Report: Israeli private security firm spied on Obama aides for Trump
Black Cube, notorious for its work for disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, reportedly hired by Trump administration officials to spy on 2 Obama aides involved with Iran nuclear deal; Black Cube investigators collected information about their family members, make of cars, New Yorker report divulges.
If the New Yorker's report is accurate, Trump's people followed disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, who used the private security firm to fend off accusations of sexual harassment and rape of multiple women.
Weinstein, it was reported last year, used private investigators, including ex-Mossad and former operatives from other Israeli intelligence agencies, for more than a year to locate journalists and actresses who tried to make public the years' long string of harassment and attacks attributed to the producer.
Among the companies hired by Weinstein towards that end were the aforementioned Black Cube firm, as well as another firm. The companies then contacted journalist working on the story using aliases in order to piece together which actresses provided accounts of the assaults.
The British Observer magazine initially reported over the weekend that aides to President Trump hired a private Israeli intelligence firm last year to "get dirt" on prominent Obama administration officials who were involved in talks on the Iran nuclear deal in an effort to discredit them and consequently the deal.
The goal: Sowing doubt regarding nuclear deal's architects
According to the Observer, Trump aides contacted private investigators in May 2017, asking them to look into Ben Rhodes, who served as deputy national security adviser for strategic communications in the Obama White House, and Colin Kahl, who served as the deputy assistant secretary of defense for the Middle East.
The pact between Iran and six major powers—Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States—was among former US President Barack Obama's signature foreign policies but has been described by Trump as "one of the worst deals I have ever witnessed."
According to the Observer, officials linked to Trump's team contacted the Israeli private investigators several days after the American president's visit to Israel last year.
"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," a source told the Observer.
The operation was handled by Black Cube, two source divulged to the New Yorker.
Documents obtained by the magazine showed that the private firm's people collected detailed dossiers on a number of people, including Rhodes and Kahl, which included their home addresses, information about family members and even the make of their cars.
Black Cube's investigators were instructed to try and uncover damaging information on the former Obama officials, including unsubstantiated claims that Rhodes and Kahl had worked in conjunction with Iranian lobbyists to promote the nuclear deal in return for monetary kickbacks—a claim the two vociferously deny.
Black Cube disavows ties to Trump administration
Black Cube provided comment on the matter, saying it was company policy to never discuss its clients with any third parties, and to never confirm or deny speculations made regarding the company's projects.
It was further communicated that Black Cube had no ties whatsoever to "the Trump administration, Trump aides, anyone close to the administration, or to the Iran nuclear deal."
The Israeli espionage firm concluded by saying it "always operated in full compliance of the law in every jurisdiction in which it conducts its work, following legal advice from the world's leading law firms."
The statement issued by Black Cube bore striking similarities to the company's response to reports of its involvement in the Weinstein affair. The company stated then that, "It is Black Cube's policy to never discuss its clients with any third party, and to never confirm or deny any speculation made with regard to the company's work."
The statement continued, "Black Cube supports the work of many leading law firms around the world, especially in the US, gathering evidence for complex legal processes, involving commercial disputes, among them uncovering negative campaigns. The company does not get involved in family disputes or sexual harassment cases.
"It should be highlighted that Black Cube applies high moral standards to its work, and operates in full compliance with the law of any jurisdiction in which it operates –strictly following the guidance and legal opinions provided by leading law firms from around the world."
The founder of Black Cube is Dan Zorella, formerly of one of Israel's classified intelligence units. Zorella founded the company in 2010 with his friend Avi Yanus. Their goal was to build a civilian version of intelligence agencies such as the British MI6, American CIA or Israeli Mossad.
What originated as a start-up created by friends, however, transformed into a gigantic company employing dozens of former Israeli intelligence officials, from computer whizzes to stealth operatives with confirmed kills.