Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is reported to be planning a run for Senate in Kansas next year and quietly recruiting funders for that race. And surprise– Pompeo has already reached out to Sheldon Adelson, the biggest Republican donor around, and to other pro-Israel donors– at the very time that he was announcing that the U.S. no longer considers Israeli settlements illegal.
The report by Michael Wilner of McClatchy and Bryan Lowry of the Kansas City Star is frank about the crazy timing here.
The timing of Pompeo’s exchange with Adelson coincided with the secretary’s on-camera announcement on November 18 that the Trump administration would revoke its longstanding legal determination on the legitimacy of Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Adelson supports the settler enterprise.
The reporters say that Pompeo reached out to Adelson, the billionaire Charles Koch, and to “donors affiliated with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.” AIPAC, the rightwing Israel lobby group.
Pompeo is said to be a shoo-in for the seat Sen. Pat Roberts is leaving, and three sources told McClatchy that Adelson is receptive.
The Adelsons gave $113 million to Republican causes in 2018 and at least $21 million to Trump’s campaign in 2016. The Adelsons are holding back on Trump’s 2020 campaign, for now, so as not to generate bad publicity, Wilner and Ben Wieder report.
So let’s sort this out. Trump has done everything that rightwing Israeli leaders want him to do, from destroying the Iran deal to moving the embassy to recognizing the Golan as Israeli territory to greenlighting settlements. He has obviously done so in an effort to keep money flowing from his largest American donor, who backs Netanyahu in Israel and owns a pro-Netanyahu newspaper there and who says he wishes he served in the Israeli army not the American one. Miriam Adelson even got the presidential medal of freedom from Trump.
Now the secretary of state may well be leaping into a Senate race and he asks Adelson about backing him at the same time as he reverses longstanding American policy on settlements.
This is why I say that the Israel lobby is corrupting: it has used political money for 40 years to protect the Israeli settlement project, a policy that defies any sensible definition of American interest. During the Bush years, Adelson spent a lot of money to make sure the Clintonite peace process was stopped dead in its tracks. Under Obama, the Democratic wing of the lobby sided with Netanyahu over Obama on settlements, and Obama cratered and went on to raise US aid to Israel to $3.8 billion a year.
Trump’s moves in Palestine also serve the rightwing in Israeli politics, surely another bonus to Sheldon Adelson. “[I]t is striking that the Trump administration has already been attempting to use American policy to influence Israeli politics,” says Michael Koplow at Israel Policy Forum.
Pompeo’s declaration two weeks ago shifting American policy toward settlements has been used by [Benjamin] Netanyahu to further his argument that he is deserving of more time in office, and given Israelis a false sense that a green light for annexation will be U.S. policy across the board.
One of the Republican arguments against impeachment is that foreign policy is always political. Democrats seem to accept that argument in the Israeli case. Not in the Ukraine one, of course, Trump is being impeached for holding up $400 million in aid to the Ukraine (about 10 percent of what Israel gets every year) for the famous quid pro quo: its president was asked to announce an investigation of Joe Biden. It sure looks impeachable to me; though the issue I am raising, of allowing foreign policy to be determined by donors, ought to be a scandal, and it isn’t. The press does little to investigate the Adelsons’ influence. The AP evidently removed Sheldon Adelson’s name from its coverage of the Pompeo announcement on settlements, after initially citing him as a factor. A New York Times columnist has said that Sheldon Adelson is more powerful than the secretary of state. Tom Friedman says that Trump moved the embassy to get a “huge check” from Adelson, but no one pushes this story. Adelson is a blip in a Times story about allies of Netanyahu trying to sell supposed videos of Ehud Barak at Jeffrey Epstein’s house to hurt Barak earlier this year, a scheme that apparently went nowhere. He’s a blip in another Times story saying that secret tape-recordings of Julian Assange’s conversations inside the Ecuadorean embassy were passed through Adelson to the CIA…
And let’s not get into the havoc that the loss of the Iran deal has caused across the region– at the pleasure of Sheldon Adelson.
The leaders of impeachment are liberal interventionists who want an aggressive U.S. foreign policy. Rep. Adam Schiff says that the U.S. is the “indispensable nation.” We must lead the free world against efforts by Russia and China to create authoritarian states, and Trump is backing down, Schiff says.
Pamela Karlan, a former Obama aide now a Stanford law professor, announced that we are at war with Russia in her testimony to the impeachment hearing yesterday.
And I think in the Intelligence Committee you heard testimony that it isn’t just our national interest in protecting our national elections, it isn’t just our national interest to make sure that the Ukraine remains strong and on the front lines so we can fight the Russians there and we don’t have to fight them here…
Noah Feldman who testified yesterday also has written that we are at war with Russia.
(P.S. Aaron David Miller and Daniel Kurtzer write that Pompeo and Trump reversed settlement policy for the Republican “base” of evangelical Christians and Orthodox Jews too. Jewish votes in Florida maybe, but as I have pointed out, if the move was so cherished by Christian evangelicals, why did Trump wait till after the Louisiana and Kentucky elections he was desperate to win, and why did Trump hardly mention Jerusalem at rallies in those campaigns? Because it’s not about evangelicals.)