A wiretap by the National Security Agency caught California Rep. Jane Harman promising a suspected Israeli agent she’d intervene on behalf of two pro-Israeli lobbyists facing espionage charges, sources tell CQ Politics. In exchange, the agent promised to pressure then-minority leader Nancy Pelosi into making Harman chair of the Intelligence Committee. Also, the sources say, Bush administration officials, not “lack of evidence,” stopped an FBI probe of the Democrat.
Harman issued an angry denial through her spokesman, saying, “These claims are an outrageous and recycled canard, and have no basis in fact.” Harman’s connection to the lobbying group AIPAC was widely reported in 2006, but this is the first time the wiretap has come to light. Then-Attorney General Alberto Gonzales collared the FBI because he believed Harman would help the administration defend its warantless-wiretapping program—which she did.