Woodward book: Trump said human intelligence sources are people who have 'sold their souls' during a briefing on Russian election interference

  • After hearing that a U.S. intelligence source in Russia was in enough danger that the CIA wanted to withdraw that person from the country, President Donald Trump reportedly responded by criticizing the use of human sources and explosive new book by Bob Woodward says.
  • Clapper reportedly told Trump, without providing the sources' names, that one source was in enough jeopardy that the CIA wanted to move that person to safety, either through exfiltration to a different country or to the U.S.
  • Trump replied: "I don't believe in human sources."
President Donald Trump speaks during a roundtable discussion in August  2018. 
MANDEL NGAN | AFP | Getty Images
President Donald Trump speaks during a roundtable discussion in August  2018. 

After hearing that a U.S. intelligence source in Russia was in enough danger that the CIA wanted to remove that person from the country, President Donald Trump reportedly responded by criticizing the use of human sources.

"These are people who have sold their souls and sold out their country," Trump said, according to reporting from a new tell-all book by famed Watergate journalist Bob Woodward that was obtained by NBC News.

"I don't trust human intelligence and these spies," Trump added.

The White House did not immediately respond to CNBC's request for comment.

The reported remarks from the forthcoming expose "Fear: Trump in the White House," came during a briefing between Trump and Obama-era intelligence officials, including former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and former CIA Director John Brennan.

The intelligence officials met with then-president elect Trump in January 2017 to brief him on their findings that Russia had not only attempted to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, but that Russian President Vladimir Putin himself had ordered the influence campaign, multiple outlets have reported.

The intelligence community concluded in a report made public later that month that Russia's efforts demonstrated a "clear preference" for Trump.

They also told Trump at the time about the existence of a largely unverified dossier compiled by intelligence firm Fusion GPS that alleged salacious connections between Trump, his associates and the Kremlin.

Trump has since railed against the dossier many times on Twitter, calling it "phony" and has called the Russia investigation a "total political witch hunt."

During the briefing, Clapper reportedly told Trump, without providing the sources' names, that one source was in enough jeopardy that the CIA wanted to move that person to safety, either through exfiltration to a different country or to the U.S.

But Clapper said the source refused, possibly for fear of harm to the person's family if he or she suddenly left the country, NBC reported from Woodward's book.

Trump replied: "I don't believe in human sources."

The CIA stresses the importance of its human intelligence resources, often abbreviated to "humint." "Human intelligence plays a critical role in developing and implementing U.S. foreign and national security policy and in protecting U.S. interests," The agency's website reads.

Some time after the briefing, Brennan reportedly quipped, "I guess I won't tell the employees" about Trump's stance.