A number of conspiracy theories promoted by an Israeli intelligence firm hired by Harvey Weinstein to keep tabs on women he allegedly assaulted found their way into a memo circulated among top staffers on President Donald Trump's National Security Council.
The New Yorker reported Thursday that the anonymous memo, titled the "Echo Chamber," focused on former aides to President Barack Obama. It circulated among Trump's NSC in early 2017 and treated the Obama officials as "enemies."
The memo alleged that a number of senior Obama aides — chief among them former deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes and Vice President Joe Biden's national security adviser Colin Kahl — were the masterminds behind an anti-Trump cabal of political operatives and reporters steering negative coverage of the nascent presidency.
According to the report, some of the conspiracy theories in the "Echo Chamber" member also appeared in a document written by the private Israeli intelligence firm Black Cube about Obama aides who pushed the Iran Nuclear Deal. The firm gained notoriety after news broke that Harvey Weinstein hired its investigators to "to collect information on women accusing him of sexual abuse and journalists trying to expose the allegations."
In May 2017, the report noted, Black Cube used the same names and ideas from the Iran deal intelligence in another document whose premise was similar to the "Echo Chamber" memo: that Rhodes and Kahl "were using allies in the media to undermine the Trump Administration." It's unclear how the information from Black Cube's intelligence got into the "Echo Chamber" memo.
Along with naming a number of Obama aides and journalists supposedly part of the conspiracy, the New Yorker noted that the anonymous authors of the "Echo Chamber" memo attempted to gain information about the supposed anti-Trump group of former Obama aides by recording undercover interviews.
"Operatives approached targeted individuals to elicit potentially damaging statements about Rhodes and Kahl," the report noted. They also "used false identities and front companies to try to dupe targets, including Rhodes’s and Kahl’s wives, into unwittingly sharing information."
When the New Yorker reached out to the NSC for comment about the anonymous, undated memo, the council declined to comment. Other members of the Trump Administration gave conflicting accounts of where it originated and whether or not it came from inside the White House.
Rhodes, Kahl and journalists named in the memo all deny the existence of the "Echo Chamber" cabal and called the claims ridiculous.