Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Gina Haspel and President Donald Trump attend the swearing-in ceremony for Haspel as CIA director May 21, 2018, in Langley, Va. | Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Gina Haspel and President Donald Trump attend the swearing-in ceremony for Haspel as CIA director May 21, 2018, in Langley, Va. | Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Russia House My OH My!

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is challenging Russian intelligence products to reach the White House and President Trump. CIA Director Haspel is cautious about which Russian intelligence products President Trump reads and appears suspicious of the CIA’s “Russia House”, whom she often accuses of purposefully misleading her. Russia House has targets and analysts who are Russian experts. As a result, Director Haspel tasked the CIA’s general counsel, Courtney Elwood, with reviewing Russia House’s intelligence products before they reach the White House. This is a unique strategy as one former CIA lawyer states, it is “unprecedented that a general counsel would be involved to this extent”.

This has reduced the amount of Russian related intelligence from the CIA to the White House and the National Security Council. Coincidently, the CIA began cautiously sending Russian intel to the White House at the start of President Trump’s impeachment proceedings. It is also worth noting a whistleblower complaint from the CIA started the impeachment. This lead to greater mistrust towards Russian-related intelligence among the CIA’s top ranks and the White House. President Trump has recently criticized the intelligence community (IC) for concluding Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election to boost his candidacy. He has also put his loyalists in top IC positions.

Director Haspel has scrutinized Russia House’s intelligence reports. Likewise, The head of Russia House was fired earlier this year. It was clear Director Haspel did not like this head. Another Russia house analyst quit after Director Haspel accused him of lying about intelligence. More recently, Director Haspel dismissed Russia House analysts who showed a correlation between Russia and diplomats with Brian trauma. This first originated in 2017 when Canadian embassy staff in Cuba experienced mysterious health issues.   

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