Last night, I wrote of a report from The Guardian detailing how the Trump Administration – or private individuals following Trump and his administration’s instructions – hired an Israeli security firm, “Black Cube,” made up of former Mossad members, to investigate the personal lives of Obama aides most involved in finalizing the Iran deal. Apparently, the firm attempted to frame Obama aides Ben Rhodes and Colin Kahl as having a personal financial stake in the deal itself, something unequivocally false, but fits a pattern ready to be believed by the FISA-watching Trump supporter.
According to a jaw-dropping report in The New Yorker:
The documents show that Black Cube compiled detailed background profiles of several individuals, including Rhodes and Kahl, that featured their addresses, information on their family members, and even the makes of their cars. Black Cube agents were instructed to try to find damaging information about them, including unsubstantiated claims that Rhodes and Kahl had worked closely with Iran lobbyists and were personally enriched through their policy work on Iran (they denied those claims); rumors that Rhodes was one of the Obama staffers responsible for “unmasking” Trump transition officials who were named in intelligence documents (Rhodes denied the claim); and an allegation that one of the individuals targeted by the campaign had an affair.
The New Yorker article is authored by Ronan Farrow, who just earned the first of what is sure to be a career stuffed with Pulitzer prizes for his work investigating the history of abuse unleashed by Harvey Weinstein. Turns out, that Farrow wrote the Trump administration story because he is intimately familiar with Black Cube, Harvey Weinstein hired the same agency to go after the women who threatened to expose him.
The campaign is strikingly similar to an operation that Black Cube ran on behalf of Harvey Weinstein, which was reported in The New Yorker last fall. One of Weinstein’s attorneys, David Boies, hired Black Cube to halt the publication of sexual-misconduct allegations against Weinstein. Black Cube operatives used false identities to track women with allegations, and also reporters seeking to expose the story. In May, 2017, a former Israel Defense Forces officer, who had emigrated to Israel from the former Yugoslavia, was working as an undercover agent for Black Cube. The woman contacted the actress Rose McGowan, claiming to work for Reuben Capital Partners but using the identity of a Diana Filip. Filip’s e-mails to McGowan displayed the same tactics as those in the e-mails sent to Norris and Kahl, and in some cases used almost identical language. (Filip also wrote to me from Reuben Capital Partners, and again used similar language.)
This is absolutely breathtaking. Yet, it also fits what we know about Trump and his M.O. When Trump opposes an “idea” or “policy,” he does not get out in front of the issue and explain why he has the better idea, he doesn’t campaign for principles, he doesn’t persuade. No, Trump attacks the people involved with the other side. It is all he knows how to do. It is all he has ever done.
So, even with an international deal signed off on by the entire U.N. Security Counsel, a deal that – theoretically Trump ought to be discussing “better ways” (if he believes there is a better way – with leaders such as Macron from France, or Canada’s Trudeau, Trump is instead doing all he ever does, all he knows how to do, he’s attempting to smear and tear down the people who put the deal together.
I suppose it is worth mentioning that these people, they have names, Rhodes and Kohl, happen to be Americans, with constitutional rights. It is not listed as a specific right (but neither is the right to privacy), but I would think that Americans have a constitutional right to not have the president of the country hire foreign intelligence agents to build a case to frame you, essentially ruin your life, all as an attempt to back out of an international treaty.
[O]fficials linked to Trump’s team had made contact with Black Cube days after Trump visited Tel Aviv in May, 2017, during his first foreign tour as President. Standing next to Netanyahu during that trip, Trump promised, “Iran will never have nuclear weapons, that I can tell you.”
Rhodes said that the campaign represented a troubling situation in which public servants were being targeted for their work in government. “This just eviscerates any norm of how governments should operate or treat their predecessors and their families,” he said. “It crosses a dangerous line.”
Yes, it does. As I noted last night, it crosses a line that I believe more inviolable than the Russia relationship. And just how damn fitting is it that when Trump needs the worst of the worst to do his dirty work, he ends up hiring the same people hired by someone like Harvey Weinstein? I find that little detail very telling, similar rolodexes, similar conduct, in all too many ways.
Well, Weinstein didn’t last long once the information started to get out.