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Reports: Western Agencies Picked Up ‘Suspicious’ Contacts Between Russians And Trump Associates In 2016

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Reports: Western Agencies Picked Up ‘Suspicious’ Contacts Between Russians And Trump Associates In 2016


Intelligence services of nations allied with the United States reported “suspicious” contacts between associates of Donald Trump and “known or suspected Russian agents” during the first six months of 2016, according to separate reports in the Guardian newspaper and CNN.

On Thursday, the Guardian reported that the CIA first learned of such contacts between Trump associates and Russians from its colleagues at Britain’s GCHQ spy agency no later than the end of 2015. During the months that followed, several other allied intelligence services in Europe and elsewhere reported similar contacts between Russians and figures connected with the Trump campaign, the Guardian said.

On Thursday evening, CNN broadcast its own version of the same findings.

Quoting a source “close to UK intelligence,” the Guardian described the information that was delivered to the US as initially part of a regular data exchange between agencies. Other countries that passed along information gleaned from electronic surveillance of Russian agents included Australia, Estonia, France, Germany, the Netherlands, and Poland, the newspaper’s sources said.

Contrary to what Trump and his spokesmen have claimed, the Guardian article emphasized that none of the intelligence was derived from “a targeted operation against Trump or his team.” Instead, conversations were reportedly picked up in routine surveillance of Russian agents and intelligence assets in those countries. During 2016, various intelligence agencies observing the activities of the same individuals saw “a pattern of connections” that were then disclosed to American intelligence officials.

The same sources told the Guardian that between late 2015 and the summer of 2016, several Western intelligence agencies transmitted additional information about contacts between “Trump’s inner circle and Russians.” Those sources described the U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies as “slow” to understand the extent and gravity of the Russian “active measures” campaign and its apparent connections with the Trump campaign.

As the Washington Post reported on Tuesday, the FBI’s counter-intelligence division eventually obtained warrants under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to conduct electronic surveillance of several individuals and entities — notably including Carter Page, a foreign policy consultant to the Trump campaign.

Page, a former investment banker and oil industry consultant known for his vociferous advocacy on behalf of the Kremlin, had previously surfaced in a counter-intelligence prosecution of a Russian spy ring in New York, which had sought to recruit him as a source. He was included in the FISA warrant because the FBI allegedly suspected him of acting as an “agent of influence” for the Russians. Page has complained that the investigation is abusive and “politically motivated.”

Quoting sources in Congress and U.S. law enforcement as well as American and European intelligence agencies, CNN published a report on its website that essentially confirmed the Guardian account (which the network duly credited):

The communications [of several Trump associates] were captured during routine surveillance of Russian officials and other Russians known to western intelligence. British and European intelligence agencies, including GCHQ, the British intelligence agency responsible for communications surveillance, were not proactively targeting members of the Trump team but rather picked up these communications during what’s known as “incidental collection,” these sources tell CNN.

The European intelligence agencies detected multiple communications over several months between the Trump associates and Russian individuals — and passed on that intelligence to the US.

It seems probable that this is the same surveillance data disclosed to Senate and House investigators, provoking cryptic public comments by committee members concerning the seriousness of the probes now underway — and, evidently, a rising sense of panic in both the White House and its stooge Devin Nunes, the House Intelligence Committee chair forced to remove himself from the Russia investigation last week.

IMAGE: President Donald Trump leaves the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) headquarters accompanied by then-national security adviser Michael Flynn (2nd L)  after delivering remarks during a visit in Langley, Virginia U.S., January 21, 2017. U.S. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

Joe Conason

A highly experienced journalist, author and editor, Joe Conason is the editor-in-chief of The National Memo, founded in July 2011. He was formerly the executive editor of the New York Observer, where he wrote a popular political column for many years. His columns are distributed by Creators Syndicate and his reporting and writing have appeared in many publications around the world, including the New York Times, the Washington Post, The New Yorker, The New Republic, The Nation, and Harpers.

Since November 2006, he has served as editor of The Investigative Fund, a nonprofit journalism center, where he has assigned and edited dozens of award-winning articles and broadcasts. He is also the author of two New York Times bestselling books, The Hunting of the President (St. Martins Press, 2000) and Big Lies: The Right-Wing Propaganda Machine and How It Distorts the Truth (St. Martins Press, 2003).

Currently he is working on a new book about former President Bill Clinton's life and work since leaving the White House in 2001. He is a frequent guest on radio and television, including MSNBC's Morning Joe, and lives in New York City with his wife and two children.

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  1. Mama Bear April 14, 2017

    So….what? It just seems to me that all of this investigating regardless of what is revealed is going to end up in the trash with yesterday’s newspaper.

    1. 1standlastword April 14, 2017

      And then we will know the truth that we already suspect is true about our government and the republican party.

      What shakes my tree is how the republicans use taxpayer revenues to stymie and defeat democrats and then make way for the greatest crimes ever perpetrated on the American people and all the democrats are of little to no effect for litigating the republicans in the open.

      So to resonate with what you said, if the republicans don’t want to fully expose their own crimes against the State then these FACTS will be of little to no consequence

      1. Eleanore Whitaker April 14, 2017

        When you consider that for 18 months, protestors planted themselves outside the Nixon White House demanding he resign, you see how effective protests can be.

        Nixon was forced to resign for lying about his part in WaterGate. He also did the same thing both Chaffetz and Gowdy did, deleted or edited the evidence.

        Nixon thought if he fired his AG Archibald Cox, WaterGate would just disappear. He was wrong. Cox’s replacement was up to be fired too until the Ethics Committee that monitors all of our elected officials demanded an independent hearing into WaterGate and the rest is history.

        1. TZToronto April 14, 2017

          Just a point of correction. When Nixon fired him, Cox was a Special Prosecutor, not AG. Cox had served as Solicitor General under Kennedy. (The Solicitor General is the administration’s chief lawyer in arguing cases before the Supreme Court.)

          1. Eleanore Whitaker April 14, 2017

            Thank you. I stand corrected. I think that’s what I mixed up…That Cox was Solicitor General.

          2. TZToronto April 14, 2017

            You’re spot on with just about everything else. You get a pass on this one.

  2. jaka paulus April 14, 2017

    My investigations show no such sign of connections.
    But it is known that his first wife Ivanka was sleepe hidden Russian agent.

    1. 1standlastword April 14, 2017

      That is because your head is deformed as we all can see!

      1. Eleanore Whitaker April 14, 2017

        And also the brain inside the head? rofl.

    2. Mama Bear April 14, 2017

      go back and learn English sweetie.

    3. Aaron_of_Portsmouth April 14, 2017

      To add to earlier responses, your pathetic and lamentably feeble “investigation” are the ramblings and twittering of a sparrow, of no consequence. If you’re going to be an agent for Putin, then finish high school. That way you won’t spend the remainder of your life having wasted the gift of intelligence given you by the Creator.

    4. Gerry Francis April 14, 2017

      Yeah! And I hear that she’s going to do a TV commercial for VI Poo.

    5. Eleanore Whitaker April 14, 2017

      Ivanka only sleeps with her Daddy while her cuckold husband Jared is kept busy doing Daddy’s job.

  3. Dominick Vila April 14, 2017

    The fact that foreign intelligence agencies, in this case the British, intercepted conversations between Russian spies and members of the Trump campaign team is not surprising or unexpected. What remains to be determined is the topics discussed during those conversations, promises made, and the extent of the Trump team cooperation with the Kremlin to influence the outcome of the 2016 election. Another fact that remains to be determined is whether or not there was compensation as a quid pro quo.

    1. 1standlastword April 14, 2017

      Yes…but it is the republicans who are in the position to reveal these facts.

      They hold all the cards….

      1. Dominick Vila April 14, 2017

        The GOP can reveal facts and, most importantly, they are in a position to suppress the release of information they do not want to make public. As you know, the GOP controls the White House, the Senate, the House, most governorships and most state legislatures. They have the power to do whatever they wish. The worst part is that in some parts of the country their popularity is rising. If the trend continues, the Democratic party may be reduced to the point of irrelevancy for a generation, especially with the GOP has the opportunity to confirm more far right Justices to the Supreme Court. The way I see it, our future depends more on the GOP over reaching and Trump doing something truly bizarre and damaging to the country, than anything the DNC can do or say.

      2. Thoughtopsy April 17, 2017

        Enough election pressure (losses in special elections) and the blockade of the GOP against holding Trump accountable will snap like a dead twig because they will begin seeing the end of their party in 2018… and 2020.

        Getting out and voting is critical. Enough pressure on safe GOP seats and those corrupt cowards will fold… and soon.

  4. Aaron_of_Portsmouth April 14, 2017

    How long will it take for Congress to realize that Trump’s complicity in helping interfere with the elections is a major barrier in America’s need to put this matter to rest, with appropriate convictions and penalties handed out.
    The longer Congress sits on its behind and play missile strikes to distract from the crux of our problem—partisan political divisiveness—the longer it’ll take to proceed in removing a childish and reckless bully narcissist from edging the world to a disaster, jobs or no jobs. He has already become addicted to using weapons without having a clear idea what the aftermath will be.

    1. Eleanore Whitaker April 14, 2017

      Aaron, Those of us who have 3 or more decades of Trump under our belt know that what you see is not what Trump is. He is an Oscar award winning actor that has Marlon Brando rolling in his grave with envy.

      He knows that all he has to do to distance himself from his guilt is to say or do something so outrageous. Children do this when they are 3 years old to hide their guilt.

      The problem for Trump is that this is getting all too obvious.

  5. Florence Portell April 14, 2017

    Are the Republicans so anti-American and so pro-Republican that they will allow our country to be used to further a foreign country and disloyal Americans? When are we going to stand up “and make us proud” by getting rid of Trump and his associates. This includes Pence who follows Trump around picking up his mistakes.

    1. Eleanore Whitaker April 14, 2017

      Republican men love to muscle others. They’ve been at it since Nixon was FORCED to resign for being in on WaterGate. Never again would the Republican “muscle men” allow any president to be his own voice without prior back room GOP approval.

      With a sleaze like Trump, the greatest danger is for Americans to openly discuss what they plan to do about him. His greatest weapon is his ability to keep secrets. In government, that can also mean serious national security risks.

      If you scan over the slates of Republican candidates the RNC puts out there for president, you see why they are misfits. They are either paid by billionaires to do their bidding or they are 100% Big Oil, a dying industry most Americans have already made obsolete. So, the muscle boys opt for profits from endless war.

      Once you factor that the states who get back more than the $1 they pay in federal taxes are ALL Republican states, you see why they must continue their regime of slash and burn that ends up the sole support of their states.

    2. Mama Bear April 14, 2017

      they are not going to get rid of Trump. They are drunk on power and money and cannot see shooting their golden goose.

    3. johninPCFL April 14, 2017

      There is no recall provision in the Constitution. The only “getting rid of” options are impeachment (which the toady GOP will never do) and an assassination attempt (which would be worse.)

      Our only reasonable option is waiting for four years to vote him out. During that time, unfortunately, the GOP and the Russian puppet can do untold damage to the country.

  6. Florence Portell April 14, 2017

    Get the money out of politics. That is the only way we will get this mess cleaned out and it is a mess. People, stop sticking your head in the sand. Trump just threatened if he doesn’t get to get rid of Obamacare he will withhold payments that will withhold valuable health care for those not so rich as he and his wealthy cabinet. In other words he will blackmail us into submission. Either way we’re going to suffer so we might as well fight it out right now.

    1. Eleanore Whitaker April 14, 2017

      Trump makes idle threats his entire life. Remember his threat about how he would “from day one” bring manufacturing “back to the US?”

      Once you start with Trump is a BS pro, nothing after that is valid.

      He cannot withhold healthcare from any American who PAYS for it out of their own wages. What’s he going to do? Gather up all healthcare insurance companies and demand a mass shut down? And what about their right to own and operate a business like he does at Trump Tower and Mar-a-Lago?

      Trump always discriminates indiscriminately. You get used to his BS if you live in the Metro area as some of us do. What you never do is empty your well to him. You keep as many secrets from him as he keeps from you. That pisses him off big time.

      1. Joan April 14, 2017

        Even those who pay for their own insurance will have their access to healthcare negatively impacted by Trump’s Obamacare sabotage. Prices will go up for everyone. We are all in this together.

        1. Eleanore Whitaker April 14, 2017

          He cannot shut down ALL healthcare insurance businesses. Here’s why. In most states, the ACA was set up by the state departments of banking and insurance. This means the state, not the federal government, have the final approval to allow an ACA HMO to operate in their state.

          That’s why the Republican states all complained they had to pay higher rates. They were left with ONLY the Big 6 HMOs because their state government refused to set up a state ACA agency. I know this because our Governor Fat Mouth in NJ refused but NY’s Governor Cuomo, didn’t. NJ residents pay 11% MORE for their insurance than NY. The reason is due to the limited number of HMO choices in NJ that NY doesn’t have.

          The reality is that Obama was quick to realize that allowing states to decide if they wanted to set up state ACA agencies for healthcare disconnected them from federal regulations due to states’ rights having equality with federal laws.

          1. Joan April 14, 2017

            It will not require a shut down for people to be hurt. Already the uncertainty is driving companies out of markets, stifling expansion and raising prices. Insurance companies are bean counters, not risk takers by nature, they abhore uncertainty .

          2. Eleanore Whitaker April 15, 2017

            There won’t be a shut down. The federal government is already on a campaign to get states to pay for more of the programs and legislations the federal should be paying for.

            One of the women I worked with back in 1980 was a former insurance agent at NY Life. She sold mainly life insurance at that time. One thing she told me was that when you have ONLY 6 Big Corporations monopolizing the insurance markets, you have LESS, not more competition. You have 6 all too powerful insurance corporations making all the decisions in the same way you have Big Oil making all the decisions on the price of gasoline.

            But using gasoline as a good example of people power, look what happened. Once gasoline prices headed near $5 a gallon, the sale of fuel efficient vehicles went through the roof. That meant less people buying gasoline and more people refusing to be hostages of Big Oil.

            The only uncertainty comes from lies that come from the Big 6 in HMOs. They want you to believe that if there are tens of thousands of smaller healthcare insurance companies, you will lose your healthcare.

            If that’s true, why didn’t that happen in NY? When the Governor of NY set up a state ACA agency, immediately the residents in that state paid 11% less in healthcare costs. Why? Because the Big 6 weren’t controlling the prices.

            Now, as to bean counters. Not always true. Remember when Prudential in the early 2000s invested your premiums in foreign investments that went belly up by 2007? There was a huge increase in the cost of their HMO plans to make up for those losses that you already paid for with your premiums.

            Sorry but you are wrong. No other country of the world allows 6 giant HMOs to be a monopoly. No other country of the world pays the outrageous healthcare costs we in the US pay. Come up with another excuse for keeping us hostage.

  7. Eleanore Whitaker April 14, 2017

    Every time a report comes out that draws Trump and his gaggle of grifters closer to being guilty of election rigging, his game is to come up with a major distraction.

    If you are an innocent man, would you sabotage someone trying to prove you innocent? In effect, Trump’s game is to continue to remain in office by constant distractions AWAY from anything that begins to nail him to the wall.

    Trump’s criminal mind is such that he can come up with escape routes faster than a jet plane.

  8. yabbed April 14, 2017

    I believe Trump and his co-conspirators, including his grifter family, are going down.

    1. Gerry Francis April 14, 2017

      Let’s hope!

    2. Eleanore Whitaker April 14, 2017

      Ask yourself this question: How many more times can Trump rely on creating a major distraction like the Syria Attack to avoid his guilt? Each time he does this, the distraction is more extreme. That’s why he is instigating trouble with North Korea. He knows North Korea’s Kim Jung Un has no reservations about taking half the East Coast out.

      1. Sherrymwilliams April 15, 2017

        Managing director of Google!, is explaining to users to start off “Work at home” method, that People have been doing for about one year now. These days alone, I generated close to $36,000 until now with no more than my home computer as well as some spare time, despite that i have a fulltime 9 to 5 job. Even everyone not used to this, can make $89/per h easily and the earnings can go even higher over time… This is how i started
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  9. Thoughtopsy April 17, 2017

    Wow. Prison is starting to look like a serious possibility.
    And he didn’t even mismanage an email server… Who knew? :O

    …unless President “F**kface Von Clownstick manages to pull a “Bridgegate” and pretend that everyone knew what was going on EXCEPT him.
    (BTW: Hat tip to the corrupt fat NJ swamp dweller and Trump d1ck-sucker-in-chief for somehow managing to pull that one off.)


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