In a truly astonishing development, The Guardian is reporting that Trump aides hired an Israeli intelligence gathering firm to “get dirt” on individuals in the Obama administration who had helped to set up the Iran nuclear deal. Mark Townsend and Julian Borger write that, “People in the Trump camp contacted private investigators in May last year to ‘get dirt’ on Ben Rhodes, who had been one of Barack Obama’s top national security advisers, and Colin Kahl, deputy assistant to Obama, as part of an elaborate attempt to discredit the deal.”
A particularly chilling aspect of the story is that the Israeli firm’s agents targeted the Rhodes and Kahl’s families. Emma Stefansky, writing in Vanity Fair, notes that “ The Guardian’s report prompted Kahl to post a series of tweets on Saturday night detailing a creepy memory of the day his wife was contacted by someone claiming to be from a U.K.-based firm, asking to get coffee and chat about the possibility of including their daughter’s school in her educational fund network.”
The problem being, there was no such UK-based firm, and the “UK-based” person was weirdly well informed about the Kahl family. On his Twitter feed, Kahl posted, “This was not a generic “Nigerian prince” scam. This person had all sorts of specific information on my wife’s volunteer duties at an obscure DC elementary school.”
Needless to say, no one in the Kahl family agreed to a meeting with the “person.”
The Israeli firm that was allegedly being used for this covert action was Black Cube, which is described on Wikipedia as a private intelligence firm, usually dealing in litigation support cases, which “draws its manpower from elite and secretive Israeli intelligence units, Aman, Mossad and Shin Bet. The company’s personnel are known to maintain close ties to the Israeli government and intelligence agencies.”
It also has a long history of assisting wealthy clients avoid prosecution for alleged white-collar and other crimes. Among its clients was none other than Harvey Weinstein, who reportedly used the firm to attack the women who’d accused him of sexual harassment.
That’s important, because Black Cube denies involvement with the Kahl/Rhodes operation. However, reporter Laura Rozen has revealed that Colin Kahl has confirmed that the “UK-based” firm that reached out to his wife was Reuben Capital Partners, which was the same name that Black Cube used in its campaign against Weinstein’s accusers.
In short, we have a situation in which Trump operatives contracted with a private Israeli firm that has close links to official Israeli intelligence services to help derail a treaty which, it should be remembered, is hated by Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli Prime Minister, and Trump, who has called it “the worst deal ever.”
One question that remains to be answered, though, is who paid for Black Cube’s operations? And was that transfer of funds legal?
Stay tuned. Maybe we’ll find out in time.