Jewish Insider's Daily Kickoff - January 11, 2017

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President-elect Donald Trump talks to Vice President-elect Mike Pence at a news conference in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York, January 11, 2017.
President-elect Donald Trump talks to Vice President-elect Mike Pence during a news conference in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York, Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2017. Credit: Evan Vucci/AP

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DRIVING THE CONVERSATION: "Intel chiefs presented Trump with claims of Russian efforts to compromise him" by Evan Perez, Jim Sciutto, Jake Tapper & Carl Bernstein: "Classified documents presented last week to President Obama and President-elect Trump included allegations that Russian operatives claim to have compromising personal and financial information about Mr. Trump, multiple US officials with direct knowledge of the briefings tell CNN... The two-page synopsis also included allegations that there was a continuing exchange of information during the campaign between Trump surrogates and intermediaries for the Russian government, according to two national security officials." [CNN]

Trump tweets this morning: "Intelligence agencies should never have allowed this fake news to "leak" into the public. One last shot at me. Are we living in Nazi Germany?" [Twitter]

"BuzzFeed Posts Unverified Claims on Trump, Stirring Debate" by Sydney Ember and Michael Grynbaum: "Ben Smith, BuzzFeed’s editor in chief... offered a further explanation about why the site had published the document. “Our presumption is to be transparent in our journalism and to share what we have with our readers,” Mr. Smith wrote. “We have always erred on the side of publishing. In this case, the document was in wide circulation at the highest levels of American government and media." ... Immediately after BuzzFeed’s publication, some reporters volunteered that they, too, had received copies of the report. “Raise your hand if you too were approached with this story,” Julia Ioffe, a journalist who has written extensively on Russia, wrote on Twitter, adding that she had not reported on the information in the document “because it was impossible to verify.”" [NYTimes

"Michael Cohen: 'It Is Fake News Meant to Malign Mr. Trump'" by Rosie Gray:
"It alleges that Michael Cohen, special counsel to Trump, was central to “the ongoing secret liaison relationship between the New York tycoon’s campaign and the Russian leadership,” and that he met secretly with Kremlin officials in Prague in August 2016. “I’m telling you emphatically that I’ve not been to Prague, I’ve never been to Czech [Republic], I’ve not been to Russia,” Cohen said.  “The story is completely inaccurate, it is fake news meant to malign Mr. Trump.”" [TheAtlanticYahoo]

HAPPENING TODAY: President-elect Donald Trump holds a news conference, his first since winning the 2016 election. Jewish Insider's Jacob Kornbluh will be reporting from the press conference. [CSPAN]

TRANSITION TOWER: “Trump’s risky approach to the West Wing” by Annie Karni:
“This president has a son-in-law who works for him, and family coming over to the East Wing,’ [Obama’s first chief of staff Rahm] Emanuel said. “None of us has ever experienced that.” A senior transition official stressed how well [Jared] works in tandem with Priebus and Bannon, offering internal support for the former Breitbart chairman, and valuing Priebus for his inside-the-beltway connections. But with Kushner adding a big unknown to the chain of command, Emanuel said, “there’s no advice I could give. We all would say, ‘try to keep whatever’s in the East Wing in the East Wing.’ This is something no chief of staff has experienced.” [Politico

PROFILE: “Who are Trump's friends? One is Thomas Barrack, a Californian who could shape his views on the Middle East” by Michael Finnegan: “Barrack, a grandson of Lebanese Christian immigrants, grew up in Culver City. His father ran a grocery store; his mother was a secretary. In the family’s small stucco house, his parents spoke English with Barrack and his sister, Arabic and French with the grandparents... As Trump prepares to take power, Barrack’s long business history in the Mideast — and his deep knowledge of its politics and its cultures — makes him a significant player in shaping Trump’s thinking on the region Barrack said he declined a top role in Trump’s administration, telling the president-elect he could serve him better as a friend with “no skin in the game.”” [LATimes

"Trump laying the groundwork for 2020 reelection bid" by Alex Isenstadt:
"Trump plans to keep his Manhattan-based campaign headquarters open as he assumes the presidency – a move that represents a sharp break from his predecessors, and one that positions him to begin running for reelection in 2020. Trump intends to retain a skeletal campaign staff of around ten people with a senior aide at the helm. The office will be overseen by Michael Glassner, a veteran Republican strategist and top campaign adviser." [Politico] Flashback: Our profile of Glassner from last February "From AIPAC to Trump: Michael Glassner’s journey" [JewishJournal]

REPORT: “Obama may get rejected from golf club over Israel policies” by Daniel Halper:
“Obama is looking to join the elite Woodmont Country Club in Maryland once he becomes a private citizen. But members of the mostly Jewish club are at each other’s throats over whether to accept the golf-loving president, with many saying he deserves to be snubbed for not blocking an anti-Israel vote at the United Nations, according to the sources. “In light of the votes at the UN and the Kerry speech and everything else, there’s this major uproar with having him part of the club, and a significant portion of the club has opposed offering him membership,” a source told The Post.” [NYPost; GolfDigest

Flashback - Netanyahu on 9-21-2016:
“I want you to know, Barack, that you’ll always be a welcome guest in Israel. And, by the way, I don’t play golf, but right next to my home in Caesarea in Israel is a terrific golf course.” [Politico]

“Obama warns against support for Israeli settlements” by Tia Goldenberg: "If the notion is that unfettered support for Israel or more specifically support for the Netanyahu government's policies — no matter what they are, no matter how inimical they may be to the prospects for peace — if that's what qualifies as a good friend, then I think that we will see a worsening situation over time," Obama said during the interview, filmed in Washington last week. Obama defended the abstention in the interview, saying "I believe it was the best move for peace." [AP

--Key quote: “He had a good friend, just Bibi did not always recognize it. He had a good friend in the last eight years.” [Mako

“Obama, Benjamin Netanyahu lock horns in separate appearances” by Herb Keinon: “Netanyahu, speaking to a group of AIPAC leaders he met in Jerusalem on Tuesday, doubled-down on his assertion that the US shepherded through the resolution. “I want you to know in no uncertain terms, we have unequivocal evidence that the Security Council resolution passed at the UN against Israel was led by the administration. There is no question whatsoever about that,” he said, repeating for emphasis, “no question whatsoever.” The premier then went on to quote from then US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright who said in 1994 that the US opposed a similar UN resolution because of specific references to Jerusalem. “We simply do not support the description of the territories occupied by Israel in the 1967 war as occupied Palestinian territory,” Netanyahu quoted her as saying.” [JPost; Twitter]  Barely a fifth of Jewish Israelis think Obama was friendly to Israel, poll shows [ToI

“Kerry Assails 'Factless' Environment, Defends Obama Legacy” by Matthew Lee: “At a conference focused on national security and the presidential transition, Kerry rejected criticism that the Obama administration had failed to lead in dealing with world crises. "We've been leading," he said, pointing to the Iran nuclear deal He said charges that the administration mishandled the Arab Spring revolts against authoritarian leaders were wrong. "People are not separating a remarkable transformation that is taking place globally from things that we are really responsible for," Kerry said... "We didn't start the Arab Spring, we couldn't have stopped the Arab Spring. There is no way the Obama administration doing anything would have changed what was happening in those countries."” [AP]  Kerry to attend Middle East peace conference in Paris [France24

“Kerry Laments Lack of Progress on Trump Transition at State” by Nick Wadhams and Margaret Talev: “There are some people who have been in the building for a period of time,” Kerry said of Trump’s “landing team” at State, “but quite candidly I think there has not been a lot of high-level exchange at this point,” he said. He added that he has yet to meet with Rex Tillerson, Trump’s nominee for secretary of state Lambasting Trump’s passion for commenting via tweets on issues of all kinds, Kerry said, “If policy is going to be made in 140 characters on Twitter and every reasonable measure of accountability is being bypassed and people don’t care about it, we have a problem.” [Bloomberg

DRIVING THE DAY: “Tillerson to testify Russia must be held to account for its actions” by Josh Rogin: “In his statement, Tillerson will also pledge that the Trump administration will get tough on Iranian violations of the nuclear deal and China’s reluctance to use its influence to stop North Korea’s nuclear program.” [WashPost

“Five things to watch in Rex Tillerson's Senate confirmation hearing” by Tom DiChristopher: “Tillerson will likely be confronted with a range of questions on hot-button issues, including the Iran nuclear agreement, the Syrian civil war and the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.” [CNBC

HEARD YESTERDAY: Sen. Bob Corker, Chair of the Senate's Foreign Relations Committee, on CNN's "The Lead" with Jake Tapper:
 "We want to know how is he going to try to influence the president? What is his view? At the end of the day, when they walk away from the table, he's going to do what president-elect Trump wishes for him to do... How do they feel about alliances around the world... What people are going to be looking for is how is he going to influence the president, even though, at the end of the day, he may not win the case." [CNN

“2 Experts Back James Mattis, Defense Nominee, as ‘Stabilizing’ Force” by Michael R. Gordon: “Eliot A. Cohen who signed a letter during the campaign arguing that Donald J. Trump was unfit to serve as commander in chief, argued that an exception should be made because General Mattis was a person of integrity “A Secretary Mattis would be a stabilizing and moderating force, preventing wildly stupid, dangerous and illegal things from happening, and over time helping to steer American foreign and security policy in a sound and sensible direction,” Mr. Cohen said.” [NYTimes

HEARD LAST NIGHT -- Democratic Sen. Chris Coons (NJ) at Christians United for Israel: "I'm here to thank you for your advocacy, your engagement, and your passion for the State of Israel."

TOP OF THE HILL: "Senate Foreign Relations Committee to Discuss Resolution On UNSC 2334 Today" by Aaron Magid: “It is critical that this resolution pass, pass by a wide margin and before January 15,” David Brog, Founding Executive Director of the Christians United for Israel explained to Jewish Insider. “Any effort to add additional measures to this resolution—however worthwhile they might be in the abstract— should be avoided if it will result in either a delay in the vote or a decreased majority voting in favor,” he added... Mort Klein, President of the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) objected to the inclusion of the two-state solution in S. Res. 6. “The “two-state” language should be deleted prior to a vote,” he demanded." [JewishInsider]

Sen. Corker tweets: "Was glad to welcome David Friedman, President-elect Trump’s nominee for Ambassador to Israel, to the office yesterday." [Twitter]

DISPATCH FROM JERUSALEM: “Trump reportedly moves ahead with embassy relocation” by Jacob Kornbluh: “The incoming White House team has already begun informing U.S. allies in the Middle East and Gulf about President-elect Donald Trump’s plan to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, according to a report by CNN According to several media reports, Trump is determined to follow through on his campaign promise, albeit a specific date has not been revealed.” [JewishInsider

“PLO threatens to revoke recognition of Israel if US embassy moves to Jerusalem” by Peter Beaumont: “Senior Palestinian negotiator Mohammed Shtayyeh told reporters on Tuesday that any move to relocate the US embassy would provoke a reaction. “One of the measures we are considering seriously is the issue of mutual recognition between the PLO and Israel. [It] is not valid any more doing this,” he said.” [Guardian

“Trump may start with US ambassador in Jerusalem, not an embassy” by Elise Labott and Nicole Gaouette: “Trump's transition has been floating the possibility of initially having the US ambassador to Israel work and live in the US consulate in Jerusalem, while the American Embassy remains in Tel Aviv Diplomats said there have been signs Trump may pull back from his campaign pledge Diplomatic sources said having Friedman work out of the consulate, at least until the waiver expires, could give the incoming administration time to think through the consequences of relocating the embassy and find a face-saving way to back out of Trump's campaign pledge.” [CNN

"Will Trump be the president who moves the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem?" by William Booth and Carol Morello: 
"It could even be a virtual embassy, with the Trump administration announcing that all ambassadorial duties will henceforth be conducted in Jerusalem — and the ambassador could meet people in the lobby of the King David Hotel, for example, if he wished." [WashPost

“Bennett: We must seize ‘unique opportunity’ of Trump’s first weeks to tell him what Israel wants” by Raphael Ahren: “I view the next three weeks as a unique window of opportunity that will close,” Bennett said, in a meeting with the editorial staff of The Times of Israel. “Because in those three to four weeks, [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu for the first time will have to say to President [Donald] Trump what he wants. The new administration wants to hear our vision. It’s open to listening.” The first step Bennett intends to take, right after Inauguration Day, is proposing a bill to apply Israeli law to Ma’ale Adumim, a Jerusalem suburb outside the pre-1967 lines. “I want to break the glass ceiling through Ma’ale Adumim,” he said Donald Trump has shown in his own personal history the ability to take very creative and bold approaches. This [annexing Area C of the West Bank to Israel] is a creative and bold approach.” [ToI]

** Good Wednesday 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 **

TOP TALKER: “Chan Zuckerberg Initiative Builds Political Muscle for Philanthropic Work” by Mike Isaac: “David Plouffe, who managed Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign and is chief adviser and a board member at Uber, is leaving the ride-hailing company to join the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative as president of policy and advocacy. In addition, Mr. Zuckerberg and Dr. Chan are forming a public policy advisory board of former government officials and other experts in the fields of education, science communications and advocacy. The new board will be led by Kenneth Mehlman, who managed President George W. Bush’s 2004 re-election campaign and is now head of global public affairs at Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, the private equity firm. Mr. Mehlman will volunteer part of his time to the new board, which is recruiting other members who will also serve in a part-time capacity.” [NYTimes

“Thanks to $10M gift from the Krafts, Combined Jewish Philanthropies renovates its HQ” by Catherine Carlock: “The office will feature the Myra Kraft Boardroom, named after Kraft’s late wife, and the Harry Kraft Center for Jewish Education, a learning space named after Kraft’s late father. “CJP is a vital resource, and my family’s vision is that this gift will allow the organization to continue to thrive in its work of fulfilling the most important needs and aspirations of our Greater Boston Jewish community,” Robert Kraft said in a statement The Kraft family’s $10 million donation funded a bulk of the project, and the $5.6 million balance will be funded through additional donations or tax-exempt financing, [Julie] Somers said.” [BostonBizJournal

TALK OF OUR NATION: "Miami’s Cuban Jews ponder the meaning of Trump’s pick for international negotiator" by Franco Ordonez: "To Marcos Kerbel, knowing that a devout Jew will have the ear of the president-elect of the United States to help shape Cuba policy is an encouraging sign. President-elect Donald Trump named Jason Greenblatt, a top Trump Organization executive and Orthodox Jew, to a new role as special representative for international negotiations. His portfolio is expected to include Israeli-Palestinian peace talks and the American relationship with Cuba." [McClatchyDC]

“After bomb threats, JCC Association reassures Jewish community” by Danielle Ziri: “The JCC Association, which oversees all Jewish Community Centers in North America, attempted to reassure its frightened members on Tuesday, a day after bomb threats were called in to at least 16 of its centers across the United States...[David Posner, director of strategic performance at the association] said...  that the organization has a partnership with the Secure Community Network, which focuses on security for Jewish institutions throughout North America, as well as an “ongoing relationship” with the Department of Homeland Security.” [JPost

SCENE LAST NIGHT - fundraiser in support of Tom Perez in his race for DNC Chair at the home of Barbara and Michael Goldman in DC. Host committee included County Executive Ike Leggett, Ambassador Norm Eisen, Ann Lewis, Pennie Abramson, Howard Friedman, Debbie Driesman, Frank Islam, Rick Edson, Susie Gelman, Aaron Keyak, Steve Rabinowitz, Jeffrey Abramson, Terry Lierman, Mike Goldman. Also present: DeDe Feinberg, Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, Beth Grupp, Bluelight's Madeline Peterson and Jason Berger. [Pic]

SPORTS BLINK: "Jewish-American pros look to boost baseball in Israel" by Aron Heller: "Israel has just one baseball-specific field, and most Israelis know little about the game. Yet the country has emerged as a potential spoiler in the upcoming World Baseball Classic thanks to quirky regulations that allow it to pack its squad with American pro players of Jewish descent. Major leaguers Ike Davis, Sam Fuld and Ryan Lavarnway were among 10 team members who visited Israel for the first time this month to get a glimpse of the country and people they will represent — and to boost a sport that remains on the fringes of the local athletic scene." [AP]

DESSERT: "The Long, Unusual History of the Pickled Cucumber" by Ernie Smith: "These days we eat pickles because we like them, but in the pre-refrigeration days, pickling was an essential way to preserve food for storage. The process is closely associated with Jewish food due pickled foods being used by Eastern European Jews to get flavorful food during the cold winter months." [AtlasObscura]

BIRTHDAYS: Judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Chicago, author of 40 books on jurisprudence and economics, Richard Posner turns 78... Film, television and theater director, best known for his TV series "Full House" and "Family Matters" and his films "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" and "Fat Albert," Joel Zwick turns 75... Co-author (w/ John Heilemann) of "Game Change" and "Double Down: Game Change 2012," Mark Halperin turns 52... Film, stage and television actress, star of the 2000 comedy film "The Whole Nine Yards," Amanda Peet turns 45... Born in Montreal to a Moroccan Jewish family, former goaltender with the NHL's Phoenix Coyotes who also played in six other leagues, Josh Tordjman turns 32... Founder of Nannies by Noa, a full-service childcare agency, serving families in NYC and the Hamptons, teen entrepreneur Noa Mintz turns 16... Lynn Blitzer... Stephen Needleman... Jerome Groopman...

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