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Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump looks at a sheet of notes and talking points as he speaks during a rally in Eugene, Ore., May 6, 2016. (Photo by Ted S. Warren/AP)

Trump demands credit for jobs he had nothing to do with

01/18/17 08:47AM

General Motors confirmed yesterday that it's making another major investment in domestic manufacturing, which will save or create about 1,500 jobs. Donald Trump wants Americans to credit his awesomeness for the announcement, but an NBC News report makes clear that the president-elect doesn't actually deserve the acclaim.
[S]everal GM officials stressed that the latest moves were in the works for months and, in some cases several years, and were not a reaction to criticism by president-elect Donald Trump. [...]

Investment decisions of this magnitude and involving changes to manufacturing operations are typically the result of several years of study and require months of consideration by a company's board of directors, noted David Cole, director-emeritus of the Center for Automotive Research, in Ann Arbor, Michigan, in a discussion this week. That would suggest that the latest GM investment project began as far back as 2014.
This morning, the Republican president-elect interrupted his busy schedule to complain on Twitter that NBC News' report was "biased." (He keeps using that word, but I don't think it means what he thinks it means.) He said any reports that fail to acknowledge Trump's role in recently announced job creation are "FAKE NEWS" -- the all-caps appeared in the original -- adding that the jobs "came back because of me!"

The man clearly loves his exclamation points.

I can appreciate why he's frustrated. When Trump sees news reports about positive economic developments, he probably thinks to himself, "Wow, I'm amazing. I haven't even taken office yet and look at all the great news." Then pesky media organizations point out annoying details -- such as the fact Trump had nothing to do with the positive economic developments -- which likely leads Trump to think, "Those reports can't be right, because I really am amazing."

The president-elect's fragile ego notwithstanding, the relevant facts are plain and unbiased. As a Slate report explained with additional details, there's literally nothing to connect Trump to GM's announcement. If this hurts the president-elect's feelings, that's a shame, but reality can be unforgiving.

The broader point, meanwhile, is that Trump keeps demanding credit for jobs he had nothing to do with.
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Desks in a classroom. (Photo by Bob O'Connor/Gallery Stock)

Trump's pick for Education Secretary failed to do her homework

01/18/17 08:00AM

When choosing nominees for his cabinet, Donald Trump wasted no time in selecting Betsy DeVos. The president-elect announced just two weeks after Election Day -- before Thanksgiving -- that the Michigan billionaire megadonor was his choice for Secretary of Education.

The timeline is relevant for a specific reason: DeVos, more than practically any other cabinet nominee, had all kinds of time to prepare for her confirmation process. Her hearing late yesterday suggests DeVos did not use this time wisely.
DeVos refused to promise that she would not privatize or strip funding from the public schools she would oversee if confirmed.

Asked bluntly by Sen. Patty Murray of Washington whether she would commit to keeping funding for public schools intact, DeVos dodged the question.
Over and over again, Democratic senators pressed the Education nominee on questions she must have known were coming, but DeVos was nevertheless woefully unprepared for each of them.

In one especially cringe-worthy exchange, Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) asked about the Individuals with Disabilities Act, which DeVos didn't realize is an existing federal law. "I may have confused it," the nominee conceded.

Soon after, Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) asked about her opinions on the difference between evaluating education proficiency and growth, one of the more common areas of debate in the field. DeVos rambled for a while, before making clear she had no idea what Franken was talking about.

Asked by Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) about guns in schools, DeVos suggested grizzly bears may try to attack children in states in Wyoming, so she'd prefer to leave the matter up to states.

The Washington Post put together a video of "head-scratching moments" from DeVos' hearing, and it wasn't a short clip.

There is a certain irony to the developments: Trump's choice to lead the Department of Education failed to do her homework, and as a consequence, she flunked her big test.
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Tuesday's Mini-Report, 1.17.17

01/17/17 05:30PM

Today's edition of quick hits:

* Manning will go free: "President Obama has commuted the sentence of Chelsea Manning, the former Army intelligence officer, who is serving 35 years for giving classified information to Wikileaks, the White House announced Tuesday. The decision, made in the last days of Obama's presidency, means that Manning can be freed May 17, seven years into her prison term."

* Last week, WiliLeaks announced that Julian Assange would agree to U.S. extradition if the president granted clemency to Manning. Whether Assange intends to keep that vow is unclear.

* Note, Obama also granted 209 other commutations and 64 pardons, including one to retired Gen. James Cartwright. This president has now commuted more sentences than the last 12 presidents combined.

* Britain's Prime Minister is serious about Brexit: "Theresa May, who came to power after the referendum result prompted the resignation of her predecessor David Cameron, said Britain will seek a so-called 'hard Brexit' -- meaning the U.K. wants to quit the EU completely after four decades of membership, along with the single market for goods."

* With time running out: "With just three days until President-elect Donald Trump's inauguration, the State Department on Tuesday announced a half-billion-dollar contribution to the United Nations' Green Climate Fund, part of $3 billion the United States has promised to the fund under President Obama. That's on top of another $500 million transferred last year, meaning the United States has now sent $1 billion to the fund, or a third of the president's pledge."

* Summer Zervos' case is worth watching: "A former contestant on 'The Apprentice' who previously accused President-elect Donald Trump of inappropriate sexual behavior said she has filed a defamation lawsuit against the ex-reality show star."
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Government Shutdown Looms on Capitol Hill

Dozens of congressional Dems to boycott Trump inaugural

01/17/17 03:42PM

At every presidential inauguration, there are always a handful of members of Congress who stay away for one reason or another, but large-scale boycotts are very unusual. The last meaningful one happened 44 years ago.

As Rachel noted on last night's show, in 1973, as many as 165 members of Congress said they were prepared to skip Richard Nixon's second inaugural, largely as part of a protest against the administration's policies in Vietnam. The actual number turned out to be roughly half that, which was still an extraordinary protest: about 80 federal lawmakers boycotted the event, something unseen since the Civil War.

That was the last time a substantial number of congressmen and congresswomen refused to attend a presidential inauguration. This year, it's happening again.
Dozens of Democratic lawmakers now say they are skipping Donald Trump's inauguration ceremony on Friday after more representatives made their boycott plans known on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Some Democrats had said they were boycotting the event before the weekend, but more Democratic members of the House said they wouldn't attend after Trump in a series of tweets attacked Rep. John Lewis of Georgia, who a day earlier said he doesn't see Trump as a "legitimate president" because of Russia's alleged interference in the election.
As of last week, a very modest number of congressional Dems were on record saying they'd boycott Trump's inauguration, but the total jumped in the wake of Trump's feud with John Lewis, a respected, iconic figure on Capitol Hill.

By late yesterday, the number was just above 30. As of this afternoon, the Huffington Post's tally, which looks accurate to me, puts the new total at 54. (It's worth noting, however, that 3 of the 54 said they're skipping Friday's event, but not to protest the incoming president.)
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Speaker of the House Paul Ryan shares a laugh with Republican members of Congress after signing legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, and to cut off federal funding of Planned Parenthood.

Republicans get more bad news about 'Obamacare' repeal

01/17/17 02:59PM

Senate Democrats asked the Congressional Budget Office to prepare a report on what would happen if the Republican ACA repeal bill was passed and implemented. I have a strong hunch GOP lawmakers will not be pleased with the results.
About 18 million people would lose or drop their health insurance in the first year after Obamacare is repealed, the Congressional Budget Office reported Tuesday.

The nonpartisan federal agency also found that health insurance premiums would spike another 20 to 25 percent, according to the new report. Within 10 years, 32 million more people would be without health insurance, the CBO projects.

Without a replacement, health care costs overall would continue to rise every year, as would the number of people going without health insurance. Premiums would continue to go up, as well.
The full document is available in its entirety online here.

CBO officials weren't just imagining a hypothetical Republican bill; the budget office relied on a 2015 bill that the House GOP actually passed. And the results would be dreadful: premium prices would soar, tens of millions of Americans would lose their coverage, and private insurers would run for cover as the individual market collapsed.

Or put another way, the Republican legislation would lead to systemic disaster -- which would start bad and get progressively worse going forward.
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Russian President Vladimir Putin talks in a meeting in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, July 7, 2016. (Photo by Alexei Druzhinin/Sputnik/Kremlin/AP)

Putin scrambles to defend Trump's legitimacy

01/17/17 12:50PM

Russian President Vladimir Putin has publicly praised and defended Donald Trump, both before the U.S. presidential election and after, so perhaps it wasn't too surprising to hear the Russian autocrat sing the president-elect's praises once more ahead of his ally's Inauguration Day.
Vladimir Putin on Tuesday accused the Obama administration of trying to "undermine the legitimacy" of President-elect Donald Trump by spreading "fake" information.

The Russian president said America was "seeing a continuing heated political struggle, even though the elections are finished."

Addressing reporters at a news conference in Moscow, Putin said the recent inclusion of allegations against Trump in an intelligence briefing "indicates a significant level of degradation [among] political elites in the West."
Commenting specifically on the allegations raised by the unverified dossier*, Putin said Trump is "someone who has been involved with beauty contests for many years and has met the most beautiful women in the world. I find it hard to believe that he rushed to some hotel to meet girls of loose morals -- although ours are undoubtedly the best in the world."

It's hard not to notice that the two men appear to be cut from the same cloth.

And just as Trump repeated Putin-esque talking points in an interview over the weekend, Putin echoed Trump's talking points today, touting the Republican's "conclusive victory," condemning "fake" allegations, and celebrating Trump's commitment towards "improving Russian-American relationships."

Tuesday's Campaign Round-Up, 1.17.17

01/17/17 12:00PM

Today's installment of campaign-related news items from across the country.

* Confronted with four national polls showing him with awful approval and favorability ratings, Donald Trump insisted this morning that the surveys are "rigged." Rigged by whom? And to what end? The president-elect, who loves odd conspiracy theories, didn't say.

* Also this morning, Trump thought it'd be a good idea to keep his feud with Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) going with a pair of tweets.

* The number of congressional Democrats boycotting Trump's inauguration passed 40 overnight, and I believe reached 45 as of this minute.

* The New York Daily News published a piece on scalpers who bought Trump inauguration tickets, hoping to flip them for a profit, only to discover no one wants them.

* On a related note, among the entertainers who've pulled out of Trump-related inaugural festivities is a Bruce Springsteen tribute band, which had been scheduled to headline the Garden State Inaugural Gala.

* If you're keeping track of the campaign to become the next DNC chair, the Washington Post had a good rundown of where the race stands. The election is scheduled for late February at a Democratic meeting in Atlanta.

* As funny as this may sound, Silicon Valley billionaire and Trump supporter Peter Thiel is considering a gubernatorial campaign in California next year. Trump, it's worth noting for context, lost California by more than 30 points.
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U.S. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump holds a Hispanic Town Hall meeting with supporters, Sept. 27, 2016, in Miami, Fla. (Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

U.S. allies abroad fear the consequences of a Trump presidency

01/17/17 11:22AM

In recent years, when Republicans have criticized President Obama's approach to foreign policy, they invariably complain that his priorities are backwards. America's allies, the argument goes, no longer count on us, while America's adversaries no longer fear us.

In a foreign policy speech delivered in April, none other than Donald Trump, reading from his trusted teleprompter, argued, "[O]ur friends are beginning to think they can't depend on us. We've had a president who dislikes our friends and bows to our enemies."

The entire line of attack has long been deeply ironic. Under Obama's presidency, the United States' international reputation has improved considerably over the Bush/Cheney era, and our allies' confidence in our leadership has grown. Now that Trump is poised to take power, however, anxiety and mistrust among American allies has reached levels unseen in generations. The Washington Post reported yesterday:
European leaders grappled with the jolting reality of President-elect Donald Trump's skepticism of the European Union on Monday, saying they might have to stand without the United States at their side during the Trump presidency.

The possibility of an unprecedented breach in transatlantic relations came after Trump -- who embraced anti-E.U. insurgents during his campaign and following his victory -- said in weekend remarks that the 28-nation European Union was bound for a breakup and that he was indifferent to its fate. He also said NATO's current configuration is "obsolete," even as he professed commitment to Europe's defense.
To put it mildly, the president-elect's weekend comments have rattled much of the world. As we noted yesterday, Trump sat down with two European newspapers for an interview in which he dismissed NATO as “obsolete”; criticized German Chancellor Angela Merkel for assisting Syrian refugees (whom Trump referred to as “illegals”); said the United States “should be ready to trust” Russian President Vladimir Putin; and endorsed the further unraveling of the European Union.

The Post added that Trump's attitudes "have raised alarm bells across Europe," as America's traditional allies come to the "painful realization" that Europeans may no longer have "the full backing of their oldest, strongest partner."

The article went on to note, "The full ramifications of a potential breakdown in transatlantic ties are so extensive, they are difficult to total.... For decades, European nations and the United States have worked tightly together on issues of war, peace and wealth."

This has been the backbone of the world order for generations, and in the United States, there's been a steady, bipartisan commitment to the Western alliance. American allies counted on this international partnership to endure.
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About The Rachel Maddow Show

Launched in 2008, “The Rachel Maddow Show” follows the machinations of policy making in America, from local political activism to international diplomacy. Rachel Maddow looks past the distractions of political theater and stunts and focuses on the legislative proposals and policies that shape American life - as well as the people making and influencing those policies and their ultimate outcome, intended or otherwise.

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