U.S. Politics

US intelligence community operating under presumption Russia has “ears” on the Trump team

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 28: President Donald Trump speaks on the phone with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Oval Office of the White House, January 28, 2017 in Washington, DC. Also pictured, from left, White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, Vice President Mike Pence, White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon, Press Secretary Sean Spicer and National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. On Saturday, President Trump is making several phone calls with world leaders from Japan, Germany, Russia, France and Australia. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)attribution: Getty Images 

Is there a mole?


The American intelligence community is quite certain that the Donald Trump campaign was aided, whether knowingly or not, by a Russian government-sponsored espionage and propaganda effort aimed at boosting Trump’s chances for the presidency. The Trump campaign was staffed with so many Russia-linked figures that newspapers took to designing charts to show them all, from Paul Manafort to Carter Page to Michael Flynn. The new Secretary of State comes to the role from a position orchestrating an oil deal between his company and Russia so massive that, if sanctions preventing it are lifted, it would reshape the Russian government’s own finances for years to come.

The intelligence community knows of contact between Trump staffers and the Russian government before the inauguration. The intelligence community verified that despite Trump adviser Michael Flynn insisting he did not discuss the hacking-related sanctions imposed by the Obama administration on the Russian government with a Russian official, he in fact did. The intelligence community has now verified parts of the infamous and salacious “dossier” on Trump-Russia ties, though not the most alarming and damning bits.

And the American intelligence community is now operating under the suspicion that the new White House may include, somewhere within its top ranks a Russian mole.

A senior National Security Agency official explained that NSA was systematically holding back some of the “good stuff” from the White House, in an unprecedented move. For decades, NSA has prepared special reports for the president’s eyes only, containing enormously sensitive intelligence. In the last three weeks, however, NSA has ceased doing this, fearing Trump and his staff cannot keep their best SIGINT secrets. […]What’s going on was explained lucidly by a senior Pentagon intelligence official, who stated that “since January 20, we’ve assumed that the Kremlin has ears inside the SITROOM,” meaning the White House Situation Room, the 5,500 square-foot conference room in the West Wing where the president and his top staffers get intelligence briefings. “There’s not much the Russians don’t know at this point,” the official added in wry frustration.

We don’t know what led the CIA to reject a required security clearance for Michael Flynn aide Rob Townley. The White House insists that was a political move by the CIA against Flynn—but the CIA is now led by Trump’s own appointed director, Mike Pompeo, who himself approved the rejection. We also don’t know to what extent Trump might simply order the intelligence community to reveal information they’re not keen on revealing to his staff.

But no, this is not normal. This is a very, very far way from normal. And we’re just in the opening act.

By Hunter

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