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Wednesday's Mini-Report, 3.22.17

03/22/17 05:30PM

Today's edition of quick hits:

* The latest from London: 'Three people were killed and 20 others were wounded Wednesday in a terrorist attack at Britain's Parliament that sent crowds of tourists and lawmakers running for their lives. The victims included a police officer who was stabbed at the House of Commons and died despite the efforts of doctors and a passing government minister to save him."

* Despite all the focus on the far-right opponents of the Republican health care bill, this afternoon, two center-right House GOP lawmakers announced their opposition to their party's legislation. For Republican leaders, that's really not a good sign.

* Supreme Court: "About 40 minutes after Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch began his second day of testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, all eight of the justices he hopes to join said a major disability decision Gorsuch wrote in 2008 was wrong."

* The U.S. Secret Service "requested $60 million in additional funding for the next year, offering the most precise estimate yet of the escalating costs for travel and protection resulting from the unusually complicated lifestyle of the Trump family, according to internal agency documents reviewed by The Washington Post."

* NATO: "President Trump will travel to Brussels in May for a NATO summit, the White House said Tuesday. The announcement comes as Trump has roiled the alliance with renewed complaints about how much European allies are paying for their defense. "

* Trump's first Labor Secretary nominee was forced to withdraw. His second Labor Secretary nominee, Alexander Acosta, is facing some serious questions about a deal he struck with Jeffrey Epstein, a billionaire money manager, who faced allegations that Epstein "sexually abused more than 40 minor girls, most of them between the ages of 13 and 17."

* What's Trump's net worth? It's a surprisingly difficult question to answer.

* GOP governors hate the White House's health care plan and also hate the White House's budget: "As Mr. Trump and his advisers press for bone-deep cuts to the federal budget, Republican governors have rapidly emerged as an influential bloc of opposition. They have complained to the White House about reductions they see as harmful or arbitrary, and they plan to pressure members of Congress from their states to oppose them."
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Paul Manafort of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump's staff listens during a round table discussion on security at Trump Tower in the Manhattan borough of New York, Aug. 17, 2016. (Photo by Carlo Allegri/Reuters)

Trump's former campaign chair worked to 'benefit' Putin's government

03/22/17 12:42PM

Paul Manafort, who helped lead Donald Trump's presidential campaign as its chairman and de-facto campaign manager, has long had important ties to the Russian government. Indeed, it led to his ouster from Team Trump.

In mid-August, a month after Trump officially became the Republican nominee, Manafort resigned following reports that he helped a pro-Russian party in Ukraine secretly route payments to two prominent D.C. lobbying firms.

But the revelations surrounding Trump's former campaign chair aren't nearly over. The Associated Press reported this morning:
President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, secretly worked for a Russian billionaire to advance the interests of Russian President Vladimir Putin a decade ago and proposed an ambitious political strategy to undermine anti-Russian opposition across former Soviet republics, The Associated Press has learned. The work appears to contradict assertions by the Trump administration and Manafort himself that he never worked for Russian interests.

Manafort proposed in a confidential strategy plan as early as June 2005 that he would influence politics, business dealings and news coverage inside the United States, Europe and the former Soviet republics to benefit the Putin government, even as U.S.-Russia relations under Republican President George W. Bush grew worse.

Manafort pitched the plans to Russian aluminum magnate Oleg Deripaska, a close Putin ally with whom Manafort eventually signed a $10 million annual contract beginning in 2006, according to interviews with several people familiar with payments to Manafort and business records obtained by the AP. Manafort and Deripaska maintained a business relationship until at least 2009, according to one person familiar with the work.
In a memo at the time, Manafort wrote that his work "can greatly benefit the Putin Government" and "can re-focus, both internally and externally, the policies of the Putin government."

Asked for a reaction, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer told NBC News, "It would be inappropriate for us to comment on a person who is not a White House employee."
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Wednesday's Campaign Round-Up, 3.22.17

03/22/17 12:00PM

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

* The RNC is reportedly launching a new digital ad campaign intended to pressure congressional Democrats to vote for Judge Neil Gorsuch's Supreme Court confirmation and the Republican health care plan.

* And speaking of digital ad campaigns, as Rachel noted on the show last night, the DSCC is launching a new spot of its own, pushing opposition to the Republican health care plan.

* At a fundraiser last night, Donald Trump claimed "most people don't even know" that Abraham Lincoln was a Republican, and he suggested someone should alert voters to this fact through commercials.

* On a related note, the fundraiser, held for the House Republicans' campaign arm, raised more than $30 million, which Politico noted was "a record for the event."

* The good news for Republicans: officials found an instance of voter fraud in Colorado. The bad news for Republicans: the alleged fraud was perpetrated by the former chairman of Colorado Republican Party.

* Trump has reportedly agreed to deliver the commencement address at Liberty University, an evangelical college in Virginia founded by Jerry Falwell, on May 13.

* Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) apparently feels safe dipping his toes back into political waters again, announcing this week that he's supporting former RNC Chairman Ed Gillespie's gubernatorial campaign this year.
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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., walks with Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa. to the chamber to vote at the Capitol in Washington, Feb. 10, 2016. (Photo by J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

McConnell prepares for the 'conclusion' of the health care fight

03/22/17 11:23AM

A couple of weeks ago, MSNBC's Chris Hayes had a fascinating chat with Rep. Leonard Lance (R-N.J.), who was pressed on a single point: how many hearings did House Republicans hold on their health care plan before passing out of committee?

Lance, reluctant to acknowledge that the number was zero, dodged the question repeatedly, before the congressman eventually said he thought the Senate might hold some "discussion" about the legislation.

As it turns out, that's not going to happen. The House vote is still scheduled for tomorrow -- though that may be delayed if GOP leaders find themselves far short of the votes they'll need -- but in the upper chamber, Republican leaders are moving forward with a plan to make this mess go away as quickly as possible. Politico reported:
Senate Republicans are unlikely to hold any committee hearings, and many of them haven't even read what the House is about to pass. It's unclear, to put it mildly, how proponents can placate enough moderates or conservatives to get the bill across the finish line.

But GOP leaders are showing no signs of applying the brakes.

"We're not slowing down," [Senate Majority Leader Mitch] McConnell said on Tuesday. "We will reach a conclusion on health care next week."
The Kentucky Republican didn't literally say, "Let's just get this over with," but he probably should've, since that sentiment appears to be guiding his plans.
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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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