CIA, Trump administration reject CNN’s exclusive story about Russian spy

CIA, Trump administration reject CNN’s exclusive story about Russian spy

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The White House and the CIA are pushing back against a CNN report that alleges the US extracted a source from Russia in 2017 after the president endangered his safety.

The CNN story: The source was brought to the US out of fear after President Trump hosted Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in the Oval Office. During the meeting, the president allegedly disclosed some classified information about an anti-ISIS operation in Syria. Though the intelligence had nothing to with the Russian informant, it prompted discussions about safety concerns, reported CNN, citing sources familiar with the matter.

The New York Times, on the other hand, published a piece that contradicts the CNN report. The Times wrote that the CIA offered to extract the informant, described as "the American government’s best insight into" the Russian government, in late 2016 before President Trump took office.

The CIA wanted to remove the spy from Russia because of the increased reporting of Russian interference in the 2016 elections, according to the Times. "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," reads the piece.

NBC News later reported that the spy in question is allegedly living in Washington D.C. under US protection.

Russian officials said that the man referenced in the reports worked in the government but had no access to Russia's President Vladimir Putin, reported Reuters.

White House' response: “CNN's reporting is not only incorrect, it has the potential to put lives in danger," said White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham.

CIA's response: “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," said CIA public affairs director Brittany Bramell.

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