All those fevered tales of Deep State plotting from Trump’s bumbling loyalists seems to be getting ash-canned.
In particular, the tale of a CIA, desperate to dunk on President Trump, getting duped into dropping a hefty chunk of change to Russian “informants” – yeah, that’s not true.
At least, that’s what the CIA, normally not the most loquacious organization, are speaking up to say.
The story ran Friday in the New York Times, as well as over at The Intercept.
“The fictional story that CIA was bilked out of $100,000 is patently false,” the Central Intelligence Agency said in a statement sent to AFP.
“The people swindled here were James Risen and Matt Rosenberg,” the CIA said, referring to Times reporter Rosenberg, who wrote the story, and Risen, a former Times reporter who authored The Intercept’s article.
According to the story, CIA agents were in contact with Russians, claiming to have a stolen a hacking program from the National Security Agency (NSA). The program had been used to hack into government systems around the world, so they were anxious to get it back.
The seller, who was not identified but had suspected links to both cyber criminals and Russian intelligence, tantalized the US spies with an offer of the NSA hacking tools that had been advertised for sale online by a group called the Shadow Brokers.
Further, the tale was that the seller, working through middle men, was offering to cough up the tools for a $10 million ransom, but dropped the price to $1 million.
The $100,000 was to be a down payment, since the U.S. agents alleged to be in contact with this Russian source were still unsure that this seller was who he said he was, or that he had what he said he had.
In its report, the Times cited US and European intelligence officials, the Russian, and communications the newspaper reviewed.
The seller also repeatedly pressed US agents with offers of compromising materials, or kompromat, on Trump, the Times said.
Whatever the case, the agents didn’t want to get involved any anything of that nature, given that there’s an ongoing Russia probe.
The Intercept reported that the “off-the-books communications channel” with Russia created rifts in the CIA. The agency is led by Trump loyalist Mike Pompeo, but many of its staffers are still smarting over Trump’s repeated harsh comments about the intelligence community’s role in the Russia meddling investigation.
The Times reported that, in the end, the deal with the Russian broke down last month as the Russian failed to come up with any of the sought-after NSA materials, and the Trump-related material was either already known or untrustworthy.
The Russian was told by the Americans to leave Western Europe and not return, according to the Times.
So was there a Russian contact pushing stolen NSA hacking tools and Trump dirt?
It sounds like there may have been an attempt, but that the CIA didn’t buy it.
That didn’t stop Trump from grabbing on to it and ranting about it on Twitter.
“I hope people are now seeing and understanding what is going on here. It is all now starting to come out — DRAIN THE SWAMP!” he tweeted, in a reference to what he sees as a need for reform.
Trump has targeted the intelligence community from the beginning of his presidency. Traditionally, not a good thing from a U.S. president.
We may not know the whole story, but we know the CIA felt strongly enough about this story to speak up and call it false.