US spies made a deal last year with a seller to provide them with their stolen cyber-weapons, but what they eventually received was compromising material on President Donald Trump, according to American and European intelligence officials.
The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) as well as the National Security Agency (NSA) was engaged in top-secret negotiations last year with a “Russian intermediary,” to recover their classified hacking tools.
The man promised the US spies to provide them with the full NSA cache, stolen back in 2016, sources said. He also reportedly offered some revelations that he claimed could shed light on Trump’s presidential campaign’s alleged ties with Moscow.
The “Russian” was acting as a middle-man and initially demanded $10 million for the trove, but later slashed the price down to $1 million, the Times wrote, citing unnamed intelligence officials.
The US spies reportedly made it clear that they did not want “the Trump material” from the seller. Instead of providing the hacking tools, the seller produced unverified and possibly fabricated information involving Trump and others, including bank records, emails and purported Russian intelligence data.
The report said US businessman delivered the $100,000 payment to the man last September, and a few weeks later, he began handing over data to the US spies.
However, almost all of what the man delivered to the US officials in October and December was related to the 2016 election, and there were noting related to NSA and CIA hacking tools.
Earlier this year, US spies gave the man “one last chance” to provide them with the hacking tolls, according to the Times, which wrote, the man once again showed up with nothing more than excuses.
The United States intelligence officials said they cut off the deal, because they were “wary of being entangled in a Russian operation to create discord” inside the US government.
The CIA declined to comment on the negotiations with the seller.
According to the report, the intelligence officials were also fearful of political fallout in Washington if they were seen to be buying scurrilous information on Trump.
There are several investigations into alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. US intelligence agencies have concluded that Russia tried to help Trump win the election by hacking and releasing emails damaging to his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton.
The president and the Russian government have both consistently denied any collusion.