Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Even before President Trump took office, an effort was underway to sniff out elements within the intelligence community perceived as disloyal, in yet another example of the deep tensions between the administration and its own intelligence agencies.

Driving the news: In 2017, former CIA officials close to the then-incoming Trump administration assembled a "purge list" of agency personnel they deemed ideologically unaligned with the administration or incompetent, two former agency officials told Axios.

Between the lines: "This was about cleaning house at CIA," said a former senior agency official familiar with the list. While some of the impetus for the list was "score settling," the person said, it was also "the deep state thing": ridding the CIA of "bad guys."

  • Deeply concerned, this official reported the activities of his former colleagues multiple times to his CIA superiors.
  • "This was not a passing thing," the person said. "They were serious about it."
  • At the time, “the Trump administration was paranoid,” recalls another former CIA official. “They thought everyone was going to work against them.”

Details: The list, which began being assembled during the presidential transition, was initially passed from Trump-aligned former agency officials to Steve Bannon, said the former senior CIA official.

  • Some of the personnel targeted for firing worked on Middle East or counterterrorism-oriented operations, said the former senior official. The targeted CIA officials are still working undercover, this person says.
  • The list's generators did possess high-level access within Langley: One such Trump-aligned former agency official was granted at least one in-person meeting with then-CIA Director Mike Pompeo, said the former senior CIA official.

Yes, but: In the end, the list’s authors failed to have the disfavored CIA personnel fired. "The irony is that they never did the purge," recalls the former senior official. "They just reorganized DNI. All the bluster has come to nothing."

Of note: At the time, word about the "purge list" was greeted within the agency more with incredulousness and bemusement than fear, said the former officials.

  • This was partly because of the Trump administration’s plans around the same time to have Stephen Feinberg, a private equity billionaire, undertake an outside review of the U.S. intelligence community.
  • That was considered a more significant and potentially far-reaching move, said the second former CIA official. (In 2018, Feinberg was named chairman of the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board.)

The big picture: Even when unsuccessful, Trump administration efforts to purge people viewed as insufficiently loyal to the president can damage morale and send career officials with institutional expertise looking for an exit. That’s a particular concern in matters of national security.

Meanwhile: The Open Technology Fund, a federally funded nonprofit that supports tech tools for dissidents living under authoritarian regimes abroad, is fighting its own battle over an apparent attempt to either purge its existing leadership or neuter it in favor of a Trump-loyalist alternative organization.

  • OTF is now calling for an inspector general investigation into the agency that funds it.

Go deeper

Microsoft: Trump and Biden's campaigns were targeted by hackers in Iran, China this year

Joe Biden in Detroit, Michigan on Sept. 9 and President Trump on Sept. 10. Photos: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images and Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

Cyberattacks organized in Russia, China and Iran have targeted the 2020 election, President Trump's and former Vice President Joe Biden's campaigns this year, Microsoft said in a blog post on Thursday.

The big picture: The 2020 presidential election is rife with opportunities for foreign actors to sow chaos, since results will likely be delayed due to record mail-in ballots. Protests for racial justice and calls to restructure policing in the U.S. also give Russia an opportunity to spread disinformation.

Updated 6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 30,065,728 — Total deaths: 944,604— Total recoveries: 20,423,802Map
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 6,674,070 — Total deaths: 197,615 — Total recoveries: 2,540,334 — Total tests: 90,710,730Map
  3. Politics: Former Pence aide says she plans to vote for Joe Biden, accusing Trump of costing lives in his coronavirus response.
  4. Health: Pew: 49% of Americans would not get COVID-19 vaccine if available today Pandemic may cause cancer uptick The risks of moving too fast on a vaccine — COVID-19 racial disparities extend to health coverage losses.
  5. Business: Retail sales return to pre-coronavirus trend.
Ina Fried, author of Login
7 hours ago - Technology

Scoop: How the Oracle-TikTok deal would work

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

An agreement between TikTok's Chinese owner ByteDance and Oracle includes a variety of concessions in an effort to make the deal palatable to the Trump administration and security hawks in Congress, according to a source close to the companies.

Driving the news: The deal, in the form of a 20-page term sheet agreed to in principle by the companies, would give Oracle unprecedented access and control over user data as well as other measures designed to ensure that Americans' data is protected, according to the source.