One aspect of Newt Gingrich’s much-scrutinized history with his second wife Marianne Gingrich that does not seem to have been much noted is this:
During much of the time she was married to Newt, Marianne Gingrich was employed by a company that promoted Israeli exports, called the Israel Export Development Council (IEDC), with an office in Florida. Her boss and the counsel for the Israel Export Development Council was an attorney named David Yerushalmi.
Yerushalmi has more recently emerged onto the public radar in a totally different context: as the prime mover behind the anti-shariah movement in the United States, as reported on by the New York Times' Andrea Elliott last July.
Marianne Gingrich’s ties to Yerushalmi emerged last month in reports on a previously secret FBI bribery investigation dating back to the 1990s.
The FBI investigation was launched in 1995, journalist Joseph Trento reported last month (link: http://bit.ly/t4xeWK ), after the FBI learned about plans for Marianne Gingrich to meet in Paris in 1995 with a major international arms dealer and convicted felon turned FBI informant named Sarkis Soghanalian. Soghanalian died last October at age 82--after giving several interviews to Trento.
In brief--according to Trento’s report and FBI files he uploaded to the Internet (link: http://scr.bi/trNuBK)--in the mid-1990s, Soghanalian had a problem. He was reportedly owed some $80 million for arms he had sold to Saddam Hussein's Iraq. But he couldn't receive the payment, because of a U.S. arms embargo on Iraq. Through a series of contacts and introductions, Soghanalian told Trento in interviews before his death, Soghanalian met Marianne Gingrich in Paris in 1995. And the FBI was apparently closely following the conversation.
The meeting was reportedly to see if Soghanalian could try to solicit, via a $10 million payment, the influence of her then-husband, House Speaker Newt Gingrich, to do anything about the U.S. arms embargo on Iraq, so Soghanalian could get his money.
Marianne Gingrich firmly denied in interviews with Trento that she was soliciting any sort of payment from Soghanalian that was to influence her husband's actions. She told Trento that that she thought Soghanalian's $10 million payment was to benefit the Israeli export group, the Israeli Export Development Corporation, for which she had previously worked.
And the person Marianne Gingrich told Trento who asked her to go to Paris to meet the arms dealer was her former IEDC boss—David Yerushalmi.
"Marianne Gingrich says her boss at the IEDC, David Yerushalmi, called and asked her to make the trip to Paris," Trento reported. "Yerushalmi served as counsel to both the IEDC and to IASPS"--an Israeli-American think tank, the Institute for Advanced Strategic & Political Studies.
Ultimately, the FBI investigation was abruptly ordered closed in 1997--with no charges filed. And in 1999 of course, Gingrich divorced Marianne to marry Callista.
Though the closed case dates back more than a decade, its existence only came to light last month. And digging through the accounts on the case, it's interesting to note some of the figures featured in it who have emerged as influential--but not always visibly so--in Newt Gingrich's political career, with his sights not set on the presidency. Among them, Marianne Gingrich's former boss at the IEDC, Yerushalmi.
Yerushalmi’s role as a key behind the scenes player in the anti-shariah movement was detailed by the Times’ Andrew Elliott in an article last July (see link: http://nyti.ms/qi6j7l).
Yerushalmi, a South Florida native, was living in a Jewish settlement in the West Bank, dividing "his energies between a commercial litigation practice in the United States and a conservative research institute based in Jerusalem," when the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks occurred, prompting "his interest in Islamic law," Elliott wrote.
The anti-Shariah movement "is the product of an orchestrated drive that began five years ago in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, in the office of a little-known lawyer, David Yerushalmi, a 56-year-old Hasidic Jew with a history of controversial statements about race, immigration and Islam," Elliott wrote. "Despite his lack of formal training in Islamic law, Mr. Yerushalmi has come to exercise a striking influence over American public discourse about Shariah."
"The message has caught on," she wrote. "Among those now echoing Mr. Yerushalmi's views are prominent Washington figures like R. James Woolsey, a former director of the C.I.A., and the Republican presidential [candidate] Newt Gingrich."
But the reports on the closed FBI investigation suggest that there's little new about Yerushalmi's ties to Gingrich, and that they have a long and rather interesting back-story. Similarly, former CIA director Woolsey now serves as a national security adviser to Gingrich's presidential campaign.