President Donald Trump sounded his campaign battle cry of “drain the swamp” again Saturday morning in response to an article about US spies attempting to recover stolen US cyberweapons.
On Friday, The New York Times reported that, according to American and European intelligence officials, US spies paid a Russian $100,000 last year in an attempt to gather NSA cybertools that had been stolen. The Russian, according to the Times, also had promised compromising information on Trump.
The newspaper reported that several American intelligence officials said their only objective was to obtain the cyberweapons and not the information on Trump. However, when they delivered the $100,000 – the first payment of the $1 million deal – all they received was shoddy information on Trump and his associates.
This led the US spies to terminate the agreement because they did not want it to look as if they were trying to buy compromising information on the President, the Times’ report said.
Trump’s tweet on Saturday said, “It is all starting to come out.”
“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!” he wrote.
But Matthew Rosenberg, the reporter who wrote the article, emphasized that several US intelligence officials said they made clear they didn’t want the Trump material from the Russian.
“I think anybody who is in the CIA, NSA, any of the American intelligence agencies, will tell you they do not go out and spy on Americans, they’re not going out to look for material on Americans,” Rosenberg said in interview with CNN’s Ana Cabrera on Saturday. “If somebody comes to them with something of real counterintelligence value that shows that an American is working as an agent of a foreign power, then, yes, they’re interested. But I don’t think anybody was sure that this met that standard. And the politics in Washington being what they are right now, you can understand why somebody at the CIA or the NSA would say, ‘No, thank you, we want no part in this.’”
Trump has questioned the integrity of US intelligence in the past. Despite the intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia meddled in the 2016 election, Trump on occasion has seemingly dismissed this analysis.
Trump has also said he believes Russian President Vladimir Putin when he denies Russian interference in the election.
“He said he didn’t meddle. He said he didn’t meddle. I asked him again. You can only ask so many times,” Trump said in November.
“Every time he sees me, he says, ‘I didn’t do that,’” Trump added. “And I believe, I really believe, that when he tells me that, he means it.”
There are multiple ongoing investigations looking into whether Trump associates had ties to the Russians during the election. Trump has repeatedly denied any collusion.