Central Intelligence Agency defends meeting with Russian spy officials

Audrey Hill
February 3, 2018

Russia's US ambassador said Sergei Naryshkin, head of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service, was in the United States to discuss counterterrorism with his American counterparts. The names of Bortnikov and Naryshkin are mentioned in the list of high-ranking and influential Russians, published on December 29 and compiled by the US Treasury Department in the framework of the so-called Kremlin Report.

USA intelligence officials periodically meet their Russian counterparts to ensure US security and have done so under previous administrations, Pompeo added.

Pompeo sent a letter on Thursday to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, who had raised questions about the meeting.

The sanctions are meant to freeze any assets of the individuals under US jurisdiction and prohibit "transactions by USA persons or within the United States involving the individual".

According to Russian ambassador to the U.S., Anatoly Antonov, and U.S. ambassador to Russia, Jon Huntsman, the high-level meeting was about shared concerns over terrorism. "Which U.S. official did he meet with?" Sen.

The CIA and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence declined to comment on Pompeo's schedule.

Pompeo did not address whether the topic of Russian election interference was raised in these meetings, something which President Trump has sought to downplay but the Central Intelligence Agency director continues to mention as a threat.

The Trump administration allowed the head of Russia's foreign intelligence service, Sergey Naryshkin, to visit the United State last week, despite USA sanctions that are supposed to bar Naryshkin from entering the country. "There are the political slogans, and then there's the real work", Antonov said in an interview with the Russian television network Rossiya-1. "I haven't seen a significant decrease in their activity", he said.

The meeting dealt in part with cooperation on counterterrorism issues, said people familiar with the proceedings.

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Naryshkin was sanctioned in 2014 by the Obama administration in response to Russia's actions in Ukraine.

"Let me assure you there is not", he wrote to Mr. Schumer.

"We periodically meet with our Russian intelligence counterparts for the same reason our predecessors did - to keep Americans safe", Pompeo wrote.

Nauert added that, "it is no secret that despite our many, many differences - and we just talked about them - with the Russian government, we also have areas where we have to work together, and one of those is combating terrorism and ISIS, and so I will leave it at that".

He also said the Chinese posed a threat of equal concern, and were "very active" with a world class cyber capability. "So it's particularly odd under these circumstances that we would want to give them something like that". 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. "I can't imagine who would have signed off on that", he adds.

News of the meeting comes as Russia's interference in the 2016 election continues to cast a shadow over Washington.

Coats' office has said that it can not discuss the schedules of USA intelligence officials and that "any interaction with foreign intelligence agencies would have been conducted in accordance with US law and in consultation with appropriate departments and agencies".

The SVR, meanwhile, was linked by USA law enforcement to a ring of "deep cover" agents who were living in the United States and arrested and deported in 2010.

Schumer wants to know why the visit was allowed, who approved it, which other Russian officials were in the delegation and whether they also are under sanction.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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