Amidst ongoing discussion over whether or not Russia interfered with the 2016 Presidential elections that resulted in Donald Trump beating Hillary Clinton to win the Presidency, a bipartisan staff report on behalf of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations concluded that the Obama administration “paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxpayers grants to an Israeli group that used the money to build a campaign to oust Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in last year’s Israeli Parliamentary elections,” reported the Washington Times.
President Obama has been critical of Russia in the past few days and has accused them of literally and metaphorically hacking the past Presidential election to undermine the United States’ democratic process.
In an interview with NPR, President Obama spoke on the matter and said he believed that ” there is no doubt that when any foreign government tries to impact the integrity of our elections that we need to take action and we will at a time and place of our own choosing.”
But now the Obama administration finds itself accused of the same thing.
It’s reported that the State Department sent around $350,000 to OneVoice, an organization dedicated to supporting Palestine, Israeli and international activists. In turn, OneVoice used the money to create “a voter database, train activists and hire a consulting firm with ties to President Obama’s campaign” to run an anti-Natanyahu campaign.
It’s even reported that OneVoice confirmed their plans in an email with the State Department’s top diplomat in Jerusalem, Consul General Michael Ratney, but he says he never read such email. Ratney explained that he would regularly delete emails if they had large attachments, which is a violation of open-records laws at a time when Hillary Clinton was facing her own controversy over mishandling classified information through a secret server.
In the end, Benjamin Netanyahu won the election and the money spent was not deemed illegal because there were no conditions put on the money by the State Department.
Senator Rob Portman, Chairman of the Investigative Committee, criticized the State Department by saying that they “ignored warnings signs and funded a politically active group in a politically sensitive environment with inadequate safeguards.”
Portman added that “it is completely unacceptable that U.S. taxpayer dollars were used to build a political campaign infrastructure that was deployed — immediately after the grant ended — against the leader of our closest ally in the Middle East. American resources should be used to help our allies in the region, not undermine them.”