The Trump White House apparently had a full-blown conspiracy theory of murky origin about Obama officials

In the early days of the Trump administration, a memo of uncertain origin circulated at the highest levels of the White House laying out a conspiracy theory about "coordinated attacks" on President Trump's foreign policy agenda from a group of former Obama administration officials, according to a memo obtained by The New Yorker's Adam Entous and Ronan Farrow. The memo, which "reads like a U.S. military-intelligence officer's analysis of a foreign-insurgent network," they wrote, posited that "the communications infrastructure ... used to sell ObamaCare and the Iran Deal to the public ('Echo Chamber') has been shifted from the White House into the private sector."

The unsigned, undated memo dubbed the alleged cabal the Echo Chamber, and while "Trump Administration officials familiar with it offered conflicting accounts of who authored it and whether it originated inside or outside the White House," its content, language, and themes bear remarkable resemblance to internal documents from the Israeli private-intelligence firm Black Cube, Entous and Farrow report.

In May, Farrow and Britain's The Observer uncovered a Black Cube campaign targeting the alleged ring leaders of the "Echo Chamber," Ben Rhodes and Colin Kahl, plus their families. Black Cube told The New Yorker it "does not get involved in politics" and "is not aware of the documents mentioned in this article, neither their contents."

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Rhodes and Kahl called the "Echo Chamber" memo absurd and denied there was any coordinated campaign to undermine Trump. It's "a bizarre effort to validate 'deep state' conspiracy theories," Rhodes told The New Yorker. Entous and Farrow suggest the memo was pushed by Stephen Bannon's White House faction. Incidentally, Iranian-born British entrepreneur Vincent Tchenguiz, one of Black Cube's early driving forces — according to a 2013 Israeli lawsuit uncovered by The Times of Israel — was the largest shareholder in SCL Group, the parent company of Bannon's defunct Cambridge Analytica, from 2005 to 2015. And that, honestly, would make for a much more interesting conspiracy theory.

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Peter Weber

Peter Weber is a senior editor at, and has handled the editorial night shift since the website launched in 2008. A graduate of Northwestern University, Peter has worked at Facts on File and The New York Times Magazine. He speaks Spanish and Italian and plays bass and rhythm cello in an Austin rock band. Follow him on Twitter.