SCOTT SIMON, HOST:
Black smoke billowed from the Russian consulate in San Francisco yesterday as they packed to close the consulate today by order of the U.S. State Department. The San Francisco Chronicle says the fire department rushed over. But firefighters were turned away by consulate personnel who told them there was no problem. They were just using their fireplace. It was 95 degrees yesterday in San Francisco. Rick Smith, a former FBI special agent who once headed the Russian counterintelligence squad in San Francisco, told the Chronicle there is finally the realization by the administration that Russians have been involved in intelligence operations at this consulate, which they have been doing for decades. Were the Russians burning reports from their spies? Were they burning ballots from the 2016 U.S. presidential elections? Maybe medicinal marijuana that they can't take back to Russia. Maybe the Russian diplomats were just making s'mores. They're an old Russian summertime treat after all - like s'more of Georgia, s'more of Ukraine. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.