Video footage emerged in Israel late Sunday of Grimm, a Staten Island Republican, praising celebrity Rabbi Yoshiyahu Yosef Pinto, who claims a large following in Israel and leads a congregation in New York.
Allegations that Grimm encouraged illegal contributions from Pinto followers in Brooklyn form part of an ongoing federal investigation of the congressman’s fundraising for his successful 2010 campaign.
The video includes a top Pinto associate claiming the rabbi predicted the Sept. 11 attacks.
“It’s amazing,” Grimm, wearing a yarmulke, says in the clip , which was shot in 2010 but shown on Israeli television Sunday. “I’m not Jewish, I’m Catholic. But the very first time that I met Rabbi Pinto, I can’t really explain; it’s hard to articulate, but it was a very special meeting. You could almost feel the positive energy when he holds your hand.”
Pinto, who splits time between Manhattan and Israel, also faces investigations in both countries of allegations he pilfered funds from a charity he heads.
He’s also under investigation for allegedly attempting to bribe Israeli officials.
Grimm, a former FBI agent, explains in the clip that he “worked on a very large case undercover here in New York,” during which, “I guess you would call it a ‘mitzvah’ — I did a good deed for someone that I didn’t really know. In the Jewish community, once you do a good deed the phone starts to ring … When the community found out that I’m running for Congress, they wanted to help me. Over that 7-8 years, I always refused, I could never take money, especially as an FBI agent, and I never would. But I said ‘pray for me – that’s how you can pay me.’ “
The footage, part of a report on Pinto, includes Pinto’s former top assistant, Ben Zion Suky , talking about the rabbi and 9/11.
“We came to New York and we saw these two towers standing out in Manhattan,” Suky, claims, according to translations . “[Pinto] said ‘A devastating tragedy with airplanes will occur here,’”
Suky is among Pinto followers who also contributed heavily to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) in 2008.
Pinto and Grimm have since parted ways. Pinto now claims Grimm was involved in attempting toblackmail him.
In the video, Grimm downplays a financial motive in his relationship with Pinto. “I see the rabbi regularly and it’s really an amazing story,” Grimm says. “Many politicians come to rabbis throughout the country just to garner financial support and possibly votes. I don’t believe that’s the way it should be.”