Nothing is off-limits for Trump and his administration — not even the personal lives of officials in past administrations.
Trump's obsession with undoing President Barack Obama's Iran nuclear deal reached a frightening new level recently. He reportedly hired a private Israeli intelligence firm to look into the personal lives of Obama administration figures.
The UK Guardian's Observer magazine reports that in May 2017, Trump's White House paid the investigators hired to dig up dirt on Obama-era national security aides Ben Rhodes and Colin Kahl.
According to the Observer, "investigators ... were told to dig into the personal lives and political careers of Rhodes, a former deputy national security adviser for strategic communications, and Kahl, a national security adviser to the former vice-president Joe Biden."
The paper notes that "they were looking at personal relationships, any involvement with Iran-friendly lobbyists, and if they had benefited personally or politically from the peace deal."
The Observer report doesn't name the firm. But reporter Laura Rozen confirmed that Kahl's wife was approached by a fake firm with the same name as one used by Black Cube, the agency that Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein hired to discredit the multiple women accusing him of sexual misconduct and abuse.
In a statement to Shareblue Media, Black Cube wrote that it is the company's policy to "never discuss its clients with any third party, and to never confirm or deny any speculation made with regard to the company’s work." Black Cube claimed it "has no relation whatsoever to the Trump administration, to Trump aides, to anyone close to the administration, or to the Iran Nuclear deal."
Rhodes called the plot "chillingly authoritarian" in comments to The Observer. He slammed Trump on Twitter, as well.
"This is not behavior that should be acceptable in a democracy. It is thuggish, mean-spirited, and casts a chilling and threatening cloud over public service that risks extending far beyond me and [Kahl]," Rhodes wrote.
This revelation comes as Trump has been proven a liar once again, by his own attorney. Rudy Giuliani made it clear that Trump did in fact know about the hush money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels.
It's a sick irony that while Trump tries to play the victim, he specifically targeted the personal lives of former American public servants.
There is no indication that Trump's dirty tricks operation met with any success at all. But it's telling that he assumed the personal histories of people he didn't even know would yield compromising information.
Furthermore, Trump's tactics are reminiscent of repressive police states like the former East Germany. They resemble nothing that most Americans would associate with our democracy.
Trump's lying is disturbing. But his despotic impulses are downright dangerous.
Editor's note: This article has been updated to include a statement from Black Cube.