A Russian who offered stolen National Security Agency cyberweapons and compromising information on President Donald Trump bilked U.S. spies out of $100,000 last year, The New York Times reported on Friday, citing U.S. and European security officials.
The payment was part of an intended $1 million payout to the Russian, the report said. He claimed to a wide-ranging collection of secrets including material on the stolen cyberweapons and on Trump, including a 2013 video of Trump with prostitutes in a Moscow hotel room. Rumors that Russian intelligence possessed this video arose in an unverified dossier over a year ago, but its existence remains unverified.
The theft of the secret hacking tools was very damaging to the CIA and NSA, which was trying to determine exactly what was missing, said the Times. Several U.S. intelligence officials told the paper they said they did not want the Trump information from the Russian, who was suspected of having ties to Russian intelligence and Eastern European cybercriminals.
But instead of providing the hacking tools, the Russian produced unverified and possibly fabricated material involving Trump and others, including bank records, emails and purported Russian intelligence data, the paper cited the officials as saying.
The report says the U.S. intelligence organizations halted the deal because they not want to be perceived as purchasing disparaging information about a sitting president, and were weary of becoming entangled in Russian operations to sow discord inside the U.S.
The report said American intelligence officers cut off engagement with the Russian when it became clear he was likely false claims.
Reuters contributed to this report.
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