We may finally,thank heavens be on the verge of seeing the last of the odious Ehud Olmert.
Today, New York businessman Talansky testified in an Israeli court that he gave Olmert "thousands of dollars" over a period of 15 years,including those infamous envelopes stuffed with cash:
Talansky described his custom of delivering cash to either Olmert or Shula Zaken, Olmert's bureau chief at the time. In addition to the cash deliveries, he recalled about 10 occasions on which he used his credit card to pay Olmert's expenses. In some cases, Talansky said, he went to his bank specifically to draw out tens of thousands of dollars after Olmert asked him for cash.
Talansky also said that back when Olmert was a Likud member, Olmert phoned him and said he needed a lot of money for the Likud leadership primary. When Talansky asked him how much, Olmert said $70,000. Talansky said he was in shock, and decided that would be the last contribution he made. However, he continued, he went to the bank and withdrew between $68,000 and $70,000 and gave it to Olmert. He said he believes that was the last time he contributed to a campaign.
Talansky said the envelopes in which he brought contributions from American donors in later years, when Olmert was industry and trade minister, contained between $3,000 and $8,000 each. He would not bring more, he said, because it was prohibited to bring more in cash on a flight from the United States. Usually, he brought the envelopes to Jerusalem and give them to Shula Zaken.
Talansky said that Zaken would phone him when Olmert was in the U.S. and tell him that Olmert was there, and had not received payment for his expenses, or that the expense money he had been given did not cover all his expenses. Talansky said he would then raise the money to cover the shortfall.
According to his calculations, Talansky said, he gave Olmert about 10 envelopes during Olmert's tenure at the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Employment. He also said he thought his credit card had been used about 10 times to pay for Olmert's stays at the Regency Hotel in New York.
Talansky said he paid about $4,700 on his credit card for a three-day stay at the Ritz-Carlton in Washington in October 2005. He said he had asked Olmert what he was doing there, and Olmert said he was there for a few days, and the money would be a loan. He said he had been told that Aliza Olmert had an exhibition there.
Talansky said that while Olmert was staying at the Regency in New York, he asked Talansky for a loan of $15,000. Talansky said he would give Olmert a check, but Olmert, according to Talansky, said he needed cash. Talansky said he went to his bank on Park Avenue on foot and withdrew the money.
Talansky also testified that he had asked Olmert why he did not raise money through the Likud Party's fundraisers in the U.S. Olmert told him that the party's fundraisers did not raise enough money, and moreover, if he were to go through them, the money would go straight to the party.
And of course, not into Olmert's pocket.
One time when Olmert was in the U.S. for his son's wedding,(both of Olmert's sons live abroad and ran out on their IDF service) Talansky testified that he asked Olmert to speak at an event and Olmert hit him up for $3,000 for 'expenses', even though Olmert was already in the US..and Talansky paid him - in cash.
Among other things, Olmert 'borrowed' $25,000 from Talansky for an Italian vacation,and received additional cash for a number of other goodies...all of which sheds quite a bit of doubt on Olmert's statement that he only took money from Talansky for his election campaigns!
The testimony was unusual for two reasons; first, that State Prosecutor Moshe Lador, conducted the examination of the witness himself,which rarely happens. And second,that Olmert's legal team chose to waive cross examination at this time and save it for a reappearance by Talansky in July.
According to the most recent polls,over 70% of Olmert's own Kadima party think he's lying through his teeth,and the percentage is even higher outside the party.