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Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton speaks at a rally at Truckee Meadows Community College in Reno, Nev., on Aug. 25, 2016. (Photo by Aaron P. Bernstein/Reuters)

Hillary Clinton's mental-health plan matters

08/30/16 09:00AM

When Donald Trump's campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, sat down with Rachel last week, she lamented the overall direction of the presidential race. "[S]o much of the campaign has been content-free cacophony," Conway complained, with "no substance being discussed."
 
Let's put aside, at least for now, the role the Republican presidential candidate has played in pushing the 2016 race away from anything resembling a policy debate. Instead, let's pause to note Hillary Clinton's efforts yesterday to push back against the "content-free cacophony" by unveiling policy measures such as her package of mental-health initiatives. The Washington Post reported overnight on the Democratic nominee's new proposal, released yesterday:
The plan, the Democratic nominee said, seeks to fully integrate mental health services into the nation's health-care system during her tenure as president. Measures include a national suicide prevention initiative, higher payments for providers in the Medicaid program, an emphasis on treatment over jail for low-level criminal offenders with mental health issues and the creation of new housing and job opportunities.
 
Clinton also pledges increased investment in brain and behavioral science research and to fully enforce prior laws that require mental health coverage to be an essential benefit in health insurance plans.
Some of the provisions of Clinton's plan are familiar -- they've been touted before by policy experts and officials in the Obama administration -- but the entirely of the Democratic candidate's comprehensive agenda is nevertheless compelling.
 
For that matter, it's also the sort of initiative that could benefit an enormous number of Americans: as the Washington Post's report added, roughly "1 in 5 adults -- or 43.6 million people -- had a mental illness in 2014, with nearly 10 million of those experiencing a serious condition, such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder."
 
As a political matter, though, one of the things I found interesting about yesterday's policy rollout was the reaction -- or in this case, the lack thereof -- from Clinton's detractors.
CEO of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump campaign Stephen Bannon is pictured during a meeting with Trump's Hispanic Advisory Council at Trump Tower, Aug. 20, 2016, in the Manhattan borough of New York. (Photo by Carlo Allegri/Reuters)

Trump campaign CEO faces series of allegations

08/30/16 08:00AM

When Donald Trump's campaign announced that Steve Bannon, of Breitbart News notoriety, had joined the team as CEO, it was a striking development in its own right. With this staffing move, the Republican presidential hopeful had taken an alarming step in giving the far-right fringe a leadership role on the GOP's national ticket.
 
But the specific details surrounding Bannon matter, too. Rachel reported on Friday's show, for example, that Trump's campaign CEO was arrested and charged with domestic violence 20 years ago -- prosecutors ultimately had to drop the charges when Bannon's then-wife failed to show up for testimony. She also accused him of making anti-Semitic comments, which he denies having made.
 
New controversies continue to emerge. BuzzFeed reported overnight, for example, that Bannon and a former colleague were also "accused of sexual harassment in a 1990s court case."
The suit was related to Bannon’s time as director of Biosphere 2, a research facility located in Oracle, Arizona, that aimed to simulate the surface of Mars.... The suit, filed by Biosphere 2’s former director Margret Augustine, named [Texas billionaire Edward Bass, the project’s financial backer] as the primary defendant. Bannon and a fellow banker, Martin Bowen, were also named and accused of having acted as his agents. [...]
 
[T]he most explosive allegations were that Bannon and Bowen, had made sexually suggestive remarks and lewd remarks toward her, and had disparaged female employees of the research facility.
Bannon and Bowen have denied any wrongdoing.
 
BuzzFeed also reported yesterday on anti-gay slurs Bannon used during an on-air interview in 2011.
 
Noting the series of allegations, The New Republic's Eric Kleefeld made the case the other day that Trump hiring Bannon "might go down as the worst campaign hire of all time."
 
There's probably some truth to that, but there's also a larger context to consider: did Team Trump fully appreciate just who they were bringing on board as the campaign's CEO?

Monday's Mini-Report, 8.29.16

08/29/16 05:30PM

Today's edition of quick hits:
 
* Yemen: "A suicide bomber detonated a vehicle packed with explosives Monday in a mustering area for army recruits in the port city of Aden in southern Yemen, killing at least 54 people, according to the Health Ministry."
 
* Mylan shifts strategies: "Drugmaker Mylan said Monday that it will offer a generic version of the life-saving allergy treatment EpiPen for half the list price of the brand-name treatment after it became the center of a national controversy over skyrocketing drug prices."
 
* A commitment met: "The 10,000th Syrian refugee will arrive in the U.S. on Monday -- meeting a humanitarian goal the Obama administration set last year."
 
* DHS: "The U.S. Department of Homeland Security will study whether to discontinue using privately run detention centers, which the Justice Department recently called unsafe, for migrants and shares of private prison operators fell on Monday after the news."
 
* HB 2: "A federal judge on Friday curbed the enforcement of a North Carolina law that restricted restroom access for transgender people. The ruling was the first judicial rebuke of a statute that has been condemned as discriminatory and, with lawsuit after lawsuit, has deepened the national debate about transgender rights."
 
* LAX: "Operations were returning to normal at Los Angeles International Airport on Monday morning, after false reports of an active shooter sent passengers stampeding from terminals and, in some cases, onto the tarmac."
Roger Ailes, President of Fox News Channel attends the Hollywood Reporter celebration of "The 35 Most Powerful People in Media" at the Four Season Grill Room on April 11, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Stephen Lovekin/Getty)

Roger Ailes' role on Team Trump draws scrutiny

08/29/16 12:51PM

About a month after Roger Ailes was ousted as chairman of Fox News over sexual harassment allegations, the New York Times reported that Ailes had already landed a new role -- as an adviser to Donald Trump, specifically in the area of debate preparation.
 
Almost immediately, the Trump campaign, perhaps fearing the consequences of bringing on such a controversial figure, denied the reporting. In a statement, the Republican ticket insisted, "He is not advising Mr. Trump or helping with debate prep. They are longtime friends but he has no formal or informal role in the campaign."
 
Last week, Rachel sat down with Kellyanne Conway, Trump's latest campaign manager, and asked a straightforward factual question:
MADDOW: Is Roger Ailes working as part of the Donald Trump campaign?
 
CONWAY: No. He is not a formal or informal adviser. They're old friends. I mean, he's Donald Trump. He talks to a lot of people. Something is always ringing. [...]
 
MADDOW: Roger Ailes, no role in the campaign, though?
 
CONWAY: Roger Ailes has no formally or informal role in the campaign, no. But he is a marketing genius.
A "marketing genius" who was recently accused of grotesque and indefensible workplace behavior.
 
What's more, Rachel asked specifically about accounts of a meeting at a New Jersey golf club two weeks ago, where they reportedly discussed Ailes helping Trump prepare for the debates, joining the team as an informal adviser. Conway said she wasn't there, and while she's sure the two men "talk," the campaign manager was nevertheless categorical: Ailes has no role on the team.
 
There's nevertheless a fair amount of evidence of Ailes having at least some kind of role in the Republican operation. The Washington Post reported over the weekend, for example, that Ailes still has no formal role on the campaign, but the former Fox News chairman "talks to the candidate frequently and attended a strategy session last weekend."

Monday's Campaign Round-Up, 8.29.16

08/29/16 12:00PM

Today's installment of campaign-related news items from across the country.
 
* According to the AP, Hillary Clinton is rolling out today "a comprehensive plan to address millions of Americans coping with mental illness, pointing to the need to fully integrate mental health services into the nation's health care system."
 
* Donald Trump's running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, said yesterday that the Republican ticket's call for a "deportation force" to target undocumented immigrants is "a mechanism, not a policy." I'm not sure what that means.
 
* In the same CNN interview, Pence insisted, despite all of the recent rhetorical confusion, "Nothing has changed about Donald Trump's position on dealing with illegal immigration."
 
* The Clinton campaign released a new ad over the weekend slamming the Trump campaign's attempts at outreach to minority communities.
 
* On the heels of Arizona's Kelli Ward (R) going after Sen. John McCain's (R) age, the far-right state senator on Friday argued that the incumbent also has "issues about race," including McCain's vote against a holiday for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. "There are a lot of things that in November are not going to play well with voters," Ward said. Their Senate primary is tomorrow.
 
* Virginia Republicans decided over the weekend that they'll choose their 2017 nominees for statewide offices "in a primary instead of a convention." The state party agreed to the change -- a break from the 2013 process -- on a 41-to-40 vote.
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally, Aug. 23, 2016, in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Gerald Herbert/AP)

In Trump's new ad, keep an eye on the fine print

08/29/16 11:00AM

When Donald Trump's campaign recently unveiled its first television ad of the general election, it focused entirely on immigrants, refugees, and terrorists -- but that wasn't necessarily the original plan. Politico reported that just a few days before the ad launched, aides to the Republican ticket determined their first spot would be devoted to "an economic message."
 
A day later, without explanation, the campaign changed direction.
 
This morning, however, Team Trump unveiled its second ad, and this time, the economy really is the focus.
"In Hillary Clinton's America, the middle class gets crushed," a narrator says. "In Donald Trump's America, working families get tax relief. Millions of new jobs created. Wages go up. Small businesses thrive. The American Dream, achievable. Change that makes America great again."
NBC News reported that the 30-second spot, which is online here, is part of a significant ad buy -- "about $10 million over the next week or so" -- and will air in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.
 
By and large, it's pretty much a boilerplate message we'd expect from any GOP candidate in any election cycle, effectively arguing, "Democrats will raise taxes; I'll cut them; and tax cuts create prosperity." It's nothing Americans haven't heard before.
 
But what I found notable about the ad was the fine print.
Dr. Harold Bornstein in his office. (Photo by NBC news)

Trump's doctor draws fresh scrutiny (for all the wrong reasons)

08/29/16 10:00AM

The story of Dr. Harold Bornstein, who says he's been Donald Trump's personal physician since 1980, has always been odd. Late last year for example, Team Trump released an unintentionally hilarious, four-paragraph letter from the doctor -- the only medical information we have about the Republican candidate -- asserting that Trump's "physical strength and stamina are extraordinary" and his lab tests results were "astonishingly excellent."
 
Bornstein added at the time, "If elected, Mr. Trump, I can state unequivocally, will be the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency."
 
Things got a little weirder when we learned the physician identifies himself with the American College of Gastroenterology, which isn't exactly true. An NBC News report on Friday took the story in an even more jaw-dropping direction.
Donald Trump's personal physician said he wrote a letter declaring Trump would be the healthiest president in history in just five minutes while a limo sent by the candidate waited outside his Manhattan office. [...]
 
Asked how he could justify the hyperbole [about Trump becoming "the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency"], Bornstein said, "I like that sentence to be quite honest with you and all the rest of them are either sick or dead."
 
He went on to say that the Oval Office has been occupied by presidents with dementia or tumors or even men who were "paranoid" or "psychotic."
As for the letter itself, as Bornstein explained it, Team Trump dispatched a limo to the doctor's Park Avenue office to pick up the statement at the end of the day. Bornstein threw the letter together without proofreading it. NBC News' report added, "The doctor said he would not normally use such over-the-top language in a letter for a patient but he made an exception for Trump," driven in part by a tweet the candidate had recently published, describing his medical history as "perfection."
 
Bornstein added, however, "In the rush, I think some of those words didn't come out exactly the way they were meant."
 
But wait, there's more.

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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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