Thursday, July 13, 2017

WSJ -- Russian Officials Overheard Discussing Trump Associates Before Campaign Began

 Intelligence agencies in the spring of 2015 began capturing conversations of Russian government officials discussing the associates of Donald Trump.

Russian officials are routinely monitored by U.S. intelligence agencies, and it wouldn’t be unusual for them to discuss people who have business interests in Russia.

The U.S. intelligence agencies weren’t sure what to make of the vague and inconclusive information, given that Mr. Trump had done business in Russia and was a global celebrity well-known to prominent people there. The names of Americans do sometimes show up in conversations involving Russian officials that are overheard by U.S. intelligence. 

At the very least, Donald Trump Jr.’s emails show that senior campaign officials entertained accepting Russia’s help in the 2016 election. During the campaign and as president, Trump has often made favorable comments about Russia President Vladimir Putin. 

In light of recent developments in the Trump-Russia investigations, including Trump Jr.’s emails, investigators are revisiting that intelligence for new leads into whether the Trump campaign colluded in a Russian government-sponsored effort to meddle in the election to benefit Mr. Trump.

No smoking gun but there is certainly a lot of intrigue.

By Shane Harris