Press Releases

Smith Statement on Nomination of Mr. David Friedman as U.S. Ambassador to Israel

Washington D.C. – Congressman Adam Smith released the following statement regarding the nomination of Mr. David Freidman to serve as U.S. Ambassador to Israel:

March 14, 2017

“I have been a strong supporter of the State of Israel and a comprehensive peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinian territories for a long time.  I believe our partnership with Israel and its people is critical and in our national security interests.  I have been troubled by the lack of progress on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, from the unresolved and unhelpful settlements and lack of recognition of Israel's right to exist, to the violence that has taken innocent lives on both sides and has unfortunately set back the path towards peace.  For the Israelis and Palestinians to reach a lasting peace, we must have persistent, high-level U.S. engagement with both Israel and the Palestinians in order to build such peace and arrive at a two state solution.

“I also believe that both Israelis and Palestinians have the right to live in peace and security.  Since its creation in 1948, Israel has been under constant threat of attack. It is critical that we continue to support Israel’s qualitative military edge and ability to defend itself.  I am also sympathetic to the plight of Palestinians and believe that, in order for there to be long-term security and peace in the region; they too must have a state of their own. I know that the overwhelming majority of the people in Israel and Palestine want to live and raise their families in peace.  The only way to reach a two state solution is for Israel and the Palestinian people to directly negotiate and reach an agreement together. 

“It is for those reasons, that I am troubled by and oppose the nomination of Mr. David Friedman to serve as the next U.S. Ambassador to Israel.  Mr. Friedman’s experience as President Trump’s bankruptcy lawyer does not qualify him to lead diplomatic efforts to resolve one of the most complicated matters in the world.  Indeed, the last ten U.S. Ambassadors—in both Republican and Democratic Administrations—had prior United States Government experience.  Apart from having no experience in diplomacy, Mr. Friedman has made a pattern of deeply concerning comments which disparaged fellow Americans, equating some of them as Nazi sympathizers and questioning their support for Israel.  While reasonable people may disagree with tactics or strategy in reaching a two-state solution, Mr. Friedman’s verbal assaults demonstrate a blind spot in how to constructively engage with those one may disagree and calls into question his ability to conduct diplomacy.  Mr. Friedman’s nomination is further complicated by the fact that in his opening statement, he made no mention of the two-state solution.  Additionally, reports that Mr. Friedman intends to live and work in Jerusalem run the risk of unnecessarily inflaming an already difficult situation and demonstrates the lack of tact required to resolve complex issues.

“I believe the United States must remain committed to a two-state solution that leads to a secure Israel for the Jewish people and the creation of a Palestinian state for the Palestinian people.  While it is the Senate’s choice whether to confirm Mr. Friedman, I believe our nation would be better served if President Trump nominated a proven diplomat, fully committed to Israel’s security as a democratic and Jewish state and a two-state solution.” 

Smith Statement on President Trump’s Revised Executive Order Restricting Refugees and Visas

Washington D.C. – Congressman Adam Smith released the following statement in response to President Trump’s revised executive order released today:

March 6, 2017

“President Trump's latest executive order on refugees and visa restrictions is reckless and runs contrary to America’s founding principles. The President’s second attempt at a travel ban —after his previous order was found to be unconstitutional by two courts—shows a continued disregard for American values and a remarkable willingness to threaten our national security.

“Our existing standards for those seeking refuge already require extremely thorough vetting of all refugees. Banning all refugees and specifically targeting Muslims goes against our values and strengthens extremist groups like ISIS by making America appear anti-Muslim. This malicious executive order will help recruit more terrorists and encourage extremists to attack America, damaging our relationships around the world and making America less safe.” 

Although the facts are still coming in, the recent revelations surrounding Attorney General Jeff Sessions and his alleged contacts with Russian officials reinforce the legitimate need for a special prosecutor.  There needs to be clarity on what and who the Trump Administration officials spoke to within the Russian government and the topic of those conversations. The President also needs to be transparent with the American people about his personal and business dealings with Russia which is why he should release his tax returns as every other President has done.  I agree with Minority Leader Pelosi’s call for the Attorney General’s resignation.  It is clear that the Attorney General is unfit to serve as the head of the Justice Department, nor is he in a position to oversee the widely substantiated evidence of Russia’s interference in our democratic process. 

Washington Members Call for Information from Department of Justice and Federal Bureau of Investigation on Disturbing Threats Targeting Jewish Community Centers

Washington, D.C. - Today, Rep. Adam Smith (WA-09), joined by Reps. Rick Larsen (WA-02), Dave Reichert (WA-08), Jaime Herrera Beutler (WA-03), Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-05), Denny Heck (WA-10), Derek Kilmer (WA-06), Suzan DelBene (WA-01), Dan Newhouse (WA-04) and Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), released the following statement in response to Monday evening’s bomb threat that lead to the evacuation of the Mercer Island Jewish Community Center in Mercer Island, Washington:

March 1, 2017

The Members of Congress joined in sending a letter to the Department of Justice (DOJ), as well as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to share a deep concern with increasing number of alarming bomb threats targeting Jewish Community Centers in over thirty states, sowing fear and anxiety in our communities. The letter requests that in the wake of these threats, as well as the desecration of Jewish cemeteries, the DOJ and FBI must tirelessly investigate these matters, and prosecute all offenders to the fullest extent possible.

“A clear message must be sent that hatred and bigotry have no place in America, and they will not be tolerated,” the members of Congress wrote. “We stand with the Jewish Community both here in Washington state and across the country following a disturbing number of threats against Jewish community centers in recent months. Our community will continue to remain one that values diversity, and promotes respect for people of all races and religions.”

The Members look forward to continued, regular dialogue with both the DOJ and FBI to ensure that they can continue to keep their constituents informed.

Read the full letter HERE, text below. 

Dear Attorney General Sessions and Director Comey,

We write to you regarding the increasing number of alarming bomb threats targeting Jewish Community Centers in over 30 states, sowing fear and anxiety in our communities. These malicious, deliberate, and clearly coordinated attacks have singled out Jewish schools and gathering places, endangering the lives of children, and we seek to partner with you in helping to combat this rash of hateful, criminal acts. While we understand that your investigation is ongoing, we are formally requesting to be briefed on the efforts of the Department of Justice (DOJ), as well as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), to resolve and address this crisis.  We encourage both agencies to employ all legal avenues and resources at your disposal to stop these crimes. 

The safety and well-being of Americans is of the upmost importance, and with more than 100 threats having been received by the writing of this letter, we are extremely concerned that this represents an increase in anti-Semitic activity across the country. Anti-Semitic attacks occupy the largest percentage of religiously rooted hate crime, and they have been increasing in number over the last several years. The Pacific Northwest in particular has been witness to horrific attacks against the Jewish Community, including the July 2006 shooting at the Seattle Jewish Federation, resulting in the tragic death of one individual.

In the wake of these threats, as well as the desecration of Jewish cemeteries, we ask that the DOJ and FBI tirelessly investigate these matters, and prosecute all offenders to the fullest extent possible. A clear message must be sent that hatred and bigotry have no place in America, and they will not be tolerated. We greatly appreciate the hard work and dedication put forward by the agents, investigators, and prosecutors in your organizations. We look forward to continued, regular dialogue with you to ensure that we can continue to keep our constituents informed.

 

Sincerely,

"The opening lines of the President's speech belatedly expressed concern about the rising anti-semitism and other acts of bigotry that have occurred in our country in recent weeks. I am glad he made such a strong statement, but the rest of his speech returned to the old empty promises that offer almost no specifics for how he might achieve the goals laid out in his lofty rhetoric.

"I am unconvinced that now five weeks into his term, President Trump has a sufficient understanding of the challenges that working families face. We must create broad-based opportunities for all, not just the wealthiest.

"The President’s Budget blueprint released this week shows a disturbing disconnect from facts and fiscal responsibility. The proposed budget would destroy critical services and investments to American families, local communities, and endanger our national security. These catastrophic cuts will hurt the progress our country has made.

"As Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Committee, I know that the President’s budget proposal and his policies are irresponsible and threaten our national security. The reported cuts to diplomacy and development – key pillars that are critical to supporting our national security – will make Americans less safe, harm our standing around the world, and feed the anti-American narrative of terrorist groups like Daesh.  President Trump's reckless, ignorant understanding of world affairs is placing our country in jeopardy.

"I am proud to represent a district in a state with a long history of opening its doors and providing equal opportunity to those seeking a safe haven and a chance at a better life. We are a nation of immigrants and refugees, and that our diversity continues to make us stronger. Immigration is not an obstacle, but rather an opportunity that enriches our society, fuels our economic competitiveness, and helps to create additional American jobs by attracting needed workers, high-skilled entrepreneurs, and investors. Our immigration laws must be reformed in a constructive and humane manner, which keeps families together and is consistent with American values.

"I have heard from thousands of constituents in the district I represent about their deep concerns with the direction President Trump has taken our country in his first month in office. I myself remain deeply concerned with the attacks on our American values that we are seeing come from our highest political office. Moving forward, I will continue to work with my colleagues to fight for policies that protect our working families, provide for good-paying jobs, preserves our environment for future generations, and brings our country together."