The current CIA director reportedly played on Donald Trump’s emotions to persuade him to expel dozens of Russian diplomats, using pictures of dead ducks and sick children that she claimed had been exposed to Novichok.
The New York Times reports that the president was reluctant to throw out any Russian officials in the aftermath of the Salisbury poisonings in Britain last year, until Gina Haspel, who was CIA deputy director at the time, showed him pictures of children “sickened by the Novichok” and “a photograph of ducks that British officials said were inadvertently killed by the sloppy work of the Russian operatives.”
The revelation marks the first public mention of the existence of such material which the New York Times reports had been provided by British intelligence.
At no point during the Salisbury poisoning saga have the British authorities mentioned the discovery of dead ducks or children having been made ill by poison. Britain’s Daily Telegraph newspaper says its government sources are not aware of any photographs having been sent to the CIA.
There are now questions over whether Trump was not only emotionally manipulated by a senior member of his own spy agency, but also whether he was shown misinformation or misleading material in order to get him to take more hostile actions against Russia.
It’s suggested that Haspel resorted to playing on the emotions of Trump because he was reluctant to agree to London’s request to expel diplomats. He reportedly regarded the Salisbury poisoning as “legitimate spy games,” although Moscow denies any responsibility for what happened to former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia.
Haspel is said to have pushed for the “strong option” of sending 60 Russian diplomats home, which is what Trump ultimately agreed to.
The pictures shown to the president may refer to the three children who were asked to go to hospital two weeks after the Skripals were found poisoned, but all three were given the all clear.
The children had apparently fed ducks alongside the former spy on the day he was discovered unconscious on a park bench, but there was no evidence of exposure to poisonous substances in any of them and they were sent home.
The report in the NYT has now opened yet more room for speculation surrounding events in Salisbury. There is either evidence which has not been publicly released by Britain for unknown reasons or the CIA was manipulating the material it gave to Trump.