Intelligence agencies have intercepted calls between the Trump campaign and Russian Intelligence officials

The intelligence agencies continue leaking to the media about the unprecedented level of contacts between the Trump campaign and Russian intelligence officials that they are investigating. The New York Times reported overnight that Trump Campaign Aides Had Repeated Contacts With Russian Intelligence:

Phone records and intercepted calls show that members of Donald J. Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and other Trump associates had repeated contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials in the year before the election, according to four current and former American officials.

American law enforcement and intelligence agencies intercepted the communications around the same time they were discovering evidence that Russia was trying to disrupt the presidential election by hacking into the Democratic National Committee, three of the officials said. The intelligence agencies then sought to learn whether the Trump campaign was colluding with the Russians on the hacking or other efforts to influence the election.

The officials interviewed in recent weeks said that, so far, they had seen no evidence of such cooperation.

But the intercepts alarmed American intelligence and law enforcement agencies, in part because of the amount of contact that was occurring while Mr. Trump was speaking glowingly about the Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin. At one point last summer, Mr. Trump said at a campaign event that he hoped Russian intelligence services had stolen Hillary Clinton’s emails and would make them public.

The officials said the intercepted communications were not limited to Trump campaign officials, and included other associates of Mr. Trump. On the Russian side, the contacts also included members of the government outside of the intelligence services, they said. All of the current and former officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because the continuing investigation is classified.

The officials said that one of the advisers picked up on the calls was Paul Manafort, who was Mr. Trump’s campaign chairman for several months last year and had worked as a political consultant in Ukraine. The officials declined to identify the other Trump associates on the calls.

The call logs and intercepted communications are part of a larger trove of information that the F.B.I. is sifting through as it investigates the links between Mr. Trump’s associates and the Russian government, as well as the hacking of the D.N.C., according to federal law enforcement officials. As part of its inquiry, the F.B.I. has obtained banking and travel records and conducted interviews, the officials said.

* * *

Several of Mr. Trump’s associates, like Mr. Manafort, have done business in Russia. And it is not unusual for American businessmen to come in contact with foreign intelligence officials, sometimes unwittingly, in countries like Russia and Ukraine, where the spy services are deeply embedded in society. Law enforcement officials did not say to what extent the contacts might have been about business.

The officials would not disclose many details, including what was discussed on the calls, the identity of the Russian intelligence officials who participated, and how many of Mr. Trump’s advisers were talking to the Russians. It is also unclear whether the conversations had anything to do with Mr. Trump himself.

A report from American intelligence agencies that was made public in January concluded that the Russian government had intervened in the election in part to help Mr. Trump, but did not address whether any members of the Trump campaign had participated in the effort.

The intercepted calls are different from the wiretapped conversations last year between Michael T. Flynn, Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser, and Sergey I. Kislyak, Russia’s ambassador to the United States. In those calls, which led to Mr. Flynn’s resignation on Monday night, the two men discussed sanctions that the Obama administration imposed on Russia in December.

But the cases are part of American intelligence and law enforcement agencies’ routine electronic surveillance of the communications of foreign officials.

The F.B.I. declined to comment. The White House also declined to comment Tuesday night, but earlier in the day, the press secretary, Sean Spicer, stood by Mr. Trump’s previous comments that nobody from his campaign had contact with Russian officials before the election.

“There’s nothing that would conclude me that anything different has changed with respect to that time period,” Mr. Spicer said in response to a question.

The intelligence agencies are effectively telling the Times that they have intercepted communications which prove “Baghdad Sean” Spicer’s denials are as false as Michael Flynn’s denials were. There is more information to come.

Two days after the election in November, Sergei A. Ryabkov, the deputy Russian foreign minister, said “there were contacts” during the campaign between Russian officials and Mr. Trump’s team.

“Obviously, we know most of the people from his entourage,” Mr. Ryabkov told Russia’s Interfax news agency.

The Trump transition team denied Mr. Ryabkov’s statement. “This is not accurate,” Hope Hicks, a spokeswoman for Mr. Trump, said at the time.

The National Security Agency, which monitors the communications of foreign intelligence services, initially captured the calls between Mr. Trump’s associates and the Russians as part of routine foreign surveillance. After that, the F.B.I. asked the N.S.A. to collect as much information as possible about the Russian operatives on the phone calls, and to search through troves of previous intercepted communications that had not been analyzed.

The F.B.I. has closely examined at least three other people close to Mr. Trump, although it is unclear if their calls were intercepted. They are Carter Page, a businessman and former foreign policy adviser to the campaign; Roger Stone, a longtime Republican operative ratfucker; and Michael Flynn.

* * *

As part of the inquiry, the F.B.I. is also trying to assess the credibility of the information contained in a dossier that was given to the bureau last year by a former British intelligence operative. The dossier contained a raft of allegations of a broad conspiracy between Mr. Trump, his associates and the Russian government. It also included unsubstantiated claims that the Russians had embarrassing videos that could be used to blackmail Mr. Trump.

The F.B.I. has spent several months investigating the leads in the dossier, but has yet to confirm any of its most explosive claims.

Senior F.B.I. officials believe that the former British intelligence officer who compiled the dossier, Christopher Steele, has a credible track record, and he briefed investigators last year about how he obtained the information. One American law enforcement official said that F.B.I. agents had made contact with some of Mr. Steele’s sources.

The agency’s investigation of Mr. Manafort began last spring as an outgrowth of a criminal investigation into his work for a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine and for the country’s former president, Viktor F. Yanukovych. It has focused on why he was in such close contact with Russian and Ukrainian intelligence officials.

The bureau did not have enough evidence to obtain a warrant for a wiretap of Mr. Manafort’s communications, but it had the N.S.A. scrutinize the communications of Ukrainian officials he had met.

The F.B.I. investigation is proceeding at the same time that separate investigations into Russian interference in the election are gaining momentum on Capitol Hill. Those investigations, by the House and Senate Intelligence Committees, are examining not only the Russian hacking but also any contacts that Mr. Trump’s team had with Russian officials during the campaign.

On Tuesday, top Republican lawmakers said that Mr. Flynn should be one focus of the investigation, and that he should be called to testify before Congress. Senator Mark Warner of Virginia, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said the news about Mr. Flynn underscored “how many questions still remain unanswered to the American people more than three months after Election Day, including who was aware of what, and when.”

Mr. Warner said Mr. Flynn’s resignation would not stop the committee “from continuing to investigate General Flynn, or any other campaign official who may have had inappropriate and improper contacts with Russian officials prior to the election.”

“The Kremlin Candidate” is compromised, and if these investigations go where the evidence appears to point, we are going to have a constitutional crisis on our hands. Who knew what, what did they know, and when did they know it? This is what these investigations need to answer.

20 Responses to Intelligence agencies have intercepted calls between the Trump campaign and Russian Intelligence officials

  1. As a retired USAF Colonel with a Top Secret clearance, I agree with For Sure Not Tom. Yes, if the times were normal, we would absolutely not want our intelligence agencies leaking anything to the press. But, these times are far from normal. Our systems are seriously compromised. Ryan and McConnell, two of the guys (after POTUS) most responsible for ensuring protecting our Democracy, are instead concerned about themselves and their party. With the GOP in control of (soon with Gorsuch’s confirmation) all three branches of government, our checks and balances aren’t working the way they should. The only way to expose the corruption in this administration is for the good public servants in our government to let the people know what is going on. These are desperate times and they call for desperate measures.

    • And, oh by the way, as far as I know, the intelligence agencies haven’t leaked any actual classified information, just that there is certain information. Besides, I think they work for us…not POTUS.

      • “And, oh by the way, as far as I know, the intelligence agencies haven’t leaked any actual classified information…”

        Not yet, they haven’t, but they will. As they receive accolades and encouragement they will get bolder and they will, eventually, begin releasing classified information. Will you still support them at that time?

        “I think they work for us…not POTUS.”

        Interesting theory. The police work for us, too, but try telling them that when they are writing you a ticket. The IRS works for us, too, but they still want those taxes you owe paid up quickly. For that matter, the President works for us, but try and get a meeting with him. As I said, it is an interesting theory but it doesn’t hold up to scrutiny.

    • “As a retired USAF Colonel with a Top Secret clearance, I agree with For Sure Not Tom.”

      I am surprised that a person with your background would agree with Tom on this. Granted, it is politically expedient for democrats at this particular moment and it dovetails nicely with their plans to destroy Trump, but it is very shortsighted.

      “The only way to expose the corruption in this administration is for the good public servants in our government to let the people know what is going on.”

      Right now you approve of what the leakers are doing. I can almost guarantee that there will come a time when they will go too far and start leaking information that is truly harmful to this Country. You applaud the good public servants for choosing to leak what they are leaking, but what keeps them from leaking information you wouldn’t approve of? What keeps the bad public servants from following the lead of the good ones and start leaking critical information because they have some other axe to grind against the Nation? Who decides what is a good leak and what is a bad leak? You? Me?

      “These are desperate times and they call for desperate measures.”

      Are they desperate times or is it just political anger clouding your mind? Trump opposes much of what you believe in, but does that make it “desperate times”?

      And what kind of desperate measures are you talking about? So far, you are willing to throw national security and privacy rights to the side, what else? Suspension of habeus corpus as President Lincoln did during desperate times? Mass imprisonment of Trump supporters as enemies of the state? The support of a military coup to overthrow Trump? How about a 2nd Civil War?

      You do realize, don’t you, that under the United States Code, what you profess comes uncomfortably close to the definition of treason? I am not accusing you of it, I am just pointing that out to emphasize how serious the issue we are talking about is. Like me, you took an oath and you are still bound by that oath. That oath doesn’t equivocate and say “only if you feel it is the right thing to do”.

      I don’t defend Trump as much as I defend the Office of the President. Our system of government has worked well for almost 250 years. It has provided remarkable stability and continuity to the American people and has allowed us to grow and prosper almost at will. There have always been those who, for various reasons, wanted to see that system destroyed. I think those who hate Trump enough to destroy him are providing an opportunity for those who wish to weaken and destroy our system to further their cause. After all, if you are successful at destroying Trump via leaks and other subterfuges to undermine the Office of the Presidency, there is every reason to believe you will weaken that Office for all subsequent President to follow. A pattern will be established and leakers will be emboldened by what happens to Trump.

      There is a legal system in place called impeachment to remove bad Presidents from office. If he is a bad president, impeach him. If he violates the law, impeach him. Encouraging intelligence leaks is a shortsighted, dangerous method hurting Trump. And those leakers are NOT heroes, they are crominals and need to be treated as such.

      • For Sure Not Tom

        You are framing this discussion around left and right, Democrats and Republicans. That’s not correct.

        You have an criminal con man in the White House, clueless and ignorant, working with the Russian government of Vladimir Putin.

        Take out your conservative prejudices and try to see what is actually happening.

        This is not a left vs. right issue, this is not a normal POTUS.

        Treason would be letting a Russian stooge work in National Security.

        The worst is yet to come for your GOP leader.

        • “You are framing this discussion around left and right, Democrats and Republicans. That’s not correct.”

          If I was doing that, I didn’t really mean to do so to any great degree. I do think that the left is arrayed 100% against Trump, but I am also aware that some on the right might also oppose him. My argument about the intelligence leaks is pretty much nonpartisan, though.

          “Treason would be letting a Russian stooge work in National Security.”

          Probably true. As could leaking intelligence information.

          “The worst is yet to come for your GOP leader.”

          I have no doubt that the attacks on Trump will continue thoughout his tenure in Office.

  2. The hypocrisy here is mind numbing…

  3. For Sure Not Tom

    Republicans and Democrats have been warning Trump about ticking-off the intelligence community since at least January, it seems things are about to get real.

    “On Wednesday, former NSA intelligence analyst John Schindler provided some insight into the reaction of national security officials.

    “Now we go nuclear,” he wrote on Twitter. “[Intelligence community] war going to new levels. Just got an [email from] senior [intelligence community] friend, it began: ‘He will die in jail.’”

    Lock him up! Funny how leaks are good when they involve a Dem, but the right cries like babies when things to the other way.

    The irony is epic.

    If Don the Con is a Russian puppet, its not a crime to expose it, it’s Patriotism.

    It’s not surprising, but still, shame on the GOP for putting party over country.

  4. Does it not occur to you that the great crime going on here – the one that poses a true risk to our Nation – is that our intelligence agencies are leaking information to the media? You are so excited about getting possible dirt on the Trump Administration that you have no concern whatsoever about the very real threat posed by our most classified agencies spilling their guts to the press. Just like a typical democrat you will gladly risk anything just in the hope it returns your party to power. Shame on you, AzBM!

    • For Sure Not Tom

      Trump let a possible Russian plant sit in the White House for three weeks. Trump knew weeks ago and did nothing..

      Thank you, leaks, for making my government a little bit more secure.

      Funny how you hang out on a liberal blog defending a president you didn’t even want.

    • The US intelligence apparatus is not the problem here Steve. Trump and his campaign along with his administration’s collusion with a hostile foreign power’s intelligence agencies is. Or is that collusion you’d rather not know about?

      • “The US intelligence apparatus is not the problem here Steve.”

        Wrong. Do you have a clue how intelligence works? It DOES NOT work by leaking intelligence to the press. Once they start leaking information to the press, then they begin betraying sources, methods, activities, areas of interest, assets, etc., to those outside the intelligence agency and, worst of all, the people whom we are spying on. That is the reason we have a special section in the United States Code governing intelligence laws and providing severe penalties for violating those laws. These laws are uniquely set up to protect our intelligence. Leaked intelligence can get people killed and is most certainly a problem.

        “Trump and his campaign along with his administration’s collusion with a hostile foreign power’s intelligence agencies is.”

        Even the intelligence agencies leaking the news specify there is NO collusion and they admit the contacts appear to be unintentional and NOT malicious. Read the Times articles that is at the heart of this whole brouhaha.

        “Or is that collusion you’d rather not know about?”

        If collusion with a foreign power occurs, it should NOT be my business (or your business) until the Justice Department files criminal charges against someone for collusion with a foreign government. We probably wouldn’t even know about it until charges were filed because intelligence issues tend to be classified. THAT is how it is supposed to work. It is NOT supposed to work by intelligence agencies illegally leaking information to the New York Times.

        What needs to happen now is an investigation into whoever leaked the information should occur and the person(s) responsible appropriately disciplined.

        Wileybud, this has very serious implications for the future. If the leakers get bolder, they may leak information that gets people killed or really causes harm to our national security. It is perfectly okay to hate Trump with all the passion you can muster, but please don’t let that hatred get in the way of common sense. It is not a good thing to wish evil on Trump if it also wishes evil on our Country.

        • Having served in the USN and the USAF and having had security clearances I do indeed know how intelligence works. And it’s a good thing these leaks are occurring, otherwise the nation would have no idea what the mendacious Trump Administration is up to.

          Do you really believe Attorney General Sessions would allow impartial investigations that may lead to criminal charges against senior members of the Trump Administration?

          Conflating Trump with the Country? That’s as misguiding and lame as treating the way Bush the Lesser was rightly being criticized for his conduct of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars as attacking the troops in the field.

          Steve, I have respect for you but I’m starting to believe you’re a proud Ostrich American.

        • For Sure Not Tom

          Actually they are looking into collusion, and worse, by Flynn, Paul Manafort, Carter Page, and Roger Stone.

          There are bi-partisan calls for an investigation. Don’t worry, Sessions won’t let that happen.

          No “secret” data collection methods were compromised, because the only idiot who doesn’t know the NSA taps calls to foreign countries is Michael Flynn.

          I think I’ll send him a DVD of Citizen Four. What a DA.

          The idea that the intelligence community doesn’t leak is adorable.

          Pence is pissed because no one told him Flynn lied to him, he found out from a news article.

          I hope the leakers to get bolder and we run Trump out of town before he does more harm to my country. I paid for that intel, I want my intel.

          Seriously, think about the danger here, Trump knew weeks ago that Flynn was a security issue, and let Flynn stay.

          The IC won’t share intel with the White House because they don’t trust our President’s team not to share it with Russia.

          The Commander in Chief and his staff can’t be trusted. That puts us in real danger.

          What a world we live in now, when so called conservatives defend leaving Russia stooges in the White House.

          These are not normal times. You should reconsider your support of Don the Con, it will come back to haunt you.

          • I have to admit, Tom, that of all the discussions I have participated in on this Blog, this one seems more serious than the others. Setting aside our usual banter, trading insults and other exchanges, this subject has serious potential. I am not defending Trump or his cohorts. I am trying to defend a system that was set up over the years around the Presidency. An intelligence gathering system that was set up and established to provide the President with the information he/she would need to effective defend the United States against our enemies, both foreign and domestic.

            What you are describing is a way to bypass the President and his Administration by having the intelligence community “leak” classified information to the public so that faith in the Presidency is undermined. But if the Presidency is bypassed, how does the government function? And how do so many vital functions get carried out? By law, enormous power resides with the President and the President alone. How do things function with the President incapacitated by what amounts to a coup? I checked the definition of treason in the United States Code and what you suggest must happen meets those criteria.

            I spent most of my life bound by an Oath to protect and defend the Constitution and to obey the orders of the President. I would have been bound by the Oath even if Hillary was elected, and you know how I feel about her. I find it difficult, if not impossible, to imagine that a President of the United States would not, at their core, have the best interests of the United States at heart when executing the duties of the Office. It will take a lot more than the flimsy “evidence” presented thus far to convince me that the President is a schill for Russia. There is no question he has closer ties to Russia than is good, but FDR had closer ties the the Soviet Union than was considered good and that caused minimal trouble. In any event, Trump is a different kind of President, but I don’t believe he is a traitor like you think he is. I think you are allowing your hatred of Trump to color your outlook on the so called evidence.

          • For Sure Not Tom

            You were bound to defend the Constitution and the country and obey lawful orders.

            That would mean if you had knowledge of a Russian stooge in the White House, working as the National Security Advisor, you would be bound by your oath to leak.

            It’s not a way to bypass the President, because the President wasn’t doing his job. We cannot have a Command in Chief that can’t be trusted with intel.

            FYI, I don’t think Trump is an intentional traitor, I don’t think he’s that smart. I think he’s a puppet being led around by his ego.

            I think he’s a danger because he has no idea what he’s doing. He’s still driven by ratings.

            The GOP owns this, good luck.

          • “That would mean if you had knowledge of a Russian stooge in the White House, working as the National Security Advisor, you would be bound by your oath to leak.”

            No, Tom, I wouldn’t be reuired to “leak” the information, I would be required to report it to the proper authorities. If I blabbed about it, I could be charged with a variety of offenses (and should be charged with being a dumbass for being such a blabber mouth).

            “It’s not a way to bypass the President, because the President wasn’t doing his job.”

            That’s a cop out, Tom. President can’t be expected to know everything. And if he doesn’t know, he can’t do anything about it.

            “We cannot have a Command in Chief that can’t be trusted with intel.”

            I agree. So far, there is no solid evidence that Trump can’t be trusted. Yes, I know, you have already decided, but you were very easy to convince because you set the bar so low.

            “I think he’s a danger because he has no idea what he’s doing. He’s still driven by ratings.”

            Name one President that knew what he was doing when arrived in Office. Obama stated it was like a high speed roller coaster. Bush said it took him completely by surprise. It is a tough job that always requires on the job training.

            And name me a President that wasn’t driven by ratings and polls. Even when they deny it, they know enough about it to cite the polls they say don’t matter.

            “The GOP owns this, good luck.”

            True. But the GOP is rather weak kneed and doesn’t have much gumption, so I don’t see that as much of an obstacle to anything.

          • For Sure Not Tom

            Dude, they did report it to the “proper authorities”, that’s Trump.

            He did nothing. Trump is the treasonous traitor here.

            Here’s the difference between Obama and Trump.

            Obama had some Senate experience and was a constitutional law professor.

            Trump is a spoiled rich boy who has never read the US Constitution and has been surrounded by yes men all his life.

            In business, you may want something from Trump so you’ll be nice to him. In DC, things are different.

            DC is going to eat Trump alive and we’re all going to suffer for it.

            This is not normal.