President Donald Trump reacts as he attends a "Made in America" products showcase event at the White House in Washington, U.S., July 17, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

Daily Kickoff: Trump almost killed the Iran deal yesterday | KKR’s successors | Brafman’s strange defense of Shkreli | Kosher coming to Wrigley Field


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DRIVING THE CONVERSATION: “Trump Recertifies Iran Nuclear Deal, but Only Reluctantly” by Peter Baker: “President Trump agreed on Monday to certify again that Iran is complying with an international nuclear agreement that he has strongly criticized, but only after hours of arguing with his top national security advisers, briefly upending a planned announcement as a legal deadline loomed… While Mr. Trump headed to Paris and then spent the weekend in New Jersey, his team developed a strategy that they hoped would satisfy him and planned to notify Congress and make the case publicly on Monday. But even as allies were quietly being informed, Mr. Trump balked when he heard the plan at his morning security briefing, the official said.”

“The argument continued during a separate meeting with Mr. Tillerson as Mr. Trump pressed for more action… He agreed only late in the day after a final meeting in the Oval Office, in effect telling his advisers that he was giving them another chance and this time they had to deliver.” [NYTimes]

“Trump Just Came Very Close to Killing the Iran Deal” by Eli Lake: “For a few hours on Monday afternoon, it looked like the White House was going to tell Congress it could not certify Iran was complying, without saying Iran was in breach of the pact. This would have triggered a 60-day period in which Congress could vote to re-impose the secondary sanctions lifted as a condition of the deal, or to strike it down altogether.” [Bloomberg

HEARD LAST NIGHT — A Trump administration official in a briefing with reporters: “What we are focused on right now is trying to see a change in the behavior of the Iranian regime and stopping the Iranian malign behavior… The Secretary of State and the President intend to emphasize that Iran remains one of the most dangerous threats to U.S. interests and regional stability and to highlight the range of malign activities by Iran that extend well beyond the nuclear realm… The President, Secretary of State, and the entire administration judge that Iran is unquestionably in default of the spirit of the JCPOA.” [JewishInsider]

Breaking this am — AP: “US slaps 18 Iranian individuals, groups with sanctions over ballistic missiles program, other non-nuclear behavior.” [Twitter; Treasury]

AIPAC’s take: “Today’s sanctions issued by the Trump administration against entities supporting Iran’s military and missile program are an important step forward. Lawmakers must quickly complete work on the Iran sanctions legislation currently under consideration and forward it to the president to sign and implement.”

“These Are The Trump White House’s Talking Points For Why The Iran Deal Is Staying In Place” by Mark Siebel: “The Trump administration… issued tough talking points on Monday… to supporters promising that it will continue to search for ways to modify the agreement. The talking points said that the Treasury Department would impose sanctions on seven Iranian government entities and five individuals in an effort to show determination to punish Iran for what it called “malign activities” that make Iran “one of the most dangerous threats to US interests.” … The document also cites the arbitrary arrests of Americans and accuses the Obama administration of a “myopic focus” on Iran’s nuclear program that allowed the Islamic Republic to gain influence throughout the region.” [BuzzFeed] • Pence: Trump has put Iran ‘on notice’ [WashTimes

KEY TAKE —  Aaron David Miller: “Today it’s clear Trump unable to overturn Obama’s two main achievements at home/abroad. ACA and JCPOA — however flawed.” [Twitter

Dem donor Andrew Weinstein emails us… “Iran remains a disruptive force in the region and we must be vigilant in guarding against the threat that they pose. However, they are no longer a nuclear threat and that alone is an accomplishment of enormous consequence.”

VIEW FROM TEHRAN: “Iran says it has received ‘contradictory signals’ from Trump” by The Associated Press: “Mohammad Javad Zarif told the Council on Foreign Relations Monday he hasn’t communicated with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. But he said “it doesn’t mean that there can’t be (communication), because the possibilities for engagement with regard to the nuclear deal have always been open.” Zarif stressed that “Iran is serious about the nuclear deal” which “can lay the foundation, not the ceiling.” … Zarif said this “creates the impression in Iran that the United States’ hostility toward Iran will never end. And I think that can be remedied.”” [AP

HEARD YESTERDAY — WH Press Secretary Sean Spicer on Israeli criticism of Syria ceasefire: “There’s a shared interest that we have with Israel, making sure that Iran does not gain a foothold, military base-wise, in southern Syria. So while we’re going to continue those talks, obviously we want to have the productive ceasefire, but we also want to make sure that we’re not — one of our other objectives obviously remains to make sure that Iran does not gain a foothold in southern Syria.  So we need to continue to have that discussion with Prime Minister Netanyahu about his concerns, but I think there is a shared goal there.”

“Netanyahu Told Macron He’s Skeptical About Trump’s Israeli-Palestinian Peace Efforts” by Barak Ravid: “The Palestinian issue is complicated,” Netanyahu told Macron, the sources say, adding that Macron agreed but replied, “The problem is that you’re making it more complicated by building more and more in the settlements.” … Macron told Netanyahu that during Trump’s visit to Paris last week, the U.S. president spoke about his attempt to advance the peace process. Macron told Netanyahu he supports Trump’s initiative… but Netanyahu was more skeptical… “It will be complicated to move quickly with the American plan,” the sources quoted Netanyahu as saying. “I don’t know if Abbas can supply the goods because of his internal politics. But we will cooperate with Trump’s move.” [Haaretz

TAYLOR FORCE ACT: “Foreign Relations Panel to Vote to Slash Palestinian Authority Funding” by Jenna Lifhits: “It’ll be a pretty strong vote,” said Maryland Senator Ben Cardin, the top Democrat on the panel. “Hopefully during this work period.” Tennessee Senator Bob Corker, the chairman of the committee, also said he expected a vote soon. “We have gotten the bill in a place where it’s going to receive overwhelming support,” he said.”[TWS

CUFI CONFERENCE — Ambassador Ron Dermer blasts ‘Fake News’ false reporting about Israel — by Jacob Kornbluh: “Tonight I’d like to talk to you about Fake News,” Israel’s Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer started his speech at the annual Christians United for Israel’s ‘Night to Honor Israel’ in Washington, D.C. But as the crowd roared, Dermer made a point that he was not joining President Donald Trump’s tirade against the U.S. media. “Now, some people associate fake news with the rise of President Donald Trump,” he asserted. “but Israel has been dealing with fake news day after day, month after month, year after year, and decade after decade.”

Dermer on the Taylor Force Act: “I can assure that Israel is not the slightest bit concerned that the Taylor Force will pass. Israel would be concerned if the Taylor Force Act didn’t pass. Israel believes that the United States should end economic assistance of any government that pays people to kill Jews. Period.” [JewishInsider

Conference of Presidents’ Malcolm Hoenlein rebuked UNESCO’s recent resolution on Hebron: “They have declared the Bible obsolete and irrelevant. You can take an oath on the Bible but you can’t believe those same words. They are rewriting and distorting history,” he emphasized. Assailing the BDS movement, Hoenlein asserted, “It’s time to take the ‘D’ out of ‘BDS’ because that is a much better description of this campaign.”

Former Congressman Allen West warned Trump of the consequences for failing to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem: “If you have made this a campaign promise and you have spoken about this and don’t follow through, then there is a loss of credibility.  Then, how are you seen in the eyes of someone like (Palestinian President) Mahmoud Abbas?” explained West. Moving the embassy demonstrates that “we will not be intimidated by the leader of a terrorist gang, which is what Fatah is.” [JewishInsider]

Pence reassures CUFI crowd that it’s only a matter of time until Trump moves the embassy to Jerusalem: “I promise you that the day will come when President Donald Trump will move the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem,” Pence said to loud applause. “It is not a question of if, it is only when.” Pence also reassured the crowd that while certifying Iran’s compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal, the President “will not allow Iran develop a usable nuclear weapon. This is our solemn promise to the American people, to the people of Israel and to the world.” [JewishInsider]

ON THE HILL — Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) praised French President Emmanuel Macron on the Senate floor yesterday for his comments over the weekend about anti-Semitism: “It is with anti-Zionism; the idea that all other peoples can seek and defend their right to self-determination but Jews cannot; that other nations have a right to exist, but the Jewish state of Israel does not. Anti-Zionism, unfortunately, continues to bubble up in many different forms… The BDS movement is a deeply biased campaign that I would say, in similar words to Mr. Macron, is a “reinvented form of anti-Semitism” because it seeks to impose boycotts on Israel and not on any other nation. I hope that states across the country continue to push back against the BDS movement, by boycotting the boycotters, as my home state of New York has done.” [YouTube]

“AIPAC Withholds Criticism of Trump’s Budget Stance on Israel Because ‘No Veto Threat’ vs. Congress” by Amir Tibon: “AIPAC denounced the Obama administration for opposing a funding increase for Israel’s missile-defense program last year but hasn’t criticized the administration of President Donald Trump for its similar stance because it did not threaten to veto Congress’ efforts on the matter, an AIPAC official told Haaretz. “The statement in 2016 was issued because of a clear veto threat by the Obama administration over this provision,” the official said. “There has been no veto threat issued by the administration over this provision this year.” [Haaretz

“Jared Kushner Isn’t Going Anywhere” by Emily Jane Fox: “Kushner is not leaving the White House for now, despite calls for him to do so. As the administration dives head-first into “Made in America Week,” its latest themed week, he will debrief with Jason Greenblatt, the president’s lead envoy in the Middle East, who recently returned from Israel, and focus on the U.S.-China diplomatic and security dialogue, which will take place mid-week.” [VanityFair]

“Embroiled in Russia crisis, Kushner presses on with Mideast peace” by Michael Wilner: “I don’t sense that there is any substantive effect of the Trump family’s involvement with Russia on the way that Israelis perceive Jared Kushner’s involvement in the Israeli-Palestinian context,” said Gilead Sher, chief of staff under former Prime Minister Ehud Barak… Several of his predecessors in the peace process wondered aloud whether he will have the bandwidth to remain engaged. “Mr. Kushner is one individual – in the end, it is the president and the credibility of his administration that matters,” said Aaron David Miller… Obviously, any time there’s an investigation, there’s a distraction. But smart people are used to having distractions,” [Alan] Dershowitz added. “Jared strikes me as a very intelligent and a very determined young man who is learning quickly on the job the complexities of the Middle East peace process.” [JPost]

HEARD YESTERDAY — CNN’s Sara Murray on The Lead with Jake Tapper: “Jared Kushner is regularly at the president’s side, whether it’s when he is considering national security decisions, meeting with foreign leaders, or in his capacity helping to figure out the Mideast peace process. And talking to experts, they say it would be basically impossible for Kushner to do his job in the White House if he did not have a full security clearance.”

Hungary’s Orban: Collaboration with Nazis was mistake, sin: “Hungary’s prime minister says his country’s collaboration with Nazi Germany during World War II was a “mistake” and a “sin” as it failed to protect its Jewish community. Viktor Orban said Tuesday that he told visiting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “this can never happen again,” as Hungary “will protect all its citizens.” Some 550,000 Hungarian Jews were killed in the Holocaust.” [AP

KAFE KNESSET — Dispatch from Budapest — by Tal Shalev and JPost’s Lahav Harkov: Netanyahu expressed his gratitude for Orban’s “strong words,” but is still facing a tense meeting tomorrow evening with the local Jewish community as the government billboard campaign against George Soros is still up in the air, and some senior Jewish leaders feel they were “stabbed in the back” by Netanyahus stance on the debacle last week. Orban greeted Netanyahu with a grand honor guard and with all the respect in the world and they appear to have quite a friendly relationship. Bibi also expressed Israel’s gratitude for Hungary’s support in international forums, and that will be the leading theme tomorrow in his meetings with the V4 leaders of Hungary, Poland, Czech Republic and Slovakia. According to Israeli officials, the main goal of Bibi’s participation in the summit is to promote bilateral economic relations and in exhcnage – ensure support in the hostile multilateral international arena, primarily the EU, as each of these four countries could come into hand and block a consensus on future critical and anti-Israel resolutions. Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset here [JewishInsider]

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BUSINESS BRIEFS: KKR positions successors to Henry Kravis and George Roberts [FinancialTimes] • Game of Thrones, Private Equity Style [Bloomberg] • Nelson Peltz’s Activist Attack Puts Focus on Procter & Gamble Cost Cutting [WSJ] • WeWork will launch in Japan with the help of SoftBank[TC] • Thyssenkrupp finds no signs of corruption in Israel deal [Reuters] • China is increasingly becoming key for Israel’s high-tech industry [CNBC] • David A. Steinberg’s Zeta Global acquires Boomtrain to boost marketing with machine learning [VentureBeat]

SPOTLIGHT: “The Strange Defense of Martin Shkreli” by Sheelah Kolhatkar: “On Wednesday, June 28th, the criminal-defense attorney Benjamin Brafman stood in front of a Brooklyn jury and presented an unusual argument… In late 2015, Shkreli was arrested and charged with misappropriating assets from Retrophin, a publicly traded drug company that he was running, and using those assets to conceal investor losses in separate entities, his hedge funds, MSMB Capital L.P. and MSMB Healthcare L.P. Announcing the charges, the former U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Robert Capers, said, “Shkreli essentially ran his companies like a Ponzi scheme.” Brafman’s defense seems to be that Shkreli’s investors ultimately ended up making money on their investments, and this should excuse whatever lines he crossed in the process.”

“According to the testimony of some of his investors, Shkreli finally told them that he was shutting MSMB down and offered them shares in Retrophin, the drug company he was running that had no relationship with MSMB, rather than cash to redeem their shares. Dr. Lindsay Rosenwald, one of those investors, testified that “my choice was the cash”; he never got the cash, though. Instead, Rosenwald said, he and Shkreli reached a settlement in which Rosenwald received eighty thousand shares of Retrophin. In a pattern mirrored by other investors, Rosenwald testified that he came out ahead, financially, in the end, and was able to sell the Retrophin shares for between four hundred thousand and six hundred thousand dollars, a huge increase over his initial hundred-thousand-dollar investment.” [NewYorker]

“Steven Mnuchin, Trump’s Treasury Secretary, is hurtling toward his first fiasco” by Damian Paletta: “The coming months promise to test Mnuchin… with no experience in government but plenty of experience by the president’s side, serving as campaign finance chairman. Trump attended Mnuchin’s wedding in June, and on the wall beside Mnuchin’s desk is a news clipping announcing his appointment, signed by Trump along with — in black Sharpie — “I’m very proud of you.” … People who have met with him at Treasury describe him as polite and curious, with an unabashed affection for Trump that can cloud his message… He meets weekly with Federal Reserve Board Chair Janet L. Yellen, often for breakfast or lunch, to discuss a variety of financial market issues…. Whereas Lew seemed to eschew all the security and publicity — he once stood alone at night in Union Station waiting for his wife to get off a train — Mnuchin travels differently. He was recently seen leaving a Washington custom tailor shop in the middle of a workday with a group of Secret Service agents.” [WashPost

MEDIA WATCH: “Sinclair executive defends company from ‘biased’ media in internal memo” by Hadas Gold: “While it is true that Sinclair offers commentary segments from Mark Hyman and Boris Epshtyen, this content is clearly identified as commentary and constitutes a tiny percentage of the station’s weekly broadcast content,” [Scott] Livingston wrote. “Mark and Boris’ commentaries provide a viewpoint that often gets lost in the typical national broadcast media dialogue. Boris Epshtyen worked in the Trump White House, a fact that Sinclair makes no effort to hide, and provides a unique insight that viewers can’t find anywhere else. The presence of former administrative personnel serving as news commentators is a well accepted practice in journalism.” [Politico]

SPORTS BLINK: “Kosher food coming to Wrigley Field” by Elan Kane: “Kosher Standz, a partner of the Danziger Kosher Midwest catering company, will open DanZtand on July 21, serving kosher Romanian Hot dogs, Romanian Polish Sausages, and pretzels. Kosher Standz, a partner of the Danziger Kosher Midwest catering company, will open DanZtand on July 21, serving kosher Romanian Hot dogs, Romanian Polish Sausages, and pretzels.” [ChicagoSunTimes]

DESSERT: “JJ’s Holy Cow—A New Burger Cart For The Downtown Lunch Crowd” by Paul Stremple: “A new food cart at the corner of Court and Schermerhorn Streets is serving up kosher, artisanal burgers to the downtown Brooklyn lunch crowd. JJ’s Holy Cow is a small cart making big—aka half pound—burgers while focusing on organic and, when possible, locally sourced ingredients.” [Bklyner]
 
BIRTHDAYS: Cognitive therapy psychiatrist and Professor Emeritus at the University of Pennsylvania, Aaron T. Beck turns 96… Hidden with his mother in a school attic in Poland during WW2, theoretical chemist who won the 1981 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, he has also published plays and poetry, Roald Hoffmann (born Roald Safran) turns 80… Mayor of Edmonton, Alberta (2004-2013) and Minister of Health in the Alberta provincial government (2014-2015), Stephen Mandel turns 72… Politician, legislator and former Prime Minister of Peru (2008-2009), Yehude Simon Munaro turns 70… Executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association (1985-2009) including during the 1994-95 MLB strike, now executive director of the National Hockey League Players Association, Donald Fehr turns 69… Finance and nursing home executive, attorney, founder of two banks and chairman of the Israel Discount Bank of New York (2006-2007), Leonard Grunsteinturns 65… Retired IDF Brigadier General, former Israeli Police spokesman, senior national radio broadcaster and international talk-show host, Elihu Ben-Onn turns 63… Yitz Woolf

Assistant Professor in the Cyber Science Department at the US Naval Academy and formerly an attorney at Covington & Burling, Jeffrey Michael Kosseffturns 39… Kiev-born, Australian writer, advocate, commentator and lawyer, he is the director of public affairs at the Executive Council of Australian Jewry,Alexander Ryvchin turns 34… Digital Media Associate at NYC-based The Workmen’s Circle, Lauren Friedlander … VP of development and strategy at 70 Faces Media (parent company of JTA), Shuli Karkowsky… Chairperson of the Jerusalem-based World Union of Jewish Students, Yosef Tarshish… Izi Doenyas… Rhoda Rosen… Jan Allen… Regina Brenner… Ted Rosenberg

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