CIA source pulled from Russia had confirmed Putin ordered 2016 meddling: NY Times

A CIA asset reportedly pulled from Russia in 2017 played a major role in the agency’s determination that Russian President Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinTaliban travels to Moscow after Trump declares talks dead Russians tune out Vladimir Putin Democrats must engage foreign policy to preserve liberal world order MORE personally ordered Moscow's meddling in the 2016 election, according to The New York Times.

The informant, while not in Putin’s inner circle, interacted with him regularly and was privy to decisionmaking at high levels of the Russian government, according to the Times. Information on the informant’s identity was so carefully guarded that it was kept out of then-President Obama’s daily security briefings in 2016, instead transmitted in separate sealed envelopes.

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In 2016, high-level CIA officials ordered a full review of the source’s record and grew suspicious he might have become a double agent after he rejected an offer of exfiltration from the agency, according to the Times. Other officials said these concerns were alleviated when the source was offered a second time and accepted.

While a CNN report Monday indicated the informant was pulled “in part” because of concerns about Trump’s handling of intelligence, former intelligence officials reportedly said no public evidence indicated Trump directly imperiled the source, with other officials saying the exfiltration was due to concerns he might be compromised amid media scrutiny of CIA sources.

Increased reporting of the CIA’s intelligence on Russian interference in the 2016 election in the spring and summer of 2017 drove the agency’s decision to extract the source, according to the Times, citing people familiar with the decision. Although the informant was successfully exfiltrated, the move left the agency at a disadvantage in predicting possible Kremlin interference in 2018 and 2020.

The Hill has reached out to the CIA for comment.