CIA Director Mike PompeoMike PompeoState Department watchdog probing whether Trump aides took gifts meant for foreign officials Biden shows little progress with Abraham Accords on first anniversary Biden slips further back to failed China policies MORE is defending a meeting between U.S. and Russian intelligence officials after a top Democratic lawmaker seized on the talks.
Pompeo sent a letter to Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerBiden's Supreme Court commission ends not with a bang but a whimper Hispanic organizations call for Latino climate justice in reconciliation Senate to vote next week on Freedom to Vote Act MORE (D-N.Y.) saying he suggested during a press conference earlier this week that "there was something untoward" about the meeting.
"Let me assure you there is not. We periodically meet with our Russian intelligence counterparts for the same reason our predecessors did — to keep Americans safe," Pompeo said.
Schumer had questioned whom Sergey Naryshkin, the director of Russia's foreign intelligence service, met with while he was in the United States and questioned if the visit was tied to the Trump administration's decision to delay implementing sanctions against Russia, which was announced Monday.
Pompeo said in his letter that during the meetings "we cover very difficult subjects in which American and Russian interests do not align."
"Neither side is bashful about raising concerns relating to our intelligence relationships and the interests of our respective nations. We vigorously defend America in these encounters and pull no punches — we never will," he wrote.
A spokesman for Schumer was quick to note that Pompeo's letter did not address if the sanctions against Russia — which passed Congress with an overwhelming majority last year — were brought up during the meeting.
The Russian embassy tweeted earlier this week that Naryshkin had been in the United States "for consultations with ... counterparts on the struggle against terrorism."
Pompeo, whom CNN reported Naryshkin had met with, added that while Russia is an "adversary," American lives would be put "at greater risk if we ignored opportunities to work with the Russian services in the fight against terrorism."
Schumer also sent a letter to Director of National Intelligence Dan CoatsDaniel (Dan) Ray CoatsOvernight Hillicon Valley — Scrutiny over Instagram's impact on teens Former national security officials warn antitrust bills could help China in tech race Cyber preparedness could save America's 'unsinkable aircraft carrier' MORE earlier Thursday, questioning whom Naryshkin met with, if any other Russian officials were allowed into the country and how Naryshkin — who is under sanctions that prohibit his travel to the United States — was allowed into the U.S.