Central Intelligence Agency calls report of $100K payment to Russian "fictional"

US spies reportedly paid $100K to Russian operative who claimed to have dirt on Trump

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Reacting to the story on Saturday, the Central Intelligence Agency called it "fictional", saying the reporters who worked on it - The Intercept's James Risen and The New York Times' Matt Rosenberg - were the ones who were "swindled".

The president tweeted approvingly that the The New York Times article shows a need to "drain the swamp" in Washington.

Agents with the National Security Agency and CIA reportedly paid a Russian operative $100,000 for damaging intelligence on President Donald Trump after he took office in 2017.

The seller also repeatedly pressed U.S. agents with offers of compromising materials, or kompromat, on Trump, the Times said, citing United States and European intelligence officials.

The Times reports that American spies had their doubts about the Russian operative, who was known to have ties to Russian intelligence and cybercriminals, but chose to arrange a deal with him. Subsequent information the Russian handed over was related to the 2016 presidential election and alleged ties of Trump associates with Russia.

"I hope people are now seeing & understanding what is going on here", he tweeted Saturday, despite his past references to The New York Times as "fake news".

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The money was delivered to a Berlin hotel room in September and was intended as the first installment of a $1 million reward, according to US officials, the Russian and communications reviewed by the Times, the newspaper reported.

Intelligence officials said they "saw the information, especially the video, as the stuff of tabloid gossip pages, not intelligence collection".

The seller, who was not identified but had links to both cyber criminals and Russian intelligence, tantalized the USA spies with an offer of the NSA hacking tools that had been advertised for sale online by a shady group called the Shadow Brokers. Several American officials said they did not want the alleged information about Mr. Trump. The weapons have helped hackers breach millions of computers around the world, including hospitals, businesses and factories, the Times reports. American intelligence officials said they made clear they were not interested in the information about Trump, wanting instead the cyberweapons the NSA had been desperate to retrieve.

The operative's "eagerness" to provide them with the supposed damaging information, those officials said, led them to suspect he was attempting to bait them into stoking animosity between the American intelligence community and the president as part of a Russian operation to sow division within the USA government.

The American spies ended "chasing the Russian out of Western Europe, warning him not to return if he valued his freedom", The Times reported, based on an account from the businessman, who is now said to have possession of the Trump "material" somewhere in Europe.

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