If the FBI director wants to uncover foreign meddling in U.S. elections, says Phil Giraldi, he ought to look at Israel, and specifically, NSA-designee Michael Flynn’s call, at Benjamin Netanyahu’s request via Jared Kushner, to Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak on Dec. 22, 2016.
By Philip Giraldi
Recently there was a slight misunderstanding between President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Netanyahu claimed that the Trump administration had been discussing with him a plan for annexing the large Israeli settlements—illegal under international law—on the Palestinian West Bank. He told a Likud Party gathering that “on the subject of applying sovereignty, I can say that I have been talking to the Americans about it for some time.” White House spokesman Josh Raffel responded testily for the president, saying that “reports that the United States discussed with Israel an annexation plan for the West Bank are false. The United States and Israel have never discussed such a proposal. . . .”
Was it just another misunderstanding between two friends who also happen to be heads of state? Hardly. Netanyahu expected the White House to rubber stamp whatever he decided to do. That has been the way it has worked with Trump up until now and the assumption by Netanyahu was that it would continue to operate in the same fashion.
Score one for Trump, who also dropped a bomb on Netanyahu by opining that Israel might not be truly interested in making peace with the Palestinians. It was not a brilliant observation, but it was welcome nevertheless.
The sideshow that is Israel’s manipulation of the United States government has recently played out largely behind the scenes while much bigger dramas were surfacing relating to the various investigations surrounding the 2016 elections. A major revelation was provided by the so-called “Nunes memo,” prepared by Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee, which maintained that the salacious and largely fabricated Democratic National Committee-commissioned “Steele dossier” had been used as a primary source by the FBI in obtaining a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court warrant to investigate a Trump staffer over suspicion that he was acting as an agent of Russia. This was followed by a letter from Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), which filled in some of the blanks in the Nunes memo by providing convincing detail on the activity of former British spy Christopher Steele in making the case against Trump with the apparent collaboration of the FBI and others in the intelligence community.
And the most recent bombshell is that the Robert Mueller commission investigating the Trump campaign has finally issued an indictment in its seemingly endless investigation, naming 13 Russians and three Russian entities as being involved in conspiracy and identity theft relating to the election.
But somehow lost in the shuffle is the Israeli connection, which all started when Trump National Security Adviser designate Michael Flynn called Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, on Dec. 22, 2016. The call was made at the direction of Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, who, in turn, had been approached by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Netanyahu had learned that the Obama administration was going to abstain on a United Nations vote condemning the Israeli settlements policy, meaning that for the first time in years a UN resolution critical of Israel would pass without drawing a U.S. veto. Kushner, acting for Netanyahu, asked Flynn to contact each delegate from the various countries on the Security Council to delay or kill the resolution. Flynn agreed to do so, which included the call to the Russians. Kislyak took the call but did not agree to veto Security Council Resolution 2334, which passed unanimously on December 23.
What exactly did Kushner seek from Flynn? He asked the soon-to-be national security adviser to get the Russians to undermine and subvert what was being done by the still-in-power American government in Washington headed by President Barack Obama. In legal terms this does not quite equate to the Constitution’s definition of treason since Israel is not technically an enemy, but it most certainly could be construed as covered by the “conspiracy against the United States” statute that the Mueller investigation has exploited against former Trump associate Paul Manafort and also in the recent Russian indictments.
Mueller’s indictment, which was publicized on Feb. 16, claims that the Russians created false U.S. personas while also stealing the identities of real U.S. people in order to interfere with the 2016 presidential election. The indictment states that the goal of the entities and people identified was to both influence and disrupt the election, with some defendants posing as “U.S. people” communicating with “individuals associated with the Trump campaign and with other political activists to seek to coordinate political activities.”
The “defendants’ operations included supporting the presidential campaign of then-candidate Trump and disparaging Hillary Clinton,” the indictment reads, but it does not maintain that they had “any effect on the outcome of the election.” Purchases were made “to carry out those activities, including buying [$100,000 worth of] political advertisements on social media in the names of U.S. persons and entities.” The accused Russians are being charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States, conspiracy to commit wire and bank fraud, and aggravated identity theft.
In the case of the Kislyak phone call, initiated by Kushner acting for Israel, Russia is being accused of involvement in activity that Israel engages in all the time and in the open. Israel has always been involved in U.S. elections down to the local level, most notably in promoting Mitt Romney over Barack Obama in 2012, and it has an enormous and well-funded lobby in AIPAC that interferes aggressively in American foreign and domestic policy formulation through “coordinating political activities” to benefit Israel. And the Israeli government’s propaganda arm uses its hasbara to go around the Internet with false identities to confuse and deflect stories that are critical of the Netanyahu government. They do so routinely and do not even try to hide what they are doing. Part of their agenda is to smear critics and elect politicians favorable to them.
So when will Mueller and the several congressional committees that are investigating the Russians move on to the topic of Israel to find out what a really effective foreign influencing operation looks like? Given Israel’s power over Congress, probably never.
Philip Giraldi is a former CIA counter-terrorism specialist and military intelligence officer and a columnist and television commentator. He is also the executive director of the Council for the National Interest. Other articles by Giraldi can be found on the website of the Unz Review.