U.S. reportedly extracted spy from Moscow over fear of Trump spilling beans

President Donald Trump listens to a question during an interview with The Associated Press in the Oval Office of the White House Tuesday Oct. 16 2018 in Washington

According to multiple news reports citing sources in American espionage community, the informant was whisked out of Russian Federation two years ago amid fears he was at risk of exposure, depriving Washington of essential insight into Putin's activities and thinking.

The New York Times reported that USA intelligence officials first thought the informant might be in danger in late 2016 after the us government revealed the severity of Russia's election interference and the media began following up on details about the CIA's Kremlin sources.

It cited unnamed Russian law enforcement officials as saying Moscow had initially opened an investigation into his suspected murder in Montenegro before concluding he was alive and living overseas.

Kommersant published a picture of a house in Virginia which it said had been bought by a man named Smolenkov in 2018.

At the end of the Obama administration, U.S. intelligence officials had already expressed concerns about the safety of this spy and other Russian assets, given the length of their cooperation with the United States, according to the former senior intelligence official. "I can only confirm that there actually was this staffer and that he was subsequently fired", Mr. Peskov said. The reports of Smolenkov being a US spy are "pulp fiction", he added.

Asked to confirm whether Smolenkov was a Central Intelligence Agency agent, Peskov responded negatively.

Media speculation "pulp fiction"It is true that Smolenkov worked in the presidential administration, but he was sacked several years ago".

"I do not know whether he was an agent or not".

President Donald Trump speaks with reporters before boarding the presidential helicopter in the South Courtyard of the White House Monday

"That's a pretty remarkable intelligence community product - much more specific than what you normally see", one USA official told the Post of the Obama report. It's extremely light on details about the spy (to help safeguard the spy's identity, per CNN) and the extraction (details that CNN says it is not privy to).

"All this United States media speculation about who urgently extracted who and saved who from who and so on - this is more the genre of pulp fiction, crime reading", Mr Peskov said.

Weeks after the decision to extract the spy, in July 2017, Trump met privately with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G20 summit in Hamburg and took the unusual step of confiscating the interpreter's notes.

It cited some unnamed sources as saying they thought Smolenkov had only done routine work and could not have passed anything more than "two-bit rumours" to the Americans. It said Mr. Putin was, in part, motivated by a "grudge" against Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton "for comments he nearly certainly saw as disparaging him". This article is based on interviews in recent months with current and former officials who spoke on the condition that their names not be used discussing classified information.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said separately on Tuesday he had never heard of Smolenkov.

The man was allegedly key in providing information that led USA intelligence to conclude Putin directly orchestrated Russian interference in favor of Trump and against his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election, the Times said.

However, new reporting revealed that not only is Trump not to blame for the spy extraction but also that former President Barack Obama's administration was at least partially culpable.

Lavrov said on Tuesday that nobody had divulged any secrets to him at the meeting with Trump.

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