Jewish Insider's Daily Kickoff: November 10, 2017

Romney eyes Senate seat | First Jewish POTUS? | Macron's surprise Saudi visit | Israel planning UN action against Iran

JI Staff
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman meets with French President Emmanuel Macron in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia  on November 9, 2017.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman meets with French President Emmanuel Macron in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on November 9, 2017.Credit: Untitled/AP
JI Staff

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TOP TALKER: "Romney moves toward Senate bid" by Alex Isenstadt: "Mitt Romney... is huddling with Utah’s class of GOP power brokers, contacting the state’s major political donors, and hitting the trail for candidates running in local races amid mounting speculation that the state’s longtime senator, Orrin Hatch, will retire... He also had a private conversation with... Bill Kristol. Kristol declined to say what the two discussed. But, he said, “Assuming Sen. Hatch retires, I hope Mitt runs. He'd be a very good senator."" [Politico]

Romney bundlers and supporters on whether they want him to run for Senate and if they plan to raise money for him... Lisa Spies, who served as Romney's Jewish outreach director in 2012: "The answers would be yes and yes." Fred Zeidman: "I think the world of Mitt and will do anything he asks me to do. We need him in public service." Phil Rosen: "Yes and yes. It would be my honor and privilege." Norm Coleman: "Mitt Romney is one of the most competent and decent public figures I have ever known. I’d welcome the opportunity to again be on Team Romney. "

FIRST JEWISH POTUS? -- At Andrew Ross Sorkin's DealBook 2017 conference, Mark Cuban says he's seriously 'considering' running for president in 2020: "Given the circumstances, there’s a unique opportunity for someone, like me, who’s independent and not affiliated with a party in any way... Whether it’s me, Bob Iger, Howard Schultz or anyone else, there’s a door wide open, anyone without a deep affiliation." [Video]

-- Former NBA Commissioner David Stern on Mark Cuban: "I helped raise him, I am going to vote for him." [Video]

Howard Schultz on a possible run in 2020: "I’m not thinking about that, but I’m deeply concerned about the country and direction of the country. I’m deeply concerned about our standing in the world, and I’m deeply concerned about Americans who are not participating in the economy." [Forbes] Watch all 8 hours of the DealBook conference here [YouTube]

"Steve Bannon Advised Mark Cuban to Run in 2020 as a Democrat" by Lachlan Markay: "According to four sources familiar with their conversations, the two have been in touch for months about a possible 2020 bid. Bannon, these sources say, has encouraged Cuban to run and to consider doing so as a Democrat, seeing it as a realistic path to a viable presidential run." [DailyBeast]

DEEP DIVE: "Cory Booker Loves Donald Trump" by Michael Kruse: “I hear Democrats often say this, that Republicans are so mean we’ve got to stop being so nice,” he said. “I’m, like, ‘That’s 100-percent opposite to what we need to be.’ We don’t need to take on the tactics that we find unacceptable in the Republican Party... It’s not what we preach in churches on Sunday mornings, in synagogues on Friday nights, in mosques during the call of prayer.” He bemoaned the fact that he was “lambasted” for giving the cancer-stricken McCain a hug this past summer. “Do you think President Trump needs a hug,” I asked, “and are you the person to give it to him?” Booker laughed. “I think President Trump,” he said, “needs a lot more than a hug.” [Politico]

IN THE SPOTLIGHT... "Trump adviser Stephen Miller interviewed in Mueller probe" by Joe Tacopino: "President Trump’s top foreign policy adviser, Stephen Miller, has reportedly been interviewed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Miller, the highest-level administration officials to speak with investigators, talked about his role in the firing of FBI director James Comey among other matters, according to CNN." [NYPost]

"Papadopoulos represented Trump campaign at meetings with British officials, Israeli settlers" by Maegan Vazquez: "A video obtained by The Jerusalem Post shows that [George Papadopoulos] met with Israeli settlers around Inauguration Day in Washington... At the time of the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Papadopoulos spoke at a foreign policy panel hosted by the American Jewish Committee... Based on a review of event video, he was not introduced as a campaign adviser. But in remarks, Papadopoulos referenced at least once working for the campaign... The AJC, in a statement last week, described his participation as part of a broader effort by the group to maintain contacts "among advisers to both parties' 2016 presidential candidates and in the two parties' national committees."" [CNN]

PARADISE PAPERS: "Trump ally Robert Kraft revealed as longtime owner of offshore firm" by Jon Swaine: "Kraft is one of several owners of major US sports teams to appear in the leak through involvement in firms in tax havens... A spokesperson for Kraft said the Bermuda company had been established to do business with certain customers, which the spokesperson declined to identify. The spokesperson insisted the offshore vehicle dealt with relatively small sums. “These entities are not organized or maintained for any reason other than to facilitate doing business in any particular location and decisions are not income tax motivated,” said the spokesperson." [Guardian]

"Russian Money in Silicon Valley" by Julia Ioffe: "[Yuri] Milner’s story illuminates the very beginnings of Moscow’s efforts to establish a foothold in Silicon Valley, back in the days when the American president was pushing a thaw with Russia. It was a moment that set the conditions of the current one, in which the Russians’ use of social media and other digital tools to undermine America’s election has driven U.S.–Russia relations to their lowest point in decades. And it’s revealing of the Kremlin’s evolving methods in learning to control and manipulate the internet to advance its own interests—first at home, and then abroad." [TheAtlantic]

"U.S. and Russia Are Nearing an Agreement on Resolving the Syrian Civil War" by Josh Lederman and Matthew Lee: "If clinched, the deal was expected to be announced by President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Vietnam on Friday, four U.S. officials said. The United States has been reluctant to schedule a formal meeting for the leaders unless they have a substantive agreement to announce. But White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Friday that they won’t hold a formal meeting due to scheduling conflicts on “both sides.” Still, Sanders said it was possible Trump and Putin could have a less formal encounter while in Vietnam." [AP]

"France's Macron broaches Lebanon in surprise Saudi visit" by Sylvia Westall and Stephen Kalin: "French President Emmanuel Macron held hastily scheduled talks in Riyadh on Thursday with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman amid rising tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran, notably over Lebanon and Yemen." [Reuters]

ON THE HILL -- Senators offer differing views on Lebanese PM’s resignation -- by JI's Aaron Magid: Senator Mike Rounds (R-SD) told Jewish Insider on Thursday that Tehran was to blame for the political turmoil in Lebanon. “Iran has been seeking and creating mischief and causing problems for all governments in the entire Middle East,” he explained. “It’s nothing new. Hezbollah relies on them (Iran) for the resources necessary to continue the battle. This is really about Iran continuing to extend their ability to influence other governments in that region.”

Yet, Senator Bob Corker (R-TN), who has met Hariri multiple times, urged caution. While noting that he is trying to further investigate the true causes of Hariri's resignation, the Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee added, “maybe there was another reason that he stepped down.” The location for Hariri’s announcement was also troubling for Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA). “The resignation is extremely suspicious that he would resign on a trip to Saudi Arabia rather than in Lebanon. The press in the region is speculating that he may be in some sort of detention,” said the 2016 Democratic Vice Presidential candidate. “Iran and Saudi Arabia’s proxy war is crushing people in this region.” [JewishInsider]

"Trump’s Secret Weapon: The Hidden Ties That Bind Israel, Saudis" by Jonathan Ferziger: "A Netanyahu aide... said Iran now threatens so many countries that it’s natural for Israel’s alarm to be shared by others... “It’s very possible that Saudi Arabia and Israel are forming a joint strategy toward Hezbollah and Iran,” said Alireza Nader, a policy analyst at Rand Corp. “While Saudi Arabia may have some diplomatic and economic sway over Lebanon, it cannot fight Hezbollah militarily. But Israel has the capability to strike.” That doesn’t mean it wants to -- at least for now. “We may have to confront Hezbollah sooner or later,” Ofer Shelach, a member of the foreign affairs and defense committee in Israel’s parliament, said in an interview. “But everyone wants to put off this confrontation.”" [Bloomberg]

"AP Interview: Israel planning UN action against Iran" by Josef Federman: "Intelligence Minister Israel Katz told The Associated Press that he believes conditions are ripe to take a stand against Iranian actions in the region, including its support for the Lebanese Shiite militant group... “Israel has made clear what its red lines are and we will stand by those red lines,” he said." [AP]

RJC'S MATT BROOKS' DISPATCH FROM ISRAEL: Brooks is accompanying Missouri Governor Eric Greitens, who is on a weeklong trade mission sponsored by the Republican Jewish Coalition and the Hawthorn Foundation. "This is a really important trip," Brooks told Jewish Insider's Jacob Kornbluh in a phone interview. "Eric Greitens not only is the only Jewish governor in the country, but also given his background as a former Navy SEAL and the fact that he is somebody who is a real serious and real rising star, I think the relationships, and the meetings, and the briefings, and all of the aspects of this trip are going to be very, very helpful for him in terms of his ability to go back and to stand up and be a leader on the pushback against BDS and to be a vocal supporter for the Jewish community."

Brooks on the newly-launched Jewish Democratic Council of America: "Any group that wants to be both a pro-Israel advocacy group and pro-Democratic Party group has got to work to hold the Democratic Party back to its original moorings and its original anchor within the mainstream of the pro-Israel movement. Unfortunately, there are forces that are trying to pull the Democratic Party away from its traditional alliances with Israel, and we see that time and time again with the rise of the progressive left, and the J Street folks... No group will be successful unless it works to address and to hold the Democratic Party back where it needs to be, and the party of Joe Lieberman, and Scoop Jackson, and the Democrats who were unapologetically pro-Israel."

HEARD YESTERDAY -- Gary Cohn on the similarities between President Trump and former boss Llyod Blankfein: "They're both very driven. They're both very passionate. They both strongly believe in what they're doing. Their core messaging is very similar. I mean, they come into the office with passion every day. And they are both driven by the mission and feel like they need to get the mission accomplished, day in and day out... And I think they both understand who their client base is, and they manage their client base effectively." [CNBC]

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PROFILE: "AT&T Deal Puts Trump’s Antitrust Cop at Center of a Political Storm" by Cecilia Kang: "In an interview late last month, Makan Delrahim strongly rejected the idea that the White House had tried to or could influence his thinking. Delrahim, 48, was born in Tehran, but his family moved to Los Angeles when he was almost 10, around the time of the Islamic Revolution. He attended the University of California, Los Angeles, as an undergraduate and then went to law school at George Washington University. In his recent interview, he said that the Justice Department did not need to intervene just because a company was big, even a monopoly. He also said the government should not startle business markets with an abrupt change in its approach to antitrust legal theory." [NYTimes; CNNMoney]

"Black Cube will donate Weinstein profits to charity, says board member" by Jordana Miller and Lesley Messer: "Black Cube, a private agency run by former Israeli intelligence officers that Harvey Weinstein enlisted to gather information on his alleged accusers, will donate profits from the case to organizations benefiting sexual assault victims, according to a statement from the company... "The company condemns any act of violence, especially sexual harassment, and therefore the company will donate all its profits from this case to organizations that support victims of sexual assault in Tel Aviv, London and New York," the statement concluded." [Yahoo] Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak put Harvey Weinstein in contact with the ex-spy agency Black Cube [DailyMail]

"For Harvey Weinstein, a New York Lawyer With a List of Celebrity Clients" by James McKinley: "[Ben] Brafman, a former Manhattan prosecutor, is regarded as one of the best trial lawyers in the city, known for a disarming sense of humor and wickedly skillful cross-examinations... “I never allowed the media circus, if you will, to impact my focus,” Mr. Brafman said in an interview on Thursday. “My determination is to extricate my client from this mess.” Mr. Brafman declined to comment on the allegations against Mr. Weinstein, except to say he would “vigorously defend” his client." [NYTimes]

"World's Greatest Living Violinist Itzhak Perlman on Anti-Semitism, Trump and New Documentary" by Ray Rogers: "I don’t think there’s a rise [in anti-Semitic attacks]. Usually the rise is with people talking more about it, but it’s always there. I say to everybody, “Don’t ever forget. Always remember.” When you see things happening, you see that nothing has changed really. I never deny who I am. I’m Jewish, I’m from Israel. That’s who I am. Sometimes people say, “We don’t want to talk about it,” but I don’t mind talking about it. And what I believe in." [THR]

"Billionaire philanthropist honored with tribute from every living ex-president" by Judy Kurtz: "David Rubenstein was the rare recipient of a quintet of presidential shoutouts, with all five former living presidents honoring him for his “patriotic philanthropy” in a surprise video. Rubenstein, co-founder of private equity firm The Carlyle Group and a philanthropist who’s donated money to preserve a slew of historic structures, received the Liberty & Justice for All Award on Wednesday from the LBJ Foundation at a gala event at the National Archives in Washington." [TheHill]

SPORTS BLINK: "Cavs GM Koby Altman Went To Israel To Scout One Of The Top Prospects In The 2018 NBA Draft" by Bill Defilippo: "While Cleveland was getting ready to take on Houston on Thursday night, Koby Altman was in Israel to watch 18-year-old Slovenian wunderkind Luka Doncic in action. Doncic suits up for Real Madrid, which took on Maccabi Tel Aviv in a massive Euroleague matchup. Madrid lost, 90-83, but Doncic had a monster game, going for 19 points, six rebounds, and six assists." [Uproxx]

TALK OF THE TOWN: "David Dinkins Doesn’t Think He Failed. He Might Be Right" by John Leland: "At the heart of David Dinkins’s story as mayor are four days in August 1991, after a car in a rabbi’s motorcade in Crown Heights ran a red light and killed a 7-year-old Guyanese boy named Gavin Cato. The neighborhood exploded... In his office a quarter-century later, Mr. Dinkins dismissed a question about whether, had he changed tactics one night sooner, he might have won re-election. “You don’t know that until after the fact,” he said. “I said to the police brass, Whatever you guys are doing, it ain’t working. You need to get it together. But whether some police thought that I wanted them to be lenient on blacks attacking Jews — I can’t imagine how they would have thought that — but that was not the case. I got accused of that, and that’s painful.”" [NYTimes]

"Frederick County Public Schools plans to be open on Yom Kippur" by Allen Etzler: "Frederick County’s public schools will be open next year on Yom Kippur and teachers will work on Election Day, according to a school calendar proposal approved Wednesday... Joy Schaefer and student member Will Anderson both voted against a motion to open schools on Yom Kippur as a way to elicit feedback and then make a final decision. “This is not a popularity contest,” Schaefer said." [FrederickNewsPost]

REMEMBERING: "Tzipora Jochsberger, Founder of a Jewish Arts School, Dies at 96" by Richard Sandomir: "The Hebrew Arts Center started in two borrowed classrooms at the Ramaz School on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. About 15 children attended that first Sunday morning; she taught the recorder in one room, and Fred Berk taught dance in the other... When Ms. Jochsberger retired in 1985, enrollment at the school totaled about 400; today, the significantly more diverse student body (with much less of a Jewish presence) totals about 2,800 children and adults." [NYTimes]

WEEKEND BIRTHDAYS -- FRIDAY: Lyricist and songwriter for TV, film and stage, who together with her husband, won three Academy Awards for Best Original Song, Marilyn Bergman turns 88... Manager of the Audibel Hearing Aid Center in Marietta, Georgia, Murray Kurtzberg turns 75... Former CNN news anchor whose first day on the job was September 11, 2001, longtime reporter for ABC, Aaron Brown turns 69... Executive Director of the Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs at California State University, Los Angeles, Raphael J. Sonenshein, Ph.D. turns 68... DC-based producer for CBS News and 60 Minutes since 2008, Howard L. Rosenberg turns 66... ESPN's SportsCenter anchor, Linda Cohn turns 58... Bar-Ilan University Professor and social historian, Adam Ferziger turns 53... Senior Rabbi of Leo Baeck Temple in Los Angeles, Ken Chasen turns 52... Executive editor at Foreign Policy Magazine, Benjamin Pauker turns 42... Co-founder in 2004 of Yelp, where he remains the CEO, Jeremy Stoppelman turns 40... Chief communications officer for the New York City Housing Authority, Jean B. Weinberg turns 37... Senior investigative reporter at ABC News, Josh Margolin turns 47...

SATURDAY: Russian born billionaire, entrepreneur, venture capitalist and physicist, Yuri Milner turns 56... US Ambassador to the Czech Republic (2011-2014), now a Senior Fellow at Brookings Institution, he is the co-founder and chair of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, Ambassador Norm Eisen turns 57... Attorney in Los Angeles, Gerald Neiter turns 84... Democratic US Senator from California (1993-2017), Barbara Boxer turns 77... Author and Senior Fellow at USC’s Annenberg School, Morley Winograd turns 75... Television personality (former host of Double Dare), comedian and talk show host, Marc Summers (born Marc Berkowitz) turns 66... Billionaire businessman, founder of Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, Ken Grossman turns 63... Founder and president of DC-based Plurus Strategies, he served as the principal deputy assistant secretary for energy eficiency at the Department of Energy during the Clinton administration, David Leiter turns 63... President at American Built-in Closets in South Florida, Perry Birman turns 60... Talk show host Zev Brenner turns 59... Founder and executive director of Los Angeles-based IKAR (a Jewish spiritual community led by Rabbi Sharon Brous), Melissa Balaban turns 53... Emmy Award and People's Choice Award winning television producer, Max Mutchnick turns 52... Member of the Knesset since 2009, Orly Levy-Abekasis turns 44... Aish HaTorah teacher in Los Angeles, she holds a law degree and a masters in in clinical psychology, author and co-founder of a gourmet kosher cooking website, Emuna Braverman... Surprise, Arizona resident, Shula Kantor...

SUNDAY: Professor of History at Columbia University and expert on Japan, Carol Gluck turns 76... Counsel at the Poughkeepsie, New York law firm of Gellert, Klein & MacLeod, he was a member of the New York State Senate (1990-2012), Stephen M. Saland turns 74... Sportscaster for NBC since 2006, after 29 years at ABC, Al Michaels turns 73... Attorney in NYC, Bernard Wachsman turns 64... Member of the New York State Assembly since 2006, her district includes Manhattan's Upper West Side, Linda Rosenthal turns 60... Author of young-adult fiction and winner of the National Book Award for "Challenger Deep," Neal Shusterman turns 55... Controversial author, journalist and former political advisor to Al Gore and Bill Clinton, Naomi Wolf turns 55... Mayor of Oakland, California since 2015, Elizabeth Beckman "Libby" Schaaf turns 52... President of The Cranemere Group (a private equity firm based in NYC, London and Frankfurt), he was previously director of President Obama's National Economic Council (2014-2017), Jeffrey Zients turns 51... British journalist and political correspondent for BBC News, Joanne "Jo" Coburn turns 50... SVP and general manager of MLB's Minnesota Twins, Thad Levine turns 46... Member of the Knesset since 2006 for the Yisrael Beiteinu party, Robert Ilatov turns 46... Israeli fashion model and actress, Nina Brosh turns 42... Film and television actress, Jordana Ariel Spiro turns 40... Matthew D. Berkman turns 33... Chairman of loop88, a creative advertising agency focused on Pinterest, Dave Weinberg...

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