The White House officials learned about the Russian spy ring in February, and immediately started analyzing and studying about the possible trades of spy with Russia in the days leading up to the arrests on June 27.
President Obama was first informed in regards to the spies on June 11, according to White House officials on a released statement.
With the trade now finalize, the White House is verifying several details about its involvement — a very crucial matter, given Obama’s highly publicized efforts to “reset” the U.S and Russia relationship, most recently during a White House visit by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev last June 24.
During that time, the American government was closing in on Russian spies.
So below is the timeline provided by the White House:
The White House was first briefed about the broad contours of the illegals program in February, as well as briefed on specifics about some individuals. The WH was briefed by FBI/CIA/DOJ. The briefing occurred in February because the law enforcement and intelligence professionals involved in the effort believed we were getting to a point where arrests could be imminent.
There were additional briefings in subsequent months.
The president was first briefed on the matter on Friday, June 11th in the Oval Office. He was told about the Illegals program, given details of the individuals involved, what they’ve done over the past decade, and about provided notice that some of the illegals had plans to travel abroad this summer.
The president chaired a meeting of the National Security Council on June 18th to discuss the issue.
As we’ve said, at the time of the arrests, the president was kept fully apprised of developments.
The idea of a swap was discussed among the administration’s national security team before the arrests were made.
The United States government came up with the four individuals to be freed by the Russians based on humanitarian concerns, health concerns, and other reasons that we put forward to the Russians. These names were put to the Russians within days of the arrests. Director Panetta lead these conversations. And we received a response soon after the names were offered.