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Rep. Dean Phillips Steps Down from House Democratic Leadership Amid Calls for Primary Challenger to President Biden

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In a surprising move, Rep. Dean Phillips, a Democrat from Minnesota, recently announced his resignation from his leadership role within the Democratic Party.

The decision, while not forced, was made amidst growing tension within the caucus over his public calls for a primary challenger to President Joe Biden in the 2024 election.

Phillips, who served as a co-chair of the House Democratic Policy and Communications Committee (DPCC), revealed his decision on Sunday, stating, “I have decided to step down from the DPCC & Democratic Caucus leadership.”

He acknowledged that his outspoken stance on the 2024 presidential race had created a rift within the party, stating, “While politics & official work do not mix, it’s clear my convictions about 2024 are incongruent with the position of my colleagues & that was causing discomfort. I was not pressured or forced to resign.”

According to reports from Fox News, sources confirmed that Phillips had not been pushed out of his leadership role and that, in general, party leadership had been supportive of him. However, his public criticism of President Biden had caused disruption and discomfort within the caucus.

The breaking point appears to have been a House Democratic Caucus meeting where Rep. Sydney Kamlager-Dove, a Democrat from California, openly criticized Phillips for suggesting that President Biden should step aside in favor of a primary challenge. This incident reportedly marked the first time Phillips realized the extent of the discomfort his position was causing among some fellow Democrats.

After the meeting, Phillips approached Kamlager-Dove on the House floor, questioning why she had not raised her concerns with him privately. This exchange highlighted the divisions within the party regarding the issue of a primary challenge to President Biden.

Notably, sources have indicated that Phillips may be considering larger political ambitions, including a potential run for the presidency, a notion he had previously floated. In August, Phillips urged fellow Democrats to enter the 2024 presidential race and suggested that President Biden should “pass the torch” to new leaders. During a recent podcast appearance, Phillips hinted at the possibility of running against Biden, stating, “I haven’t ruled it out,” but also acknowledging the challenges of running without national name recognition.

In the wake of his resignation from the DPCC and Democratic Caucus leadership, Rep. Phillips expressed his appreciation for House Minority Whip Hakeem Jeffries and DPCC Chair Rep. Joe Neguse, applauding their leadership styles and principles. Phillips’ departure from leadership marks a significant development in the ongoing debate within the Democratic Party about its direction and potential presidential contenders for 2024.

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EXCLUSIVE: Former Trump appointee explains an ‘America First Strategy’ in the ME

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Photo: Israeli Government

The author interviewed Ellie Cohanim, one of the authors of the new book: “An America First Approach to US National Security.” Ellie is the former U.S. Deputy Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism under the Trump administration. She is currently a Senior Fellow with the Independent Women’s Forum focusing on Iran, Israel, and global antisemitism, and is a national security contributor for the Christian Broadcasting Network. In 2021, Ellie launched and hosted for Jewish News Syndicate 30 plus episodes of the show “Global Perspectives with Ellie Cohanim.” Ellie spent 15 years in media and NGO management before serving in the public sector. How would you define an “America First” strategy in the Middle East?

Cohanim: An America First strategy in the Middle East would seek to advance American national security interests in that region, while maintaining our status as THE global superpower. To do that, the US would ensure that our principal allies in the region, countries like Saudi Arabia and Israel, are economically and militarily strong, and that our adversaries in the region are deterred.

Postal: How has the United States’ standing in the Middle East differed between the Trump and Biden administrations?

Cohanim: Under President Trump, for four years we had peace, stability and prosperity in the Middle East/North Africa (MENA) region. Under President Biden, in just three tumultuous years there has been war in the region, which holds the potential for becoming a regional conflict and even a nuclear confrontation. Meanwhile, the US’ status in the region and the world has diminished due to Biden’s disastrous mishandling of the Afghanistan withdrawal, his emboldening of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and his weak response to Iranian attacks on our personnel and assets in the region. 

 

Postal: Do you think the United States and Israel are/were in a stronger position to deter Iran’s nuclear and territorial ambitions in Biden or Trump’s administration?

Cohanim: America’s position of strength has not changed under either administration vis-à-vis the Islamic Republic of Iran. What has changed is our Iran policy. Under President Trump’s administration, the US contained and constrained Tehran. Trump applied a “Maximum Pressure” sanctions campaign which left the Iranian Regime with only $4 billion in accessible foreign currency reserves by the end of his term, giving the Iranians less cash and less ability to fund their terror proxies and their nuclear program, and Trump eliminated Qassem Soleimani. While all President Biden needed to do was to continue implementing such successful policies, his administration instead did the exact opposite.  Under the Biden administration, Israel, our leading ally in the region, was attacked for the first time directly from Iranian soil. This was an unprecedented escalatory attack by the Iranian regime, and could only happen under the Biden administration.

Postal: In your chapter of the book, you discuss the weakening of US relations with Israel and Saudi Arabia under the Biden administration. How has the Biden administration affected the likelihood of future normalization between Israel and Saudi Arabia, and deals between Israel and other Muslim countries (i.e., new Abraham Accords)?

Cohanim: The good news is that the Abraham Accords have withstood the test of multiple Hamas provocations against Israel, and now the current war. Despite numerous claims from the Biden administration regarding “successful” efforts to normalize ties between Saudi Arabia and Israel, I do not think that the Biden administration will be able to clinch such a deal. In the Middle East, people have a long memory. Saudi Arabia’s de-facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) has not forgotten President Biden’s snub when he first came into office, and Biden’s incredibly poorly advised behavior towards the Crown Prince when he made his first visit to the Kingdom as president. The last thing the Crown Prince wants is to hand Biden his first foreign policy success with a Rose Garden peace deal ceremony. So, I do not believe President Biden can broker Saudi/Israeli normalization.

However, I am also convinced that it is a matter of “when” and not “if” such a peace deal will happen between those two countries, as it serves both of their interests to make such a deal. The Saudis understand better than anyone that it is the Islamic Republic of Iran that threatens the Kingdom’s security and stability, not Israel.

Postal: What do you think of the Biden administration’s latest statements withholding arms to Israel?

Cohanim: President Biden will go down in history for his abject moral failure in not standing by Israel while she fights a five-front war. Biden has shown his despicable personality for trying to keep his anti-Israel arms embargo concealed until he could first deliver a speech on the Holocaust. Biden’s behavior is despicable on so many levels.

Ultimately, Biden is betraying the American people. He came into office presenting himself as a “centrist Democrat,” but has proven repeatedly to be beholden to the radical, extremist, pro-Hamas wing of his party.

Postal: How does the Biden administration’s support of a Palestinian state differ from the Trump administration’s support of a Palestinian state under its Peace to Prosperity framework?

Cohanim: The Biden administration stated that they will “unilaterally recognize” a Palestinian state. What the borders of that state are and who would lead it, nobody knows. 

The Trump administration’s “Peace to Prosperity” was a detailed plan that was premised on the realities on the ground in Israel. The plan required that the Palestinians reach benchmarks proving a real desire to live in peace with their Israeli neighbors. It included over $50 billion in investment in the region, which would have been a road to prosperity for all. Perhaps most significantly, the Palestinian state envisioned under the Trump plan would have been demilitarized, the wisdom of which could not be more clear following the October 7 massacre and attack.

The author would like to thank Ellie Cohanim for participating in this interview.

 

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