U.S. Sen. Joseph Biden, the Democratic vice presidential nominee, spoke by phone with the leadership of AIPAC this afternoon.
According to Jewish leaders and campaign officials, Biden and AIPAC leaders had “a warm conversation” that lasted about 20 minutes.
Biden, who was introduced by AIPAC President David Victor, spoke of his long relationship with the organization that extends back to the 1970s. He also spoke of his longstanding support of Israel.
“It was an opportunity to call and talk about some of the issues they’ve worked on in the past and some of the issues they can continue to work on,” said a campaign official.
The conference call was one of a number that Biden has conducted in recent days with the leaderships of various influential organizations.
Alaska Gov. **Sarah Palin*, the Republican vice presidential candidate, met with AIPAC leaders for about 45 minutes during the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis-St. Paul earlier this month.
Biden and presidential nominees Barack Obama and John McCain have no meetings scheduled with AIPAC leaders, though the organization signaled it would be delighted if the candidates’ schedules permitted for such a gathering.
AIPAC issued the following statement after the Biden conference call:
“We had a very warm conversation with Senator Biden today, as we have many times throughout the years, about the importance of the U.S-Israel relationship, and we look forward to continuing to work with him in the future. We had an opportunity to express our appreciation for his strong leadership in support of the U.S.-Israel relationship, and we were pleased to hear Senator Biden reaffirm his desire to maintain his close relationship with AIPAC as we work together to strengthen the special friendship between the two democracies over many years to come.
“Senator Biden is a strong supporter of Israel and the U.S.-Israel relationship, and has longstanding, close ties to AIPAC and the pro-Israel community. Throughout his career in the Senate, he has been a staunch supporter of U.S. aid to Israel, a leader in the fight against Palestinian terrorism, a vocal advocate for the special relationship between the two democracies, and he shares our goal of stopping Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. Joe Biden has been to Israel numerous times and has gotten to know many of Israel’s most important leaders, starting with Golda Meir.
“Now that both the Democrats and the Republicans have determined their respective tickets, AIPAC is pleased that the parties have selected four pro-Israel candidates. In so doing, they have reaffirmed the broad bi-partisan support that exists in our country for a strong U.S.-Israel relationship.
Update “Sen. Biden expressed his appreciation for AIPAC’s important work supporting Israel’s security and the U.S.-Israel relationship, and that he looks forward to continuing to work with them as partners on these issues in the future as he has in the past,” said a campaign adviser.
The judge in the Aipac trial just ruled that defendants Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman can subpoena 15 government officials to testify in their trial, scheduled for early next year.
The list of subpoenas assures that the trial will be the best show in town, with Condoleezza Rice, Steve Hadley, Paul Wolfowitz and Doug Feith taking the stand.
This might turn out to be a little embarrassing for the Bush administration officials, who will be asked about meetings they had with Aipac officials in which they allegedly revealed secret information. After all, it was President Bush who set out to fight leaks on national security issues.
As we reported a while ago, the defense is hoping to convince the jury that leaking information to lobbyists is common practice in Washington.
Judge T.S. Ellis of the Virginia District Court seems to think this line of defense can make sense. “If true, the U.S. government’s use of Aipac for “back channel” purposes may serve to exculpate defendants by negating the criminal states of mind the government must prove to convict defendants of the charged offenses,” the judge ruled, adding that “conversations between two or more government officials, even if not communicated to defendants, might be relevant to show that particular government officials authorized the disclosure of non-public information to defendants or to Aipac.”
Rep. Jim Moran is still feeling the heat after saying that Aipac pushed America to war in Iraq.
Finally, Moran heard it from Aipac directly. The Washington Post reports that six Aipac members from Moran’s district met with the congressman last week and told him exactly what they think about his remarks.
Virginia Democrat Jim Moran is still under fire after blaming Aipac for the war in Iraq.
First it was a group of Jewish lawmakers from his own party that slammed Moran, and now it is the Speaker herself.
In a statement released Thursday Pelosi said: “I disagree with and reject Congressman Moran’s characterization of AIPAC. AIPAC did not lead us into this disastrous war in Iraq. President Bush and Vice President Cheney did.”
Thursday’s House vote on the foreign operations bill provided Democrats with an opportunity in the latest round of the never-ending “who is better for Israel” debate. Having been bashed on this issue in the past, House Democrats now came up with a winning card.
It all started with a memo distributed by the Republican leadership asking staffers to “advise your boss” to vote against the foreign aid bill, because it ignores President Bush’s “Mexico City policy” — which maintains that no U.S. aid will be given for foreign programs that allow abortions.
178 Republicans listened to the advice and voted against the bill, which passed with 241 supporters.
The problem is that voting against foreign aid doesn’t look too good with pro-Israel activists, since Israel is the single largest aid recipient, with an annual $2.4 billion.
Not to worry. The Republican leadership added a note to the memo saying:
Members are advised that the Leadership has drafted a letter to AIPAC affirming Republican support for Israel funding, not withstanding final passage of this bill. This letter will be available for Members to sign at the Leadership Desk on the floor tonight. A copy of that letter is attached.
Will the letter be enough to do the trick?
Aipac sources said that they expected Republicans to vote against the bill because of the “Mexico City policy” issue and that they don’t see the vote as a change in policy.
But that doesn’t mean the Republicans are off the hook.
The National Jewish Democratic Council’s executive director Ira Forman is calling the Republican actions “a cynical act of political hypocrisy” and goes on to quote Aipac itself about how important supporting the bill is for Israel.
A few weeks ago Jennifer Siegel filed this story on the troubles of Paul McNulty, the prosecutor who was promoted to deputy attorney general after securing the indictments of the two AIPAC officials accused of passing classified documents. Well, now McNulty has resigned, making him the highest Justice Department official to resign since the start of the controversy over the fired U.S. attorneys.