Jewish Insider's Daily Kickoff: March 26, 2018

MBS' Hollywood meetings | Barry Diller on the state of things | How Broidy made millions on Trump access | The Rabbi & The Labor Leader

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U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman
U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman Credit: BRIAN SNYDER Reuters
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IN THE SPOTLIGHT... NYTimes Front Page: "Marketing Ties to Trump, Top Donor Made Millions" by Ken Vogel and David Kirkpatrick: "Elliott Broidy offered tickets to V.I.P. inauguration events, including a candlelight dinner attended by Mr. Trump, to a Congolese strongman accused of funding a lavish lifestyle with public resources. He helped arrange a meeting with Republican senators and offered a trip to Mar-a-Lago... for an Angolan politician. And he arranged an invitation to a party at Mr. Trump’s Washington hotel for a Romanian parliamentarian facing corruption charges..."

"This type of access has value on the international stage, where the perception of support from an American president — or even a photo with one — can benefit foreign leaders back home... Mr. Broidy was open about his business interests, but the administration made no effort to curtail his offers of access to clients or prospective clients. Yet Mr. Broidy was so aggressive, some associates said, that they warned him to tone down his approach for fear that he might run afoul of the president, clients or American lobbying and anti-corruption laws." [NYTimes]

WHY IT HAPPENED -- "As with so many other political conventions, Mr. Trump has upended the traditional system of access to the president, among the most prized chits in Washington. That is partly because of lax vetting that has allowed largely unfettered access to Mr. Trump and his White House by loyalists, friends and hangers-on with their own policy agendas or business interests." [NYT]

-- "Mueller probe witness secretly backed UAE agenda in Congress" by Desmond Butler, Tom LoBianco and Brad Klapper: "George Nader... wired $2.5 million to the Trump fundraiser, Elliott Broidy, through a company in Canada... Nader paid the money to Broidy to bankroll an effort to persuade the U.S. to take a hard line against Qatar... A month after he received the money, Broidy sponsored a conference on Qatar's alleged ties to Islamic extremism. During the event, Republican Congressman Ed Royce of California, the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, announced he was introducing legislation that would brand Qatar as a terrorist-supporting state." [AP]

TALE OF THE WEEKEND -- "Parkland, Fla., students and families flew to Washington, D.C., on the Patriots’ plane" by Steve Annear: "On Thursday, team owner Robert Kraft provided the team’s official plane to fly the families of the 17 victims of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting and some of the students who were injured to the nation’s capital for the event... Students shared photos on social media Thursday of themselves getting ready to board the plane." [BostonGlobe]

"Jared Kushner’s Younger Brother Had Vowed To #MarchForOurLives. And He Did” by Dominique Mosbergen: “Josh Kushner, the younger brother of President Donald Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner, joined the “March For Our Lives” protest march in Washington on Saturday. The Kushner brother had promised to attend the anti-gun violence rally in an earlier Instagram post. His girlfriend, model Karlie Kloss, also participated in the gathering.” [HuffPost; Pic]   

WEEKEND INTERVIEW -- "‘All Men Are Guilty,’ Says Mega-Mogul Barry Diller" by Maureen Dowd: "Mr. Diller says that he and his wife, Diane von Furstenberg, are friends with Josh Kushner and his supermodel girlfriend, Karlie Kloss, but do not hang out with Jared and Ivanka... “I mean, we were friendly,” he says of Ivanka, in the time before Mr. Trump became president. “I would sit next to her every once in a while at a dinner. And I, as everyone did, was like, ‘Oh, my God, how could this evil character have spawned such a polite, gracious person?’ I don’t think we feel that way now.” 

OPRAH OR KANYE 2020? -- "Diller waves off talk of Mr. Trump opening the door to more celebrity presidents, saying, “I want this to be a moment in time where you go in and pick out this period with pincers and go on with life as we knew it before.”

WHAT DILLER IS UP TO NOW: "At 76, having seen around the corner to tech and pulled together the ragtag group of internet ventures at IAC into a thriving whole, Mr. Diller has “mellowed beautifully,” as one producer here who has known him for many years puts it... Now he is working on an idea concocted by Alex von Furstenberg, Diane’s son whom Mr. Diller also calls his son, to build a gondola up to the Hollywood sign and a circular catwalk around it, so that people can tour and hike around it." [NYTimes]

BONUS -- Diller played 'Confirm or Deny' with Dowd: If only Jared hadn’t lost his security clearance, he would have solved Middle East peace. Diller: Confirm. (Laughs.) [NYT]

DRIVING THE CONVO -- “‘America First’ Bears a New Threat: Military Force” by David Sanger and Gardiner Harris: “Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, the retired general who has argued for keeping the Iran deal intact and warned that military confrontation with North Korea would result in “the worst kind of fighting in most people’s lifetimes,” told colleagues on Friday that he did not know if he could work with Mr. Bolton Dov Zakheim, a former senior Defense Department official who has known Mr. Bolton for 35 years, wrote on Friday that Mr. Bolton “may be a fire breather, but he is a man who cares deeply about his country,” in comparison to his boss, who “cares deeply about Donald Trump.”” [NYTimes

IRAN DEAL FIXERS vs. NIXERS: FDD's Mark Dubowitz writes... "The Europeans must now understand that the failure to reach consensus with the United States will give Bolton exactly what he wants... The ball is in Europe’s court. That’s the remaining sliver of hope that “fixers” like me are clinging to as one of the most powerful “nixers” John Bolton prepares to enter the Trump White House." [NYDailyNews

Wendy Sherman, the lead U.S. negotiator on the Iran deal, writes... "Mr. Bolton’s appointment has only cemented the expectation that the nuclear deal’s life expectancy is short... Killing the Iran deal will also be an early blow to the forthcoming nuclear negotiations with North Korea... Trump will not isolate Iran by nixing the deal; he will isolate America and lead its partners and allies to consider China and Russia as more dependable, predictable partners, even absent Western values." [NYTimes

Bret Stephens writes... "I agree with Bolton about some things and disagree about others. But on the U.N. he’s been right all along. If his presence in the White House helps to scare the organization into real reform, so much the better." [NYTimes]

VIEW FROM JERUSALEM -- Former Israeli Defense Chief Says Trump Adviser Bolton Pressured Him to Strike Iran: "I have known John Bolton ever since he was the U.S. ambassador to the UN," Shaul Mofaz said at a Yedioth Ahronoth conference. "He tried to convince me that Israel should strike Iran." Speaking on a panel of four former Israeli military chiefs, Mofaz noted that he thought this was a bad idea Mofaz, along with former IDF chiefs Benny Gantz, Dan Halutz and Moshe Ya'alon, said they are against nixing the nuclear deal with Iran.” [Haaretz

PODCAST PLAYBACK -- Jake Sullivan discussed the Iran nuclear deal and the upcoming May 12 deadline on The Global Politico podcast with Susan Glasser: “I think there’s a war inside Donald Trump’s head between the part of him that says, “I need to kill Obama’s deal,” and the part of him that says, “I want to come out and say I fixed the deal.” Even if “fix” is a very loose concept. And I don’t think that war has been won by one side or the other yet... I think, if you were putting money down on the table, saying it won’t survive the year is a decent bet. But I think there’s a possibility that he ends up crowing about how somehow he fixed this flawed deal.” [Politico]

-- TRANSITION: Susan Glasser has joined the New Yorker as a full-time staff writer, writing a weekly column, “Letter from Trump's Washington,” as well as longer features for the magazine. Glasser will also do monthly interviews for “The New Yorker Radio Hour.” [Twitter]

ON THE HILL: "Opposing Factions Join to Push Confirmation of a Gay Trump Appointee" by Maggie Haberman: "Richard Grenell, a Republican who worked with the incoming national security adviser, John R. Bolton, at the United Nations, was nominated by Mr. Trump last year for the ambassadorship to Germany, becoming the president’s most prominent openly gay appointee. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee advanced his nomination at the end of October, and he appears to have enough support to clear the full Senate. But like other nominees, he is trapped in arcane parliamentary tactics." [NYTimes]

WATCH -- Ambassador David Friedman in a video message for Passover: "This year, because of the great efforts of our administration, particularly our president, when we say 'LeShana Habah B'Yerushalayim', it has a special meaning." [Video]

US steps up threat to quit UN rights council: “The United States warned Friday that it was losing patience and again threatened to quit the UN Human Rights Council after the Geneva-based body adopted five resolutions condemning Israel "When the Human Rights Council treats Israel worse than North Korea, Iran, and Syria, it is the council itself that is foolish and unworthy of its name," said [Ambassador Nikki] Haley. "Our patience is not unlimited...” [AFP

Wall Street Journal editorial... "The U.N. Hates Israel: Haley and her team, at the urging of the British and the Dutch, spent months trying to convince other European countries not to single out Israel. But when the votes were tallied Friday, only the U.S. and Australia voted against all of the anti-Israel resolutions... The lesson is that the council is a corrupt body that the U.S. would be better to leave." [WSJ]

DEMS VISIT ISRAEL -- "Nancy Pelosi leads delegation to Israel, Jordan" by Heather Caygle: "House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) [is leading] a delegation of Democrats to the Middle East... with stops in Israel and Jordan... Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), ranking member on the House Intelligence Committee, will accompany Pelosi, as will Reps. Jim Himes (D-Conn.)... Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), Henry Cuellar (D-Texas), Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) and Katherine Clark (D-Mass.). Freshmen Reps. Donald McEachin (D-Va.), Jimmy Panetta (D-Calif.) and Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) will also take part." [Politico]

Pelosi in a statement: “There is no greater political accomplishment in the 20th Century than the establishment of the State of Israel. Our delegation is pleased to be able to extend the congratulations of the American people to the people of Israel as we celebrate the 70th anniversary of Jewish state this spring.”

SPOTTED IN JERUSALEM -- Pelosi and the delegation met today with Israeli Opposition Leader Isaac Herzog and Zionist Union co-leader Tzipi Livni [Pic]

JARED INSIDER -- "As Ties With Mexico Fray, Kushner Works Quietly to Mend Them" by Mark Landler: "When President Trump complained that the $1.3 trillion spending bill he grudgingly signed on Friday did not pay for his border wall, he... did not repeat his demand that Mexico must pay for the wall. Mr. Kushner, people who work with him say, has asked the president to refrain from using that line. He also lobbied Mr. Trump to exempt the country from new steel and aluminum tariffs... Allies of Mr. Kushner and Mexican government officials say he has worked behind the scenes, with some success, to preserve [the] relationship..." [NYTimes

TRUMP TUMULT -- "Trump friend says president told him to expect one or two more major personnel changes" by John Wagner and Josh Dawsey: "Christopher Ruddy, chief executive of Newsmax, said others in the White House, but not Trump, have told him that Shulkin is “likely to depart the Cabinet very soon.” ... The Ruddy interview aired as Trump was spending the weekend here at his Mar-a-Lago estate. While here, Trump told associates that he plans to oust Shulkin, according to people familiar with the conversations..." [WashPost

-- Behind the scenes -- by Jonathan Swan: "Marvel Entertainment chairman Ike Perlmutter... is playing a major backstage role in shaping Trump's thinking about Shulkin. Perlmutter originally recommended Shulkin to Trump, but a source familiar with his thinking tells me Perlmutter "feels betrayed by Shulkin and regrets ever putting his name in front of the president." Trump spent time yesterday with Perlmutter at Mar-a-Lago... Perlmutter has recommended at least one potential Shulkin replacement to the White House." [Axios]

"Trump’s Legal Team Is Bigger Than It Looks" by Betsy Woodruff: "Since the departure of lawyer John Dowd, American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) head Jay Sekulow has become the lone public face of the president’s personal legal team. But he isn’t alone. Andrew Ekonomou, Mark Goldfeder, and Ben Sisney are among the attorneys who have helped him handle legal matters... Jay Sekulow told The Daily Beast that everyone working for the president’s legal team is paid through his private law firm, the Constitutional Litigation and Advocacy Group." [DailyBeast]

"Stormy Daniels Has Put Trump Fixer Michael Cohen In Serious Legal Danger" by Jonathan Chait: "The Washington Post has already reported that Robert Mueller “has requested documents and interviewed witnesses about incidents involving Michael Cohen.” What could those incidents involve? The Stormy Daniels episode suggests the list starts with campaign finance violations and may end with making threats, or ordering others to do so... It may be difficult to imagine Cohen, the ultimate Trump loyalist, turning on his patron and idol. But mafiosos turn on their friends and mentors all the time." [NYMag]

SIGHTING -- Ian Bremmer posted a picture with former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak over dinner last night: "My Stormy replacement for dinner this eve, Ehud Barak. Vastly more enjoyable." [Pic

2018 WATCH -- Cuomo faces backlash over comments made at Harlem church: “Governor Andrew Cuomo is facing heat over a comment he made during Palm Sunday services at a predominantly black church in Harlem "We are not as without rhythm as some of our Jewish brothers and sisters. I was just watching Mr. [Hank] Sheinkopf here in the front row moving to the music. It was ugly, it was ugly, I'll tell you the truth," Cuomo said. A spokeswoman for the governor tells the New York Post Cuomo was just poking fun at a long-time friend.” [NY1NYPost]

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ROAD SHOW: “Saudi Prince touring US to meet with America’s moguls” by Emily Smith: “Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman — known in the West as MBS — is meeting with an array of America’s biggest power brokers, including Bill Gates, Elon Musk and Ari Emanuel, during whirlwind stops in New York, Hollywood and Silicon Valley The 32-year-old prince will stop in Seattle to meet with Gates on March 30, then he’ll head to Hollywood, meeting with Israeli-American billionaire Haim Saban Powerful Hollywood agent Emanuel is also throwing a dinner for the crown prince in early April with uber-producer Brian Grazer, where guests could include Bob Iger, Steven Spielberg, Musk” [PageSix

HOLLYWOOD -- “Investigations Against Netanyahu at the Core of $50 Million Hollywood Lawsuit” by Yair Rave: “A U.S.-based group of film investors is suing Israeli-born Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan for $50 million, Variety reported on Friday. The group, which includes Ron Burkle, Steve Bing, and Brett Ratner, is accusing Mr. Milchan and his distribution company, Regency Enterprises, of fraud, blaming them for the box office failure of Warren Beatty’s latest film “Rules Don’t Apply,” which premiered in November 2016. The investors are claiming that Mr. Milchan was distracted by an ongoing legal investigation against him in Israel.” [Calcalist; Variety]  

BUZZ ON BALFOUR -- "Israeli police question Netanyahu in telecom corruption case" by Maayan Lubell: "Israeli police questioned Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday over his alleged dealings with the country’s largest telecommunication company... It was the second time the prime minister had been questioned in the investigation... Israeli media said Netanyahu’s wife and son would be questioned separately in the telecoms investigation over their relationship with Bezeq’s owner and his spouse." [Reuters

“Israel delays migrant deportation in possible softening of position” by Yonah Jeremy Bob: “The state signaled a possible softening of its position on the deportation of African migrants on Monday, telling the High Court of Justice that it was pushing back the designated deportation day from April 1 to April 9 at a minimum.” [JPost]  

TALK OF THE TOWN -- "Some wanted a D.C. Council member to resign for his anti-Semitic comments. Jewish leaders invited him to Seder instead" by Michelle Boorstein: "[Trayon] White will attend a Seder [on] Friday, the first night of the week-long holiday. He was invited by council member Elissa Silverman (I-At Large), who is Jewish... Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld, leader of the modern Orthodox synagogue Ohev Sholom on 16th Street NW, was among those who invited the 33-year-old council member to a Seder... White thanked Herzfeld and said he was already attending another Seder, the rabbi said." [WashPost]

Forward's Jane Eisner writes... "Awakening to the depth of American anti-Semitism: "What happened here? And what should American Jews do about it? Those two questions animate [Jonathan] Weisman’s new book, “(((Semitism))): Being Jewish in America in the Age of Trump.” The title’s triple parentheses — known as an echo — are an anti-Semitic symbol used to highlight Jewish names, adopted by the alt-right to hunt down potential targets on Twitter and subsequently appropriated by many Jewish users as a defiant response. That defiance propels Weisman’s urgent, timely narration of how a few fringe leaders galvanized a Twitter army that... broke wide open an ugly strain of anti-Semitism... Disappointingly, Weisman is on far shakier ground when attempting to answer the second question: “What are we going to do about it?” He resorts to broad criticism and unsupported assertions about American Jewish life that sidestep a more complex reality..." [WashPost

ACROSS THE POND -- "Corbyn on Defensive as U.K. Jewish Groups Protest Anti-Semitism" by Alex Morales: "Labour has repeatedly failed to properly address Jewish concerns about antisemitism within the party, the Jewish Leadership Council and Board of Deputies of British Jews said in an open letter released late on Sunday entitled “Enough is Enough!” Members of the two groups will march on Parliament Square for a rally on Monday at 5:30 p.m., when they’ll deliver a letter to the Parliamentary Labour Party, which holds a meeting half an hour later." [Bloomberg; Telegraph]

-- "UK Labour leader Corbyn apologizes for anti-Semitism in his party " by William James: “We recognize that anti-Semitism has occurred in pockets within the Labour Party, causing pain and hurt to our Jewish community in the Labour Party and the rest of the country,” [Jeremy] Corbyn said in a statement posted on Facebook. “I am sincerely sorry for the pain which has been caused.” [Reuters

PROFILE: “Jewish candidate for Muslim party breaks barriers in Tunisia” by Bouazza Ben Bouazza: “Simon Slama and his family are the only Jews left in the Tunisian city of Monastir, once home to a thriving Jewish community. But instead of joining the exodus, he is running for office — as a candidate of Tunisia’s Islamist party Critics see it as a calculated tactic by Ennahdha to regain power and to restore its reputation among Western allies like the United States. Others however see it as an example of Tunisia’s long-standing traditions of tolerance. A sewing machine salesman and repairman, 56-year-old Slama says he just wants to serve his country and the city where he was born “I see no difference between the Islamic and Judaic religions. We are all one family and we are all Tunisian citizens and we should go hand in hand to build the Tunisia of tomorrow,” he said.” [AP

WEEKEND WEDDING -- “A Merger for the Rabbi and the Labor Leader” by Alix Strauss: “Randi Weingarten and Rabbi Sharon Anne Kleinbaum [were] married March 25 at La Marina, a restaurant in New York. Judge Michelle Schreiber of the New York City Housing Court, [officiated], with Rabbi Sharon Cohen Anisfeld, the president of Hebrew College, leading the religious ceremony Ms. Weingarten, 60, is the president of the American Federation of Teachers Rabbi Kleinbaum, 58, is the senior rabbi of Congregation Beth Simhat Torah in New York.” [NYTimes

BIRTHDAYS: CEO of Google's parent company, Alphabet, co-founder of Google along with Sergey Brin, Larry Page turns 45... Argentine-born, Israeli clarinetist who specializes in klezmer music, Giora Feidman turns 82... Actor who has appeared in more than 60 films since 1964, including as Sonny Corleone in "The Godfather" (1972), James Caan turns 78... Award-winning novelist and poet, whose debut novel in 1973 "Fear of Flying," has sold over 20 million copies, Erica Jong turns 76... Physician, author of five books and former medical correspondent at ABC News for 15 years, then 9 years as chief medical editor for NBC News, Nancy Lynn Snyderman, MD turns 66... Bloomberg's editor-at-large for Canada since 2014, Edward Greenspon turns 61... Actress who has appeared in many movies over a 30-year career, in 2010 she was the winner of Season 11 of Dancing with the Stars, Jennifer Grey turns 58... Politician and patent attorney from Detroit, elected to the Michigan State House of Representatives in 2008, 2010 and 2012, she is running to succeed Congressman Sander Levin (D-Michigan-9), Ellen Cogen Lipton turns 51... Founder, president and CEO of Waxman Strategies, Michael Waxman turns 44... Born in Phoenix, now living in Israel, talk show host who founded Israel Sports Radio in 2010, Ari Louis turns 35... Actress best known for her roles in ABC's sitcom "Suburgatory" and the USA Network's drama "Mr. Robot," Carly Chaikin turns 28... Philipp Tolentino... Marty Rosmarin...

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