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CIA letting less intelligence on Russia reach Trump: report

The CIA is limiting the amount of intelligence related to Russia that reaches President TrumpDonald TrumpVeteran accused in alleged border wall scheme faces new charges Arizona Republicans to brush off DOJ concern about election audit FEC drops investigation into Trump hush money payments MORE at the direction of Director Gina HaspelGina Cheri HaspelCIA chief threatened to resign over push to install Trump loyalist as deputy: report Biden announces veteran diplomat William Burns as nominee for CIA director Meet Biden's pick to lead the US intelligence community MORE, according to a new report in Politico.

It reported that Haspel is limiting the intelligence out of an abundance of caution, writing that she often disagrees with the Russia-related intelligence and sometimes sees the analysts as misleading her.

Senate and House panels and intelligence officials in the administration have concluded that Russia interfered in the 2016 election with the intent of helping Trump and hurting Democratic nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonMcConnell: Taliban could take over Afghanistan by 'the end of the year' Hillary Clinton: There must be a 'global reckoning' with disinformation Pelosi's archbishop calls for Communion to be withheld from public figures supporting abortion rights MORE. This has irritated Trump, who sees such talk as calling into question the legitimacy of his victory.

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Intelligence officials again believe Russia wants to interfere in the current election to help Trump. They have pointed to interference by China and Iran as well, though those countries are believed to be working to hurt Trump.

The Politico report was centered on a move Haspel took last year to ensure that all Russia-related intelligence was vetted by the CIA's legal counsel. This has resulted in less intelligence making its way to the National Security Council.

Former CIA officials told Politico that Haspel's decision to involve the CIA's counsel was "unprecedented" and added that Haspel has sowed an atmosphere of distrust at the so-called Russia House, where the agency's efforts to gather intelligence on the U.S. adversary are centered.

One former agency official told Politico that Haspel's distrust extended to intelligence produced by analysts for the CIA, whom she allegedly would regularly accuse of lying to her or attempting to mislead her.

“She calls analysts liars all the time,” the former official said.

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In one instance, Haspel reportedly reacted with distrust and skepticism when presented with evidence that Russian officials could be linked to the phenomenon of U.S. diplomats suffering brain trauma in Cuba.

Trump has frequently reacted with anger at reports of Russian interference, and Democrats have needled him over the issue, with Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiOn The Money: Weekly jobless claims fall to 498K, hitting new post-lockdown low | House to advance appropriations bills in June, July Rural Democrats urge protections from tax increases for family farms Cheney fight stokes cries of GOP double standard for women MORE (D-Calif.) saying during the impeachment furor last year that with Trump, all roads lead to Russia.  

Politico cited a former White House official stating that that White House national security adviser Robert O'BrienRobert O'BrienHuawei says sales rose in 2020, but growth slowed amid US sanctions White House aides head for exits after chaos at Capitol Top Melania Trump aide Stephanie Grisham resigns MORE was working to avoid presenting the president with any Russia-related intelligence.

“O’Brien doesn’t want anyone to touch things Russia-related because of the reaction,” said the former official. “He just doesn’t want to rock the boat with Trump.”

National Security Council officials did not immediately confirm Politico's reporting when contacted by The Hill.

A CIA spokesperson denied to Politico that information about Russia was being kept from the president for any political reason.

“Scrutinizing intelligence product and process is exactly what is expected of Director Haspel not only because it’s her job, it’s her life’s work — developing sources, vetting information, and checking assumptions — it’s in her blood,” CIA press secretary Timothy Barrett told Politico. “She rightfully asks difficult questions and ensures intelligence is corroborated, double-checked, and then run through the wringer once more. Any suggestion of a political motive for how she leads this agency is misguided.”