George Clooney ‘lobbied White House against sanctions on court where his wife provided legal advice’

George Clooney with his wife Amal, a human rights lawyer who has been enlisted to help with the ICC prosecutor's war crimes investigation
George Clooney with his wife Amal, a human rights lawyer who has been enlisted to help with the ICC prosecutor's war crimes investigation - Dave Benett/WireImage

George Clooney reportedly lobbied the White House against sanctioning the International Criminal Court (ICC) after it sought an arrest warrant for the Israeli prime minister in a case his wife was working on.

The Academy Award-winning actor contacted one of Joe Biden’s top aides to push back at the president’s denunciation of the arrest warrants, according to the Washington Post.

Mr Clooney is said to have expressed concern to Steve Ricchetti, counsellor to the president, that the ICC would be slapped with sanctions, given his wife, human rights lawyer Amal Clooney could be affected.

Mr Clooney’s reported calls came just weeks before his scheduled appearance at a Biden fundraiser in Los Angeles.

The Michael Clayton actor is a major supporter of Mr Biden, having donated $500,000 to the Biden campaign in 2020 and co-hosted a virtual fundraiser for him that raised $7 million.

He is also due to participate in a fundraising contest for supporters to win an all-expenses-paid trip to meet him, former US president Barack Obama and actress Julia Roberts this summer.

War crimes

Karim Khan, the ICC’s top prosecutor, announced on May 20 that he was seeking to charge Mr Netanyahu, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar and two other top Hamas leaders with war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Mr Biden called the decision “outrageous”.

“And let me be clear: Whatever this prosecutor might imply, there is no equivalence – none – between Israel and Hamas,” Mr Biden said. “We will always stand with Israel against threats to its security.”

A total of 42 Democrats joined Republicans in voting to sanction the ICC earlier this week.

Senate Republicans are pushing Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to bring the bill to the floor for a vote.

Legal analysis

After the announcement, Mrs Clooney came forward to say that she had been enlisted to help with the investigation by the prosecutor’s office.

She said in a statement that she had reviewed evidence of suspected war crimes and provided legal analysis and that the team’s legal findings were “unanimous”.

“I do not accept that any conflict should be beyond the reach of the law, nor that any perpetrator should be above the law,” Mrs Clooney wrote in a statement.

“So I support the historic step that the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court has taken to bring justice to victims of atrocities in Israel and Palestine.”

A final decision on whether to issue the warrants is expected to take weeks, with judges needing to have “reasonable grounds to believe” that crimes outlined in Mr Khan’s plea were committed.

Israel has fiercely denied committing war crimes in Gaza and has argued that they are defending their nation while complying with international law.