A newly appointed senior adviser at the Pentagon has said on at least two occasions that “Israeli lobby” money is responsible for Washington’s support for Jerusalem, and accused high level officials, including US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, of becoming “very, very rich” as a result of their support for Israel, CNN revealed Friday.
Douglas Macgregor, a retired army colonel, was asked in September 2019 whether then-national security adviser John Bolton and Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham wanted war with Iran.
“You have to look at the people that donate to those individuals,” Macgregor said.
“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,” said Macgregor.
“The same thing is largely true for Mr. Pompeo, he has aspirations to be president,” Macgregor said. “He has his hands out for money from the Israeli lobby, the Saudis and others.”
Macgregor was named as an adviser to acting defense chief Christopher Miller, who replaced Mark Esper when he and other top Pentagon officials were fired this week by US President Donald Trump and replaced with loyalists.
In a 2012 interview with the Russian state outlet RT, Macgregor said the pro-Israel lobby had “enormous influence” and wanted military action to be taken against Iran.
“I think the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee [AIPAC] and its 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,” Macgregor said.
Macgregor did not respond to a CNN request for comment. A spokesperson for Bolton told the network that “I don’t respond to anti-Semites” and the State Department refused to comment on behalf of Pompeo.
Financial disclosures for Pompeo do not show any payments from explicitly pro-Israel organizations. Bolton earned thousands of dollars from pro-Israel groups prior to his appointment in the Trump administration, CNN said.
Last year, Minnesota legislator Ilhan Omar suggested that American officials supported Israel because they were beholden to wealthy Jewish donors via AIPAC. She later apologized for the tweet.
The newly-revealed comments are not the first time Macgregor has come under fire.
In 2018 Macgregor said “There’s sort of a sick mentality that says that generations after generations must atone sins of what happened in 13 years of German history and ignore the other 1,500 years of Germany.”
He also called Muslim immigrants “invaders” who want to turn Europe “into an Islamic state” and called for martial law at the US-Mexico border, saying US authorities should “shoot people” if necessary to prevent immigrants from entering the country.
Prior to the August CNN report, B’nai B’rith International had already expressed concerns about Macgregor. In a July 28 release, it noted his past propensity to insinuate that “neocons” serving Israel’s interests were controlling US foreign policy.
“It is important that American diplomats not question the patriotism of other Americans who hold political views different from their own, especially given that questioning Jewish loyalty to America is an anti-Semitic trope,” B’nai B’rith said.
The American Jewish Committee urged Pompeo to withdraw Macgregor’s nomination for the envoy position.
“It is because of our intensive engagement with Germany that we were so troubled by the reports of recent days regarding Col. Macgregor’s many incendiary comments over the years about the German government, Germany’s confrontation with its Nazi past, the NATO alliance, immigration policy, and other topics,” AJC CEO David Harris said in a letter to Pompeo.
The Anti-Defamation League’s CEO, Jonathan Greenblatt, said on Twitter that some of Macgregor’s past statements were “bigoted and abhorrent.” He also critiqued Macgregor’s comments on Nazi Germany.
JTA contributed to this report.