Daily Kickoff

Daily Kickoff: Elliott Abrams on what an MBS-Bibi summit would require | Ocasio-Cortez not joining Tlaib’s trip either | Milsteins challenge WeWork

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ON THE HILL — Senate defies Trump, rebuking Saudi Arabia after Khashoggi killing — by Marianne Levine: “The Senate passed a resolution Thursday to withdraw U.S. support for Saudi-backed forces at war in Yemen in a rare bipartisan rebuke to President Donald Trump… The Senate also agreed by unanimous consent to a resolution from Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) to condemn MBS for Khashoggi’s murder.”

“Two amendments were also adopted from Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) that clarified the resolution would not affect military activity in Israel and requested that the president issue a report to determine if terrorism increased following withdrawal of U.S. forces in Yemen.” [PoliticoNYTimes]

Martin Indyk tweets: “A unanimous condemnation of the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia by the US Senate sends a strong message to King Salman: this problem in U.S.-Saudi relations cannot be swept under the rug or ignored. It will continue to eat away at our strategic relationship to the benefit of Iran. MBS needs to stand up and take personal responsibility for the murder… Instead of making excuses for MBS, Trump needs to send a discrete envoy capable of speaking truth to power with a clear message: fix this or step aside.”

REPORT — MBS said to be plotting Camp David-style handshake with Netanyahu — by David Hearst: “Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is reported to be “seriously considering” setting up a “game-changing” Camp David-style summit meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, with US President Donald Trump playing host… The plan is to present the crown prince… as a breakthrough Arab peacemaker… Mohammed bin Salman believes that the photo opportunity alone would be big enough to influence the incoming and inherently more hostile US Congress in January.” [MiddleEastEye]

Elliott Abrams emails: “Such a summit strikes me as unlikely. MBS has his own internal problems right now, and a highly visible public opening to Israel might exacerbate those. Nor do I think a handshake would achieve what would presumably be the goal of such a move, rehabilitating MBS’s reputation. Instead, it would be seen as cynical and might hurt all parties: MBS for subordinating Saudi foreign policy to his personal needs, Netanyahu for cleansing MBS’s image, and Trump for presiding over that bargain. For this to work, it would require not just a handshake, which is entirely personal, but some evidence that Saudi policy will now really change — to begin with El Al overflights, Saudi-Israeli diplomatic contacts — such as Israel and the UAE have in Washington — and some exchange of visits.”

ULTIMATE DEAL WATCH — Trump’s Middle East peace envoy Jason Greenblatt tweeted on Thursday: “It was a pleasure to attend an event sponsored by Hetz in NYC to answer questions about the US-Israel relationship under POTUS and the Trump Administration’s peace efforts.”

Hetz is a coalition of pro-Israel advocacy organizations. Groups present at yesterday’s meeting with Greenblatt include Palestinian Media Watch, Shurat Hadin, Jerusalem U, Reservists on Duty, the Middle East Political and Information Network, and American Friends of the Reut Institute.

– Greenblatt also met with board members of the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA).

TALK OF THE REGION — Israel launches West Bank crackdown after Palestinian attack —by Mohammed Daraghmeh and Josef Federman: “Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he would “settle accounts” with Thursday’s attackers, while Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas held Israel responsible for what he said was a violent environment… Netanyahu beefed up troop levels in the West Bank, ordered detentions of Hamas activists and called for demolishing the homes of assailants within 48 hours. Netanyahu also said he would legalize thousands of existing West Bank settlement homes whose status was in question, and ordered his attorney general to make arrangements for construction of 82 news homes in Ofra.”[AP]

— West Bank Shootings Raise Fear That Hamas Is Expanding Its Fight — by David Halbfinger: “Israeli analysts, who attributed all three attacks to Hamas, said the group was trying to prove its relevance and signal that it remained a political force on the West Bank… “The violence in the West Bank… poses a serious new political threat to Mr. Netanyahu… Mr. Netanyahu no longer has another minister to blame for attacks on Israeli civilians.”[NYTimes]

Iran hackers hunt nuclear workers, US targets — by Raphael Satter: “As U.S. President Donald Trump re-imposed harsh economic sanctions on Iran last month, hackers scrambled to break into personal emails of American officials tasked with enforcing them.” [AP]

Trump’s anti-Iran push boosts a royal outcast — by Nahal Toosi: “Iran analysts say [Reza] Pahlavi’s credibility within the country has grown as Trump has imposed harsh sanctions… And in a sign that he welcomes higher visibility, Pahlavi (the exiled son of the country’s late shah) will give a rare speech at a Washington think tank on Friday… Pahlavi’s remarks Friday at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy will focus on Iran’s future; he also will engage in a question-and-answer session.” [Politico]

INFLUENCER — China’s ZTE taps Joe Lieberman for D.C. damage control — by Daniel Lippman and Steven Overly: “Chinese telecom giant ZTE has hired former Senator Joe Lieberman to conduct an ‘independent’ national security assessment of its products. “There are obviously still concerns about the safety of their products or the extent to which their products could be used to compromise American security in any way or even individual security,” Lieberman told Politico on Thursday, adding that ZTE has “decided to really try to get ahead of those concerns and be in a position to answer them.” … Lieberman is the third former U.S. lawmaker working on ZTE’s behalf. The company has retained the lobbying services of former Minnesota Sen. Norm Coleman and former Nebraska Rep. Jon Christensen. [Politico]

JARED INSIDER — How Jared Kushner worked the media and Senate for his criminal justice bill— by Eliana Johnson and Burgess Everett: “Matt Drudge… is among several conservative media figures in Kushner’s vast social network who have helped to promote the bill, known as the First Step Act… In recent weeks, the president’s son-in-law has promoted the measure in conversations with several Fox News personalities… poring over interview transcripts from their shows and following up with personal phone calls to assuage their concerns… Kushner has also backed up the media campaign with old-fashioned lobbying, directly urging Republican senators to support the bill… and negotiating sweeping changes in the effort to bring about more GOP support.”

“Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas)… has spoken to Kushner frequently in recent weeks. They’ve been trading phone calls and texts as they work to get the bill to the finish line: It now appears likely to pass early next week. “The best word I could use to describe Jared is relentless,” Cornyn told Politico on Thursday. “He’s been pretty aggressive.” [Politico]

— “While other White Houses have built war rooms to push troubled legislation through, Kushner did it with a core group of three: aides Avi Berkowitz, Cassidy Dumbauld, and legislative affairs staffer Ja’ron Smith… It went so well that some in the administration and on Capitol Hill are looking at Kushner’s model for future bipartisan efforts as Trump works with the new Democratic majority in the House.” [WashExaminer]

INSIDE THE WHITE HOUSE — Trump meets with Chris Christie to discuss chief of staff role — by Jonathan Swan: “President Trump met with Chris Christie on Thursday evening and considers him a top contender to replace John Kelly as chief of staff… Christie is used to being a principal, and it’s unclear how he’ll handle playing second fiddle. Also, he is not a friend of the Kushners.” [Axios]

— Earlier on Thursday, CBS News and the Huffington Post reported that Trump is considering Kushner himself for the Chief of Staff role. But later Bloomberg News reported that Kushner isn’t a contender, citing two White House aides. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, speaking to reporters on Capitol Hill, indicated that he’d take the job if President Trump wants, but said he’s happy in his current position.

Jared Kushner Replaced Michael Cohen as Trump’s National Enquirer Connection — by Asawin Suebsaeng, Maxwell Tani and Lloyd Grove: “Shortly after the 2016 presidential election… Jared Kushner was handed a task considered critical to the president’s operations… playing the role of the main conduit between Trump and his friend David Pecker, the National Enquirer publisher.” [DailyBeast

IN THE SPOTLIGHT — Cohen says Trump knew hush-money payments were wrong, contradicting his former boss — by John Wagner: “Michael Cohen, who has admitted facilitating payments to two women in violation of campaign finance laws, told ABC News that he knew what he was doing was wrong. Asked whether the president also knew it was wrong to make the payments, Cohen replied, “Of course.” He added that the purpose was to “help [Trump] and his campaign.” … Cohen’s comments were his first since being sentenced to three years in prison Wednesday… Cohen is scheduled to report to prison on March 6.” [WashPostABCNews]

What it’s like at the prison in Otisville where Michael Cohen may go — by Eric Levenson: “Given its proximity to New York’s sizable Jewish population, the FCI Otisville commissary includes a number of kosher foods, including matzo ball soup, gefilte fish, beef cholent and rugelach.” [CNN]

— Larry Levine, founder of Wall Street Prison Consultants: “I call it the federal Jewish heaven.” [MarketWatch]

Trump Inauguration Spending Under Criminal Investigation by Federal Prosecutors — by Rebecca Davis O’Brien, Rebecca Ballhaus and Aruna Viswanatha: “In April raids of [Michael] Cohen’s home, office and hotel room, Federal Bureau of Investigation agents obtained a recorded conversation between Mr. Cohen and Stephanie Winston Wolkoff… [who] expressed concern about how the inaugural committee was spending money.”

“The committee was headed by Thomas Barrack Jr., a real-estate developer and longtime friend of Mr. Trump. There is no sign the investigation is targeting Mr. Barrack, and he hasn’t been approached by investigators since he was interviewed by special counsel Robert Mueller’s office last year… President Trump’s funds came largely from wealthy donors and corporations who gave $1 million or more—including casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson, AT&T Inc. and Boeing Co… There is no sign that those three donors are under investigation.”[WSJ]

Ocasio-Cortez Has ‘No Plans’ To Travel To Israel — Or Anywhere Else — Right Now — by Alyssa Fisher and Ari Feldman: Jewish Insiderhad reported that the newly elected congresswoman wouldn’t be attending AIPAC’s trip. [Ocasio-Cortez’s spokesperson Corbin] Trent added that Ocasio-Cortez is not planning to go on Rep. Rashida Tlaib’s separate trip to Israel and to the West Bank, and that no members of Congress have directly urged her to go on any trip to the region.” [Forward]

Why Christians may be less enthusiastic about a more diverse Congress — by Kelsey Dallas: “Forty-four percent of U.S. adults say electing more people from racial and ethnic minority groups would make things in the country better. Just 24 percent say the same about electing non-Christian people of faith… Christians are even less excited about non-Christian elected officials, according to a religious breakdown of the data provided to the Deseret News… This skepticism of non-Christians stems from a variety of factors, according to political scientists and religion scholars. Christians, like all voters, tend to prefer elected officials who share their values.” [DeseretNews

STATE-SIDE — Muslim GOP Leader Targeted by Party Activists in Texas — by Dan Frosch: “Five months after Shahid Shafi was named vice chairman of the Republican Party in Texas’ Tarrant County… a faction including local precinct chairs are seeking to recall him at a vote in January… Top Texas Republicans including Sen. Ted Cruz and land commissioner George P. Bush have defended Dr. Shafi. And local GOP officials worry the controversy threatens efforts to expand the appeal of their party in Texas’ third most-populous county… “There are some peo­ple in our party here who are just plain anti-Mus­lim,” said Tar­rant County GOP chair­man Darl Eas­ton, who ap­pointed Dr. Shafi to his post. “There are more than I ex­pected there to be.” [WSJ

LONG READ — The Next Koch Doesn’t Like Politics — by Maggie Severns: “Chase Koch, who prefers to work from Wichita rather than the network’s headquarters near Washington, is already steering his work within the Koch network in ways that avoid the hard-charging political gamesmanship that the Kochs used to further the Republican Party over the past decade—and that made Charles and David Koch household names. In a word, he’s no partisan.” [PoliticoMag]

2020 WATCH — Sanders and Warren Meet and Agree: They Both Are Probably Running — by Jonathan Martin: “Senator Elizabeth Warren and Senator Bernie Sanders met Wednesday night at her condominium in Washington to discuss their political intentions but did not reach any accord about coordinating their dueling presidential ambitions… Mr. Sanders dismissed questions Thursday in the Capitol about the meeting, asking why a reporter was not asking about his successful push to have the Senate pass a symbolic resolution withdrawing United States support for Saudi Arabia’s military campaign in Yemen. And the Vermont senator flashed irritation when he was asked about it during an interview on MSNBC… But advisers to both senators made no efforts to play down the conversation.” [NYTimes]

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BUSINESS BRIEFS: Leslie Wexner’s L Brands Sells La Senza Lingerie to Private-Equity Firm [WSJ• How Elliott’s activists conquered Europe[FinancialTimes] • Lloyd Blankfein’s Final Days at Goldman Clouded by 1MDB Scandal [Bloomberg• Israeli Medical Device Company WhiteSwell Raises $30 Million [Calcalist

STARTUP SPOTLIGHT — WeWork’s Newest Challenger: A Billion-Dollar High-Rise For Tech Startups—And Facebook — by Alex Konrad: “This is Company, a new take on mixed-use tech office space that the Milstein real estate family is bankrolling in a 1.1-million-square foot midtown Manhattan high-rise. The idea: mix startups, which will pay below market rates, with big corporations, which will pay a premium for the chance to have their employees close to entrepreneurial energy… The plan has momentum: Its first corporate client is Facebook, which will take occupancy on one floor in late December… [Founder Matthew] Harrigan and the Milsteins have their sights set on the growing slice of the commercial real estate market dominated by WeWork, the co-working giant valued at $45 billion that operates 335 locations globally.” [Forbes]

MEDIA WATCH — Overhaul ahead for ‘CBS This Morning’ amid network turmoil — by Oli Coleman and Sara Nathan: “CBS News President David Rhodes’ anchor moves have been disastrous. He moved Dickerson from “Face the Nation” to the morning show, and replaced Scott Pelley with Jeff Glor on the evening news, which has lost more than 1 million viewers.” [PageSix]

INTERVIEW — Holocaust survivor Charlotte Knobloch on the rise of anti-Semitism and rebuilding Jewish life in ‘Lunch with the FT’ — by Tobias Buck: “While initially after the war she was determined to leave the land of the perpetrators, [Knobloch] stayed in Munich, raised a family, joined the board of the local Jewish community, and embarked on a late career of advocacy culminating in a stint as president of Germany’s Central Council of Jews… “Sometimes I catch myself thinking this cannot be true. Every day, when I arrive here, I draw such happiness from seeing the synagogue, and the museum and the community center,” she tells me… “What is amazing is not just that we have this, but that it has become so accepted. When the tourist buses stop here, I often hear the Munich guide say: ‘And here you can see our synagogue.’ I cannot imagine anything more beautiful.” [FinancialTimes]

SPORTS BLINK — Chelsea vows ‘strongest possible action’ after anti-Semitic chants by fans: “Chelsea promised to take the “strongest possible action” against any supporters of the English soccer team found to have sung an anti-Semitic chant in Budapest… Minutes into Thursday’s Europa League clash with Vidi in Budapest’s Groupama Arena, which ended 2-2, a vocal minority of Chelsea fans were heard singing a derogatory chant about Tottenham supporters, featuring anti-Semitic language.” [ToI]

HOLLYWOOD — Consent For Sacha Baron Cohen’s ‘Who Is America?’ Was Fraud, Roy Moore Claims — by Dominic Patten: “The first misrepresentation was that Judge Moore was being flown to Washington D.C. to receive an award for his support of Israel, when in actuality it was so that he could be falsely portrayed as a pedophile on national television,” Roy Moore’s lawyer Larry Klayman… states of the February 14 filmed session with a heavily made up Cohen. “The second misrepresentation was that the television segment was being produced by Yerushalayim TV, and not Defendant Cohen, Showtime, and CBS.” [DeadlineDailyMail]

DESSERT — Anchorage, we have a Jewish deli, and the pastrami is the real deal — by Mara Severin: “There’s a form of alchemy that happens behind the counter of a truly great deli. Which brings me to Mo’s Deli, Anchorage’s only Jewish deli, opened by Jason Ellis, who was born and raised in Anchorage but has family roots in Brooklyn, and his wife, Betty Sheldon… with its menu of matzo ball soup, chopped liver, scoop salads, and smoked brisket begs the question: What took so long?… Mo’s Deli sources all of their deli meat from legendary Detroit-based United Meat & Deli, founded by Sy Ginsberg.” [AnchorageDailyNews]

REMEMBERING — Joseph Joffo, whose Holocaust memoir became global bestseller, dies at 87 — by Phil Davison: “In the early 1970s, the Parisian hairdresser Joseph Joffo, at the time a stylist to French political leaders including François Mitterrand and Jacques Chirac as well as film stars such as Jean-Paul Belmondo and Alain Delon, decided to write about his dramatic childhood as a Jew during the Nazi occupation… He endured a dozen rejections before the book, “Un Sac de Billes” (“A Bag of Marbles”), was released by a small publishing house in 1973… It sold more than 20 million copies in 18 languages and is now taught in French schools to expose children to the dangers of racism and anti-Semitism… Mr. Joffo died Dec. 6 at 87 in a hospital in Saint-Laurent-du-Var.” [WashPost]

Israeli Journalist and Holocaust Survivor Noah Klieger Dies at 92 — by Ofer Aderet: “Noah Klieger, a journalist for the Yedioth Ahronoth daily and an Auschwitz survivor who wrote for decades about the Holocaust, died on Thursday at the age of 92. Born in 1926 in the French city of Strasbourg, Klieger was active during World War II in the anti-Nazi underground and helped smuggle Jews from France to Switzerland.  After the war, Klieger helped smuggle Jews into British-ruled Palestine… In 1948, he immigrated to Israel himself and fought in the War of Independence.” [Haaretz]

WINE OF THE WEEK — 2015 Yatir Forest Cabernet — by Yitz Applbaum: “I was sitting recently in a 5-star hotel eating a large cut of meat with an “insider” discussing the deep complexities of today’s political climate. This was a great moment in time for a great bottle of wine. I have long loved the Yatir Forest Cabernet but have recently stayed away as I found myself drinking it way too frequently. It was time to get reacquainted.”

“The 2015 Yatir Forest Cabernet is voluptuous and at times overpowering. It is a blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Petit Verdot and 10% Cabernet Franc, though it pretty much tastes like it is a 100% Cabernet. The other varietals are, at best, to accentuate the Cabernet characteristics. Due to the pronounced tannins, the wine was a bit coarse on my palate at first, and then the giant fruit hit me like a truck. When the wine met the fatty film covering the inside of my mouth, it mellowed.” [YatirWinery]

WEEKEND BIRTHDAYS — FRIDAY: Dean Emeritus at Yeshiva University’s Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary, Rabbi Zevulun Charlop turns 89… Past President of George Washington University (1988-2007), he is now a partner in the DC office of international law firm Rimon Law P.C., Stephen Joel Trachtenberg turns 81… Jerome Varon turns 79… Co-founder and Chairman of Creative Artists Agency (1975-1995), then President of the Walt Disney Company (1995-1997), Michael S. Ovitz turns 72… Music director of the American Symphony Orchestra and conductor laureate of the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, he is the president of Bard College since 1975, Leon Botstein turns 72… Retired SVP at Warner Brothers, key advocate for Israel on the Platform Committee of the Democratic party on the national and state levels, Howard Welinsky turns 69… Director of government affairs at the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, Robin Schatz turns 67…

Member of Knesset, first for the Kadima party (2006-2012) and more recently for Likud (since 2015), he chairs the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Avi Dichter turns 66… Co-founder of several companies and author of NYTimes bestseller “Let There Be Water,” Seth (Yossi) Siegel turns 65… Hedge fund manager and philanthropist, John Paulson turns 63… Owner of Bundles of Boston, Sheree Boloker turns 62… Martina Yisraela Riefferturns 60… CEO of WestExec and the co-founder and former CEO of the Center for a New American Security, she served as the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy (2009-2012), Michèle Flournoy turns 58… Founder of the Center for Class Action Fairness established to combat abusive class-action settlements, now a division of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, Ted Frank turns 50… Senior Rabbi of the Beth Jacob Congregation of Beverly Hills, California, Kalman Topp turns 46… Safety and special teams player for the NFL’s New England Patriots since 2012 and member of two Super Bowl-winning teams, Nathan “Nate” Ebner turns 30… Matt Kosman

SATURDAY: Polish-born violin prodigy who lived in London and then Miami, recording artist, performer and teacher, Ida Haendel turns 90… Former member of the New York State Assembly (1983-1993), Attorney General of New York (1994) and member of the New York City Council (2002-2013), Oliver Koppell turns 78… Senior rabbi at Congregation Mt. Sinai in Brooklyn Heights, EVP of the New York Board of Rabbis and co-host of a radio show on religion since 1982, Rabbi Joseph Potasnik turns 72… Film, stage and television actress and voice artist, best known for her role in the 1990s Fox sitcom “Parker Lewis Can’t Lose,” Melanie Chartoff turns 68… Billionaire Russian oligarch, a friend of Vladimir Putin since childhood, owner of the largest construction company for gas pipelines in Russia, Arkady Rotenbergturns 67… Associate lecturer in religious studies at the University of Wyoming, Seth Ward turns 66…

CEO and founder of BizBash, a resource marketplace for event organizers, David Adler turns 65… Leader of the opposition in the South African National Assembly (1997-2007), then South African ambassador to Argentina (2009-2012), Tony Leon turns 62… Actress and singer, and songwriter, appeared in the title role of the 1984 film Supergirl,” Helen Slater turns 55… Television and movie producer, screenwriter and executive, producer of the first eight seasons of the Pokémon TV series and writer of most of the Pokémon films, Norman J. Grossfeld turns 55… Fresno, California resident, Paul Gordonturns 48… Investment banker, he is the husband of Chelsea Clinton, Marc Mezvinsky turns 41… Actor, writer and musician, he has appeared in dozens of movies and television programs, he is best known for his role as Seth Cohen on The O.C., Adam Brody turns 39… Account manager at GumGum, Julie Winkelman turns 28…

SUNDAY: Israeli-American pianist and distinguished professor of music at Indiana University, Menahem Pressler turns 95… British chemist and research professor at the University of Nottingham, Sir Martyn Poliakoff turns 71… Partner in the downtown Denver law firm of Silverman & Olivas and veteran radio broadcaster, he was formerly Chief Deputy District Attorney for Denver, Craig Silverman turns 63… Ray Watts turns 54… President and co-founder of The New Agenda, an organization helping women and girls succeed, following a career at Morgan Stanley and Wasserstein Perella trading bank debt, Amy Siskind turns 53… First OMB Director in the Obama administration (2009-2010), former CBO director, now vice chairman of investment banking at Lazard, Peter R. Orszag turns 50…

Astrophysicist and professor at Johns Hopkins University and the Space Telescope Science Institute, he was a winner of the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics, Adam Riess turns 49… Deputy National Director of AIPAC’s synagogue initiative, Rabbi Eric Stark turns 48… SVP at CRC Public Relations since 1998, he was previously communications director at U.S. Term Limits, Adam Bromberg turns 47… Melissa Wisner turns 36… Manager of Government Relations and Public Policy at Google Australia, former White House intern (2004), Jesse Suskin turns 36… Senior writer for Politico and co-author of Politico’s Playbook, Jake Sherman turns 33… Vice Chairman of Republicans Overseas United Kingdom, Drew Liquerman turns 22…