Thomas Friedman. Photo from Wikipedia

Daily Kickoff: Trump upset with Kasowitz who’s annoyed with Kushner | Tom Friedman on Israel-Diaspora relations | The Durst app editing NYC’s skyline


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TOP TALKER: “Rancor at White House as Russia Story Refuses to Let the Page Turn” by Peter Baker and Maggie Haberman: “Three people close to the legal team said [Trump] had also trained his ire on Marc E. Kasowitz, his longtime lawyer… Mr. Trump, who often vents about advisers in times of trouble, has grown disillusioned by Mr. Kasowitz’s strategy, the people said. The strain, though, exists on both sides. Mr. Kasowitz and his colleagues have complained that Mr. Kushner has been whispering in the president’s ear about the Russia investigations and stories while keeping the lawyers out of the loop… The president’s lawyers view Mr. Kushner as an obstacle and freelancer more concerned about protecting himself than his father-in-law, the person said. While no ultimatum has been delivered, the lawyers have told colleagues that they cannot keep operating that way, raising the prospect that Mr. Kasowitz may resign.” [NYTimes] • Trump’s Russia Lawyer Isn’t Seeking Security Clearance, And May Have Trouble Getting One [ProPublica]

“The view in Kushner’s orbit is that the brutal new revelations are more P.R. problems than legal problems. And if he makes progress with his Middle East peace efforts, perceptions would be very different.” [Axios]

“Trump-Russia investigators probe Jared Kushner-run digital operation” by Peter Stone and Greg Gordon: “Investigators at the House and Senate Intelligence committees and the Justice Department are examining whether the Trump campaign’s digital operation – overseen by Jared Kushner – helped guide Russia’s sophisticated voter targeting and fake news attacks on Hillary Clinton in 2016… Kushner’s “role as a possible cut-out or conduit for Moscow’s influence operations in the elections,” including his niche overseeing the digital operations, will be closely looked at, said the source knowledgeable about the Justice Department inquiry.” [McClatchyDC]

“New details emerge on Moscow real estate deal that led to the Trump-Kremlin alliance” by Michael Isikoff: “[Rob] Goldstone also said that Ivanka Trump flew to Moscow in 2014 and met with Emin Agalarov, the oligarch’s son, a pop singer and a vice president of the Crocus Group, to identify sites for the project. Confirming Goldstone’s account, Mother Jones late Tuesday published a photo of Ivanka Trump and Emin Agalarov in Moscow in Feb. 2014. Trump “put Donald Jr. in charge and then Ivanka went to Moscow to look around for what the location would be,” Goldstone said. But the plans for a Trump Tower fell apart because “the economy tanked in Russia’’ after the imposition of Western sanctions, he said.” [YahooNews] • Inside the Semi-Secret Life of Rob Goldstone, the Playboy Who Could Bring Down Trump [DailyBeast]

HEARD LAST NIGHT — Sean Hannity during his opening monologue on Fox News, which had more viewers than typical due to Donald Trump Jr’s guest appearance: “Democrats and the MSM are hysterical over the story.. But they have completely ignored an example of actual election interference, and I would argue probably because it involves a Democrat… If you are really interested in election interference, why didn’t you care that a congressional investigation found in 2014 an Israeli political group used a $300,000 Obama State Department grant to create a political apparatus to try and defeat our ally, our friend, the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu?” [Video]

“A Trump World Whodunnit As Allies Wonder: Who Is Going After Don Jr.?” by Adrian Carrasquillo and Tarini Parti: “Others have eyed Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner as a possible culprit. Kushner, who has been under scrutiny for reportedly trying to create a backchannel for communications between Russia and the Trump campaign… has sought to distance himself from the meeting since it became public… But even as those close to Trump try to figure out who leaked the information, they continue to defend Trump Jr… “Is it problematic? Sure, from a PR point of view,” [Sam] Nunberg said. “But it isn’t the Kremlin. Is it evidence that they colluded? No.”” [BuzzFeed]

Lee Zeldin: “I voted for POTUS last Nov. & want him & USA to succeed, but that meeting, given that email chain just released, is a big no-no.” [Twitter]

“Trump Jr. just defined ‘disgraceful’” by John Podhoretz: “At the moment, the only person who might be in some legal jeopardy as a result of the meeting is Kushner, who did not mention the meeting on the form he filled out to secure a security clearance (called an SF-86)… But we know Trump Sr. has knitted his children into every aspect of his professional life. In other words: The President whose daughter took his seat at the G-20 conference and who wants his son-in-law to negotiate a Middle East peace is the same man whose son took a meeting with someone he had been led to believe was a Putin cut-out to procure information that would destroy Hillary Clinton.” [NYPost

PALACE INTRIGUE: “‘Category 5 hurricane’: White House under siege by Trump Jr.’s Russia revelations” by Philip Rucker and Ashley Parker: “The makeup of Trump’s inner circle is the subject of internal debate, as ever. Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter and senior adviser; Jared Kushner, her husband and another senior adviser; and first lady Melania Trump have been privately pressing the president to shake up his team — most specifically by replacing Reince Priebus as the White House chief of staff… Josh Raffel, a White House spokesman, said in a statement on behalf of Kushner and Ivanka Trump: “Jared and Ivanka are focused on working with Reince and the team to advance the President’s agenda and not on pushing for staff changes.””[WashPost

SPOTLIGHT: “Sheldon Adelson: Playing To Win” by Wesley G. Pippert and Nadine Epstein: “Adelson is now Israel’s most powerful media mogul, but can he transfer that magic to the United States? Several years ago, Adelson joked before an audience at an Israeli-American Council conference in New York that buying The New York Times would be the most efficient way to influence U.S. dialogue about Israel. He noted how difficult that would be given the paper’s two classes of ownership and that the buyer would have to “pay significantly more than it’s worth.” These remarks may have been tongue-in-cheek, but in late 2015, Adelson did, in fact, make a move to become a player in U.S. media… In a secret deal, he bought the Las Vegas Review-Journal, paying significantly more than it was worth.”

“Rumors are now circulating of a possible rift between Adelson and Netanyahu. Some say that the Adelsons are disappointed by what was recorded on the leaked tapes… Others say that the Adelsons, who have always been to the right of Netanyahu, suspect that the Prime Minister asked Trump to postpone the embassy move. Word has it that Israel’s far right also believes Netanyahu is holding up building in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and has not adopted a tough enough stance on the two-state solution.” [MomentMag]

HAPPENING NOW: The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is holding a hearing on Senator Lindsey Graham’s Taylor Force Act, legislation that would cut off funding to the Palestinian Authority if they continue their policy of paying monetary rewards to terrorists and their family members – Watch live here [Livestream]

“It’s Time for the U.S. to Stop Paying for Palestinian Terrorism” by Sander Gerber and Noah Pollak: “The bill’s opponents tend to be drawn from a narrow elite of peace-process careerists in the United States and Israel for whom defending the status quo has become a matter not just of professional self-interest, but of personal vanity… As a matter of realpolitik, the United States should not provide aid that undermines our interest in peace and stability in the Middle East and that sends mixed signals to the world about our tolerance for terror.” [TabletMag]

DRIVING THE CONVERSATION: “‘Israel committed to curbing WB construction’” by Elior Levy: “Middle East Envoy Jason Greenblatt told a Palestinian delegation in Jerusalem Tuesday that Israel had committed to slowing down the pace of construction in the West Bank during peace negotiations, according to a report published in the London-based Arabic language newspaper Al-Hayat. After the report was published on Wednesday morning however, the Prime Minister’s Office issued a statement flatly denying the claim: “There is no such commitment,” the statement read.” … Senior Palestinian officials said that they had been informed by the American envoy that Trump will ask both sides to enter into negotiations without preconditions on final status issues.” [Ynet

State Department confirms Israel takes Trump’s concerns about settlements into account — by Aaron Magid: The Israeli government has “implemented a policy” that takes President Donald Trump’s concerns about settlement construction “into account” despite the recent announcement that it advanced plans on 800 homes in Jewish areas of East Jerusalem, a State Department spokesman said  yesterday. Edgar Vasquez, a spokesman for the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, added in response to a question about whether the East Jerusalem construction plan was considered restrained, “I’m not going to get into characterizing every announcement.”

State Department Spokeswoman Heather Nauert: “I think that is something that is still under review – as you know Mr. Greenblatt and Mr. Kushner have made many trips there – so I’m going to just defer to them on that issue.” [JewishInsider

“Under Trump, settlements are no longer the obsessive center of attention” by Raphael Ahren: “This new wind from Washington is clearly being felt by the Palestinians. Tactically determined for the time being to stay on the president’s good side, they have dropped the demand for a settlement freeze as precondition for talks without much arm-twisting… The Europeans have not adopted Trump’s more tolerant stance on settlements, still adhering to their traditional opposition to any Israeli building outside the Green Line. However, their formulaic responses to Israeli announcements of settlement expansions appear to have softened.” [ToI]

“Expansion plan highlights crowded West Bank city’s plight” by Aron Heller and Mohammed Daraghmeh: “After an uproar by Israeli settler leaders, the government appears poised to cancel the move — a decision that could upset nascent U.S. efforts to restart peace talks… As the West Bank’s most densely populated Palestinian city, Qalqiliya has been eagerly awaiting implementation of the Israeli plan that would allow it to double its size by expanding into land that has until now been off-limits…. Education Minister Naftali Bennett, head of the pro-settler Jewish Home Party, said he expects the plan to be rejected when it comes up again for a vote.” [AP

HEARD YESTERDAY — Nauert commented on Friedman joining the meeting with Palestinian negotiators — Question: In the past, the meetings with the Palestinians did not include the American ambassador to Israel. It’s been like a protocol. Has there been, in your view, a downgrading of your view of the Palestinian Authority, or is this just something – because it has not been done since, like the ’90s? Nauert: “So I would say it’s, in fact, the opposite, not a downgrading but perhaps even an upgrading.”[JewishInsider]

IRAN DEAL: “Europe Wary as U.S. Scrutinizes Iran Nuclear Deal” by Laurence Norman: “European officials have remained publicly upbeat about the U.S. remaining a party to the deal, but diplomats privately voice serious concerns about where the U.S. review is headed. They say Washington is providing little feedback, has given no firm end-date for the review and hasn’t made clear who is shaping the process. European officials still believe the Trump administration won’t abandon the nuclear deal, but many fear Washington will keep it under a rolling review…. U.S. officials said Washington has informed allies about the basic parameters of the review…” [WSJ

ON THE HILL — “McConnell Nixes Part of Senate Vacation to Deal With Backlog” by Andrew Taylor: “”Yeah I was going to Israel with a bunch of new members but I guess I’m not now,” remarked Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.” [AP

“Lawmakers press Trump to appoint liaison to Jewish community” by Summer Park: “It is more important now than ever before that we redouble our efforts for this critical cause,” Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.) told The Hill. “I strongly support the appointment of a liaison to the Jewish community, which is why this letter was sent to the president.” … “Our government must remain acutely aware of the diverse needs facing the Jewish community,” Rep.Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), another signatory, told The Hill… Nadler said the Trump administration had already experienced “far too many hiccups vis-à-vis the Jewish Community.” [TheHill

** 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: Sources: Gary Cohn is Trump’s top candidate to replace Yellen at Fed [Politico] • One Game Warren Buffett Doesn’t Play: Chicken. Elliott Management says it is planning to counter Berkshire’s $9 billion bid for Energy Future [WSJ] • Billionaires Head to Sun Valley to Discover the Next Megdeal [Bloomberg] • Kushner Mall Deal Was Rushed Through, New Jersey Residents Tell Judge [Bloomberg

STARTUP NATION: “The Lemonade insurance social experiment results in $53K donation in year one” by John Mannes: “Lemonade aims to donate unclaimed premiums to charity once a year in a “Giveback” to discourage fraud… Lemonade founder Daniel Schreiber has a term for the evils many of us succumb to when filing claims with our home insurers — letting the devil loose… Schreiber is the first to say that the idea for a Giveback wasn’t about being generous — it’s business. During an interview, he recalled two Lemonade customers who have called to voluntarily return money given to them for stolen goods that were ultimately recovered.” [TechCrunch

TALK OF OUR NATION: “Israel to American Jews: You Just Don’t Matter” by Thomas Friedman: “To the casual observer, Israel has never looked more secure and prosperous. Its Arab neighbors are in disarray. Iran’s nuclear program has been mothballed for a while. The Trump team could not be friendlier and the Palestinians could not be weaker. All’s quiet on the Tel Aviv front. Look again. In fact, the foundations of Israel’s long-term national security are cracking… Netanyahu is setting himself up to be a pivotal figure in Jewish history — the leader who burned the bridges to a two-state solution and to the Jewish diaspora at the same time… Runaway Jewish nationalism threatens to meld Israel with the Palestinians in the West Bank, while runaway Orthodox politics threatens to disconnect Israel from its most committed supporters.” [NYTimes]

KAFE KNESSET — Bibi’s favorite bill slows down — by Tal Shalev and JPost’s Lahav Harkov: The nation-state bill is on the agenda again, with a special committee led by Likud MK Amir Ohana set up to work on it. On Monday, Netanyahu said that the committee will help fast-track the bill, which he has vocally supported. However, Ohana said today that he spoke to the Knesset Legal Adviser Eyal Yinon, and that it won’t be possible to pass it in a first reading before the Knesset summer session ends in two weeks. Tourism Minister Yariv Levin, a Netanyahu ally and major proponent of the bill, said Yinon is just trying to block the bill from passing. Opposition MKs said Netanyahu only wants to accelerate the legislative process to distract from his other problems – the submarine probe, or concerns about Gabbay’s meteoric rise in the polls. Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset here [JewishInsider]

BUZZ ON BALFOUR: “Israel’s former defense minister thinks Netanyahu will be indicted” by Andrew Carey and Mick Krever: “Too many issues are under investigation,” Moshe Ya’alon told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour in an interview set to air Tuesday night. “I believe that at the end we will witness indictment.” … In response to Ya’alon’s comments to CNN, an official in the Prime Minister’s Office said: “Mr. Ya’alon’s allegations are baseless. Unfortunately, he has turned political differences into a smear campaign against the Prime Minister… The Prime Minister is guided by one overriding consideration: ensuring the security of Israel.” [CNN

“George Soros upset by ‘antisemitic’ campaign against him in Hungary” by AFP: “I am distressed by the current Hungarian regime’s use of antisemitic imagery as part of its deliberate disinformation campaign,” the 86-year-old said in a rare statement… Soros, who has dual Hungarian-American citizenship, said he was “heartened that together with countless fellow citizens the leadership of the Hungarian Jewish community” have spoken out. Earlier on Tuesday his spokesperson Michael Vachon called the campaign “reminiscent of Europe’s darkest hours” with “clearly antisemitic overtones.” [Guardian]

TALK OF THE TOWN: “Friends in High Places: Secret App Makes Manhattan Skyscrapers Change Color” by Rachel Louise Ensign and Liz Hoffman: “The app is the brain­child of Mark Domino, a digi­tal-me­dia artist who built “mul­ti­sen­sory mu­si­cal in­stru­ments” while a stu­dent at Brown Uni­ver­sity. He is the son-in-law of Dou­glas Durst, the real-es­tate ty­coon whose fam­ily com­pany, the Durst Or­ga­ni­za­tion, owns the two mid­town of­fice tow­ers. Mr. Domino works as di­rec­tor of digi­tal me­dia at Durst.” [WSJ

COMING SOON: “Steven Spielberg subject of intimate HBO documentary” by Nick Romano: “On Tuesday, HBO announced Spielberg, directed and produced by Emmy-winning documentarian Susan Lacy, which will chronicle the titular director’s ascent from a “bittersweet childhood” to his historic moviemaking career. Lacy filmed 30 hours of interviews with Spielberg, who discussed topics like his long obsession with film, his early works as a TV “wunderkind,” his string of blockbusters and more dramatic works, and his personal and professional relationships. The doc also pulls from interviews with Spielberg’s family, friends, and colleagues, as well as clips and behind-the-scenes footage from his filmography… Spielberg will premiere on HBO on Saturday, Oct. 7.” [EW

BIRTHDAYS: Former US Ambassador to the UN Human Rights Council (1969-1972), senior partner for more than twenty years at the NYC law firm of Stroock & Stroock & Lavan, Rita E. Hauser turns 83… Former congressman (R-Oklahoma-5) (1977-1993), he was a founding trustee of the Heritage Foundation and national chairman of the American Conservative Union, Marvin Henry “Mickey” Edwards turns 80… Former executive director of the Crown Heights Jewish Community Council, Dan Botnick turns 79… Canadian journalist, public speaker, feminist and social activist, she is the author of three bestselling books, Michele Landsberg turns 78… Member of the Florida House of Representatives (2005-2013), Franklin Sands turns 77… Bestselling author, screenwriter, and playwright, sister of the late Nora Ephron, Delia Ephron turns 73… Professor of religion at the University of Vermont, he was an advisor to Bernie Sanders on his 2016 presidential campaign, as an undergrad at Yale his roommate was Joe Lieberman, Richard Sugarman turns 73… Co-founder of Imagine Entertainment, his films and TV series have been nominated for 43 Academy Awards and 131 Emmys, Brian Grazer turns 66… Executive Director of Newton, Massachusetts-based Gateways: Access to Jewish Education, focused on children with special educational needs, Arlene Remz turns 62…

Billionaire, born in Ukraine, living in London, co-owner of the Midland Group with holdings in steel, shipping, real estate, agriculture and sports, Eduard Shifrin turns 57… Israeli journalist, television presenter and politician, mother of eight children, she served as a member of Knesset for the Yisrael Beiteinu party (2009-2013), Anastassia Michaeli turns 42… Chief news anchor of the Israeli commercial Channel 2 prime time news program, she has interviewed both Presidents Bush (43) and Obama, Yonit Levi turns 40… Senior White House reporter for Politico, Edward-Isaac Dovere turns 37… Partner in the Des Moines-based public relations firm AdelmanDean Group, Liz Rodgers Adelman turns 36… Rena Meira Rotter turns 28… SVP at DC-based government relations and public policy firm of CRD / Cavarocchi Ruscio Dennis, Jennifer Leib… Ben Birnbaum

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