Breaking down the "echochamber" conspiracy memo that circulated in the Trump white House with the indefatigable @wolfblitzer, who is so efficient at using commercial breaks that he actually read the story in full even though it broke while he was on air: https://t.co/W3RvuyipTnpic.twitter.com/n9gtdNpGuB— Ronan Farrow (@RonanFarrow) August 24, 2018
Conspiracy theories have thrived in President Donald Trump’s White House.
And it seems another “conspiracy theory” was circulated in a 2017 White House memo, titled “The Echo Chamber.”
Notice too the “Echo Chamber” and “Iran Deal” frame of memo circulating at the NSC, as well as the emphasis on criticism of then-Trump adviser SebGorka. 7/ pic.twitter.com/rJQQooFvub— Colin Kahl (@ColinKahl) August 23, 2018
In early 2017, a military style memo reportedly circulated in the Trump White House, which claimed the “communications infrastructure” consisting of Obama-era officials have formed a private organization, called “The Echo chamber.”
What is its role? To underme “President Trump’s foreign policy” through organized attacks using the press, The New Yorker reported.
“These are the Obama loyalists who are probably among those coordinating the daily/weekly battle rhythm,” the memo said. According to the memo, these “loyalists,” who used to “sell Obamacare and the Iran Deal to the public,” worked from a “virtual war room.”
According to The New Yorker, the memo, which is undated and unsigned, was circulated within the National Security Council and other parts of Trump’s White House.
The memo claims, “The Echo Chamber” is likely run by Ben Rhodes, a former deputy national-security adviser to President Obama, with Colin Kahl, Vice-President Joe Biden’s former national-security adviser, as its “likely ops chief.”
Both former Obama-era officials have denied the allegations.
Many of the allegations in the memo interestingly echo an Israeli private intelligence firm, Black Cube, which conducted an effort to find damaging information against Obama aides who supported the Iran Nuclear deal.
In May 2017, the firm provided the same names and materials to its workers which used the same theories plastered in the Trump administration memo.
In those documents, both Rhodes and Khal were accused of using the media to rally attacks on the Trump administration — the term “echo chamber” was used five times.
“Rhodes and Kahl are suspected to make use of privileged access and information leveraging it against the incumbent administration,” the document read.
Black Cube refused to reveal information about who hired them, citing client confidentiality.
“Black Cube does not get involved in politics, and has no relation whatsoever to the Trump administration, to Trump aides, to anyone close to the administration, or to the Iran Nuclear deal. Black Cube is not aware of the documents mentioned in this article, neither their contents,” the firm’s statement read.
Similar allegations were published about the said Obama-era officials in Breitbart and other conservative websites in 2016 and 2017. In May 2016, Rhodes was quoted by the New York Times, using the term “echo chamber” for his support for the Iran deal. He later said he was only describing was the most routine aspect of communications work. Briefing people. Disseminating fact sheets.”
The Black Cube profile also quoted the Times’ story.
Trump has often rallied against Obama-era officials, who have been public critical of his presidency, so much so, he revoked the security clearance of former CIA Director John Brennan.
Many in the NSC and Trump’s White House think along the same lines, considering “holdovers “ — Obama-era officials that were still in the White House after Trump’s inauguration — as threats and potential leakers in an effort to undermining the Trump presidency.
As for the matter of using the press against the current government, the “Black Cube’ investigation claimed many journalists, including The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg, The New York Times’ Max Fisher, and NBC News’s Andrea Mitchell, were all part of “The Echo Chamber” and helped peddle negative stories about the performance of the Trump White House.
The allegation align closely with Trump’s “Fake News” rhetoric.
All the journalists refuted the claims ad misguided and baseless. “It’s my first time hearing of this, and it’s obviously ridiculous,” Mitchell said. “I don't really understand what they were hoping to accomplish,’ Fisher commented. “This is one of the stupider conspiracy theories circulating through a city currently drowning in stupid conspiracy theories,” said Goldberg in an email.
The example used to tie these alleged “attacks by the press” with Obama era officials was that of Sebastian Gorka, who was accused anti-Semitism and affiliation with Nazi groups (Gorka denied the allegations against him). Rhodes mentioned those ties in a tweet once while Kahl once questioned if Gorka had top security clearance.
According to the memo other Obama officials who were part of supposed “Echo Chamber” are: Jake Sullivan, a former adviser to Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden, ommyVietor, Ned Price, Jon Favreau, Jon Finer, and Dan Pfeiffer.
Rhodes slammed the memo and termed it an effort to validate Trump’s “deep state” conspiracy theory.
He said that “given Trump’s many efforts to intimidate and malign his critics, it’s worth asking how his White House and outside enablers acted on this strange memo.”
On the other hand, Kahl wrote in an email that “the NSC’s role is to staff the President and coordinate the interagency on foreign affairs. It is not the NSC’s role to conduct military-style network analysis of domestic opponents.”
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