- United States agents extracted a high-level mole in the Russian government who had confirmed Vladimir Putin's direct role in interfering in the 2016 presidential election, American media reported. The individual had been providing information to U.S. intelligence for decades, had access to Putin and had sent pictures of high-level documents on the Russian leader's desk, CNN said.
Russian state news agency RIA said on Wednesday it had visited a house listed as owned by a man named Oleg Smolenkov in Stafford, Virginia, near Washington D.C., an area where it said many former US military and Federal Bureau of Investigation personnel live.
Following the U.S. reports, Russian newspaper Kommersant said the Kremlin official might have been a man named Oleg Smolenkov.
Asked on Thursday whether he knew Smolenkov, Ushakov told reporters: "No comment".
Publicly available records show that a house was purchased in 2018 under the name of Mr. Smolenkov and his wife near D.C.in northern Virginia, and NBC News reported that journalists who tried visiting the address this week were promptly met by suspected USA agents monitoring the residence.
CNN first reported on the unidentified Central Intelligence Agency mole's extraction Monday, which the network said was driven in part by President Trump mishandling classified information. What a goal, it is absolutely, there is no doubt, domestic. The U.S. election campaign began.
The Kremlin has said that Smolenkov was not a high-level official when he later transferred to the presidential administration after returning to Russian Federation and did not have access to President Vladimir Putin. This information was refuted by Lavrov, who said no secrets were let out at the meeting with Trump and former United States top diplomat Rex Tillerson, which was confirmed by then the National Security Advisor Herbert Raymond McMaster.
The source familiar with the US handling of the case said on Wednesday that the Central Intelligence Agency had moved to extract the informant because of growing fears his activities and identity could leak.
"Misguided speculation that the president's handling of our nation's most sensitive intelligence - which he has access to each and every day - drove an alleged exfiltration operation is inaccurate", CIA director for public affairs Brittany Bramell told CNN this week.