Josh Meyer, a senior investigative reporter for the Politico website, was a guest on Tuesday's Fox News @Night to defend his article against accusations from former Obama administration officials who attempted to discredit in his report and smear Politico.
During his interview with host Shannon Bream, Meyer indicated that his information -- regarding efforts to stop a drug-trafficking operation run by the Islamist terror organization Hezbollah while the U.S. worked to secure the Iran nuclear deal -- was entirely accurate.
Meyer’s report, which is entitled "The Secret Backstory of How Obama Let Hezbollah Off the Hook," has been praised as a “bombshell” and described as “sabotage” conducted by former President Barack Obama against his administration’s own foreign policy. Bream began by stating:
Let’s walk this through for people who are not familiar with this story.
How in the world does this connect with all of these different prongs of investigations that were happening here through U.S. agencies to a connection with the Iran nuclear deal?
“It is a bit convoluted,” Meyer replied, “but the short version is that Hezbollah is a proxy of the Iran government,” especially its military wing.
He then continued: “These federal investigators were watching and gathering evidence of Hezbollah sort of transforming itself from a political power and a terrorist organization to one that was trafficking in drugs and other criminal conspiracies to make, you know, hundreds of millions of dollars.”
The Politico reporter then explained that Hezbollah was “raising money to help rebuild after the Israel war and to help an expansion that they were doing globally.”
“From what I understand in your reporting,” Bream noted, “there were problems at the State Department, the Justice Department. The DEA [Drug Enforcement Administration] had been very involved in these investigations, and when people wanted to push forward, the administration was not especially helpful.”
“Right, and so, I wouldn’t characterize it as ‘one grand conspiracy,’” Meyer remarked. “I think there’s posters on Twitter who’d like to reduce this to that.”
However, he added, “a series of actions from the Obama administration ... were specific and intentional, but others were part of a broader geopolitical strategy.”
"Over the eight years of the Obama administration, you had potentially dozens of criminal cases that languished,” the reporter asserted. “People were transferred, efforts to create a RICO prosecution were not supported, extraditions and so forth," Meyer said, referring to the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act that was passed in 1970 to eradicate organized crime in the United States.
"So at the end of the day,” Meyer added, “when you really look at it, there's at least seven or eight of these major players that they allege were part of this conspiracy, leading the conspiracy that are out there operating with impunity around the world.”
Bream then asked her guest if the Hezbollah terrorists “were not tried to the fullest extent of the law” because the Obama administration didn't want to cause tensions during their negotiations with Iran.
I wouldn't say they weren't pursued because of that. I would say that this is a fallout.
Their policy of rapprochement with Iran and their effort to get the nuclear deal created a political climate where that result was a derailment of this policy.
At that point, Bream played a video of former State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf as she attempted to discredit Meyer's report.
"Until Politico wrote this piece, I had never even heard of this program," Harf said of Project Cassandra, a joint investigation begun in 2008 between the DEA and the Pentagon that examined Hezbollah's drug-trafficking operation.
“You know,” she continued, “the Politico story, this narrative in it, is just false, and there is no evidence in this story to back up their allegations. They quote a couple of low-level ideological sources who clearly don't like the Iran deal."
Bream also read a tweet from former National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor, in which he too slammed Meyer's report:
There are many reasonable critiques of Obama's foreign policy. The idea that he was soft on Hezbollah is not one of them.
The story is so manufactured out of thin air that it's hard to push back except to say that it's a figment of the imagination of two very flawed sources.
“To say that the people that I quoted were low-level people is sort of ridiculous,” Meyer responded. “These were the people that led this task force. … I don't know what she's talking about.”
The Politico reporter also noted that he “spent months of meticulous reporting to document what was happening -- talking to people outside of the administration -- and so I challenge people to let me know what the specifics are that they think aren't true.”