Intercepted Communications – Russia

In the Spring of 2015, while carrying out surveillance of Russian government officials, US intelligence agencies intercepted those officials discussing several of Trump’s associates. These intercepted communications took place several months before Trump declared his candidacy for president. While the surveillance reports were vague and inconclusive, the sheer volume of mentions of Trump associates raised suspicions. Source

In 2016, US intelligence intercepted several calls involving Russian individuals including intelligence officers and other members of the government showing that Donald Trump’s associates, including campaign members and others outside the campaign, had repeated contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials over the course of the year before the 2016 election. US officials expressed alarm about the large amount of these contacts, which were occurring while Trump continued to express high praise for Russian president Vladimir Putin. Source

For example, in the summer of 2016, US intelligence recorded conversations between Russian officials discussing Paul Manafort and Michael Flynn. Regarding Manafort, they discussed leveraging their ties to pro-Russian former Ukranian president Viktor Yanukovych, and his relationship to Manafort, to exert influence over Donald Trump. Regarding Flynn, they said Flynn was their ally, and they had successfully cultivated a strong relationship with him. They believed they could use Flynn to influence Donald Trump and his team. This intelligence was passed to the FBI, around the time that the FBI opened its investigation into Russian interference in the US election. Source1 Source2

In May 2016, as Donald Trump was locking up the Republican presidential nomination, a U.S. intelligence intercept picked up Russians discussing ways to spread news damaging to Clinton. Source

On November 10, 2016, Russian deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov confirmed that “there were contacts” during the campaign between Russian officials and Trump campaign members. Source

In December 2016, Michael Flynn and Jared Kushner met with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak at Trump Tower. Source Kislyak was later recorded saying to another Russian official that at this meeting, Flynn and Kushner asked the Russians to set up a direct, encrypted communications channel with Russia, so that Flynn could regularly speak directly with Russian military officials without the knowledge of American intelligence agencies. Source

US intelligence also intercepted conversations where Kislyak told his superiors in Moscow that during his various meetings with Jeff Sessions over the course of the 2016 campaign, they had discussed campaign-related matters, including policy issues important to Moscow. Source