The CIA has slammed "fictional" reports in The Intercept and the New York Times alleging that American spies paid a Russian operative $100,000 last September for what they were told were stolen NSA cyberweapons and a videotape of President Trump engaged with prostitutes in a Moscow hotel room.
After allegedly paying the operative, The Times reports US intelligence discovered that much of much of the material had already been made public, and they had effectively been swindled out of the first installment of an agreed upon $1 million payment - whittled down from the Russian's original demand for $10 million.
According to the @nytimes, a Russian sold phony secrets on “Trump” to the U.S. Asking price was $10 million, brought down to $1 million to be paid over time. I hope people are now seeing & understanding what is going on here. It is all now starting to come out - DRAIN THE SWAMP!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 10, 2018
Shortly after Pulitzer Prize winner James Risen of The Intercept published his report on Friday alleging that the US intelligence community had "opened a secret communications channel with the Russian operatives" which involved the CIA transporting cash "to the CIA's station in Berlin to complete the transaction," Matthew Rosenberg of the New York Times published a similar story, adding that the cash was routed through an indirect channel, and delivered in a Berlin hotel room last September.
In reaction, the CIA called the report "fictional," telling the Daily Caller News Foundation:
“The people swindled here were James Risen and Matt Rosenberg," adding "The fictional story that CIA was bilked out of $100,000 is patently false”
Rosenberg responded over twitter, attacking the CIA's statement that the NYT said they were the source of the funds:
James Risen of The Intercept tells CBS News "It's a very complicated story."
"First, the CIA and the NSA were trying to recover stolen NSA documents that allow people to do very sophisticated hacks, and they were worried that those documents would allow for really horrible hacks of American systems. So that was their main focus, was to try to buy back documents from the Russians on that. And in this process of conducting a secret channel with the Russians, some of the Russians began to offer documents related to Trump and to the 2016 campaign. And the Americans were very ambivalent about whether they wanted to get these documents, because they know how explosive this whole issue is."
"So there was a lot of back and forth between the Russians and the Americans about whether the Americans would even accept the documents about Trump," said Risen. "And so finally it appears that they accepted some, but their primary goal all along for the CIA and the NSA was to get these documents back from a group called Shadow Brokers."
The Times reported that the NSA cyberweapons were designed to hack into Russian and Chinese computer networks, but wound up in the hands of a hacking collective known as the "Shadow Brokers." Hackers have reportedly used the tools to crack into networks around the world, including businesses, hospitals and factories.