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THE DAILY KUSHNER: "Special Counsel Mueller Probes Jared Kushner’s Contacts With Foreign Leaders” by Peter Nicholas, Aruna Viswanatha and Rebecca Ballhaus: “The investigators have asked witnesses questions about the involvement of Mr. Kushner in a controversy over a U.N. resolution passed Dec. 23 that condemned Israel’s construction of settlements in disputed territories Israeli officials had asked the incoming Trump administration to intervene to help block it Among those involved were Mr. Kushner and political strategist Stephen Bannon, according to people briefed on the exchanges... Another element of Mr. Mueller’s probe has focused on whether the president obstructed justice in the May firing of James Comey... Mueller’s prosecutors have asked witnesses detailed questions about Mr. Kushner’s views of Mr. Comey and whether Mr. Kushner was in favor of firing him or had staked out a position.” [WSJ]
“Jared Kushner’s Horizons Are Collapsing within the West Wing” by Gabriel Sherman: “Since his appointment, according to sources, [John] Kelly has tried to shrink Kushner’s responsibilities to focus primarily on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. And even that brief appears to be creating tensions between Kushner and Kelly. According to two people close to the White House, Kelly was said to be displeased with the result of Kushner’s trip to Saudi Arabia last month because it took place just days before 32-year-old Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman arrested 11 Saudi royals"
“According to two Republicans who have spoken with Trump, the president has also been frustrated with Kushner’s political advice Trump, according to three people who’ve spoken to him, has advocated for Jared and Ivanka to return to New York in part because they are being damaged by negative press. “He keeps pressuring them to go,” one source close to Kushner told me.” [VanityFair]
“De Blasio and his administration had a warm relationship with Kushner, emails show” by Laura Nahmias: ““Jared, I hope you and your family had a wonderful Thanksgiving, and a little break from the swirl of activity these last few weeks have brought,” the mayor wrote on Nov. 26, 2016 He added: “Finally, whenever you have a moment for a drink or a cup of coffee, I'd love to spend a little time with you...” The last time de Blasio appears to have spoken with Kushner was in March of 2017, his schedules show Kushner was personally invited to attend the mayor’s 2016 State of the City address... Both Kushner and now-Treasury Secretary Wilbur Ross were invited to an event at Gracie Mansion celebrating Jewish heritage.” [Politico] Jared Kushner loves using smiley faces and exclamation points [Newsweek]
DRIVING THE WEEK: “President Abbas Orders to Freeze Contacts With Washington Over Threat to Close Palestinians' D.C. Office” by Amir Tibon and Jack Khoury: “Although Abbas’ instructions are being carried out by senior diplomats, day-to-day contacts and consultations with the Americans conducted by lower level officials will not cease, a senior Palestinian official said U.S. Vice President Mike Pence is slated to visit Bethlehem in December. At this stage, the visit hasn’t been canceled While Abbas ordered a halt to contacts with the Trump administration, this does not mean that if senior American officials initiate a phone call with senior Palestinian officials they will refuse to accept the call, said the senior official.” [Haaretz]
The Trump Administration is containing the crisis - by Barak Ravid and Jonathan Swan: “What we're hearing: Both sides are still talking to each other, and the office is still open — for now. Relations are not suspended yet.” [Axios]
HEARD YESTERDAY -- State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert: "Conversations will be taking place. We are in contact with the Palestinian officials about the status of that PLO office... We’d like for them to be able to keep it open... These conversations are underway... I can assure you they are still underway. We are not giving up on the plan for peace. We are not doing that."
“Why Trump Threatened to Close Palestine's D.C. Headquarters” by Grant Rumley: “Abbas is seemingly being asked to halt a popular campaign for nothing in return. It may also be that Abbas is feeling the squeeze from all sides and that last week’s announcement was part of a concerted effort to corner Abbas. If so, he is unlikely to play ball. He’ll double down on his international crusade, meaning Washington may have just emboldened the Palestine 194 campaign.” [TheAtlantic]
ON THE HILL -- Bipartisan Congressional Letters on Qatar's Support for Hamas -- by Aaron Magid: Two bipartisan Congressional letters have recently been issued calling on the Trump administration to take a more firm stance against Qatar’s longstanding backing of Hamas. Representatives Ron Desantis (R-FL) and Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) authored a letter, signed by 19 members of Congress, rebuking Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin for failing to list Hamas in a joint statement with Qatar on countering terror financing. [Doc]
Representatives Brad Schneider (IL-10) and Robert Pittenger (R-NC) authored a second bipartisan letter expressing “deep concern” regarding U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley’s October statement to the House Foreign Affairs Committee. She had said, “Qatar does allow Hamas political representation to be based in Qatar, which Qatar believes limits Iran’s influence and pressure over Hamas." According to the lawmakers, Haley’s statement “implies that the US now recognizes a distinction between Hamas’ political and military wings and finds Qatar’s relations with and sanctuary for Hamas officials to be legitimate.” [Doc]
-- “Rich Goldberg, a Republican foreign policy strategist and former senior Senate aide, said that in his view Haley has been “stellar in support of Israel at the UN to date,” and said her tenure as ambassador has been “a breath of fresh air.” “That’s why this prepared statement that really sort of represented a 180 in US policy towards Hamas was startling for a lot of people,” he said.” [Tablet]
“Trump private charity received nearly $3M in donations during presidential campaign” by Kevin McCoy: “Much of the money the foundation raised last year came from a few large donors. Trump's daughter Ivanka Trump gave $100,000, the tax records show. Phil Ruffin, Trump's partner in a Las Vegas hotel, gave $1 million, as did Laura Perlmutter, the wife of Marvel Entertainment CEO Isaac Perlmutter. Both are Trump supporters. A non-profit foundation that includes Steven Roth, the CEO of Vornado Realty Trust, contributed $50,000. Vornado is a partner with the family business of Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, in an office and retail tower located on Manhattan's Fifth Avenue.” [USAToday]
** 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 Editor@JewishInsider.com **
BUSINESS BRIEFS: Meet Makan Delrahim, the Antitrust Chief Heading Up AT&T-Time Warner Lawsuit [WSJ] Will Justice Department’s Lawsuit Derail Deal-Making Boom? [DealBook] Dov Hertz buying 4-acre Red Hook site next to IKEA [RealDeal] Hotshot Tech Founders Face a Dilemma: Lie Low or Live Large? [WSJ]
STARTUP SPOTLIGHT -- WeWork leads $32M investment in ladies-only coworking space The Wing: “Under the deal, WeWork will share insights into how best to source property and give The Wing access to cost savings through its network of vendors The partnership will effectively help The Wing to expand. The company recently opened a new shop in SoHo and has plans to have four locations by the first quarter of 2018. “They have a really deep level of domain expertise in areas that are key parts of our business,” says The Wing cofounder and CEO Audrey Gelman.” [FastCompany]
PROFILE -- Former Detroiter leads Blue Origin’s privately funded quest for space flight -- by Adam Finkel: "Rob Meyerson has devoted his life to flight — not birds, but rockets... Today, Meyerson is president of Blue Origin, one of the world’s most ambitious privately funded aerospace manufacturing and spaceflight services companies. The company is reportedly planning its first manned flight to take place by spring 2019." [TheJewishNews]
“Sands CEO Adelson fractures three ribs, company says” by Todd Prince: “[Sheldon] Adelson, 84, was injured during a ferry ride from Macau to Hong Kong, said Ron Reese, Sands senior vice president of global communications. The billionaire was visiting Asia to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Venetian Macao Reese said Adelson will be leaving Asia to spend Thanksgiving in Hawaii with his family and friends.” [ReviewJournal]
"AEPi, the 'Jewish Frat' With Close Ties to GOP Donors, Coming to an Israeli Campus Near You" by Judy Maltz: "Since 2013, the fraternity has been a member of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations. In 2014, AEPi was instrumental in getting J Street... blocked from joining that huge umbrella organization... Sheldon Adelson is an honorary member of AEPi and a major contributor to it. Israel was the first country outside the United States to open a chapter of the fraternity, which currently operates 192 chapters in seven countries around the world, 155 of them in the United States... AEPi’s notable alumni include Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, singer-composer team Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel, architect Frank Gehry, CNN anchorman Wolf Blitzer, Home Depot founder Bernie Marcus, New York Congressman Jerry Nadler." [Haaretz]
TALK OF THE TOWN: "The book that’s tearing Manhattan moms apart" by Oli Coleman: "The UES Mommas group... erupted so violently over the weekend after an author posted about her book, “P is for Palestine,” that its founders temporarily put the whole group on ice... Open warfare broke out when author Golbarg Bashi posted about her book, which she describes as an educational alphabet book about the disputed territory. Said a member, “It immediately went ape-s–t. People were posting about it and calling each other anti-Israel and anti-Muslim.”" [PageSix]
"Prime Experience Loses Dispute Over Canceled Passover Program. Will Guests Be Reimbursed?" by Hannah Dreyfus: "Earlier this year, the cancellation of a high-end Passover program shortly before the holiday left hundreds of guests in the lurch, and Joseph Allaham, the owner of Prime Experience, in a legal battle with an up-scale California hotel. This week, a mutually agreed-upon arbitrator ruled that Prime Experience owes the Hilton La Jolla Torrey Pines $626,046.60 in cancellation damages, in addition to attorneys’ fees, costs of suit and arbitration fees. Meanwhile, Allaham shuttered the last of his upscale Manhattan eateries — The Prime at the Bentley — last week. The kosher steakhouse closed without notifying customers, some of whom still had reservations." [JewishWeek]
HOLLYWOOD: Scooter Braun’s Letter to the Good Guys: ‘Why Are We Celebrating the Playboy?’" by Scooter Braun: “When I came into the business, that behavior wasn’t surprising. If you were a male executive, people assumed: fast cars, fast women. And that always bothered me, because when I found out who Richard Branson really was — married for over 38 years, faithfully, with two kids that he loves — and Jeffrey Katzenberg is a family man, and Lucian Grange is a family man, why does no one know this?" [Variety]
DESSERT: "From Monogrammed Matzas to Jewish Jerky: Inside Kosherfest, the Country’s Biggest Kiddush" by Yair Rosenberg: “To deal with Jews, you need to be drunk,” explains one Jewish vendor to a gentile compatriot as I walk past. It’s as good an introduction as any to the colorful chaos of Kosherfest, the country’s biggest kiddush that also doubles as a national conference for the kosher industry... I attended last week—and it was everything you would expect. There was all-you-can-eat potato kugel, a “kosher supervisor of the year” competition, and, inexplicably, a mini-golf area. Attendees could feast on samples of sausages, kosher beef jerky, and an impressive array of ice cream. And needless to say, you probably never saw more ways to smoke a salmon in one place." [Tablet]
BIRTHDAYS: Real estate developer and majority owner of MLB's New York Mets, he was a high school teammate of Sandy Koufax, Fred Wilpon turns 81... Professor at NYU Law School, she served in the Carter and Clinton administrations and on the Obama transition team, and once taught Hebrew Scool in Pittsburgh, Sally Katzen turns 75... Novelist and and Academy Award-nominated screenwriter, he was formerly CEO of PJ Media, Roger Lichtenberg Simon turns 74... Born to a Jewish family in Tunisia, he served as a member of the Canadian House of Commons (1997-2006), Jacques Saada turns 70... Former president (1996-2010) of the 2.2 million member Service Employees International Union, now a senior fellow at the Economic Security Project, Andy Stern turns 67... Television personality with past shows on MSNBC, CNN and Bloomberg TV, formerly an advertising executive, Donny Deutsch turns 60... Billionaire Ukrainian businessman best known for being the chairman of Dynamo Kyiv (Kiev's soccer team) since 2002, Ihor Surkis turns 59... Senior editor and writer for The Daily Beast and columnist and editorial writer for the New York Daily News, Harry Siegel turns 40... Actress and brand ambassador for Israel's Sodastream home-carbonation company, Scarlett Johansson turns 33... Manager of public relations, communications and media relations for theSkimm, Jessica Sara Turtletaub turns 32... Actor, who has appeared in films directed by Francis Ford Coppola, Woody Allen, the Coen brothers and Warren Beatty, Alden Ehrenreich turns 28... SVP of Development for Hillel International, Tim R. Cohen... Chief of Staff of Israel's Embassy in Washington, Yarden Golan... Marty Robinson...
THANKSGIVING BIRTHDAYS: Grammy and Academy Award-winning American composer and music arranger, Johnny Mandel turns 92... Investment banker and former Chairman of NYC-based Lazard Frères, Michel David-Weill turns 85... Mayor of Pasadena, California since 2015, Terry Tornek turns 72... US District Court Judge in Massachusetts since being appointed in 1985 by President Reagan, he was the Chief Judge (2006-2012) and has been on senior status since 2013, Judge Mark L. Wolf turns 71... United States Senator from New York since 1998, elected to his fourth term in 2016, Senate Minority Leader, Chuck Schumer turns 67... Board member of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council and the Yitzhak Rabin Center, Andrea Lavin Solow... Former United States Senator (1997-2015), Mary Landrieu turns 62... Psychiatrist, television personality and author of both fiction and non-fiction books, Keith Ablow turns 56... Israeli-born entrepreneur, he is the CEO of NASDAQ-traded Caesarstone, Raanan Zilberman turns 57... Majority owner of the NFL's Washington Redskins, Daniel Snyder turns 53... President of Eastern Savings Bank and partner at Abramoff Neuberger LLP, Yaakov S. Neuberger... Born in Teheran, a neurosurgeon specializing in the treatment of brain tumors and aneurysms, he is a professor at Indiana University School of Medicine, Aaron Cohen-Gadol turns 47... VP of media affairs at USTelecom, formerly deputy tech editor with Politico, Amy Schatz turns 46... VP at Blueprint Interactive for digital strategy, having previously managed a number of Congressional campaigns, Geoff Mackler turns 42... Account VP at UBS Financial Services in Baltimore, P.J. Pearlstone turns 43... Development and grant writer for Friends of Israel Disabled Veterans (Beit Halochem), Elise Fischer... Government affairs and market development manager at The Copia, Shmuel Winiarz... NYC and Toronto based lyricist, author and playwright, Naomi Matlow... Erin Ross...
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