US extracted spy that confirmed Putin role in 2016 US vote

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The decision to conduct the extraction came soon after a May 2017 meeting in the Oval Office in which Trump discussed highly classified information on ISIS provided by Israel with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and then-Russian Ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak.

The decision to extract the informant was driven "in part" because of concerns that Trump and his administration had mishandled delicate intelligence, CNN reported.

Donald Trump with Russia's President Vladimir Putin at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation leaders' summit in Vietnam on November 11, 2017.

The United States had allegedly extracted one of its highest-level moles in the Russian government in 2017 over fears he could be caught, CNN reported Monday, citing multiple Trump administration officials.

President Donald Trump has privately and repeatedly expressed opposition to the use of foreign intelligence from covert sources, including overseas spies who provide the USA government with crucial information about hostile countries, according to multiple senior officials who served under Trump.

CNN also reported that the decision to move the person out of Russia was fueled by USA intelligence concerns that Trump may have leaked classified information to Russian officials, including during a May 2017 White House meeting.

According to the TV-channel, the spy passed on information on Kremlin's internal activity, as well as plans of the President Vladimir Putin and his point of view regarding various issues.

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A former senior intelligence official told CNN that the impact of the asset's uncovering "would be huge because it is so hard to develop sources like that in any denied area, particularly Russian Federation, because the surveillance and security there is so stringent". News agencies, including NBC, began reporting around that time about Putin's involvement in the election sabotage and on the CIA's possible sources for the assessment. Following the meeting, he took his translator's notes, fueling concerns that he may have again shared sensitive information. Some of them mentioned Smolenkov's other places of employment.

It is not yet known how the extraction was eventually carried out.

The source was considered the highest level source for the USA inside the Kremlin, high up in the national security infrastructure, according to the source familiar with the matter and a former senior intelligence official.

The agent could now be moved elsewhere to protect him. Last year, Russian operatives travelled to England and used a nerve agent in an assassination attempt against a former Russian military intelligence officer, Sergei Skripal, who had spied for the British.

In a comment, a Central Intelligence Agency spokesperson said that CNN's narrative was false, whiole the White House went further, stressing: "CNN's reporting is not only incorrect, it has the potential to put lives in danger". He survived the nerve agent attack but his current whereabouts are unknown.

Trump has responded only by tearing into CNN, saying the network was "bad for the USA" and repeating his refrain of "fake news".

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