Aides to US President Donald Trump hired a private Israeli intelligence firm to create a "dirty ops" campaign against key Obama-era officials, the Observer reported.
The firm was asked to find "dirt" on security adviser Ben Rhodes and former US President Barack Obama's deputy assistant, Colin Kahl.
Both individuals played key roles in the 2015 "Iran deal," and sources claimed that Trump's team contacted the Israeli firm just after Trump's 2017 visit to Israel.
British diplomat Jack Straw said the "extraordinary and appalling allegations" show Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's "desperation," "not so much to discredit the deal but to undermine those around it," The Guardian reported.
The Observer claimed to have seen documents proving that the intelligence firm was ordered to investigate the personal lives of both Rhodes and Kahl, including personal relationships and any involvement with pro-Iran lobbyists, as well as any possible personal benefit from the deal. It also claimed that investigators contacted journalists from media outlets supporting the Iran deal - including the leftist Haaretz newspaper, The New York Times, and others - and to investigate whether they violated any protocols in sharing intelligence.
However, it is not at all clear how much of the investigation was actually conducted, how long it took, or if any information uncovered was used.
A White House National Security Council spokesman refused to comment.