The New Yorker:

In December of last year, two Russian intelligence officers met in the Washington, D.C., area with a potential source they hoped had valuable information regarding the inner workings of the Obama White House. At the meeting, the Russians probed for clues on what steps the Obama Administration—then in its final days—might take to punish Russia for its interference in the 2016 election.

According to a senior U.S. official, unbeknownst to the Russians, their source was not actually a White House mole but a U.S. counterintelligence asset. Of the options that the Obama Administration was considering, none trickled back to the Russians.

That particular Russian intelligence effort was thwarted, but a broader problem exists, according to the senior official. “There are more Russian operatives, declared and undeclared, in the United States now than at any other time in the past fifteen years,” the official told me. “They’re here in large numbers, actively trying to penetrate a whole host of sectors—government, industry, and academia.”

The F.B.I. is responsible for identifying and tracking foreign spies on American soil. But, the senior official said, the Bureau has “a math problem. It takes a lot of folks to run surveillance on one individual and make sure you never lose contact.” During the White House discussions that the pair of Russian officers tried and failed to learn more about, the F.B.I. director at the time, James Comey, pushed to expel as many Russian intelligence officers as possible. “This was a case-management issue for him,” the official said. At one point, a participant who took part in the discussions told me, one member of the national-security team also suggested sanctioning the Russian President, Vladimir Putin. Another proposed authorizing the National Security Agency to hack into the e-mail accounts of Russian officials in order to release embarrassing, possibly compromising, information

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