Trump says that the FBI spied on his campaign. As John Schindler points out at The Observer, the US intelligence community was just following a trail of breadcrumbs that led from the Kremlin.
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.