As the federal investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election moves forward under special counsel Robert Mueller, some staff members at the CIA are concerned about Director Mike Pompeo’s role overseeing the CIA subdivision working most closely with the FBI, according to a Thursday evening report in the Washington Post.
Upon becoming CIA director, Pompeo required that the CIA’s Counterintelligence Mission Center, which has passed on information to the FBI about contacts between the Trump campaign and Russian officials and continues to aide the FBI in its probe, report directly to him.
This move has made some staffers particularly wary of Pompeo’s leadership, per the Post, as he must balance his role leading the FBI with his loyalty to Trump. The CIA director has downplayed the Russia probe and Russia’s election interference, telling attendees at a conference in Aspen, Colorado that Russia has interfered in several U.S. elections.
Per the Washington Post:
Pompeo has not impeded that work, officials said. But several officials said there is concern about what he might do if the CIA uncovered new information potentially damaging to Trump and Pompeo were forced to choose between protecting the agency or the president.
One unnamed CIA official told the Post that there is a “real concern for interference and politicization” with Pompeo and that some staff at the CIA worry “that if you were passing on something too dicey [to Pompeo] he would go to the White House with it.”
Asked about this, CIA spokesman Ryan Trapani told the newspaper that such concerns are “ridiculous.”
“The FBI and special counsel’s office are leading the law enforcement investigation into this matter — not CIA. CIA is providing relevant information in support of that investigation, and neither the director nor CIA will interfere with it,” he told the Post.
Later Friday, CIA spokesman Dean Boyd pushed back further on the story, telling TPM in a statement that Pompeo had the Counterintelligence Mission Center report directly to him in order to deter leaks.
“The Director’s decision to have CIMC report directly to him was also made with the clear intention to signal to the CIA workforce, former intelligence officers still in possession of classified information, and those who would publish such information that he is serious about protecting the Agency, its officers, and operations,” Boyd said.
Read the full report here.
This post has been updated.