Suspect Identified in C.I.A. Leak Was Charged, but Not for the Breach


In court in January, a prosecutor, the assistant United States attorney Matthew J. Laroche, said that “the government immediately had enough evidence” to make Mr. Schulte a target of the investigation. He said that the investigation was continuing, and that it involved in part how Tor, software that allows anonymous communication on the internet, “was used in transmitting classified information.”

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The prime suspect, Joshua A. Schulte, has not faced charges in the breach, though prosecutors have charged him in a separate child pornography case.

Mr. Schulte’s lawyers have repeatedly demanded that prosecutors make a decision on the Vault 7 leak charges. Prosecutors said in court last week that they plan to file a new indictment in the next 45 days, and Mr. Schulte’s lawyer, Sabrina P. Shroff of the federal public defender’s office, asked the court to impose a deadline on any charges that the government sought to bring under the Espionage Act for supplying the secret C.I.A. files to WikiLeaks.

“This case has been dragging since August 2017,” Ms. Shroff said in an interview. “The government should be required to indict so Mr. Schulte has the opportunity to defend himself. Otherwise he is just languishing.”

Spokesmen for the C.I.A. and the Justice Department declined to comment. When WikiLeaks began to post the stolen documents last year, the C.I.A. said in a statement, “The American public should be deeply troubled by any WikiLeaks disclosure designed to damage the Intelligence Community’s ability to protect America against terrorists and other adversaries.”

Family members, who have spent much of their savings on legal fees, say they believe that Mr. Schulte is a “scapegoat” for the C.I.A.’s inability to secure its most sensitive files. They say the child pornography charges, based on his actions nine years ago when he was 20, are a thin pretext for keeping him incarcerated.

“I am just scared to death,” said Roger Schulte, Mr. Schulte’s father, who lives in Lubbock, Tex. “I think he’s innocent of all these crimes, as far as everything I’ve seen.” The elder Mr. Schulte said that his son was in college when he built the server later found to contain child pornography, and that he “had so many people accessing it he didn’t care what people put on it.”

Far from leaking classified information, his father said, Mr. Schulte had actually complained about security vulnerabilities at the C.I.A., first to his superiors and later to the agency’s inspector general and to a House Intelligence Committee staff member. Family members shared with The Times evidence of those contacts, which predated the Vault 7 release.

According to his family and his LinkedIn page, Mr. Schulte did an internship at the National Security Agency while working on a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering. He worked in the C.I.A.’s Engineering Development Group, which designed the hacking tools used by its Center for Cyber Intelligence. He left the agency in November 2016 and moved to New York to work for Bloomberg L.P. as a software engineer.

Live Briefing: Gina Haspel Vows at Confirmation Hearing That She Would Not Allow Torture by C.I.A.


“From my first days in training, I had a knack for the nuts and bolts of my profession,” she said. “I excelled in finding and acquiring secret information that I obtained in brush passes, dead drops, or in meetings in dusty alleys of third world capitals.”

She also confronted her record on torture, the issue that has dominated her nomination.

“I understand that what many people around the country want to know about are my views on C.I.A.’s former detention and interrogation program,” Ms. Haspel said. “Having served in that tumultuous time, I can offer you my personal commitment, clearly and without reservation, that under my leadership, C.I.A. will not restart such a detention and interrogation program.”

It was not clear whether her remarks would satisfy Democrats on the committee who signaled that they wanted a clear repudiation of her role and of torture carried out by others at the agency.

She also highlighted the fact that she would be the first woman to lead the C.I.A. in the male-dominated world of spying.

Few women were in senior roles when she joined the C.I.A., and “we are stronger now because that picture is changing. I did my part — quietly and through hard work — to break down some of those barriers.”

Haspel Says She Is Not Seen on Torture Tapes

Senators immediately launched into questioning about one of the most controversial episodes of Ms. Haspel’s career — her role in the destruction of interrogation videotapes that showed the torture of Qaeda detainees. This is the first time she has given her account of the destruction, which occurred in 2005.

She said there were concerns about the “security risk” the tapes posed — that the lives of undercover agency officers might be put in danger if the tapes were to become public.

There have long been rumors — never confirmed — that Ms. Haspel appeared in the tapes, some of which were made when she was running a C.I.A. detention facility in Thailand in 2002. Her answer was definitive: “I did not appear on the tapes,” she said.

But Senator Warner questioned the timing of the agency’s order to destroy the tapes, which came just days after the announcement of a Senate investigation into government detention programs. She said she wasn’t aware of the order.

“I knew there was disagreement about the issue of the tapes outside the agency,” she said.

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Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, pressed Ms. Haspel on the selective declassification of information about her.

Credit
Tom Brenner/The New York Times

Leaning Into a Long-Awaited Confrontation

It was a confrontation a long time coming, and Ms. Haspel did not flinch. Senator Dianne Feinstein, a senior California Democrat who led the committee’s torture investigation, pressed Ms. Haspel on the selective declassification of information about her record and pressed for an explanation of her role in the interrogation program.

“Given the C.I.A.’s refusal to make your record public, I am very limited in what I can say,” Ms. Feinstein began, before lamenting that despite personal affection, the hearing was “probably the most difficult hearing in my more than two decades.”

Ms. Haspel rejected that jab, insisting she thought it unwise to bend department guidelines on classification just to help her own case.

“It has been suggested to me by my team that if we tried to declassify some of my operational history, it would help my nomination,” she said. “I said that we could not do that. It is very important that the director of the Central Intelligence Agency adhere to the same classification guidelines that all employees must adhere to because there are very good reason for those classification guidelines.”

Ms. Haspel also swatted back an assertion by Ms. Feinstein that Ms. Haspel was an unidentified woman referenced as the head of the agency’s interrogation program in a memoir by John A. Rizzo, the C.I.A.’s former general counsel.

Mr. Rizzo, Ms. Haspel said, was simply wrong and Ms. Feinstein must have missed a correction he later issued.

“Senator, I did not run the interrogation department,” Ms. Haspel said. “In fact, I was not even read into the interrogation program until it had been up and running for a year.”

That assertion, however, raised its own questions. Ms. Haspel arrived in Thailand in late 2002, the year the interrogation program began, to oversee a secret prison. A Qaeda suspect was waterboarded three times while she was there.

Democrats Need Assurances to Get On Board

Democrats have indicated that they are willing to get behind Ms. Haspel’s nomination, but not without extracting serious and unequivocal commitments from her. Senator Mark Warner of Virginia, the panel’s top Democrat, laid out a narrow path to ‘yes’ in his opening remarks.

He said that Democrats would expect Ms. Haspel to cooperate with the committee as it tries to exercise oversight. He asked her to pledge to cooperate with the ongoing investigations into Russian election interference by both the committee and the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III. And he said he would want to know how Ms. Haspel would deal with a president “who does not always seem interested in hearing, mush less speaking, the truth.”

But, as expected, Mr. Warner said he was most concerned with Ms. Haspel’s views of the brutal interrogation program she helped run in the years after the Sept. 11 attacks.

“Ms Haspel, what the committee must hear, is your own view” of the program, Mr. Warner said. “Should the United States ever permit detainees to be treated the way the C.I.A. treated detainees under the program — even if you believe it was technically ‘legal’? Most importantly, in your view — was the program consistent with American values?”

He continued: “We must hear how you would react if the president asked you to carry out some morally questionable behavior that may seem to violate a law or treaty.”

But despite their repeated efforts to pin down her views on the morality of the enhanced interrogation program and the use of torture general, many of the committee’s more liberal members made clear they were less than satisfied with her answers.

“The president has asserted that torture works,” Senator Kamala Harris, Democrat of California, said. “Do you agree with that statement?”

“Senator, I — I don’t believe that torture works,” Ms. Haspel said. But, she added, that “valuable information” was obtained from Qaeda operatives who underwent advanced interrogation by the agency.

“Is that a yes?” Ms. Harris asked.

“No, it’s not a yes,” Ms. Haspel said. “We got valuable information from debriefing of Al Qaeda detainees, and I don’t think it’s knowable whether interrogation techniques played a role in that.”

A Veteran Spy, and a Résumé That Includes Torture

Few dispute that Ms. Haspel, a 33-year C.I.A. veteran, has the experience to run the agency. At issue is her involvement in the rendition, detention and interrogation program that the agency developed in the frantic hunt for the conspirators in the Sept. 11 attacks.

The C.I.A. long ago repudiated the program, which included waterboarding and other methods banned by law, and many senators say they are looking to Ms. Haspel to do the same.

“Having served in that tumultuous time, I can offer you my personal commitment, clearly and without reservation, that under my leadership, C.I.A. will not restart such a detention and interrogation program,” she planned to say, according to excerpts from prepared remarks released by the C.I.A. on Tuesday night. She did not directly address her role in the interrogations or the torture of suspected militants by others at the agency.

In late 2002, Ms. Haspel was dispatched to oversee a secret C.I.A. prison in Thailand code-named Cat’s Eye. While she was there, C.I.A. contractors waterboarded Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, a Qaeda suspect accused of orchestrating the bombing of the American destroyer Cole off the coast of Yemen in 2000.

Critics, including some senators on the committee, say her willingness to employ brutal methods to extract information — including waterboarding, sleep deprivation and confining prisoners in boxes — should disqualify her.

The sessions carried out at the prison in Thailand — including many conducted when Ms. Haspel was not there — were videotaped and the recordings stored in a safe at the C.I.A. station there until 2005, when they were ordered destroyed. By then, Ms. Haspel was serving at C.I.A. headquarters, and it was her name that was on the cable carrying the destruction orders. The agency maintains that the decision to destroy the recordings was made by Ms. Haspel’s boss at the time, Jose Rodriguez, who was the head of the C.I.A.’s clandestine service.

Last week, Ms. Haspel briefly considered withdrawing her nomination over fears that the White House would not fully support her because of her role in the interrogation program. She changed her mind only after Mr. Trump and top aides reassured her.

Ms. Haspel’s role in overseeing the interrogations and destroying evidence of them already once hindered her career. In 2013, the C.I.A. wanted to name Ms. Haspel to run clandestine operations, but Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, the Democrat who was then the chairwoman of the Intelligence Committee, blocked the promotion because of her work in Thailand.

Haspel Says She Won’t Act Immorally

One aspect of the debate about the C.I.A.’s post-Sept. 11 torture program is whether it was illegal all along. Despites anti-torture laws and treaties, Bush administration officials in the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel wrote secret memos that embraced a disputed and idiosyncratic view of the president’s constitutional power, as commander-in-chief, to say that it would be lawful to override those restrictions.

The Justice Department later rescinded those memos, but determined that no one could be prosecuted for taking actions that relied upon the department’s own interpretation of the law at the time; one Bush-era official deemed the memos a “get-out-of-jail-free card.” Congress has also enacted statutes further tightening laws against torture.

In her opening statement, Ms. Haspel said she would not restart a detention and interrogation program “such as” the Bush-era one, and emphasized her commitment to follow current law. But the ranking Democrat on the committee, Senator Mark Warner, Democrat of Virginia, put his finger on the difficulty of the malleability of “the law,” especially in secret national-security matters. Calling her comments “legalistic,” he said he wanted to know what she would do if the Justice Department was once again willing to secretly invoke esoteric theories of presidential power to say that the president was lawfully overriding statutory restrictions on torture — or some other activity seemingly barred by statute.

“I need to at least get a sense of what your moral code says about those kinds of actions because there is the potential that this president could ask you to do something,” Mr. Warner said.

Illustrating the complexity of the law is defined, Ms. Haspel insisted that the “C.I.A. follows the law. We followed the law then. We follow the law today.” But she also said that she would refuse orders to have the C.I.A. do something she found immoral, even if it was deemed to be legal.

“I would not put C.I.A. officers at risk by asking them to undertake risky, controversial activity again,” she said, adding: “My moral compass is strong. I would not allow C.I.A. to undertake activity that I thought was immoral, even if it was technically legal. I would absolutely not permit it.”

Haspel: Torture of 9/11 Planner Cast ‘Shadow’ Over His Capture

Ms. Haspel invoked one of the greatest counterterrorism successes in the immediate years after the Sept. 11 attacks: the capture, in March 2003, of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the principal mastermind of the attacks. Over the next few weeks, Mr. Mohammed was tortured by the C.I.A. at black-site prisons in Afghanistan and Poland, including being waterboarded 183 times over 15 sessions and being deprived of sleep for about a week by being forced to stand with his arms chained over his head.

She said she was proud of her service in the frantic hunt for the Sept. 11 conspirators.

“After 9/11, I didn’t look to go sit on the Swiss desk — I stepped up,” she said. “I was not on the sidelines. I was on the front lines in the Cold War, and I was on the front lines in the fight against Al Qaeda. I am very proud of the fact that we captured the perpetrator of 9/11, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed.”

She lamented that the interrogations of Mr. Mohammed and the ensuing controversy overshadowed his capture. “It has cast a shadow over what has been a major contribution to protecting this country,” she said.

While Ms. Haspel ran the secret prison in Thailand in late 2002 while another detainee was waterboarded, it is not publicly known what she was doing in 2003 and whether she had any connection to Mr. Mohammed’s interrogation. Notably, this week Mr. Mohammed asked a military judge at the wartime prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, for permission to give the Senate Intelligence Committee six paragraphs of unspecified information about her.

Haspel Won’t Say Whether Sought Expanded Use of Brutal Interrogation Techniques

Democrats have complained that under Ms. Haspel’s control as acting director, the C.I.A. has selectively declassified aspects of her record, making information public that will help her get confirmed while keeping more controversial secrets concealed. Against that backdrop, a line of questioning by Senator Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon, was striking.

Most of the C.I.A.’s use of torture took place in the first term of the Bush administration; it is not known to have waterboarded any prisoner, for example, since 2003. But Mr. Wyden stated: “Between 2005 and 2007, the program was winding down. The CIA was capturing fewer detainees and waterboarding was no longer approved. During that time, did you ever call for the program to be continued or expanded?”

Ms. Haspel did not directly answer. Instead, she talked about how C.I.A. officials were committed to making sure that the country was not attacked again and “had been informed that the techniques in C.I.A.’s program were legal and authorized by the highest legal authority in the country and also the president. So, I believe, I and my colleagues the Counterterrorism Center were working as hard as we could with the tools that we were given to make sure that we were successful in our mission.”

Mr. Wyden noted that her answer was not responsive to his question, adding: “I would really like to have on the record whether you ever called for the program to be continued which it sure sounds to me like your answer suggests it. You said well, we were doing our job. It ought to be continued. That troubles me very much.”

Her Chances of Confirmation

After her wavering last week and in anticipation of contentious moments at her hearing, Senate Republicans urged their colleagues on Tuesday to confirm Ms. Haspel but dismissed calls from Democrats for more sensitive information about her career to be made public.

“That has never happened in the history of the C.I.A., and it’s not going to happen with Gina Haspel’s nomination,” Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina, the Republican chairman of the Intelligence Committee, told reporters.

Several prominent members of the Republican-controlled Senate have indicated they are likely to object to Ms. Haspel’s confirmation, primarily over her role in the agency’s use of torture. They include Ms. Feinstein; Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky; and Senator John McCain, an influential Republican from Arizona and chairman of the Armed Services Committee. Mr. McCain’s dissent would normally be potent, but he is being treated for brain cancer and is not expected to be in Washington to vote or to try to persuade Republican colleagues to join his objection.

That leaves at least two key members of the Intelligence Committee to watch: Senator Susan Collins, a moderate Maine Republican who often breaks with Mr. Trump; and Senator Joe Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat who has sided with the president.

If Ms. Collins indicates she is leaning against Ms. Haspel, she could provide cover for Mr. Manchin and other moderate Democratic senators to vote no, sinking her candidacy. But if Ms. Collins signals that she is satisfied with Ms. Haspel’s answers and intends vote yes, at least some Democrats — enough to secure a positive vote on the Senate floor — are likely to make a political calculation that they must follow suit.

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People protested Ms. Haspel’s nomination at her confirmation hearing on Wednesday.

Credit
Tom Brenner/The New York Times

Protests from the Gallery

Demonstrators are a familiar sight in Hart 216, the Capitol Hill hearing room where many of the Senate’s most charged hearings take place. But as Ms. Haspel offered a nuanced defense of her role in the C.I.A.’s advanced interrogation program, she was treated to a more persistent chorus than usual.

“What do you do to human beings in U.S. custody?” interjected one woman, bringing the hearing to an abrupt halt after nearly two hours of questioning. Capitol Police rushed to detain and remove the woman, but she had the floor.

“Bloody Gina, bloody Gina, bloody Gina!” she yelled. “You are a torturer.”

She picked up where another protester had left off just before the hearing started.

“Don’t reward torturers,” he yelled as he struggled with police officers and was forcibly removed from the hearing room before Ms. Haspel sat down. “What meaning does love have in this world if we allow torture?”

Mr. Burr asked only that demonstrators make their point brief.

“For the benefits of our members: Do it fast, do it early, and be gone,” he told them.

Continue reading the main story

If North Korea Talks Are Not Fruitful, ‘I Will Respectfully Leave,’ Trump Says


Still, Mr. Trump conspicuously declined to make their release a precondition of his meeting with Mr. Kim. He also did not demand any new concessions from North Korea beforehand, underscoring how determined he is to make history by convening with the leader of a country he threatened with war a few months ago.

In preparing for the planned event, Mr. Trump’s decision to dispatch his C.I.A. director reflected the president’s trust in and comfort with Mr. Pompeo, as well as how diplomats were sidelined in brokering what could be a landmark encounter.

“Meeting went very smoothly and a good relationship was formed,” Mr. Trump said in an early morning Twitter post before he went golfing with Mr. Abe. “Details of Summit are being worked out now. Denuclearization will be a great thing for World, but also for North Korea!”

Mr. Pompeo is still awaiting confirmation to his new post, and faces a challenging vote in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, where several Democrats have come out against him. The White House and Republicans seized on Mr. Pompeo’s trip as another reason for the Senate to confirm him, while Democrats said he had misled them by failing to disclose his mission, even in private conversations.

But the visit underlines the confidence that Mr. Trump has developed in Mr. Pompeo, a former Tea Party congressman who has emerged as one of the president’s closest advisers — a stark contrast to Rex W. Tillerson, whom Mr. Trump fired as secretary of state days after he accepted Mr. Kim’s invitation to meet.

It also underlines Mr. Trump’s unorthodox approach to one of the riskiest diplomatic gambits of his presidency. However trusted by the president, Mr. Pompeo is hardly a traditional emissary. He is not yet the nation’s chief diplomat but a lame duck as the nation’s spymaster.

Mr. Pompeo met with Mr. Kim on Easter Sunday, a senior official said, bringing along several aides from the C.I.A. — but nobody from the State Department or the White House.

Some former administration officials expressed surprise that he returned from Pyongyang with no visible concessions, like the release of the three Americans detained in North Korea. Mr. Pompeo raised the issue, another official said, adding that the White House would continue to push for their release.

In 2014, James R. Clapper, then the director of national intelligence, traveled secretly to North Korea to negotiate the release of two Americans, Kenneth Bae and Matthew Todd Miller. Three Korean-Americans — Kim Dong-chul, Kim Sang-duk and Kim Hak-song — are currently being held on charges of espionage and committing hostile acts toward the North Korean state.

The administration also has not agreed on a date for the meeting between Mr. Trump and Mr. Kim, which officials said pointed to problems in settling on a site for the encounter. On Tuesday, Mr. Trump told reporters that the White House was looking at five potential locations.

The White House has begun narrowing the list of options, a senior official said, eliminating sites like Pyongyang and the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea, which could pose an optics problem for Mr. Trump. Meeting somewhere in the United States remains a possibility, though that could raise similar issues for Mr. Kim.

Photo

President Trump with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan on Wednesday at Mar-a-Lago, Fla. The president continued to express optimism about sitting down with the leader of North Korea.

Credit
Doug Mills/The New York Times

The administration is studying several third countries — Singapore and Vietnam, in Asia; Sweden and Switzerland, in Europe — though all are far from North Korea, posing a challenge to Mr. Kim’s fleet of rickety aircraft. Mongolia, which is closer to the North, is a long shot, the official said.

Without a site, however, the White House has been unable to announce a date, though officials are sticking to Mr. Trump’s recent declaration that the meeting will be in late May or early June.

On Tuesday, Mr. Trump added to the mystery surrounding the visit by appearing to confirm that he had been in direct contact with Mr. Kim himself. He later clarified that while the talks were at “the highest levels,” he would “leave it a little bit short of that.”

Mr. Pompeo’s involvement with North Korea predated Mr. Trump’s decision to meet Mr. Kim, several officials said. He has been dealing with North Korean representatives through a channel that runs between the C.I.A. and its North Korean counterpart, the Reconnaissance General Bureau.

He also has been in close touch with the director of South Korea’s National Intelligence Service, Suh Hoon, who American officials said brokered Mr. Kim’s invitation to Mr. Trump.

While a meeting between the leaders would be one of the boldest diplomatic gambles in recent years, it was orchestrated largely by the intelligence services of the three countries.

Officials said Mr. Suh laid the groundwork for Mr. Kim’s invitation in negotiations and a subsequent meeting in Pyongyang with Kim Yong-chol, a powerful general who leads inter-Korean relations and used to run North Korea’s intelligence service.

Mr. Suh was one of two South Korean envoys who visited the White House to brief Mr. Trump on their meeting with Kim Jong-un in Pyongyang — which led to the president’s impromptu decision to accept Mr. Kim’s invitation.

For Mr. Pompeo, who now has an office at the State Department, the choice to use the intelligence channel was mostly a convenience — allowing him to be involved in the planning as he awaited his move to the department.

Still, some officials expressed concern that the C.I.A. had taken the lead in orchestrating a leader-to-leader meeting — work that would normally fall to the State Department. The intelligence officials on the North Korean side, they said, are shadowy figures, not least Kim Yong-chol himself, who is accused of masterminding a torpedo attack that sank a South Korean Navy ship in 2010, killing 46 sailors.

The State Department’s role in North Korea dwindled after Mr. Trump publicly split with Mr. Tillerson over his efforts to open a diplomatic channel to the North, initially to obtain the release of the three Americans but also to set the stage for a broader negotiation.

In October, while Mr. Tillerson was in Beijing, Mr. Trump tweeted, “I told Rex Tillerson, our wonderful Secretary of State, that he is wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man…”

The State Department recently lost its chief North Korea negotiator, Joseph Yun, who retired from the Foreign Service, in part because of his frustration with his agency’s diminished role.

The timing of Mr. Tillerson’s departure, officials said, was not coincidental. Mr. Trump wanted to have Mr. Pompeo in place to oversee an opening to North Korea. But Mr. Pompeo has expressed extremely hawkish views about North Korea, suggesting over the summer that the United States should push for regime change.

“It would be a great thing to denuclearize the peninsula, to get those weapons off of that, but the thing that is most dangerous about it is the character who holds the control over them today,” Mr. Pompeo said at the Aspen Security Forum. “So from the administration’s perspective, the most important thing we can do is separate those two.”

Last week, Mr. Pompeo insisted to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that he had never advocated such change.

“Just to be clear, my role as a diplomat is to make sure that we never get to a place where we have to confront the difficult situation in Korea that this country has been headed for now for a couple of decades,” he added.

Continue reading the main story

If North Korea Talks Are Not Fruitful, ‘I Will Respectfully Leave,’ Trump Says


Still, Mr. Trump conspicuously declined to make their release a precondition of his meeting with Mr. Kim. He also did not demand any new concessions from North Korea beforehand, underscoring how determined he is to make history by convening with the leader of a country he threatened with war a few months ago.

In preparing for the planned event, Mr. Trump’s decision to dispatch his C.I.A. director reflected the president’s trust in and comfort with Mr. Pompeo, as well as how diplomats were sidelined in brokering what could be a landmark encounter.

“Meeting went very smoothly and a good relationship was formed,” Mr. Trump said in an early morning Twitter post before he went golfing with Mr. Abe. “Details of Summit are being worked out now. Denuclearization will be a great thing for World, but also for North Korea!”

Mr. Pompeo is still awaiting confirmation to his new post, and faces a challenging vote in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, where several Democrats have come out against him. The White House and Republicans seized on Mr. Pompeo’s trip as another reason for the Senate to confirm him, while Democrats said he had misled them by failing to disclose his mission, even in private conversations.

But the visit underlines the confidence that Mr. Trump has developed in Mr. Pompeo, a former Tea Party congressman who has emerged as one of the president’s closest advisers — a stark contrast to Rex W. Tillerson, whom Mr. Trump fired as secretary of state days after he accepted Mr. Kim’s invitation to meet.

It also underlines Mr. Trump’s unorthodox approach to one of the riskiest diplomatic gambits of his presidency. However trusted by the president, Mr. Pompeo is hardly a traditional emissary. He is not yet the nation’s chief diplomat but a lame duck as the nation’s spymaster.

Mr. Pompeo met with Mr. Kim on Easter Sunday, a senior official said, bringing along several aides from the C.I.A. — but nobody from the State Department or the White House.

Some former administration officials expressed surprise that he returned from Pyongyang with no visible concessions, like the release of the three Americans detained in North Korea. Mr. Pompeo raised the issue, another official said, adding that the White House would continue to push for their release.

In 2014, James R. Clapper, then the director of national intelligence, traveled secretly to North Korea to negotiate the release of two Americans, Kenneth Bae and Matthew Todd Miller. Three Korean-Americans — Kim Dong-chul, Kim Sang-duk and Kim Hak-song — are currently being held on charges of espionage and committing hostile acts toward the North Korean state.

The administration also has not agreed on a date for the meeting between Mr. Trump and Mr. Kim, which officials said pointed to problems in settling on a site for the encounter. On Tuesday, Mr. Trump told reporters that the White House was looking at five potential locations.

The White House has begun narrowing the list of options, a senior official said, eliminating sites like Pyongyang and the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea, which could pose an optics problem for Mr. Trump. Meeting somewhere in the United States remains a possibility, though that could raise similar issues for Mr. Kim.

Photo

President Trump with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan on Wednesday at Mar-a-Lago, Fla. The president continued to express optimism about sitting down with the leader of North Korea.

Credit
Doug Mills/The New York Times

The administration is studying several third countries — Singapore and Vietnam, in Asia; Sweden and Switzerland, in Europe — though all are far from North Korea, posing a challenge to Mr. Kim’s fleet of rickety aircraft. Mongolia, which is closer to the North, is a long shot, the official said.

Without a site, however, the White House has been unable to announce a date, though officials are sticking to Mr. Trump’s recent declaration that the meeting will be in late May or early June.

On Tuesday, Mr. Trump added to the mystery surrounding the visit by appearing to confirm that he had been in direct contact with Mr. Kim himself. He later clarified that while the talks were at “the highest levels,” he would “leave it a little bit short of that.”

Mr. Pompeo’s involvement with North Korea predated Mr. Trump’s decision to meet Mr. Kim, several officials said. He has been dealing with North Korean representatives through a channel that runs between the C.I.A. and its North Korean counterpart, the Reconnaissance General Bureau.

He also has been in close touch with the director of South Korea’s National Intelligence Service, Suh Hoon, who American officials said brokered Mr. Kim’s invitation to Mr. Trump.

While a meeting between the leaders would be one of the boldest diplomatic gambles in recent years, it was orchestrated largely by the intelligence services of the three countries.

Officials said Mr. Suh laid the groundwork for Mr. Kim’s invitation in negotiations and a subsequent meeting in Pyongyang with Kim Yong-chol, a powerful general who leads inter-Korean relations and used to run North Korea’s intelligence service.

Mr. Suh was one of two South Korean envoys who visited the White House to brief Mr. Trump on their meeting with Kim Jong-un in Pyongyang — which led to the president’s impromptu decision to accept Mr. Kim’s invitation.

For Mr. Pompeo, who now has an office at the State Department, the choice to use the intelligence channel was mostly a convenience — allowing him to be involved in the planning as he awaited his move to the department.

Still, some officials expressed concern that the C.I.A. had taken the lead in orchestrating a leader-to-leader meeting — work that would normally fall to the State Department. The intelligence officials on the North Korean side, they said, are shadowy figures, not least Kim Yong-chol himself, who is accused of masterminding a torpedo attack that sank a South Korean Navy ship in 2010, killing 46 sailors.

The State Department’s role in North Korea dwindled after Mr. Trump publicly split with Mr. Tillerson over his efforts to open a diplomatic channel to the North, initially to obtain the release of the three Americans but also to set the stage for a broader negotiation.

In October, while Mr. Tillerson was in Beijing, Mr. Trump tweeted, “I told Rex Tillerson, our wonderful Secretary of State, that he is wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man…”

The State Department recently lost its chief North Korea negotiator, Joseph Yun, who retired from the Foreign Service, in part because of his frustration with his agency’s diminished role.

The timing of Mr. Tillerson’s departure, officials said, was not coincidental. Mr. Trump wanted to have Mr. Pompeo in place to oversee an opening to North Korea. But Mr. Pompeo has expressed extremely hawkish views about North Korea, suggesting over the summer that the United States should push for regime change.

“It would be a great thing to denuclearize the peninsula, to get those weapons off of that, but the thing that is most dangerous about it is the character who holds the control over them today,” Mr. Pompeo said at the Aspen Security Forum. “So from the administration’s perspective, the most important thing we can do is separate those two.”

Last week, Mr. Pompeo insisted to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that he had never advocated such change.

“Just to be clear, my role as a diplomat is to make sure that we never get to a place where we have to confront the difficult situation in Korea that this country has been headed for now for a couple of decades,” he added.

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U.S.-Russia Relations: A Volley of Diplomatic Punishments Over Spying


Russian television broadcast a short clip of the scuffle and said the American was an undercover Central Intelligence Agency operative who had refused to show identification before entering the embassy. The State Department said the American was an “accredited diplomat” who had been assaulted as part of systematic harassment of American Embassy staff members by the Russian authorities.

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Russian officials said the belongings of an American spy included wigs and a Moscow map.

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Russian Federal Security Service

2013: From Russia, With Wigs

In May 2013, the Russian government ordered an American Embassy official, identified as Ryan C. Fogle, to leave the country. His expulsion followed an almost comical arrest in which he was caught carrying two wigs (one blond and one brown), a Moscow street atlas, $130,000 in cash and a letter offering “up to $1 million a year for long-term cooperation.”

2010: Sleeper Cell

In 2010, 10 Russians accused of membership in a sleeper cell were deported after pleading guilty to conspiracy in a federal court in Manhattan. As part of a deal, the spies were swapped for four Russian prisoners, three serving sentences on treason convictions.

The case, often compared to the plot of a spy novel, included evidence of letters written in invisible ink, buried cash and a red-haired woman whose romantic exploits and risqué photographs made for tabloid fodder.

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Robert P. Hanssen, a counterintelligence expert at the F.B.I., spied for Moscow for years.

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Paul J. Richards/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

2001: An F.B.I. Turncoat

In March 2001, the United States expelled 50 Russian diplomats following the arrest of Robert P. Hanssen, who was a counterintelligence expert at the F.B.I. and had spied for Moscow for more than 15 years.

American officials said Mr. Hanssen had been paid hundreds of thousands of dollars after he volunteered to turn over United States secrets to Russia, and they blamed the Kremlin for not turning him down or turning him in. In response, Russian officials expelled several American diplomats.

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Aldrich Ames, a career C.I.A. officer who turned out to be a double agent, in 1994. Russia executed several operatives whom he had betrayed.

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Luke Frazza/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

1994: Mild Blowback

Shortly after the arrest of Aldrich H. Ames, a career C.I.A. officer who turned out to be a double agent, United States officials expelled a senior Russian diplomat, Aleksandr Lyskenko, whom they called a top officer of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service. According to the State Department, Mr. Lyskenko was “in a position to be responsible” for Mr. Ames’s activities as a very productive mole.

Although Mr. Ames’s treachery was almost certainly the most damaging breach of American intelligence since World War II — Moscow executed several operatives whom he had betrayed — Washington’s response was considerably less severe than it would have been in Soviet times. In the years after the fall of the Soviet Union, the Clinton administration, eager to encourage friendly relations and reform, supported the new government of President Boris N. Yeltsin. Before Mr. Lyskenko was told to leave the country, in February 1994, the Americans even gave the Russians the option of voluntarily sending him back home.

1986: Mass Expulsion

Fifty-five Soviet diplomats were expelled by President Ronald Reagan in November 1986 in an effort to curb espionage activities. Similarly, the authorities in Moscow ordered 260 Soviet employees of the United States Embassy in Moscow to stop working.

It was the largest number of diplomatic officials to be expelled by the United States at once. The conflict arose after a Soviet employee of the United Nations, Gennadi F. Zakharov, was arrested on espionage charges. The Russians responded by arresting Nicholas S. Daniloff, the Moscow correspondent for U.S. News & World Report, and accusing him of spying. Mr. Daniloff was released two weeks later.

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News Analysis: ‘America First’ Bears a New Threat: Military Force


Over the longer term, they must straighten out the strategic incoherence surrounding Mr. Trump’s approach to Russia and China, defining the meaning of the administration’s policy declaration earlier this year that “great power competition — not terrorism — is now the primary focus of U.S. national security.”

Washington is now consumed by a debate over whether Mr. Trump’s new team plans to govern as far to the right as it talks.

So far, the incoming national security adviser, John R. Bolton, has declared that his past comments are “behind me.” Hours after his selection was announced, Mr. Bolton vowed that he would find ways to execute the policies that Mr. Trump was elected on, but that he would not tolerate slow-walking and leaks from bureaucrats he dismissed as “munchkins.”

Some who know Mr. Bolton and his operating style predict titanic clashes.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, the retired general who has argued for keeping the Iran deal intact and warned that military confrontation with North Korea would result in “the worst kind of fighting in most people’s lifetimes,” told colleagues on Friday that he did not know if he could work with Mr. Bolton. The White House chief of staff, John F. Kelly, another retired four-star general, was also unenthusiastic about Mr. Bolton’s hiring.

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President Trump with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, Vice President Mike Pence and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross on Friday.

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Gabriella Demczuk for The New York Times

Mr. Bolton’s harshest critics — mostly Democrats, but their ranks include some members of the Bush administration — argue that the odds of taking military action will rise dramatically when he becomes the last person a volatile American president consults.

“John Bolton is not some gray bureaucrat whose views are unknown to us,” said Michael McFaul, the American ambassador to Moscow under President Barack Obama, and now a Stanford professor and the director of the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies.

“He’s very clear that there should be regime change in Iran and North Korea, and military force should be used to achieve those goals,” Mr. McFaul said. “If you hire him, you’re making a clear signal that’s what you want.”

But others who have worked for years with Mr. Bolton argue that Mr. Trump knows exactly what he is getting: leverage, not conflict.

“I think this notion everybody talks about, that the risks of war have gone up, is wrong,” said Stephen J. Hadley, who was Mr. Bush’s national security adviser and a major architect of the invasions of Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003. “This is the peace-through-strength crowd who want to make clear to people that they’re tough and that no one should cross them. But the reason for that is to deter war.”

Dov Zakheim, a former senior Defense Department official who has known Mr. Bolton for 35 years, wrote on Friday that Mr. Bolton “may be a fire breather, but he is a man who cares deeply about his country,” in comparison to his boss, who “cares deeply about Donald Trump.”

Whatever Mr. Trump’s motives, his selection of this team would have been hard to imagine when he first came to office declaring that the continued American presence in Iraq was a “disaster,” that he was comfortable with Japan and South Korea getting their own nuclear weapons so the United States would not have to defend them, and that America would no longer be the world’s policeman.

Mr. Bolton has come to the opposite conclusion.

He not only fervently advocated the attack on Saddam Hussein from his post at the State Department during the Bush administration, but he also defended its aftermath, and has said he remains convinced it was the right decision. Over the past three years, Mr. Bolton has advocated bombing Iran, attacking North Korea, and carving a new state out of Iraq and Syria.

Mike Pompeo, the nominee for secretary of state, said at the Aspen Security Conference in July that the most dangerous thing about North Korea was the fact that its young, moody and reportedly ruthless leader, Kim Jong-un, controls its weapons.

“So from the administration’s perspective, the most important thing we can do is separate those two. Right?” said Mr. Pompeo, who at the time was months into his current job as C.I.A. director. “Separate capacity and someone who might well have intent, and break those two apart.”

Assuming that Mr. Pompeo is confirmed, he and Mr. Bolton, the two most forceful, aggressive new members of the policy team, will have to decide in what order they can risk those confrontations. The Trump administration has said it is open to direct talks with Mr. Kim by May — the same month by which the president has said he will scrap the Iran nuclear accord.

“Even if you are going to be a superhawk, you can’t do all these at once,” said Rolf Mowatt-Larssen, a former C.I.A. station chief in Moscow who later hunted down Pakistani nuclear technology as the Energy Department’s chief intelligence officer. “And if you want to go to war with Iran and North Korea, you have to expect to alienate your allies and run headlong into the Russians.”

William J. Burns, a longtime American diplomat who was Mr. Bush’s ambassador to Russia and Mr. Obama’s deputy secretary of state, predicted that if the new team exits the Iran deal and confronts North Korea, the first beneficiary is likely to be President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia.

“He looks for splits,” Mr. Burns said of Mr. Putin. “He knows he will benefit if we walk away from the Iran deal, because it will put a wedge between us and our European allies.”

On North Korea, Mr. Burns said, Mr. Putin is seeking “splits between the U.S. and China. We are doing his work for him.”

In fact, it is in dealing with Mr. Putin that the new team is likely to run headlong into Mr. Trump’s reluctance to ever say a critical word about the Russian president. As C.I.A. chief, Mr. Pompeo has embraced the intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia meddled in the election, though he changes the subject quickly when asked about it.

Mr. Bolton, by contrast, has ranked among Mr. Putin’s harshest critics. Last July, days after Mr. Trump met Mr. Putin for the first time at a summit meeting in Germany, Mr. Bolton wrote that the Russian interference in the 2016 election was “a casus belli, a true act of war, and one Washington will never tolerate.”

Mr. Trump did not view it that way.

He emerged from the meeting in Germany repeating Mr. Putin’s observation that the Russians were too skilled at cyberoperations to be caught if involved. Last week, Mr. Trump called Mr. Putin to congratulate him on winning a Russian election widely viewed as a sham, making no mention of the recent nerve-agent attack that Britain concluded, with American agreement, was a covert action by Moscow.

If it was, it was being planned out as Mr. Pompeo was acting as the host to the directors of the three major Russian intelligence services in Washington earlier this month.

The unknown factor in the new mix is Gina Haspel, the career intelligence officer who has been nominated to be the first woman to run the C.I.A. Since she has spent much of her career undercover — details of which the agency is just beginning to release, in an effort to lobby for her confirmation — her foreign policy views are largely unknown.

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Mike Pompeo, the C.I.A. director, who has been nominated as secretary of state, is a harsh critic of the nuclear accord with Iran.

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Doug Mills/The New York Times

But her record in the terrorist detentions and interrogations following 9/11 is well documented. Senator John McCain, the Arizona Republican who was tortured as a prisoner of war, this past week pointedly asked in a letter to Ms. Haspel, “Do you believe actions like these were justified, and do you believe they produced actionable intelligence?”

At a moment when Mr. Trump has sided with the economic nationalists in his administration and ordered the imposition of tariffs on China to counter its restrictions on American companies and the forced transfer of American intellectual property, Mr. Bolton has gone one further.

He has questioned whether the United States should abandon the “One China” policy that has been the underpinning of relations since the two countries resumed diplomatic relations.

In 2016, Mr. Bolton wrote that confronting China “may involve modifying or even jettisoning the ambiguous ‘One China’ mantra, along with even more far-reaching initiatives to counter Beijing’s rapidly accelerating political and military aggressiveness in the South and East China Seas.”

It is unclear how that squares with Mr. Trump’s campaign argument that the United States should pull its forces back from Asia unless South Korea and Japan pay more of the cost of keeping them there.

But the most immediate decision facing the new team will be the benefits and costs of exiting the Iran deal. Mr. Trump cited his differences with Rex W. Tillerson on Iran in firing the secretary of state.

Mr. Bolton and Mr. Pompeo have been among the harshest critics of the nuclear accord, but they have not said how they would manage the international backlash if Mr. Trump decides, by a May 12 legislative deadline, to resume the sanctions that the United States suspended when the deal was reached.

If Washington breaches the deal, Iran may declare it is now free to resume producing nuclear fuel in unlimited quantities — limits it agreed to, for 15 years, in return for economic normalization. If so, that could put the United States and Israel back where they were in the years before the accord was reached: threatening military action to destroy Iran’s facilities, even at the risk of another Middle East war. That was the path Mr. Bolton advocated.

In August, when Mr. Tillerson and Mr. Mattis wrote a joint op-ed article in The Wall Street Journal describing the merits of building economic pressure on North Korea in a policy of “strategic accountability,” Mr. Bolton said he was “appalled.”

“Time is not a neutral factor here,” he said on Fox News, where he was a contributor. “More negotiation with North Korea? I think they’d say ‘bring it on.’ More time to increase the size and scope of their ballistic missile and nuclear capabilities.” He will now be preparing Mr. Trump for that negotiation.

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