported that the US was telling countries region that the attacks were launched inside Iran.
    More context: The attack on oil facilities in Saudi Arabia likely involved cruise missiles and attack drones, a separate US official familiar with the intelligence assessment told CNN earlier today. The official said that the attacks did not originate from Iraq but would not say whether they originated from Iran or Yemen. Iraq's Prime Minister issued a statement Monday saying that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had told him that the attacks had not originated from Iraq. The State Department when asked about the call, said “no comment.”

    12.

    https://www.cnn.com/2019/09/16/opini...gen/index.html


    The leaders of Iran have reason to be confused about what President Trump's goals are when it comes to their country. Trump pulled the United States out of the Iranian nuclear deal last year and then imposed draconian new sanctions on Iran. In June, Trump ordered military strikes against Iran and then called them off at the last minute. Trump has also said he would sit down with the Iranian leadership without preconditions, but now he appears to have reversed himself.
    Trump's posturing back and forth between aggression and conciliation might work for a real estate deal in Manhattan, but it's quite confusing and the stakes are also much higher when you are dealing with the complex calculations of a major regional power such as Iran, which has long regarded the United States as a foe.
    Forget about the Iranians -- Trump's shifting positions on Iran seem to be confusing even for members of his own cabinet. US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, who plays a key role in enforcing American sanctions against Iran, said last week that Trump could meet Iranian President Hassan Rouhani with "no preconditions."
    US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made exactly the same point in June, saying the Trump administration was prepared to talk to Iran with "no preconditions."
    And in July, Trump himself said he would meet with Rouhani with "no precondition."
    But Trump seems to now have amnesia about it, tweeting Sunday, "The Fake News is saying that I am willing to meet with Iran, 'No Conditions.' That is an incorrect statement (as usual!)."





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