Daily Kickoff: Where in the world are Jared & Ivanka for Passover? | Bret Stephens leaves WSJ for NYTimes | Trump team asked Safra Catz to join admin

April 13, 2017
When you can’t come to an agreement on the Dan Hotel or the King David. Photo by Jim Bourg/Reuters

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Ed note: Enjoy this quick mid-Passover briefing. We’ll be back after Passover…

EXCLUSIVE — Where In The World Are Jared and Ivanka for Passover? — by Jacob Kornbluh: Jewish Insider has learned exclusively that the President’s daughter and son-in-law have been spending the Passover holiday at the Four Seasons Resort in Whistler, a resort town in British Columbia, Canada. A Jewish Insider reader shared a photo with us of Ivanka in ski gear filling up a plate of matzah while chatting on her cell phone a few hours before Monday night’s Seder. [Pic

In past years, Ivanka has joined Jared’s family for Passover at the Biltmore in Arizona, at a program near the Mayan Ruins in Mexico, and last year at Ivanka’s own Trump National Doral in Miami. In fact, Jared first met Avi Berkowitz, now his deputy at the White House, on the basketball courts at the Biltmore Passover program.

— Among the featured speakers at the Whistler Passover program this year is Ami Horowitz. Horowitz is a frequent Fox News contributor and is credited with sparking President Trump’s controversial remarks in February about Sweden… After the backlash, Trump clarified via Twitter that he first heard about the stories in Sweden from Tucker Carlson’s Fox News segment with Horowitz… 

No word yet on whether Ivanka’s friend, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will visit the First Family in Whistler. [JewishInsider

MEANWHILE… Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau joined a Seder with Jewish members of the Liberal caucus and staff [Facebook

“The White House hosted a Passover Seder, but without President Trump” by Juliet Eilperin and Julie Zauzmer: “Several aides to President Trump gathered in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building to commemorate the annual Jewish holiday… But Trump did not attend the ceremony… After the Seder, a White House official… said that guests included Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin and Jeremy Katz, deputy director of the National Economic Council… The three Obama campaign staffers who initiated the tradition — Arun Chaudhary, Eric Lesser and Herbie Ziskend — all celebrated separately this year, and without the Obamas. “Hopefully President Trump is able to attend a White House Seder at some point because I think retelling the ancient story of liberation from persecution is an important exercise for the leader of the free world. Especially this one,” Ziskend said in an email. “Maybe he will do so next year…in Jerusalem!”” [WashPost]

The Seder – a Glatt Kosher meal – took place in the Indian Treaty Room in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building – the same room where the Seder was held by staffers of the Clinton administration in 1993. [Twitter] • Photo of the Seder shared by Sean Spicer — with a cameo from Menachem Shemtov [Pic

MEDIA WATCH: “Bret Stephens leaves Wall Street Journal for New York Times” by Hadas Gold: “Bret Stephens, the Journal’s deputy editorial page editor, will be The New York Times’ newest op-ed columnist, both papers announced on Wednesday. “He’s a beautiful writer who ranges across politics, international affairs, culture and business, and, for The Times, he will bring a new perspective to bear on the news,” Times editorial page editor James Bennet wrote in a memo… In a tweet, Stephens said he is “profoundly grateful for many years at an extraordinary newspaper. Looking forward to many more years at another.”” [Politico]  

DRIVING THE CONVERSATION: “‘I Screwed Up’: Sean Spicer Apologizes for Holocaust Comments” by Michael Grynbaum: “One day after he delivered a stunner of a gaffe from the White House lectern — favorably comparing Hitler to President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, then clumsily referring to Nazi death camps as “Holocaust centers” — Mr. Spicer gave an abject apology on Wednesday… Mr. Spicer offered no excuses, describing his remarks as “inexcusable and reprehensible” and acknowledging that the timing — during Passover and the Christian Holy Week — “compounds that kind of mistake.”” [NYTimes

“Spicer, under fire, says he’s not going anywhere” by Josh Dawsey: “Spicer did not seem to be at risk of losing his job, two White House officials and two advisers said, even though the President was displeased with his comments… “Until you’ve stood at that podium, you have no idea how hard it is day in and day out to never make a mistake,” said Ari Fleischer, a press secretary for George W. Bush. “Sean made a big one today. He handled it properly. He apologized. Now, he’s going to take a pounding, and he’s going to move forward.” … Spicer called the office of Republican mega-donor Sheldon Adelson, a major giver to Jewish causes, soon after making the statements, according to Andy Abboud, an Adelson spokesman. “Sean called shortly after and said he made a terrible mistake and apologized if he was offensive,” Abboud said.” [Politico; CNN

ICYMI — Spicer’s comments that caused the uproar: “You look — we didn’t use chemical weapons in World War II. You had someone as despicable as Hitler who didn’t even sink to using chemical weapons… I think when you come to sarin gas, he was not using the gas on his own people the same way that Assad is doing… There was not — he brought them into the Holocaust center, I understand that. But I’m saying in the way that Assad used them, where he went into towns, dropped them down to innocent — into the middle of towns.” [CSPAN; CSPAN]  

HEARD LAST NIGHT — at Republican Rep. Mike Coffman’s town hall in Aurora, Colorado: “The tensions came to a head with the final question of the evening, from a woman who said her great-grandparents had died in Auschwitz. She expressed dismay at what she said was a “president who has anti-Semitic people” in high-ranking positions, and slammed White House press secretary Sean Spicer for saying Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad ‘s actions were worse than Adolf Hitler’s. “Spicer made a terrible mistake yesterday,” Coffman began. “If you’re not familiar with what he did…” But the audience let it be known that it wanted no excuses about Spicer. Throwing up his hands, Coffman finally said about Spicer: “He needs to go.” [CNN]

PALACE INTRIGUE: “Trump won’t definitively say he still backs Bannon” by Michael Goodwin: “I like Steve, but you have to remember he was not involved in my campaign until very late,” Trump said…He ended by saying, “Steve is a good guy, but I told them to straighten it out or I will.” [NYPost

“Inside Bannon’s struggle: From ‘shadow president’ to Trump’s marked man” by Philip Rucker, Ashley Parker and Robert Costa: “Trump also is increasingly embracing more mainstream policy positions championed by daughter Ivanka Trump, son-in-law Jared Kushner and their allies, including ascendant National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn, instead of Bannon’s brand of combative nationalism…Trump’s three oldest children — Donald Jr., Ivanka and Eric — and Kushner have been frustrated by the impression of chaos inside the White House and feel that their father has not always been served well by his senior staff, according to people with knowledge of their sentiments.” [WashPost; NYTimes

“Trump kneecaps Bannon” by Mike Allen: “Axios AM is told that President Trump didn’t like the stories about Bannon as the Svengali, or leaks against Jared and Ivanka, or planted stories that he blamed Bannon for.” [Axios

Bill Kristol: “I hope Trump dumps Bannon. But to be honest it would be a mistake: Trump’s new friends still won’t respect him & his enemies won’t fear him.” [Twitter]

“Trump adviser compares Kushner to Alexander Hamilton” by Max Greenwood: “Anthony Scaramucci, an informal adviser to President Trump, compared White House senior adviser Jared Kushner on Tuesday to Alexander Hamilton, the first Treasury secretary and one of the nation’s Founding Fathers. “I think he’s like an Alexander Hamilton,” Scaramucci said on CNN’s “New Day.” “He’s a young man who has a tremendous amount of maturity about him.”” [TheHill] • What is the Kushner Doctrine? [NYMag]

“CEOs gaining power in Trump’s White House” by Josh Dawsey and Ben White: “The president is a business person, so he’s very comfortable being around business people and he learns best by talking to people and observing things,” Stephen Schwarzman (CEO of Blackstone Group) said in an interview after meeting on Tuesday with Trump and other business leaders. “I think he looks forward to these things and he likes being with business people who have run businesses that are bigger than his. It’s just a highly supportive environment, whether it’s Gary Cohn or Jared, certainly Steve Mnuchin and Wilbur Ross and Dina Powell, these are all people who’ve had very similar experiences.” [Politico]

“Trump Team Talked to Oracle’s Safra Catz About an Administration Post” by Brian Womack: “The previous month, the Trump’s inner circle had shown interest in Catz, and spoken to her about the positions of U.S. Trade Representative and the Director of National Intelligence, according to people familiar with the matter. While she didn’t take a formal job, she assisted in the run-up to the inauguration, sitting on the executive committee of the transition team and penning a column for The Hill in support of Steve Mnuchin, the future treasury secretary.” [Bloomberg]

KAFE KNESSET — by Tal Shalev and JPost’s Lahav Harkov: Q — What could possibly unite such disparate figures as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, opposition leader Isaac Herzog, Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman and Yesh Atid Chairman Yair Lapid? A — The latest provocation from Ha’aretz, of course. An op-ed published by Ha’aretz on Wednesday claimed that religious Zionists are more dangerous than Hezbollah and car accidents, and lamented that the government can’t kill them… The outrage-filled comments came very quickly. Netanyahu called it “shameful and delusional,” adding that Ha’aretz has “totally lost it,” and that “the religious-Zionist public is the salt of the earth; their sons and daughters serve in the IDF and national (civilian) service for the State of Israel and Israel’s security. I am proud of them, as I am of most citizens of the state. Ha’aretz must apologize.”

It is Passover, so we have to ask: Why is this article different from all other articles? Yes, it’s a despicable thing to write, but Ha’aretz has plenty of in-house provocateurs like Rogel Alpher, Gideon Levy and Amira Hass, who have written all kinds of outrageous things, for example, justifying Palestinians throwing boulders at moving cars. The author of the article, Yossi Klein, is not very well-known, but reached a new level of infamy in the past day. The reason is that, well, it is Passover. Everyone is busy with their families, and not much else is going on from a political perspective. The politicians don’t have much to say this week that will get them into the newspapers or shares on Facebook – so they’ve latched on to the latest hate-filled diatribe from Ha’aretz. In other words, today is a slow news day. Happy Passover! Today’s Kafe Knesset [JewishInsider] • Response from Haaretz [Haaretz]

TEHRAN WATCH: “Hard-line ex-leader Ahmadinejad stuns Iran with election bid” by Amir Vahdat and Jon Gambrell: “Former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad registered Wednesday to run in the country’s May presidential election… Though Ahmadinejad still might not be approved for the ballot by Iran’s clerically overseen government, merely the mention of the Holocaust-questioning populist might energize discontent hard-liners who want a Persian answer to U.S. President Donald Trump… The May 19 election is seen by many in Iran as a referendum on the 2015 nuclear agreement and other efforts to improve the country’s sanctions-hobbled economy.” [AP• Chances that Ahmadinejad’s candidacy will be approved are slim [JPost

** Good Thursday 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: Ron Perelman acquires online coupon site RetailMeNot for $630 million [TechCrunch• Barry Rosenstein’s Jana Partners Takes Nearly 9% Stake in Whole Foods [WSJ] • LeFrak sells Rego Park office building to tenant for $140M [RealDeal] • Geoffrey and Matthew Chaiken’s startup just raised another $90 million to help people save money on prescriptions [BusinessInsider]

SPOTLIGHT — “The making of Adam Schiff: Why is this man taking on the president?” by Ryan Torok:“Adam became a bar mitzvah at Temple Isaiah, a Reform congregation in Lafayette, Calif., in June 1973. “I certainly do remember making tape recordings of my [bar mitzvah] practice sessions on cassette tape with a little cassette recorder, and I think I may even have one of those,” Schiff said. “It’s funny to hear your voice back then.” … Rabbi David Wolpe of Sinai Temple in West L.A. met Schiff five years ago at a memorial service at Forest Lawn-Hollywood Hills. Wolpe was leading the service, and Schiff said he was impressed with how eloquently and powerfully he spoke. The two struck up a friendship, exchanging book recommendations via email.” [JewishJournal

LongRead: “The Conservative Pipeline to the Supreme Court” by Jeffrey Toobin: “Leonard Leo has for many years been the executive vice-president of the Federalist Society, a nationwide organization of conservative lawyers, based in Washington. Leo served, in effect, as Trump’s subcontractor on the selection of Gorsuch, who was confirmed by a vote of 54–45, last week… Leo’s role in the nomination capped a period of extraordinary influence for him and for the Federalist Society. During the Administration of George W. Bush, Leo also played a crucial part in the nominations of John Roberts and Samuel Alito. Now that Gorsuch has been confirmed, Leo is responsible, to a considerable extent, for a third of the Supreme Court.” [NewYorker]

PROFILE: “Brian Stelter has been training for this moment his entire life ” by Ellen McCarthy: “After following Jamie’s tweets during a blizzard in December 2010, he wrote a private message to Pat Kiernan, anchor of her morning show: “two innocent and unrelated questions: does jamie shupak have a boyfriend? and how often is she asked out by viewers?” Stelter started using Twitter in 2008, and it quickly became integral to both his personal and his professional life. When he wanted to lose weight in 2010, he turned to Twitter to keep himself accountable — and shed 75 pounds… Last year, he wrote 439 articles for CNN.com — a number he had at his fingertips because he compiles a list at the end of each year.” [WashPost]

“Has the mystery of Banksy finally been solved?” by Alex Matthews: “William Kasper took a photograph of an artist in Bethlehem in December 2007, who he believed was Banksy. The painter in the photograph was later identified as James Ame – also known as aka AM72 – a UK painter who lives in Israel. But Mr Kasper has now reiterated his claims, insisting Mr Ame is one of four people who has been responsible for Banksy’s work the whole time. He came forward with the nine-year-old picture after recognising Mr Ame from a recent video, which another woman claimed showed Banksy at work in Israel… The graffiti artist’s identity has been shrouded in mystery for years, but some claim that he is Robin Gunningham, a man in his early 40s from Bristol.” [DailyMail]

DESSERT: “Ben & Jerry’s in Israel Has Passover Ice Cream—and Now, So Do We” by Amy Ettinger: “Because Ben & Jerry’s in Israel is run by an independent licensee, Avi Zinger, that branch has a bit more creative freedom to roll out a limited-edition Passover flavor. Zinger also once created a chocolate matzo crunch ice cream. At hearing the news, I began to dream of a combination of these Israeli flavors: matzo and chocolate in ice cream with chopped nuts. So I decided to develop my own concoction, using my mom’s guarded recipe for caramelized, chocolate-covered matzo with almonds… Instinct would indicate that the matzo wouldn’t stand a chance in the ice cream… But it holds its own… Take my advice: Buy a few extra boxes of matzo this week so you can enjoy the flavor year-round.” [Food52

BIRTHDAYS: Aide to President George W. Bush (2002-2006), then became the youngest-ever Federal Reserve Governor (2006-2011), married to Jane Lauder, a granddaughter of Estée Lauder, Kevin Warsh turns 47… Film director and choreographer, famous for “Singin’ in the Rain,” Stanley Donen turns 93… Curator and then director of the Louvre, Pierre Rosenberg, son-law of Alain de Rothschild, turns 81… Geneticist and Nobel Prize laureate, Michael Stuart Brown, turns 76… Actor who won a Golden Globe for his portrayal of Vincent in the television series “Beauty and the Beast,” Ron Perlman turns 67… Longtime drummer for Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band and the bandleader for Conan O’Brien on The Tonight Show, Max Weinberg turns 66… Member of the UK Parliament (1992-2005), she served as the UK’s first ever Minister of State for Asylum and Immigration under Tony Blair, Barbara Roche (née Margolis) turns 63… Pacifica Radio’s investigative journalist Amy Goodman turns 60… Guitarist and founding member of the rock group “Staind,” Aaron Lewis turns 45… Director of Operations at Israel on Campus Coalition, Ian Hersh… Glenn Dubin, Principal of Dubin & Co, turns 6-0…. Helene Cash

FRIDAY: Member of the US Securities and Exchange Commission (2008-2013), including a four-month stint as SEC Chair, Elisse B. Walter turns 67… Media executive Shari Redstone turns 63… Baltimore-born film, television, and theatre producer Marc Platt turns 60… Professional makeup artist and the founder of Bobbi Brown Cosmetics, Bobbi Brown turns 60… US Ambassador to Mexico since June 2016, previously Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs (2012-2016), Roberta S. Jacobson turns 57… Manager of MLB’s Detroit Tigers since 2014, previously an MLB catcher (1993-2010) and manager of Israel’s national baseball team, Brad Ausmus turns 48… Emmy Award-winning actress, producer, and entrepreneur, best known for her portrayal of Buffy Summers on the WB series Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2003),  Sarah Michelle Gellar turns 40… Author of three books, journalist for Monocle and Bloomberg Politics, co-founder of Votecastr to track elections in real-time, Sasha Issenberg

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