The Central Intelligence Agency says two separate reports published Friday detailing how the U.S. intelligence community was fleeced for money last year in an effort to recover stolen National Security Agency documents are fake news.
“The people swindled here were James Risen and Matt Rosenberg," Dean Boyd, director of CIA public affairs, told the Washington Examiner on Saturday, referring to the authors of the Intercept and New York Times reports respectively. "The fictional story that CIA was bilked out of $100,000 is patently false."
The reports shared a winding narrative, worthy of a Hollywood spy movie, about how American intelligence officials opened a channel with a Russian operative who agreed to sell documents stolen from the NSA. That operative also insisted on including damaging material gathered on President Trump and did so when the first $100,000 installment of a million dollars was handed over, the Times said.
This reportedly spooked the American officials, who then cut off the deal, over concerns about the reliability of the Russian official and fears of fallout if it was reported that they were buying damning information about Trump.
The New York Times report caught the attention of President Trump, whose 2016 presidential campaign is under investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller for possible collusion with the Russians.
"According to the @nytimes, a Russian sold phony secrets on 'Trump' to the U.S. Asking price was $10 million, brought down to $1 million to be paid over time," Trump tweeted Saturday morning. "I hope people are now seeing & understanding what is going on here. It is all now starting to come out - DRAIN THE SWAMP!"
According to the @nytimes, a Russian sold phony secrets on “Trump” to the U.S. Asking price was $10 million, brought down to $1 million to be paid over time. I hope people are now seeing & understanding what is going on here. It is all now starting to come out - DRAIN THE SWAMP!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 10, 2018
The news followed the release of a House Intelligence Committee memo earlier this month, which outlined alleged abuses of secret surveillance by the FBI and Justice Department. A key point in the controversial report concerned with the process by which Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant applications were submitted for approval by a judge to spy on former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. The document claims the Justice Department and FBI officials relied in part on information from ex-British spy Christopher Steele, the author of the salacious and largely unverified "Trump dossier."
Trump tweeted last weekend that this finding "totally vindicates" him in Mueller's Russia inquiry, which he has long called a "witch hunt."