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Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton speaks during the first presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y. on Sept. 26, 2016. (Photo by Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty)

Hillary Clinton picks up some unexpected 2016 endorsements

09/28/16 10:00AM

In literally every presidential election since before World War II, the editorial board of the Dallas Morning News has encouraged readers to support the Republican Party's presidential nominee -- but not this year. The newspaper editorialized earlier this month, "There is only one serious candidate on the presidential ballot in November. We recommend Hillary Clinton."

The editorial board of the Cincinnati Enquirer has supported literally every Republican presidential candidate for nearly a century, until this year. "[T]his is not a traditional race, and these are not traditional times," the newspaper told readers this week while backing Clinton. "Our country needs calm, thoughtful leadership to deal with the challenges we face at home and abroad. We need a leader who will bring out the best in all Americans, not the worst."

And then there's the Arizona Republic, which published this editorial overnight.
Since The Arizona Republic began publication in 1890, we have never endorsed a Democrat over a Republican for president. Never. This reflects a deep philosophical appreciation for conservative ideals and Republican principles.

This year is different.

The 2016 Republican candidate is not conservative and he is not qualified.

That's why, for the first time in our history, The Arizona Republic will support a Democrat for president.
The piece concluded, "In a nation with an increasingly diverse population, Trump offers a recipe for permanent civil discord. In a global economy, he offers protectionism and a false promise to bring back jobs that no longer exist. America needs to look ahead and build a new era of prosperity for the working class. This is Hillary Clinton's opportunity. She can reach out to those who feel left behind. She can make it clear that America sees them and will address their concerns. She can move us beyond rancor and incivility."

At this point, you might be wondering if any newspaper editorial boards have thrown their backing to Trump, and at least for now, the answer is no. According to the Washington Post's tally, the Republican nominee "is still without a daily newspaper endorsement in the general election." (The New York Observer is expected to back Trump eventually -- because it's run by Trump's son-in-law.)

Meanwhile, Clinton isn't just picking up support from Republican-friendly editorial boards; she's also earning support from a growing number of Republicans. The Washington Post reported overnight:
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Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump and Democratic U.S. presidential nominee Hillary Clinton take the stage for their first debate at Hofstra University, Sept. 26, 2016 in Hempstead, N.Y. (Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

Despite previous praise, Trump lashes out at debate moderator

09/28/16 09:23AM

After Monday night's debate, Donald Trump had nothing but positive things to say about NBC News anchor Lester Holt, the event's moderator. "Honestly, I thought Lester did a great job," the Republican said shortly after the debate ended, adding, "I thought it was very fair."

Soon after, Trump's campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, echoed the sentiment, saying Holt "did a great job as a moderator under tough circumstances."

But as it started to dawn on Trump that he lost the debate badly, the Republican changed his tune. The New York Times reported:
Sounding weary and impatient as he called into a Fox News program, Mr. Trump criticized Lester Holt, the NBC News anchor, for asking "unfair questions" during the debate Monday evening. [...]

And Mr. Trump again complained at [a campaign event in Florida] about how he had been treated by Mr. Holt, whom he referred to as "the M.C."
Trump specifically called out Holt for asking about a 1973 discrimination lawsuit against Trump's company -- a complaint that didn't make sense since Holt didn't ask about the case. (Hillary Clinton did.)

Nevertheless, if it seems like this falls into an unfortunate pattern for the GOP nominee -- praise one day, criticism the next -- it's not your imagination.
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Former Mayor of New York Rudolph Giuliani speaks at the Cisco Connect 2013 conference in Warsaw, Poland, November 26, 2013.

Team Trump has adultery on its mind

09/28/16 08:43AM

Towards the end of Monday's presidential debate, Donald Trump was clearly annoyed by Hillary Clinton's criticism of his misogyny, but he declared to the audience that he would not say what he wanted to say. "You want to know the truth?" he asked rhetorically, "I was going to say something extremely rough to Hillary, to her family, and I said to myself, 'I can't do it. I just can't do it. It's inappropriate. It's not nice.'"

The next morning, Trump's campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, appeared on MSNBC and told a national television audience that the Republican was referring to Bill Clinton's adultery. It was apparently "inappropriate" to bring this up on Monday night, but not on Tuesday morning.

Nevertheless, Team Trump seemed quite excited yesterday to generate chatter about the topic Trump "was going to" bring up during the debate. Politico had this report yesterday:
Hillary Clinton's decision to stand by her husband and attack former White House intern Monica Lewinsky when news of a sexual relationship between the two broke in 1998 prove that the former secretary of state is "too stupid to be president," Rudy Giuliani said Monday night.

The former New York City mayor made the remark, captured on video and posted to Twitter by Elite Daily writer Alexandra Svokos, in response to a question about Clinton's attack on Trump's past comments about women.
Politico had a separate report this morning on the fact that "threats emanated from Trump Tower on Tuesday that the Republican nominee was preparing to name-check Bill Clinton's mistresses."

Some skepticism is probably in order -- largely because I find it hard to imagine Democrats getting this lucky.
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How likely is a government shutdown this week?

09/28/16 08:00AM

Much of the political world has understandably been focused on the very competitive presidential race and this week's highly anticipated debate. But on Capitol Hill, a different concern is drawing attention: the deadline to prevent another government shutdown is just a few days away.

Current funding for federal operations expires at the end of the fiscal year, which comes later this week, at midnight on Sept. 30. Unless there's a spending agreement to keep the lights on, the government will shut down this weekend.

How likely is that to happen? The odds actually went up a little yesterday when Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) brought a spending bill to the floor, knowing full well that the Democratic minority would balk. What he didn't realize is that there'd be bipartisan opposition to his approach: McConnell's bill failed on a 45-55 vote, with 12 Republicans joining Democrats to reject the measure, and in the process, pushing Congress just a little closer to a shutdown.

The sticking point, oddly enough, isn't some heated disagreement over a culture-war dispute or money for "Obamacare," but rather, aid for Flint, Michigan. Democrats have said they won't support any package unless it includes Flint aid, while Republicans have pushed to deal with Flint separately, with resources that could be added to a water-projects spending bill. (Note, McConnell's bill included money for flood relief in Louisiana and Texas, but no money for Flint.)

For those hoping to avoid a shutdown, last night brought some good news. The Washington Post reported on a deal in the House:
House Speaker Paul D. Ryan and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi struck a deal late Tuesday to deliver federal aid to address the water crisis in Flint, Mich., potentially removing a major flashpoint in negotiations to keep the government fully operating past Friday.

Under the deal, the House will vote Wednesday on an amendment to a pending water projects bill that would authorize up to $170 million in infrastructure funds for communities like Flint whose water systems are blighted by "chemical, physical, or biological" contaminants.
Senators have not yet scrutinized the deal, but the Post quoted a senior aide who said chamber leaders are "optimistic" that the House agreement will prevent a shutdown.
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Tuesday's Mini-Report, 9.27.16

09/27/16 05:30PM

Today's edition of quick hits:

* This doesn't even include those who watched online: "The first presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump was the most watched ever, as more than 83 million people tuned in to see the candidates spar at Hofstra University, according to a tally of preliminary Nielsen figures released by the networks that aired the event."

* Houston shooting: "A man who injured nine people in a shooting rampage in Houston on Monday was wearing military clothes and Nazi emblems during the attack, and was carrying nearly 2,600 rounds of ammunition inside a Porsche convertible parked at the scene, authorities said."

* I'll have more on this in the morning: "A combination of Senate Democrats and Republicans on Tuesday soundly rejected a first effort by Senator Mitch McConnell, the Kentucky Republican and majority leader, to advance a temporary spending bill, leaving Congress again flirting with a government shutdown in the latest illustration of how nothing is ever simple on Capitol Hill these days."

* FBI Director James Comey told Congress today fewer Americans are trying to travel to Syria to join ISIS: "The dropoff began late last summer. At the peak, the FBI was seeing from eight to ten people a month trying to join the caliphate. Now it's averaging between none and one."

* This seems like a very bad argument: "Former Democratic presidential candidate and DNC chairman Howard Dean is standing by his controversial tweet about Donald Trump's sniffles during Monday's presidential debate."

* Wells Fargo's troubles aren't over: "Secretary of Labor Tom Perez on Tuesday said he would initiate a 'top-to-bottom' review of labor practices at disgraced bank Wells Fargo."

* The "war on drugs" enters a more sensible phase: "Arrests for simple marijuana possession in the United States fell to nearly a two-decade low last year, according to new statistics released Monday by the FBI."
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History mandates presidential candidates release tax returns, but not how many

Donald Trump is still getting tripped up by tax returns

09/27/16 04:30PM

Fairly early on during last night's presidential debate, Hillary Clinton was speculating about why Donald Trump would choose to be the first modern American presidential candidate to refuse to release his tax returns. "Maybe," she said, "he doesn't want the American people, all of you watching tonight, to know that he's paid nothing in federal taxes."

Unprompted, Trump interrupted to say, "That makes me smart."

Clinton kept going, adding, "So if he's paid zero, that means zero for troops, zero for vets, zero for schools or health."

A little later, Trump talked about how the government doesn't have the necessary resources for public needs. "Maybe because you haven't paid any federal income tax for a lot of years," Clinton interjected. Trump fired back, "It would be squandered, too."

The comment was striking because of it's apparent acceptance of the underlying premise. By saying his tax money would have been "squandered," Trump seemed to be conceding that Clinton's argument was correct.

As TPM reported, it's a point Clinton is eager to keep emphasizing.
Fresh off a strong performance in the first presidential debate, Hillary Clinton on Tuesday knocked Donald Trump for bragging about not paying taxes and financially benefiting from the housing crisis.

Speaking to an audience at Wake Technical Community College in Raleigh, North Carolina, the former secretary of state repeated her debate-night claim that Trump’s refusal to release his tax returns may be because he had “paid nothing in federal taxes,” as was true on the few years of his returns that he made public. Trump replied on stage, "That makes me smart."

“Now, if not paying taxes makes him smart, what does that make all the rest of us?” Clinton asked the crowd.
After the debate, Trump seemed eager to deny having said what everyone had already heard him say.
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New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie addresses members of the media at The Statehouse, Jan. 11, 2016, in Trenton, N.J. (Photo by Mel Evans/AP)

Christie aide: Governor knew about Bridgegate scheme at the time

09/27/16 12:40PM

As the "Bridgegate" scandal started to unfold, it wasn't long before the obvious question emerged: what did New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) know and when did he know it? Of particular interest was a photograph showing Christie alongside two of his top aides, David Wildstein and Bill Baroni, at an event on the morning of Sept. 11, 2013.

The timing and the personnel matter: Wildstein and Baroni were integrally involved in hatching the scheme to cripple Fort Lee, New Jersey, and their plan was underway when they saw Christie that morning. Did the governor's aides let Christie know what they were up to at the time? This morning, Wildstein testified under oath that they brought the governor up to speed. NJ.com reported today:
"Mr. Baroni said, 'Governor I have to talk to you about something,'" Wildstein recalled.

"(He said) there's a tremendous amount of traffic in Fort Lee ... and you'll be pleased to know Mayor (Mark) Sokolich is very frustrated," Wildstein said.

Wildstein said that he and Baroni boasted to the governor about not returning Soklolich's repeated phone calls. Christie responded that he wasn't surprised Fort Lee's mayor "wouldn't be getting his phone calls returned," Wildstein said.
As Wildstein put it, the three of them joked about the tactics on the third day of the deliberate scheme.

If the testimony is true, Christie lied about what he knew and when, and the likelihood of this scandal leading to the governor's impeachment will increase.

Of course, this isn't the only revelation of interest. In fact, Wildstein, prosecutors' star witness in the case against Baroni and Bridget Anne Kelly, has been a fount of information.
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