Daily Kickoff: Bob Iger on running for office | Jon Lerner promoted | GOP mega-donor Sam Fox calls Gov Greitens ‘a disgrace’ | John Paulson’s tax bill
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INBOX — “Today is Friday the 13th and the 13th day of the Omer. What are the odds?” — Jay Orchard, Miami Beach, FL.
PROFILE — “Disney CEO Bob Iger On Taking the Biggest Risk of His Career” by Rob Haskell: “Iger was born in the Midwood section of Brooklyn, where both of his parents had also been born and raised, and grew up in Oceanside, Long Island, a post–World War II insta-community of 500 identical houses. Iger conveys the angstless placidity of a man who has his life sorted… an unmistakable gravitas hovers around him. He is, by most accounts, what his mother’s friends would call a mensch.”
First Jewish POTUS? “Even before the last election, Iger started to think about running for president himself. “Willow [Bay, Iger’s wife] initially not only hated the idea,” he says, “but put her foot down because she thought it would be highly destructive to our family and to our lives.” But the thought nagged at him, and with his wife’s reluctant permission, he was in the process of seriously exploring a run when the Fox deal sealed his fate. “The thought I had was coming from the patriot in me, growing up at a time when we respected our politicians not only for what they stood for but because of what they accomplished. I am horrified at the state of politics in America today, and I will throw stones in multiple directions. Dialogue has given way to disdain. I, maybe a bit naively, believed that there was a need for someone in high elected office to be more open-minded and willing to not only govern from the middle but to try to shame everyone else into going to the middle.”
“Iger’s good friend Oprah Winfrey believes he would have been the ideal candidate. “Bob is one of the people I respect most in the world,” she says. “That’s a very short list. He is infinitely capable of multiple categories of expertise, and he has created an environment where you can disagree with him—and that’s not just because I’m Oprah. I really, really pushed him to run for president, so much so that I said to him, ‘Gee, if you ever decide to run for office, I will go door to door carrying leaflets. I will go sit and have tea with people.’ ” I ask if perhaps there will be a place for Iger in her Cabinet. “Um, I’d have been happy to be in his Cabinet.” [Vogue]
“Iger Says What Sort of President He’d Be, Then Visits Iowa” by Anousha Sakoui: “The profile posted online a day after Iger visited a children’s hospital that Disney supports in Des Moines, Iowa, a must-stop state for any presidential candidate.” [Bloomberg]
ALSO IN THE HAWKEYE STATE: “LA Mayor Eric Garcetti, eyeing a presidential run, will be in Iowa this weekend” by Elizabeth Chou:“Garcetti, who has aspirations to run for president in 2020, will be in Iowa… on Friday and Saturday as part of a push by the Democratic party to support their candidates in the 2018 midterm elections.” [MercuryNews]
2020 WATCH — “As most Democrats stay silent, Elizabeth Warren calls on Israel to exercise restraint against Palestinian protesters” by Zaid Jilani: “I am deeply concerned about the deaths and injuries in Gaza,” Warren said. “As additional protests are planned for the coming days, the Israel Defense Forces should exercise restraint and respect the rights of Palestinians to peacefully protest.” … The Intercept reached out to a trio of other high-profile Democratic senators: California’s Kamala Harris, New Jersey’s Cory Booker, and New York’s Kirsten Gillibrand. Booker and Gillibrand did not respond to a request for comment. Harris’s office said it would send a statement, but did not do so or respond to a follow-up inquiry.” [TheIntercept]
ON THE GOP SIDE: “Sam Fox, former chairman of Republican Jewish Committee, says Greitens should resign” by Eric Berger: “Sam Fox, a former U.S. ambassador and prominent philanthropist in the St. Louis Jewish community, told the St. Louis Jewish Light in a statement that Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens should resign in the wake of allegations that he was abusive to a woman he had an affair with in 2015. “The Governor is a disgrace to the Republican Party, to the State of Missouri, and to himself,” Fox stated in an email. “He should resign.” [StlJewishLight]
Eric Cantor on PBS Frontline — And with the chronology, Charlottesville happens next, you’ve said some very important, strong things about it. The President comes out and states—he’s awkward in the way he equates the premises with the protesters. What was your reaction? What was Trump missing?
Cantor: “My view was plain and simple. I mean, the irony of being in Thomas Jefferson’s town and to sit here and allow for that kind of hate and not calling everyone out who was a part of the hatred, it just struck me as just unacceptable. And I think most of the country—most of my party, I think—took that position, too, and did not like the fact that when you had people bearing torches, saying completely repugnant, racist, anti-Semitic slurs, remarks and chants, that you didn’t call them out unequivocally, period? So I just think there was a lot of visceral reaction to that, and unfortunately, that lingers.” [PBS]
JON LERNER PROMOTED — “Pence Hires Haley Aide as National Security Adviser, Creating Unusual Dual Role” by Maggie Haberman: “Vice President Mike Pence has hired Jon Lerner, a veteran Republican pollster who is a deputy for the United Nations ambassador, Nikki R. Haley, as his national security adviser, a spokeswoman for Mr. Pence said on Thursday evening. Mr. Lerner will continue to work with Ms. Haley while advising Mr. Pence “full time,” according to Alyssa Farah, the vice president’s spokeswoman.” [NYTimes]
— Flashback to a 2010 profile: “Associates of Lerner, a devout Jew, say his ethical and religious principles are as important to him as his conservative political beliefs. So faithful is Lerner to Judaism that he never works on Sabbath. Even in the heated final weeks of a campaign, he drops everything from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday. “That’s a good thing,” Mark Sanford said. “The lesson is that you can, in fact, shut down in the middle of campaigns and still have good things happen in the electoral sense.” [McClatchy]
“Trump’s foreign policy is about to get a lot more Republican” by Josh Rogin: “Lerner has close relationships with Mike Pompeo and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), another card-carrying member of the traditional GOP foreign policy establishment.” [WashPost]
ON THE HILL — “Pompeo’s diplomatic foray falls flat” by Elana Schor and Nahal Toosi: “Mike Pompeo had his best chance yet Thursday to win over skeptical Democrats. But after hours of tough questions at his confirmation hearing, he had changed no new minds in his bid to become secretary of state… With Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) opposed to Pompeo, [Sen. Bob] Corker faces a thorny task in steering the nominee to the floor before a scheduled recess at the end of the month. The Foreign Relations panel is divided 11-10.” [Politico] • Trump nominee Pompeo pledges to be tough on Russia, ‘fix’ Iran deal [Reuters]
ADL’s Jonathan Greenblatt writes… “Don’t overlook John Bolton and Mike Pompeo’s anti-Muslim ties: I am aware that a segment of people in the United States — within the Jewish community and among the public — see Islamist extremism as the most pressing threat to our interests and thus are ready to overlook the views and associations of these two men. And I can appreciate Bolton and Pompeo’s outspoken stance on fighting terrorism. They have a strong record of support for Israel, and I agree with some of their policy positions regarding the Jewish state. But choosing to ignore a public official’s intolerance or role in conspiracy theories is neither practical nor morally appropriate.” [WashPost] • Watch Cory Booker confront Mike Pompeo on his ties to Islamophobes [Vox]
IRAN DEAL — “European official sees progress on Trump’s Iran deal concerns” by Arshad Mohammed and John Irish: “We came out feeling like we are making good progress towards addressing the president’s concerns and coming (up) to an agreement,” [a] European diplomat told a small group of reporters… Senior diplomats from the three European nations that are party to the deal met Brian Hook, the U.S. State Department’s director of policy planning, in Washington on Wednesday…“If the U.S. agrees to … working with the Europeans to ensure the Iranian nuclear program is only for civilian use forever then we can agree on something,” the diplomat told Reuters.”[Reuters]
— “Israel and Iran Are Headed for a Collision in Syria” by Avi Issacharoff: “With each passing day the sensation in Israel, of standing alone against the Iranian gambit to turn Syria into an Iranian forward base, grows more intense. The only thing that might change it is change of American policy.” [TheAtlantic] • Jerusalem Responds to Russia: Iranian Aggression Is Destabilizing Syria – Not Israel [Haaretz]
IN THE SPOTLIGHT… “Trump’s allies worry that federal investigators may have seized recordings made by his attorney” by Ashley Parker, Carol D. Leonnig, Josh Dawsey and Tom Hamburger: “Two people familiar with [Michael] Cohen’s practices said he recorded both business and political conversations. One associate said Trump knew of Cohen’s practice because the attorney would often play him recordings Cohen had made of his conversations with other top Trump advisers… During the 2016 race, Cohen — who did not have a formal role on the campaign — had a reputation among campaign staff as someone to avoid, in part because he was believed to be secretly taping conversations.” [WashPost] • Hearing related to FBI raid at Cohen’s office set for Friday [NYPost]
MUELLER WATCH — Rod Rosenstein, the embattled deputy attorney general overseeing the Robert Mueller Russia probe, met with President Trump at the White House yesterday amid growing expectation that the President may oust Rosenstein. Rosenstein reportedly came to assure Trump that the Justice Department was cooperating with the Republican congressional examination of the origin of the FBI’s inquiry, but he failed to defuse the President’s anger over his approval of the FBI raids of Michael Cohen’s office and home. CNN reported that the White House is preparing talking points designed to undermine Rosenstein’s credibility. But Trump’s whisperer, Alan Dershowitz, warned on CNN’s AC360 that “it would be a terrible mistake” to fire Mueller, Rosenstein “or anybody.”
James B. Comey: By the Book: “If you could require the president to read one book, what would it be? The United States Constitution isn’t a book, so I would pick “The Road to Character,” by David Brooks.” [NYTimes]
Benjamin Wittes writes… “The Principle of Professional Law Enforcement Is Now on the Line: Expect President Trump to fire Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein in the next few days. Maybe he won’t do it. Maybe he’ll change his mind… I understand the instinct to treat a Rosenstein firing as different from a Mueller firing… But today is the wrong day to dwell on Rosenstein’s vices and errors—because those vices are not the reasons Trump is persecuting Rosenstein. Instead, Trump is persecuting Rosenstein because of the deputy attorney general’s virtues.” [TheAtlantic]
OF NOTE — Ron Kampeas tweets: “Trump fired Jim Comey the day after Comey spoke at last year’s ADL National Washington conference. Rod Rosenstein is speaking this year.”
— The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) National Leadership Summit will be held on May 6-8 at the Grand Hyatt in Washington, DC. Other featured speakers include Reps. Joe Kennedy III (D-MA) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), and world champion gymnast Aly Raisman.
HAPPENING ON MONDAY: Palestinian Chief Representative to the U.S Dr. Husam Zomlot will address the J Street National Conference in Washington, DC at the afternoon plenary session.
“In Harsh Letter, Top Palestinian Negotiator Tells Foreign Diplomats Trump Envoy Greenblatt Has Turned Into Israel’s Spokesman” by Jack Khoury and Noa Landau: “[Saeb] Erekat, who has met with [Jason] Greenblatt many times since the latter took office, charged that since the mass demonstrations near the Israel-Gaza border began a few weeks ago, the U.S. envoy has “assumed the role of spokesperson of the Israeli Authorities” and “consistently repeated Israeli talking points.” … A senior Palestinian Authority official… said the letter was intended to persuade the diplomatic corps, especially European diplomats, that nothing can be expected of the Trump Administration… “We keep hearing, ‘Let’s wait for Trump’s plan,’” the official said. “But in light of positions like those Greenblatt has voiced, there’s nothing to wait for.”” [Haaretz]
“U.S. Embassy Move to Jerusalem Stalled, Despite Government Efforts” by Yael Darel: “The conversion of the American consulate in Jerusalem into an embassy was exempted from needing a building permit, and a contractor has been chosen to do the work, but the chances of it being completed by Independence Day are slim, TheMarker has learned. The reason is that no funds have been committed for building a wall around the embassy, one of the main safety precautions demanded by the Trump administration.”[Haaretz]
INTERVIEW — “Jimmy Carter: Trump should avoid nukes; nationmust bridge divides” by Bill Barrow: “As president, Carter… drove peace negotiations between Israel and Egypt in the Camp David Accords, though he couldn’t replicate the feat between Israel and the Palestinians. “I took a position of wanting to see balance between Israel and the Palestinians,” he said… “Evangelicals are naturally inclined from a religious point of view to be loyal to Israel,” he said, because of their more literal interpretations of the Bible. Those Christians also hold “that the Jews should also all become Christians — that’s not often mentioned,” Carter added.” [AP]
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BUSINESS BRIEFS: Stephen Schwarzman, School District Change Terms on His $25 Million Gift [WSJ] • Bernie Madoff Victims to Receive $504 Million From Fund [DailyBeast] • General partner of Sequoia Capital’s Israeli arm, Gili Raanan, is setting up a new fund to invest in early stage cybersecurity companies [ToI; Globes]
“Worried About Your Tax Bill? Hedge-Fund Star John Paulson Owes $1 Billion” by Gregory Zuckerman: “By April 17, [Paulson] the hedge-fund manager must make federal and state tax payments of about $1 billion, on top of roughly $500 million in taxes he paid late last year, said people close to the firm… Seven years ago, Mr. Paulson was managing $38 billion and was firmly among Wall Street’s elite. Today, Paulson & Co. is managing under $9 billion—most of it Mr. Paulson’s own assets, said the people close to the firm. That’s one reason this particular IRS deadline sting “ [WSJ]
SPOTLIGHT — “Glencore Is Losing Billionaire Allies to Trump’s Sanctions” by Thomas Wilson and Thomas Biesheuvel: “In just four months, Glencore Plc chief Ivan Glasenberg has lost two of his closest business allies as President Donald Trump’s aggressive foreign policy hits home, forcing him to cut ties with billionaires Oleg Deripaska and Dan Gertler… In Congo, where Gertler had aided most of Glencore’s engagement with the government, the company now needs to navigate a series of complicated roadblocks without its trusted trouble-shooter. In Russia, Deripaska, a Glencore partner since at least 2007, was one of the company’s most important allies.” [Bloomberg]
MEDIA WATCH — “The 35 Most Powerful People in New York Media 2018” by Alison Brower and Marisa Guthrie: “Andrew Lack, 70, is still trying to wrap his head around Trump’s attacks on NBC News… which he’s called an “out-of-body experience.” When not defending his network (and, this fall, its handling of Ronan Farrow’s Harvey Weinstein reporting), Lack, the husband of a Snap executive, is talking tough, pushing the Facebooks and Twitters of the world to start compensating publishers for content.” Also on the list: Campbell Brown, Noah Oppenheim, David Rhodes, Jeff Zucker, Ben Smith, David Remnick [HollywoodReporter]
HOLOCAUST REMEMBRANCE — As Israelis observed the Yom HaShoah yesterday with a moment of silence and several ceremonies, President Donald Trump proclaimed April 12 through April 19 as the “Days of Remembrance of Victims of the Holocaust.” Trump also tweeted, “On Yom HaShoah we remember the six million Jews slaughtered in the Holocaust.” Meanwhile, a new survey found that many U.S. adults lack basic knowledge of what happened in the Holocaust. As many as 41% — including 66% of millennials – cannot say what Auschwitz was. Sen. Chuck Schumer called the survey “extremely troubling.”
On Holocaust Remembrance Day, Israeli and Polish presidents march from Auschwitz to Birkenau: “Presidents Reuven Rivlin of Israel and Andrzej Duda of Poland… led thousands, including many young Jews from around the world, in the March of the Living… Rivlin recalled how Poland was the cradle of Jewish culture before the Holocaust. But he also referred to the “deep disagreement” his country has had with Poland over its passage earlier this year of a Holocaust speech law… Duda, whose wife has a Jewish father… recalled Polish wartime heroes who struggled to save Jews and said Poland fulfills its duty to remember the Holocaust by preserving sites like Auschwitz.”[PBS] • Israeli, Polish presidents fail to resolve Polish ‘Holocaust law’ crisis[JPost]
REPORT — “White House urged Israel to end Poland Holocaust bill dispute” by Barak Ravid: “The White House and State Department conveyed messages to Israel’s ambassador in Washington, Ron Dermer, and to other diplomats at the Israeli embassy about the importance of relations with Poland… Vice President Pence met with the head of the Israeli opposition, Itzhak Herzog, on March 5 in Washington and raised the Poland crisis. An Israeli foreign ministry official said Pence asked Herzog to temper his critical statements against the Polish government and help solve the crisis, and Herzog stressed that the bill and the rhetoric about it from the Polish government were highly offensive and unacceptable.” [Axios]
TRANSITION: Roger Zakheim has been hired as director of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute Washington, D.C. office.
DESSERT — “Rabbis Banned His Beer. But He’s The Most Jewish Person Ever” by Josh Nathan-Kazis: “[Simon] Bergson’s first language is Yiddish, and he sprinkles Yiddish phrases liberally in conversation… Bergson said that one of their rabbis waited in the lobby of his apartment building for hours on Sunday before Passover. They spoke to each other in Yiddish, and Bergson invited him to the office the next day to sign the agreement. After the deal was done, Bergson, no naïf in the ways of Jewish communal professionals, got ready for the inevitable ask. “I said to [the rabbi], ‘Okay, tell me, tukhes afn tish, how much is this going to cost me?’” Bergson said, using a common Yiddish phrase that directly translates as “ass on the table,” and means, “let’s be real.” The rabbi was offended. “He said, ‘No, you’re insulting me, it’s not about the money,’” Bergson said.” [Forward]
WEEKEND BIRTHDAYS — FRIDAY: Film director and choreographer, famous for “Singin’ in the Rain,” Stanley Donen turns 94… Curator and then director of the Louvre, he is the son-in-law of Alain de Rothschild, Pierre Rosenberg turns 82… Geneticist and Nobel Prize laureate, Michael Stuart Brown turns 77… Actor who won a Golden Globe for his portrayal of Vincent in the television series “Beauty and the Beast,” Ron Perlman turns 68… Longtime drummer for Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band and the bandleader for Conan O’Brien on The Tonight Show, Max Weinberg turns 67… Member of the UK Parliament (1992-2005), she served as the UK’s first ever Minister of State for Asylum and Immigration under then-PM Tony Blair, Barbara Roche (née Margolis) turns 64… Principal of Dubin & Co., Glenn Dubin turns 61… Pacifica Radio’s investigative journalist Amy Goodmanturns 61… Aide to President George W. Bush (2002-2006), then the youngest-ever Federal Reserve Governor (2006-2011), Kevin Warsh turns 48… Guitarist and founding member of the rock group “Staind,” Aaron Lewisturns 46… Executive director of DC-based Sixth & I, Heather Moran turns 45… Major gifts officer for OneTable, Lauren Epstein… Director of Operations at Israel on Campus Coalition, Ian Hersh… Helene Cash… Director of Operations at Dataminr, Morgan Hitzig…
SATURDAY: Former member of the US Securities and Exchange Commission, Elisse B. Walter turns 68… Senior columnist for Haaretz, Chemi Shalevturns 65… Media executive, majority owner of CBS Corporation, Viacom, MTV Networks, BET and Paramount Pictures, Shari Redstone turns 64… Television and theatre producer, Marc Platt turns 61… Professional makeup artist and the founder of Bobbi Brown Cosmetics, Bobbi Brown turns 61… Birmingham, Alabama-based post denominational rabbi, known on social media as “Deep South Rabbi,” Barry Altmark turns 61… US Ambassador to Mexico (2016-2018), previously Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs (2012-2016), Roberta S. Jacobson turns 58… Front-office official of MLB’s Los Angeles Angels, he was previously the manager of the Detroit Tigers (2014-2017), an MLB catcher (1993-2010) and manager of Israel’s national baseball team, Brad Ausmus turns 49… Emmy Award-winning actress, producer, and entrepreneur, best known for her portrayal of Buffy Summers on the WB series Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2003), Sarah Michelle Gellar turns 41… Author of three books, journalist for Monocle and Bloomberg Politics, co-founder of Votecastr to track elections in real-time, Sasha Issenberg turns 38… Hillel David Rapp turns 38… Jon Fine… Founder and CEO of Charity Bids, Israel Schachter… Moriah Elbaz… Casey Tepper… Glenn Starr-Conner… Anne Monk… Documentary filmmaker Nicholas Ma… Yitzchak Tendler… Co-Founder at BurnAlong, Daniel Freedman…
SUNDAY: Movie producer and philanthropist, Dr. Henry George Jareckiturns 85… Senior advisor at Covington & Burling, Howard Lawrence Berman turns 77… Duke University professor and Nobel Prize laureate, Robert Lefkowitz turns 75… NYU professor Avital Ronell turns 66… Executive director at American Press Institute and author of a debut novel “Shining City,” Tom Rosenstiel turns 62… Born in NYC, now living in Jerusalem, he is the Rebbe of the Boyan Hasidic dynasty, Rabbi Nachum Dov Brayer turns 59… Deputy Secretary of the Treasury (2014-2017) and member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (2010-2014), Sarah Bloom Raskin turns 57… Managing partner, CEO and chief investment officer of Hudson Bay Capital Management, Sander R. Gerber turns 51… Cheryl Myra Cohn turns 43… Senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and founder of the Truman National Security Project, Rachel Kleinfeld, Ph.D. turns 42… Actor, comedian, writer, producer and director, Seth Rogen turns 36… Policy director at the DC-based, Arab American Institute, Kristin McCarthy turns 30… Resident of NYC and Tel Aviv, he is the founder and CEO of Stoop and Mdrn., two platforms offering residential housing solutions as a service, Zach Ehrlich turns 29… Social entrepreneur, environmental activist Erin Schrode turns 27… VP of government affairs at Cross River Bank, he was previously AVP for government affairs at Yeshiva University and a member of the New York State Assembly, Y. Phillip Goldfeder… Moshe Lehrer… David Brand…