A Russian man promising stolen hacking tools and compromising information on President Donald Trump fleeced American spies for US$100,000 past year, The New York Times reported Friday. It agreed to pay $1 million and delivered the first $100,000 cash payment in a suitcase to a hotel in Berlin. American officials told the NYT that the "theft of the secret hacking tools had been devastating to the N.S.A., and the agency was struggling to get a full inventory of what was missing".
According to USA and European intelligence officials cited in the report, the CIA was wary of the Trump information touted by the Russian-as the agency didn't want to become embroiled in a domestic political controversy.
The Central Intelligence Agency declined to comment on the negotiations with the Russian seller.
The newspaper's sources say that after that, the Americans turned down their deal, because they were afraid to become part of the "Russian operation undermining the American government". Later, the Russian operative changed the price to $1 million.
The spy saga, unravelling somewhere in Germany, dragged for months, during which the NSA even allegedly used its official Twitter account to send coded messages to arrange numerous secret meetings. The Russian, according to the Times, also had promised compromising information on Trump.
The CIA and NSA were engaged in secret negotiations with a "Russian intermediary" a year ago in a desperate effort to retrieve documents and hacking tools stolen by the mysterious Shadow Brokers collective, Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter James Risen wrote in an for the Intercept, citing sources familiar with the matter.
No officials wanted to pass on information they thought might help determine what had happened.
USA intelligence agencies believe that Russia's spy services see the deep political divisions in the United States as a fresh opportunity to inflame partisan tensions. In addition, he just recently had Russian top spy agents (one banned to be in America) come here and meet with Mike Pompeo, our CIA director and other intelligence officials.
The seller, who was not identified in the report, allegedly offered to sell the USA its hacking tools back, after they were advertised for sale online by a group called the Shadow Brokers.
There are multiple ongoing investigations looking into whether Trump associates had ties to the Russians during the election.
Yet all four appear to be drawn nearly entirely from news reports, not secret intelligence.
This led the United States spies to terminate the agreement because they did not want it to look as if they were trying to buy compromising information on the President, the Times' report said.