This comes from an article written by former National Security Agency analyst John Schindler for the Observer:
Let me put my cards on the table: The counterintelligence investigation of Donald Trump was kicked off by not one, not two, but multiple SIGINT reports which set off alarm bells inside our Intelligence Community. This has been publicly known, in a general way, for some time. A little over a year ago, the Guardian reported, based on multiple intelligence sources, that the lead was taken by Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ – Britain’s NSA), which “first became aware in late 2015 of suspicious ‘interactions’ between figures connected to Trump and known or suspected Russian agents, a source close to UK intelligence said. This intelligence was passed to the U.S. as part of a routine exchange of information.”
NSA isn’t just the world’s most powerful intelligence agency, it’s the hub of the whole Western spy system. In late 2015, based on GCHQ reports, the word went out to NSA’s close friends and partners to be on the lookout for any intercepts touching on Russian efforts to infiltrate the Trump campaign. They found plenty. As the Guardian explained, in the first half of 2016, as Trump’s presidential bid gained unexpected steam, Australia, Germany, Estonia, and Poland all had SIGINT hits that indicated a troubling relationship between Trump and Moscow. So, too, did the French and the Dutch—the latter being an especially savvy SIGINT partner of NSA’s.
As the Guardian tactfully phrased the matter, “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. Over several months, different agencies targeting the same people began to see a pattern of connections that were flagged to intelligence officials in the U.S.” In other words, Western intelligence agencies that were eavesdropping on the Kremlin and its spies—not Trump or any of his retinue—heard numerous conversations about Trump and his secret Russian connections. As I’ve told you previously, senior Kremlin officials got very chatty about Trump beginning in late 2014, on the heels of his infamous Moscow trip, and NSA knew about this.
In truth, NSA understood quite a bit about Trump’s connections to Moscow, and by mid-2016 it had increased its efforts to get to the bottom of the mystery regarding the candidate’s Russian ties. In response to urgent FBI requests for more information, NSA rose to the occasion, and by the time that Donald Trump officially accepted the Republican nomination in mid-July 2016, “We knew we had a Russian agent on our hands,” as a senior NSA official put it to me recently.
The official went on: “We had several reports in late 2015 and early 2016, mostly from Second and Third Party”—that being spy-speak for NSA’s foreign friends—“but by the spring of 2016 we had plenty of our own collection.” These reports, based on multiple intercepts, were tightly compartmented, that is, restricted to a small group of counterintelligence officials, given their obvious sensitivity, but they painted an indelible picture of a compromised GOP nominee. “The Kremlin talked about Trump like he was their boy, and their comments weren’t always flattering.” The NSA official stated that those above-top-secret reports left no doubt that the Russians were subverting our democracy in 2016—and that Team Trump was a witting participant in the Kremlin’s criminal conspiracy: “Trump and his kids knew what they were doing, and who they were doing it with,” the official explained.
Well, that certainly puts things into perspective, doesn’t it?
So there was no need to place a spy into the Trump campaign because the intelligence agencies really had more than enough information to realize that an agent for the Kremlin was about to win the presidency.
Well, no wonder Robert Mueller does not want to share his information with the Trump lawyers just yet.