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Pentagon senior adviser accused Pompeo and senior politicians of taking money and getting rich from 'the Israeli lobby'

A new senior adviser at the Pentagon repeatedly said the United States' support for Israel was the result of "Israeli lobby" money and accused prominent officials, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, of becoming "very very rich," from their support for Israel.

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Andrew Kaczynski
Em Steck, CNN
CNN — A new senior adviser at the Pentagon repeatedly said the United States' support for Israel was the result of "Israeli lobby" money and accused prominent officials, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, of becoming "very very rich," from their support for Israel.

Retired Army Col. Douglas Macgregor, who was appointed as senior adviser to newly installed acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller this week, made the comments in two media appearances in 2012 and 2019.

"You have to look at the people that donate to those individuals," Macgregor said in a September 2019 interview when asked if then-national security adviser John Bolton and Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham wanted war with Iran. "Mr. Bolton has become very, very rich and is in the position he's in because of his unconditional support for the Israeli lobby. He is their man on the ground, in the White House."

"The same thing is largely true for Mr. Pompeo, he has aspirations to be president," he added. "He has his hands out for money from the Israeli lobby, the Saudis and others."

An outspoken critic of American foreign policy and "endless" wars, Macgregor also said the Israel lobby has "enormous influence" on Congress and accused the lobby of wanting to instigate "military strikes" with Iran in a 2012 interview with the Russian-state media network RT.

"I think the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and it's subordinate elements or affiliated elements that represent enormous quantities of money that over many years have cultivated an enormous influence in power in Congress," he said. "I think you've got a lot of people on the Hill who fall into two categories. One category that is interested in money and wants to be reelected, and they don't want to run the risk of the various lobbies that are pushing military action against Iran to contribute money to their opponents."

Politicians in the past have been criticized by Jewish groups for linking support to Israel to money. Last year, Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar tweeted that politicians' support for Israel is "all about the Benjamins." Omar apologized for some of those comments, which the Anti-Defamation League said were "promoting the ugly, anti-Semitic conspiracy theory that Jews have an outsized influence over politics."

Macgregor did not respond to requests for comment. The Department of Defense spokesperson referred CNN to a statement sent earlier this week confirming Macgregor's appointment and that his "decades of military experience will be used to assist in the continued implementation of the President's national security priorities."

Bolton, through a spokesman, said, "I don't respond to anti-Semites." The State Department declined to comment on behalf of Pompeo.

Pompeo's financial disclosures show he has not received money from pro-Israel groups in 2018 and 2019. Bolton's disclosures show he earned thousands of dollars for speaking to pro-Israel groups prior to his appointment as the White House national security adviser in 2018.

Macgregor's appointment as a senior adviser to the new acting defense secretary comes amidst a tumultuous shake up after the Pentagon replaced four senior civilian officials, including Defense Secretary Mark Esper, with Trump loyalists in the dwindling days of the Trump administration.

Nomination to be ambassador to Germany stalled

Macgregor was nominated to become the US ambassador to Germany this summer, but his nomination stalled in the Senate Foreign Relations committee after CNN's KFile reported he disparaged immigrants and refugees, called for martial law and lethal force at the US-Mexico border, and attacked Germany's military power and culture.

He also has been a vocal opponent of the US military's presence in Afghanistan. Knowledgeable sources told CNN's Jake Tapper on Tuesday that the White House-directed purge at the Defense Department may have been motivated by the fact Esper and his team were pushing back on a premature withdrawal from the country.

Several Jewish advocacy groups came out against Macgregor's ambassador nomination after it came to light that he dismissed German remembrance of the Holocaust and downplayed the country's Nazi history.

KFile reviewed additional comments from Macgregor in which he said that US involvement in World War II was a "disaster," and incorrectly said there was no desire in the US to go to war with Nazi Germany. In 2012, he claimed there was evidence that conflict with Japan was engineered to end the Great Depression.

"People were not terribly happy about having to fight the second [war]. There was certainly no support for fighting the Germans during the Second World War. There was obviously for fighting the Japanese because Japan made the serious mistake of attacking us, but there was, there was great reluctance to be involved in these wars," Macgregor said.

"And again, as you know, some would argue -- and there's substantial evidence for it -- that the only way to extricate ourselves from the terrible depression was to bring on this conflict with Japan, which was made inevitable when we embargoed them," he added. "That may well have been the case"

A Gallup poll conducted 10 days after Pearl Harbor found 91% of Americans supported declaring war on Nazi Germany, and polls in the year before showed Americans supporting risking war to help defeat Nazi Germany.

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