September 10, 2019

A Russian official recruited by the CIA was key to U.S. intelligence being able to conclude that Russian President Vladimir Putin orchestrated the interference in the 2016 presidential election and ordered the hacking of the Democratic National Committee, The New York Times reports.

CNN reported Monday that the informant was extracted from Russia in 2017, partly because of the cavalier way President Trump handles sensitive intelligence. The source was recruited by the CIA decades ago, when he or she had a midlevel position, current and former U.S. officials told the Times. This person eventually landed a job that gave them access to the highest level at the Kremlin, and while they were not part of Putin's inner circle, they did see him regularly.

This person was one of the CIA's most important sources, officials told the Times, and it was imperative to people like former CIA Director John Brennan the informant's identity be kept under wraps (the Times did not learn the informant's name or where they now live). As more reports came out about Russian interference in the 2016 election, it became clear to intelligence officials that the news media was starting to catch on that the source was high up in the Kremlin, the Times reports. The CIA offered to extract the source, but he or she rejected the offer, saying they wanted to stay put for their family.

This in turn made some at the CIA worry that the informant was a double agent, but after the informant was approached for a second time, they agreed to leave Moscow, the Times reports. Now that this person is gone, intelligence officials do not have a reliable source feeding them information, and are not as plugged in to the steps Russia is taking to interfere in the 2020 election, officials said. Read more about the informant and the ways U.S. intelligence ensured the source's intel was legitimate at The New York Times. Catherine Garcia

May 22, 2018

President Trump said it would be "a disgrace" for the United States if there were "spies in my campaign" in remarks Tuesday following a Monday meeting with FBI Director Christopher Wray and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

Trump has demanded that the Justice Department look into whether Obama administration officials coordinated surveillance of his campaign for political reasons following reports that an American academic working as an FBI informant met with several members of his 2016 campaign in the early days of the agency's investigation into Russian election meddling.

"That would be one of the biggest insults that anyone has ever seen," Trump said, although there is no evidence the informant was embedded in his campaign. The president additionally dodged a question about whether he has "confidence" in Rosenstein. Jeva Lange

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