Posts Tagged ‘Ivanka Trump’

Who’s in the running for the World Bank presidency?

January 18, 2019

Top candidates to replace Jim Yong Kim from Trump insiders to emerging market alternatives

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By James Politi in Washington

Will the next World Bank president come from Donald Trump’s inner circle, or will it be an American from outside the administration?

Or will countries rally around an alternative candidate from a developing economy?

Image result for Indra K. Nooyi,pictures

Indra K. Nooyi

The race to succeed Jim Yong Kim will not be formally decided by the World Bank board until after March 14, the deadline for nominations to be submitted. But the Trump administration has already started interviewing its own candidates, in a process that is being formally led by Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, with the assistance of Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter.

The US goal is to quickly produce a credible candidate before other countries can coalesce around an alternative, and people close to the process say this might just work. Despite many reservations about Mr Trump’s approach to multilateral institutions, one person close to the situation said it felt as if there was less energy around the idea of a non-American leader of the World Bank than in 2012, the last and only time Washington’s pick faced a serious challenge.

Here are some likely contenders at this stage, with the caveat that it is not definitive: new names could emerge, and some of these could fade away. But the horse race is certainly on.

Read the rest:

Image result for Donald Kaberuka, pictures

Donald Kaberuka


The White House is considering Indra K. Nooyi, the former chief executive officer of PepsiCo, for the position of World Bank president, according to several people familiar with the process.

Ms. Nooyi, who stepped down from her role at PepsiCo last August after leading the company for 12 years, has been courted as an administration ally by Ivanka Trump, the president’s eldest daughter, who is playing a role in the selection of a nominee.

The decision-making process for the top post at the World Bank is fluid and in its initial stages, and early front-runners and candidates often fall off the radar, or withdraw from consideration, before the president makes his ultimate pick. Mr. Trump often makes his own gut decisions about whom to chose.

It is unclear whether Ms. Nooyi would accept the nomination if chosen by the administration, but Ms. Trump, who has written on Twitter that she views Ms. Nooyi as a “mentor + inspiration,” has floated her name as a potential successor. Ms. Nooyi has dined with the president and other business leaders at his golf club in Bedminster, N.J. She drew criticism for assuming an advisory role on his business council, which was disbanded after many chief executives quit following Mr. Trump’s comments that blamed “many sides” for white supremacist violence in Charlottesville, Va., in August 2017.

Ivanka Trump


The great @IndraNooyi is stepping down as PepsiCo CEO, after 12 yrs.
Indra, you are a mentor + inspiration to so many, myself included. I am deeply grateful for your friendship. Thank you for your passionate engagement on issues that benefit the people of this country, and beyond

1,130 people are talking about this

Negative comments that Ms. Nooyi made after the 2016 election, during which she did not publicly endorse any candidate, are seen as a potential roadblock to her nomination. Mr. Trump’s win, she said, created a lot of questions among her daughters and her employees.

“They were all in mourning,” Ms. Nooyi said in an interview with Andrew Ross Sorkin at The New York Times’s DealBook conference in 2016.

“Our employees are all crying. And the question that they’re asking, especially those who are not white: ‘Are we safe?’ Women are asking, ‘Are we safe?’ LGBT people are asking, ‘Are we safe?’ I never thought I’d have had to answer those questions.”

Ms. Nooyi later tried to clarify her remarks, and a spokesman for PepsiCo told Fortune magazine that “Mrs. Nooyi misspoke. She was referring to the reaction of a group of employees she spoke to who were apprehensive about the outcome of the election. She never intended to imply that all employees feel the same way.”

That those past comments may hinder her chances are a reminder that Mr. Trump does not have a large circle of loyalists to choose from for top positions.


John Kelly’s White House Departure Risks Trump’s Own Return To Chaos of Reince Priebus Days

December 9, 2018

President Donald Trump risks reviving the strife and turf battles that characterised his West Wing before Chief of Staff John Kelly’s arrival after announcing last Saturday (Dec 8) that the retired Marine general would depart by the end of the year.

Mr Kelly’s authority, drawn from more than 40 years in the military, helped him tamp down infighting that broke out between factions of Mr Trump’s administration almost from the day he took office.

In his absence, some White House aides fear that independent-minded senior officials and Cabinet members may once again seek to fill the vacuum.

Image result for President Donald Trump risks reviving the strife and turf battles that characterised his West Wing before Chief of Staff John Kelly's arrival after announcing last Saturday (Dec 8) that the retired Marine general would depart by the end of the year. Mr Kelly's authority, drawn from more than 40 years in the military, helped him tamp down infighting that broke out between factions of Mr Trump's administration almost from the day he took office.

Mr Trump said he’ll name a successor within days. The most likely replacement is Vice-President Mike Pence’s top aide Nick Ayers, a young political operative who’s largely kept Mr Pence out of the daily drumbeat of drama that’s been a hallmark of Mr Trump’s presidency.

But for Mr Trump, the job of chief of staff is almost the opposite – how to maintain order under a boss who always seeks to be the story, often through his Twitter feed. Mr Kelly gave up trying to control Mr Trump’s tweets, and his most notable success was breaking up warring factions and limiting unscheduled visitors to the Oval Office.

Mr Ayers, who already has West Wing detractors, may struggle to keep those forces at bay.


The political stakes for the White House are rising, as Democrats take control of the House and federal prosecutors inch closer towards implicating the president in crimes related to his election.

Mr Ayers, a 36-year-old with a boy band-style mop of blonde hair and a soothing southern drawl, lacks the respect and authority of Mr Kelly, a 68-year-old Marine combat veteran, retired four-star general and former Cabinet member.

The Trump White House remains full of strong personalities. National Security Adviser John Bolton is renowned as a brutal bureaucratic infighter. Economic adviser Larry Kudlow and trade adviser Peter Navarro are both skilled at pursuing their personal agendas via television appearances. Senior advisers Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner enjoy blood ties with the president.

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Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff Nick Ayers

Mr Ayers may find it even harder to assert himself if he’s appointed on an interim basis. Mr Trump and Mr Ayers have discussed the job for weeks and Mr Ayers, who would like to return to his home state of Georgia by the end of the school year, has asked to serve in a brief transitional role, people familiar with the matter said. Mr Trump wants a two-year commitment.

The people interviewed for this article asked not to be identified discussing a sensitive personnel matter.

Mr Ayers will enter his new job with a target on his back, said one White House aide. New factions may quickly form to try to counter his power. Others consider him a professional peer, not a superior from whom they’d take orders, and resent him as brash and presumptuous. Further, he’s regarded sceptically in some quarters for an earlier career as a political consultant in which he attained considerable wealth.

Mr Ayers’s chief advantage, from the president’s perspective, is that he possesses political savvy that Mr Kelly lacked, just as the White House begins to shift focus to Mr Trump’s re-election. The president’s team is simultaneously girding to deal with the Democratic-led House of Representatives, pass a replacement for the Nafta trade accord with Mexico and Canada and wage political warfare over Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s expected report on Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

People in the White House who support Mr Ayers say he’s smart and respected for his management of Mr Pence’s office.


Before Mr Kelly’s arrival, the White House was overrun by factions jockeying for power and an Oval Office with a revolving door for Mr Trump’s cast of outside advisers. Mr Kelly put an end to much of that, cutting off walk-in privileges to the Oval and pushing out people he believed to be creating conflict.

Staff members embraced the sense of order and structure Mr Kelly imposed. They worry it may unravel without a chief of staff with deep leadership experience who commands respect – qualities they fear Mr Ayers lacks.

But Mr Ayers has a well-regarded track record running Mr Pence’s office that impressed Mr Trump, said one former White House aide. Mr Ayers has helped the vice-president steer clear of the daily controversies that have consumed so many other White House officials, and maintained a sense of order and relatively low turnover among Mr Pence’s staff.

He played a key role in the midterms, helping Mr Pence raise millions of dollars for Republican candidates and managing a gruelling campaign schedule for the vice-president over the past year.

Mr Trump has brought Mr Ayers closer into his inner circle, inviting him to travel aboard Air Force One without Mr Pence on several recent trips.

With Mr Kelly’s departure, the West Wing also loses one of the few remaining staff members who felt unafraid to tell Mr Trump when he disagreed with a decision and give the president honest advice even at the risk of being fired, said one former White House official.

Mr Kelly primarily accepted the post out of a sense of duty and didn’t need to worry about his future earning potential. Mr Ayers, however, will have to keep in mind his long-term career prospects.


New trouble as top Senate Republican bores into Ivanka Trump’s email case

November 21, 2018

Concerns about first daughter Ivanka Trump’s improper use of a private email account for government business increased late Tuesday night when a key Senate chairman demanded a full accounting of her actions.

Sen. Ron Johnson’s letter to the White House did not request copies of the emails, but it did ask for the exact numbers of emails sent on her personal and official accounts. He wants a briefing from the White House by Dec. 7.

While he did not express disappointment in Trump’s infrequent use of private emails to communicate government business, Johnson, chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, noted at length that the White House had promised that all aides had been trained on email rules and the requirement to use official accounts so that they could be preserved.

By Paul Bedard
Washington Examiner


WASHINGTON, DC – AUGUST 02: Ivanka Trump, White House adviser and daughter of President Donald Trump, speaks during an Axios360 News Shapers event at the Newseum in Washington, DC. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

However, the Wisconsin senator was not ready to judge her, and Trump’s father, President Trump, and her lawyer have said that she was not trying to hide anything and that her case is not similar to the email controversy of former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

[Opinion: 3 big distinctions between Ivanka Trump and Hillary Clinton’s email conduct]

His letter to the White House means that both the Senate and House will be probing the issue. The newly-minted Democratic House plans to investigate Trump’s email case.

Unlike the huge numbers of emails Clinton sent — and in some cases destroyed — through a private email server, reports suggest that Trump sent hundreds, and many to discuss logistics. Notably, many were responses sent to her, and she sometimes told senders to use her official White House account in the future.

Johnson’s letter is below:

November 20, 2018

Mr. Emmet T. Flood

Acting White House Counsel

The White House

Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. Flood:

The Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs has jurisdiction over federal records, and it is a responsibility we take very seriously. As a result, I respectfully write to request further information about the White House’s compliance with federal record-keeping requirements.

During meetings with Administration nominees, I stress the importance of following the Federal Records Act and the Presidential Records Act to the letter of the law. On February 3, 2017, at the beginning of the Trump Administration, I wrote to then-White House Counsel Don McGahn about the importance of using official government email accounts for official business. On September 26, 2017, following news reports that six White House staff members may have used personal email accounts for official business, I again wrote to Mr. McGahn.

I appreciated the timely and detailed response from the White House Counsel’s Office, which briefed Committee staff on October 5, 2017, and described the White House’s compliance with federal record-keeping requirements. The White House Counsel’s Office conveyed the following information during that briefing:

· The Trump Administration is the first Administration required to comply from the outset with record-keeping obligations under the Presidential and Federal Records Act Amendments of 2014;

· For the first time, the White House had elevated its ethics compliance program to the level of a Deputy Counsel to the President;

· Training on Presidential Records Act compliance was a prerequisite for all White House employees who began on January 20, 2017;

· In February 2017, the White House Counsel’s Office issued a memorandum reminding all White House staff about their Presidential Records Act compliance obligations;

· In the first few weeks of the Administration, the White House Counsel’s Office invited the National Archives to discuss federal record-keeping requirements;

· The White House’s record-keeping compliance program is based on guidance from the National Archives; and

· The White House Counsel’s Office tracks ethics training for all White House employees, and offers additional training on a monthly basis, including training on Presidential Records Act compliance.

In light of recent news reports about the White House’s review of the personal email use of Ivanka Trump, Advisor to the President, and to help determine the extent to which Ms. Trump’s use of personal email for official business was intentional and substantial versus inadvertent or de minimis, I respectfully request a written response and staff briefing on the following issues:

1. A timeline that includes Ms. Trump’s employment history and status in the transition and the White House, the creation of her official and personal email accounts, and any training the White House or others provided her on her compliance obligations under the Presidential Records Act.

2. The extent and details of Ms. Trump’s use of official and personal email accounts for official business, including:

a. How many official emails Ms. Trump sent or received from her official account;

b. How many official emails she sent or received from her personal account;

c. How many personal emails she sent or received from her personal account;

d. How many personal emails she sent or received from her official account; and

e. Whether Ms. Trump has properly preserved all official email records, including those sent or received from her personal account.

I ask that you provide a written response and arrange for a briefing to occur as soon as possible but no later than December 7, 2018. If you have any questions, please contact David Brewer of the Committee staff at (202) 224-4751. Thank you for your attention to this matter.


Ron Johnson

Democrat-run House may put Trump, Kushner business ties abroad under microscope — Pandora’s box?

November 8, 2018

First family’s international dealings in Mideast and elsewhere — and how they may affect administration policy — are all potential targets for investigation

In this Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017, file photo, US President Donald Trump speaks with White House Senior Adviser Jared Kushner as he departs after a reception in the East Room of the White House, in Washington. (AP /Alex Brandon)

In this Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017, file photo, US President Donald Trump speaks with White House Senior Adviser Jared Kushner as he departs after a reception in the East Room of the White House, in Washington. (AP /Alex Brandon)

PARIS (AP) — President Donald Trump’s Russian business ties, Jared Kushner’s relationship with the Saudi crown prince, Ivanka Trump’s Chinese trademarks — all could come under new scrutiny by the Democrats when they take over the House of Representatives.

While Trump retains broad power over national security and US foreign policy, the midterm election result exposes him to congressional investigations that could reverberate beyond American borders.

Now that they have taken control of the House from the Republicans, Democratic leaders of many committees will have subpoena powers enabling them to obtain documents, email and testimony.

If the White House doesn’t block such requests in court, they could shed light on Trump’s international business empire — and what role it’s playing in US relations with the world.

Here’s a look at what the election result might mean overseas:


For Moscow, the Democratic victory means a probable reopening of the House investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 US election.

The Republican-led Intelligence Committee closed its probe into Russian meddling, saying it had found no evidence of collusion. Democrats argue that the Republicans ignored many key facts and witnesses.

A congressional probe would be more public than special counsel Robert Mueller’s current investigation into Russian election interference — and wouldn’t run the risk of being shut down by Trump.

Russian President Vladimir Putin denies any involvement in Trump’s election victory, and the Kremlin shrugged off concerns that a Democratic-controlled House would increase pressure on Russia.

US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin arrive for a press conference after their meeting at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, Finland, July 16, 2018 (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

“It’d be hard to make (the relationship) even worse,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Wednesday.

A renewed investigation could serve Kremlin interests by deepening division in America’s political arena. What Putin would not favor would be investigations or sanctions that would further damage the well-connected Russian oligarchs believed to have links to Trump, or to have helped fund US meddling efforts.

Republicans warn that more investigations could blow back against the Democrats for the 2020 US election.


Then there’s Saudi Arabia, and the relationship between Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner. The ties between the two men, who are said to communicate frequently, could come under increased scrutiny by Democrats.

The US and Saudi Arabia have long been key allies, and Trump made the country his first stop abroad as president.

White House adviser Jared Kushner waves, as he arrives at the Office of the United States Trade Representative for talks on trade with Canada, in Washington, DC, on August 29, 2018. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

But the crown prince has lost supporters in Congress since the Oct. 2 killing of Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist and a critic of the crown prince, inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. The slaying was allegedly carried out by agents close to the prince.

Democrats could try to block major arms sales to Saudi Arabia and curtail US support for Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen, which the prince launched as defense minister in 2015. The conflict has become widely unpopular with some members of Congress, and aid agencies say it has created the world’s largest humanitarian catastrophe, with millions facing starvation amid a Saudi blockade of the Arab world’s poorest country.

The US assists the Saudi-led coalition with in-air refueling and intelligence on targets, and supplies the kingdom with fighter jets and bombs used in the war.

Trademarks in China

Democrats could also look into businesses in the Trump family’s business empire — notably the 18 trademarks that China has granted in recent months to companies linked to Trump and his daughter Ivanka.

Some question whether they represent a conflict of interest. China says it handles all trademark applications equally, but House committees could probe whether Beijing can exploit the Trump family’s substantial intellectual property holdings in China to its political or diplomatic advantage.

People walk past a propaganda billboard showing Chinese President Xi Jinping along a street in Beijing, Friday, March 2, 2018 (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

“There’s so much to the Trump administration that could be investigated, it’s an unprecedented situation of major business entanglements around the world,” said Dana Allin, senior fellow with the International Institute for Strategic Studies. “It’s very difficult to rule out the idea that foreign policy decisions are not being kept separate from business interests.”

China would not talk publicly about the US election results. “I don’t want to comment on that, otherwise I will run the risk of being accused of interfering in their midterm election,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said.

What won’t change

Trump is still the one in charge and is not expected to change his America-first strategy, or stop running roughshod over erstwhile allies when it serves his interests.

A Democratic House isn’t going to put the US back in the Iranian nuclear accord or the Paris climate agreement, and is unlikely to challenge Trump’s protectionist line on trade.

“Many Democrats support the president’s trade agenda,” lamented Dieter Kempf, the head of the Federation of German Industries, the main business lobby group in Germany, a leading exporter. “The US administration’s confrontational course is and remains a danger to the world economy.”


Donald Trump Jr. says his father can’t trust everyone around him after the anonymous op-ed

September 11, 2018

Donald Trump Jr. acknowledged in an interview broadcast Tuesday that his father can trust fewer people around him than he would like in the wake of an anonymous op-ed claiming there is a “resistance” within the Trump administration.

“I think there are people in there that he can trust, it’s just — it’s a much smaller group than I would like it to be,” the president’s eldest son said in an interview on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

Asked whom he trusts, Trump Jr. declined to answer but suggested that family members working in the White House remain in the fold. President Trump’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, are both White House advisers.

By John Wagner
The Washington Post

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Donald Trump Jr. walks off Air Force One in Great Falls, Mont., in July, as he accompanies his father, President Trump, to a political rally. (JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)

“I’m talking outside family. That goes without saying,” Trump Jr. said.

“It would be easier to get things done if you’re able to fully trust everyone around you,” he added. “I think that’s a shame.”

The op-ed, published by the New York Times last week, was written by a senior official in the Trump administration, according to the Times. It depicts a “two-track presidency” in which Trump acts according to his own whims while many of his top aides, in the author’s words, work to thwart his “more misguided impulses until he is out of office.”

The piece’s publication has coincided with revelations from a new book by veteran journalist Bob Woodward that depicts a chaotic White House in which some aides have even removed papers from Trump’s desk to prevent him from taking what they believe to be unwarranted actions.

During the ABC interview, Trump Jr. said he believes the op-ed was written by a “low-level person,” and he urged the Justice Department to investigate the author, as his father has suggested.

“This is very low-level person who will throw their name on an op-ed, and basically subvert the vote of the American people who elected my father to do this job,” Trump Jr. said.

Asked whether he thinks any laws were broken, Trump Jr. said: “Listen, I think you’re subverting the will of the people. I mean, to try to control the presidency while not the president. You have millions and millions of Americans who voted for this.”

New York Attorney General Sues Trump Foundation

June 14, 2018

Attorney general alleges charity illegally coordinated with Trump campaign; Trump calls suit ‘ridiculous’

New York state Attorney General Barbara Underwood said her office intends to hold the Trump Foundation ‘accountable for its misuse of charitable assets.’
New York state Attorney General Barbara Underwood said her office intends to hold the Trump Foundation ‘accountable for its misuse of charitable assets.’ PHOTO: HANS PENNINK/ASSOCIATED PRESS

The New York state attorney general’s office on Thursday sued President Donald Trump, his children and the family’s foundation, accusing the charity of unlawfully coordinating with Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign.

The lawsuit also accuses Mr. Trump of using the Donald J. Trump Foundation’s charitable assets to pay his legal bills and promote Trump businesses. The attorney general’s office seeks to dissolve the foundation and asks for $2.8 million in restitution.

It also asks that board members Donald Trump, Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump and Eric Trump be banned from serving on the board of any charity in New York.

“As our investigation reveals, the Trump Foundation was little more than a checkbook for payments from Mr. Trump or his businesses to nonprofits, regardless of their purpose or legality,” state Attorney General Barbara Underwood said in a statement. “This is not how private foundations should function and my office intends to hold the Foundation and its directors accountable for its misuse of charitable assets.”

Donald J. Trump


The sleazy New York Democrats, and their now disgraced (and run out of town) A.G. Eric Schneiderman, are doing everything they can to sue me on a foundation that took in $18,800,000 and gave out to charity more money than it took in, $19,200,000. I won’t settle this case!…

Trump Foundation spokeswoman Amanda Miller called the suit “politics at its very worst.” She said the foundation had already proposed its own voluntary dissolution more than a year and a half ago.

“The reason the Foundation was able to donate more than it took in is because it had little to no expenses,” Ms. Miller wrote in a statement.

On Twitter, Mr. Trump called the suit “ridiculous.” Mr. Trump wrote, “The sleazy New York Democrats, and their now disgraced (and run out of town) A.G. Eric Schneiderman, are doing everything they can to sue me on a foundation that took in $18,800,000 and gave out to charity more money than it took in, $19,200,000. I won’t settle this case!”

Mr. Schneiderman, New York’s former attorney general, resigned abruptly last month after reports he physically abused women. He has denied the allegations.

Last month, New York lawmakers named Ms. Underwood the state’s attorney general. She has said she won’t seek election in the fall.

The attorney general’s office said its investigation found the foundation raised more than $2.8 million in a way designed to influence the 2016 election. It said Mr. Trump raised these funds at a nationally televised fundraiser that he held in Iowa instead of participating in a presidential primary debate.

The attorney general’s office also alleges that senior Trump campaign staff dictated the timing, amounts and recipients of grants the foundation made to nonprofits.

In one email, dated Jan. 29, 2016, Corey Lewandowski, then Mr. Trump’s campaign manager, wrote, “Is there any way we can make some disbursements this week while in Iowa? Specifically on Saturday.”

Mr. Lewandowski didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

In the days immediately before the Feb. 1, 2016, Iowa caucus, the foundation made at least five $100,000 grants to groups in Iowa, the attorney general’s office said.

The lawsuit also accuses the Trump Foundation of what it calls five self-dealing transactions that it says are illegal because they benefited Mr. Trump or his businesses. These include a $158,000 payment to settle legal claims against the Trump National Golf Club and a $100,000 payment to settle legal claims against the Mar-a-Lago resort, legal documents say.

The $100,000 payment stems from the settlement of a lawsuit in which Mar-a-Lago sued the town of Palm Beach, Fla. in a dispute about flagpole restrictions. The attorney general’s office said the settlement required Mr. Trump to contribute $100,000 to charities.

Documents filed by the attorney general’s office include a note in which Mr. Trump directed staff to draw the $100,000 payment from the foundation, even though the foundation wasn’t involved in the suit. The handwritten note, on “Donald J. Trump” stationery, reads, “Allen W; DJT Foundation, $100,000 to FisherHouse (settlement of Flag issue in Palm Beach).”

It is signed with Mr. Trump’s initials.

The attorney general’s office said none of the foundation’s spending was approved by its board of directors. It also says the board didn’t meet after 1999 and it had no policy or criteria for choosing its grant recipients.

The New York attorney general’s office began investigating the Donald J. Trump Foundation in June 2016, legal documents show. In a letter on Thursday, the attorney general also asked the U.S. Internal Revenue Service to consider possible violations of federal tax law by the foundation and by Mr. Trump.

The IRS didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. The agency generally doesn’t comment on specific taxpayers.

Write to Corinne Ramey at

Israeli forces kill dozens in Gaza as U.S. Embassy opens in Jerusalem — bloodiest single day for Palestinians since 2014

May 15, 2018

Israeli troops shot dead dozens of Palestinian protesters on the Gaza border on Monday when the high-profile opening of the U.S. embassy to Israel in Jerusalem by the Trump administration raised tension to boiling point after weeks of demonstrations.

Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, people standing and outdoor

Senior White House Adviser Ivanka Trump (L) stands next to the dedication plaque at the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem, and (R) a wounded Palestinian demonstrator is evacuated as others take cover from Israeli fire and tear gas during a protest at the Israel-Gaza border in the southern Gaza Strip, May 14, 2018. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa

In the bloodiest single day for Palestinians since 2014, Palestinian Health Ministry officials said 58 protesters were killed and 2,700 injured by live gunfire, tear gas or other means.

The bloodshed drew calls for restraint from some countries, including France and Britain, and stronger criticism from others, with regional power Turkey calling it “a massacre”.

The White House declined to join in urging Israel to exercise caution and pinned the blame squarely on Gaza’s ruling Hamas group, backing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who described the Israeli military’s actions as self-defence of his country’s borders.

In siding squarely with Israel, Washington put distance between itself and its European allies for the second time in a week, after angering France, Germany and others last Tuesday by abandoning an international nuclear deal with Iran.

In contrast to the violent scenes in Gaza, Israeli dignitaries and guests attended a ceremony in Jerusalem to open the U.S. Embassy following its relocation from Tel Aviv.

The move fulfilled a pledge by U.S. President Donald Trump, who in December recognized the holy city as the Israeli capital.

Netanyahu thanked Trump for “having the courage to keep your promises”.

U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, the top Democrat on the foreign relations subcommittee that covers the region, told Reuters the situation was “tragic” and said “It’s not viewed as the U.S. trying to solve a problem, it’s viewed as the U.S. just stepping away from the problem, and that’s sad.”

Palestinians seek East Jerusalem as the capital of a state they hope to establish in the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Israel regards all of the city, including the eastern sector it captured in the 1967 Middle East war and annexed in a move that is not recognized internationally, as its “eternal and indivisible capital”.

Most countries say the status of Jerusalem – a sacred city to Jews, Muslims and Christians – should be determined in a final peace settlement and that moving their embassies now would prejudge any such deal.

Peace talks aimed a finding a two-state solution to the conflict have been frozen since 2014.


Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December outraged Palestinians, who said the United States could no longer serve as an honest broker in any peace process.

A senior Hamas leader, Khalil Al-Hayya, said at a border encampment that Monday’s protest was timed to coincide with the “deplorable crime of moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem”.

He said: “Our people went out today to respond to this new Zionist-American aggression, and to draw by their blood the map of their return.”

In Gaza, Palestinian protests quickly turned into bloodshed. Tens of thousands had streamed to the edge of the coastal enclave’s land border, some approaching the Israeli fence.

“Today is the big day when we will cross the fence and tell Israel and the world we will not accept being occupied forever,” said Gaza science teacher Ali, who declined to give his last name.

Clouds of black smoke from tyres set alight by demonstrators rose in the air. Demonstrators, some armed with slingshots, hurled stones at the Israeli security forces, who fired volleys of tear gas and intense rounds of gunfire.

The protests, which have been going on for weeks, are scheduled to culminate on Tuesday, the day Palestinians mourn as the “Nakba” or “Catastrophe” when, in 1948, hundreds of thousands of them were driven out of their homes or fled the fighting around Israel’s creation.

Netanyahu blamed Hamas for the Gaza violence.

“Every country has an obligation to defend its borders,” he wrote on Twitter. “The Hamas terrorist organization declares it intends to destroy Israel and sends thousands to breach the border fence in order to achieve this goal. We will continue to act with determination to protect our sovereignty and citizens.”

Hamas denied instigating the violence, but the White House backed Netanyahu. “The responsibility for these tragic deaths rests squarely with Hamas. Hamas is intentionally and cynically provoking this response,” White House spokesman Raj Shah told reporters.

In a small protest outside the White House, some protesters chanted “Palestine will be free”.

The Israeli military said in a statement: “Rioters hurled firebombs and explosive devices at the security fence and Israeli troops”. The soldiers’ response, it said, was in accordance with “standard operating procedures”.

The dead included at least six people under 18 years of age, including one girl. The total number of fatalities since a series of protests to demand Palestinians’ right to return to their ancestral homes in Israel is now 103.

They also included a medic and a man in a wheelchair who had been pictured on social media using a slingshot. The Israeli military said three of those killed were armed militants who tried to place explosives near the fence.

Sirens of ambulances carrying casualties to hospitals wailed almost non-stop all day. In Gaza mosques, loudspeakers mourned the dead, who were carried for burial in funeral marches.

“These war crimes should not go unpunished and the international community has a responsibility to provide international protection for the Palestinian people,” senior Palestinian official Saeb Erekat said after a meeting of the Palestinian leadership in the West Bank town of Ramallah.

Israel said it would reopen the Kerem Shalom goods crossing, which provides vital supplies for the enclave, from Tuesday. It was shut after Gaza protesters vandalized it on Friday night when they set fire to a gas pipeline and a goods conveyor.


Trump, in a recorded message, said he remained committed to peace between Israel and the Palestinians. He was represented at the ceremony by his daughter Ivanka and his son-in-law Jared Kushner, U.S. envoy to the Middle East.

Kushner said it was possible for both sides in the conflict to gain more than give in any peace deal. “Jerusalem must remain a city that brings people of all faiths together,” he said in a speech.

But Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said the United States had opened an “American settlement outpost in East Jerusalem”. He announced a general strike on Tuesday.

Unlike the previous administration of former president Barack Obama which had a strained relationship with Netanyahu, Trump has firmly supported the Israeli leader.

Netanyahu has long been a critic of the nuclear deal with Iran, which Trump abandoned last week despite complaints from other U.S. allies.

The Pentagon confirmed it had deployed additional U.S. Marine guards to temporarily bolster security at several U.S. embassies after the violence but declined to say which ones. A U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed the deployments bolstered security at U.S. embassies including Israel, Jordan and Turkey.

French President Emmanuel Macron said he plans to talk to all involved parties in the region over the next few days.

Britain said it had no plans to move its Israel embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and disagreed with the U.S. decision to do so. French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said the U.S. move flouted international law.

Turkey accused Israeli security forces of carrying out a massacre and said the U.S. embassy move had encouraged them.

The United States on Monday blocked a Kuwait-drafted U.N. Security Council statement that would have expressed “outrage and sorrow at the killing of Palestinian civilians” and called for an independent and transparent investigation, U.N. diplomats said.

More than 2 million people are crammed into the narrow Gaza strip, which is blockaded by Egypt and Israel.

The Trump administration says it has nearly completed a new Israeli-Palestinian peace plan but is undecided on how and when to roll it out.

Additional reporting by Alex Winning, Steve Holland, Yara Bayoumy, Doina Chiacu, Phil Stewart and Ori Lewis; Writing by Jeffrey Heller and Alistair Bell; Editing by Angus MacSwan, Janet Lawrence, Nick Tattersall, David Stamp and James Dalgleish


Israel to boost Gaza border, West Bank forces for US embassy move

May 13, 2018

The Israeli army said it would almost double the number of troops surrounding the Gaza Strip and in the occupied West Bank to tackle Palestinian protests against Monday’s controversial opening of a US embassy in Jerusalem.

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Three additional infantry brigades will be deployed next week, two around the Gaza Strip and one in the West Bank, army spokesman Jonathan Conricus told reporters on Saturday.

The move nearly doubles the number of fighting units currently serving, he said, without giving specific figures on troops to be deployed.

The announcement does not concern Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem, where responding to protests is the responsibility of the police.

US President Donald Trump will not attend the opening of the new embassy in Jerusalem on Monday, but his daughter Ivanka and son-in-law and key adviser Jared Kushner will.

A signature campaign promise, Trump’s December announcement of the embassy move led to major protests in Gaza and the West Bank.

Palestinians consider the eastern part of the city as their capital.

Tens of thousands of Palestinians are expected to protest along the Gaza border Monday, with the strip’s Islamist rulers Hamas voicing support in recent days for attempts to breach the fence into Israel.

“What’s the problem with hundreds of thousands breaking through a fence that is not a border?” the organisation’s Gaza head Yahya Sinwar said, arguing Israel has never defined its borders.

Palestinians in Gaza have been protesting for seven weeks to be able to return to their historic homes they fled in 1948 and which later became part of Israel.

A 15-year-old teenager who was shot in the head Friday succumbed to his wounds on Saturday evening, the Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza said.

The death brought to 54 the number of Palestinians killed since clashes began on March 30, with hundreds of others injured.

No Israelis have been injured.

Israel has vowed to use the necessary force to prevent any breach on Monday and has accused Hamas of using the protests as a pretext to carry out attacks.

On Saturday Conricus said the rules of engagement had not been changed.

The United Nations and the European Union have called for an independent investigation into the deaths, but the Jewish state has rebuffed them.

The United States has defended its ally and accused Hamas of using Palestinians, including children, as human shields by encouraging them to protest along the border.

Israel and Hamas have fought three wars since 2008.

Separately Saturday Israeli aircraft carried out a number of strikes against what the army said was a Hamas attack tunnel near the Gaza border.



Israel: Jerusalem Embassy, Gaza, Palestinian Protesters, Hamas, Iran — a Busy Week

May 13, 2018
The Islamic State issues calls to show devotion to religion through violent action — Hamas plans a mass storming of the Gaza border with Israel on Nakba Day, just hours after the United States moves its embassy to Jerusalem. Israel is a busy place again this week….

Israeli firefighters try to extinguish a fire near Gaza on May 8, 2018 after it was caused by incendiaries tied to kites flown by Palestinians.
Israeli firefighters try to extinguish a fire near Gaza on May 8, 2018 after it was caused by incendiaries tied to kites flown by Palestinians. Menahem Kahana / AFP

Israelis are no strangers to short stretches packed with historic and transformative events. But even for a country that has experienced turbulent times, the potential highs and lows of the upcoming week feel unprecedented.

Much of what will happen has been planned carefully, though surely no one behind the planning expected that the festivities and commemorations would follow the first significant exchanges of fire across the Syrian border in 40 years — which also marked the first military aggression on Israel directly attributable to Iran.

The drama on Israel’s border has yet to play out fully — neither has the previous week’s figurative bombshell — President Donald Trump’s announcement of the United States’ withdrawal from the Iranian nuclear deal and the reestablishment of economic sanctions.

The next chapter in this eventful week — and month — begins when the Jewish Sabbath ends Saturday evening and continues through Sunday: Jerusalem Day, the holiday marking the victory in the 1967 Six-Day War in which Israel gained territory including the Old City of Jerusalem and the rest of East Jerusalem.

Increasingly, Jerusalem Day events have become a rallying point for the religious-Zionist community. In the Flag March, thousands pass through the Old City, entering from the Damascus Gate and Jaffa Gate and gathering at the Western Wall. The growth of the event has been accompanied by unrest between the marchers and Palestinian residents of the Old City, including racist chants and physical harassment by the marchers as well as stone-throwing and scuffling between the two sides.

On Sunday evening, Jerusalem Day will transition into the celebration of the move of the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The guest list for the Foreign Ministry reception includes Trump’s daughter and adviser Ivanka Trump, his son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and other U.S. officials.

Israeli attendees will include the cabinet, the heads of Knesset committees, members of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, and members of the governing coalition. Also on hand will be some 30 foreign diplomats — out of 86 who were invited. Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move the embassy there drew sharp criticism from the Arab world and U.S. allies, who said the unilateral step could spark violence and damage peace prospects.

Men gather at the Western Wall on May 11, 2018 after the U.S. withdrawal from the Iranian nuclear deal and to celebrate the moving of the embassy.
Men gather at the Western Wall on May 11, 2018 after the U.S. withdrawal from the Iranian nuclear deal and to celebrate the moving of the embassy. Thomas Coex / AFP

Peace Now prepares

The embassy move is slated for Monday at 4 P.M. Israel time; 800 guests received gold-edged invitations from U.S. Ambassador David Friedman and his wife Tammy. The event marks the relocation of a limited number of offices from the Tel Aviv embassy, including Friedman’s office. The event will be attended by President Reuven Rivlin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, along with Ivanka Trump, Kushner and Mnuchin. Other attendees include Jason Greenblatt, Trump’s special representative for international negotiations, and members of Congress.

At least one major demonstration is expected. Peace Now plans to gather outside the dedication ceremony for the new embassy, protesting the move and warning that it may harm Israeli security and chances for peace, given that the Palestinians want their future capital in Jerusalem as well.

On Tuesday, Nakba Day events begin. Nakba is the Arabic word for catastrophe; the Palestinians mark Nakba Day every year on May 15 — Israel declared independence on May 14, 1948. The embassy move was deliberately set for this 70th anniversary. Israel celebrates its Independence Day according to the Hebrew calendar, so its festivities took place on April 18, leaving May 14 free for the embassy fest.

For Palestinians, Nakba Day is a day of mourning and anger, lamenting the more than 700,000 Arabs who fled or were expelled from their homes during the 1947-49 war. Nakba Day commemorations locally and internationally often call for a full return of the refugees, and in some cases, Israel’s destruction.

Hamas threatens the border

Events are scheduled to take place across the West Bank and Israel itself, including a large march in Nablus, several events in Ramallah and a ceremony in front of Tel Aviv University. But this year the spotlight will be on Gaza, where Hamas’ leaders have threatened a mass storming of the border to destroy the border fence, symbolizing the suffering in Gaza and the Palestinian refugees’ claim to a right of return to Israel. Israel is bracing for a mass eventthat day that could lead to more deaths; more than 40 people have been killed in clashes with the Israeli army since March 30.

The announcement in February that the United States had chosen the day before Nakba Day for the embassy move angered Palestinians.

A demonstrator uses a racket to return a tear gas canister fired by Israeli troops at the border in southern Gaza, May 11, 2018.
A demonstrator uses a racket to return a tear gas canister fired by Israeli troops at the border in southern Gaza, May 11, 2018.Ibraheem Abu Mustafa / Reuters

“They deliberately chose a tragic day in Palestinian history, the Nakba, as an act of gratuitous cruelty adding insult to injury,” tweeted a Palestinian official, Hanan Ashrawi, when the date was first announced. Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat has said it would “provoke the feelings of the Palestinian people, as well as of all Arabs, Muslims and Christians around the globe.”

As if the scheduling weren’t potentially explosive enough, the evening of Nakba Day — Tuesday — also marks the beginning of the month-long observance of Ramadan, when Muslims embark on a month of intense prayer, dawn-to-dusk fasting and nightly feasts. In recent years, encouraged by calls from the Islamic State to show devotion to religion through violent action, Ramadan has seen an increase in Islamist-inspired terrorist incidents around the world.

Last year’s Ramadan, while starting peacefully in Israel and the West Bank, was marred by an attack that killed a woman in the Border Police, Hadas Malka, and wounded a number of others. Israel then revoked permits letting Palestinians visit Israel for the holiday. Normally, during the month-long observance, Israel gives thousands of Palestinians special permission to enter Israel to visit family on weekdays, allowing them greater access to the Temple Mount.

Finally, following Nakba Day, there will be another embassy move to mark. Although technically Guatemala moved its embassy to Jerusalem’s Malha Technology Park last week, the ceremony celebrating the event is set for Wednesday — two days after the U.S. ceremony. Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales is expected to be on hand.

Paraguay also announced plans last week to move its embassy to Jerusalem. President Horacio Cartes will attend the ceremony, which the country says will take place by the end of May — though presumably not during the already action-packed upcoming week.

As Trump Cleans House, Who Gets Swept Out Next? — “There is no Chaos, only great Energy!”

March 14, 2018

A look at seven members of the administration whose futures appear uncertain

President Trump and chief of staff John Kelly in the Oval Office last month. Photo: andrew caballero-reynolds/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images


WASHINGTON—The White House is bracing for more changes in the administration’s senior ranks following the recent departures of top officials including Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Gary Cohn, director of the National Economic Council.

President Donald Trump prefaced a further shuffle as he departed for California Tuesday. “I’m really at a point where we’re getting very close to having the cabinet and other things that I want,” Mr. Trump said, hours after announcing via Twitter that he was replacing Mr. Tillerson with  CIA Director Mike Pompeo.

Last week, on the day Mr. Cohn resigned, Mr. Trump said he was “always seeking perfection” in staffing the White House. But, he added: “There is no Chaos, only great Energy!”

In the past Mr. Trump has privately discussed ousting aides, only to reconsider, and at times he has publicly criticized cabinet members but taken no further action.

But White House officials say they are expecting more changes, which can come quickly once the president decides to show a colleague the exit. Some say Mr. Trump is keen to make the changes he wants to the lineup in advance of his meeting with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, expected by May.

Here is a look at members of the Trump administration whose futures appear uncertain, based on Wall Street Journal reporting.

Veteran’s Affairs Secretary David Shulkin, here last August, has been a target of criticism since an inspector general’s report last month said he had misspent taxpayer money. Photo: Kevin lamarque/Reuters

Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin

Mr. Trump has been considering replacing Dr. Shulkin since an inspector general’s report released last month said the VA secretary had misspent taxpayer money during an official trip to Europe last year. Among the candidates Mr. Trump is considering: Energy Secretary Rick Perry, with whom the president lunched on Monday, according to an administration official. For much of Mr. Trump’s first year in office, Dr. Shulkin had been a bright spot in the cabinet. But the inspector general’s report infuriated many inside the White House and set off scorching criticism from lawmakers on Capitol Hill. Hours after the news that Mr. Tillerson was out, The Wall Street Journal and others reported that Mr. Trump is now considering Mr. Shulkin’s ouster.

People familiar with the conversations say the military is actively looking for a new job for national security adviser Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, here in Washington last October. Photo: yuri gripas/Reuters

National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster

Gen. McMaster is working with strained alliances both inside and outside the White House and faces persistent speculation that he will be pushed out as soon as the Pentagon finds a suitable new job for him—or the White House settles on someone to take his place. Gen. McMaster has little chemistry with the president, and has often frustrated Mr. Trump with lengthy policy dissertations in the Oval Office, according to people familiar with the conversations.

The military is actively looking for a new job for Gen. McMaster, but it could take time, according to U.S. officials. That search has been made more difficult in part by his advocacy on behalf of the president’s views and actions which hasn’t always sat well with his military colleagues.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions, here at a press conference last month, has been showered with presidential scorn for a year. Photo: Shen Ting/Zuma Press

Attorney General Jeff Sessions

Few cabinet members have faced as much public battering as Mr. Sessions, a frequent target of Mr. Trump’s criticism since the attorney general recused himself last spring from the Justice Department’s probe of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election. In his most recent public insult, the president last month called Mr. Sessions “disgraceful” for referring a probe of the Justice Department’s handling of secret surveillance warrants to the department’s inspector general—the usual venue for such allegations—rather than another office. Mr. Sessions’s retort, that he had acted with “integrity and honor,” only infuriated the president further, according to people close to the White House.

For all his apparent frustration with his attorney general, Mr. Trump hasn’t sought to replace him. His advisers have told him that firing Mr. Sessions could prolong the special counsel’s Russia probe, which Mr. Trump is eager to see conclude.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein in Washington last month; Mr. Trump has accused the leadership of the Justice Department of politicizing the ‘sacred investigative process’ against Republicans. Photo: Leah millis/Reuters

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein

Mr. Trump internally has expressed displeasure with Mr. Rosenstein, who last spring—after Mr. Sessions’s recusal—appointed Special Counsel Robert Mueller to oversee the FBI’s probe of possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. Last month, Mr. Trump authorized the release of a memo written by House Republicans alleging surveillance abuses against a former Trump campaign adviser, in part because the president believed the memo would undermine Mr. Rosenstein’s credibility. The memo noted that Mr. Rosenstein, who was nominated to his post by Mr. Trump, had approved a renewal of surveillance of the Trump adviser, Carter Page, in the spring of 2017.

Asked last month if he had confidence in Mr. Rosenstein, the president responded: “You figure that one out.”

Some friends of Mr. Trump say he has been floating names to replace Mr. Kelly, here in the Capitol in November. Photo: Aaron p. Bernstein/Reuters

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly

Mr. Kelly, who joined the White House last summer, has faced scrutiny from the president in recent weeks over his handling of domestic-abuse allegations against Rob Porter, who resigned as staff secretary last month. Mr. Trump and other White House officials had harsh words for Mr. Kelly, who initially vouched for Mr. Porter’s integrity and privately urged him to fight the allegations and remain in the job, according to White House officials, before later reversing himself.

Mr. Trump has already found workarounds to some of Mr. Kelly’s measures to limit access to the president, such as relying on first lady Melania Trump to field calls from friends. Some Trump friends said last month that the president has started to ask them about Mr. Kelly’s performance, and two people said he has sought opinions on potential replacements, such as Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney.

White House senior advisers Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, here at a cabinet meeting in the White House earlier this month, have been losing allies lately. Photo: Kevin lamarque/Reuters

Senior White House Advisers Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump

The president has held conflicting views about what to do with Mr. Kushner and Ms. Trump, his son-in-law and daughter who serve as senior advisers in the White House. Mr. Kushner’s security clearance was downgraded to secret from top secret late last month, following a push by White House chief of staff John Kelly to tighten control of classified information inside the administration. And Mr. Kushner has figured prominently in the special counsel’s Russia probe, which is focusing on a number of episodes during the campaign that involved him. He has denied any wrongdoing.

Inside the West Wing, the president has repeatedly wondered whether the couple would be better off returning to their private-sector lives in New York. Mr. Kushner and Ms. Trump have also clashed with Mr. Kelly, who has sought to curtail access to the president. In recent weeks they have also lost several White House allies, including communications director Hope Hicks, deputy communications director Josh Raffel and Mr. Cohn.

Write to Rebecca Ballhaus at