WASHINGTON: In 2017, the United States extracted from Russia an important CIA source who had provided information about the Kremlin’s interference in the 2016 presidential election, according to current and former officials.The operation, known as an exfiltration, followed mounting concerns among U.S. officials that the individual, whose identity is unknown, could be discovered by the Russian government.The source, who had been providing information for decades, had access to Putin and had sent pictures of high-level documents on the Russian leader’s desk, CNN reported.
The network said the spy was pulled out of Russia in 2017 due to concerns that President Donald Trump and his cabinet could expose the asset due to repeated mishandling of classified intelligence.The CIA refuted this. Brittany Bramell, the agency’s director of public affairs, told CNN: “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.” The agency offered to extract the source in late 2016 but the informant initially refused, citing family issues, the New York Times reported.
The disclosure to the Russians by the President, though not about the Russian spy specifically, prompted intelligence officials to renew earlier discussions about the potential risk of exposure, according to the source directly involved in the matter. An extraction, or “exfiltration” as such an operation is referred to by intelligence officials, is an extraordinary remedy when US intelligence believes an asset is in immediate danger.