CIA director Mike Pompeo pushed back on Thursday (Feb 1) against suggestions that a visit to the United States by Russian intelligence chiefs had contributed to the Trump administration's delay in imposing fresh sanctions on Moscow, saying in a letter that USA officials "pull no punches" when sitting down with their Russian counterparts.
"Russia hacked our elections. So which other sanctioned Russian Federation intelligence agency figures has the Trump administration let into our country?"
The administration's dealings with Moscow remains a focal point as Justice Department independent counsel Robert S. Mueller's probe pursues allegations that Trump campaign officials colluded with to tamper in the election. The administration and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are at odds over the release of a congressional memo about surveillance related to possible links between the Trump campaign and Russian Federation.
The U.S. intelligence official told Reuters that "it was no accident that Russia chose to publicize" the visit after years of not disclosing meetings between U.S. and Russian intelligence officials.
Current and former USA intelligence officials said they couldn't recall so many heads of Russia's espionage and security apparatus coming to Washington at once and meeting with a top American official.
Former U.S. intelligence officials and other experts noted CIA directors routinely communicate with their Russian counterparts.
Government agencies at times need to secure waivers to get certain individuals into the country, according to a USA official, who agreed to discuss the process only on condition of anonymity.
And lawmakers are blasting the Trump administration for failing to impose new Russia-related sanctions that some had expected this week. There is nothing "untoward" about such meetings, Pompeo said.
A Russian Embassy tweet disclosed Naryshkin's visit.
Schumer had demanded to know why the officials were allowed into the country, despite existing sanctions.
"We sanction the head of their foreign intelligence, and then the Trump administration invites him to waltz through our front door", Schumer said, calling it "an extreme dereliction of duty by President Trump".
Indeed, there is a very long history of U.S. attempts to cooperate with Russian intelligence services, said Andrew Weiss, a vice president of studies at the Carnegie Endowment who oversees research into Russia and Eurasia.
"Let me assure you there is not", he wrote to Mr. Schumer.
"There's just a fundamental difference piled on top of the fact that the two countries' intelligence agencies are basically at war", Weiss said.
The CIA has acknowledged that the meeting with Russian officials took place, but did not reveal which Russian officials attended the meeting.
Pompeo said in a January 29 interview with the BBC that us and Russian spy agencies had cooperated, but he told the BBC that Russia was still considered an adversary. "We vigorously defend America in these encounters and pull no punches - we never will". -Russian relations. They include Russia's 2014 seizure of Crimea and its interference in Ukraine and Russia's military intervention on the government's side in the Syrian civil war.