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Obama Justice Dep’t is representing Elliott Abrams against suit by Palestinians opposing settlements

President Obama’s Justice Department is representing Elliott Abrams, the neoconservative Republican convicted of lying to Congress, against a lawsuit filed on behalf of Palestinians opposing the settlement project.

Abrams’s Justice Department attorney, Paul E. Werner, declined to confirm his role or say who made the decision. “I don’t comment on cases,” he said today, and referred us to the DC federal court docket, which confirms his representation. DoJ’s press department has yet to respond to questions.

Abrams worked in the Bush White House from 2001-2009; but the lawsuit filed last spring is aimed at all his activities over the last 25 years as an advocate for the settlement project, including appearing at AIPAC, the leading Israel lobby group, and at fundraisers for Friends of the Israeli Defense Forces in the United States.

The government’s decision to represent Abrams is “hard to believe and unfair,” Linda Kateeb, a plaintiff in the lawsuit, said in an affidavit opposing the government representation. Abrams raised funds for “violent religious extremists” who, assisted by the Israeli army, stole her property in Palestine, Kateeb said.

Now on top of that bad news, I learn we will be fighting a team of talented Justice Department attorneys and FBI investigators as a result of the Department’s decision to represent Defendant Abrams. And that means Abrams gets free legal representation. WHY? I want to know who made that decision, what was the rationale, and whether there were political reasons and Washington heavyweights involved.

She went on, “Since I am an American citizen and taxpayer, why don’t I get free legal representation to secure the return of my property?”

The Justice Department should not represent Abrams because his actions are “not in the interest of the United States” and were not “within the scope of his [federal] employment,” says Martin McMahon, the attorney who filed the civil suit against Abrams and Sheldon Adelson, Haim Saban and many other Israel supporters for their work on behalf of the settlement project.

“To me there’s some political intrigue going on, someone put the fix in,” McMahon said. “I think someone got to a top Justice Department official and convinced them, we’ll just represent this guy.”

McMahon filed a motion in federal court in Washington last month to strip Abrams of government representation. By agreeing to represent Abrams, the government is taking Abrams’s side over that of Palestinian-American citizens, including Kateeb, who are among the 88 plaintiffs in the suit, McMahon says.

Abrams will now be able to use FBI agents to help him stand up for his activities speaking at AIPAC and on behalf of Friends of the Israeli Defense Forces– a charity also supported by Hillary Clinton donor Haim Saban, a co-defendant in the suit.

McMahon’s motion suggests that Abrams got a government lawyer in a political deal; because the government could only have undertaken to represent Abrams legitimately if it had been asked to do so by former White House officials.

[T]hat would have meant that former President George W. Bush’s National Security Advisor, Condoleezza Rice, after receiving a detailed request from Defendant
Abrams, sent a letter to the Department explaining why she thought Defendant Abrams is entitled to free legal representation at the taxpayer’s expense.

But Justice Department attorney Werner showed up as Abrams’s lawyer 25 days after the case was filed, “a New York minute in terms of Washington D.C. bureaucratic time,” the motion says. There were obviously no deliberations inside the Justice Department about how many of the actions outlined in the original 194-page suit were in the American interest or were done on the federal payroll; rather:

“It appears that a senior official at the Department simply made the snap judgment to represent Defendant Abrams, whether the result of political maneuvering or otherwise. This Court should ask attorney Werner point-blank three basic questions: who made the call, why was it made, and is there any precedent for the Department’s decision to represent a convicted felon?”

McMahon says he named Abrams in the original suit because “Abrams was very much the man the settlements needed in America to keep the settlements going.” That suit names actions by Abrams as a private citizen, now at the Council on Foreign Relations, and as a White House aide:

Abrams…for the last 25 years, has encouraged and been aware of the wholesale violence that the donors and tax-exempt entities have funded, arguing that settlement expansion is a myth. In fulfilling his role as the settlements’ paid selfappointed U.S. spokesperson, he has received substantial book royalties, speaking fees, paid trips to Israel and Europe, and lucrative consulting fee contracts, all engaged in to promote the settlement enterprise. He has advocated and justified continued settlement growth, which necessarily meant the theft of more private Palestinian property.

He has engaged in numerous overt acts (meetings, email exchanges, and telephone calls with donors, Israeli Prime Minister staff members like Dov Weissglas, Yoram Turbowitz, and Shalom Turgeman, and tax-exempt entity officials), including some in this jurisdiction (he is a featured speaker at AIPAC events and attends Israeli embassy events, has given congressional testimony for at least 20 years condemning Palestinian violence, and has entertained Israeli Prime Ministers during visits to Washington, DC), all activities engaged in to achieve the primary goal of the conspiracy, i.e., expel all non-Jews from the OPT. He has: (a) met with or spoken to aides to former Prime Ministers Sharon (e.g., Dov Weissglas), Barak, and Olmert in New York, Washington, D.C., Europe (Rome meetings with Sharon), and Israel; and (b) consistently condemned Palestinian violence, arguing disingenuously that the settlements have not really expanded, nor do they frustrate U.S. foreign policy objectives.

His goal in engaging in all of these activities is to convince the American people and Congress that Palestinian farmers are the root cause of violence in the Middle East, a complete
fabrication. He has largely achieved that goal, as a recent House of Representatives resolution confirmed.

McMahon says that the Obama administration should not defend Abrams because even his official actions worked to undermine U.S. policy, a two-state solution.

A longtime neoconservative Republican, Abrams was convicted of lying to Congress in 1991 when he was a member of the Reagan administration during the Iran-Contra affair. “[W]hile Abrams claims his criminal conviction is irrelevant, that is not the case,” McMahon says in his latest legal filing in the matter. “[H]e is still lying to Congress. He says that settlement expansion is fiction. In fact, settlements have grown exponentially because of the millions of dollars he has raised…”

Bassem Tamimi speaking at The New School Photo: Mondoweiss

Bassem Tamimi speaking at The New School 
Photo: Mondoweiss

The lawsuit was filed last March against Abrams, Sheldon Adelson, Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert, settlement developer Irving Moskowitz, and businessman Lev Leviev among others. The lead plaintiff is Bassem al-Tamimi, a 49-year-old activist against the occupation in Nabi Saleh, Palestine. Tamimi has been arrested numerous times by Israel for opposing settlers’ annexation of his land (and nearly killed by shaking during an early imprisonment, as documented by Ben Ehrenreich in his new book The Way to the Spring). The day the suit was filed, McMahon said, Tamimi had his visa to the United States revoked by the US Embassy and his sister was arrested by Israeli authorities and subsequently held for ten days.

McMahon’s recent filing argues that Abrams has countered U.S. policy:

[Abrams] has almost single handedly insured the end of the two-state solution because he raised millions of dollars so that armed settlement militia members can illegally confiscate thousands of additional acres of private Palestinian property. Without such property, the two-state solution is dead in the water. Recently, in the Washington Post pg A10 July 29, 2016, State Department official John Kirby stated that “we strongly oppose settlement activity which is coercive to the cause of peace.” This is the same settlement activity that Abrams has raised millions of dollars for during the past 25 years.

The lawsuit alleges:

Abrams spoke at and attended numerous fundraising events all over America honoring donors like Defendants [John] Hagee, Adelson, [Norman] Braman, [Haim] Saban, and [Dan] Gilbert for their significant financial contributions ($500 million) to the settlements and Israel’s army ($104 million in 2014). He knew by speaking at these fundraising events and encouraging contributions for settlement expansion that the consequences of settlement expansion were money laundering, arms trafficking, ethnic cleansing, and theft of private property.


Phil Weiss and John Fearey

Phil Weiss is co-editor of this site. John Fearey is a Connecticut writer and attorney.

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17 Responses

  1. a blah chick on August 8, 2016, 1:53 pm

    You’ve got to hand it to our political elites, they really do stand up for one another.

    Now, anyone want to take bets on when Hillary gets that Kissinger endorsement? Yep, she’s really trying to shore up her lefty supporters!

    • CigarGod on August 9, 2016, 9:50 am

      I hate having to agree with Trump, but just like the 50 GOP security experts that came out against Trump yesterday, this defense of Abrams by Justice, illustrates how the elite have circled their wagons against the American people.

  2. Mooser on August 8, 2016, 2:30 pm

    Great article, Phil and John.

  3. Boomer on August 8, 2016, 2:37 pm

    re: ““I don’t comment on cases,” he said today”

    Because, of course, what the DoJ does is no business of the American public. (At least not when Israel and its supporters are concerned.)

  4. inbound39 on August 8, 2016, 6:15 pm

    Well done Phil and John for exposing this deliberate attempt to pervert the course of true Justice. If this does not wake Americans up I do not know what will. This is the perfect example to highlight to Americans that their country and its money does not belong to Americans. It clearly belongs to Israel. This case is going to cost American taxpayers millions of dollars just to defend the Criminal State of Israel and its criminal activities that violate official US Policy and International Law. When Obama encouraged Americans to vote for him and vote for change what he meant was change of country. America is now a colony of Israel. It’s people and military will fight Israeli wars whilst Israeli troops mow the lawn……absolutely vile and despicable.

  5. farhad on August 8, 2016, 9:12 pm

    What is with those devilish eye brows?

  6. Stan Current on August 9, 2016, 1:40 am

    Abrams clearly acted outside the scope of his duties and should not be represented by DOJ. This is a serious mis-use of taxpayer money that allowed him to raise funds in support of Israel. He is now being defended with taxpayer money?!! This is outrageous and revolting! It’s Iran Contra all over again about which he clearly lied!

    Worse, he violated UN resolutions and peace accords outlawing the settlement expansion. The UN claims the settlement expansion and stranglehold on Palestinians is causing all the violence.

    Shame on Obama, especially when he said he would re-establish pre-1967 borders. He sanctioned Russia for interfering in the Ukraine while giving Israel a free pass on the occupation of Palestine. He needs to give back his peace prize.

    Abrams needs to be forced to hire his own attorney at his expense. And reimburse the government for time spent raising funds for Israel and pay damages to Palestinians who lost their homes and loved ones.

  7. Kay24 on August 9, 2016, 9:40 am

    More proof that the US is enabling the occupiers, and playing good cop/bad cop when it comes to Israel’s endless crimes. They pretend to be concerned or even criticize the evil empire, but facts are we aid, arm, and protect it, and it’s interests. I guess American tax payers must chip in for the 51st rogue state.

    An interesting article by neocon Abrams not very flattering for Obama.

    • Parity on August 9, 2016, 10:15 am

      We should all be sending messages to the Justice Department and the White House demanding that the Justice Department stop representing Abrams.

      We can loose the grip of Zionism in our government by supporting candidates who are running against known Israel-firsters. Here in the 10th Assembly District in California our incumbent Assembly Member is a principal coauthor of AB 2844, an anti-BDS bill that may yet pass, despite significant opposition by a large coalition of people who care about human rights and free speech. His challenger is Veronica “Roni” Jacobi, another Democrat. (In California, the top two winners of the primary compete in the general elections, even if they are of the same party.) Israel-Palestine is not her issue–climate change is–but she supports the right to boycott.

      Her incumbent has received large donations from corporations and wealthy conributors, whereas she is running a shoestring campaign on borrowed money (at this point). Please go to her website,, and donate.

      If Jacobi could win, it would send a message that being an Israel-firster is a liability.

      • Kay24 on August 9, 2016, 9:56 pm

        It must be hard to run against an AIPAC supported candidate. Only the people can change this, but they are too ignorant to realize that voting for the wrong candidate can affect the nation so much.

  8. afmeyers on August 9, 2016, 10:16 am

    Elliott Abrams was one of the leading architects of the Reagan administration’s murderous counterrevolutionary wars in Central America. This guy is a major-league war criminal; if there were any justice he’d be in the dock in the Hague…

  9. Jackdaw on August 9, 2016, 11:48 am

    In the normal course of litigation between private parties, disqualification of counsel is “a drastic measure.” In re Rail Freight Fuel Surcharge Antitrust Litig., 965 F. Supp. 2d 104, 110 (D.D.C. 2013) (quoting Konarksi v. Donovan, 763 F. Supp. 2d 128, 135-36 (D.D.C. 2011)). Accord United States v. Bolden, 353 F.3d 870, 875 (10th Cir. 2003) (“Indeed, the disqualification of Government counsel is a drastic measure.” (citation and internal quotations omitted)). Cf. Steinbuch v. Cutler, 463 F. Supp. 2d 4, 7 (D.D.C. 2006) (in the context of a motion to disqualify counsel for misconduct, noting the “extraordinarily high burden” a moving party faces). It is also rare. See Paul v. Judicial Watch, Inc., 571 F. Supp. 2d 17, 20 (D.D.C. 2008) (“Disqualification of counsel is uncommon, as evidenced by the relative paucity of case law directly on point.”).

    • Mooser on August 9, 2016, 12:55 pm

      “In the normal course of litigation between private parties…”

      Exactly. And this case isn’t that.,

  10. genesto on August 9, 2016, 12:21 pm

    Shame on Obama, yet again, for showing his weakness to govern, this time by caving to the Israel lobby in a particularly despicable way. It’s one thing for, say, someone like Adelson or Saban, true Zionist believers, to behave in this matter. It’s quite another, however, for someone like Obama who is not part of the ‘tribe’ to go against his own beliefs for political expediency.

    This is deplorable! I’d be celebrating the end of Obama’s rule, if it weren’t for the fact that we are in for much worse regardless of who wins!

    • Atlantaiconoclast on August 9, 2016, 3:09 pm

      Obama has always been a cruel hoax. It pains me how long it has taken folks to see this. The man cares first and foremost about himself. I find him disgusting.

  11. Atlantaiconoclast on August 9, 2016, 3:05 pm

    I once heard this Jewish supremacist Abrams defend the settlement enterprise on NPR. He made the argument that it is anti Semitic to keep Jews from settling the West Bank. Of course, no one at NPR reminded him that non Jews are not allowed to settle in Israel, not even the Palestinian refugees who were expelled at Israel’s creation. What a crazy world we live in!

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