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‘Sensitive’ Jared Kushner Emails Among Trove Obtained By Robert Mueller

Tens of thousands of emails from Jared Kushner and other senior members of the Trump transition team have reportedly been obtained by Russia probe special counsel Robert Mueller.

While there is no word on whether the trove includes incriminating evidence against President Trump’s Jewish son-in-law, they reportedly include internal strategy and gossip, which may include discussion of improper contacts with Russia or other foreign powers.

The White House was reportedly blindsided by the report in Axios, as it didn’t realize the General Services Administration, which hosted the transition team’s communications, had already handed over the emails to Mueller.

“Mueller is using the emails to confirm things, and get new leads,” a transition source told Mike Allen of Axios.

At least 7,000 emails came from a single account.

In a sign of how the battle over Mueller’s probe is escalating, an attorney for the Trump transition group whipped off a letter to Congress claiming Mueller obtained the email trove improperly.

Kushner has already been implicated by fired National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, who is cooperating with Mueller, for instructing him to work with Russia and other foreign powers to block a resolution on Israel at the United Nations that the U.S. abstained from. Kushner also failed to disclose several meetings with top Russia officials.

The revelations come as rumors swirl that Kushner may soon be indicted and his lawyer confirmed he is hiring a crisis public relations team.

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WATCH: Scarlett Johansson Returns As Ivanka Trump On ‘SNL’

The last episode of “Saturday Night Live” of 2017 featured the return of Scarlett Johansson as First Daughter Ivanka Trump.

The sketch, which had various associates of President Trump hanging Christmas tree ornaments featuring the faces of Trump’s enemies, included an appearance from “Ivanka.” She explained that her husband Jared Kushner wasn’t there because “he’s packing a go bag before the F.B.I. arrives.”

Ivanka Trump criticized Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore last month, saying that there was a “special place in hell for people who prey on children.” Johansson put a twist on that line in her appearance: “There’s a special place in hell, and we’re all there.”

Johansson, who is dating SNL co-head writer Colin Jost, had previously appeared on the show as Ivanka Trump while advertising a fictitious new perfume called “Complicit.”

Contact Aiden Pink at pink@forward.com or on Twitter, @aidenpink

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Trump Is Letting In Fewer Refugees, So Jewish Aid Group Is Forced To Cut Back

(JTA) — HIAS, the Jewish refugee aid agency, will be closing resettlement programs in several cities due to a sharp reduction in the total number of refugees let into the country in the next fiscal year.

The group’s Chicago chapter announced in an email Friday that it would be shuttering its refugee resettlement program.

The same day, HIAS President Mark Hetfield told JTA that programs in other cities would likely follow, though nothing has been finalized. HIAS runs refugee resettlement programs in 21 large to midsize metropolitan areas.

“It is true that smaller resettlement sites are being closed, and we’re in negotiations with the State Department right now as to which those will be,” he said. “We want to keep open as many sites as we can. Chicago has a lot of resettlement agencies there, and that was a smaller site.”

HIAS is one of nine national refugee resettlement groups, and helps find homes for thousands of refugees per year. But that effort will be reduced with the United States admitting no more than 45,000 refugees in the 2018 fiscal year that began in September. Some 53,000 refugees were resettled in the 2017 fiscal year — President Barack Obama had set a cap of 110,000 — in part because of President Trump’s executive orders banning refugees, according to CNN.

For the fiscal year 2017, HIAS resettled about 3,300 refugees after being approved to resettle nearly 4,800 refugees. The organization has been approved for about 3,300 this year, but Hetfield expects to resettle fewer. He said the reduced number will make it a challenge to engage 380 synagogues nationwide that had signed up with HIAS to help with welcoming refugees to their cities.

“This is Trump’s America, really limiting the number of refugees that will be allowed into this country,” Hetfield said. “These are sad times for refugees, a sad time for America.”

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Trump Administration: Western Wall Will Surely Be A Part Of Israel

WASHINGTON (JTA) — The Trump administration said it cannot envision an outcome in which the Western Wall is not part of Israel — the first signal by any U.S. administration that it recognizes a claim to Jerusalem outside the 1967 lines.

Senior administration officials briefing reporters on Friday about Vice President Mike Pence’s visit to the region next week were asked whether Pence planned to visit the wall, as President Trump had done during his June visit, and whether it would be an official visit, as opposed to Trump’s, which was private.

“We cannot envision any situation under which the Western Wall would not be part of Israel,” said an official, confirming that Pence’s visit would be in an official capacity. “But as the president said, the specific boundaries of sovereignty of Israel are going to be part of the final status agreement.”

Trump last week recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, but also said he was not presuming an outcome of final status talks. The statement Friday was the first sign that any American president recognizes Israel’s claim to territory beyond the 1967 lines. Israel captured eastern Jerusalem, including the Old City, in the 1967 Six-Day War.

Pence’s tour of the region will include talks with Egyptian and Israeli leaders. Palestinian leaders are boycotting the vice president because of the Jerusalem announcement last week, which reversed decades of policy by U.S. presidents. Congress recognized “undivided” Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in 1995.

In 2004, President George W. Bush said in a letter to then-Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon that it was “unrealistic” to expect the sides to return to the 1967 lines, but also spoke about land swaps to compensate Palestinians for Israeli settlements, a position that the Obama administration also embraced.

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GOP Tax Bill Won’t Include Repeal Of Johnson Amendment

WASHINGTON (JTA) — A decades-old ban on houses of worship directly involving themselves in elections has survived a repeal bid by House Republican leaders.

In a move that no doubt will be welcomed by a broad spectrum of Jewish groups, the Senate parliamentarian ruled Thursday that the repeal effort did not belong in the tax reform bill because it was not germane to tax policy. A conference committee of the House of Representatives and Senate is reconciling the respective tax reform bills of the two bodies. The Senate bill did not repeal the Johnson amendment.

The amendment, named for Lyndon Johnson when he was a Senate leader, was passed in the 1950s. President Donald Trump has vowed to repeal it.

Jewish groups from Reform to Orthodox, and including Jewish civil rights groups, have oppose the removal, saying it would unnecessarily politicize the pulpit.

“This important legislation, appropriately restricting religious and other non-profit groups from supporting or opposing political candidates, has worked well for more than six decades,” Richard Foltin, the American Jewish Committee’s director of national and legislative affairs, said in a statement. “The effort to fix what is not broken was unnecessary and wrong.”

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