House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) told reporters today he was “shocked” to read a Wall Street Journal article alleging that Israel spied on Iran nuclear talks and fed information to Congress.
“I read that story this morning and, frankly, I was a bit shocked because there was no information revealed to me whatsoever,” Boehner said outside a closed caucus meeting.
The article said the “espionage” upset the White House because Israel was allegedly sharing “inside information with U.S. lawmakers and others to drain support from a high-stakes deal intended to limit Iran’s nuclear program.”
“It is one thing for the U.S. and Israel to spy on each other. It is another thing for Israel to steal U.S. secrets and play them back to U.S. legislators to undermine U.S. diplomacy,” the WSJ quotes an unnamed senior U.S. official.
A senior official in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office responded, “These allegations are utterly false. The state of Israel does not conduct espionage against the United States or Israel’s other allies. The false allegations are clearly intended to undermine the strong ties between the United States and Israel and the security and intelligence relationship we share.”
Boehner said he was “shocked by the fact that there were reports in this press article that information was being passed on from the Israelis to members of Congress.”
“I’m not aware of that at all,” he said. “…I’m baffled by it.”
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) told CNN he was also “shocked” by the report as he did not receive information from the Israelis. “If they were sharing information it wasn’t on our side of the aisle,” Nunes said.
Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) noted that he had a “number of meetings with Israeli officials” and in “none of those cases” did the Israelis discuss anything he deemed to be classified.
Sen. Angus King (I-Maine), one of the co-sponsors of the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015 also known as the Corker-Menendez bill, told MSNBC that he didn’t have any knowledge of Israel spying and feeding information to lawmakers. King was going into a closed-door Intelligence Committee briefing but said all he knew about the “somewhat disturbing” allegations is what was in the article.
“It’s a real shame that we’re spending so much time and energy arguing with our strongest ally in the region,” King said. “I just — I think everybody has got to take a little bit of a deep breath here and step back.”