Russian officials overheard discussing Trump associates before the campaign began

Russian officials overheard discussing Trump associates before the campaign began

The Wall Street Journal
By Shane Harris
Image courtesy of Jewel Samad/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

U.S. intelligence agencies starting in the spring of 2015 detected conversations in which Russian government officials discussed associates of Donald Trump, several months before he declared his candidacy for president, according to current and former U.S. officials.

Now, in light of emails released Tuesday by the president’s eldest son concerning a 2016 meeting with a Russian lawyer, investigators are going back to those early reports to see if they can understand them better.

In some cases, the Russians in the overheard 2015 conversations talked about meetings held outside the U.S. involving Russian government officials and Trump business associates or advisers, these people said.

It isn’t clear which of Mr. Trump’s associates or advisers the Russians were referring to, or whether they had any connection to his presidential aspirations.

The reports were gathered by intelligence agencies that routinely monitor Russian espionage against the U.S. Such efforts can include monitoring phone calls and emails as well as information from informants. The efforts weren’t aimed at Mr. Trump or his associates, these people said.

Now, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and several congressional committees are probing Mr. Trump’s ties to Russia over the years, as is special counsel Robert Mueller.

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