INTERVIEW: Lanny Davis Rejects Business Partner Josh Block’s Smears Against CAP, Defends His Lobbying Work

Reposted by arrangement with Think Progress

Lanny Davis, a leading lobbyist and former special counsel to President Bill Clinton, responded to the recent controversy surrounding Josh Block, a former American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) spokesperson who compiled thousands of words of opposition research on ThinkProgress and Media Matters bloggers and smeared the Center for American Progress as writing “borderline anti-Semitic stuff.” Davis, a business partner of Block’s, told ThinkProgress:

He’s done this all independently without any input from me. I respect Josh Block but I 100 percent disagree with much of his language. People can disagree about Israel’s policies without being anti-Semites. In fact I think it’s a terrible mistake to blur the two. We should be able to debate Israel’s policies. I am very pro-Israel. I believe the onus for negotiations is on the Palestinians but both Israelis and Palestinians share responsibility. However, that’s all fair debate. Israelis debate the subject. We debate the subject. Impugning motives of people at the Center [for American Progress] and impugning [that] those motives are driven by anti-Semitism is, in my opinion, wrong. I respect John Podesta and the Center greatly.

In our post yesterday on Block, we explained that Davis “represented business interests backing the 2009 coup in Honduras.” In an interview today, Davis responded, “I am on the record as having opposed the illegal and indefensible deportation of Mr. Zelaya. Suggestions that I supported a military coup are simply false.”

Davis also defended his lobbying work for the Ivory Coast, telling ThinkProgress, “The Ivory Coast Embassy in DC retained me, not Mr. Gbagbo. My mission, among other things, working behind the scenes for ten days before I quit, was to facilitate a phone call from the President of the United States to Mr. Gbagbo to bring about a face saving effort to avoid bloodshed.”

Eli Clifton

Eli Clifton reports on money in politics and US foreign policy. He is a co-founder of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft. Eli previously reported for the American Independent News Network, ThinkProgress, and Inter Press Service.