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An Israeli minister met with Roger Stone to provide information that may have benefited the Trump campaign. The discovery implicates Netanyahu in an attempt to distort the 2016 US election result.

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This is a rush transcript and may contain errors. It will be updated.

Kim Brown: Welcome to The Real News. I’m Kim Brown. The US presidential elections of 2016 had such a profound impact on the world. A few did predict some of the things that happened, but many others did not. Now President Donald Trump’s policies seem to clash so clearly with the interests of the citizens of the US that there is no shortage of speculations, reaching from conspiracy theories to proven facts, about what interests have put him in power and for what purpose.

Here at The Real News, we reported about Russiagate, the Russian involvement with the 2016 election campaign, and also about US involvement in the politics of other countries. But new evidence shows that the Israeli government illegally offered and gave Candidate Trump intelligence which may have contributed to his victory. The FBI released new documents showing that an Israeli minister met with Trump advisor, Roger Stone, who has since been convicted of tampering with justice, and offered him information collected by Israeli intelligence services.

Now this information was reported by Politico. Richard Silverstein, in his blog, Tikun Olam, exposed that the Israeli minister involved is most likely Tzachi Hanegbi, Netanyahu’s lapdog. So indeed, when Trump won the presidential election, one man was not surprised.

Speaker 2: President-elect Trump, my friend, congratulations on being elected president of the United States of America. You are a great friend of Israel. Over the years, you have expressed your support consistently, and I deeply appreciate it. I look forward to working with you to advance security, prosperity and peace. Israel is grateful for the broad support it enjoys among the American people, and I am confident that the two of us, working closely together, will bring the great alliance between our two countries to even greater heights. May God bless America. May God bless Israel. May God bless our enduring alliance.

Kim Brown: Richard Silverstein joins us today. He’s an independent journalist who writes the blog, Tikun Olam, which explores Jewish and Muslim relations and the Israeli-Arab conflict. He joins us today from Seattle. Richard, thank you so much for being here.

Richard Silvers…: I’m glad to do it. Thank you.

Kim Brown: So this, to me, is a very fascinating topic. So let’s start with what has been reported. In your opinion, tell us who is Tzachi Hanegbi and what made you think that he was the unnamed minister from the FBI report.

Richard Silvers…: Well, the FBI documents have redacted the name of this contact, but Israeli media have taken sort of the breadcrumbs in the FBI document and figured out, based on what they said about this person, that it was indeed Tzachi Hanegbi, who is a long-time Likud apparatchik who has sort of risen in the ranks over years to be one of Netanyahu’s closest political confidantes. At the time he was a minister without portfolio specializing in military and foreign affairs, which made him a perfect intermediary in this situation with Roger Stone. Because during this period, which was a couple of months before the 2016 election, Hanegbi made regular visits to the United States, and many of those visits were designed to try to create this meeting with Trump through Roger Stone.

In the documents, Hanegbi is portrayed as telling Stone that it looks like Trump’s candidacy is doomed, but that he needs an October surprise to pull things out and that Israel has just the ticket for him. It doesn’t really go into detail about what the particular intelligence information is, but it does mention that, at one of these meetings at least, Hanegbi, with another colleague of Stone named Jerome Corsi, brought an Israeli IDF lieutenant general to the conference, to the meeting.

So there is this element of Israeli intelligence being used and offered to Trump in order to win the election. I’m trying to figure out, find out what exactly the intelligence information was, but you can imagine that that’s not readily available at this point.

Kim Brown: Well, Richard, let’s imagine, shall we? I mean, you just gave us the facts. Now, let’s venture a bit into speculation. I mean, what do you think was involved or contained in the intelligence report that the Trump administration received from the unnamed Israeli minister? The term quid pro quo has floated around and attached itself to Donald Trump since he’s been president. Let’s speculate here. What do you think he got, and what do you think he was expected to give up?

Richard Silvers…: Well, if we look at what the Russians have done, their style is what’s called kompromat, which is usually trying to morally compromise their enemies. So it is possible that there was some kind of information that was meant to embarrass Hillary Clinton. It’s possible that this was more along the lines of some substantive intelligence trove like Israel and Netanyahu constantly try to present Iranian documents proving that Iran is a nuclear power or wants to get nuclear weapons. So it could be something along those lines.
But I want to just go back a little bit also and say that in the midst of the negotiations and the meetings that we’re talking about, it doesn’t seem, until the very last minute, that Hanegbi actually succeeded in meeting Trump. But there is a point in the document where it says that the last correspondence between Stone and Hanegbi was on October 30, 2016, a few days before the election.

There is a message in the document that says that the person, whose name again is redacted, did meet with Trump on October 30th or actually right before October 30th. That would mean if this was Hanegbi, that he did actually have the meeting with Trump. If he did have this meeting, he did transfer the intelligence information. So that really makes this conspiracy with a lot of substance to it rather than just a conspiracy in which they intended to sabotage the election but didn’t necessarily do it.

Now, in terms of your mention of quid pro quos, there are so many possible quid pro quos here. As you know, as your viewers know, Trump has created this deal of the century with his son-in-law, Jared Kushner. It basically presents on a silver platter everything Israel has ever wanted in a peace agreement and deprives the Palestinians of anything that they’ve ever wanted. So that would be one possible way in which he would repay this Israeli gift to him.

Trump also abrogated the nuclear accord with the Iranians and the European powers. So Netanyahu for years has wanted to destroy the nuclear agreement with Iran and has this narrative that Iran is one of the great satans of world nations and an enemy to US interests and to Israel. So those are two plum gifts that that Trump could be giving back to Netanyahu if this intelligence was transferred.

Kim Brown: Richard, in the United States, it’s illegal for candidates to accept help from a foreign country, but in Israel the law is a little different. Donald Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu have this mutually fawning relationship. Trump supported, I believe, now three presidential campaigns of Netanyahu since 2019. Talk to us about how these two men know each other. The nature of their relationship seems not necessarily transparent, though it appears outwardly that they do like each other quite a bit, and they have a lot of overlapping things as it relates to personality and policy. But how did this relationship get forged initially?

Richard Silvers…: Well, Netanyahu, over the 15 years or so that he’s been prime minister, has tilted Israeli policy from being bipartisan in US context to being solely oriented towards Republicans. So he has, as you said, been fawning over all of the Republican candidates. As you recall, during the Obama administration, he did a address to Congress, and he bypassed Obama, and he attacked US policy before the US Congress on Iran. So that’s where the orientation towards the Republican party comes in terms of Netanyahu.

You would think though that these two men wouldn’t have much in common because Trump, if anything, is an anti-Semite. He supports white supremacists, and he is hostile towards Jews who are liberal or Democratic and has even said that Jews who support Democrats are betraying their own interests and their country by doing so. But when it comes to Israel, Trump and Netanyahu have created this sort of relationship of convenience.

As you mentioned, they’re both sort of deeply narcissistic. They both view themselves as sort of, they’re monomaniacs in terms of seeing themselves as the sole savior of their country and wanting to preserve their power at any cost. They both face huge ethical and legal complications from corruption. In Netanyahu’s case, and of course Trump, we know is riddled with corruption. Netanyahu doesn’t have any sexual peccadilloes that Trump does, but they’re very, very similar in their personality. That has created this really odd couple between them and brought them together in this way, even though Netanyahu really is divorcing himself from the American Jewish community, which is very hostile to Donald Trump and also very hostile to Netanyahu’s political views about the Palestinians.

Kim Brown: If you could, Richard, before we let you go, can you update us on what the status is of the Netanyahu administration? There was a lot of news coming out of Israel regarding the elections, and then there was a lot of maneuvering happening. Can you let us know what the latest is?

Richard Silvers…: Yes, very complicated. But we just had our third election in a year in Israel, and now there is an attempt to form a unity government between one of the opposition parties and Netanyahu’s Likud party. However, because Netanyahu is under indictment on three different corruption charges, good government groups have petitioned the Supreme Court and asked it to exclude Netanyahu as prime minister. There never has been a prime minister who has been indicted serving as prime minister, and so this is testing out new law in Israel.

He will, Netanyahu will be tried under these charges, and if he is convicted, which may take some time, he will not be allowed to be prime minister. But the Supreme Court so far has shown a willingness to let this indicted prime minister continue in that role. Many Israelis who are liberal or centrist in their political views are really aghast at this because it betrays this continuing deterioration of moral values in Israeli politics that has been going on for quite some time.

So if, at some point, Netanyahu is convicted or the coalition falls apart, we will have a fourth election. Again, another unprecedented development in Israeli politics and shows that the country’s politics is quite dysregulated and quite dysfunctional, which I guess is nothing new.

Kim Brown: Well, I’m hoping the United States doesn’t follow that pattern of election dysfunctionality as we approach our election in November, though it is looking like it could head in that direction. But this is certainly a fascinating topic about the relationships and the dynamics between Netanyahu people and Donald Trump’s people and whether or not it played a part in the election of Donald Trump as the 45th president of the United States.

We appreciate you joining us today. We’ve been speaking with Richard Silverstein. He is an independent journalist who writes the blog, Tikun Olam. It explores Jewish-Muslim relations and the Israeli-Arab conflict. Richard, as always, we appreciate your reporting today. Thank you so much.

Richard Silvers…: Thanks for having me. It was fun. I enjoyed it. Thank you.

Kim Brown: Thank you for watching The Real News Network.

Production: Genevieve Montinar, Taylor Hebden, Andrew Corkery
Studio: Taylor Hebden

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Kim Brown has been covering national and international politics for over 10 years and has been a sought-after voice on issues on race and culture.