U.S. intelligence has reported that Israeli spies were likely behind the placement of surveillance devices near the White House, Politico reported Thursday.
President Donald Trump, who has forged close ties with Israel’s right-leaning leader, Benjamin Netanyahu, hosted the Israeli prime minister at the White House as recently as March.
According to the report, U.S. investigators had determined that Israel placed StingRay phone trackers near the White House, with the apparent purpose of capturing information from phones used by President Trump or top White House aides.
Three former top U.S. officials told Politico that Israel was the culprit.
A spokesman for Israel’s embassy in the U.S. called the allegations leveled by U.S. officials “nonsense,” and disputed the idea that Israel carries out surveillance operations in the U.S.
“These allegations are absolute nonsense. Israel doesn’t conduct espionage operations in the United States, period,” Elad Strohmayer told Politico.
However, an analysis from the FBI and other agencies concluded that Israel was the culprit, according to the Politico report.
“It was pretty clear that the Israelis were responsible,” one official told Politico.
Whether the Trump administration will publicly take action or reprimand Israel for the intrusion is another matter, and is so far unclear. The White House did not immediately return a request for comment from The Hill on the issue Thursday.
“The reaction … was very different than it would have been in the last administration,” another official added to Politico. “With the current administration, there are a different set of calculations in regard to addressing this.”