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Former spies have dismissed US President Donald Trump’s claim that no one told him Russia may have been paying militants to kill US troops, with one of them, Steve Hall, former chief of CIA Russia operations, telling the Business Insider on July 1, 2020 that the denial is “horses___.”

If the White House claim were true, it would be a catastrophic failure on the part of the intelligence community and amount to "dereliction of duty," a former CIA analyst told Business Insider. The other possibility, Hall said, is "whether the topic of Russia has become so radioactive in this administration, dating back to the 2016 election, that it can't even be raised with Trump because he just goes bonkers or shuts down." He added: "Ever since 9/11, any time you get any type of counterterrorism or threat reporting that speaks to whether Americans are going to get killed, that sort of information travels extremely quickly and doesn't have to be vetted," Hall said. "And that's all right because the outcome could be horrific. You could have Americans killed." If the underlying intelligence is questionable, or if there's a debate on its credibility, "you convey that as well, but the one thing you don't do — and you're taught this as an intelligence officer from the very beginning — is just write it off," Hall said. "It would be intelligence malpractice for anybody in the IC to look at something like this that could result in Americans dying and say, 'We haven't validated the source, so we can't talk about it or brief the president about it.' That's just ludicrous."

Rodney Faraon, a former CIA analyst who provided intelligence briefings to President Bill Clinton, told Insider: "The fact there is dissent within the intelligence community about the veracity of reporting means that the subject matter was important enough to be raised to the level of discussion between different agencies." Faraon added: "This is intelligence that deals with the safety and security of American troops. This is the type of information that would be flagged as really important, particularly if it came through intelligence channels."

Katrina Mulligan, who worked on the NSC during the Obama administration, said on Twitter there is "often no consensus on intel" and that "as any NSC staffer can tell you, Presidents and their teams are often forced to make decisions in the absence of perfect information. That's the job!" David Priess, a former CIA officer who briefed Clinton and President George W. Bush on intelligence, expressed skepticism about Trump's claims that he and other top officials were not briefed, writing on Twitter that if the intelligence was not considered serious enough to merit Trump's attention, then "shame on the system." It turned out the matter was included in the President’s Daily Brief in February 2019, was known to White House officials and was even relayed to NATO generals.

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