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Rep. Jane Harman Caught on Wiretap Saying She’ll Lobby Justice Dept. To Reduce Israeli Related Espionage Charges

Conversations like this, once made public, never seem very flattering. What’s the fallout from all this? Who knows.

Rep. Jane Harman

Rep. Jane Harman

By Jeff Stein
CQ SpyTalk Columnist
WASHINGTON — Rep. Jane Harman , the California Democrat with a longtime involvement in intelligence issues, was overheard on an NSA wiretap telling a suspected Israeli agent that she would lobby the Justice Department reduce espionage-related charges against two officials of the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee, the most powerful pro-Israel organization in Washington.

Harman was recorded saying she would “waddle into” the AIPAC case “if you think it’ll make a difference,” according to two former senior national security officials familiar with the NSA transcript.

In exchange for Harman’s help, the sources said, the suspected Israeli agent pledged to help lobby Nancy Pelosi , D-Calif., then-House minority leader, to appoint Harman chair of the Intelligence Committee after the 2006 elections, which the Democrats were heavily favored to win.

Seemingly wary of what she had just agreed to, according to an official who read the NSA transcript, Harman hung up after saying, “This conversation doesn’t exist.”

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