CIA Director Mike Pompeo bashed the New York Times on Tuesday over a report last week that alleged a Russian spy recently duped CIA agents out of $100,000.
The report said CIA agents made a deal with the Russian spy to buy back stolen National Security Agency cyberwarfare tools. The Russian promised the tools and compromising information on President Donald Trump in exchange for $1 million.
The CIA made the first payment of $100,000 in September, but the Russian never returned the stolen weapons under orders from senior Russian intelligence officials; all he offered was dirt on Trump. Earlier this year, the CIA ended the deal and told the Russian to never contact them again, according to the reporting.
What did Pompeo say?
During a hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) asked Pompeo if his agency “categorically denied” the story, which also appeared in The Intercept.
Pompeo left nothing on the table in his response.
“Reporting on this matter has been atrocious. It’s been ridiculous, totally inaccurate. And in our view, the suggestion the CIA was swindled is false,” Pompeo said.
He added that it wasn’t his agency that was “swindled,” but rather the Times and the Intercept, explaining:
The people who were swindled were [The Intercept’s] James Risen and [The Times’] Matt Rosenberg, the authors of those two pieces. Indeed, it’s our view that the same two people who were proffering phony information to the United States government, proffered that same phony information to these two reporters.
The Central Intelligence Agency did not provide any resources, no money, to these two individuals who proffered U.S. government information, directly or indirectly, at any time.
However, Pompeo did admit his agency has worked to retrieve “information we believe might well have been stolen from the U.S. government.”
Pompeo said the CIA’s actions were “unrelated” to the “idea” of compromising information on the president. According to the Times, that compromising information included an alleged sex tape showing Trump with prostitutes in a Moscow hotel. If the video exists and is true, it would seem to corroborate parts of the Christopher Steele dossier. However, as the Times reported, the video appeared to be fabricated at best.