CNN analyst Phil Mudd on Monday said he questions a key aspect of a CNN report that U.S. intelligence officials extracted a Kremlin mole from Russia in part because of concerns over President Donald Trump’s handling of classified intelligence.
“I question whether this angle of the story about whether the president’s engagement with intelligence was actually a spur in the extraction of the informant,” Mudd, a former CIA and FBI official, said on “The Lead with Jake Tapper.”
“I suspect there were other issues here.”
Earlier on Monday, CNN’s Jim Sciutto reported that U.S. intelligence officials extracted the Russian asset at some point after May 2017, when Trump met in the Oval Office with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and then-Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak. Trump allegedly shared sensitive information about ISIS activities in Syria that had been provided by the Israeli government.
Though CNN focused on the narrative that Trump was the catalyst for the decision to exfiltrate the source, Sciutto reported that the Obama administration had also considered removing the source due to concerns that the individual was at risk of being exposed.
One government official told CNN that the intelligence community was concerned that too much information about the Kremlin spy operation was coming out in press reports.
The official did not identify the news stories in question, but on Dec. 14, 2016, NBC News reported that spies at the highest levels of the Russian government had provided intelligence that Vladimir Putin directed hacking operations against Democrats.
A day after that report, FBI counterintelligence official Peter Strzok sent a text message to his mistress, FBI lawyer Lisa Page, asserting that other government agencies had leaked intelligence for political reasons.
“Think our sisters have begun leaking like mad. Scorned and worried and political, they’re kicking in to overdrive,” Strzok wrote.
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