The claim that GCHQ carried out surveillance on Donald Trump during the election campaign is “arrant nonsense”, Rick Ledgett, the number two at the US National Security Agency (NSA) has told the BBC in an exclusive interview.
A commentator on Fox News had claimed that GCHQ had carried out the activity on America’s behalf, but Mr Ledgett said the claim showed “a complete lack of understanding in how the relationship works”.
Each side, he said, was prohibited from asking the other partner to carry out acts that they were prohibited from doing.
He also said the huge risks to the UK in carrying out such an act would completely outweigh any benefits.
“Of course they wouldn’t do it. It would be epically stupid,” he told me.
Okay – let’s see if we can understand how the relationship does work. The chances were very high that Donald Trump’s phone calls were picked up and recorded by both the UK agencies. He made calls out of the US and those either went through or were terminated in the UK. Trump owns large tracts of land in Scotland and it has proved quite controversial and there is “blood in the water” there. He had close relationships with the then Scotish First Minister Alex Salmond which would have automatically made him a person of interest in the UK especially to the Conservative Party in Westminster who hate the Scots, and the Scots hate them in return as you might have noticed in the news about Brexit (if you’ve been following UK news). As a person of political interest GCHQ info on Trump would have been seen by the UK Cabinet Office. UK Prime Minister David Cameron and US Pres Obama have a close relationship. And Donald Trump would almost certainly have come up in conversation as he was an obvious thorn in both their sides. Therefor it is quite likely information was shared. But, as Mr Ledgett correctly notices, not by the NSA asking the GCHQ. They are completely in the clear because of how the relationship works…