By Eli Clifton | 9 January 2020
RESPONSIBLE STATECRAFT — On the same day dust was settling was from President Trump’s decision to assassinate Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Major General Qasem Soleimani, a striking news story largely went unnoticed as pundits, experts, and analysts attempted to explain Trump’s potentially region destabilizing action.
Bloomberg reported last week that Richard Goldberg — one of the National Security Council’s (NSC) most outspoken Iran hawks, and a close ally of former National Security Advisor John Bolton — was departing the council “for personal reasons.” However, the Bloomberg story didn’t deliver its real bombshell until the last sentence: “Goldberg will return to [the Foundation for Defense of Democracies], which continued to pay his salary during his time on the National Security Council.”
Like Goldberg, the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD) regularly promotes regime change and war with Iran. It also prominently disseminated false assertions about Saddam Hussein’s development of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in the lead-up to the Iraq War, and its initial mission statement includes a pledge to provide “education meant to enhance Israel’s image in North America.”
Responsible Statecraft reviewed U.S. Office of Government Ethics filings and found FDD’s financial support of Goldberg’s work also extended to subsidizing Goldberg’s travels. FDD paid for Goldberg’s $7,865 airfare and $380 in hotel expenses for a May 19 -22 trip to Jerusalem. The group also paid for Goldberg’s $3,977 airfare, $645 hotel expenses, and $63 meal costs, for a trip to Vienna from September 8-12.
In both instances the trips were described as “[U.S. Government] Delegation” and the “event sponsor” was listed as “Foundation for Defense of Democracies.”
It’s unclear at this point just why FDD was paying Goldberg a salary, or whether he was also concurrently being paid by the U.S. government. Either way, the news adds to a widespread pattern of corruption throughout the Trump administration.
“Corruption and conflicts of interest have been at the heart of even this administration’s most profound decisions,” Ned Price, former special assistant to President Obama on national security, told Responsible Statecraft. “And that extends to Iran, where we now know a White House point person on Iran policy was receiving a salary from and remained employed by an organization that has put forward some of the most extreme and dangerous pro-regime change policies.”
Price added that FDD has “made no secret of its continued lobbying of the White House, while keeping secret that it had planted one of its employees within the inner sanctum of administration policy making. It’s the type of corruption and conflict of interest that can spell the loss of life and even the march to war, as we’ve seen.” […]