Donald Trump’s presidency has been filled with outlandish claims – many from the commander in chief himself – but few have been literally out of this world.
According to Israel’s former space security chief, however, perhaps the US president’s biggest secret is of the interstellar variety: the existence of aliens.
Haim Eshed claimed that the American government had an “agreement” with a “galactic federation” of aliens, but Mr Trump would not reveal the truth – because “humanity is not ready”, he said in an interview with Israel’s Yediot Aharonot newspaper.
In the interview, which was originally published on Yediot Aharanot in Hebrew, Mr Eshed spoke about his new book ‘The Universe Beyond the Horizon - conversations with Professor Haim Eshed’, in which he claims that “aliens from all over the universe area already walking among us”.
The cooperation agreements between the US government and the extraterrestrial federation included an “underground base in the depths of Mars", he explained, where American astronauts and alien representatives mingle.
He also reportedly said aliens played a part in preventing nuclear holocausts and addresses “when we can jump in and visit the Men in Black” in his book.
Mr Eshed, who served as the head of Israel’s space security programme for nearly 30 years, insisted that Mr Trump had not disclosed the existence of the Galactic Federation because it stopped him from doing so.
According to reports, the Galactic Federation wished to avoid mass panic as they believed humanity needed to “evolve and reach a stage where we will… understand what space and spaceships are”.
Mr Eshed told the newspaper he chose to reveal this information now because of how much the academic landscape has changed and because he was a well-respected figure in academia.
He reportedly said that if he came out with his claims five years ago, he would “have been hospitalised”, adding that he had “nothing to lose” having received his “degrees and awards”.
However there was some scepticism about his claims.
Nick Pope, who used to investigate UFOs for a former British Ministry of Defence division, told NBC News the claims were either a “practical joke or publicity stunt to help sell” Mr Eshed’s book.
He also said Mr Eshed’s words might have been “lost in translation, or someone in the know is breaking ranks”.
It was unclear if Mr Eshed was speaking directly from personal knowledge and experience, of if he was repeating something he was told, said Mr Pope, adding: “There are still some missing pieces of the puzzle here.”
A spokesperson for NASA said in a statement that while one of the agency’s key goals was the search for life in the wider universe, it has yet to find signs of it.
They said: “Although we have yet to find signs of extraterrestrial life, NASA is exploring the solar system and beyond to help us answer fundamental questions, including whether we are alone in the universe.”