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2018 WATCH -- “In the era of Donald Trump, New England’s biggest GOP donor is funding Democrats” by Annie Linskey: “Boston hedge fund billionaire Seth Klarman lavished more than $7 million on Republican candidates and political committees during the Obama administration But the rise of Donald Trump shocked and dismayed Klarman He’s given roughly $222,000 since the 2016 election to 78 Democrats running for Congress “The Republicans in Congress have failed to hold the president accountable and have abandoned their historic beliefs and values,” Klarman said in a prepared statement “I received a tax cut I neither need nor want I’m choosing to invest it to fight the administration’s flawed policies and to elect Democrats to the Senate and House of Representatives.” [BostonGlobe]
-- Trump sticking with small donor strategy: "Even as some major Republican donors have warmed to Mr. Trump, his political operation is not abandoning the approach that carried it through much of the 2016 campaign, when it relied primarily on a stream of donations from small donors giving online." [NYTimes]
2020 WATCH -- “Kander targets Trump during New Hampshire address that sounded like a potential 2020 stump speech” by Paul Steinhauser: “Jason Kander took sharp aim at President Donald Trump on Saturday night as he headlined a major Democratic Party dinner in New Hampshire, the state that holds the first presidential primary. The former Missouri secretary of state... claimed that “right now, white supremacists and the KKK are literally on the march, displaying for everybody their horrific views that they once thought they had to hide. Why? Because they are emboldened by a president that says they are very fine people.” Kander added: “We deserve to have a commander-in-chief who at least has the courage to stand up to the KKK and Nazis.”” [STLToday; CSPAN]
-- “Eric Garcetti, presidential long shot, journeys to Iowa, the land of dreams” by Mark Z. Barabak: “When Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti set out Friday to introduce himself to Iowa with a two-day visit, the all-but-announced Democratic candidate for president was traveling a well-trod path He used the occasion to speak a bit of his fluent Spanish, denounce anti-Semitism” [LATimes]
TOP TALKER -- "Trump, a reluctant hawk, has battled his top aides on Russia and lost" by Greg Jaffe, John Hudson and Philip Rucker: "The president, who seemed to believe that other individual countries would largely equal the United States, was furious that his administration was being portrayed in the media as taking by far the toughest stance on Russia... His briefers tried to reassure him that the sum total of European expulsions was roughly the same as the U.S. number. “I don’t care about the total!” the administration official recalled Trump screaming... Growing angrier, Trump insisted that his aides had misled him about the magnitude of the expulsions. “There were curse words,” the official said, “a lot of curse words.”" [WashPost]
PALACE INTRIGUE -- "G.O.P. Pollster Withdraws From Role Advising Both Pence and Haley" by Maggie Haberman: "The Republican pollster who had planned to split time advising both Vice President Mike Pence and the United Nations ambassador, Nikki R. Haley, on national security issues withdrew from the dual role on Sunday night... The move by the veteran strategist, Jon Lerner... came two days after President Trump learned of the unusual time-sharing plan... Mr. Trump was displeased by the move for several reasons... Mr. Lerner will continue in his role advising Ms. Haley and, one White House official said, continue to informally advise the Pence team... Mr. Trump made clear to advisers... that he did not want to see Mr. Lerner with a seat at the table in the White House." [NYTimes]
BEHIND THE SCENES: "Trump was furious when he learned Pence was bringing on Nikki Haley's deputy Jon Lerner... "Why would Mike do that?" Trump wondered aloud about Pence's decision... Trump told Kelly to get rid of Lerner... Senior officials, including White House Counsel Don McGahn, were concerned about the logistics of Lerner dividing his time between Haley and Pence." [Axios]
-- Lerner was pictured in The Situation Room with the President on Thursday evening discussing Syria.
TALK OF THE MIDDLE EAST -- The United States, along with Britain and France, launched airstrikes on Friday night against Syrian research, storage and military targets as President Trump sought to punish President Bashar al-Assad for a suspected chemical attack near Damascus last weekend that killed more than 40 people. Trump rushed to declare "mission accomplished, indicating the one-time strike does not reflect a shift in position to withdraw from Syria.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the strike, but Israeli officials are worried that Putin may try to limit Israel's operations in Syria in retaliation for U.S.-led strikes. Yesterday, French President Emmanuel Macron said he had convinced Trump to stay engaged in Syria long-term. "I assure you, we have convinced him that it is necessary to stay for the long-term,” said Macron. The White House pushed back immediately. “The U.S. mission has not changed -- the President has been clear that he wants U.S. forces to come home as quickly as possible,” Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said.
“Inside Trump’s decision to bomb Syria” by Philip Rucker, Missy Ryan, Josh Dawsey and Anne Gearan: “National security adviser John Bolton, in his first week on the job, was a hawkish voice urging a meaningful show of force that would deter Assad. Trump also heard from some hawks on Capitol Hill, including Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), who said he urged the President to forgo his plan to pull back troop levels in Syria” [WashPost] Trump Adviser Bolton Coordinated U.S.-led Strike in Syria With Israel [Haaretz]
ISRAEL'S STRIKE -- Tom Friedman writes ”The Real Next War in Syria: Iran vs. Israel: Round one occurred on Feb. 10, when an Iranian drone... was shot down... Israeli Army spokesman, Brig. Gen. Ronen Manelis, said Friday that... “the aircraft was carrying explosives.” ... “This is the first time we saw Iran do something against Israel — not by proxy,” a senior Israeli military source told me. “This opened a new period.” It certainly helps to explain why Israeli jets launched a predawn missile raid on the Iranian drone’s T4 home base last Monday... “It was the first time we attacked live Iranian targets — both facilities and people,” said the Israeli military source."
"Senior Israeli defense officials have let it be known that if the Iranians were to strike back at Israeli targets, Israel may use the opportunity to make a massive counterstrike on Iran’s entire military infrastructure in Syria These defense officials say there is zero chance Israel will make the mistake it made in Lebanon — of letting Hezbollah establish a massive missile threat there — by letting Iran do the same directly in Syria Unless [Qassem] Suleimani backs down, you are about to see in Syria an unstoppable force — Iran’s Quds Force — meet an immovable object: Israel. Fasten your seatbelt.” [NYTimes]
DRIVING THE CONVO -- “A Trump Doctrine for the Middle East” by Martin Indyk: “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has tried repeatedly to enlist Trump’s aid in establishing red lines in Syria against Iran’s establishment there Instead, Netanyahu has had to travel seven times to Moscow to beseech Putin for the help he could not secure from Trump. But absent Trump’s engagement, Putin has no interest in challenging his Iranian partner... Bibi’s appeals therefore fell on Putin’s deaf ears Now Tehran’s promises of retaliation are ratcheting up tensions and an all-out confrontation is looming Should that happen, Trump can be counted on to cheer Israel from the sidelines as the troubled place becomes predictably even more troubled.” [TheAtlantic]
Eliot Cohen writes “Neither Precise Nor Proportionate: Vladimir Putin has yet another piece of evidence that President Donald Trump will steer away from a direct confrontation with him... So message received: The American enemy will posture and thump his chest, but is afraid to actually stand up to you, even though his air force could blow yours out of the sky and his navy sink yours to the bottom of the sea.” [TheAtlantic]
Aaron David Miller and Richard Sokolsky write... “The bottom line, while far from perfect, the Trump administration's response is better than the alternatives in the land of lousy options.” [USAToday]
Wall Street Journal editorial... "Trump’s Next Syria Challenge: The better U.S. strategy is to support regional opponents of Iranian imperialism and try to turn Syria into the Ayatollah’s Vietnam. Only when Russia and Iran begin to pay a larger price in Syria will they have any incentive to negotiate an end to the war." [WSJ]
"Arab leaders meet to unify ranks with eye on Iran, Jerusalem" by Aya Batrawy: "Arab heads of state stressed in their opening remarks unity and unwavering support for Palestinians. King Salman reiterated Saudi Arabia’s rejection of the US decision to move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel... The strongest criticism of the Trump administration came from Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas... “The decisions have made the United States a party to the conflict and not a neutral mediator,” he said." [ToI]
Mideast envoy Jason Greenblatt tweeted on Friday afternoon: "Saeb Erakat's personal attack on me is a symptom of the difficulties in the path to peace. Saeb knows there’s no truth to his accusation. This outburst, like all his recent outbursts, is merely intended as a distraction from the important work that lies ahead. But this empty, self-indulgent rhetoric won’t stop us from trying. Saeb: It’s time to time to roll up your sleeves and get to work. Or, you can continue to run in circles, and get pretty much nowhere! Shabbat Shalom/Salam!"
"Think tank offers roadmap for Israel-Diaspora relations" by Tamara Zieve: "The Jewish People Policy Institute (JPPI) has released a new framework for Israel-Diaspora relations... One of the main recommendations is that Israel take Diaspora Jews into consideration when formulating Israeli policies that have ramifications for world Jewry, while advising that Diaspora communities aspire to interact with all parts of Israeli society and exercise “appropriate caution with regard to major involvement in the political plane."" [JPost]
HEARD AT J STREET CONFERENCE DAY 2 -- "Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, accused Israeli politicians from the current government of showing “ignorance” about American Jewry and its connection to Israel. He specifically mentioned Tourism Minister Yariv Levin, a member of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Likud party, who said that non-Orthodox Jews won’t exist in two generations. Jacobs said that this ignorance leads the Israeli government “to miss our strength, our vitality and our commitment to Jewish values.” [Haaretz]
Nadav Tamir, senior adviser at the Peres Center for Peace and Innovation, at a panel discussing the future of the Israeli-Diaspora relationship: "I can guess that most people here in this room don't like Sheldon Adelson, but you have to give him the credit that he is putting his money where his mouth is." [Video]
HAPPENING TODAY -- Senators Ben Cardin (D-MD), Brian Schatz (D-HI) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT); Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-IL), Ambassador Susan Rice, and Palestinian Chief Representative to the U.S Dr. Husam Zomlot will address J Street. In the evening, J Street will celebrate its 10th anniversary at a gala dinner featuring a keynote address from Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) and a conversation with former Mideast Envoy George Mitchell, moderated by Susan Glasser. [Livestream]
HEARD YESTERDAY -- Alan Dershowitz discusses his recent meetings with Trump on CNN's Reliable Sources with Brian Stelter: "I was there to talk about the Middle East. I've been there at three times to talk about the Middle East. My hope is that he can help bring about a peaceful resolution of the Middle East and I want to help him... That's why I was invited to the White House and that's why I will continue to go back to the White House, no matter who's president, to try to help fix the big problems of the Middle East... I was only with him for an hour and a quarter. It was a very informal dinner with a group of people, he seemed upbeat. He wanted to talk about, you know, the Netanyahu issue in Israel. He wanted to talk about the Gulf and Syria and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict... In fact, at the dinner, they basically threw me out when they wanted to talk about confidants, as they said, 'All right. We're finished with dinner. You leave now.'" [Video]
INSIDE THE ADMIN -- “Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein tells confidants he is prepared to be fired” by Julia Ainsley: “One source who spoke to Rosenstein said he seemed fully aware he may soon lose his job and was at peace with the possibility Rosenstein has said in recent private conversations that history will prove he did the right thing by firing Comey in May 2017.” [NBCNews]
“Michael Cohen and the End Stage of the Trump Presidency” by Adam Davidson: “Even if he were to fire Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and then had Mueller and his investigation put on ice, and even if—as is disturbingly possible—Congress did nothing, the Cohen prosecution would continue... This is the week we know, with increasing certainty, that we are entering the last phase of the Trump Presidency. This doesn’t feel like a prophecy; it feels like a simple statement of the apparent truth.” [NewYorker]
IN THE SPOTLIGHT... “Michael Cohen once rented Ivanka’s Park Avenue apartment to the Taxi King” by Richard Johnson: “Cohen... once put a shady Russian-born taxi magnate into a Trump Park Avenue apartment owned by Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner. The tenant was Evgeny “Gene” Freidman, who was sentenced in 2017 to 28 days in a Chicago jail for contempt of court. Freidman — who was Cohen’s partner in operating 32 taxi medallions that Cohen owned — is set to go on trial in May in Albany on charges of failing to pay $5 million to New York State.” [PageSix]
“Under Siege, Michael Cohen Is Vacillating Between a New Level of Exasperation and Trumpian Business-As-Usual” by Emily Jane Fox: “[Cohen] has suggested to people close to him that perhaps he should act as his own attorney, because he may be the most apt person to defend himself. He has expressed anger at the lack of outrage over the fact that his legal office and private residences were searched... at times, he has jokingly asked whether there is going to be a “Million Michael March”—a reference to the renowned 1995 African-American display of unity—to retrieve his documents.” [VanityFair] Everything that mattered in the Trump Organization, every sizable deal or sensitive transaction, required Jason Greenblatt's signature, not Cohen's [Bloomberg]
Elliott Broidy Quits RNC Post After Report on Payment to Ex-Model: “Los Angeles-based investor Elliott Broidy, who has been a top fundraiser for Trump and the party, issued a statement Friday acknowledging that he “had a consensual relationship” with the woman, who got pregnant. He said he retained [Michael] Cohen after Trump’s personal lawyer told Broidy he had been contacted by the woman’s attorney. “It is unfortunate that this personal matter between two consenting adults is the subject of national discussion just because of Michael Cohen’s involvement,” Broidy said in the statement.” [WashPost; WSJ] Trump Lawyer Michael Cohen Used the Same Delaware Company for Payment Deals to Two Women [WSJ]
-- Broidy “also resigned from the Republican Jewish Coalition, where he had been a member of the national board of directors.” [Forward]
** Good Monday Morning! Enjoying the Daily Kickoff? Please share us with your friends & tell them to sign up at [JI]. Have a tip, scoop, or op-ed? We’d love to hear from you. Anything from hard news and punditry to the lighter stuff, including event coverage, job transitions, or even special birthdays, is much appreciated. Email Editor@JewishInsider.com **
BUSINESS BRIEFS: Wall Street Titan, Hank Greenberg, Takes Aim at Law That Tripped Him Up [NYTimes] Leon Black may be looking to buy Tronc [NYPost] Turnberry Associates and Richard LeFrak buy Costco store next to SoL Mia in North Miami Beach [TheRealDeal] Oracle Co-CEO Safra Catz Tells Trump Pentagon Cloud Plan Makes 'No Sense' [Bloomberg] Citigroup and Apollo defend Kushner family loans [Politico] Moelis Reminds Staff to Treat Young Bankers Well [Bloomberg] Israeli cybersecurity startup empow raises $10 million in Series B funding round [CyberScoop]
SPOTLIGHT -- "Wall Street’s $6 Trillion Man Fink Is Finally Worth $1 Billion" by Tom Metcalf: "[Larry] Fink and [Stephen] Schwarzman... have been on a collision course for years. They work, literally and figuratively, on the opposite sides of the same street... The broad outlines of their twin careers are by now well-known. First came the years together at Schwarzman’s Blackstone Group LP, where the young Fink added a bond shop to the striving buyout operation. Then, the inevitable split. Fink got what was then the underdog: BlackRock Inc. It’s no underdog now. Lately, the investment world has been tilting BlackRock’s way. Today the firm sits atop $6.3 trillion in assets, making it the world’s largest money manager and one that dominates the market in passive-investments... Fink’s personal fortune, meantime, has at last eclipsed $1 billion." [Bloomberg]
STARTUP SPOTLIGHT -- “Goldman Sachs Comes to the App Store” by Peter Rudegeair: “The deal closed on Friday for Clarity Money, whose backers include Soros Capital and Citigroup Inc.’s venture-capital arm. Adam Dell -- brother of Michael Dell, the personal-computer pioneer—founded Clarity Money and will join Goldman as a partner, a title rarely given to outsiders Goldman is paying a high eight-figure sum for Clarity Money -- a rich valuation for a two-year-old startup that has yet to turn a profit. But Clarity Money’s roughly one million users will quadruple Goldman’s customer base.” [WSJ]
“Zuckerberg's $1.5 Million Worth of Private-Plane Trips—and Other Perks of Being the Boss” by Anders Melin: “The benefits of running a large public company go well beyond paychecks and stock awards. Take Mark Zuckerberg, who crisscrossed the U.S. last year all part of a personal challenge to meet and talk with regular people. The cost of his personal trips on private planes added up to $1.52 million... while the expense of his personal security program rose 50 percent to $7.32 million. Facebook Inc. footed both bills Las Vegas Sands Corp. spent $3.97 million last year on personal security for CEO Sheldon Adelson and his family, surpassed only by Facebook’s costs for protecting Zuckerberg.” [Bloomberg]
"The Scientist Who Rose From Russia’s Ghettos to Israeli President" by Gil Troy: "Chaim ben Ozer had to be crazy smart to be the first kid ever sent at eleven, from his “shtetl,” Motol, to study science in the big city, Pinsk. After studying in Germany, he earned his Ph.D. in organic chemistry in Switzerland—escaping Russia’s restrictions on Jews’ creativity, identity, and freedom... Legend has it that Chaim Weizmann parlayed his successes as “Charles” to make Jewish history. In 1917, when [Lord Arthur] Balfour... asked his super-scientist friend how to honor his contribution to the British war effort, Weizmann supposedly replied: “There is only one thing I want: a national home for my people.”" [DailyBeast]
HOLLYWOOD -- "‘Broad City’ Renewed for Final Season; Ilana Glazer, Abbi Jacobson Sign Comedy Central Deal" by Daniel Holloway: "The half-hour series from Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson has been renewed for a fifth and final season set to premiere in 2019, Comedy Central announced Wednesday... As part of the first-look deal, Comedy Central is putting three new series into development. Two, “Mall Town USA” with writer-creator Gabe Liedman “Young Professionals” with writer David Litt, executive produced by Glazer and Jacobson; and a third, “Platinum Status,” written by Glazer’s brother Eliot and exec produced by Glazer with Principato Young and Electric Avenue’s Will Arnett and Marc Forman." [Variety]
TALK OF THE TOWN -- "Starbucks C.E.O. Apologizes After Arrests of 2 Black Men" by Matt Stevens: "The video shows the men surrounded by several police officers wearing bicycle helmets in the Center City Starbucks. When one officer asks another man whether he is “with these gentlemen,” the man said he was and called the episode ridiculous. “What did they get called for?” asked the man, Andrew Yaffe... Moments later, officers escorted one of the black men out of the Starbucks in handcuffs. The other soon followed... Kevin R. Johnson, the chief executive of Starbucks, released a statement in which he called the situation a “reprehensible outcome.”" [NYTimes]
TRANSITION -- Michael Froman, former U.S. Trade Representative in the Obama Administration, is joining Mastercard as vice chairman and president of strategic growth. h/t Playbook
DESSERT: "Move Over, Avocado — Meet the Next Super Fruit" by Nick Dall: "When Israeli horticulturist Yossi Zaphrir first started experimenting with pitaya (aka dragon fruit) back in 1990, people often told him the flamboyant-looking fruit “tasted like wood.” Now, after decades of selective breeding, demand for his supersweet, purple-fleshed Bilu pitaya is so high that the 88-year-old has had to double production capabilities at his farm in Rehovot, Israel." [Ozy]
BIRTHDAYS: Born and raised in Miami Beach, he is Israel's Ambassador to the United States since 2013, Ron Dermer turns 47... Deputy Secretary of State and Deputy National Security Advisor under President Obama, Antony John "Tony" Blinken turns 56... Actress, she was previously married to Ronald Perelman, Ellen Barkin turns 64... Singer Mordechai Werdyger, known by his stage name Mordechai Ben David, turns 67... Olympic track-and-field athlete, and survivor of the 1972 Munich Olympics massacre, Esther Roth-Shachamorov turns 66... Physician, venture capitalist in the biotechnology and life-sciences industries, founder of development stage biotech companies, Lindsay Rosenwald turns 63... Professor of international affairs at Princeton University and co-director of the Woodrow Wilson School's Center for International Security Studies, Aaron Louis Friedberg, Ph.D. turns 62... Filmmaker, he directed the 2011 documentary "Paul Williams Still Alive" and the 1997 slapstick comedy "Vegas Vacation" starring Chevy Chase, Stephen Kessler turns 58 (h/t Heather Podesta)... Dean of Harvard's Kennedy School since 2016 and former Director of the Congressional Budget Office, Douglas Elmendorf turns 56...
Television producer David Kohan turns 54... Long Island native, now a Los Angeles pharmacist, Jeffrey D. Marcus turns 54... Former Mayor of Hoboken, New Jersey, Dawn Zimmer turns 50... Member of the House of Commons of Canada since 2015, she represents the riding of Toronto-Danforth, Julie Dabrusin turns 47... Ellen K. Finestone turns 45... Senior communications officer for media and external relations at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation since 2017, Alexandra Sydney Glass turns 40... Principal of Dark Horse Strategy Group, Geoff Middleberg turns 28... Uriel Kejsefman turns 27... Singer, pianist, and composer, Mendy Portnoy turns 26... Associate at NYC's Global Infrastructure Partners, he was a White House staffer in 2017, Matthew Saunders turns 25... SVP of Schnur Associates, a marketing, PR and lobbying firm, he was previously a deputy director for AIPAC, Joel L. Schnur... Allan A. Myer... Darlene Arden... Josh Goldstein... Sarah Wolfson (h/ts Playbook)...