While conducting a top-secret operation to recover stolen classified U.S. government documents from Russian operatives, U.S. intelligence agencies stumbled upon a cache of intel about Donald Trump and the Russian 2016 interference, according to a new report by The Intercept.
Citing sources familiar with the matter, The Intercept reports that the American intelligence community has quietly negotiated with Russia to retrieve classified U.S. documents that the Russians managed to steal. During the proceedings, they were also offered a trove of intel relate to Donald Trump and Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
The Americans and Russians communicated through a secret back channel in order to facilitate the buying back of the classified materials, which has been stolen from the National Security Agency.
The information included cyber-hacking tools developed by the NSA and stolen by a Russian group called the Shadow Brokers. The brokers then distributed the tools on the internet, and the NSA was desperate to recover the information from the Russians to review the extent of the damage.
According to The Intercept, it was only after American intelligence established contact with the Russians to recover the NSA documents that they learned about the cache of Trump-Russia related info.
The report states that the CIA has been cautious to proceed too eagerly with the communication channel for fear of stumbling onto incriminating information about Trump. They fear they won’t be able unrub the lamp once the genie is released.
“The CIA, which is now headed by a Trump loyalist, CIA Director Mike Pompeo, has at times been reluctant to stay involved in the operation, apparently for fear of obtaining the Trump-related material offered by the Russians, according to sources close to the negotiations,” writes James Risen of The Intercept.
This fear puts in evidence that Mike Pompeo has divided and politicized the CIA so badly that operatives are unsure how rigorously to pursue their duties. There is also a widespread concern that the president himself could take action and fire anyone who uncovers information he’d prefer remain hidden.
It’s still unclear what exactly the Trump documents entail, but it appears that the information could bring down Donald Trump if released.