While President Donald Trump continues to deny that Russia was involved in hacking the 2016 election, intelligence agencies maintain they were and continue to be. One former CIA station chief believes the reports and warns that they show no sign of slowing.
In an NPR interview, Daniel Hoffman recalled his time spent at a U.S. diplomatic compound in Moscow. He warned that every American official should consider themselves a target.
“I should know. I was one of them,” Hoffman said.
The CIA veteran spent five years working in Moscow and is a three-time station chief, so he has a lot of experience observing Russian spies. He currently writes for The Cipher Brief.
“It pointed to a discoverable influence operation rather than some effort to establish a clandestine channel for collusion,” he said.
In an op-ed for The New York Times, Hoffman alleged that the meetings were meant to be discovered and Putin left a trail from Trump Tower back to the Kremlin, a fact he told Fox News last week. He thinks that the goal was to undermine the credibility of the 2016 election and diminish United States democracy.
Hoffman doesn’t see any evidence of “anyone actually colluding with the Russians,” he said. Other intelligence veterans have publicly disagreed. However, Hoffman thinks it is telling of the tactics Russia is willing to use. He also thinks the Russians were involved in the notorious dossier about Trump.
“One possible explanation for the content was that Russian intelligence was aware that the dossier was being written,” Hoffman explained. “And that they fed not only true information — but untrue information as well, which is their regular modus operandi for covert influence operations.”
But when asked if he thinks Russia has “dirt” on Trump he paused for “an uncharacteristically” long time, NPR described.
“The way I would answer that question is that Russian intelligence collects information on their own people,” he claimed. “They focus to a great extent on us at the American Embassy, to collect information on us. They seek to understand [as they say in Russian] what makes us breathe. That’s really what they want to know.”
So Russian spies might be trying to figure out what makes the new U.S. president tick. Meanwhile, Putin has retaliated against the sanctions and expelled 755 diplomats from the country. The U.S. gets to choose which ones, however.