The New York Times is reporting that American spies collected information last summer revealing that senior Russian intelligence and political officials were discussing how to exert influence over Donald J. Trump through his advisers.
The intelligence was among the clues that American officials received last year as they began investigating Russian attempts to disrupt the election and whether any of Mr. Trump's associates were assisting Moscow in the effort.
The information collected last summer was considered credible enough for intelligence agencies to pass to the F.B.I., which during that period opened a counterintelligence investigation that is continuing.
It is unclear, however, whether Russian officials actually tried to directly influence Mr. Manafort and Mr. Flynn. Both have denied any collusion with the Russian government on the campaign to disrupt the election.