Right-Wing Hypocrisy, It Burns

So after more than a year of irrational whining about how dirty and illegal it was for Democrats supporting Hillary Clinton to pay for opposition research on Donald Trump leading up to the 2016 elections — even though everybody does oppo research on election opponents and there’s nothing illegal about it, and even though Clinton didn’t seem to use anything in the Steele dossier, that I can think of, anyway  — now we’re learning that Trump (allegedly) paid for oppo research on our most recent actual President, Barack Obama, and officials supporting the Iran deal. Not election opponents, note; civil servants doing their jobs.

The idea was that if these public officials doing their jobs as public officials could be personally smeared, and their careers ruined, it would give Trump an excuse to dump the Iran deal. Never mind making a rational argument why dumping the Iran deal would be good for America, because there is no such argument that can be made. Trump wants to do it because he wants to do it — if President Obama had cured cancer, Trump would be trying to bring cancer back — and dirt on the officials who did the deal would cover his ass, he thinks.

The difference between oppo research on an election opponent and oppo research to be used to pull a con on the American people to make stupid policy changes is lost on the Right, of course. Drawing that line requires a level of critical thinking their lizard brains are incapable of. But Juan Cole calls it

There is only one word for a sitting US administration that deploys a foreign intelligence firm linked to that of a foreign government with a vested interest in shaping US intelligence to bamboozle Congress and the US public by smearing dedicated (and as it turns out upright) public servants. That word is treason.

Unfortunately, it isn’t treason in the narrow criminal sense. But by now no one with half a brain doesn’t understand that Trump would abolish the Constitution and representative democracy itself if he could.

All that said, there are still a lot of “allegedlies” surrounding this story, because everyone allegedly involved in it is denying it. Josh Marshall explains,

We have a pretty stunning development about aides to Donald Trump apparently (though they deny it) hiring the same Israeli dirty ops/private intel firm that Harvey Weinstein used to cover up his history to mount an operation against public supporters of the Iran deal.

We start with this story in The Guardian. It’s very hedged and key details are not included. But the gist is that aides to Donald Trump hired an Israeli security firm to dig up dirt on two prominent supporters of the Iran nuclear deal. They are Ben Rhodes and Colin Kahl, both Obama administration national security hands who were involved in the negotiation. They both continue to be prominent supporters of it into the Trump era. Last night I said that it sounded like Black Cube, the firm that surveilled and ran black ops operations against Harvey Weinstein’s accusers on his behalf.

Then overnight Kahl came forward with a story from around the time the firm was reportedly hired in which someone approached his wife about investing in their children’s charter school. You can read the thread here. There was a backstory and details. But it sounded to the Kahls like an intelligence operation — not altogether uncommon for people in that line of work to see. So they eventually cut off communication.

Then a short time ago, Laura Rozen confirmed with Kahl that the purported firm which reached out to the Kahls was ‘Reuben Capital Partners’. That’s the same name used by Black Cube in the Weinstein operations, first reported in The New Yorker by Ronan Farrow last year.

Apparently Black Cube didn’t find any sufficiently dirty dirt, since the targeted parties were not publicly smeared. I’m surprised The Trumpettes bothered with oppo research, though. It’s so much more efficient to just make shit up, which is what the Right usually does.

Anyway — here’s the original UK Independent/Guardian article. See also Ronan Farrow in the New Yorker, Chas Danner and Margaret Hartmann at New York and Steve M.