Grappling for a way to assist Israel, lawmakers will consider legislation that would require the State Department to offer as much as $5 million for information on the kidnapping and murder of a U.S.-Israeli dual citizen, whose killing along with two other boys has sparked days of relentless fighting between Israel and Hamas.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will debate and mark up the bill on Wednesday. A companion bill in the House had not yet been put on the House Foreign Affairs Committee calendar.
“The Israeli government’s recent action against Hamas is a just and appropriate mission to both bring the terrorists responsible to justice and to degrade their capability to launch further attacks,” said Sen. Ted Cruz, the lead sponsor of the Senate bill.
“Given [Naftali Fraenkel’s] citizenship, I believe the United States should demonstrate our clear support for Israel by offering a reward as we traditionally have in terrorist attacks involving Americans,” Cruz added. “This support should be understood in the context of our partnership with the nation of Israel in the fight against radical Islamic terrorism, which is our fight as well.”
The U.S. has offered cash rewards for intelligence on international terrorist activity through the Rewards for Justice program in the Bureau of Diplomatic Security at the State Department since 1984. More than $125 million has been paid to roughly 80 people who provided actionable information that led to the arrest of suspected terrorists or the prevention of terrorist activity.
Traditionally, the decision to recommend to the secretary of State that a reward be offered is left up to the federal agencies involved in a terrorism case, although Congress has weighed in on previous incentives, such as when the Senate voted in 2007 to double the reward for Osama bin Laden.
This case is distinct in that the United States is looking to assist another country as it searches for more information about the kidnapping of three teenagers — Fraenkel as well as Israelis Gilad Shaer and Eyal Yifrah.
“The fact that one of the three boys was American is significant,” said Republican Rep. Doug Lamborn of Colorado, the primary sponsor of the House bill. “It’s important that America show resolve and bring to justice those who kill Americans abroad.”
What We're Following See More »
As the Russia investigation heats up, "the role of Marc E. Kasowitz, the president’s longtime New York lawyer, will be significantly reduced. Mr. Trump liked Mr. Kasowitz’s blunt, aggressive style, but he was not a natural fit in the delicate, politically charged criminal investigation. The veteran Washington defense lawyer John Dowd will take the lead in representing Mr. Trump for the Russia inquiry."
President Trump's attorneys are "actively compiling a list of Mueller’s alleged potential conflicts of interest, which they say could serve as a way to stymie his work." They plan to argued that Mueller is going outside the scope of his investigation, in inquiring into Trump's finances. They're also playing small ball, highlighting "donations to Democrats by some of" Mueller's team, and "an allegation that Mueller and Trump National Golf Club in Northern Virginia had a dispute over membership fees when Mueller resigned as a member in 2011." Trump is said to be incensed that Mueller may see his tax returns, and has been asking about his power to pardon his family members.
In addition to ties between Russia and the Trump campaign, Robert Mueller's team is also "examining a broad range of transactions involving Trump’s businesses as well as those of his associates, according to a person familiar with the probe. FBI investigators and others are looking at Russian purchases of apartments in Trump buildings, Trump’s involvement in a controversial SoHo development in New York with Russian associates, the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow, and Trump’s sale of a Florida mansion to a Russian oligarch in 2008, the person said. The investigation also has absorbed a money-laundering probe begun by federal prosecutors in New York into Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort."
Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team is "is examining a broad range of transactions involving Trump’s businesses as well as those of his associates", including "Russian purchases of apartments in Trump buildings, Trump’s involvement in a controversial SoHo development with Russian associates, the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow and Trump’s sale of a Florida mansion to a Russian oligarch in 2008."
"A Senate bill to gut Obamacare would increase the number of uninsured people by 32 million and double premiums on Obamacare's exchanges by 2026, according to an analysis from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. The analysis is of a bill that passed Congress in 2015 that would repeal Obamacare's taxes and some of the mandates. Republicans intend to leave Obamacare in place for two years while a replacement is crafted and implemented."