In Manhattan and Gaza, Baby Steps

Today in the Manhattan Trump trial the prosecution is talking to Trump organization accountants who handled the checks that went to Michael Cohen. This money was coming from Trump’s personal account.  From what I can tell, the testimony is showing that checks meant to reimburse Cohen for “hush money” payments were on the books as payments for legal services. The heavy lift is still going to be tying this to election interference.

Before the trial restarted the judge slapped Trump with another contempt of court citation and another threat to toss him in jail if he doesn’t straighten up.

There may have been some progress toward a cease fire in Gaza. Or not. The Associated Press:

Israeli leaders have approved a military operation into the Gaza Strip city of Rafah, and Israeli forces are now striking targets in the area, officials announced Monday.

The move came hours after Hamas announced it had accepted an Egyptian-Qatari cease-fire proposal.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said that the proposal was “far from Israel’s essential demands,” but that it would nonetheless send negotiators to continue talks on a cease-fire agreement.

The terms of this proposal have not been made public.

Over the weekend, there were news reports that the U.S. had put a hold on a shipment ot ammunition to Israel. Israeli officials said the shipment was stopped last week. The U.S. government has not issued any statements about this. We do know that the U.S. has told Israel that if it continues with its operation into Rafah, U.S. policy toward Israel could change. Meanwhile, Netanyahu is bravely declaring that if Israel has to stand alone, it will.

My suspicions are that there’s a lot going on between Netanyahu’s government and the Biden Administration that we don’t know about but is probably far from amicable.

At the other, far end of the Stupid Scale, we have Republican senators threatening the International Criminal Court.

A group of influential Republican senators has sent a letter to International Criminal Court (ICC) chief prosecutor Karim Khan, warning him not to issue international arrest warrants against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other Israeli officials, and threatening him with “severe sanctions” if he does so. 

In a terse, one-page letter obtained exclusively by Zeteo, and signed by 12 GOP senators, including Tom Cotton of Arkansas, Florida’s Marco Rubio, and Ted Cruz of Texas, Khan is informed that any attempt by the ICC to hold Netanyahu and his colleagues to account for their actions in Gaza will be interpreted “not only as a threat to Israel’s sovereignty but to the sovereignty of the United States.”

“Target Israel and we will target you,” the senators tell Khan, adding that they will “sanction your employees and associates, and bar you and your families from the United States.”

Rather ominously, the letter concludes: “You have been warned.”

The Constitution really does give Congress the power to declare war, but I’m pretty sure they’d need a majority vote in both houses to do so. Don’t make promises you can’t keep, dudes.

4 thoughts on “In Manhattan and Gaza, Baby Steps

    • No, it is not. The Constitution is a little vague about foreign policy, but mostly foreign policy is a responsibility of the executive branch, although treaties have to be ratified by the Senate. Also Congress is supposed to have the power to declare war, but that's gotten fuzzy over the years.

      • I'd say it's not *historically* normal, but we are no longer living in "historically normal" times.  Netanyahu threw his lot in with the GOP a decade ago, to slap down Obama for disobedience over the Iran Nuke agreement.  He probably views the GOP as a more reliable partner (or servant), as they have more control over the flow of information to their electoral base (who doesn't see the TicToc videos from Gaza which apparently contribute to young people's attitudes on the issue – and likely also to the recent US attempt to gain control over the platform).  The [real] GOP runs on Money, and that sordid list of Senators (Cotton, Cruz, Rubio) really want some [more] of that AIPAC dough.

        • Even so, the Republican Party by itself can't set U.S. foreign policy, or even order military actions of any sort, especially when it's a minority in the Senate and a Democrat sits in the White House. 


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