In this day and age, countries like Russia are known for interfering to sabotage the candidacy of foreign leaders it views as hostile to its interests. This happened with an intense, highly orchestrated campaign on behalf of Donald Trump in 2016. But till now, no one knew that Israel too secretly offered the Trump campaign intelligence material designed to save his candidacy, which at the time it was offered was viewed as faltering.
Politico reports that a newly released FBI document shows that a senior Israeli cabinet minister without portfolio, specializing in foreign and military affairs, was in regular contact with Roger Stone. Tzachi Hanegbi, a close confidant of Bibi Netanyahu and a then-minister, fits the bill perfectly. Israeli media have identified him as the likely intermediary.
Hanegbi was in close contact with Stone and one of his underlings, Jerome Corsi. The former was himself a conduit for Julian Assange and the Russians to the Trump team. Hanegbi warned Stone that Trump appeared to be losing the presidential race, and that Israel wanted to help. The minister, who explained to Stone that he had an urgent meeting scheduled with Netanyahu in Rome before he met the former, offered “critical intell” that would help Trump.
The FBI document does not explain the nature of the information nor how it would help Trump. Generally, in these circumstances Israeli intelligence works much like Russian kompromat: it offers data to sabotage candidates hostile to its interests. Of course, the notion that Hillary Clinton would be hostile to Israeli interests is only possible in the minds of far-right Likudniks like Netanyahu or Hanegbi. It’s hard to conceive of what information the Israelis could give Trump that would harm Clinton. Unless they too were hacking the e mail servers of Democratic operatives as Russian cyber-hackers were.
Hanegbi’s first attempt wasn’t through Stone, but rather through an even lower order in the Trump food chain, Jerome Corsi. The latter’s claim to fame was that he was a regular contributor to Alex Jones’ Infowars. You can see how low in the barrel Netanyahu was scraping:
In July 2016, [redacted] also told STONE that he needed to meet with then-candidate Trump “alone.” In August 2016, [redacted] told STONE that there was an “OCTOBER SURPRISE COMING” and that Trump, “[i]s going to be defeated unless we intervene. We have critical intel.”
Hanegbi again reached out to set up a meeting with the candidate, saying he had an urgent meeting scheduled with Netanyahu in Rome:
On or about June 28, 2016, [redacted] messaged STONE, “RETURNING TO DC AFTER URGENT CONSULTATIONS WITH PM IN ROME.MUST MEET WITH YOU WED. EVE AND WITH DJ TRUMP THURSDAY IN NYC.
Hanegbi and Stone set up a preliminary meeting, but the latter was taken ill and the Israeli minister met with Corsi instead. After which the Israeli minister again urged Stone to set up the Trump meeting (which had earlier been postponed):
On July 8, [redacted] messaged STONE, “Hi Roger. Have you rescheduled the meeting with DJT? The PM is putting pressure for a quick decision. Thank you for all your help! [redacted]
Things didn’t go well when Hanegbi brought along unannounced an unnamed IDF Lt. General to the meeting. Considering it was meant to be a secret meeting, bringing an uninvited guest was a real no-no. But from Hanegbi’s perspective, the officer was possibly the figure who had the secret intelligence to be relayed. Stone warned him:
Sorry about the fiasco last week, however you can’t just bring the General without tell me – R.”
But Hanegbi’s ultimate goal was not to meet with Corsi or Stone, but with the candidate himself, Trump. He badgered Stone, saying that Netanyahu was eager to convey the secret Israeli intelligence to Trump. Stone put him off by saying that such a meeting would have to wait till after the Republican convention.
Hanegbi made yet another attempt to arrange the meeting:
[Redacted] messaged STONE, “Roger-As per PM we have one last shot before moving on. Can you deliver? History will not forgive us. TRUMP IN FREE FALL. OCTOBER SURPRISE COMrNG !
[Redacted] messaged STONE, “Roger, hello from Jerusalem. Any progress? He is going to be defoated unless we intervene. We have critical intell. The key is in your hands! Back in the US next week. How is your Pneumonia? Thank you.
STONE replied, “I am well. Matters complicated. Pondering. R.” [Redacted] wrote back, “Thank You.” No additional messages appear in STONE’s iCloud between STONE and until October 30, 2016.
The FBI dossier does not make clear whether this October 30th message to Stone is from Hanegbi. If so, it indicates that the Israeli did meet with Trump a week before the election. Though again, it’s not clear what was the content of the meeting:
On October 30, 2016, [redacted] messaged S~ONE: “Roger, you are doing a great job ! ! ! I am in NY-met with DJT and helping. Victory is in sight. HK says hello. Thanks,
On Thursday, November 3,’2016, [redacted] messaged STONE: “Roger, European country ready to release secret tapes to DESTROY objective. Can we meet ASAP? 4-star General will join. ” STONE responded, “Yes let’s talk thurs.” wrote back, “Must meet in NYC Thursday AM.”
Even if the plan didn’t come to fruition, that doesn’t mean the material wasn’t given to Trump. Surely Netanyahu had other ways of conveying such dirt to Trump if he wished. Hanegbi was probably one of many conduits that the PM had at his disposal. And many of the PM’s sycophantic following would have been eager to do for him what Hanegbi was doing.
Even if the Israeli kompromat never reached Trump, Netanyahu clearly intended to sabotage the election. And in a criminal conspiracy one needn’t actually have completed the conspiracy in order to be guilty. Intent to do so is sufficient to establish a crime.
Netanyahu released a statement to an Israeli reporter saying that he had never in his life met Roger Stone or his associates. Which constitutes a non-denial denial, since the FBI documents say that Hanegbi was the one who met with Stone (not Bibi), on Bibi’s behalf. Hanegbi stated to Haaaretz that he had never in his life met Stone nor known his name till now. Which of course is a lie: we have a choice between accepting the FBI as truthful or Hanegbi. Which would you choose?
When a country engineers the victory of a foreign candidate it can expect to reap great rewards. What has Israel reaped? The Deal of the Century for one. And the abrogation of the Iran nuclear deal. Both are cherished goals of the Netanyahu government. They are Trump decisions which deeply damaged U.S. standing in the world and made the Middle East a powder keg. They run counter to long-term U.S. foreign policy goals. But they are major victories for Israel.
Everyone knows that Trump doesn’t do something for nothing. He would not have given Israel these goodies on a silver platter unless Israel delivered for him in a big way during the election. What precisely it did, we don’t yet know. But it was something that indebted Trump to Israel big-time. Folks, this is about as corrupt as it comes. About as bad as it comes.
The key take-away here is that the Israeli government was meddling directly in a U.S. election. The meddling came at the behest of the Israeli prime minister and was carried out by a trusted intermediary. In the past, the FBI has caught Israelis spying on the U.S. At the time, we thought this was outrageous. Israel was embarrassed. It promised never to do it again (and of course it lied). But this case is far, far worse. An ostensibly close ally has sabotaged the election campaign of a U.S. presidential candidate.
The problem is that Trump has inured us to such outrages. In the past, they would be front-page news. Now, not so much. That does not mean that we should sit back and throw up our hands in despair. We must shout to the rafters about this egregious violation of U.S. sovereignty. We must point out that Israel is a rogue state that cannot be trusted. We must not let Americans forget this outrage.