CIA Director Mike Pompeo responded to a letter from Democratic Senate Leader Chuck Schumer raising concerns about a meeting Pompeo had with the head of Russia’s top spy agency.
Pompeo said that Schumer implied there was something “untoward” about the meeting. “Let me assure you there is not,” Pompeo wrote. “We periodically meet with our Russian intelligence counterparts for the same reason our predecessors did—to keep Americans safe.”
Schumer was questioning a recent meeting between Pompeo and Sergey Naryshkin, the director of Russia’s foreign intelligence service at the same time the Trump administration was deciding not to impose sanctions on Russia. That decision was announced earlier this week.
Pompeo pushed back on the implication, saying that talks with his Russian counterparts are always frank, and businesslike. “Neither side is bashful about raising concerns relating to our intelligence relationships and the interests of our respective nations. We vigorously defend America in these encounters and pull no punches — we never will,” Pompeo wrote.
The Russian ambassador to the U.S. Anatoly Antonov also characterized the talks as ordinary, as well as productive. “You probably remember that Vladimir [Putin] called Donald Trump and thanked him for help, for the information that was received through the line with the CIA, and thanks to that [we] were able to prevent a horrible act of terrorism in St. Petersburg,” Antonov said.
Pompeo also wrote that while it’s understood that Russia is an adversary, he said that American lives would be at “greater risk if we ignored opportunities to work with the Russian services in the fight against terrorism.”
Schumer has also sent a letter to the Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats today, asking if Naryshkin met with any other officials while in the U.S. and why Naryshkin who is under sanctions that should have barred him from entry was allowed to travel to the U.S.