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The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree lights the plaza, New York City, December 11, 2013.

Holiday Open Thread, 2014

12/24/14 08:01AM

It's likely to be pretty quiet here at MaddowBlog for the next couple of days, so readers should expect a light-to-nonexistent posting schedule. That said, I'll be around in case there's breaking news of interest, and there will be a new installment of "This Week in God" on Saturday morning.
We'll return to a normal posting schedule on Monday morning.
Librarians volunteer to help out in Ferguson

Librarians volunteer to help out in Ferguson

12/23/14 11:13PM

Rachel Maddow reports on volunteer librarians who are using their holiday time off to travel to Ferguson, Missouri to help the local library there sort through the abundance of books donated in the wake of protests over the Michael Brown grand jury... watch

Showings scheduled for Sony's 'The Interview'

Showings scheduled for Sony's 'The Interview'

12/23/14 09:49PM

Rachel Maddow reports on Sony Pictures reversing course and distributing 'The Interview,' which depicts the assassination of North Korean President Kim Jong Un, in defiance of threats from hackers believed by the U.S. to be backed by North Korea. watch

Few options to pressure Grimm out of Congress

Few options to pressure Grimm out of Congress

12/23/14 09:11PM

Frank Thorp, NBC News Capitol Hill producer, talks with Rachel Maddow about whether any rules of Congress will be triggered as Rep. Michael Grimm has pleaded guilty to a felony and what political pressures he might suffer from fellow House Republicans. watch

Decency not enough to force Grimm from office

Decency not enough to force Grimm from office

12/23/14 09:00PM

Rachel Maddow reports on the scant history of members of Congress expelled from office as a result of a felony conviction, pointing out that in nearly all cases, the decency of the politician or the electorate prevent that situation from happening. watch

Ahead on the 12/23/14 Maddow show

12/23/14 07:58PM

Tonight's guests:

  • Frank Thorp, NBC News Capitol Hill producer
  • Kevin Cope, president of the Louisiana State University Faculty Senate

And here's producer Julia Nutter with what everyone's working on:

read more

Tuesday's Mini-Report, 12.23.14

12/23/14 05:30PM

Today's edition of quick hits:
* Despite being a felon, Grimm doesn't want to resign: "New York Rep. Michael Grimm on Tuesday afternoon in Brooklyn federal court pleaded guilty to one count of tax evasion, admitting to hiding more than $1 million in wages and income."
* Thanks, Vladimir: "With a Russian-backed separatist insurgency still gripping eastern Ukraine, the Ukrainian Parliament voted on Tuesday to take steps toward joining NATO. It was a pointed rebuke to Russia that immediately drew an angry response."
* People like round numbers: "The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed above 18,000 for the first time on Tuesday, capping a run that saw the index tack on 1,000 points in only six months. It was the fifth straight session of gains for the Dow, handing investors a merry Christmas as 2014 draws to a close."
* Oklahoma: "A federal judge in Oklahoma City on Monday said that the state can resume executing prisoners this winter, rejecting the argument by some medical experts that using the same sedative involved in the bungled execution of Clayton D. Lockett in April amounted to an illegal experiment on human subjects."
* I'm still amazed this actually happened: "A Baltimore Fox affiliate apologized Monday night for a report it ran over the weekend that deceptively edited protesters to look like they were chanting 'kill a cop.'" Joy-Ann Reid's related report is well worth your time.
* Obviously overdue: "The Food and Drug Administration announced on Tuesday that it would scrap a decades-old lifetime prohibition on blood donation by gay and bisexual men, a change that experts said was long overdue and could lift the annual blood supply by as much as 4 percent."
* Ebola: "There are reasons for both hope and continued worry about the Ebola epidemic in West Africa, Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said on Monday."
Committee chairman Rep. Darrell Issa (R-OH) (R) cuts ranking member Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) off during a hearing of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Capitol Hill on March 5, 2014 in Washington, DC.

House GOP fails to uncover IRS, White House coordination

12/23/14 04:53PM

About a year-and-a-half ago, the "scandal" involving the Internal Revenue Service looked like it might be a real story. It wasn't, and the whole thing evaporated into nothing soon after, but for Republicans, the prospect of the IRS coordinating with the White House to punish conservatives was so enticing, they believed it -- reality be damned.
And so, in the summer of 2013, some prominent GOP lawmakers got a little hysterical. The chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee said the controversy "started with the White House." The chairman of the House Appropriations Committee insisted the IRS was guided by "the enemies list out of the White House." The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee alleged, without proof, that the IRS engaged in "criminal behavior" that can be traced back to "1600 Pennsylvania Avenue."
All of this was completely wrong.
An 18-month congressional investigation into the Internal Revenue Service's mistreatment of conservative political groups seeking tax exemptions has failed to show coordination between agency officials and political operatives in the White House, according to a report released on Tuesday.
Imagine that. House Republicans spent a year and a half investigating a controversy, making all kinds of wild-eyed allegations publicly, they carefully scrutinized 1.3 million documents, and they conducted lengthy interviews with literally dozens of IRS officials under oath.
They've turned up no evidence of official wrongdoing -- unless you consider Republicans falsely accusing the White House of a cover-up as an official misdeed.