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Trump aides hired Israeli spy firm in attempt to kill Iran deal: report

Donald Trump crosses the South Lawn after arriving at the White House. EPA/Zach Gibson

U.S. President Donald Trump’s aides reportedly contracted a private Israeli intelligence agency to dig up dirt on former aides in the Obama administration who worked on the Iran nuclear deal.

The Trump staffers were looking to “get dirt” on Ben Rhodes, a national security advisor to former U.S. president Barack Obama, as well as former aide to Obama, Colin Kahl, in an attempt to discredit the deal, the Observer reported.

READ MORE: ‘There could be war,’ France’s Emmanuel Macron warns if Trump withdraws from Iran deal

The Observer reported that the agency was to see if the pair had benefited in any way by the deal, either professionally or personally.

To do so, the spy agency was charged to contact media members and prominent Iranian-Americans among others.

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It is unclear if others were targeted as well or what happened with any intelligence information that the firm gathered.

In less than a week, Trump will need to make a decision on whether the U.S. will continue with the deal or not.

READ MORE: Iran will not be bullied to renegotiate nuclear deal: foreign minister

In the deal, which was signed in 2015, sanctions against Iran were softened while the country agreed to curb its nuclear program.

Trump has strongly suggested he will pull the U.S. out of the deal in a move which French President Emmanuel Macron has warned could cause a war.

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“We would open the Pandora’s box. There could be war,” Macron told German weekly magazine Der Spiegel. But he added: “I don’t think that Donald Trump wants war.”

After reading the story, Kahl went on Twitter early Sunday morning, telling a story which was similar to how a black ops firm reportedly suppressed stories for Harvey Weinstein.

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Kahl said that his wife was raising money for their children’s school and she was contacted by someone from a private UK equity firm. He said the firm had plenty of information on the school.

“This “UK person” said “she” was flying to DC soon and wanted to have coffee with my wife to discuss the possibility of including my daughter’s school in their educational fund network,” he wrote.

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Kahl said his wife shared the email and those she showed it to deemed it to be implausible. So she asked the contact to speak with others and when they wouldn’t, she stopped responding.

Kahl said the timeframe of the contact coincided with the timeframe in the Guardian story.

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The New Yorker reported that Weinstein had hired Black Cube — which markets itself as a group of ex-members of Israeli intelligence units specializing in business and litigation challenges — to help stop the publication of abuse allegations against him.

READ MORE: Israeli spy firm that helped Harvey Weinstein gather info on accusers regrets taking the job

One account in The New Yorker article described two private investigators from Black Cube, using false identities, meeting with the actress Rose McGowan to extract information from her. McGowan has accused Weinstein of sexual assault.

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A reporter reached out to Kahl who confirmed the same fake corporate names were involved in both instances.

*With files from Reuters

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