Mondoweiss

The Russia influence story just crashed into the Israel influence story

Paul Singer

The news from Washington is that two years ago Republican megadonor Paul Singer paid for the hiring of an opposition research firm to dig up dirt on Donald Trump– and this firm ultimately produced the famous Russia file that said that Russia had compromising information on Donald Trump (from loans to prostitutes) and could therefore play him. But when Trump won the election, Paul Singer turned around and supported Trump.

Here’s the sequence. The Free Beacon, a pro-Israel website funded by Singer, hired the firm, called Fusion GPS in 2015 to dig up stuff on Trump. Then in May 2016, when Trump had gotten the Republican nomination, the Free Beacon told the firm to stop investigating Russian ties.

And the Clinton campaign picked the firm up, and the famous file was produced.

The Free Beacon informed the House Intelligence Committee of its role yesterday, because that committee is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign.

So Paul Singer was once part of the Never Trump movement, and a backer of Marco Rubio. But after the election, the hedge fund manager gave $1 million to the Trump inaugural committee and began making regular trips to the White House. In fact, he was one of the three pro-Israel Jewish billionaires, along with Sheldon Adelson and Bernard Marcus, who seem to have influenced Trump’s recent decertification of the Iran Deal.

The New York Times account of these shenanigans mentions Russia eight times, and Israel zero. But Israel obviously plays a part here. The Free Beacon is all about the so-called Jewish democracy, and so is Paul Singer; he gives millions to Israel causes: to the AIPAC arm that sends our congresspeople to Israel every summer; to Birthright, the program that sends American Jews under 26 to Israel for free so they’ll become advocates for Israel; to the neoconservative Foundation for the Defense of Democracies that pushes regime change in Iran, and, in league with Israeli government officials, to the anti-boycott campaign. To name just a few.

But no, we’re not going to talk about the Israel lobby as a significant force in the mainstream press. We can talk about Russia till we’re blue in the face, though.

The simple question arises: Why would Paul Singer and the Free Beacon work to expose Trump as a national security threat and a threat to the libertarian values Singer holds. And then switch over to support that threat a year later?

Remember that the “Steele dossier” comes to the worst conclusions about Trump. As Buzzfeed summarized it:

A dossier making explosive — but unverified — allegations that the Russian government has been “cultivating, supporting and assisting” President-elect Donald Trump for years and gained compromising information about him has been circulating among elected officials, intelligence agents, and journalists for weeks.

The dossier, which is a collection of memos written over a period of months, includes specific, unverified, and potentially unverifiable allegations of contact between Trump aides and Russian operatives, and graphic claims of sexual acts documented by the Russians.

Something is driving Paul Singer to turn his back on a possible national security threat he helped uncover. Yes, a lot of other Republicans abandoned their opposition to Trump. Lindsey Graham and Rubio, to name two. But they didn’t pay for dirt to be dug up on Trump; and Trump doesn’t have the same political suasion over Singer that he has over mainstream Republicans; and I believe that Singer’s flipflop is motivated by concern for Israel.

This is how the lobby functions: It wants no daylight between the government of Israel and the U.S. government, so it cultivates politicians. It doesn’t care in the end who is sitting in the Oval Office, it is prepared to work with him. The neocons left the Democratic Party in the ’70s over Israel and became Reaganites. Then they abandoned George H.W. Bush in the ’90s and switched to Bill Clinton after Bush took on Israel over the settlements. Bush blamed his loss in part on the Israel lobby. Then they switched to his son George W. Bush in 2000, as Bush filled his administration with neocons.

Singer overcame his disgust for Trump and befriended him because of his core issue (which goes unmentioned in the Times). And it’s already paid off for Singer. Trump is decertifying the Iran deal under his influence, and sounding more and more like a hawk.