Last year, three of the people said, Haspel tasked the CIA’s general counsel, Courtney Elwood, with reviewing virtually every product that comes out of Russia House, which is home to analysts and targeters who are experts in Russia and the post-Soviet space, before it “goes downtown” to the White House. One former CIA lawyer called it “unprecedented that a general counsel would be involved to this extent.”
Four of the people said the change has resulted in less intelligence on Russia making its way to the White House, but the exact reason for that — whether Elwood has been blocking it, or whether Russia officers have become disillusioned and are producing less, or even self-censoring for fear of being reprimanded — is less clear…
Current and former officials have said that in private, the president remains extraordinarily sensitive around the subject of Russian meddling — to the point where they hesitate to raise the topic. As recently as last Thursday, the president blasted his own FBI director on Twitter for testifying that Moscow was seeking to “sow divisiveness and discord” and “denigrate Vice President Biden” in a bid to influence the 2020 campaign.
A CIA spokesperson did not dispute any of the factual assertions in this article. But he pushed back on the notion that Haspel’s enhanced scrutiny was politically motivated.