Yesterday CNN ran with a story that said the US pulled a major spy out of Russia in 2017 after Trump mishandled classified information:
FOX NEWS – CNN is standing by its reporting that the U.S. pulled its source from Russia in 2017, in part out of concern that the Trump administration had “repeatedly mishandled classified intelligence and could contribute to exposing the covert source as a spy.”
According to the report by CNN chief national correspondent and former Obama administration official Jim Sciutto, 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 U.S. Sergey Kislyak. The intelligence, concerning ISIS in Syria, had been provided by Israel.”
The disclosure “prompted intelligence officials to renew earlier discussions about the potential risk of exposure,” CNN reported.
But the White House and the CIA blasted CNN, saying the reporting is both incorrect and dangerous:
“CNN’s reporting is not only incorrect, it has the potential to put lives in danger,” Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement.
…Both the White House and the CIA slammed the reporting, with the latter calling the reporting “misguided” and “simply false.”
“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,” CIA Director for Public Affairs Brittany Bramell said in the agency’s statement.
Bramwell continued: “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.”
But it wasn’t just the White House and the CIA rebuking CNN.
The New York Times also contradicted CNN’s story:
The New York Times also published a piece late in the evening, which largely contradicted CNN’s story. According to the Times, CIA officials “made the arduous decision in late 2016 to offer to extract the source from Russia” — weeks before Trump 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.
And here’s something else to add to this:
Other holes surfaced in CNN’s reporting. Commentator Aaron Mate pointed out in a Twitter thread that several major news organizations had previously cited a high-level official in the Russian government as a source — suggesting that the intelligence community itself, not Trump, had compromised the spy.
For example, The Washington Post reported in June 2017 of “‘sourcing deep inside the Russian government’ — so deep that it purportedly ‘captured Putin’s specific instructions’ to launch a pro-Trump influence campaign,” Mate noted.
And the Times reported in August 2018 of “anonymous intel officials complaining that their ‘vital Kremlin informants have largely gone silent.'” But “if these Kremlin informants are so vital, why are U.S. intel officials talking about them?” Mate asked.
Looks like CNN royally blew it on this one. But there’s nothing really surprising about this.