CNN hit by CIA over ‘spy removal’ story: ‘Simply false’

Screengran CNN, Jim Sciutto

CNN reported Monday that the U.S. pulled a high level spy from Russia because of concerns about President Donald Trump’s ability to handle classified information.

The network that all but dedicates 24/7 coverage to destroying Trump reported that the decision was made because the president had “repeatedly mishandled classified intelligence and could contribute to exposing the covert source as a spy.”

The Central Intelligence Agency on Monday evening responded to denounce CNN’s “misguided” reporting as “simply false.”

“CNN’s narrative that the Central Intelligence Agency makes life-or-death decisions based on anything other than objective analysis and sound collection is simply false,” CIA director of public affairs, Brittany Bramell, said in a statement.

The White House went even further, saying in a statement that the network may be putting lives “in danger.”

“CNN’s reporting is not only incorrect, it has the potential to put lives in danger,” said White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham in a statement.

The article in question is from CNN chief national security correspondent Jim Sciutto, a former Obama administration official.

“The removal happened at a time of wide concern in the intelligence community about mishandling of intelligence by Trump and his administration,” Sciutto said in the piece. “Those concerns were described to CNN by five sources who served in the Trump administration, intelligence agencies and Congress.”

As of this writing, Sciutto still has the article pinned atop his Twitter feed.

The caption reads: “CNN Exclusive: The US extracted one of its top spies from Russia in 2017, worried about exposure and Trump’s handling of intelligence.”

Sciutto went on the air Monday evening to claim the New York Times “confirmed our story,” even though a Times piece that ran Monday largely contradicted his reporting.

The newspaper said CIA officials “made the arduous decision in late 2016 to offer to extract the source from Russia.”

This being weeks before Trump took office, with the Times pointing to media reports on Russian election interference as the deciding factor.

“Former intelligence officials said there was no public evidence that Mr. Trump directly endangered the source, and other current American officials insisted that media scrutiny of the agency’s sources alone was the impetus for the extraction,” the Times said.

For what it’s worth, Sciutto co-bylined the debunked CNN “scoop” that Michael Cohen had information that President Trump knew in advance about the infamous June 2016 Trump Tower meeting with Russian officials, according to Fox News.

Turned out the source of that story was attorney Lanny Davis, who was representing Cohen. Davis admitted he “could not independently confirm what happened.”

Ronna McDaniel, chair of the Republican National Committee, turned to Twitter to say: “Yesterday, Obama appointee and CNN “reporter” Jim Sciutto published a bogus story about [Trump]. 24 hours later and STILL no apology. Ridiculous.”

Here’s a sampling of other responses to the story from Twitter:


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