A terrorist cult and Its Trumpian friends

Habilian Association

Among the many indicators of misdirection in the Trump administration’s policy toward Iran, one of the clearest is the fondness for the cult-cum-terrorist group known as the Mujahedin-e Khalq, or MEK. The national security advisor, John Bolton, and Donald Trump’s attorney, Rudy Giuliani, are among the group’s most prominent cheerleaders, having been featured speakers at its rallies in exchange for tens of thousands of dollars in fees. Just in February, Giuliani told a pro-MEK rally in Warsaw, Poland, on the sidelines of a US-organized Middle East conference that Iran’s leaders are “assassins” and “murderers” who should be overthrown and then replaced by Rajavi.[1]

For years, the group was designated a terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department. But after an aggressive and well-funded lobbying campaign supported by a bipartisan cast of high-profile former public officials, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced in September 2012 that the group would be removed from the State Department’s list of foreign terrorist organizations.[2]

However, in the State Department’s briefing on delisting of the MeK, a senior state department official asserts that the Department does not overlook or forget the MEK’s past acts of terrorism, including its involvement in the killing of U.S. citizens in Iran in the 1970s and an attack on U.S. soil in 1992. He also pointed out that The Department has “serious concerns” about the MEK as an organization, particularly with regard to allegations of abuse committed against its own members.[3]

In an article published in Politico Magazine on December 13, 2016, Daniel Benjamin, the Coordinator for Counterterrorism at the State Department between 2009-2012, asserts that when removing the MeK from the State Department’s Foreign Terrorism Organization (FTO) List, the department was aware of the terrorist activities that the group had committed in the past:

   "For decades, and based on U.S. intelligence, the United States government has blamed the MEK for killing three U.S. Army colonels and three U.S. contractors, bombing the facilities of numerous U.S. companies and killing innocent Iranians. Multiple administrations have rejected efforts by the MEK and its surrogates to claim that any bad acts were the result of what Torricelli calls “a Marxist group” that briefly ran the MEK while other leaders, who later rejected this cabal, were in prison."[4]

In the same article, Benjamin refers to the Assistant Secretary of State Robert Pelletreau’s written response to a subcommittee question in 1992 about the MeK, in which he had pointed out that the US. Department of State does not deal with the MeK because of “the organization’s past use of terrorism, its continuing advocacy of violence, and a fundamental contradiction between its policy and our own.”[5]

In April 2015, when Rajavi was invited to provide testimony at a congressional hearing on ISIS, an act that spurred widespread criticism, Daniel Benjamin along with former U.S. ambassador to Syria Robert Ford refused to testify alongside Rajavi. Benjamin decried the invitation to Rajavi as “disgraceful” while Ford agitatedly told Al Monitor: “What the fuck do the MEK know about the Islamic State?”[6]

The group has become a permanent fixture in Washington, particularly among Iran hawks. Its increasing clout “has coincided with a flow of money from the group to American politicians.”[7] From 2009 to 2015, the MEK reportedly spent more than $330,000 on political contributions.[8] Many prominent American supporters have accepted fees of $15,000 to $30,000 to give speeches to the group. They also have accepted posh, all-expenses-paid trips to attend MEK events in Paris and other locales. Former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell confirmed in March 2012 that the MEK had paid him a total of $150,000 to $160,000, and it appeared that other “A-list” backers had been rewarded in a similar fashion.[9] Since being removed from the State Department’s list of terrorist organizations, the MEK’s influence on Capitol Hill has apparently “spread from the fringes of Congress to include more mainstream and respected Republicans and Democrats.”[10]

 

History

The MEK originated as a student movement that opposed the Shah of Iran and spouted an ideology that weirdly combined Islamism and Marxism. The group was virulently anti-American from the beginning. Its terrorist operations targeted American-owned businesses, and it killed six American citizens in addition to its far more numerous Iranian victims.[11]

In 1981, MEK leadership attempted to overthrow the newly installed Islamic regime; Iranian security forces subsequently initiated a crackdown on the group. The MEK instigated a bombing campaign, including an attack against the head office of the Islamic Republic Party and the Prime Minister’s office, which killed some 70 high-ranking Iranian officials, including Chief Justice Ayatollah Mohammad Beheshti, President Mohammad-Ali Rajaei, and Prime Minister Mohammad-Javad Bahonar. According to the US. Department of State’s report on terrorism, these attacks resulted in a popular uprising against the MEK....[12]

With the eight-year Iran-Iraq War already underway, the MEK threw in its lot with Saddam Hussein. The Iraqi dictator gave the group weapons, cash, and a compound called Camp Ashraf in return for its continuing attacks inside Iran as well as helping Saddam suppress his own domestic opponents. According to Paul pillar, Senior Fellow at the Center for Security Studies of Georgetown University and former CIA officer, Iranians understandably viewed this phase in the MEK’s history as an unforgivable act of treason, and whatever support the group previously had in Iran was erased.[13]

In May 1988, the New York Times described the Mojahedin forces as "basically a light-infantry unit, equipped with Soviet-made armored personnel carriers and artillery.  It is also said to follow Soviet-style tactics and procedures, which parallel those of the Iraqi Army.[14]

Based on the US. Department of State’s 2009 Country Reports on Terrorism, according to evidence which became available after the fall of Saddam Hussein, the MEK received millions of dollars in Oil-for-Food program subsidies from Saddam Hussein from 1999 through 2003. In addition to discovering 13 lists of recipients of such vouchers on which the MEK appeared, evidence linking the MEK to the former Iraqi regime includes lists, as well as video footage of both Saddam Hussein handing over suitcases of money to known MEK leaders, and of MEK operatives receiving training from the Iraqi military.[15]

According to a Rand Corporation’s Report in 2009, in exchange for Saddam’s support, the MeK provided him with intelligence on the IRI, interrogation and translation services, and direct military assistance. The MeK launched numerous raids across the border into Iran, clashing with Iranian military forces and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), sometimes with the assistance of the Iraqi military. More than a quarter of the MeK’s members in Iraq were killed in these unsuccessful raids.[16]

On June 20, 1987, the MKO announced the formation of National Liberation Army (NLA) inside Iraq. For the next year, the NLA made several incursions into Iran as the Iran-Iraq war was entering its eighth year. The largest operation, code-named “Eternal Light,” took place in the immediate aftermath of Iran’s acceptance of the U.N.-brokered cease fire agreement on July 18, 1988 … The NLA forces, estimated at nearly 7,000 fighters, were immediately mobilized for an attack on Iran… “About ten years later, when the organization published names and photographs of martyrs from the operation for the first time, the number of martyred was announced as 1,304. Our other losses were officially 1,100 injured, of whom 11 subsequently died.[17]

As said by The New York Times, in 1991 Hussein used the Mujahedeen and its tanks as advance forces to crush the Kurdish uprisings in the north and the Shia uprisings in the south. And former Mujahedeen members remember Maryam Rajavi's infamous command at the time: ''Take the Kurds under your tanks, and save your bullets for the Iranian Revolutionary Guards.[18]

On April 6, 1992, The New York Times wrote that in April 1992, the MEK invaded Iranian diplomatic missions in New York, Ottawa and eight Western European countries yesterday, seizing hostages and wrecking offices in a wave of coordinated attacks... in Europe, hundreds of Iranian dissidents stormed Teheran's embassies and consulates in Germany, France, Britain, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden and Norway. Scores of demonstrators were arrested, and many of the Iranian missions were extensively damaged, some by firebombs. A statement by the Bonn headquarters of People's Mujahedeen... said the attacks were meant to protest the bombing of a base of the National Liberation Army, ... 40 miles north of Baghdad.[19]

Based on a report by The National Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism, on April 5, 1992, at approximately 1 45 p m , the Iranian Mission to the United Nations in New York, New York, was forcibly entered and taken over by five individuals identifying themselves as members of the Mujahedin-E-Khalq (MEK) The MEK IS an Iranian terrorist group which opposes the current Iranian regime The five subjects were arrested and charged with three counts each of violations of Title 18, U S Code (USC), Section 112, A (Protection of Foreign Officials), and Title 18, USC, Section 970, A and B (Protection of Property of a Foreign Government) No injuries resulted from this incident.[20]

In April 1999, the MEK targeted key Iranian military officers and assassinated the deputy chief of the Iranian Armed Forces General Staff, Brigadier General Ali Sayyaad Shirazi.[21]

The attack on the Iranian embassy in Canberra on April 6, 1992, filmed by an SBS news crew.

Cult-Like Characteristics

A 2009 RAND Corporation study about the situation of MeK members inside Camp Ashraf, the group’s first base in Iraq (“The Mujahedin-e Khalq in Iraq: A Policy Conundrum,”) found that up to 70 percent of the group’s members there might have been held against their will.[22]  Jeremiah Goulka, author of the RAND report, told MintPress, “At the MKO camps, there’s a whole set of practices that are all textbook out of cult theory – sleep deprivation, make-work projects… forced celibacy, forced divorce, [and] gender segregation.”[23]

According to the Rand’s report, relatives and former spouses were placed in different compounds and were not allowed to see each other:

   "Men and women are kept strictly apart in MeK camps. Housing is segregated by gender, and in other buildings, lines are painted down the middle of hallways, separating them into men’s and women’s sides. Men and women below the leadership level are prohibited from contact with one another unless they have obtained official case-by-case permission."[24]

 

Based on the report, to enforce a new “military” discipline, rank-and-file members of the MeK were instructed not just to move into gender-segregated housing but also to divorce their spouses, maintain complete celibacy, and even cut off communication with friends and family, both within and beyond MeK compounds:

   "Close friendships are considered “liberal relations” and are strictly forbidden. Members may freely communicate only with their unit commanders, and a commander’s permission was required for any other type of communication. Informants monitor conversations among members. In many cases, MeK members’ families in Iran have been told that their relatives had died or been killed."[25]

Elizabeth Rubin, a contributor to The New York Times Magazine, who had a visit from Camp Ashraf, MeK’s former base in Iraq, in April 2003, describes her observations form the cultish features of the camp:

   "At Camp Ashraf, 40 miles north of Baghdad, near the Iranian border, 3,400 members of the militant group reside in total isolation on a 14-square-mile tract of harsh desert land. Access to the Internet, phones and information about the outside world is prohibited. Posters of Ms. Rajavi and her smiling green eyes abound.... When I arrived at Camp Ashraf, I thought I’d entered a fictional world of female worker bees. Everywhere I saw women dressed exactly alike, in khaki uniforms and mud-colored head scarves, driving back and forth in white pickup trucks, staring ahead in a daze as if they were working at a factory in Maoist China."[26]

Masoud Banisadr, a former member of the MKO, who had served as the group’s representative to the United Nations and the U.S., confirmed that the organization is a cult:

   "There was a charismatic leader, Rajavi. There was a black-and-white world view imposed; followers cutting themselves off from family; followers losing their personality. There was mind manipulation. At Camp Ashraf in Iraq there were talks lasting for days on end. I remember one task where we had to write down our old personality in one column on a board, and the new personality in a different column. I remember a guy who said, “My brother works in the Iranian embassy in London. Before I loved him as my brother, now I hate him as my enemy. I am ready to kill him tomorrow, if necessary.” And everyone applauded."[27]

A 2005 report by Human Rights Watch detailed the group’s cult-like control over its members and a record of human rights violations designed to severely punish dissidents or would-be deserters. The report writes:

   "Dissident members were brought in front of the audience and forced to self-criticize their actions and thoughts. They were expected to conclude by saying that they will remain with the organization. As soon as someone would speak their minds or criticize the organization, the attendees would attack him/her mercilessly using harsh verbal abuses. Anyone who dared to ask to leave the organization would immediately be labeled an agent of the Iranian government. It was psychologically devastating."[28]

Rick Ross, American cult specialist, and founder and executive director of the nonprofit Cult Education Institute, has stated in an interview with Habilian, Specialized Center for Research on Terrorism, that the MeK has all the characteristics of a cult: “In my opinion the MEK fits well within the three core criteria often used to define a destructive cult based upon the structure, dynamics and behavior of the group.”[29]

Ties to the Trump administration

The MEK’s worrisome track record has not deterred prominent Americans from endorsing the organization. In the months preceding the State Department’s decision to delist the MEK, dozens of well-known advocates—primarily but not exclusively conservatives—lobbied on behalf of the group. Vocal supporters included former CIA directors R. James Woolsey Jr. and Porter Goss, former FBI director Louis J. Freeh, as well as Tom Ridge and Michael Mukasey, both cabinet secretaries in George W. Bush’s administration.[30] Several members of Congress, including Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, were also prominent advocates. Rohrabacher stated confidently that the MEK seeks “a secular, peaceful, and democratic government.” Other proponents included former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and the late Senator John McCain.[31]

However, The MEK’s close ties to high-profile figures were clear after the election of Donald Trumpin November 2016. Observers noted that several of the people under consideration for posts in the Trump administration had tracks records supporting the MEK, including Rudy Giuliani, John Bolton, Clare Lopez, and Newt Gingrich.[32] As one writer put it, should any of these people serve in the Trump administration, “the MEK will have the highest level access it’s ever enjoyed in the U.S. government, a remarkable journey for a fringe Islamic-Marxist group that, until 2012, was on the State Department’s terrorism list for its role in assassinating Americans.”[33]

The MEK saw Trump’s election as an opportunity to significantly influence U.S. policy toward Iran. On January 9, 2017, just days before Trump took office, a bipartisan group of 20 former U.S. officials published a letter to Trump urging him to open a strategic dialogue with the MEK. They reprinted a letter they published in 2015, calling much more firmly for a U.S.-MEK strategic relationship. That letter stated, “Today we call for an end to the misguided position of those in Washington who seek to isolate, exclude or otherwise ignore Iran’s largest, most established and best organized political opposition, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), led by Mrs. Maryam Rajavi. In recent years we have come to know Mrs. Rajavi and the NCRI, and we know the resistance far better than many in Washington who believe that the NCRI should be kept at arm’s length for one reason or another.”[34]

This characterization of NCRI—a front group for the MEK—is contradicted by numerous reports. For instance, journalist Mehdi Hassan points out that the MEK “lacks support inside of the Islamic Republic, where it has been disowned by the opposition Green Movement and is loathed by ordinary Iranians for having fought on Saddam Hussein’s side during the Iran-Iraq war.”

Hassan adds that the MEK “has all the trappings of a totalitarian cult…A 2009 report by the RAND Corporation noted how MEK rank-and-file had to swear ‘an oath of devotion to the Rajavis on the Koran’ and highlighted the MEK’s ‘authoritarian, cultic practices’ including ‘mandatory divorce and celibacy for the group’s members (the Rajavis excepted, of course). ‘Love for the Rajavis was to replace love for spouses and family,’[35] explained the RAND report.”[36]

Barbara Slavin of the Atlantic Council also disputed the idea that the MEK represents any kind of legitimate Iranian opposition. “They’re not the leading edge of any kind of regime change movement,” she said. “Many Iranians are eager for change, but they don’t want to go from the frying pan of an Islamic government to the fire of the MEK.”[37]

Journalist Jason Rezaian—who was held in captivity in Iran for a year and a half—wrote that John Bolton’s appointment as Donald Trump’s national security adviser significantly advances the MEK’s agenda. “The MEK is the type of fringe group that sets up camp across the street from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and hands out fliers filled with unsubstantiated claims,” Rezaian wrote. “This is America—we let crazy people talk. That’s their right, and I would never suggest that they be prohibited from doing that. But giving the MEK a voice in the White House is a terrible idea. In John Bolton they have someone who will do it for them. John Bolton wants regime change in Iran, and so does the cult that paid him.”[38]

Bolton is perhaps the most influential figure to have close ties to the MEK, but he is not the only one. Signatories to the letter sent to Trump in 2017 included former Senators Joe Lieberman (an independent who had been a Democratic senator), former democratic Senator Robert Torricelli, Barack Obama’s former national security adviser Gen. James Jones as well as Republican figures such as Rudy Giuliani and Tom Ridge.[39] Former Democratic National Committee chief, Howard Dean and civil rights leader and Congressman John Lewis (D-GA) as well as leading Republican figure, Newt Gingrich have also been prominent public supporters of the MEK, demonstrating the breadth of the organization’s connections.[40]

In the following, we will take a look at the positions of several people close to Donald Trump who are among the supporters of the MeK in the United States.

John Bolton speaks at an event in Paris for the Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK) in 2014.

John Bolton

John Bolton is Donald Trump’s third national security adviser. Prior to his appointment, he was a senior fellow at the neoconservative American Enterprise Institute and the chairman of the Islamophobic Gatestone Institute. An extreme national security hawk, Bolton is a former board member of the Project for the New American Century and a past adviser to the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs. He was a frequent contributor to Fox News, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Times, the Weekly Standard, and other right-wing media outlets.

During the 2016 election campaign, Bolton broke with neoconservative pundits like Robert Kagan and Bill Kristol in praising Donald Trump’s foreign policy. He began his position as Trump’s National Security Advisor on April 9, 2018. The New York Times wrote that the rise of Bolton and Mike Pompeo, coupled with the departure of Rex Tillerson and General McMaster, meant that Trump's foreign policy team was now "the most radically aggressive foreign policy team around the American president in modern memory", and compared it to the foreign policy team surrounding George W. Bush, notably with Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld.[41]

There have been quite a few former officials, politicians, and retired military officers that have been cheerleading for the MEK over the last few years, but Bolton is one of their oldest[42] and most consistent[43] American supporters. “Bolton probably sees the MEK as a fellow traveller in the drive for regime change in Iran,” said Cliff Kupchan, chairman and Iran expert at Eurasia Group.[44]

He has been consistently misrepresenting this totalitarian cult as a “democratic” Iranian opposition group. In July 2017 for example, Bolton told a group of MEK supporters in Paris that "before 2019, we here will celebrate in Tehran!".[45] In that same speech, Bolton declared that the official policy of the United States should be regime change in Iran.

According to The Christian Science Monitor, Bolton along with Patrick Kennedy, Rudy Giuliani and Michael Steele have all received handsome speaking fees in the past from MEK-affiliated organizations. They were among a gaggle of former U.S. officials who lobbied the U.S. hard in recent years to take the MEK off the State Department terrorist list. The lobbying effort bore fruit last year when the State Department did just that, despite the MEK’s past involvement in violent attacks.[46] MEK expert Joanne Stocker asserts that the MEK likely paid Bolton at least $180k in "speaker fees", making him more a lobbyist than a statesman.[47]

Public disclosure forms indicate Bolton received $40,000 for a single appearance at an MEK event in Paris last year, and Merat gives an estimate of $180,000 as the total that Bolton has received for his multiple appearances on behalf of the group.[48]

(From left to right: Maryam Rajavi, former leader of the MEK and current leader of the National Council of Resistance of Iran talks with Rudy Giuliani and Senator Joe Lieberman at the free Iran Gathering, July 1, 2017. Maryam Rajavi

 

Rudy Giuliani

Rudolph “Rudy” Giuliani is a Republican politician who was mayor of New York City from 1994-2001, including during the 9/11 terrorist attacks. After leaving office, he launched a consulting practice and unsuccessfully ran for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination. He has become a vocal right-wing political pundit, often appearing on TV to warn about terrorists or advocate overseas U.S. military intervention.

During the 2016 presidential campaign, Giuliani was a vocal supporter of Donald Trump, backing up Trump’s radical talking points, like the claim that President Barack Obama “founded ISIS.” Giuliani was believed to be a likely pick for Secretary of State in the Trump administration.[49] However, on December 9, 2016, Trump announced that Giuliani had removed his name from consideration for any Cabinet post.[50] On January 12, 2017, President-elect Trump named Giuliani his informal cybersecurity adviser.[51]

For years, Giuliani has been one of the most prominent American officials to advocate on behalf of the MEK. The group has paid Giuliani handsomely for years—$20,000[52] or more[53], and possibly a lot more[54]—for brief appearances before the group and for lobbying to have it removed from the State Department’s list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTO), which occurred in 2012. A Treasury Department investigation in 2012 examined whether speaking fees paid by several MEK front groups to a long list of U.S. politicians, including Giuliani, violated laws on Americans receiving money from designated terrorist organizations.

former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Donald Trump talk to media after their meeting in New York, Dec. 5, 2011.

Newt Gingrich

Newt Gingrich, the former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives and unsuccessful GOP presidential candidate, is a vocal advocate of right-wing social policies and a militarist U.S. defense posture. A former fellow at the neoconservative American Enterprise Institute (AEI), Gingrich has been an important Republican Party figure for decades.

Gingrich has repeatedly run for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination, most recently in 2012, when he received the backing of major right-wing “pro-Israel” donors like Sheldon Adelson. Although he did not run for the 2016 GOP nomination contest, Gingrich was widely considered to be a potential running mate for Donald Trump, for which he reportedly “actively lobbied” the real estate mogul.[55]

Gingrich supported Trump more quickly than many other establishment Republicans.[56] After having consulted for Donald Trump's 2016 campaign, Gingrich encouraged his fellow Republicans to unify behind Trump, who had by then become the presumptive Republican presidential nominee.[57] Gingrich reportedly figured among Trump's final three choices to be his running mate;[58] [59]the position ultimately went to Governor of Indiana Mike Pence.[60] Following Trump's victory in the presidential election, speculation arose concerning Gingrich as a possible Secretary of State, or Chief of Staff, or advisor.[61] Eventually, Gingrich announced that he would not be serving in the cabinet. He stated that he didn't have the interest in serving in any role related to the Trump administration, stressing that as a private citizen he would engage with individuals for "strategic planning" rather than job-seeking.[62]

Gingrich has been especially enthusiastic about the MEK over the years, describing it as the vanguard of “a massive worldwide movement for liberty in Iran.” More recently, Gingrich showed up along with former Democratic senator and former vice president nominee Joe Lieberman at a conference in Paris to laud the MEK.[63] More recently, Gingrich showed up along with former Democratic senator and former vice president nominee Joe Lieberman at a conference in Paris to laud the MEK. More recently, Gingrich showed up along with former Democratic senator and former vice president nominee Joe Lieberman at a conference in Paris to laud the MEK.[64] After speaking at a conference organized by the MEK, Gingrich said of them, “The MEK/PMOI is clearly the largest resistance organization and deserves respect.”[65]

Elaine Chao, Maryam Rajavi and Rudy Giuliani at MeK’s gathering near Paris, 13 June 2015

Elaine Chao

Elaine Chao is the current United States Secretary of Transportation. A member of the Republican Party, Chao was previously Secretary of Labor under President George W. Bush from 2001 to 2009.

In February 2017, it was reported by the Associated Press that Chao in addition to former Joint Chiefs of Staff General Hugh Shelton, Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps General James T. Conway, President Obama's former National Security Advisor General James Jones, former CIA Directors Porter Goss and James R. Woolsey, former FBI Director Louis Free and former Governors Howard Dean of Vermont and Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania had addressed organizations linked to the MeK.[66]

Chao spoke before an MEK conference in 2015 in Paris. She also had a seat next to Maryam Rajavi, the "president-elect" of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, the political arm of the MEK. She also received a $50,000 honorarium from the MEK-associated Alliance for Public Awareness, according to a report she filed with the U.S. Office of Government Ethics. Chao received another $17,500 honorarium for a March 2016 speech she gave to the Iranian-American Cultural Association of Missouri, which MEK opponents also link to the exile group.[67]

The Department of Transportation said in a statement that Chao has a "strong record of speaking out in support of democracy and women's rights in the Middle East" but "has not spoken to MEK events." It added that her speeches were delivered alongside bipartisan members of Congress, governors, prime ministers, ambassadors, generals, former FBI directors and "many other influential voices."[68]

Senator Tom Cotton at the White House with Trump

Tom Cotton

Tom Cotton is a Republican politician serving as the junior United States Senator for Arkansas since January 3, 2015. He is a leading proponent of aggressive U.S. foreign policies whose views often combine right-wing Republican populism and neoconservativism.[69]

Cotton supported Trump during the 2016 presidential contest. Cotton was mentioned as a possible candidate for Secretary of Defense in the Trump administration.[70] However, retired General James Mattis was chosen instead.[71] Cotton frequently met with Trump's staff during the transition period, and, according to Steve Bannon, Cotton suggested John F. Kelly for the role of Secretary of Homeland Security.[72] In November 2017, the New York Times reported that Cotton was a potential choice to succeed CIA Director Mike Pompeo, who could be elevated to US Secretary of State after President Trump 'soured' with the then incumbent, Rex Tillerson.[73] In December of 2018, Politico reported that Cotton is a potential choice to replace Jim Mattis as US Secretary of Defense after Mattis announced his resignation for January 1, 2019.[74]

In a Senate meeting room on May 6, 2015, Cotton joined a panel hosted by the Organization of Iranian American Communities (OIAC), a front group for the MEK. According to the Lobe Log’s Eli Clifton, Cotton and the MEK share a common agenda when it comes to the nuclear negotiations with Iran. Neither Cotton nor the MEK, in other words, thinks there should be any negotiations with the Iranian government. Clifton writes:

It appears that Cotton, who has quickly displaced Lindsey Graham as the Senate’s most hawkish member, has decided that it is necessary – perhaps even politically desirable – to make common cause with a group that has committed serious human rights abuses, allied itself for some two decades with Saddam Hussein, and carried out terrorist acts, including against U.S. citizens and servicemen – all in the interests of sabotaging an Iran nuclear agreement.[75]

Former U.S. Representative Michele Bachmann (R-MN) speaks at a rally for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump prior to his arrival in a cargo hangar at Minneapolis Saint Paul International Airport in Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S. November 6, 2016.

Michele Bachmann

Michele Bachmann, a three-term member of House of Representatives from Minnesota, is closely associated with the Tea Party movement and right-wing social activism. She founded the Tea Party Caucus in the House, and her most fervent supporters tend to be right-wing conservatives. In May 2013, she announced her decision to retire from Congress and did not seek reelection in the 2014 midterm elections.

In an interview with SiriusXM Progress, Bachmann, who serves on Donald Trump’s evangelical advisory board, has described Trump as a “committed believer” of Jesus Christ and a “man of faith” who has “asked God for help and wisdom.” Bachmann went on to say that Trump is observant of God's authority over his life and presidency, which "should give us a lot of hope," she said, arguing that faith "helps regulate our behavior."[76]

in another interview at the Values Voter Summit on September 21, 2018, Bachmann described the Trump’s era as a “golden time” that American people have never experienced it before. Bachmann said she believes that due to Trump, “on every metric” America has experienced “blessings” that are “without parallel.”[77] In the interview at the annual conference of evangelicals organized by the anti-LGBTQ Family Research Council, she elaborated on her assertion: “... We’ve never had it better economically..., We’ve never had it better on a foreign policy level. We’ve never had a more pro-life president, a more pro-Israel president.”[78]

Bachmann is a major supporter of the MEK.[79] On November 17, 2010, Michele Bachmann appeared at a press conference at a Freedom Watch symposium titled "National security, freedom, and Iran—is it time for U.S. and Western intervention?" Aimed at promoting regime change in Iran through military intervention and direct U.S. support for the MEK, the event advertised the late Senator John McCain, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, former governor of Alaska Sarah Palin, and former Representatives Trent Franks (R-AZ) and Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) as among the invited speakers, though none were in attendance. At the event, Bachmann voiced her support for the MEK, asking that they be removed from the U.S. State Department list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations.[80]

Maryam Rajavi, Senator Joseph Lieberman and Prof. Alejo Vidal Quadras take part in a meeting on December 8, 2015.

Jo Lieberman

Joseph Lieberman served as a United States Senator from Connecticut from 1989 to 2013. A former member of the Democratic Party, he was its nominee for Vice President of the United States in the 2000 election. During his final term in office he was officially listed as an independent Democrat and caucused with and chaired committees for the Democratic Party. Lieberman was regarded as the “Republicans’ favorite Democrat” because of his neoconservative foreign affairs agenda.

Following his retirement from the Senate, Lieberman became senior counsel of the white collar criminal defense and investigations practice at Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman, a law firm in New York City whose notable clients include Donald Trump.[81] In early 2017, Lieberman introduced President elect Donald Trump's nominee as Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos to the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pension committee. One report on Lieberman's involvement was critical of him for failing to disclose in his testimony the extensive legal work his Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman law firm had done for Donald Trump since at least as long ago as 2001. The work included bankrupt casino restructuring and, during the 2016 campaign, threatening the New York Times over publication of a few 1995 Trump tax documents.[82] On May 17, 2017, Lieberman was interviewed by President Donald Trump for the position of FBI Director, to replace recently fired James Comey.[83]

On January 9, 2017, In a letter to Trump, the former Sen. Joe Lieberman along with other former officeholders including former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, and retired Army Gen. Hugh Shelton, wrote a letter to the incoming president and urged him to work with the National Council of Resistance of Iran, the front organization of MeK terrorist group.[84]

In December 2016, Lieberman also appeared at an event at the Capitol Hill organized by the MeK. They have a long history of using violence and terror both against their own members as well as when they were serving as a military force for Saddam Hussein in Iraq. At the UANI event, Lieberman said the goal of increased pressure on Iran would be to elicit concessions from Iran by causing them to “begin to wonder about the survival of the regime.”[85]

Earlier, on October 7, 2015, Lieberman testified before a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing titled, “Iranian Influence in Iraq and the Case of Camp Liberty,”. Other witnesses at hearing, which was a reaffirmation of America’s commitment to back the terrorist organization Mujahedeen e-Khalq then based in Iraq, were former US Marine Corps Commandant General James Jones and (Ret.) Colonel Wesley Martin. “It was not only right and just that we took them off the foreign terrorist organization list, but the truth is now that we ought to be supportive of them and others in opposition to the government in Iran more than we have been”, stated Lieberman in his opening remarks at the hearing.[86]

Ashcroft in 2018

John Ashcroft

John Ashcroft served as U.S. Attorney General from 2001 to 2005; senator from Missouri from 1995 to 2001; and governor of Missouri from 1985 to 1993. He endorsed Donald Trump in September of this year, and says that Trump offers a new hope for the American people.[87]

Attorney General John Ashcroft was a passionate supporter of the MeK when he was in the Senate.[88] In December 1999, the US Immigration and Naturalization Services (INS) agents arrested Mahnaz Samadi, a leading spokeswoman for the MeK, at the Canadian border because several years earlier, when she was seeking political asylum in the US, she had not disclosed her past “terrorist” ties as an MEK “military commander” or the fact that she had trained in an MEK camp that was located in Iraq. Hearing about the case from his constituents, Missouri Senator John Ashcroft comes to the rescue and writes a letter on May 10, 2000 to Attorney General Janet Reno opposing Samadi’s arrest. In his letter, he calls her a “highly regarded human-rights activist.”[89]

In September 2000, When the Iranian National Council of Resistance, a front group for the militant MEK, holds a demonstration outside the United Nations protesting a speech by Iranian President Mohammed Khatami, Republican Senators Ashcroft and Chris Bond from Missouri issue a joint statement expressing solidarity with the organization.[90]

Ken Blackwell along with Linda Chavez and Mark Ginsberg at the MeK’s Conference at the Washington National Press Club, December1, 2017

Ken Blackwell

Kenneth (Ken) Blackwell is a former mayor of Cincinnati, Ohio (1979–80), the Ohio State Treasurer (1994–99), and Ohio Secretary of State (1999–2007). He was the Republican candidate for governor of Ohio in 2006. He is currently a Senior Fellow for Family Empowerment with[91] The Family Research Council.

During the presidential transition of Donald Trump, Blackwell led appointment selections for positions involving domestic issues.[92] He has defended his work on Trump's Election Integrity Commission[93], and described Trump as “a transactional person”.[94]

While describing the MeK as “The main Iranian opposition group”[95], “representatives of a moderate interpretation of Islam”[96], Blackwell has called the group’s leader "a devout and profoundly anti-fundamentalist Muslim woman leader."[97] Attending the annual rally of the MeK in Paris, Ken Blackwell tweeted a photo of himself and Gingrich at the gathering on July 9, 2016.[98]

Blackwell, who oversaw domestic issues for the Trump transition team and later served on Trump’s voter fraud committee, met with the MEK on October 3, 2017, one document shows, “to discuss the United Nations resolution censuring human rights abuses in Iran.” At the time of the meeting, Blackwell was still on Trump’s voter fraud committee, which was active between May 11, 2017, and January 3, 2018.[99]

Lee Zeldin and Trump at the White House

 Lee Zeldin

Lee Zeldin is an attorney and politician as the U.S. Representative for New York's 1st congressional district since 2015. A member of the Republican Party, Zeldin previously served as the New York State Senator from the 3rd district from 2011 to 2014. He served in the United States Army for four years, from 2003 to 2007 as a Second Lieutenant. Zeldin also served as a prosecutor in the Judge Advocate General's Corps and as a military magistrate.

On May 3, 2016, Zeldin endorsed Donald Trump as the Republican presidential nominee.[100] Zeldin had previously indicated that he would support the eventual Republican nominee.[101] In 2017, Zeldin supported Donald Trump's firing of FBI Director James Comey, saying it offered the FBI a chance at a "fresh start" to rebuild trust.[102]

MEK leader Maryam Rajavi told lawmakers on April 29th 2015 that the path to defeating the Islamic State (IS) runs through regime change in Tehran. Testifying by teleconference from the exiled group's headquarters in Paris, Rajavi urged the United States to stand up to Iran throughout the region. Rajavi testified before the House Foreign Affairs Committee's panel on Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade. The hearing drew a crowd of MEK supporters, including a who's who of lawmakers who have long supported — and taken money from — the MEK and its Iranian-American affiliates. They include Reps. Judy Chu, D-Calif., and Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, who aren't on the committee but stopped by to praise Rajavi. Freshman Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y., left little doubt that he believed in her. "I honestly do not know if my president is on the same exact team that I am," he told Rajavi. "Because there are individuals like you, who are willing to rise up and take control of your country's future."[103] Lee Zeldin, R-New York,, who praised Rajavi and the MEK as the legitimate democratic opposition of Iran, said during the hearing that when he listens to the administration’s rhetoric on the Iranian regime, “I honestly do not know if my president is on the same team as I am.”[104]

Clare Lopez

Clare Lopez is a widely cited right-wing conspiracy theorist with ties to a number of hawkish policy institutes who formerly worked as a CIA operations officer. Senior Vice President for Policy and Programs at the Center for Security Policy (CSP), Lopez has also been a vice president of the Intelligence Summit, a senior fellow at the Clarion Project, and a former executive director of the hawkish Iran Policy Committee.[105] She is best known for her racist rhetoric about Muslims and her claims that the Muslim Brotherhood “infiltrated” the U.S. government and that President Barack Obama “switched sides” on the war on terror.

After Donald Trump won the GOP nomination during the 2016 election campaign race, Lopez backed some of his misleading campaign claims, like that the United States paid a ransom to Iran for the release of U.S. citizens. Since Trump’s election, transition team insiders have reported that Lopez is in consideration for Deputy National Security Advisor in the Trump White House. Since Trump took office, Lopez have proved a reliable ally. After Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia in May 2017, Lopez said in an interview with Secure Freedom Radio that Trump las been successful in pushing the Iran threat to the “collective mob leaders” of the Sunni world. In an April 2017 article for the right-wing Accuracy in Media, Lopez urged Trump to “make good on campaign promises” to “rip up” the Iran nuclear agreement, known as the JCPOA.

Lopez is a tough supporter of the MeK Organization and has described this terrorist group as “the largest, the oldest, the best organized, the most dedicated of Iranian democratic opposition”, admitting that she already had participated in their annual rallies in Paris.[106]  In 2011, when the group was still in the US. Department of State’s list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTO), She explicitly announced that the department must immediately remove it from the list.  She also rejects reports from Official US agencies regarding the violent history of the MeK including the assassination of several U.S. military personnel and civilians in the 1970s and its capacity and will to commit terrorist acts in Europe, the Middle East, the United States, Canada, and beyond: “These claims are completely false but have been skillfully promoted by the Iranian intelligence service whose sophisticated influence operations have penetrated deeply into U.S. policymaking circles,” she asserts. Even she claims that the MeK’s inclusion in the Department of State’s terrorist list in 1997 was basically a political decision made by the Clinton administration at the direct request of the incoming Khatami administration in Iran in line with the Clinton’s policy of appeasement and negotiations with Tehran.[107]

Lindsey Graham

Lindsey Graham is a republican serving as the senior United States Senator from South Carolina, a seat he has held since 2003. Graham briefly ran as a candidate for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination. On December 21, 2015, he ended his campaign for the presidency. He later endorsed Jeb Bush for President. In his statement endorsing Bush, Graham also criticized Republican front-runner Donald Trump. “He’s saying things that make no sense,” Graham proclaimed.[108]

After the election, Graham announced he had voted for Evan McMullin, a marginal independent candidate.[109] By October 2017, however, Graham had changed his view about the new president. “I’m going to try to stay in a position where I can have input to the president,” Graham told the New York Times. “I can help him where I can, and he will call me up and pick my brain.”[110] Since then, has become a staunch ally of the president, often issuing public statements in his defense, while still having occasional disagreements.[111] [112]

Graham’s ambiguity concerning Trump has brought scrutiny from both the right and left. In response, Graham, in a June 2018 interview on CNN, angrily stated, “If you don’t like me working with President Trump to make the world a better place, I don’t give a shit.”[113] Graham is also an ardent supporter of Trump’s third national security adviser, John Bolton. Shortly after Bolton was appointed, Graham said of him, “I think he’s going to help the president shape policies that make us all safer. The era of leading from behind is over—John Bolton is a lead from the front kind of guy.”[114]

Graham is a supporter of the MeK[115] and have appeared regularly at the group’s events.[116]

Walid Phares

Walid Phares is a right-wing conspiracy theorist and university professor who has worked for the Republican presidential campaigns of Mitt Romney in 2012 and Donald Trump in 2016. Phares appears regularly on Fox News and writes columns for a variety of publications on issues related to terrorism, the Middle East, and U.S. foreign policy. Phares has also been associated with neoconservative advocacy groups, having served as a fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Phares worked as an advisor to presidential candidate Donald Trump;[117] he was paid $13,000 per month by the campaign.[118] Trump's choice of Phares renewed scrutiny and speculations about Phares' past alleged role as an ideologue to Lebanese Christian fighters during the Lebanese Civil War and his perceived far-right views as an academic and analyst of the Middle East region.[119] His supporters argued that Phares had presciently discerned the threat of jihadist ideology and that he was eminently qualified for a senior post, and pointed to his strong pro-Israel track record.[120] Phases does not have a government post in the Trump administration.[121]

He has called the MeK as “the main Iranian opposition movement” and praised its role in the 2017–2018 Iranian protests.[122] The Justice Department documents show that Phares met with the MEK on two separate occasions after Trump’s electoral victory in November 2016. Like many of the filings international advocacy groups are required to submit about their activities in the US, MEK filings tend to be broad and vague. One document reports a January 12, 2017, meeting, little more than a week before Trump’s inauguration, “to discuss the situation in Iran and the Middle East.”  Another filing describes an October 10, 2017, meeting “to discuss human rights situation in Iran.” Though the documents do not make clear what exactly was discussed, Phares, like the MEK, has called for US-backed regime change in Iran.[123] Though the documents do not make clear what exactly was discussed, Phares, like the MEK, has called for US-backed regime change in Iran.[124]

According to Daniel Larison, a columnist for the American Conservative, Trump’s rhetoric about supporting the Iranian people was always empty, but promoting someone with Bolton’s views and connections to the highest level of government shows just how disingenuous that rhetoric is: “Whenever Bolton talks about supporting “the Iranian opposition,” these cultists are the people he’s talking about. When he talks about regime change in Iran, he thinks that these are the people that should take over.”[125]

Ted Galen Carpenter, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute and a contributing editor at the National Interest wrote that “U.S. opinion leaders are playing a dangerous and morally untethered game by flirting with the likes of the MEK.”[126] Larison in 2011 highlighted the problem with their approach. “I have marveled at the willingness of numerous former government officials, retired military officers, and elected representatives to embrace the MEK,” he wrote. “There’s no question that they are motivated by their loathing of the Iranian government, but their hostility to the regime has led them to endorse a group that most Iranians loathe.”[127]   

Mr. Trump should learn from the follies of his predecessors who backed the agendas of foreign groups that purported to be democratic but turned out to be nothing of the sort. There are ample warning signs about the real nature of the MEK. The U.S administration needs to avoid that organization like the plague.

Sources:

Right Web*

The Associated Press

The New York Times

The Washington Post

CNN

Financial Times

Politico

Foreign Policy

NBC News

The Independent

Newsweek

Al Monitor

LobeLog

The Intercept

The National Interest

The American Conservative

RAND Corporation

Human Rights watch

MintPress News

Vice

Huffington Post

ThinkProgress

The Hill

Daily Star

Salon

Bloomberg

WNYC

Slate

CNSNews.com

The Christian Post

Newsday

US News

The Objective Standard

National Iranian American Council

Roll Call

RealClearPolitics

The Daily Caller

Fox News

Center for Security Policy

The Jerusalem Post

Unity coalition for Israel

* Right Web profiles has been very useful in formation of this report.

[1] Anti-Iran Message Seeps Into Trump Forum Billed as Focusing on Mideast Security, New York Times, Feb. 13, 2019.

[2] Elise Labott, “Clinton to remove Iranian exile group from terror list,” CNN.com, September 21, 2012, http://security.blogs.cnn.com/2012/09/21/clinton-to-de-list-iranian-exile-group-from-terror-list/.

[3] State Dept. Briefing on Delisting of the Mujahedin-e Khalq, September 28, 2012, https://usfliberty.org/wp-content/uploads/document/u.s.government/2012/09/doc-49-12.09.28-state-dept.pdf.

[4] Yes, We Do Know the MEK Has a Terrorist Past, politico, December 13, 2016.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Julian Pecquet, “Congressional invite to MEK sparks furious backlash,” Al Monitor, April 28, 2015, http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2015/04/congress-mek-testimony-backlash-maryam-rajavi.html#ixzz3YdOS9KwQ.

[7] Eli Clifton, “Poe’s Financial Ties To MEK May Explain Maryam’s House Testimony,” LobeLog, April 28, 2015, http://www.lobelog.com/poes-financial-ties-to-mek-may-explain-maryams-house-testimony/

[8] Ali Gharib and Eli Clifton, “Long March of the Yellow Jackets: How a One-Time Terrorist Group Prevailed On Capitol Hill,” The Intercept, February 26, 2015, https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2015/02/26/long-march-yellow/

[9] Iranian Dissidents Convince U.S. to Drop Terror Label, SEPT. 21, 2012.

[10] Ali Gharib and Eli Clifton, “Long March of the Yellow Jackets: How a One-Time Terrorist Group Prevailed On Capitol Hill,” The Intercept, February 26, 2015, https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2015/02/26/long-march-yellow/

[11] The MEK and the Bankrupt U.S. Policy on Iran, The National Interest, November 13, 2018

[12] https://www.state.gov/j/ct/rls/crt/2009/140900.htm

[13] The MEK and the Bankrupt U.S. Policy on Iran, The National Interest, November 13, 2018

[14] http://iran.org/news/1994_10-State-Dept-MEK-report.htm

[15] https://www.state.gov/j/ct/rls/crt/2009/140900.htm

[16] https://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/monographs/2009/RAND_MG871.pdf

[17] Banisadr, Memoirs of an Iranian Rebel, p. 292. 32 Banisadr, Memoirs of an Iranian Rebel, p. 292, https://www.hrw.org/legacy/backgrounder/mena/iran0505/iran0505.pdf

[18] https://www.nytimes.com/2003/07/13/magazine/the-cult-of-rajavi.html

 

[19] New York Times, April 06, 1992, https://www.nytimes.com/1992/04/06/world/iran-rebels-hit-missions-in-10-nations.html

[20] The National Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism, 2005

[21] https://www.state.gov/j/ct/rls/crt/2009/140900.htm

[22] “An Iranian Cult and Its American Friends”, ELIZABETH RUBIN, NY times, AUG. 13, 2011

[23] VIDEO: How To Stop Being Terrorists: A Guide For ISIS, Courtesy Of The MEK, mintpressnews, January 21, 2015.

[24] https://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/monographs/2009/RAND_MG871.pdf.

[25] Ibid.

[26] “An Iranian Cult and Its American Friends”, ELIZABETH RUBIN, NY times, AUG. 13, 2011

[27] “A Former MEK Member Talks About the Extremist Iranian 'Cult'”, vice, September 2, 2014.

[28] Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Yasser Ezati, February 9, 2005, https://www.hrw.org/legacy/backgrounder/mena/iran0505/iran0505.pdf

[29] MEK fits well within the criteria used to define a cult, Habilian, Feb 07, 2017, https://www.habilian.ir/en/201702073165/interview/mek-fits-well-within-the-criteria-used-to-define-a-cult.html

[30] The Cult of MEK, The American Prospect, July 18, 2012.

[31] This Group Hopes to Push America toward Regime Change in Iran, The National Interest, July 17, 2017.

[32] Eli Clifton, “Former Terrorist Group To Enjoy Close Ties To Rumored Trump Cabinet,” Lobelog, November 15, 2016, http://lobelog.com/former-terrorist-group-to-enjoy-close-ties-to-rumored-trump-cabinet/

[33] Ibid.

[34] “Letter – PEOTUS,” Scribd, January 9, 2017, https://www.scribd.com/document/336646842/Letter-PEOTUS-Final-20170109-w-Attachments

[35] Jeremiah Goulka, Lydia Hansell, Elizabeth Wilke, Judith Larson, “The Mujahedin-e Khalq in Iraq: A Policy Conundrum,” RAND Corporation, 2009, https://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/monographs/2009/RAND_MG871.pdf

[36] Mehdi Hassan, “Here’s Why Washington Hawks Love This Cultish Iranian Exile Group,” The Intercept, July 7, 2017, https://theintercept.com/2017/07/07/mek-iran-rajavi-cult-saudi-gingrich-terrorists-trump/

[37] Rhys Dubin and Dan De Luce, “Bolton’s Ascent Gives Iranian Group a New Lease on Life,” Foreign Policy, April 30, 2018, http://foreignpolicy.com/2018/04/30/bolton-iran-mek-terrorism-trump/

[38] Jason Rezaian, “John Bolton wants regime change in Iran, and so does the cult that paid him

[39] “Letter – PEOTUS,” Scribd, January 9, 2017, https://www.scribd.com/document/336646842/Letter-PEOTUS-Final-20170109-w-Attachments

[40] Dan Kovalik, “U.S. Hands Off Iran,” Huffington Post, July 12, 2018, https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/us-hands-off-iran_us_59664101e4b09be68c0056d2

[41] Sanger, David E. (March 22, 2018). "With Bolton, Trump Creates a Historically Hard-Line Foreign Policy Team". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved March 23, 2018.

[42] Romney Adviser John Bolton Campaigns For Alleged Terror Group, Think Progress, Jul 2, 2012.

[43] Bolton and the MEK, The American Conservative, March 27, 2015.

[44] John Bolton support for Iranian opposition spooks Tehran, Financial Times, April 2, 2018

https://www.ft.com/content/c6ace172-33f2-11e8-a3ae-fd3fd4564aa6

[45] Here’s John Bolton Promising Regime Change in Iran by the End of 2018

[46] http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Middle-East/2011/0808/Iranian-group-s-big-money-push-to-get-off-US-terrorist-list

[47] https://twitter.com/OARichardEngel/status/1000697271787360256

[48] The MEK and the Bankrupt U.S. Policy on Iran, The National Interest, November 13, 2018

[49] Landler, Mark; Lipton, Eric; Becker, Jo (November 15, 2016). "Rudolph Giuliani's Business Ties Viewed as Red Flag for Secretary of State Job". The New York Times. Retrieved April 19, 2018.

[50] Kopan, Tal; Diaz, Daniella (December 9, 2016). "Trump: No Cabinet post for Rudy Giuliani". CNN. Retrieved December 10, 2016.

[51] Phillip, Abby (January 12, 2017). "Trump names Rudy Giuliani as cybersecurity adviser". The Washington Post PowerPost blog. Retrieved January 13, 2017.

[52] https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/joshrogin/wp/2016/11/15/giuliani-was-paid-advocate-for-shady-iranian-dissident-group/?utm_term=.1e81aa492dc7

[53] term=.1e81aa492dc7https://www.ft.com/content/cc6d5774-b23d-11e0-9d80-00144feabdc0

[54] http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/27/us/politics/lobbying-support-for-iranian-exile-group-crosses-partylines.html

[55] Harper Neidig, “Gingrich ‘actively lobbying’ to be Trump’s running mate: report,” The Hill, July 9, 2016, http://thehill.com/blogs/ballot-box/presidential-races/287136-gingrich-actively-lobbying-to-be-trumps-running-mate

[56] The Unprecedented 2016 Presidential Election | Rachel Bitecofer | Palgrave Macmillan. p. 146.

[57] "Archived copy". Archived from the original on November 5, 2016. Retrieved May 9, 2016.

[58] O'Donnell, Kelly (July 12, 2016). "Team Trump Plans Public Event Friday With VP Pick". NBC News. Retrieved July 12, 2016.

[59] "Archived copy". Archived from the original on October 27, 2016. Retrieved May 9, 2016.

[60] "Who is Mike Pence?".

[61] Chapman, Dan (November 9, 2016). "Newt Gingrich role in Trump cabinet?". ajc. Retrieved November 15, 2016.

[62] Hall (November 17, 2016). "Newt Gingrich says he will not be in Trump Cabinet". McClatchyDC. Retrieved November 17, 2016.

[63] Long March of the Yellow Jackets, the Intercept, February 26 2015.

[64] This Group Hopes to Push America toward Regime Change in Iran, The National Interest, July 17, 2017.

[65] Rachel O’Donoghue, “’They’re hiding from reality’ Top US lawmaker Savages European countries over Iran protest,” Daily Star, January 20, 2018, https://www.dailystar.co.uk/news/world-news/675650/newt-gingrich-iran-protests-donald-trump-emmanuel-macron-pmoi-mek-maryam-rajavi

[66] "Trump Cabinet pick was paid by 'cult-like' Iranian exile group that killed Americans". The Independent. 2017-02-05. Retrieved 2017-02-07.

[67] Clarification: Trump-Iranian Exiles-ABRIDGED story, Associated Press, February 16, 2017

[68] ibid

[69] Heather Digby Parton, “’Sarah Palin with a Harvard degree’: Why new senator Tom Cotton is so frightening,” Salon, February 12, 2015.

[70] Restuccia, Andrew (November 18, 2016). "Donald Trump's Cabinet-in-waiting: What we know so far". Politico. Retrieved November 18, 2016.

[71] Byrnes, Jesse (December 1, 2016). "Trump announces Mattis as Defense pick". Retrieved December 2, 2016.

[72] Toobin, Jeffrey (November 13, 2017). "Is Tom Cotton the Future of Trumpism?". The New Yorker.

[73] Baker, Peter (November 30, 2017). "White House Plans Tillerson Ouster, to Be Replaced by Mike Pompeo, Within Weeks". New York Times. Retrieved November 30, 2017.

[74] Baker, Peter (November 30, 2017). "White House Plans Tillerson Ouster, to Be Replaced by Mike Pompeo, Within Weeks". New York Times. Retrieved November 30, 2017.

[75] O'Brien, Connor (December 20, 2018). Politico https://www.politico.com/story/2018/12/20/trump-next-defense-secretary-mattis-replacement-1049135. Retrieved December 20, 2018. Missing or empty |title= (help)

[76] Michele Bachmann Offers Her Thoughts On Donald Trump Being A ‘Man Of Faith’, Huffington Post, Oct 16, 2017.

[77] Values Voter Summit Speakers Stand Behind Kavanaugh, Praise Trump, advocate.com, September 21, 2018.

[78] Michele Bachmann Explains Why Everything Donald Trump Has Touched ‘Turned To Gold’, Huffington Post, ep 26, 2018.

[79] The Foolish Embrace of the MEK, The American Conservative, July 6, 2011

[80] Conference Focuses on “Regime Change” in Iran through U.S., Western Intervention, NIAC Council, November 18, 2010

[81] Former Senator Lieberman Joins Kasowitz: Business of Law". Bloomberg.

[82] Halperin, David, "The Blog: Lieberman, Introducing DeVos, Fails To Disclose That His Law Firm Represents Trump", Huffington Post, January 17, 2017. Halperin linked to Staci Zaretsky, "Donald Trump Chooses Biglaw Firm To Fight New York Times Over Publication Of Tax Documents", Above the Law, October 3, 2016. Retrieved 2017-01-17.

[83] Trump interviews Joe Lieberman, three others for FBI director job".

[84] Former U.S. officials urge Trump administration to work with Iran opposition, Fox News, January 15, 2017

[85] Nuclear Deal Opponents Urge Military Confrontation with Iran, National Iranian American Council, December 8, 2016

[86] Iranian Influence in Iraq and the Case of Camp Liberty, U.S. Senate Committee on Armed Services, October 7, 2015

[87] John Ashcroft: Donald Trump Represents New Hope for U.S., wnyc, Jan 20, 2017.

[88] The Enemy of My Enemy of My Enemy Is My What, Slate, March 21, 2003

[89] Newsweek, 9/26/2002; Slate, 3/21/2003; US Department of State, 4/30/2003.

[90] Newsweek, 9/26/2002; Slate, 3/21/2003; US Department of State, 4/30/2003

[91] "Ken Blackwell, Senior Fellow for Family Empowerment". Frc.org. Retrieved 2012-10-27.

[92] Romm, Tony (November 11, 2016). "New details emerge on Trump transition organization". Politico. Retrieved November 11, 2016.

[93] Ken Blackwell defends his work on Trump's Election Integrity Commission, past work in Ohio, cleveland.com, Jul 21, 2017

[94] Ken Blackwell: Trump is a transactional person, Fox News, Jan. 05, 2017

[95] A Viable Democratic Alternative to the Iranian Regime, CNS News, June 22, 2018.

[96] Attack ISIS, but Don't Help Assad, Putin and Iran, Christian Post, November 19, 2015

[97] US Amb. Ken Blackwell: the NCRI leads the way for US foreign policy on Iran, Iran Focous, 05 July 2016.

[98]https://twitter.com/kenblackwell/status/751769923320356866/photo/1?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.buzzfeednews.com%2Farticle%2Frosiegray%2Fnewt-gingrich-attends-meeting-of-controversial-iranian-dissi

[99] It’s Not Just Bolton and Giuliani: Trump Team’s Links to Iran ‘Cult’ Run Deep, TYT, August 8, 2018.

[100] Brune, Tom (May 4, 2016). "Reps. Peter King, Lee Zeldin endorse Donald Trump for president". Newsday. Retrieved August 15, 2016.

[101] Clancy, Ambrose (March 3, 2016). "Zeldin will support whoever GOP nominates". Suffolk Times. Retrieved August 15, 2016.

[102] "With Comey out, Schumer urges special prosecutor". Newsday. Retrieved 2017-05-10.

[103] MEK Uses Congressional Spotlight to Push Regime Change in Iran, usnews, April 30, 2015.

[104] Why Is Congress Listening to an Ex-Terrorist Iranian Cult Leader, Slate, April 30, 2015.

[105] Center for Security Policy, “The Center’s Fellows,” http://www.centerforsecuritypolicy.org/1665.xml; Intelligence Summit, “Speakers and Organizers,” http://www.intelligencesummit.org/speakers/ClareLopez.php.

[106] A History of Jihad (2 of 6) – The Power of Sanctions Against Iran’s Worldwide Jihad – by Clare Lopez CenterForSecurityPolicy.org, unity coalition for Israel, September 14, 2018.

https://unitycoalitionforisrael.org/?p=15708293

[107] Interview with Clare M. Lopez on Islam and the Enemies of America, The Objective Standard, December 30, 2011

[108] Alex Isenstadt, “Lindsey Graham endorses Jeb Bush for president,” Politico, January 15, 2016.

[109] Amy B. Wang, “Sen. Lindsey Graham: ‘I voted Evan McMullin for president,’” Washington Post, November 8, 2016.

[110] Michael D. Shear and Sheryl Gay Stolberg, “As Other Republican Senators Bolt, Lindsey Graham Cozies Up to Trump,” New York Times, October 26, 2017

[111] Bohatch, Emily (June 15, 2018). "'I don't give a s---,' SC Sen. Lindsey Graham rebuffs critics on CNN, stands by Trump". The State. Retrieved September 27, 2018.

[112] Lesniewski, Niels (August 6, 2018). "Lindsey Graham Cheers Trump China Policy After Golf Outing". The Post and Courier. RollCall. Retrieved September 27, 2018.

[113] Stephanie Murray, “Sen. Lindsey Graham doesn’t give a ‘sh–‘if you don’t like him working with Trump,” Politico, June 15, 2018.

[114] Tim Haines, “Lindsey Graham: John Bolton’s World View ‘Will Make Us Safer,’” Real Clear Politics, March 23, 2018.

[115] Graham returns cash to exile group, Politico, 11/13/2013

[116] MEK Money Can’t Buy Love – but It Can Buy a Lot of Politicians, Mint Press News, May 30th, 2018

[117] Rogin, Josh; Rogin, Josh (2016-09-08). "Inside the collapse of Trump's D.C. policy shop". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2017-03-24.

[118] Hananoki, Eric (July 26, 2016). "The Trump Campaign Is Paying A Fox News Analyst $13,000 A Month". Media Matters for America. Retrieved November 17, 2017.

[119] Lynfield, Ben (November 16, 2016). "Who is Walid Phares, Trump's Mideast adviser?". Jerusalem Post. Retrieved November 28, 2016.

[120] Ibid.

[121] Rosenberg, Scott Shane, Matthew; Lipton, Eric (2017-02-01). "Trump Pushes Dark View of Islam to Center of U.S. Policy-Making". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-03-24.

[122] US, Europe Must Convince Each Other To Pursue The Right Goals In Iran, the daily caller, 04/30/2018

[123] It’s Not Just Bolton and Giuliani: Trump Team’s Links to Iran ‘Cult’ Run Deep, TYT, August 8, 2018

[124] Ibid.

[125] John Bolton, Cheerleader for the MEK, The American Conservative, March 23, 2018.

[126] This Group Hopes to Push America toward Regime Change in Iran, The national Interest, July 17, 2017.

[127] The Foolish Embrace of the MEK, The American Conservative, July 6, 2011.


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