On May 10, 2017, President Donald Trump met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov (left) and Russian Ambassador to the United States Sergei Kislyak at the White House.
WASHINGTON, D.C. Republicans are attempting to link President Joe Biden’s release of $6 billion in blocked Iranian funds as part of a prisoner swap to the weekend terrorist attack on Israel while ignoring the known harm Donald Trump has done to that nation’s security.
Less than four months into his presidency, the coup-attempting former president boasted to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Ambassador Sergei Kislyak in the Oval Office about the high quality of his briefings, and offered details about a secret Israeli intelligence operation into Syria as proof.
According to Israeli press accounts at the time, Israeli intelligence officers were outraged when they learned of the leak because, given Russia’s close ties to Iran and Syria, they had to presume that their local source for the information had been compromised and possibly dead.
“If Trump, in his innocence or ignorance, leaked information to the Russians, then there is a real danger to sources that we spent years acquiring, as well as to our working methods,” an Israeli intelligence source told journalist Ronen Bergman.
“If tomorrow I were asked to pass information to the CIA, I would do everything I could not pass it to them,” Shabtai Shavit, who directed the Mossad intelligence organization in the 1990s, told the Times of Israel. Or I’d defend myself first and then give it, and anything I’d give would be completely neutered.”
Despite this, none of the contenders vying for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024 have denounced Trump for his lack of discretion, even as they all blast Biden for unfreezing $6 billion in Iranian funds stored in a South Korean bank. Their attacks link the choice to the extremist group Hamas’ attack on Israel.
The Biden administration has defended the money’s release as a means of assisting in the repatriation of five American citizens who had been wrongfully incarcerated in Iran. According to officials, the funds can only be used for food, medication, and other humanitarian needs. Republicans claim that money is fungible, and that saving $6 billion on food and medicine frees up funds for terrorism.
Within hours of the Hamas strikes, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie criticized Biden, saying, “This terrorism is funded by Biden’s idiotic release of $6 billion to the Iranians.”
“Iran has helped fund this war against Israel, and Joe Biden’s policies that have gone easy on Iran have helped fill their coffers,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis stated in a video published Sunday morning. “Israel is now paying the price for those policies.”
Soon after, South Carolina Senator Tim Scott tweeted, “Biden’s weakness invited the attack.” The attack was paid by Biden’s negotiations. Following the incident, the Biden administration requested that Israel stand down. Biden is complicit at this point.”
It’s unclear how the deal to deliver money to Iran for humanitarian purposes, none of which has yet been spent, could have “funded” Hamas’ onslaught, which involved thousands of rockets that had to be hoarded over a long period of time.
Notably, none of the contenders’ statements condemned Trump for hurting Israel, despite the fact that they are all running against him for the nomination, and he is currently the clear frontrunner.
Only Christie’s campaign, among the half-dozen others contacted by HuffPost, responded: “He’s been pretty clear across the board that Trump shouldn’t be president again,” said campaign spokesman Karl Rickett.
The Trump campaign did not respond to HuffPost’s inquiries.
The White House meeting on May 10, 2017, was covered by Russian media but not by American media, and began with Trump telling Lavrov and Kislayak that he had recently fired FBI Director James Comey over the agency’s investigation into his interactions with their country before of his 2016 election. The episode was first reported by the Washington Post, which quoted an administration official as saying that Trump “revealed more information to the Russian ambassador than we have shared with our own allies.”
The intelligence concerns ISIS’ newly discovered capacity to manufacture bombs in laptop computers that could pass airport screening, which had resulted in a ban on passengers carrying laptop computers on planes departing from a number of Muslim countries.
Due to electronic eavesdropping tools used by Israeli commandos during a risky midnight expedition, the information had come from Israeli intelligence services via a source who had infiltrated an ISIS group in Syria.
Trump boasted to the Russians about this, mentioning the Syrian city where the operation took place.
“Donald Trump demonstrates once again that he is too dangerous to lead the United States on the world stage,” said Biden campaign co-chair Tammy Duckworth, an Illinois senator and combat veteran. “The generals and other military leaders who served under Trump—those in a position to know—have repeatedly said he made our country less safe, not more.”
US intelligence agencies have worked closely with their Israeli counterparts ever since an Israeli operative obtained a secret speech by Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev denouncing Joseph Stalin’s brutality.
In recent years, this partnership has included work against Iran and numerous Middle Eastern terror groups.
The covert demolition of Iranian uranium-enrichment centrifuges, for example, was a collaboration between American and Israeli intelligence services during the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations.
However, just before Trump’s inauguration in January 2017, US intelligence officials warned their Israeli counterparts that they should be cautious about what intelligence they chose to share in the coming administration, given Trump’s fondness for Russian dictator Vladimir Putin and Russia’s ties to Iran and Syria.
Israeli officials were said to be wary of the warning until the Oval Office encounter four months later proved it accurate.