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Same Israeli firm that spied on Harvey Weinstein's sex accusers targeted Obama officials over Iran deal: Report

  • Black Cube, an Israeli intelligence firm hired to spy on women who accused Harvey Weinstein of sexual misconduct also targeted Obama administration officials who backed the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, a New Yorker article says.
  • Black Cube reportedly was instructed to dig up damaging information about Ben Rhodes, a national security advisor to President Barack Obama, and Colin Kahl, Obama's deputy assistant.
  • Tactics used by Black Cube against actress Rose McGowan were employed against the wives of Rhodes and Kahl, according to The New Yorker.

Black Cube, an Israeli private intelligence firm that tried to dig up dirt on women who accused film producer Harvey Weinstein of sexual abuse also carried out an undercover effort to discredit former Obama administration officials who advocated for the Iran nuclear agreement, The New Yorker magazine reported.

The New Yorker was following up a report on Saturday by Britain's Observer newspaper that said an unidentified Israeli firm had been hired by aides to President Donald Trump "to orchestrate a 'dirty ops' campaign against key individuals from the Obama administration who helped negotiate the Iran nuclear deal" signed in 2015.

Specifically, the Observer said, the Israeli outfit was directed by Trump affiliates in May 2017 to "get dirt" on Ben Rhodes, a leading national security advisor to President Barack Obama, and Colin Kahl, Obama's deputy assistant.

Trump is currently considering whether to have the United States withdraw as a party to the agreement with Iran, which lifted international sanctions against that nation in exchange for limits on its nuclear program. A May 12 deadline looms for Trump's decision.

Black Cube's web site says the firm is comprised of "select group of veterans from the Israeli elite intelligence units that specializes in tailored solutions to complex business and litigation challenges."

Black Cube was retained by Weinstein's attorney, David Boies, in 2016 as part of an effort to prevent publication of stories about Weinstein allegedly abusing multiple women, The New Yorker first reported last fall.

Among other activities by the firm, an investigator from Black Cube who claimed to be a women's rights advocate secretly recorded several meetings with Rose McGowan, the actress who has since accused Weinstein of raping her, according to the magazine.

Harvey Weinstein
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Harvey Weinstein

In its latest article, which identified Black Cube as involved in the operation against Obama officials, The New Yorker said that the wives of both Rhodes and Kahl received strange emails last spring.

Those emails, purportedly written by a filmmaker in one case, and a wealth management firm executive in the second case, attempted to establish ongoing contact with the wives.

LinkedIn pages for both of the women who reportedly sent the emails were deleted soon after The New Yorker contacted Black Cube, according to the magazine.

The emails sent to the women "in some cases used almost identical language" as emails sent to McGowan from the same wealth management firm that the Black Cube operative used as a cover for contact with the actress, according to The New Yorker.

The magazine also said that documents revealed that Black Cube put together background profiles of Rhodes, Kahl and other people, which "featured their addresses, information on their family members and even the makes of their cars."

"Black Cube agents were instructed to find damaging information about them, including unsubstantiated claims" about Rhodes and Kahl, The New Yorker reported.

"I'm not aware of anything on that front," Sarah Huckabee Sanders, said Monday when asked at a White House news conference about the Observer report that an Israeli private intelligence firm was hired by Trump aides.

In a statement issued to The New Yorker, the firm said, "Black Cube has no relation whatsoever to the Trump administration, to Trump aides, to anyone close to the administration, or to the Iran Nuclear deal."

The New Yorker reported that one of its sources for the article said that Black Cube was working for a "private-sector client pursuing commercial interests related to sanctions on Iran."