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Image: President Trump Holds Rally In Great Falls, Montana

'Send her back': Trump manages to take American politics to a new low

07/18/19 08:40AM

Shortly before Donald Trump left for a campaign rally in North Carolina, the president stopped for a brief Q&A with reporters, some of whom asked about his recent attacks on young congresswomen of color, including Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.). The Republican quickly set the tone for the rest of the day.

"Well, there is a lot of talk about the fact that she was married to her brother," Trump said. "I know nothing about it. I hear she was married to her brother." (The Minnesota Democrat is on record calling these rumors "disgusting lies.")

A few hours later, the president took the stage in Greenville, where he continued his offensive against Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Omar, Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), accusing them and their party of supporting "the destruction of our country."

The event devolved from there.

"Omar laughed that Americans speak of al Qaeda in a menacing tone," he said. "You don't say America with this intensity. You say al Qaeda makes you proud. Al Qaeda makes you proud. You don't speak that way about America," he added, referring to her remarks in a 2013 interview.

The crowd broke into a chant of "Send her back!"

Yes, this is American politics in 2019: a president eager to maximize division for his own purposes, lies about an elected congresswoman, and then basks in the adulation of rabid followers who chant in unison about deporting the American lawmaker.

I imagine that Trump's allies will argue today that the president did not personally say, "Send her back." That's true, though it doesn't make the display in North Carolina any less sickening: Trump peddled unsubtle lies, exploiting racism and fomenting hate, leading his base to his desired destination.

The president even paused to appreciate the chant, interrupting his remarks with silence, not to dissuade his followers, but to enjoy them.

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Image: Rand Paul

Rand Paul slammed after blocking 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund

07/18/19 08:00AM

Late last week, the Democratic-led House voted 402 to 12 to ensure the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund doesn't run out of money. The bill then went to the Republican-led Senate, where it was expected to pass without controversy.

Yesterday afternoon, however, the process hit an unexpected barrier.

Republican Sen. Rand Paul on Wednesday blocked a bipartisan bill that would ensure a victims' compensation fund related to the Sept. 11 attacks never runs out of money.

Paul objected to a request by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., to approve the bill by unanimous consent, which would fast-track approval.

Paul, R-Ky., questioned the bill's 70-year time frame and said any new spending should be offset by corresponding cuts. The government already faces a $22 trillion debt, a figure that grows every year, Paul said.

It's worth emphasizing that the bill, by congressional standards, isn't expensive. As the Associated Press' report added, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that the legislation would cost about $10.2 billion over the next decade, all of which would go toward care for 9/11 first responders.

In contrast, the Republican tax plan, designed to disproportionately benefit the very wealthy, cost roughly 100 times more. When that came up for a vote, Rand Paul was all for it, seemingly indifferent to the bill's impact on the national debt.

But when it's the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund on the line, suddenly the Kentucky Republican has concerns about fiscal responsibility.

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Loose ends left in Cohen case; judge set to unseal new details

Loose ends left in Cohen case; judge set to unseal new details

07/17/19 09:13PM

Rachel Maddow reports on the compelling foreshadowing by the judge in the Michael Cohen case ahead of the unsealing of previously redacted parts of the case, and notes the curious disconnect between the number of wrongdoings by others exposed by the Cohen case and the fact that the case is reportedly being closed without further charges. watch

Wednesday's Mini-Report, 7.17.19

07/17/19 05:30PM

Today's edition of quick hits:

* This is a story worth watching closely: "A federal judge disclosed Wednesday that prosecutors had concluded their probe into Michael Cohen's campaign finance crimes as he ordered the release of search warrants tied to the case."

* After Turkey's recent purchase from Russia, this was inevitable: "In a significant break with a longtime NATO ally, the Trump administration on Wednesday said Turkey can no longer be part of the American F-35 fighter jet program."

* This is an excellent and well-reported article: "America's largest drug companies saturated the country with 76 billion oxycodone and hydrocodone pain pills from 2006 through 2012 as the nation's deadliest drug epidemic spun out of control, according to previously undisclosed company data released as part of the largest civil action in U.S. history."

* Census case: "Critics who sued to block the Trump administration from adding a citizenship question to the 2020 census asked a federal judge on Tuesday to punish administration officials, saying the officials had deliberately delayed the lawsuit in order to hide damning evidence -- conduct they called 'nothing less than a fraud on the court.'"

* Trump's failing policy: "North Korea on Tuesday suggested it might call off its 20-month suspension of nuclear and missile tests because of summertime U.S.-South Korean military drills that the North calls preparation for an eventual invasion."

* Keep expectations low: "White House senior adviser Jared Kushner pitched President Donald Trump's Cabinet members Tuesday on a 600-page immigration proposal that he and some congressional Republicans are urging their colleagues to consider before Congress leaves Washington for its monthlong August recess, according to three people involved in discussions."

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House Ways & Means Committee Oversight Subcommittee Ranking Member Mike Kelly, R-Pa., speaks during a hearing on proposals to compel presidents and presidential candidates to make public years of their tax returns on Capitol Hill, Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019,

White GOP congressman says, 'I'm a person of color'

07/17/19 02:49PM

In the wake of Donald Trump's recent racist criticisms of four Democratic congresswomen, there's been considerable discussion about the president and his antagonistic relationship with minority communities and people of color.

And it appears that conversation has bothered a white Republican congressman from Pennsylvania -- for a curious reason.

U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly, R-Butler, is defending comments he made to a reporter Tuesday, in the wake of President Donald Trump's tweets telling four congresswomen of color to "go back" to where they came from.

"You know, they talk about people of color. I'm a person of color. I'm white," Kelly told Daniel Newhauser of Vice News. "I'm an Anglo-Saxon. People say things all the time, but I don't get offended. With a name like Mike Kelly you can't be from any place else but Ireland."

As the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's article added, the GOP congressman believes the excerpt from his Vice News interview "mischaracterized our conversation and my broader point: We're all created equal. It's time to stop fixating on our differences and focus on what unites us."

Perhaps, though that doesn't change the fact that a white Republican congressman described himself -- on the record and on tape -- as a "person of color."

As a general rule, no one defines "person of color" this way, and no one should.

If Mike Kelly's name sounds at all familiar, it's because he makes national headlines from time to time, though generally not in flattering ways.

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Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump turns away from the cameras as he speaks at a town hall event in Appleton, Wis., March 30, 2016. (Photo by Mark Kauzlarich/Reuters)

Shifting the debate from race to patriotism doesn't do Trump any favors

07/17/19 12:45PM

In the White House Cabinet Room yesterday, a reporter asked Donald Trump whether he'd be willing to avoid the phrase "go back to your country." The president ignored the question and stuck to the latest Republican strategy: shift the debate from race to patriotism.

"I think it's terrible when people speak so badly about our country, when people speak so horribly." Trump replied. "I have a list of things here ... said by the congresswomen that is so bad, so horrible, that I almost don't want to read it. It's so bad."

In fairness, some comments are tough to overlook. When Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), for example, argued that the United States is a corrupt country that's "going to hell," she should've expected an angry backlash from those who prioritize patriotism.

Wait, did I say that was a quote from the Minnesota congresswoman? It was actually Donald Trump who said that -- just one month before he launched his campaign in 2015.

Part of the problem with his current gambit is that the president can't -- or at least, shouldn't -- pretend that his attacks against congresswomen of color are unrelated to race. It's far too late for that.

But the other part of the problem is that Trump is under the mistaken impression that a fight over patriotism leaves him on stronger ground. As this New York Times analysis helps make clear, it really doesn't.

America stinks. At least that's what Donald J. Trump seemed to be saying before becoming president.

He did not believe in "American exceptionalism," he said, because America was not exceptional. Instead, it was a "laughingstock" that was no better than Vladimir V. Putin's Russia. By promising to make America great again, he made it clear that he believed it was not great anymore.

The analysis added that Trump is "the president who trash-talked America more than any other in modern times."

The Washington Post ran a related piece this week, highlighting instances in which the Republican said the United States has "lost all sense of direction or purpose" and has become "stupid."

I recently pulled together some related examples, including one instance in which Trump whined about "how bad the United States is."

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Wednesday's Campaign Round-Up, 7.17.19

07/17/19 12:00PM

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

* There's been a sudden flurry of presidential primary polling out of New Hampshire, including this new one from CNN, which found former Vice President Joe Biden (D) leading the field with 24% support. Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) with 19% each. As is usually the case, the only other candidates with significant support were Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), with 10% and 9%, respectively.

* Speaking of polling, Quinnipiac polled Democrats in California -- home to an early, March 3 primary -- and found native daughter Kamala Harris leading the field with 23%, followed by Biden with 21%. Sanders and Warren were close behind, with 18% and 16% respectively, while Buttigieg was fifth with 3%.

* Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) raised a few eyebrows yesterday, telling reporters that when it comes to the future of the legislative filibuster, "nothing's off the table."

* Now that we've seen all of the second-quarter fundraising numbers for the presidential contenders, the Washington Post published a good analysis of the data, which I found compelling.

* Fresh off their controversial gambit to derail a climate bill, Oregon Republicans are now launching a recall campaign against Gov. Kate Brown (D), who cruised to a relatively easy victory just nine months ago. According to the Oregonian, "Organizers now have 90 days to gather 280,050 valid signatures from voters.... That's a high bar: it's not unusual for campaigns to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars collecting signatures to qualify initiatives for the ballot."

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Image: 58th U.S. Presidential Inauguration

Trump gets House Democrats' legislative record backward

07/17/19 11:24AM

For months, Donald Trump has tried to convince the public that the new Democratic majority in the House is choosing not to govern. The president recently tweeting, "[T]he Dems are getting nothing done in Congress. They are frozen stiff." It came on the heels of a series of related missives, one of which insisted, "Democrats ... don't want to do anything."

He repeated the claim this morning:

"The Democrats in Congress are getting nothing done, not on drug pricing, not on immigration, not on infrastructure, not on nothing! Sooo much opportunity, yet all they want to do is go 'fishing.' The American people are tired of the never ending Witch Hunt, they want results now!"

If Trump wanted to complain that House Dems are pursuing ideas he opposes, that would at least make sense. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and her conference are advancing all kinds of progressive priorities, and it stands to reason that the Republican White House would oppose practically everything Democrats like.

But to pretend the House majority isn't legislating at all is to ignore reality altogether.

It was just five days ago that the House passed an ambitious defense-spending bill, which came the same day the chamber passed the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund.

Shortly before Congress' 4th-of-July break, the House also passed a bipartisan border bill, which was followed a day later by Democrats passing an election-security package.

As regular readers know, those measures followed a series of related votes – House Dems have already passed more than half of their top 10 priorities for this Congress – on bills related to everything from Dreamers to lowering prescription-drug costs to expanding the Violence Against Women Act.

Tomorrow, barring any surprises, House Democrats will pass popular legislation to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour.

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Attendees stand during a news conference at Google headquarters in Mountain View, California. (Photo by Robert Galbraith/Reuters)

Trump's latest 'treason' accusation is directed at Google

07/17/19 10:43AM

Donald Trump used the "t" word again yesterday, quoting something he saw on Fox News. The president wrote on Twitter, "'Billionaire Tech Investor Peter Thiel believes Google should be investigated for treason. He accuses Google of working with the Chinese Government.' @foxandfriends A great and brilliant guy who knows this subject better than anyone! The Trump Administration will take a look!"

Asked about this at a cabinet meeting yesterday, Trump didn't repeat the "treason" allegation, but as the transcript made clear, he repeated the underlying concerns.

"Well, what we're doing with China, first of all -- you know, Thiel is a friend of mine. He's a tremendous contributor. He's a big -- he's a big -- he spoke at our convention -- at the Republican National Convention. Peter is a brilliant young man -- one of the most successful people in Silicon Valley. I guess he was an original investor in some of these biggest -- biggest companies, including Facebook, I understand.

"Yeah, he made a very strong charge. He's one of the top -- maybe the top expert on all of those things. And he made a very big statement about Google. And I would like to recommend to the various agencies, including perhaps our Attorney General, who is with us, to maybe take a look. It's a big statement, when you say that, you know, Google is involved with China in not a very positive way for our country.

"So I think we'll all look at that. I know that our other agencies will be looking at it. And we'll see if there's any truth to it. But that's a very big statement, made by somebody who's highly respected. So we'll certainly take a look at that."

It was hard not to wonder what in the world the president was talking about.

As it turns out, Thiel recently accused Google of working with the Chinese military. Fox News aired an 11-second news brief on the claim yesterday; Trump apparently saw it; and the result was a presidential directive about a federal investigation into one of the world's largest tech giants.

This really isn't how governing is supposed to work in a global superpower.

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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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