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America’s spy agencies are allegedly withholding important intelligence from a White House they consider to be compromised by both leaks and the Kremlin, according to a former National Security Agency analyst and U.S. Naval War College professor.
The security expert, John Schindler, worked as a counterintelligence officer and made the claims in a series of columns published on the New York Observer’s website—a publication that had been managed and owned by President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, before he took up an advisory role within the administration.
“Not only do senior officials possess troubling ties to the Kremlin, there are nagging questions about basic competence regarding Team Trump,” Schindler writes.
“Since January 20, we’ve assumed that the Kremlin has ears inside the SITROOM,” an unnamed Pentagon official is quoted in the article as saying. “There’s not much the Russians don’t know at this point.”
Reports of the intelligence community’s crisis of confidence come as a scandal surrounding National Security Adviser Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn unfolds, and looks to be leading toward an administration-wide staff shake down.
It has emerged that Flynn, whose links with Moscow had been a concern from the outset, spoke numerous times with a Russian ambassador Sergei Kislyak about the lifting of sanctions former President Barack Obama put in place following revelations of the Kremlin’s meddling in the 2016 election.
The FBI are currently investigating the transcript of one of the conversations and, security issues briefly aside, Flynn’s dishonesty about the nature of his engagement with the ambassador is causing serious relational rifts within the White House that may, ultimately, cost him his job.
Now, staffers have reportedly taken to encrypted channels and huddle in local bars discussing whether to purge their social media accounts as Trump’s officials are said to be considering an “insider threat program” to patch up on leaks and surveil communications.
Trust between Trump and the intelligence community had been frayed by the president’s historically hostile stance toward them. Now, it is being tested to what increasingly seems like a breaking point.
David Gilmour is a reporter who specializes in national politics, internet culture, and technology. He previously covered civil liberties, crime, and politics for Vice.