CIA Director Mike Pompeo said Tuesday that a recent New York Times story on his agency is false, and suggested that the report’s author may have been duped by a shadowy Russian.
The Times reported Friday that the mysterious Russian “bilked American spies out of $100,000” by promising last year to deliver stolen NSA cyber weapons and “compromising material on President Trump,” including a supposed video of Trump with prostitutes in Moscow.
The CIA was uninterested in the Trump kompromat—”a Russian term for information used to gain leverage over someone”—believing it was likely part of a disinformation campaign, according to the Times. But the agency shelled out the first cash installment to retrieve the stolen U.S. cyber tools, only for the Russian to give nothing valuable in return.
The Intercept also reported on Friday that the U.S. intelligence community attempted to recover stolen NSA records related to hacking capabilities, and that during the operation, Russians offered information about Trump and Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. A Russian asked the Americans for a payment, according to the report, but they were uninterested.
Sen. Susan Collins (R., Maine) asked Pompeo about the Times report and whether the CIA “categorically denied” it during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing. Collins went on to suggest that the Times‘ source may have been part of a Russian government campaign to undermine faith in American democracy.
“Reporting on this matter has been atrocious,” Pompeo responded. “It’s been ridiculous, totally inaccurate. And in our view, the suggestion the CIA was swindled is false.”
“The people who were swindled were James Risen [of the Intercept] and Matt Rosenberg [of the Times], the authors of those two pieces,” he continued. “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,” Pompeo said.