Daily Kickoff: Obama on Bibi’s sleep patterns | Netanyahu cancels Davos trip amid talk of Trump inauguration visit | Trump’s birthday gift to Jared

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DRIVING THE CONVERSATION: “Trump son-in-law Kushner to take senior White House role” by Jonathan Lemire and Julie Pace: “In a statement, Trump said Kushner will be an “invaluable member of my team as I set and execute an ambitious agenda.” … He’s played a key role in coordinating Trump’s contacts with foreign leaders and has been talking with foreign government officials himself, according to a person with knowledge of the conversations… Kushner and Bannon have also worked closely on issues related to Israel, including discussions over moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem… and on the Trump administration’s response to a United Nations Security Council measure condemning Israeli settlements.” [AP; WashPost

“Kushner to resign from exec posts, divest sizable assets” by Annie Karni: “Those assets will be sold in part to a trust of which Jared Kushner’s mother, Seryl, is the trustee — but in which he will not be a beneficiary or a contingent beneficiary, his attorney said. Other assets will be sold to his brother, Josh, and to third parties. Kushner will also resign as manager or authorized signatory of more than 40 Kushner Company entities… Kushner will take no salary for his government job, the senior transition official added, stressing that many key details of the post — including where his office will be in relation to the Oval Office — have yet to be determined… For now, the official said, Kushner expects to focus on the government’s connections with the private sector, the Middle East and trade deals.”

“The transition official and [Jamie] Gorelick also made it clear that Ivanka Trump — who has been touted as someone who could step in to fill a First Lady-like role… will be keeping a low profile, at least for the beginning of her father’s administration. Instead, she will focus on life as a stay-at-home mom… The set-up is designed so that no action Kushner could take would affect the income or the value of his wife’s assets. She will continue to have an interest in the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. and the Ivanka Trump fashion business, Gorelick said.” [Politico; VanityFair] • Jared Kushner to transfer Observer interest to family trust [CNNMoney

NY Times’ Maggie Haberman and Glenn Thrush: “Mr. Kushner will not take a salary and plans to work on issues involving the Middle East and Israel… Norman L. Eisen… said he did not believe Mr. Kushner’s appointment would violate [anti-nepotism] laws, but he added that the case was “muddy” even if Mr. Kushner declined to accept a salary, as his lawyers have proposed. Mr. Eisen said he thought Mr. Kushner’s decision to divest from his family business raised the pressure on Mr. Trump to follow suit.” [NYTimes

“Hillary Clinton Helped Pave Way for Jared Kushner In the White House” by Gideon Resnick: “Democrats may have tied their hands on nepotism to an extent after giving Hillary Clinton a pass. “At the time I was highly critical of President Clinton to [select Hillary to] chair the task force of child health care reform,” [Jonathan] Turley said. “It was legally problematic and politically moronic.” Democrats “will be somewhat hard-pressed to make a convincing case against Trump” given Hillary Clinton’s past position.” [DailyBeast]

Ethics Expert Kathleen Clark tells the Wash Post: “You asked is Kushner going to be able to get around this. And I want reframe the question: Is Trump going to be able to get around this, because I see this as Trump’s first attempt to ignore the law, act in violation of the law, and he’s going to see if he can get away with it. We have a statute that names the president, that names the son-in-law relationship, that Congress identified a problem and enacted a statute prohibiting a president from hiring a son-in-law. President-elect Trump, in my view, is testing the waters to see if he can get away with violating what I would call this government ethics provision. And whether President-elect Trump gets away with this depends, it seems to me, in part on the public response as well as the congressional response.…” [WashPost]

“De Blasio ‘pleased’ with Kushner appointment” by Laura Nahmias: “I respect him a lot,” de Blasio told reporters Monday…  “[I’ve] known him for years and find him to be a very reasonable person. He’s certainly someone I’ve been talking to over these last weeks… He’s someone who really cares about New York City… So I’m certainly pleased he’ll be in that role,” de Blasio said. “And I can say clearly compared to many other people who’ve been named to other positions, I find him to be a lot more reasonable and a lot more moderate.” [PoliticoNY]

“Kushner’s role highlights central role of president-elect’s family in new White House” by Courtney Weaver: “They both have built extremely successful businesses and they have both done it in a very fast manner, at a young age,” says Reed Cordish, a Baltimore real estate scion who was introduced to his wife by Ms Trump. “Both developed a lot of experience in how to manage effectively and successfully a large operation . . . When you interact with them — and I’ve also watched them and how they manage their business — they go to great lengths to make sure they are incredibly informed on every topic they are dealing with.” He said he did not expect Ms Trump to enter into politics just because her family was now in proximity to the White House. “I think she loves working on her businesses and the other different passions and involvements that she has. I don’t think that politics was or is an ambition for her and I think she is going to stay focused on business,” Mr Cordish said. He characterised Ms Trump’s work on her father’s campaign as filial duty. “If they are in a position to help a friend, or certainly to help a family member, they sort of just do it,” he said.” [FT]

TOP OF THE HILL: “Pro-Israel Evangelicals Escape AIPAC’s Shadow” by Eli Lake: “Christians United For Israel [CUFI] also has strong personal ties to the incoming administration. Gary Bauer, who runs CUFI’s Washington lobbying arm, is a personal friend of Vice President-elect Mike Pence. His son is a senior aide to Pence. In 2014, Pence traveled to Israel with a CUFI delegation. Trump’s incoming adviser for international negotiations, Jason Greenblatt, left the Republican convention this summer to address CUFI’s annual meeting… Sources within the Trump transition team tell me [AIPAC] is not favored inside the president-elect’s inner circle. This is in part because AIPAC issued a statement following Trump’s address to its annual policy conference in March that distanced the organization from what it said were the candidate’s ad-hominem attacks against President Barack Obama.” [Bloomberg]

“Christians United for Israel Orchestrates Fly-In on UNSC Resolution” by JI’s Aaron Magid: “CUFI is organizing a fly-in to Washington on Tuesday of 250 leaders. David Brog, Executive Director of CUFI, told Jewish Insider, “Our goal is to encourage the Senate to take concrete actions that will effectively counteract the UN resolution.” During the meetings on Capitol Hill, CUFI will also be urging lawmakers to confirm David Friedman as the next U.S. Ambassador to Israel.” [JewishInsider

“House GOP Pushes Trump To Move Embassy to Jerusalem” by John Hudson: “In the draft letter obtained by Foreign Policy, Republicans urge Trump to “take swift action to relocate our embassy to Jerusalem as soon as you take office.” In an email to colleagues in the House, an aide to Rep. Ron DeSantis of Florida on Monday urged lawmakers to sign the letter, joining 62 other signatures, including Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida, Lee Zeldin of New York, Jeb Hensarling of Texas and Mark Meadows of North Carolina.” [ForeignPolicy]

CONFIRMATION TALK: “ExxonMobil and Iran did business under Secretary of State nominee Tillerson” by Oren Dorell: “The sales were conducted in 2003, 2004 and 2005 by Infineum, in which ExxonMobil owned a 50% share… ExxonMobil told USA TODAY the transactions were legal because Infineum, a joint venture with Shell Corporation, was based in Europe and the transactions did not involve any U.S. employees. The filings, from 2006, show that the company had $53.2 million in sales to Iran, $600,000 in sales to Sudan and $1.1 million in sales to Syria during those three years… “Finding loopholes to make lucrative business deals with geo-political adversaries, while showing no clear regard for U.S. national interests, is not a resume builder for a prospective diplomat-in-chief,” Sen. Bob Menendez said in a statement to USA TODAY.” [USAToday]

“Sen. Rubio meets with Rex Tillerson ahead of crucial confirmation hearing” by Alex Leary: “I appreciate Mr. Tillerson’s visit and for taking the time to begin discussing with me the challenges America faces around the world,” Rubio said in a statement to the Tampa Bay Times… Rubio is a key vote on the Foreign Relations Committee, which will begin Tillerson’s confirmation hearing on Wednesday morning.” [TBTimes

“Booker to testify against fellow senator Sessions in unprecedented move” by Dana Bash and Daniella Diaz: “This would be the first time in Senate history that a sitting senator will testify against another sitting senator for a Cabinet post during a confirmation.” [CNN

“As Trump shakes them up with tweets, Democrats are flummoxed” by Dave Weigel: “Next Sunday, Democrats in the House and Senate are organizing rallies under the theme “Our First Stand,” gathering activists to oppose any Republican effort to cut back health care spending. It’s the earliest that an opposition party has participated in protests against an incoming president. Part of the idea, said Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), is to inform activists that they can get active in ways that do not break through the media narrative, Trump tweet or no tweet… “If thousands up people show up to a rally, and there’s no media there, those people still go home with the knowledge that they’re part of a struggle,” said Sanders.” [WashPost• Chuck Schumer Accidentally Tweets ‘Don’t Make America Great Again’ [Mediaite]

“A Warning to Jewish Democrats: The Time to Fight for Your Party Is Now” by James Kirchick: “The danger for Democrats is that they’ll go the way of Britain’s Labour Party, whose example should be a sobering one for Jewish Democrats, no matter which one of those identifiers they value most… There may be biological Jews like George Soros and Max Blumenthal who will feel comfortable in the Democratic Party that some of its present-day leaders are attempting to engineer. But the majority of American Jews won’t. Nor, of course, will they feel comfortable in Steve Bannon’s volkisch GOP.” [Tablet

TOP TALKER: “Netanyahu cancels Davos trip amid Trump speculation” by AFP: “There has been speculation Netanyahu could attend US President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration in Washington on January 20 or meet the incoming leader around that time. Israeli daily Haaretz quoted unnamed aides as saying that the Davos cancellation was not connected to an ongoing police investigation into Netanyahu and noted his plans to meet Trump soon, though no date had been set.” [Yahoo

Incoming WH Press Secretary Sean Spicer tells Jewish Insider on a press call: “I would contact Prime Minister Netanyahu’s office to discuss his schedule and his attendance.” [WashPost]

“On Palestinian Statehood” by Bret Stephens: “The Paris conference takes place on the eve of a new administration that’s indifferent to prevailing orthodoxies regarding the Palestinians. David Friedman, Donald Trump’s nominee to be ambassador to Israel, is unequivocal in his support for the Jewish state, determined to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, unscandalized by settlements and unmoved by suggestions that Israel’s safety requires the empowerment of her enemies. These heresies alone recommend him for the job.” [WSJ

“Hezbollah Is the Real Winner of the Battle of Aleppo” by Sulome Anderson: “Hezbollah has emerged triumphant. And while Syria’s brutal civil war isn’t over—and the group faces enemies, both from within and without—Hezbollah has solidified its standing as the most powerful force in Lebanon. Once dependent on Assad for its survival, the group is now stronger than he is… Despite the threat of attacks on its home turf, Hezbollah’s success in Syria means the group can finally shift its focus back to its neighbor to the south, Israel. “When it comes to Israel,” the commander in Dahiyeh says, “we never sleep. We have our eyes on them always.”” [Newsweek]

LAST WORD: In interview to Channel 2’s Ilana Dayan – to be broadcast in full today – Obama rejected Netanyahu’s criticism of move at UN: “That kind of hyperbole, those kinds of statements don’t have basis in fact. They may work well with respect to deflecting attention from the problem of settlements, they may play well with Bibi’s political base, as well as the Republican base here in the United States, but they don’t match up with the facts.”

Dayan: Wasn’t there anybody around you who said, ‘Mr. President, this is not something you do a minute before you are out the door’?

Obama: “Oh well. Look, the fact of the matter is that I am President until Jan. 20th and I have an obligation to do what I think is right.”

Dayan: Which begs the question, are there any more surprises up your sleeves, or the Prime Minister can sleep well until Jan. 20th?

Obama: “Well, there’s an interesting question as to whether he’ll sleep better after Jan. 20.” [Mako]

BUZZ ON BALFOUR: “Netanyahu on hot seat over free cigars, pink champagne and secret recordings” by Ruth Eglash and William Booth: “Although these revelations no doubt put pressure on the long-serving prime minister, most Israeli analysts think they are unlikely to bring Netanyahu down. A leader of Netanyahu’s Likud party, David Bitan, told Army Radio, “There will be no indictment. Even if there is a situation in which it will happen — and I do not see it happening — the prime minister should stay in office.”” [WashPost]

“Police said to have hours of tape from Netanyahu-initiated ‘quid pro quo meetings'” by Raoul Wootliff: “Police have two tapes, each containing hours of conversations between Netanayhu and Yedioth Ahronoth publisher Arnon Mozes, recorded on multiple occasions, Haaretz reported. The apparent deal on the table, which was never implemented, would have seen the prime minister work to reduce the circulation of the Israel Hayom daily newspaper — Yedioth’s biggest rival — in exchange for more favorable coverage in Yedioth. As well as initiating the meetings, Netanyhau was previously reported to have instructed his then-chief of staff, Ari Harow, to secretly record them… Netanyahu is expected to claim that he instructed Harow to record the meetings for fear that Mozes would try to extort him.” [ToI; Haaretz Adelson’s pro-Netanyahu Free Daily Newspaper Lost $190 Million in Seven Years [Haaretz]

2020 WATCH: ”Andrew Cuomo Raises His Profile, Stirring Talk of a 2020 Run” by Jesse Mckinley: “Of those who have prompted presidential speculation, Mr. Cuomo seems the keenest to quickly broaden his appeal since the election, and is perhaps the most road-tested in political warfare and theatrics… “He is fully capable of moving to where the Democratic needle proves to be moving,” said Hank Sheinkopf, a political consultant who has worked for the governor in the past. “And the speculation will be, ‘See, he wants to run.’” [NYTimes]  

** Good Tuesday Morning! Enjoying the Daily Kickoff? Please share us with your friends & tell them to sign up at [JI]. Have a tip, scoop, or op-ed? We’d love to hear from you. Anything from hard news and punditry to the lighter stuff, including event coverage, job transitions, or even special birthdays, is much appreciated. Email Editor@JewishInsider.com **

LongRead: “I Wrote to Carlos the Jackal, and an Israeli’s Assassination Case Was Revived” by Adam Goldman: “Last month, the F.B.I. revealed that it had reopened its investigation into the killing of Colonel [Yosef] Alon. Why? An F.B.I. agent based in Paris, Eugene Casey, had learned about Mr. Ramírez’s letter to me. In a magazine called The Journal of Counterterrorism and Homeland Security International, Mr. Casey disclosed that he had questioned Mr. Ramírez. The article, “Smoking With the Jackal,” was a case study on how to question a detainee. It detailed how Mr. Casey had conducted three five-hour interviews over 18 months. The last one was in July 2015. Mr. Ramírez, the F.B.I. agent said, told him everything he knew about the killing of the Israeli.”

“Colonel Alon was a decorated pilot who had flown dozens of missions in Israel’s 1948 War of Independence and helped found the country’s formidable air force. He had been sent to Washington in 1970 for a three-year stint to help make sure that his country had the most up-to-date military weapons, such as F-4 Phantoms, that Israel needed. Colonel Alon, 43, a father to three daughters, was killed a month before his tour was to end. On the day of his death, a Palestine Liberation Organization radio broadcast from Cairo announced that Colonel Alon had been shot as payback for the killing by Israel of the leader of Black September, the Palestinian terrorist group.” [NYTimes]

MEDIA WATCH — Ian Fisher to replace Peter Baker in Jerusalem: “There may be no more difficult or important job at The New York Times than that of Jerusalem Bureau Chief,” Michael Slackman, Jodi Rudoren and Greg Winter wrote in a statement. “So when Peter Baker was suddenly recalled to help lead coverage of the Trump Presidency – a smart move for a historic moment – our first thought was: Uh oh. Who would have the skill, the experience and the standing necessary for such a challenging assignment? Who could step in and take charge of such a nuanced and complex story? The answer, it turned out, was obvious: Ian Fisher.” [NYTimes

STATE-SIDE: “Greitens vows to ‘shake up’ state capital” by Mark Zinn: “[Eric] Greitens, who will be Missouri’s first Jewish governor, began the day by attending an interfaith prayer service at St. Peter Catholic Church near the Capitol.” [DSJournal

TALK OF OUR NATION: “Jewish centers report bomb threats in several U.S. states” by David Ingram: “Fifteen JCCs across the United States reported the calls and all resumed normal operations by 4:30 p.m. ET (2130 GMT), after police determined there was no threat, the JCC Association of North America said in a statement… The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is aware of the threats and is prepared to assist local authorities if asked, spokeswoman Amanda Hils said in a phone interview.” [Reuters; NYTimes

“Jewish state legislators ready to make an impact” by Eitan Arom: “In the state Senate, Jews now outnumber the California Latino Legislative Caucus eight to five, and make up 20 percent of the total body. “We’ve come back a long way from that point in 2012,” [Marc] Levine told the Journal…. At the center of California’s progressive politics, members say, is the Jewish caucus. The caucus “plans to act as a convener of communities that have concerns and fears about the incoming administration,” Levine said.” [JewishJournal

“In Rome, Restoring a Vast Repository of the Jewish Past” by John Hooper: “Traditionally, the ancient Romans cremated their dead. But cremation was abhorrent to Rome’s Christian and Jewish minorities. Since land was scarce and costly, it made sense for both communities to bury their dead underground. Most of the 40 catacombs discovered in other areas beneath the old imperial city served Christians, but the two under Villa Torlonia were created for the city’s sizable community of Jews. This week, a central-government budget went into effect which, after more than 10 years of delay, allots €1.4 million (about $1.5 million) to restoring Villa Torlonia’s Jewish catacombs.” [WSJ]

BIRTHDAYS: Graduate of Frisch School, Harvard and NYU Law School, “President-in-Law-Elect,” married to Ivanka Trump since 2009, soon-to-be White House Senior Advisor, Jared Kushner turns 36… Founder of the Center for Research On Institutions and Social Policy, former speechwriter for Robert F. Kennedy, Adam Walinsky turns 80… Conservative columnist and author, think tank president, critic of political correctness on college campuses, David Horowitz turns 78… Executive editor of Denver’s Intermountain Jewish News, historian and teacher of the Mussar movement, Rabbi Hillel Goldberg, Ph.D. turns 71… Passaic, NJ-born musician, singer-songwriter and co-founder of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame band “Steely Dan,” Donald Fagen turns 69… Riga, Latvia-born, world reknowned cellist, emigrated to Israel in 1971, has over 50 recordings on the Deutsche Grammophon label with many top orchestras, Mischa Maisky turns 69… Executive Director since 2003 of Beta Alpha Psi, an international service organization for accounting, finance and information systems students, Hadassah (Dassie) Baum turns 66… Long-time editor at Bantam Books, Simon & Schuster and Crown Publishers, Sydny Weinberg Miner turns 66… Partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and the majority owner of the NBA’s Golden State Warriors, Joe Lacob turns 61… Actor with a recurring role in “Sex and the City” and author of two books on his recovery from acute myeloid leukemia, Evan Handler turns 56… Boston Area Director for Birthright Israel Foundation, Caryn Lazaroff… Digital operations manager at JTA, Andrew Tobin

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