Have our people email your people. Share this sign up link with your friends.
IRAN DEAL: “Obama Defends Cash Payment to Iran” by Carol Lee and Jay Solomon: “Mr. Obama dismissed the significance of the payment method, saying it’s gaining attention “maybe because it feels like some spy novel or some crime novel.” He said the timing wasn’t because it was a ransom payment for the release of prisoners, but because the U.S. was having diplomatic conversations with Iran for the first time in decades The president also pointed out that the nuclear deal has been working for over a year despite initial warnings and pessimistic predictions that the Iranians would violate the terms of the agreement. “It’s not just the assessment of our intelligence community, it’s the assessment of the Israeli military and intelligence community – the country that was most opposed to this deal that acknowledges that this has been a game changer and that Iran has abided by the deal, and that they no longer have the sort of short-term breakout capacity that would allow them to develop nuclear weapons.”[WSJ; NYT; JewishInsider]
"Hostage: We couldn’t leave until second plane landed in Iran" by Joe Tacopino: "One of the American hostages who was released the day the United States sent $400 million to Iran said his plane to freedom was not allowed to take off until “another plane” arrived in Tehran, according to a report. Pastor Saeed Abedini, who was among four Americans released this past Jan. 17, told Fox Business he wound up waiting for an extended time for the second plane to reach the Iranian capital and was never told why the arriving aircraft was so important." [NYPost]
"The $400 Million: Legal but Not Right" by Michael Mukasey: "Why cash, and why in an unmarked cargo plane? How come the U.S. did not simply transfer the $400 million we are told actually belonged to Iran to a foreign entity, to be converted into foreign funds for conventional banking transmission to Tehran? That would have permitted the U.S. to keep track of how Iran spent the money, at least to some extent... The apparent explanation isn’t pretty. There is principally one entity within the Iranian government that has need of untraceable funds. That entity is the Quds Force—the branch of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps focused particularly on furthering the regime’s goals world-wide by supporting and conducting terrorism." [WSJ]
“GOP Congressman Wonders Whether Obama Is A Secret Agent For 'Some Other Team'” by Matt Fuller: “When deals like this are cut,” Zeldin said in a press release Wednesday, “one has to truly wonder whether the President has no idea what he is doing, or if he knows exactly what he is doing and is playing for some other team.” [HuffPost]
J Street called on Zeldin to retract and apologize for accusing President Obama of dual loyalty: “The thinly veiled insinuation that President Obama is acting out of loyalty to some entity outside the United States is appalling and unbecoming for a member of the United States Congress Elected officials have and will continue to have disagreements over the merits of the Iran nuclear deal and the President’s foreign policy. But when those disagreements move beyond the realm of reasoned argument and become attacks on the basic integrity and loyalty of the President, an inviolable line has been crossed.”
“Iran nuclear pact opponents lobby in U.S. against Boeing, Airbus deals” by Patricia Zengerle: “This week, the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, which has criticized the nuclear pact and advocated tougher sanctions on Iran, organized letters signed by dozens of national security figures expressing concern about the aircraft sales and promising to increase pressure on Congress. "This deal ... represents a legitimization of a State Sponsor of Terror and a direct benefit for a ruling regime responsible for gross human rights abuses, support for terrorism including threats against the U.S. and its allies," said the letters to Dennis Muilenburg, Boeing's chairman, and Fabrice Brégier, chief executive of Airbus' plane manufacturing unit. The 42 signers included former Secretary of State George Shultz, former CIA Director Michael Hayden and former U.S. Senator Joseph Lieberman.” [Reuters]
Conference of Presidents’ statement: “We welcome the analysis from an esteemed group of former top national security officials with decades of experience in defense, intelligence and national security policy-making warning of the dangers inherent in the decisions of Airbus and Boeing to sell aircraft to Iran We hope Airbus and Boeing will seriously consider the points made in the letter and reassess their decisions to move forward with the sales at this time.”
“Trump AGAIN insists he's seen video of $400 million Iran cash-drop even though his campaign admitted it was Fox News 'b-roll' of a different plane” by David Martosko: “On Wednesday Trump's campaign quickly walked back his claim in a Daytona Beach, Florida rally about professional-quality video that Iranians had released to embarrass the U.S., admitting he had only seen 'b-roll' – archival footage – that showed the Americans emerging from a different aircraft in Geneva Switzerland. But in Maine, Trump again insisted that the video he had described was real. 'A tape was made, right? You saw that, with the plane coming in. Nice plane. And the airplane coming in. And the money coming off, I guess, right?' Trump asked a capacity crowd in a Portland theater.” [DailyMail]
Trump Tweets: "The plane I saw on television was the hostage plane in Geneva, Switzerland, not the plane carrying $400 million in cash going to Iran!" [Twitter]
“Trump Declines To Name Women He’d Put In His Cabinet Besides Daughter Ivanka” by Andrew Kaczynski: “I can tell you everybody would say, ‘Put Ivanka in, put Ivanka in,’ you know that, right?” Trump said. “She’s very popular, she’s done very well, and you know Ivanka very well. But there really are so many that are really talented people — like you, you’re so talented, but I don’t know if your viewers know that.” [BuzzFeed]
“Joe Lieberman: This Presidential Campaign is a War: Former Independent Party Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman says he still hasn’t made up his mind on which candidate he plans to back for president. Lieberman, who was the Democratic vice presidential candidate in 2000, added: “I may get involved as time goes on. I’m one of those people, and there’re a lot of us I think, who can’t feel quite comfortable either way yet.”” [FoxBusiness]
“In slap at Trump, some wealthy Republicans campaign for Clinton” by Olivia Oran and Amanda Becker: “Spearheading in part the Clinton effort to woo Republicans on Wall Street is Democratic strategist Leslie Dach, a former Walmart executive and aide to Bill Clinton, sources close to the Clinton campaign said.” [Reuters]
Dan Senor on WADR: “There is more panic now than I have ever seen before I am just hearing from more and more members - for instance from the house - who say, ‘Maybe I should unendorse.’ I don’t know if they will. My gut tells me that’s not going to happen.” [Yahoo]
"Republicans are among a new list of foreign policy experts denouncing Trump" by Anne Gearan: “Several Republicans are among a group of former cabinet officers, senior officials and career military officers who denounced Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump on Thursday, calling his recent remarks on the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and Russia “disgraceful.” The letter does not endorse Clinton or mention her apart from the email issue. Many of the Democrats who signed on to the letter have separately endorsed Clinton, as has at least one of the Republican signatories, foreign policy expert Kori Schake.” [WashPost; Letter]
TOP TALKER: "I Ran the C.I.A. Now I’m Endorsing Hillary Clinton" by Michael J. Morell:"Two strongly held beliefs have brought me to this decision. First, Mrs. Clinton is highly qualified to be commander in chief. I trust she will deliver on the most important duty of a president — keeping our nation safe. Second, Donald J. Trump is not only unqualified for the job, but he may well pose a threat to our national security." [NYTimes]
Jonathan Chait: "Hillary Clinton’s Role in bin Laden Raid Included History’s Easiest Decision Ever"[NYMag]
David Brooks: "Trump’s Enablers Will Finally Have to Take a Stand" [NYTimes]
NEWS CORP INFIGHTING: "Hannity to WSJ editor Bret Stephens: If Clinton wins, 'I will hold a--holes like you accountable'" by Nick Gass: "Fox News' dumbest anchor had a message for y'all," tweeted Bret Stephens, The Wall Street Journal foreign affairs columnist and deputy editorial page editor. In response, Hannity responded on Twitter that if Hillary Clinton wins, "I will hold a--holes like you accountable." [Politico]
“Democrats Abroad push for Clinton in Israel with little resources” by Gil Hoffman: “Some 30 supporters of Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton gathered at a Jerusalem cafe on Wednesday night to strategize how to mobilize to make sure all the Clinton supporters eligible and eager to vote for her are registered. The meeting was run and organized by volunteers Tally Zingher and Jonathan Morgenstein, a veteran who served in Iraq with the US Marine Corps. Speaking by phone while manning a Democrats Abroad booth at an exhibition, Morgenstein said that along with enthusiasm for Clinton, there were many people who have told him they intend to vote just in order to help Trump lose.” [JPost]
Rep. Ted Deutch writes... "Several weeks ago, I visited Jerusalem and Ramallah. While Israeli citizens were mourning the murder of a teenage girl at the hands of a terrorist, their elected officials, in the Netanyahu government and across the Knesset, continued to debate how to achieve a two-state solution that can lead to peace. Left to right, Jewish, Arab and Druze, the debate in the Israeli parliament and among Israeli citizens is passionate and often quite contentious. Sound familiar? Like America, Israel is a vibrant democracy. Too often, the world ignores that reality. Hillary Clinton recognizes it, and at this moment of increased anti-Semitism, a growing and dangerous BDS campaign and the demonization of Israel, she will stand with all of us who support Israel and its quest for peace." [SunSentinel]
“Wasserman Schultz denounces DNC emails over Bernie Sanders’ faith” by Alex Daugherty and Patricia Mazzei: “There was one very unfortunate, unacceptable, outrageous email exchange — that I was not a party to — that discussed using Sen. Sanders’ faith, a faith which I share,” said Wasserman Schultz, who like Sanders is Jewish. “I haven’t perused all the emails, but even in that exchange, one of the staff acknowledged I, as chair, would never be OK with that.”
“Wasserman Schultz denied a Politico report that she asked Vice President Joe Biden for a video to play at her daughter’s bat mitzvah. “Not true,” she said. “I really don’t think it’s appropriate for me to be responding to anonymous criticism. If people don’t have the nerve to be critical and put their name to it, then I’m not going to box nameless, faceless critics.”” [MiamiHerald]
David Kustoff Wins TN GOP Primary For U.S. House District 8 -- by Kim Chaney: "The race for the Tennessee Republican primary for U.S. House District 8 has been one of the most highly contested in the Mid-South. Thursday night, David Kustoff beat out 12 other candidates who were vying for the seat being vacated by Rep. Stephen Fincher." [LocalMemphis]
"Ex-KKK leader David Duke: 'Donald Trump is not a racist'" by Nick Gass: "There will be no greater ally for a President Donald Trump in the United States Senate than ex-KKK Grand Wizard David Duke, the Republican Louisiana Senate candidate declared, remarking that the Republican nominee "is not a racist."" [Politico]
**Good Friday 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 firstname.lastname@example.org**
BUSINESS BRIEFS: Author of new Silicon Valley tell-all says this is what outsiders most often get wrong about Mark Zuckerberg [BusinessInsider] Trump unveils economic policy team, includes John Paulson [CNBC] Some of Goldman Sachs' most senior staff played wiffle ball, and it got real competitive[BusinessInsider] PICA board member gave $25K to support Kenney's soda tax push [BizJournals]
WEEKEND BIRTHDAYS: Actor who starred in "Weekend at Bernie's" and whose father and grandfather were both rabbis, Jonathan Silverman turns 50... Historian, Nazi hunter and director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Jerusalem, Efraim Zuroff turns 68... Jerome Pikulinski... Leslie Saunders... Former AIPAC staffer, now lobbyist for the Wireless Infrastructure Association and adjunct at American U, Matt Mandel... Songwriter, author and political columnist, Seth Swirsky turns 56... Long-time member of the Israeli national soccer team who also played in Europe's UEFA Champions League, Gil Vermouth turns 31...
HBO's boxing commentator and recently appointed co-host of ESPN's First Take, Yiddish speaking Max Kellerman turns 43... Television and radio sports anchor on ESPN and ABC, one-half of the "Mike & Mike" team, Mike Greenberg turns 49... Famed computer hacker, now a computer security consultant, Kevin Mitnick turns 53... Casino owner, three time winner of the World Series of Poker, and former executive of Wilsons Leather and Rainforest Cafe, Lyle Berman turns 75... Austrian businessman wiith many US, Israeli and Eastern European investments, Martin Schlaff turns 63... Founder and spiritual leader of The Elijah Minyan in San Diego, Wayne Dosick... Director of Public Affairs at the American Council on Education, Jonathan Riskind... Distinguished Fellow at George Washington University, formerly Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy (2012-2013), Tara Sonenshine... CEO at ReUp Education, Nitzan Pelman... Senior Policy Advisor to Representative Ted Lieu (CA-33), Corey Jacobson...
President of merchant bank Palisades Associates, Chair of the NJDC, and former CEO of Empire Kosher Poultry, Greg Rosenbaum turns 64. Greg tells us... "I am the Team Leader for USA Modern Pentathlon and I will be marching in the Opening Ceremonies along with our athletes who are competing in Rio. In the course of just over a week, I will have gone from sitting on the stage at the Democratic National Convention (in my role as a Vice Chair of the Platform Committee) to marching in the Opening Ceremonies of the Summer Olympics. And the thing the two events have in common--lots of cheering "USA! USA! USA!."
Esther Holler... Scott Harrison... Esther Netter... Actress who appeared in 30 films and TV shows and co-starred with Clint Eastwood in "High Plains Drifter," Verna Bloom turns 77... Former PR Director for the New York Yankees and author of more than 20 books, Marty Appel turns 68... Jonathan Pollard turns 62...
Gratuity not included. We love receiving news tips but we also gladly accept tax deductible tips. 100% of your donation will go directly towards improving Jewish Insider. Thanks! [PayPal]
Want to enjoy 'Zen' reading - with no ads and just the article? Subscribe todaySubscribe now