Intel war? Mueller investigation eyes Trump ties to private sector network

by WorldTribune Staff, June 5, 2018

Special counsel Robert Mueller is focusing on a private network reportedly tied to Israel and the United Arab Emirates as his investigation expands from Russia to Middle East governments’ alleged attempts to influence U.S. politics, according to news reports.

Special counsel Robert Mueller

Mueller is investigating the private firm Wikistrat, the Wall Street Journal reported. The report is giving rise to speculation that an Obama Administration investigation with ties to British intelligence was being sniffed out by private sector intelligence efforts.

According to the Daily Beast, “Wikistrat bills itself as a ‘crowdsourced’ geopolitical analysis firm based in Washington, D.C. But interviews with current and former employees and documents reviewed by the Daily Beast tell a different story: that the vast majority of Wikistrat’s clients were foreign governments; that Wikistrat is, for all intents and purposes, an Israeli firm; and that the company’s work was not just limited to analysis. It also engaged in intelligence collection.”

Related: Timeline reveals Trump investigation began in UK, and earlier than claimed, June 5, 2018

Donald Trump Jr. and other key aides to the future president reportedly met in Trump Tower in the fall of 2016 with Joel Zamel, the founder of Wikistrat.

Internal Wikistrat documents marked “highly confidential and sensitive material,” show that 74 percent of the firm’s revenue came from clients that were foreign governments, the Daily Beast report said.

“Although Wikistrat’s clients were overwhelmingly foreign governments, the company boasted incredible access to top U.S. military and intelligence officials. The firm’s advisory council lists former CIA and National Security Agency director Michael Hayden, former national security adviser James L. Jones, former deputy director of the National Security Council Elliott Abrams, and former acting director of the Defense Intelligence Agency David Shedd, among others,” the report said.

The New York Times has touched on Wikistrat’s relationship with the United Arab Emirates, recently reporting on a “secretive Trump Tower meeting three months before the 2016 presidential election, between Donald Trump Jr., Zamel, and George Nader, an emissary for the UAE.”

But Wikistrat “may, in fact, have stronger ties to Israel,” the Daily Beast report said.

“Zamel is a citizen of Israel and master’s graduate of IDC Herzliya – a small, elite college that’s often compared to U.S. Ivy League schools – where he studied government, diplomacy, and strategy, specializing in counterterrorism and homeland security.”

Though Wikistrat’s website lists its location as Washington, a former employee said the company was run out of Israel the entire time he worked there, the Daily Beast report said.

Read the entire Daily Beast article here

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