Britain’s spy agencies (GCHQ) first became aware of suspicious “interactions” between Trump aides and known and suspected Russian spies in late 2015, a source close to UK intelligence told The Guardian, and this sensitive intelligence was passed to the US.
“GCHQ was at no point carrying out a targeted operation against Trump or his team or proactively seeking information. The alleged conversations were picked up by chance as part of routine surveillance of Russian intelligence assets,” notes The Guardian.
The exchange of information, they added, was part of routine information sharing between the US and its allies, with a number of western agencies sharing information on contacts between Trump’s inner circle and Russians.
Sean Spicer falsely claimed that the “British spying agency” had carried out bugging at Trump Tower. His claims were based on an unsubstantiated report on Fox News, from which the cable news network later distanced itself.
“The FBI and the CIA were slow to appreciate the extensive nature of contacts between Trump’s team and Moscow ahead of the US election,” a source has told The Guardian.
Instead, different agencies in several countries began to see a pattern of connections over the next several months, and those intelligence officials sent warnings to US agencies.
The official investigation, however, is now making progress according to sources who say the FBI now has “specific concrete and corroborative evidence of collusion between people in the Trump campaign and Russian agents to use the famously hacked DNC emails.