Trump Impeachment Holds Pitfalls and Perils for American Jews

After 'Shifty Schiff,' will Trump disparage his committee’s brilliant attorney as 'Greedy Goldman'?

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Daniel Goldman (L) during testimonies in front of the House Intelligence Committee, Washington, November 13, 2019. Adam Schiff is on the right.
Daniel Goldman (L) during testimonies in front of the House Intelligence Committee, Washington, November 13, 2019. Adam Schiff is on the right.Credit: Alex Brandon,AP
Chemi Shalev
Chemi Shalev

Daniel Sachs Goldman is the lead lawyer of the House Intelligence Committee, and now serves as the Democratic majority’s chief interrogator in the impeachment hearings against Donald Trump. He is matched up against veteran Congress attorney Steve Castor, who represents the Republican majority. At this point, Goldman is winning, not on points, but by knockout.

Which means it’s only a matter of time before Trump brands Goldman with one of his signature disparaging nicknames that will stick with the charismatic attorney for ever more. If Trump stays true to the form that inspired him to dub Committee Chairman Adam Schiff as “Shifty Schiff”, he might tag Goldman as “Greedy Goldman,” “Conman Goldman” or even “Goldman the Globalist”. As with Schiff, his defenders will then wax indignant at any suggestion that Trump’s moniker reeks of anti-Semitism.

Goldman made a name for himself during his decade as a Manhattan prosecutor as a nemesis of top mafiosos and Wall Street embezzlers, before moving on to become a legal analyst for MSNBC. He is not as prominent a target as Schiff, but his background provides far more fertile fodder for anti-Semites seeking “proof” of a Jewish conspiracy against the president.

Schiff grew up in a family of modest means that moved from Massachusetts to Arizona, and then to California in search of a livelihood. His father Ed started out as a traveling salesman in Framingham, Massachusetts, and ended up the owner of a lumberyard in Alamo, California, near San Francisco. Schiff, a graduate of Stanford University and Harvard Law School, pulled himself to prominence by his own bootstraps.

Goldman, on the other hand, is the epitome of Jewish aristocracy and “old money.” His grandmother Rhoda Haas Goldman was the daughter of Elise Stern, whose father David, with his brother-in-law Levi Strauss, co-founded the eponymous jeans and clothing conglomerate. Rhoda’s father was Walter Haas Sr., heir to a successful California grocery chain, who served as president and CEO of Levi-Strauss from 1928-1955. She married Richard Goldman, a Los Angeles based insurance tycoon and Jewish philanthropist.

Goldman’s family is a major donor to general causes as well as Jewish community institutions: It was also one of the original funders of the Birthright-Taglit program. Goldman’s brother William, who died in a plane crash two years ago at the age of 38, was a prominent contributor and lay leader of the New Israel Fund, a factoid that could surface in any right-wing smear campaign against his brother.

And while there is no family connection, even Daniel’s family name, Sachs Goldman, conjures thoughts of the famous New York investment bank often cast as villain in anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. Recall Trump’s infamous closing campaign ad that depicted him as a lone fighter on behalf of oppressed Americans against the “global power establishment” that “controls America” and has “trillions of dollars” at stake in the elections.

The only three figures chosen to represent this globalist coven - besides Hilary Clinton - were former Goldman-Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein (Jewish), former Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen (Jewish) and, of course, George Soros (Jewish), grandmaster of manipulation and heavyweight champion of conspiracies throughout the world.

The same insinuation, though less explicit, was dropped this week by conservative Fox News host and frequent Trump trumpeter Laura Ingraham. She ascribed the sham impeachment proceedings to the frustration of Democrats for failing to produce a formidable rival to Trump in the 2020 elections.

Ingraham described the Democratic party as divided into two main factions: The Socialists, represented on screen by Bernie Sanders (Jewish) and fiery Congress member Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and The Globalists, represented on screen by former Vice President Joe Biden and by potential presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg (Jewish).

The impeachment battle being waged by the two nefarious factions, who just happen to represent groups stereotypically linked to Jews, was aimed at enabling continued mass immigration and diluting America, Ingraham claimed. She called on Trump supporters to rally to their president’s defense in order to safeguard the “true American heritage.”

Prominent lawyer Joe diGenova was less circumspect: In an interview on Fox news following the first day of open impeachment hearings this week, diGenova ascribed the impeachment conspiracy directly to Soros. He shrugged off the impact of Bill Taylor and George Kent, the first two State Department witnesses in the impeachment hearings, because, as he said, Soros “controls large parts” of the State Department and has bought off senior diplomats and FBI agents.

According to diGenova, the true but secret backdrop to the entire impeachment process is that “George Soros wants to run Ukraine and he’s doing everything he can to use every lever of the United States government to make that happen, for business interests, not for good government business.”

And why are diGenova’s barely-disguised anti-Semitic tropes worthy of mention? Because he is one of Trump’s personal lawyers; because he represents two of the main protagonists in the Ukraine scandal, Lev Parnas and Igor Furman, Rudy Giuliani’s assistants in Ukraine shenanigans, who are currently under arrest; and because his Soros/Jewish conspiracy smear is widely shared by white supremacists and alt-right groups - and their adherents and supporters in the White House.

The danger is that the efforts to find a scapegoat for Trump’s travails on Capitol Hill can only be expected to spread as impeachment hearings proceed. Even if the case against Trump seems fairly open and shut - hardly anyone doubts that the president did indeed try to extort President Vlodomir Zelensky for dirt on Biden by suspending military aid to Ukraine - Trump’s supporters are unlikely to regard it as justifying impeachment.

Trump loyalists may not go so far as to forgive him for shooting an innocent bystander on Fifth Avenue, as he once claimed, but they are bound to regard an effort to shake down a foreign leader in order to get to the “truth” about his villainous Democratic rival as nothing more than a dirty trick common to all politicians.

Failing to refute the facts pertaining to the impeachment, Republicans in Congress will claim it’s a trumped-up charge and that their president has no case to answer. Their less restrained constituents are more likely to embrace a narrative that casts Trump as the victim of a sinister plot concocted by his greatest enemies: Liberals and globalists, who seek to destroy America from within. For many of them, the next stop is a Jewish cabal.

Trump himself may be cautioned to steer clear of anti-Jewish stereotypes in what will surely be a no-holds-barred assault on his would-be impeachers. Many of his followers, however, are unlikely to be so restrained. They’ve heard enough anti-Semitic dog whistles from Trump and his circle to understand that if things go south for their cherished leader, it can only be because of people whose names are Schiff, Goldman, Soros and the like, and who have only one thing in common.