As we went to press, President Trump was slated to announce the long-awaited US peace plan as the World Holocaust Forum 2020 was held in Israel earlier this week. Both key leaders, the current Prime Minister and the Opposition Leader were invited by Vice President Pence to the White House--and there was debate by the Blue & White Party whether to authorize Benny Gantz to go to the White House Meeting. This is as no discussion have been held with the Palestenians for over two years. The group JStreet came out on the eve of this with the following guidance on the Peace Plan:
BREAKING: Trump invites Netanyahu, Gantz to White House to Discuss Mideast Plan
For several years, we’ve heard rumors and speculation about the release of the Trump administration’s so-called ‘peace plan’ for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Today, it truly looks as if the release of such a document may finally be imminent.
Following several days of anonymous officials hinting the plan could be released before Israel's March elections, Vice President Pence announced that both Prime Minister Netanyahu and his chief political rival Benny Gantz have been invited to Washington next week to discuss the plan. President Trump then confirmed the visit on Twitter.
Of course, the fact that two Israeli leaders, but no Palestinians, are invited to Washington only underscores what J Street and other observers have long made clear -- the administration’s proposal will not be an actual effort to bridge gaps between the two sides or facilitate serious negotiations to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Instead, it is expected to be the culmination of a series of steps taken by Trump and his team to advance the annexationist agenda of Prime Minister Netanyahu and the far-right settlement movement in Israel.
Today, we posted a public memo that outlines what we know about the proposal so far -- and explains why no serious observer should characterize it as a "peace" plan.
There’s a very real chance that the plan will explicitly endorse Israeli annexations of parts of the occupied West Bank -- which could in turn encourage Netanyahu or the next Israeli government to actually move forward with unilateral annexations.
That’s why it’s so vital that, thanks in part to J Street’s advocacy efforts, the House of Representatives voted just last month to pass H.Res.326 -- which opposed unilateral Israeli annexation of the West Bank, asserted longstanding US opposition to settlement expansion and reaffirmed that any viable US peace plan must include support for a two-state solution. And it’s why we’ll be doing all that we can once the plan is released to urge lawmakers, presidential candidates and communal leaders to vociferously oppose its harmful provisions and to warn against the disastrous consequences of annexation.
The Impeachment Trial of the President also continued. The Washington Post shared guidance on the debate on both sides as noted below:'
|‘Right matters.’ Adam Schiff quotes Alexander Vindman in plea to unmoved GOP senators.|
THE BIG IDEA: Lead House impeachment manager Adam Schiff has repeatedly held up Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman as the model of courage that Senate Republicans should follow during President Trump's trial.
The House Intelligence chairman fought back emotion late last night as he recalled Vindman’s November appearance before his committee. Vindman was born in the Soviet Union, but his father brought him here when he was a young boy. The director of European Affairs on the National Security Council, who received a Purple Heart after he was injured in Iraq, said that his father worried when he told him he would testify. But he reassured him. “This is America,” Vindman recalled telling his dad. “Here, right matters.” The audience broke into spontaneous applause.
“Here, right is supposed to matter,” Schiff told senators last night in the 10 p.m. hour, wrapping up day two of his case against Trump, which he will conclude Friday afternoon. “It’s what’s made us the greatest nation on Earth. No Constitution can protect us if right doesn’t matter anymore. You know you can’t trust this president to do what’s right for this country. You can trust that he will do what’s right for Donald Trump. He’ll do it now. He’ll do it for the next several months. He’ll do it in the election if he’s allowed to. This is why, if you find him guilty, you must find that he should be removed. Because right matters. Because right matters. And the truth matters. Otherwise we are lost.”
The Democrat from California has repeatedly praised Vindman and others for “sticking their necks out” to answer questions about the president’s alleged Ukraine coercion campaign when his former bosses, including ex-national security adviser John Bolton, refused to come before the House. “I have such admiration for the fact they did,” Schiff said on Wednesday. “But what would really vindicate that leap of faith … is if we show the same courage. They risked everything—their careers—and, yes, I know what you are asked to decide may risk yours too, but if they could show the courage, so can we.”
Over the course of several hours earlier in the afternoon, Schiff had laid out 10 separate arguments for why Trump’s push to get Ukraine to announce an investigation of Joe and Hunter Biden was intended for the president’s personal benefit and not to advance the national interest. “When we’re done, we believe that we will have made the case overwhelmingly that the president is guilty,” Schiff said. “Is there really any doubt about this? I mean, do we really have any doubt about the facts here? Does anybody really question whether the president is capable of what he’s charged with? No one is really making the argument Donald Trump would never do such a thing … because, of course, we know that he would.”
Vindman remains assigned to the White House, something that has drawn the continuing ire of pro-Trump commentators. Schiff thanked senators last night for “keeping an open mind about all of the issues we are presenting.” But, after Schiff spoke, Senate Republican leaders privately expressed growing confidence that they can win the vote next week to block additional witnesses from being summoned to testify. It’s not clear whether Schiff’s calls for courage have pushed any Republican senators toward breaking with the president and their party leaders on the key votes coming up next week surrounding summoning witnesses or subpoenaing documents.
-- Schiff spoke a few hours after Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), one of the jurors, questioned Vindman’s patriotism by propagating an unsubstantiated conspiracy theory from the fever swamps of the dark corners of the pro-Trump fringe Internet. Blackburn claimed that Vindman once badmouthed the United States to Russians while serving overseas. “Adam Schiff is hailing Alexander Vindman as an American patriot,” she tweeted. “How patriotic is it to badmouth and ridicule our great nation in front of Russia, America’s greatest enemy?”
Vindman’s lawyer, former ambassador David Pressman, accused Blackburn of defaming his client. “That a member of the Senate — at a moment when the Senate is undertaking its most solemn responsibility — would choose to take to Twitter to spread slander about a member of the military is a testament to cowardice,” Pressman emailed. “While Senator Blackburn fires off defamatory tweets, Lieutenant Colonel Vindman will continue to do what he has always done: serve our country dutifully and with honor.”
Blackburn isn’t backing down and tweeted another attack around 8 p.m. Trump himself retweeted her this morning. The senator, who won Bob Corker's seat after he retired in 2018, has also accused Vindman of being a “handler” for the whistleblower who filed the complaint. Vindman testified before Schiff’s committee that he spoke with an intelligence community official about Trump’s July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, but he declined to identify the official on the advice of counsel because he said he didn’t want to blow someone’s cover. But no public evidence exists that he was a source for the whistleblower.
-- Schiff, a mild-mannered former federal prosecutor, has emerged as a surprisingly polarizing figure. Perhaps it’s because the president has accused him of committing treason, in addition to calling him “pencil neck” and “liddle.” Trump has now tweeted about Schiff hundreds of times. Schiff’s boosters say the right only loathes him because he’s so effective.
-- The president’s allies at Fox News have elevated Schiff this week into perhaps the biggest boogeyman for their audience. Arguably he’s a bigger target of their vitriol right now than Nancy Pelosi, Bernie Sanders or even the four minority women in the Squad. If you’ve watched the network for even a few minutes this week, especially in primetime, you’ve probably seen hosts and guests attacking the man from Burbank.
Tucker Carlson continued his mockery last night of the man he’s taken to calling “Saint Adam,” a nickname intended to convey what he portrays as the congressman’s sanctimoniousness. “Say what you will, but as a piece of theater, it had literally everything,” Carlson said after playing a video clip of Schiff talking on the Senate floor about how Trump’s approach to Ukraine has played into Russian President Vladimir Putin’s hands.
“Adam Schiff has amnesia,” Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) told Laura Ingraham.
“They accused us of doing nefarious things with this Lev Parnas character,” House Intelligence Committee ranking member Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) told Sean Hannity. “The truth is Adam Schiff and the Democrats have been doing nefarious things with Parnas!”
“Adam's ordinarily not that stupid, but when you tell the jury, the Senate, on one day that they're corrupt, and then you tell the American people they cannot be trusted to pick the commander in chief, that's just a wildly stupid trial strategy,” former congressman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) told Bret Baier.
-- Rudy Giuliani appeared on “Fox & Friends” this morning to attack the Democratic managers. “It’s a complete show on the part of the Democrats, and they should be sued for conspiracy to defraud the United States, and they should pay for that hearing,” he said. “I’m going to present over the next two to three weeks shocking crimes at the highest levels of both governments while the Senate is listening to a totally phony group of stories about non-impeachable offenses.”
Giuliani has been promising for a while now to release said evidence. It has not been forthcoming, so take such claims with more than a grain of salt. The president’s lawyer also said for months that he was going to release a lengthy report rebutting former special counsel Bob Mueller’s findings on Russian interference and whether Trump obstructed justice. He never did.
-- There has been some hyperbole from the left, as well. Esquire’s Charlie Pierce calls Schiff the Daniel Webster of our time. Walter Dellinger, who was acting U.S. solicitor general under Bill Clinton, said Schiff offered “one of the most impressive performances by a lawyer I have ever seen.” MSNBC legal commentator Jason Johnson called Schiff’s opening statement on Wednesday “a speech that kids will be giving in 2060 at university projects.” Actress and activist Alyssa Milano, who has been attending the trial, said “it felt like you were watching a one-man show on Broadway.”
Stephen Colbert offered an early valentine to Schiff during his show. “It was gratifying to see someone taking the constitutional responsibility of their office seriously,” the comedian told his viewers on CBS. Breaking out of character, he said that Schiff spoke “clearly, passionately, cogently, and, I believe, courageously.”
-- Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) called Schiff “well spoken” and said “did a good job of creating a tapestry.” But other Republican senators have told reporters that Schiff was overly “smooth” or “slick,” which they meant as negatives. “In a way I do feel like I’m introducing myself to a number of the senators,” Schiff told the Associated Press, adding that they’re “finding I’m not the demon that I’m portrayed as on Fox.”
-- Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) expressed hope that four Republicans still might be persuaded to vote for witnesses. “Just about every Republican’s eyes were glued on Mr. Schiff,” he said. “It was a powerful rendition.”
were not met as we close out with this courtesy the team at the Financial Times: