- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 1, 2018

CIA Director Michael Pompeo on Thursday rejected Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer’s attempt to cast suspicion upon his meeting with Russia’s top spy.

Mr. Pompeo said his meeting in Washington with Sergey Naryshkin, head of the Russian intelligence service known by its acronym SVR, was part of ongoing periodic talks between the two countries on counterterrorism and other issues of mutual concern.

“We periodically meet with our Russian intelligence counterparts for the same reason our predecessors did — to keep America safe,” Mr. Pompeo wrote in a letter to the New York Democrat.

Mr. Schumer had written to Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats demanding an explanation why Mr. Naryshkin was allowed into the U.S. despite sanctions to block his travel, and implying that the meeting played a role in a Trump administration decision last month not to increase sanctions on Russia.

“A U.S. meeting with the chief of the SVR a little more than a year after our Intelligence Community unanimously concluded that Russia interfered in the 2016 U.S. election raises a number important questions,” Mr. Schumer wrote.

The administration’s dealings with Moscow remains a focal point as Justice Department independent counsel Robert S. Mueller’s probe pursues allegations that Trump campaign officials colluded with Russia to tamper in the election.

Mr. Pompeo bristled at the suggestion that “there was something untoward in officials from Russian intelligence services meeting with their U.S. counterparts.”

“Let me assure you there is not,” he wrote to Mr. Schumer.

“While Russia remains an adversary, we would put American lives at greater risk if we ignored opportunities to work with the Russian series in the fight against terrorism,” Mr. Pompeo said. “We are proud of that countertenor work, including CIA’s role with its Russian counterparts in the recent disruption of a terrorist plot targeting St. Petersburg, Russia — a plot that could have killed Americans.”

Mr. Pompeo said that the CIA and SVR often discuss hot-button issues.

“Neither side is bashful about raising concerns relating to our intelligence relationships and the interest of our respective nations,” he said. “We vigorously defend America in this enters and pull no punches — we never will.”

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