August 2015

European Intelligence Officials Say Trump Associates and Russians Are Communicating

European intelligence officials intercept communications between Trump associates and Russian operatives, which British intelligence service head Robert Hannigan passes along to CIA chief John Brennan.

Even before American intelligence agencies began investigating the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia, European intelligence agencies were sounding the alarm. According to The Guardian, European intelligence officials first intercepted communications between Trump associates and Russian operatives as early as August 2015. The intercepts were reportedly so concerning that the head of the British intelligence service Robert Hannigan passed the intelligence directly to CIA chief John Brennan.

Over the next several months, intelligence agencies in several countries, including the United Kingdom, Germany, Estonia, Poland, and Australia, passed information to the U.S. regarding interactions between the Trump campaign and Russian operatives. Though the precise nature of much of this intelligence remains unknown, the Australian intelligence may have concerned Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos’s drunken boast to the Australian ambassador to the United Kingdom regarding his conversations with the Maltese professor and alleged Russian operative Joseph Mifsud. Additionally, according to the BBC, in April 2016, “an intelligence agency of one of the Baltic States” provided Brennan with “a tape recording of a conversation about money from the Kremlin going into the US presidential campaign.”

It was also later reported that Dutch intelligence had “spied on the Russian group believed to be behind the hack of the Democratic Party ahead of U.S. elections.” Reportedly, “the Dutch government alerted the United States to Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election after Netherlands-based officials watched the hacking of the Democratic National Committee and other operations by the Russians, including a 2014 State Department hack.”

On March 3, 2017, The New York Times reported that the British and Dutch governments have evidence of additional meetings between Trump associates and Russian officials in European cities. The news came on the same day as reports that U.S. intelligence agencies had intercepted communications between Russian officials talking about the Trump campaign and reports that Attorney General Jeff Sessions had lied about his contacts with Russian officials in his confirmation hearing.

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