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Trump team hired Israeli spies for Iran deal smear campaign: report Open in fullscreen

The New Arab

Trump team hired Israeli spies for Iran deal smear campaign: report

Trump's team reportedly hired an Israeli spy firm after the president met Netanyahu [Getty]

Date of publication: 6 May, 2018

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Trump representatives reportedly hired private investigators to get dirt on key negotiators of the Iran deal, aiming to discredit the pact.
Aides to US President Donald Trump hired an Israeli spy firm to get dirt on key negotiators of the Iran nuclear deal in efforts to undermine the pact.

UK newspaper the Observer revealed on Sunday a private intelligence agency was hired to investigate Obama-era diplomats involved in talks with Tehran to seal the landmark deal.

Trump faces a May 12 deadline to decide whether or not to withdraw from the deal limiting Iran's nuclear programme which he has described as "horrible" and "ridiculous".

Israel has also urged the deal to be overhauled. Netanyahu last week "revealed" he had proof of secret Iranian plans to go nuclear - claims that France, the EU and the international nuclear watchdog dismissed.

Trump's team reportedly hired spies in May last year - after the president met Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in Tel Aviv - to investigate Ben Rhodes, who had been one of Obama's top national security advisers, and Colin Kahl, deputy assistant to Obama, in a bid to undermine the deal.

A source with details of the campaign told the Observer: "The idea was that people acting for Trump would discredit those who were pivotal in selling the deal, making it easier to pull out of it."

According to documents seen by the newspaper, investigators were told to look into Rhodes' and Kahl's private relationships, any involvement with Iran-friendly lobbyists, and if the deal benefited their personal lives or political careers.

Also targeted were prominent Iranian-Americans and journalists who supported the deal, including at New York Times, Haaretz and the Atlantic, to establish whether Rhodes and Kahl had violated any protocols by sharing sensitive intelligence with reporters.

Although sources have confirmed that contact and an initial plan for the operation was provided to private investigators by Trump representatives, it is not clear how much work was undertaken, for how long or what became of any information unearthed, the Observer reported.

Rhodes said: "I was not aware, though sadly am not surprised. I would say that digging up dirt on someone for carrying out their professional responsibilities in their positions as White House officials is a chillingly authoritarian thing to do."

A spokesman for the White House's national security council did not comment when approached.

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