Russian Operative Offering Dirt on Trump Bilks US Spies Out of $100000
Feb 12 2018
American spies delivered a suitcase with $100,000 in cash past year to a murky Russian operative in exchange for unverified information on President DonaldTrump, the New York Timesreported on Friday, Feb. 9, citing anonymous American and European intelligence officials.
The US$100,000, delivered in a cash-stuffed suitcase handed over in a Berlin hotel room, was an initial payment by US agents still dubious he really had what he was promising.
In a story worthy of a John le Carre novel that included secret USB-drive handovers in a small West Berlin bar and coded messages delivered over the National Security Agency's Twitter account, CIA agents reportedly spent much of past year trying to buy back from the Russian hacking programs stolen from the NSA.
U.S. officials said the payment was meant to recover ostensible NSA data, and was abandoned after the Russian provided the USA intelligence with unverified and "possibly fabricated" information on President Trump. The Russian reportedly had "unverified and possibly fabricated information" on Trump and associates.
"The fictional story that CIA was bilked out of $100,000 is patently false", the Central Intelligence Agency said in a statement sent to AFP. The NSA, which produced the bulk of the hacking tools that the Americans sought to recover, said only that "all NSA employees have a lifetime obligation to protect classified information".
The United States intelligence officials said they cut off the deal because they were wary of being entangled in a Russian operation to create discord inside the American government.
The NSA even used its official Twitter account almost a dozen times to send coded messages to the Russian. The alleged Trump material was left with the American, who has secured it in Europe.
The man initially asked for $10 million in exchange for the information, but later changed it to $1 million.
President Donald Trump took to Twitter on Saturday and alleged that he was the victim of a conspiracy by USA government agencies who are trying to dig up dirt on him.
"Every time he sees me, he says, 'I didn't do that, '" Trump added.
The CIA in a statement pushed back against reporting that said USA spies were swindled out of $100,000 during secret negotiations meant to obtain stolen cyber tools.
The seller, reached through a chain of intermediaries, reportedly wanted US$1 million after quickly dropping his first price of aboutUS$10 million.
Trump denies any collusion with Russian Federation. Russian hackers are probing American voting databases ahead of the midterm election this year, they said, and using bot armies to promote partisan causes on social media.
USA officials suspect that at least some of the sellers are working for Russia's spy services. They also feared the reaction in Washington in case the information that they were trying to buy dirt on the president would come to light.
And looking back, it should have been obvious that the Russian never had any ties to sensitive information.