The Trump administration is reportedly weighing proposals for a global, private spy network that would evade USA intelligence agencies and report directly to the White House and CIA Director Mike Pompeo. Top political donors to Trump were reportedly asked to help finance operations before any agreement was reached.
The proposal of a private clandestine network appeared rooted in distrust the current administration had for the intelligence community.
Prince was also questioned by House lawmakers last month over reports that he met the head of a Russian investment fund in an apparent effort to set up a backchannel for Russian communication with the Trump administration, and that senior Trump officials had authorized the meeting. CNN has previously reported that Prince met with members of Trump's incoming national security team during the presidential transition, and that he boasted about his influence in the Trump orbit around that same time.
Several current and former USA intelligence officials and others familiar with the proposals said it's been pitched to the White House as a way to combat "deep state" enemies who want to undermine President Trump. "It is a direct-action arm, totally off the books", this person said, meaning the intelligence collected would not be shared with the rest of the CIA or the larger intelligence community.
The White House and the National Security Council denied that any such proposals were made, and stressed that the administration "does not and would not support such a proposal".
News website The Intercept was first to report the proposal.
Supporters of the president welcomed the idea wholeheartedly, saying it would give Trump a chance against the secret forces working to box him in and prevent the realization of his agenda.
"I can find no evidence that this ever came to the attention of anyone at the NSC or [White House] at all", Michael Anton told The Intercept. The alleged proposal would create a spy network in countries deemed "denied areas" for current American intelligence personnel, including North Korea and Iran.
In addition, the White House is also considering creating a global rendition unit to capture terror suspects around the world.
It is believed that Pompeo has embraced the plan and is trying to pressure the White House to adopt it. A Central Intelligence Agency spokesman told The Intercept that it had been provided "wildly inaccurate information by people peddling an agenda".