Trump doing Russia’s work: ex-UK envoy
GCHQ in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire.
Sir Peter Westmacott, who was the UK’s envoy in Washington until January, also urged the White House to accept British assurances that the claims about GCHQ were nonsense.
And White House press secretary Sean Spicer angered UK spy bosses last week by repeating an unsubstantiated claim on Fox News that London had spied on Trump.
During a press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday, Trump again said he believed the story, which originally came from state broadcaster Russia Today (RT), that former president Barack Obama authorised GCHQ to bug his communications.
The claim was made in a report on RT, saying that GCHQ passed intelligence on Trump’s campaign to US spy agencies.
“Does he believe this stuff, or does he just trot it out because he’s seen it on Fox News?” Westmacott asked.
The former ambassador has previously argued that Trump was playing a “dangerous game” by refusing to admit his error in making the allegation in the first place.
Trump was “doing something the Russians want him to do”, Westmacott told the BBC.
Westmacott told the BBC: “We do know that the Russians are engaged in information warfare against the United States, the United Kingdom, a lot of western democracies. They have peddled stories in the past which have turned out to be not true and which were deliberately put out by them.
“So if the story comes from RT, it would indeed be part of the fairly standard Russian playbook with which all western democracies at the moment are having to cope.”
Westmacott warned that the claims against GCHQ, which took the rare step of publicly denying, risked damaging intelligence sharing between London and Washington.
GCHQ said the comment was “utterly ridiculous” and should be ignored, while the government in London said it had secured an assurance that the claim would not be repeated.
Russia denies meddling in the US election.
Picture credit: Flickr