It has been confirmed that Britain’s spy agencies were the first ones to notify counterparts in Washington about the connection between Trump’s campaign team and Russian intelligence operatives.
The somewhat suspicious interactions between public figures closely tied to Trump and known or suspected Russian agents started becoming apparent to the GCHQ in late 2015. A trusted source close to UK intelligence stated that the intelligence was passed to the United States as part of a routine exchange.
Numerous western agencies shared more details about contacts between Trump’s team and Russians over the follow six months. There was a source that intimated that the Dutch and French spy agency known as the General Directorate for External Security or DGSE, also contributed to the passing on of electronic intelligence.
GCHQ chose not to execute a targeted operation against Trump or his team at any time. The conversations in question were discovered by chance as part of a routine surveillance operation involving Russian intelligence assets. Multiple agencies began targeting the same people to discover whether or not there was a pattern of connections.
Sean Spicer, press secretary for the White House, stated that GCHQ had carried out the bugging themselves. Spicer cited a report on Fox news that was completely unsubstantiated. The press secretary’s claims ended up sparking a reply from GCHQ, stating that the allegations were complete “nonsense.”
US and UK intelligence sources fully acknowledge the GCHQ played a crucial role in putting the FBI’s investigation of Trump and Russian connections into motion back in July of 2016. The FBI and CIA apparently did not take this connection seriously at first. One source said that these government agencies are “Trained not to do this,” referring to the U.S. law which states that US agencies cannot spy on private citizens without a warranty being issued first.
When the GCHQ was asked for comment from the media, it simply stated that, “It is longstanding policy that we do not comment on intelligence matters.” So far it is not clear as to which individuals were picked up by British surveillance.
There are currently a number of different investigations into Trump campaign officials and their connection with Russia. There was one source that said the investigation was starting to make progress, stating “They now have specific concrete and corroborative evidence of collusion.” The source went on to say that “This is between people in the Trump campaign and agents of [Russia] influence relating to the use of hacked material.”