Central Intelligence Agency director Mike Pompeo defends meeting with Russian spy chiefs

Gwen Vasquez
February 3, 2018

The meeting with Pompeo, according to the WP, was also attended by a "high-ranking official of the United States special services", who works in Moscow and arrived in Washington on objective.

Also in Washington was the head of the GRU, Russia's military intelligence, according to the Washington Post.

The official said Pompeo did not meet with the head of the GRU, the Russian military intelligence agency behind efforts to meddle in the 2016 USA election.

The meeting comes amid heightened concerns about Russia's aggression overseas - something about which Trump's own national security strategy warned and Pompeo himself addressed on Monday.

Democrats want to know why the Trump administration allowed two Russian spy chiefs under USA and European sanctions to meet last week in Washington with American intelligence officials.

It cited a state-run ITAR-Tass news report that quoted Russia's ambassador to Washington, Anatoly Antonov, as telling Rossiya-1 television that Naryshkin and his usa counterparts discussed the "joint struggle against terrorism".

On Thursday, Pompeo struck back in a letter of his own, telling Schumer that there was nothing "untoward" about USA and Russian intelligence officials meeting.

USA intelligence agencies have accused the FSB - considered Russia's main domestic intelligence agency - and the GRU - the Russian military's intelligence arm - of being behind the hacking of US political parties and activists.

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"A US meeting with the chief of the SVR a little more than a year after our Intelligence Community unanimously concluded that interfered in the 2016 USA election raises a number important questions", Mr. Schumer wrote. They anxious the Kremlin could conclude the United States is open to forgiving Russian Federation for its actions and wasn't resolved to forcefully prevent future meddling.

Schumer, whose staff was briefed on the meetings and the legal process involved before giving a Tuesday news conference, said the meeting represented "a serious national security issue".

Among other questions, Schumer asked how Naryshkin was able to enter the United States because he is under USA sanctions barring him from the country.

CAATSA - or the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act - is a law signed by Trump in August that imposed sanctions on Russia, Iran, and North Korea. "So which other sanctioned Russian Federation intelligence agency figures has the Trump administration let into our country?" The White House did release a list of Russian oligarchs potentially subject to sanctions on Tuesday, but it was criticized as sloppy and cobbled together from sources such as Forbes magazine. In Moscow, the provenance of the list was roundly mocked, even as officials expressed irritation at the USA action.

"The Trump administration must immediately come clean and answer questions", Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer told reporters on Monday.

The meeting dealt in part with cooperation on counterterrorism issues, said people familiar with the proceedings. The officials were not authorized to disclose the information and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Asked if Russian Federation would try to influence the mid-term elections, he said: "Of course".

Just this week, Pompeo warned in an interview with the BBC that Russian Federation was still a threat to American elections. "And I wanted to get back on our front foot", Pompeo said about the Central Intelligence Agency.

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