According to Marc Polymeropoulos, who until July 2019 oversaw clandestine operations in Europe and Eurasia, the White House instructed a skeptical intelligence community to share counterterrorism intelligence with Russia, in pursuit of a great-power rapprochement that its predecessors in the Bush and Obama administrations had similarly tried. The effort began at the dawn of the administration.

“As expected, the U.S. got absolutely nothing in return,” said Polymeropoulos, who first discussed the channel on Wednesday with Ryan Goodman of Just Security. “But there was a lot of focus on this from the White House and it came to naught.”…

The order to share intelligence was a standing directive, Polymeropoulos said, encouraging the intelligence agencies to share whenever possible. “You roll your eyes, you shrug, but you gotta do this,” he said. He did not believe the intelligence-sharing harmed U.S. interests; instead, it appeared naive. Pushing back on it would not have been appropriate: “It would feed into the ‘Deep State’ narrative” of security services going rogue to shank Trump, he said.

But agency leaders, both Pompeo and his successor, current CIA Director Gina Haspel, knew of internal dissatisfaction. “Leadership was well aware of the unanimity in view that this was a waste of time,” Polymeropoulos said, “but it doesn’t matter, because it’s [administration] policy. We had to still go through with it.”