Intelligence officers in charge of briefing President Donald Trump on threats against the nation are reportedly “terrified” of speaking to him about Russia out of fear of how the president will react.
“No one’s going to brief anything on Russia to the president,” Marc Polymeropoulos told GQ correspondent Julia Ioffe. “They’re terrified of doing that. I know that from the briefers. Because he’ll explode and the whole thing will get derailed, because he has this weird affinity for [Russian President Vladimir] Putin.”
Asked why Putin is such a touchy subject, Polymeropoulos said that Trump “wants Putin to like him.”
“He doesn’t want to be embarrassed in front of Putin, that’s part of the dilemma,” he said.
“Just look at how he behaves with the Queen. That’s how he behaves with everyone who has any glamour and cachet,” he continued, adding, “Putin has everything he doesn’t have.”
The former official’s comments bolster a September report from Politico alleging that CIA Director Gina Haspel has been preventing intelligence about Russia from reaching the president’s ears to appease him.
The former Soviet republic ran disinformation campaigns to tilt the 2016 U.S. presidential election in Trump’s favor, and Trump has been repeatedly criticized throughout his presidency for his dealings with Putin, which have included at least five secret meetings. Most recently, Trump allies have been accused of playing into the Russians’ hands by accepting and making political hay out of disinformation about Democratic presidential contender Joe Biden and his family.
Ioffe’s in-depth reporting describes the lingering effects of a mysterious attack Polymeropoulos, a former CIA operative, withstood while staying at a Moscow hotel in December 2017. He believes he was hit with the same unknown device that has been aimed at U.S. diplomats in Cuba and China and is believed to be wielded by Russians.
Some experts believe the device uses microwaves to target specific individuals or rooms, causing sudden and overwhelming nausea and dizziness. Some victims say the attacks were accompanied by either a high or low buzzing or grinding noise.
According to Ioffe, the scope of the attacks is actually much larger than previously known to the public ― CIA agents all over the globe have suffered its effects, which include lasting brain damage ― and, under the Trump administration, the United States is not doing much to stop them.
Polymeropoulos alleges that Russia knows Trump “is at war with our intelligence community” and thus feels emboldened to “kick them when they’re down.”
The result has reportedly fueled frustration and anger within the U.S. intelligence community.