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TOP TALKER -- The Robert Mueller probe hit close to home yesterday as the offices and hotel room of President Trump's personal attorney Michael Cohen were raided by FBI agents at the referral of Mueller. Law-enforcement agents spent several hours at the Loews Regency hotel in NYC on Monday morning. The Cohen raids required high-level authorization within the Justice Department. Trump lashed out hours later in a public appearance and called the raids a “disgraceful situation” and an “attack on our country in a true sense.”
"Trump is angrier than he has been at any point in the many fuming news cycles," Maggie Haberman tweeted. Trump's rage continued into Tuesday morning with a few short angry tweets. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein was also targeted for approving the warrant. Trump reportedly also complained about Rosenstein in private and said that he wished Rosenstein was not in the job and there was no one making the prosecutors follow the rules. This morning, Trump cancelled a planned trip to Latin America this week.
"Feds Are Treating Michael Cohen Like a Mob Lawyer, Trump Allies Say" by Betsy Woodruff and Asawin Suebsaeng: “It’s a tactic generally used against organized crime, against very serious, very serious criminals and lawyers who are operating outside of the protections of the law,” said Alan Dershowitz... “The only excuse for raiding a lawyer’s office is if the lawyer is potentially involved in crime—if there’s probable cause to believe that the attorney is either involved in crime or his services are being used for that,” said Sol Wisenberg, a white collar defense attorney at Nelson Mullins and former federal prosecutor." [DailyBeast]
SPOTLIGHT: "Mueller Investigating Ukrainian's $150,000 Payment for a Trump Appearance" by Mike Schmidt and Maggie Haberman: "Investigators subpoenaed the Trump Organization this year for an array of records about business with foreign nationals. In response, the company handed over documents about a $150,000 donation that the Ukrainian billionaire, Victor Pinchuk, made in September 2015 to the Donald J. Trump Foundation in exchange for a 20-minute appearance by Mr. Trump that month through a video link to a conference in Kiev. Michael D. Cohen... solicited the donation. The contribution from Mr. Pinchuk, who has sought closer ties for Ukraine to the West, was the largest the foundation received in 2015 from anyone besides Mr. Trump himself." [NYTimes]
Mike Allen's observation: "Take a minute to think about the history unfolding before our eyes. You have the president’s top lawyer getting raided by the FBI, prompting the president to warn of an epic attack on government and signaling he might try to can the special counsel investigating him. This is on the eve of the arguably most powerful and well known CEO of our generation getting grilled by Congress, in part because the Russians used his platform to try to elect the man at the center of it all. History books will be written about this — and you were there to see it all unfold." [Axios]
DRIVING THE DAY -- "What Mark Zuckerberg Will Be Grilled On at the Congressional Hearings" by Scott Shane: "When Mark Zuckerberg appears Tuesday afternoon before members of two Senate committees, it will be the culmination of a Facebook public relations blitz in the face of a series of controversies that have tarnished the reputation of the world’s largest social network. It will be the first appearance before Congress for Mr. Zuckerberg, who looks only slightly older than during his giddy first television appearance in 2004 to explain the unexpected growth of the college service he called “The Facebook.” Here are the major issues he is likely to be asked to address: Privacy, F.T.C. investigation, Russian chicanery, fake news, political bias and polarization, radicalization and violence." [NYTimes]
"Mark Zuckerberg's growing up moment" by Laurie Segall: "He may be 33, a billionaire many times over and unquantifiably powerful, but he is still relatively young and cloistered -- he has, after all, only ever had one job, and he started in it when he was 19." [CNN]
"Mr. Zuckerberg goes to Washington — so let’s stop acting like he can’t handle it. He can." by Kara Swisher: "As someone who made him do so once, I can attest that the formerly sweaty CEO won’t melt under the withering klieg lights of Congress." [Recode]
“Inside Mark Zuckerberg’s Charm Offensive" by Maya Kosoff: "Flanked by several besuited attendants, his body postured at an impossibly precise 90 degrees, Mark Zuckerberg was spotted marching through the corridors of the Hart Senate Office Building Monday morning as he made the rounds with lawmakers—the final leg of his apology tour before attempting to explain to a joint congressional panel how Facebook allowed the data of almost 90 million users to be siphoned by a rogue app." [VanityFair]
TALK OF THE MIDDLE EAST -- "Iran-Israel Conflict Escalates in Shadow of Syrian Civil War" by Ben Hubbard and David Halbfinger: "The attack on the Syrian air base near the desert town of Palmyra in central Syria drew new attention to a conflict between Iran and Israel that has been steadily increasing in intensity while mostly hidden in the shadows of Syria’s civil war... “The more we see of this, it seems like it’s a strike against Iranian capacities to operate drones from Syria potentially against Israel,” said Ofer Zalzberg, a Middle East analyst for International Crisis Group." [NYTimes]
“Israel has launched countless strikes in Syria. What's new is Russia's response” by Patrick Wintour: “Israel’s assault on Sunday night can be read as much as an opportunistic raid seizing on the outrage over the alleged chemical weapons attack in Douma to prosecute pre-existing battles rather than to punish the Syrian government. But Israel is also sending a message to the US president, Donald Trump that [the U.S.] cannot see the Syrian war solely as a battle to defeat Isis; it must also be seen as a battleground about Iranian expansionism.” [TheGuardian]
"Israel Wages a Growing War in Syria” by Robin Wright: “Recent Israeli military calculations are partly the byproduct of an agreement between the United States and Russia to “de-conflict” areas where they both have deployed manpower on the ground... Israel felt exposed. “It was basically a partition agreement that legitimized Iran as one of the shareholders in Syria. It gave Syria to Iran and Russia,” Ephraim Sneh, a retired brigadier general in the Israel Defense Forces and former member of the Knesset, told me. “Hezbollah already has a hundred and twenty thousand rockets and missiles pointed at Israel from Lebanon. We can’t let them do the same thing in Syria,” he said. “There is no government in Jerusalem—whoever is prime minister—who can accept the reality that has been created at the end of the war in Syria.”” [NewYorker]
VIEW FROM DC -- "Will John Bolton Push Trump Toward War in Syria?" by Abigail Tracy: “This is quite an overly full plate for the first day of a brand new National Security Adviser,” a former State Department official who knows Bolton told me. “The good news is that Bolton is up to speed on policy and knows the U.S. government well. The bad news [is] he hasn’t worked in this White House. . . . And while Bolton clearly knows the president, he hasn’t worked for him.” ... Trump’s new national security adviser is a notorious hawk on Iran and Russia—and the Assad regime in Syria is a proxy for both. “It is certainly trial by fire. Walking in on your first day and having to organize and unite the U.S. government around a course of action to use military force, this is about as hard as it gets,” [Nicholas] Burns told me."" [VanityFair]
Aaron David Miller writes “How John Bolton will fit into Trump's foreign policy team: Trump has called for bringing U.S. troops home from Syria. Given his hawkish stance on Iran, Bolton may prefer to keep them on the ground to counter Tehran. If he is able to help Trump through the present Syrian crisis, that could cement his credentials with the President on other issues.” [Axios]
"Pompeo asks Clinton for advice as he preps for confirmation battle" by Nahal Toosi: "Now that [Mike] Pompeo faces a tough confirmation process to become secretary of state himself, he has reached out to [Hillary] Clinton and [John] Kerry, as well as every other living occupant of the office, to ask for guidance. Clinton, for one, has been willing to help. “These were lengthy calls seeking advice” from the former secretaries, a person familiar with Pompeo’s prep work told POLITICO. “He understands the gravity of the challenge before him.”" [Politico]
TRANSITION -- President Trump has formally nominated David Schenker, a director at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, to be Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs. The nomination was sent yesterday to the Senate for confirmation.
HAPPENING TODAY: "Qatar Charm Offensive Appears to Have Paid Off, U.S. Officials Say" by Gardiner Harris and Mark Landler: "Mr. Trump will host Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani at the White House, shifting from describing Qatar as a “funder of terror” to what a senior administration official on Monday said was sympathy with Doha’s continued struggle under a four-nation embargo led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates... Over the past year, the emir has spent millions of dollars hiring lobbyists and flying influential American power brokers to Qatar in a charm offensive to win over the Trump administration." [NYTimes]
2018 WATCH -- "Rick Scott Enters Senate Race, and Florida Is Again Poised for a Bruising Campaign" by Patricia Mazzei: "Gov. Rick Scott made official on Monday what Floridians have suspected for months: He is running for the United States Senate against Bill Nelson, the incumbent Democrat, in a premier race that will return the nation’s largest swing state to its familiar role as the political vortex of a tumultuous election year... Mr. Scott’s candidacy leaves Democrats with no choice but to divert time and money to Florida." [NYTimes] Strategists in both parties think this race could cost up to $200 million [Politico]
Ron Krongold, a Miami-based board member of the Republican Jewish Coalition, tells us “Rick Scott has been very supportive of Israel. He has gone there a number of times as governor. He has succeeded in developing trade missions that have effectively caused more cooperation between companies in Israel and companies in Florida, and he's helped in any way he can with the Israel Bonds. And I know from personal conversations with him that he very much admires the United States’ only ally and the only democracy in the Middle East. As far as his term as governor, Scott has turned the state’s economy around, and he's done a great job in bringing our state to be one of the most growth-oriented and employment-oriented states in the union."
"The Democrats are going to have to throw a lot of money into this race because on one hand you have a professional politician in Bill Nelson, who voted for the Iran deal, and who has really not done much to help the state of Florida accomplish everything that Rick Scott has been trying to accomplish, against a dynamic young businessman who has chosen to change from being successful in business to being successful as a public servant. And he would never ever have voted in favor of the Iranian deal, which should tell you everything that you need to know about Bill Nelson.”
Andrew Weinstein, a Florida-based attorney and prominent Democratic donor, emails us “Rick Scott, who oversaw the largest Medicare fraud in US history, took the fifth 75 times, and once rescheduled an execution so his attorney general could attend a political fundraiser has been on the wrong side of every single issue important to Floridians. Climate change, the environment, gun safety, marriage equality, education - you name it and Rick Scott has taken an indefensible position. He has been a disaster as governor and would be a rubber stamp for the Trump agenda as a member of the United States Senate. No thanks. Bill Nelson has worked hard for the people of Florida. He is a moderate voice, a steady leader, and he deserves to be re-elected. While I expect this race to be competitive and expensive, I am confident Bill Nelson will emerge the victor.”
SELF-REFLECTION: "The Failures of Anti-Trumpism" by David Brooks: "Over the past year, those of us in the anti-Trump camp have churned out billions of words critiquing the president. The point of this work is to expose the harm President Trump is doing, weaken his support and prevent him from doing worse. And by that standard, the anti-Trump movement is a failure. We have persuaded no one. Trump’s approval rating is around 40 percent, which is basically unchanged from where it’s been all along."
"A lot of us never-Trumpers assumed momentum would be on our side as his scandals and incompetences mounted. It hasn’t turned out that way. I almost never meet a Trump supporter who has become disillusioned. I often meet Republicans who were once ambivalent but who have now joined the Trump train. Why has Trump dominated? Part of it is tribalism. In any tribal war people tend to bury individual concerns and rally to their leader and the party line. Part of the problem is that anti-Trumpism has a tendency to be insufferably condescending." [NYTimes]
ON THE HILL -- Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY) will announce today the introduction of new bipartisan Holocaust education legislation. The Never Again Education Act would establish a program to allocate funds to schools to teach the important lessons of the Holocaust and the consequences of intolerance and hate.
"Is There Anything Left To Say About the Holocaust?" by Thane Rosenbaum: "It’s the great paradox of the Holocaust. The mere thought of the genocide of European Jewry both paralyzes and demands action. It summons the silence and the scream. The contradictions are endless but understandable. The Holocaust is ineffable, and yet everyone wants to hear about it. It is unimaginable, and yet that never stopped artists from reimagining it. Either as a duty to the dead or in response to the lurid, voyeuristic fascination it evokes, finding new ways to remember the Holocaust always has been a moral imperative. But in the 73 years since the liberation of Auschwitz, these collective acts of giving voice to its memory make one wonder: With all that speaking about the unspeakable, is there anything left to say, or has everything already been said about the Holocaust? The question is overdue. Holocaust memory has grown a little stale over the past several years and fatigue has set in. The number of Yom HaShoah commemorations has declined around the world. With each passing year they dwindle, not unlike the number of survivors." [JewishJournal]
Correction: In yesterday's Daily Kickoff we incorrectly noted that MBS met with Haim Saban at Saban's residence. The dinner took place at the Crown Prince's Beverly Hills mansion.
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BUSINESS BRIEFS: Glencore boss Ivan Glasenberg quits as Rusal director after US slaps sanctions on Russian firms [TheIndependent; FT] U.S. Sanctions Cause Richest Russians to Lose $12 Billion in a Day [Newsweek] Marc Benioff: Every VC in Silicon Valley turned us down [TechCrunch] CBS likely will reject Viacom's demands for a higher valuation [LATimes] Rachael Horwitz is joining Coinbase as its first vice president of communications [Recode]
"This Man Hopes to Bring Peace to the Middle East by Solving Sky-High Unemployment" by Jonathan Russo: "In 2006, Ron Bruder, an American entrepreneur and property developer, set out to see if he could crack one of the Middle East’s most explosive and intractable problems: youth unemployment. He started a non-governmental organization (NGO) called Education For Employment (EFE) to help young people in the region learn a marketable skill and find employment... EFE is currently operating in nine countries—Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Palestine, Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, the United Arab Emirates and Tunisia." [Observer]
PROFILE -- “The Lonely Man of Faith: Rabbi Rick Jacobs runs America’s largest Jewish denomination. Can he save liberal Zionism in the age of Netanyahu?” by Abraham Riesman: “There was a time, not so long ago, when Jacobs defied conservative expectations by establishing a close rapport with Netanyahu. The famed Israeli activist and Jewish Agency chief Natan Sharansky brokered the pair’s first meeting in Israel not long after Jacobs’s installment. Jacobs recalls telling Netanyahu that their partnership had the potential to be like that between the late, liberal URJ president Alexander Schindler and legendarily conservative Prime Minister Menachem Begin. In Jacobs’s telling, he said to Netanyahu, “I hope that, as Rabbi Schindler and Prime Minister Begin could see something bigger than whatever particular issue, I hope that we’ll be able to see something bigger.” For a time, they were. The catalyst for their partnership — and for its dissolution — was the Western Wall issue.“ [NYMag]
"Sally Kohn Says Everyone Can Unlearn Hate" by Hilary Weaver: "In April of 2016, Sally Kohn publicly endorsed Bernie Sanders at a rally in Washington Square Park. As she spoke, her then 7-year-old daughter, Willa, a Hillary Clinton supporter, stood by her side. When Kohn mentioned that Willa is a Hillary fan, Bernie supporters in the crowd booed. Backstage, Kohn remembers her daughter asking, “Were they booing me?” Kohn came up with a white lie, telling Willa the crowd wasn’t booing, and that cheers can sometimes sound like boos... In her new book, The Opposite of Hate: A Field Guide to Repairing Our Humanity, Kohn addresses the role that hate plays in our lives and how anyone—even a former neo-Nazi-turned-Buddhist—can change." [VanityFair]
"When Neo-Nazis Marched Through Berlin’s Old Jewish Quarter, a Bookshop Took Notice" by Sally McGrane: "When right-wing extremists first marched in fall 2016 through the central Berlin neighborhood where [Jorg] Braunsdorf’s independent bookshop, Tucholsky Bookstore, is, he and many of his customers were shocked and appalled. When they marched again last spring, Mr. Braunsdorf decided it was time to act. First, he emailed everyone on his bookstore distribution list... Forty people attended an after-hours meeting. Along with a half-dozen of these attendees, Mr. Braunsdorf co-founded the Residents’ Initiative for Civil Courage. By last summer, when a third march through this neighborhood was announced, the group was ready... A friend of Mr. Braunsdorf’s designed colorful posters and fliers and together they set up three protest stations along the marchers’ route. Between 200 and 300 neighbors showed up with soup spoons, banging on pots and pans, to protest the march." [NYTimes]
Despacito YouTube music video hacked plus other Vevo clips: “YouTube's music video for the hit song Despacito, which has had over five billion views, has been hacked The Despacito video has been removed, but its cover image had shown a group wearing masks and pointing guns. The hackers, calling themselves Prosox and Kuroi'sh, had written "Free Palestine" underneath the videos.” [BBC]
MAZEL TOV -- "Seth Meyers names baby after Holocaust survivor great grandparents" by Amy Spiro: "Meyers and his wife, Alexi Ashe, welcomed their second son, Axel Strahl Meyers, on the floor of their apartment lobby on Sunday. In an emotional monologue on his show, Late Night with Seth Meyers, the host regaled his audience with... the meaning behind his name... "His middle name is Strahl, which is my mother in law Joanne - that's her parents name, that's her maiden name," he said. "I never met my wife's grandparents, but I've heard so much about them, and they were Holocaust survivors who met the day after they were liberated. They met in the hospital in Austria and days like this... when someone was born, you just have such an appreciation for everyone in your lineage who lived so that you could have this mom." [JPost]
"Who Is Neri Oxman? What to Know About the [Israeli] MIT Professor Hanging Out With Brad Pitt" by Megan Friedman: "Oxman was born in Israel to an American father and an Israeli mother who were both architects. She fulfilled her mandatory service in the Israeli military, then went to medical school. But she ended up pursuing her interest in design, transferring to architecture school after two years, then studying in London and finally entering the PhD program in design computation at MIT." [HarpersBazaar]
"Cheryl Saban Turns Her Artistry to Glass Blowing" by Amy Ephron: "Known for her elegant hosting for politics, causes, friends, holidays, and the way she embraces her own family and those closest to her, it surprises me that she describes herself as a loner. “Really, I am,” she says, “what I really like to do is ski, walk, blow glass...I spend an enormous amount of time alone, making jewelry and with my glass blowing” Saban has recently opened a shop. The interior of Cheryl Saban Designs is almost minimalist. The wares are shelved on glass, so each piece sparkles, with space between the collections. Every piece of glass is signed."
"No stranger to cutting edge science, Saban’s book Miracle Child: Genetic Mother, Surrogate Womb, (yes, she’s also a writer) relates the birth of her children with Haim Saban. Their son Ness (which means miracle in Hebrew) was the eighth child in the world to be born by a surrogate, and their daughter Tania, the fortieth. (Cheryl had previously had a hysterectomy and, through the miracle of modern science, was able to be the genetic mother with the use of a surrogate.)"
"Both Haim and Cheryl are both known, in addition to their individual artistic feats—Yes, I do think the personification in Power Rangers is an amazing child-like work of art —for their philanthropy and commitment to the arts: the theater they built in Beverly Hills which also functions as a synagogue on Friday night. (Cheryl is Lutheran but she agreed to raise their children in the Jewish faith.)" [Vogue]
DESSERT -- Restauranteur leans on family's Jewish heritage in Edmonton cafe: "Charles Rothman, born in São Paulo, Brazil, leaned on his Jewish heritage to create the menu for the Rooster Cafe and Kitchen. Looking back on his family history and the hardships his grandparents faced as Holocaust survivors, he decided to assert his Jewish background into the menu. He started by bringing in bagels from Toronto's Gryfe Bagels and using challah bread as the basis for some of his dishes... Though Rothman estimates there are only about 5,000 Jewish people in the Edmonton area, Rooster has been successful." [CBC]
BIRTHDAYS: Encino, California-based optometrist, Martin Bordo, D.O. turns 83... Past president of the U.S. Soccer Federation (1990-1998), previously an executive of both the LA Lakers and the LA Clippers, Alan Rothenberg turns 79... Author of three novels and a political history book, he is a former senior editor at The New Yorker and a deputy editor of the Outlook Section in the Washington Post, Jeffrey Frank turns 74... Author of 200 books including the Cam Jansen series and books for youth on the Holocaust, David Abraham Adler turns 71... Former VP of global strategic communications at the Motion Picture Association of America, Howard Gantman turns 67... Scarsdale, NY resident, Robin Samot turns 62... Soviet-born Israeli-American pianist, Yefim Bronfman turns 60... Member of Knesset (Likud) since 1999, Israel's Minister of National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Resources, in charge of Israel's Atomic Energy Commission, Yuval Steinitz turns 60...
Author of three books (including one made into an award-winning miniseries), she is the chief national correspondent at Yahoo News, following thirty years at the New York Times, Lisa Belkin turns 58... Dana B. Fishman turns 57... Tom Kohn turns 57... Co-host of both NPR’s Invisibilia and Slate's DoubleX Gabfest, she was born in Israel and moved to Queens when she was 5 years old, Hanna Rosin turns 49... Governor of Missouri since January 2017, Eric Greitens turns 44... Director of Communications at RespectAbilityUSA, Lauren Appelbaum turns 35... Student at Yale Law School, writer on law, the Middle East, religion and philosophy, Yishai Schwartz turns 28... President of NJI Media and co-founder of FamousDC blog, Josh Shultz... Digital strategy manager, Daniel Wolman... Naomi Atlani... Phil Hayes... Susie Diamond...