Daily Kickoff: During White House fight, after Jared enlisted Rupert, Bannon recruited Sheldon | Last year of Kraft’s Patriots dynasty? | #TooMuchNews


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MORE EXCERPTS FROM FIRE AND FURY — Michael Wolff on Bannon and Israel, pages 141-142: “Netanyahu was an old Kushner family friend, but when, in the fall, the Israeli Prime Minister came to New York to meet with Trump and Kushner, he made a point of seeking out Steve Bannon. On Israel, Bannon had partnered with Sheldon Adelson… in the President’s mind, quite the toughest tough-Jew (that is, the richest). Adelson regularly disparaged Kushner’s motives and abilities. The President, to Bannon’s great satisfaction, kept telling his son-in-law, as he strategized on Israel, to check with Sheldon, and, hence, Bannon.”

KUSHNER AS TRUMP’S KISSINGER? — “Nobody was more perplexed by the sudden rise of Jared Kushner to his new position as Israel’s great protector than U.S. Jewish organizations. Now the Jewish great and good… had to pay court to Jared Kushner, who until little more than a few minutes ago had truly been a nobody. For Trump, giving Israel to Kushner was not only a test, it was a Jewish test: the President was singling him out for being Jewish, rewarding him for being Jewish, saddling him with an impossible hurdle for being Jewish — and, too, defaulting him to the stereotyping belief in the negotiating powers of Jews. “Henry Kissinger says Jared is going to be the new Henry Kissinger,” Trump said more than once…”

On the Comey Firing, pages 210-211: “Even more urgent was Charlie Kushner’s fear, channeled through his son and daughter-in-law, that the Kushner family’s dealings were getting wrapped up in the pursuit of Trump… (The Kushner position was not helped by the fact that the President had been gleefully telling multiple people that Jared could solve the Middle East problem because the Kushners knew all the crooks in Israel.) “Ivanka is terrified,” said a satisfied Bannon… His daughter and son-in-law, their urgency compounded by Charlie Kushner’s panic, encouraged him, arguing that the once possibly charmable Comey was now a dangerous and uncontrollable player whose profit would inevitably be their loss.”

Adelson’s role in Bannon – McMaster fight, page 288: “[Rupert] Murdoch, enlisted by Jared to help defend McMaster, was personally lobbying the president for Bannon’s head. Bannonites felt they had to defend Bannon against an impulsive move by the president: so now, not only did they brand McMaster as weak on Israel, they persuaded Sheldon Adelson to lobby Trump. Bannon, Adelson told the president, was the only person he trusted on Israel in the White House. Adelson’s billions and implacability always impressed Trump, and his endorsement, Bannon believed, significantly strengthened his hand.” $14.99 on Amazon Kindle, available today[Amazon]

FIRST LOOK: “Inside the Trump Team’s Lobbying Blitz on 2016 U.N. Israel Vote: Failed outreach, cited in Flynn plea deal, was wider than has been reported” by Kate O’Keeffe and Farnaz Fassihi: “The December 2016 push by Mr. Trump and his transition team came at the request of Israel and involved top aides including… Jared Kushner… Mike Flynn and the current U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley… Mr. Kushner stressed to Mr. Flynn that derailing the vote was Mr. Trump’s top priority at that time, and Mr. Flynn in turn directed the transition team to canvas officials from all Security Council countries…”

“At the U.N., ambassadors discussed at holiday parties and in late-night phone calls how best to respond, some noting that Messrs. Flynn and Kushner had told them the incoming administration “would remember” how they voted… Legal experts have questioned whether the U.N. lobbying effort ran afoul of an 18th century law called the Logan Act, which bars unauthorized private citizens from negotiating with foreign officials in a dispute with the U.S. But there are no precedents to suggest how that law might apply. White House lawyers say the statute doesn’t apply to transition teams; other legal experts say it could.” [WSJ]

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) tweets WSJ article: “The truly unprecedented action described here was Barack Obama & Samantha Power throwing Israel to the UN jackals. As lame ducks, no less. Obama administration conducted a graceless transition, in contrast to what they received from Bush.”

TWEET FIRST — “After Trump Threat, White House ‘Reviewing’ U.S. Assistance to Palestinians” by Amir Tibon and Noa Landau: “The White House is now actively looking at cutting [Palestinian] aid, and is expected to hold a discussion on the matter on Friday. A senior administration official told Haaretz on Thursday: “We are reviewing our assistance to the Palestinians in light of their recent conduct, per the president’s recent message.”[Haaretz]

REPORT — Netanyahu urging Americans not to cut funding for UNRWA: “Behind the scenes, the Prime Minister is now in contact with the Americans in order to prevent the massive cut — to prevent it, you heard right,” the Hadashot news report claimed. Netanyahu’s public position is to support the Trump administration’s threats to cut funds to UNRWA… Nonetheless, Netanyahu is anxious to avoid further destabilizing Gaza. He “wants to steer between the desire to publicly back Trump and to prevent a disaster in Gaza.”[ToI• Israel caught between Trump and Gaza suffering [Al-Monitor]

“Trump tweet on Palestinian aid falls far short” by former U.S. Ambassador Daniel Shapiro: “Any honest conversation between the Trump administration and the Israeli government is likely to focus on finding a way to allow the dollars to continue to flow. It would not be the first time a Trump tweet did not have much impact on actual policy… Threats and leverage have their place in diplomacy. So does showing your partners what they can achieve. It’s time for Trump to reveal to Israelis and Palestinians what he thinks he can help deliver for them in his ultimate deal.” [CNN]

DRIVING THE CONVO: “Led by the Mercers, Bannon’s Allies Abandon Him” by Ken Vogel, Jonathan Martin and Jeremy Peters: “The Mercers were blunt on Thursday in cutting the cord, reiterating support for Mr. Trump while disavowing Mr. Bannon’s remarks and disowning his political endeavors. “My family and I have not communicated with Steve Bannon in many months and have provided no financial support to his political agenda, nor do we support his recent actions and statements,” Rebekah Mercer, Mr. Mercer’s daughter, said in a statement… Mr. Bannon is chairman of Breitbart, and many staff members there believe there is a strong chance he might lose the job…”

“While Mr. Bannon publicly bashed the Republican donor class, he spent months quietly courting some of the deepest pockets on the right. Mr. Bannon discussed his plans in grandiose, but vague, terms in a series of meetings with donors, including the Las Vegas casino magnate Sheldon G. Adelson; a Chicago Cubs owner, Todd Ricketts; and a Home Depot founder, Bernard Marcus… After reports of Mr. Bannon’s meetings with Mr. Adelson, a representative for the Las Vegas billionaire, Andy Abboud, issued a rare statement pledging loyalty to Mr. McConnell and declaring, “The Adelsons will not be supporting Steve Bannon’s efforts.” Mr. Abboud added.“”[NYTimes]

— “Trump Spoke to Rebekah Mercer on the Phone. Then She Knifed Steve Bannon” by Lachlan Markay and Asawin Suebsaeng: “During [the] conversation, which took place Thursday afternoon… Mercer and Trump addressed Bannon’s scorched-earth comments… and the donor reaffirmed her support for Trump’s presidency and his agenda.” [DailyBeast]

NEW DETAILS — Blair denies telling Kushner UK may have spied on Trump — by Matthew Weaver and Nicola Slawson: “In his already bestselling new book Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, author Michael Wolff says the former Prime Minister had a secret meeting with… Jared Kushner… Blair suggested there was a possibility “that the British had had the Trump campaign staff under surveillance, monitoring its telephone calls and other communications and possibly even Trump himself.” … Wolff said it was not clear whether the information was “rumour, informed conjecture, his own speculation or solid stuff” but that it had been shared because Blair had been angling to be Trump’s Middle East envoy…”

“Interviewed on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme [Blair] said: “This story is a complete fabrication, literally from beginning to end. I’ve never had such conversation in the White House, outside of the White House, with Jared Kushner, with anybody else…  Of course I’ve met him and we discussed the Middle East peace process. I wasn’t angling for some job. I did the quartet role. I’m still very active on the Middle East peace process, but I’ve got absolutely no desire for an official position. I never sought one, it was never offered, don’t want one.” [TheGuardian

TALK OF THE REGION — “Netanyahu, Abbas take off diplomatic masks” by Akiva Eldar: “Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas lost control of their management of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Netanyahu and his government spokespeople could no longer recycle the claim that the obstacle to peace is Abbas’ refusal to recognize Israel as the state of the Jewish people. On the other hand, at the beginning of the 25th year of the Oslo Accord, Abbas can no longer claim to the Palestinian public that his investment in the diplomatic option is yielding dividends.” [Al-Monitor]

Hamas said prepared to place its weapons under PLO’s control if it can join: “The Al-Hayat newspaper… which cited unnamed sources in Gaza, said Hamas was prepared to place its weaponry under PLO control, provided it had a key role in that leadership, and had clarified this position to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.” [ToI]

New York Times editorial… “Israel Digs a Grave for the Two-State Solution: It is evident that for Mr. Trump and his son-in-law Jared Kushner, who is supposed to be leading the president’s Middle East efforts, diplomacy is a one-sided affair… If he was really interested in a Middle East deal, as he claimed in his campaign, this would be a good time to reaffirm America’s longstanding commitment to a two-state solution and tell the Israeli right that it is going too far.” [NYTimes]

ON THE HILL — “White House, Senators Seek Iran Measure Ahead of Iran Nuclear Deadline” by Patricia Zengerle: “Senators Bob Corker and Ben Cardin had an evening meeting with President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, to discuss possible legislation… Aides said they were looking at measures including ending the requirement that Trump re-certify the agreement every 90 days and changing some of the so-called sunset provisions… Ahead of the meeting, Corker said he hoped enough progress had been made that Trump might not restore the sanctions.”[ReutersNPR• Iran protests reveal Republican fracture over nuclear deal[Al-Monitor

“Treasury sanctions Iranian entities linked to ballistic missile production” by Victoria Guida: “The Treasury Department on Thursdaysanctioned five Iranian entities linked to the country’s ballistic missile program… The entities sanctioned today are affiliated with Iran’s Shahid Bakeri Industrial Group, which develops and produces missiles, Treasury said.” [Politico• Iranian Hackers: Sophisticated, Frustrated and a Rising Global Threat [NYTimes]

Wendy Sherman, the lead U.S. negotiator of the Iran deal, writes… “Trump Is ‘Misreading Situation’: The Iran deal helped create the current circumstances, at least in part. The deal set rising expectations that the high unemployment would be diminished; that the majority of Iranian citizens who are under the age of 35 would have a better future; that President Rouhani would get the country on a path to greater modernity and opportunity… What is important is that President Trump not take actions that get in the way of the voices of the people of Iran. Killing the Iran deal will do just that.” [TIME]

DEEP DIVE: “The Biggest Sanctions-Evasion Scheme in Recent History” by Jonathan Schanzer: ”Yesterday, Turkish banker Mehmet Hakan Atilla was found guilty in a Manhattan courtroom for a range of financial crimes. His dramatic trial revealed that tens of billions in dollars and gold moved from Turkey to Iran through a complex network of businesses, banks, and front companies… For three years, my colleagues and I had been briefing the Treasury Department, the State Department, and Congressional offices. We had tracked the export data (which, remarkably, Turkey did not hide), showing an astronomical spike in Turkish gold exports. We identified the companies and players… Yet, it was an inconvenient moment to reveal unsavory truths about Iran, amid the push for the nuclear agreement. Nor did anyone, Democrat or Republican, want to touch the third rail of relations with Turkey, a NATO ally that had recently begun backing terrorist groups like Hamas.” [TheAtlantic

TOP TALKER — “Obstruction Inquiry Shows Trump’s Struggle to Keep Grip on Russia Investigation” by Michael Schmidt: “Mr. Trump then asked, “Where’s my Roy Cohn?” He was referring to his former personal lawyer and fixer… Mr. Trump spent the next weekend at his country club in Bedminster, N.J., where he watched a recording of Mr. Comey’s testimony… and discussed the possibility of dismissing him with his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and his senior policy adviser, Stephen Miller. He… asked Mr. Miller to help put together a letter the president intended to send to Mr. Comey…” [NYTimes] • “Donald Trump Asked ‘Where’s My Roy Cohn?’ Jeff Sessions Better Hope It’s Not Him” by Scott Bixby [DailyBeast]

UPDATE ON MOORE’S JEWISH LAWYER — “Roy Moore’s wife reveals their ‘Jewish attorney’ and he’s a Christian” by Greg Garrison: “[Martin] Wishnatsky worked as a staff attorney at the Alabama Supreme Court until [Roy] Moore was removed from office in 2016. Then he went to work as a staff attorney for the Foundation for Moral Law, which was founded by Roy Moore and where Kayla Moore works as president. Wishnatsky… attended Hebrew school at a Conservative synagogue and went through a bar mitzvah… But Wishnatsky said he accepted Christ in his thirties… He became a Mormon first, then later became an evangelical Protestant Christian. “I’m a Messianic Jew,” Wishnatsky said.” [AL

** Good Friday 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 **

BUSINESS BRIEFS: Mark Zuckerberg Resolves to ‘Fix’ Facebook in 2018 [WSJ] • David Tepper says market is as ‘cheap’ as a year ago, bullish on Trump’s tax cuts [CNBC] • Weinstein Co. Close to Sale for Less Than $500 Million [WSJ] • Neiman Marcus poised to name a new CEO as Karen Katz steps down [NYPost• Israel proposes ban on trading shares of cryptocurrency companies [Reuters]

STARTUP SPOTLIGHT: “Investors are pouring money into Frank, a TurboTax for student loan applications” by Jonathan Shieber: “Rather than lend students money, Frank is looking to make the process of applying for loans easier. The company, founded by 25-year-old former banker and University of Pennsylvania graduate Charlie Javice, is like a TurboTax for college loan applications. It’s backed by a clutch of interesting investors, including Aleph, the U.S.-Israeli investment fund that’s also put money into new insurance company; Lemonade and WeWork; Reach Capital; former Uber advocate Bradley Tusk’s Tusk Ventures; and Slow Ventures. Marc Rowan, the co-founder of Apollo Global Management, one of the largest private equity firms in the world, led the most recent investment.” [TechCrunchCrunchbase

SPORTS BLINK: “For Kraft, Brady and Belichick, is this the beginning of the end?” by Seth Wickersham: “According to interviews with more than a dozen New England staffers, executives, players and league sources with knowledge of the team’s inner workings, the three most powerful people in the franchise — Belichick, Brady and owner Robert Kraft — have had serious disagreements. They differ on Brady’s trainer, body coach and business partner Alex Guerrero; over the team’s long-term plans at quarterback; over Belichick’s bracing coaching style; and most of all, over who will be the last man standing. Those interviewed describe a palpable sense in the building that this might be the last year together for this group.” [ESPN]

TALK OF THE NATION: “In a shift, Trump administration says houses of worship can get direct FEMA funding after disasters” by Michelle Boorstein: “We thank the Trump administration for righting this longtime wrong and treating disaster-damaged churches, synagogues and other houses of worship fairly — on the same terms as other nonprofits such as museums, community centers and libraries stricken by natural disaster,” said Nathan Diament, executive director for public policy at the Orthodox Union, a major U.S. Orthodox Jewish organization… Historically, Diament said, the issue was bipartisan. It’s unclear what will happen going forward if the issue gains public attention, but at the moment a mix of lawmakers is supporting the measure to directly fund houses of worship…” [WashPost]

“De Blasio told Orthodox Jews he felt ‘betrayed’ by lack of cooperation over metzitzah” by Dan Goldberg: “On a Friday in March, representatives of the Orthodox Jewish community went to Gracie Mansion to meet with Mayor Bill de Blasio, who was angry over what he felt was a breach of trust, according to a letter signed by three rabbis obtained by POLITICO… “Your honor, please know that we never refused to honor that agreement,” the rabbis wrote. “Soon after our meeting … we followed up with the city to work on its implementation, only to be told by a city official that the health department refused to commit to its terms… Why are we being faulted for the health department’s going rogue, and why are the city’s communications people feeding such distortions to the media?” The mayor, who won the support of the Orthodox community in Brooklyn during the 2013 Democratic primary… did not respond to the three rabbis who sent the letter.” Behind a paywall [PoliticoNY]

“Israel Offers African Migrants a Choice: Ticket Out or Jail’ by Isabell Kershner: “The new plan — promoted by Interior Minister Aryeh Deri, of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party, and Gilad Erdan, the public security minister, who is from Mr. Netanyahu’s conservative Likud Party — is the latest phase of a long-running political and legal struggle over the African migrants’ fate. Critics have denounced the campaign as an effort to distract from corruption investigations against Mr. Netanyahu, and have asserted that the timing is political, given the whiff of possible early elections in the air. In the past, threats to jail the migrants en masse have not been realized, not least because of the cost and a space shortage in prisons.” [NYTimes

TOP TALKER: “Heiress Arrested for Upper East Side Anti-Semitic Incident” by Liel Leibovitz: “The incident reportedly began as [Heiress Jacqueline Kent] Cooke was waiting to retrieve her coat after dinner at Caravaggio… Ahead of Cooke were Matthew Haberkorn, 52, a lawyer from San Francisco, his wife, four daughters, and 77-year-old mother… “Hurry up Jew,” Haberkorn recalled her saying. The lawyer’s wife, Linda Thomas, asked Cooke to repeat herself, and the heiress allegedly did, saying “Hurry up, Jew. I got places to be.” … Cooke’s boyfriend intervened with a few choice words of his own, wishing Haberkorn and Thomas’s daughters a “happy Bat Mitzvah.” Cooke and boyfriend left the restaurant, but Haberkorn… followed the couple outside, and asked Cooke why she had said what she had. In response, he said, the heiress swung her mirrored Perspex clutch purse and smashed him in the face.” [TabletMagNYDailyNews]

THIS TOWN: “Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner are house hunting in Washington” by Emily Heil: “Javanka… rent a six-bedroom home in the swanky Kalorama neighborhood… The location has its upside: loads of charm, plus it’s close to their synagogue, TheShul of the Nation’s Capital, meaning the couple and their three children have a short walk on Sabbath days, when the observant family eschews transportation. Downsides? The house is very close to two streets, making it highly visible… “They are looking for something more private,” said one person familiar with the couple’s house hunt. We’re told they’ve visited at least one property in the Massachusetts Avenue Heights neighborhood.” [WashPost

PIC OF THE DAY —  Sheldon and Miriam Adelson announced a donation of five new ambulances to four West Bank settlements at the Eretz Israel Museum in Tel Aviv yesterday [Pic]

INBOX: JI reader Aaron Troodler emails… “Just one postscript to the photo with Jason Greenblatt that you referenced in today’s newsletter, which I thought you might appreciate. One of the people in the photo (Dan Brody, on the far right) was a contestant on The Apprentice in 2006, which means that in addition to his relationship with Jason Greenblatt, Dan also crossed paths with Donald J. Trump at one time. Pretty sure that when DJT uttered “You’re Fired” to Dan in the boardroom 12 years ago, he could never have imagined that one day he’d be visiting his friend in a White House that is occupied by a POTUS DJT.”

WEEKEND BIRTHDAYS — FRIDAY: Former member of the Knesset for the Likud party (1981-1999), the last three years of which he served as Speaker of the Knesset, Dan Tichon turns 81… Former Philadelphia mayor (1992-2000) and Pennsylvania governor (2003-2011), currently a fellow at Brookings and co-chair of the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Immigration Task Force, Ed Rendell turns 74… Paul Meyer turns 74… Former Attorney General of the U.K. (2001-2007), now Chair of the European and Asian litigation practice at Debevoise & Plimpton, Lord Peter Goldsmith, turns 68… CEO of Legacy Interactive / Legacy Games (founded in 1998) and President of HitPoint Studios since 2017, Ariella Lehrer, Ph.D. turns 65… Founder and principal of DC-based Mager & Associates, a boutique public policy and advocacy consulting firm, also on the board of Emily’s List, Mimi Mager turns 64… Chairman of the Jewish National Fund (Keren Kayemet LeYisrael), he served briefly in the Knesset for the Zionist Union party (2015-2016), Daniel “Danny” Atar turns 60… EVP of digital video for The Hill, John F. Solomon turns 51… Professional poker player who won the 2010 and 2012 World Series of Poker Players Championship, he also has two World Poker Tour titles, Michael Mizrachi turns 37…

SATURDAYEVP and senior counsel of the Trump Organization, known as one of the advisors on the NBC reality television program, The Apprentice,George H. Ross turns 90… Professor of Chemistry (now Emeritus) at The University of Chicago since 1957, member of the Board of Governors at Tel Aviv University, Stuart A. Rice turns 86… Canadian billionaire businessman, investor, author and philanthropist, Seymour Schulich turns 78… Billionaire, philanthropist and co-founder of private equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, Henry R. Kravis turns 74… Chairman, president and CEO of Phibro Animal Health Corporation, Jack C. Bendheim turns 71… Educator, author and former chief rabbi of Frankfurt am Main (1988-1993), currently residing in Antwerp, Belgium, Rabbi Ahron Daum turns 67… Attorney General of Oregon, elected in 2012 and re-elected in 2016, she was previously a judge on the Oregon Court of Appeals (2005-2011), Ellen Rosenblum turns 67… Member of the Ukrainian Parliament and president of the Ukrainian Jewish Committee, millionaire businessman, Oleksandr Feldman turns 58… Daniel Slatopolsky turns 54… Actor, painter and fashion designer, he is the nephew of fashion designer, Ralph Lauren, Greg Lauren turns 48… Serial entrepreneur based in NYC, founder of Regal Wings and Jewish dating sites, Harei At and Jedding, Eli Ostreicher turns 34… Former Fulbright Scholar in Uganda, Anna Phillips… President and editor in chief of Rewire (once known as RH Reality Check), previously Director of Advocacy at American Jewish World Service, Jodi Lynn Jacobson… Founder of Pure California Beverages, past president of American Technion Society’s Western Region, Advisory Board Member of Spinal Singularity, Sarah Beth Rena Conner… Jonah Kaplan… Mel S. Coben

SUNDAY: Pulitzer Prize-winning sports reporter Ira Berkow turns 78… Co-founder and publisher of Rolling Stone magazine Jann Wenner turns 72… President of the University of South Florida System, Judy Genshaftturns 70… Dermatologist and cosmetic surgeon in Beverly Hills, Dr. Ezra Kestturns 60… Physician, US Senator from Kentucky, Rand Paul turns 55… Actress Lauren Cohan turns 36… Assistant director at Hillel of Stanford University, Jeremy Ragent turns 31… DC macher Ari Eliezer Mittleman

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