The Rachel Maddow Show Weekdays at 9PM

Help

... more Duration: {{video.duration.momentjs}}

Rachel Maddow StoriesRSS

select from:

E.g., 1/19/2019
E.g., 1/19/2019
Image: TOPSHOT-US-POLITICS-ELECTIONS-TRUMP

President seeks credit for spending time in the White House

01/14/19 11:20AM

Of all the Republican arguments related to the shutdown, my personal favorite is the talking point that says Donald Trump deserves enormous credit for spending time in the White House. This came up briefly during the president's latest interview with Fox News' Jeanine Pirro over the weekend.

PIRRO: You're sitting there waiting for a deal, the Democrats are not sitting with you. If this isn't an emergency, I don't know what is.

TRUMP: Well, I haven't actually left the White House in months.... I've been here virtually every night, I guess every night other than one day I flew to Iraq and then to Germany to see our troops.

That's not even close to being true. During the seven days preceding the interview, Trump visited Camp David, Capitol Hill, and McAllen, Texas. He'll be in New Orleans today (though he told the public he'd be in Tennessee.) In the weeks leading up to his shutdown, the president also traveled to Philadelphia, Kansas City, Mississippi, and Argentina.

But while I don't much care about Trump's travels, I do care about the underlying point he wants the public to believe: it's impressive, the argument goes, just how much time the president has been willing to spend inside the White House during the government shutdown.

Trump has stressed this point during cabinet meetings, during multiple television interviews, and in a series of tweets. Some of his prominent cheerleaders, including acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker and acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney have parroted the same line.

The Associated Press reported this morning that the president "has expressed bafflement that he is not getting more credit for largely staying put during the shutdown."

Perhaps I can help explain the dynamic that has left Trump so confused.

read more

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell speaks to reporters in the U.S. Capitol in Washington, May 17, 2016. (Photo by Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

As shutdown persists, McConnell and Senate GOP remain on the sidelines

01/14/19 10:40AM

Donald Trump argued over the weekend that congressional Democrats should return to Capitol Hill "and work to end the Shutdown." It followed related remarks the president made on Friday, in which he said Democratic lawmakers should "come back and vote."

I suppose the message that the public is supposed to believe -- after this and a series of related missives Trump either published or re-tweeted -- is that the Democratic-led House just isn't doing enough work to resolve the shutdown the president created more than three weeks ago.

It's an odd argument for a couple of reasons. The first is that House Dems, immediately after taking the reins in the chamber, started passing measures that would re-open the government and end the shutdown. So far, each of the bills has passed with at least some bipartisan support, and the measures mirror the proposals Republicans -- including the president -- supported as recently as Dec. 19, which is less than a month ago.

The idea that Democrats are just sitting passively, uninterested in resolving the problem, is belied by their obvious legislative record. Trump wants Dems to "come back and vote," despite the fact that they've already done this.

The second angle dovetails nicely with the first: it's the Republican-led Senate that's sitting on its hands. The Washington Post's Colby Itkowitz explained the other day:

President Trump is not the only person in Washington who could end this government shutdown now.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) could bring a "clean" funding bill to the floor, free up his GOP caucus to support it and could quite possibly secure enough votes to override a presidential veto.

Since the start of the new Congress, the Democratic-led House has voted four times on measures that would re-open all or some of the federal government. The number of votes in the Republican-led Senate, at least so far, is zero -- and that's not because of filibusters, but rather, because Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell hasn't brought any bills related to the shutdown to the floor.

read more

During a campaign rally Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump reads a statement made by Michelle Fields, on March 29, 2016 in Janesville, Wis. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty)

Trump insists he has a shutdown 'plan' (which no one else has seen)

01/14/19 10:00AM

It seems painfully obvious at this point that Donald Trump stumbled into a government shutdown with no idea how to resolve it. That, alas, was 24 days ago -- at the start of the longest shutdown in American history.

For his part, the president has heard the chatter about his non-existent strategy, and over the weekend, he pushed back against the charge in a notable way. In a pair of tweets, Trump wrote:

"I just watched a Fake reporter from the Amazon Washington Post say the White House is 'chaotic, there does not seem to be a strategy for this Shutdown. There is no plan.' The Fakes always like talking Chaos, there is NONE. In fact, there's almost nobody in the W.H. but me, and I do have a plan on the Shutdown.

"But to understand that plan you would have to understand the fact that I won the election, and I promised safety and security for the American people. Part of that promise was a Wall at the Southern Border. Elections have consequences!"

First, the idea that Trump believes there's no "chaos" in the White House because there's no one there working is kind of hilarious.

Second, while it's true that the president ran on a platform of building a wall, it's also true that he lost the popular vote by nearly 3 million votes, which makes it awfully difficult to claim the American electorate endorsed his sparse platform. For that matter, if the president agrees that elections have consequences, he might want to take a fresh look at the results from the national congressional elections from two months ago -- the one in which House Democrats won their biggest victory since the Watergate era.

But I'm especially interested in the idea that Trump really does, all evidence to the contrary, "have a plan on the shutdown." Evidently, it's a secret plan, because the president hasn't told anyone -- including his own White House staff -- what it is.

read more

Snow begins to gather on a statue outside the Capitol Building in Washington, DC, Dec. 10, 2013.

On the shutdown, Americans aren't buying what the GOP is selling

01/14/19 09:20AM

The day before Donald Trump delivered an Oval Office address on immigration, Jared Kushner called Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), by most measures Congress' most conservative Democrat, and a lawmaker who's generally eager to work on bipartisan agreements. Did the White House reach out to the West Virginian about a possible compromise?

Not exactly. The New York Times  reported late last week that Kushner explained to Manchin that Trump would not budge: unless Democrats wanted the shutdown to continue, they'd have to approve funding for a border wall. As part of the same conversation, the article added, Kushner "left the senator with the impression that the White House believed public opinion would be on the president's side after the speech, and that Democrats would simply have to relent."

There's fresh evidence that those assumptions were backwards.

By a wide margin, more Americans blame President Trump and Republicans in Congress than congressional Democrats for the now record-breaking government shutdown, and most reject the president's assertion that there is an illegal-immigration crisis on the southern border, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll.

A majority of Americans (54%) oppose the president's dream of a giant border wall. A nearly identical number (53%) blame Trump and his party for the ongoing government shutdown, which is now the longest in the nation's history.

As for White House plans for a national-emergency declaration, in which Trump would grant himself the power to spend money on a wall in defiance of Congress' wishes, Americans are opposed to the idea by more than a 2-to-1 margin (66% to 31%).

Making matters worse for the GOP, despite Trump's incessant talk about the "crisis" at the border, just under a fourth of the country (24%) endorses the president's characterization of the status quo.

The results from a new CNN poll are no better for Trump: it found 56% of Americans oppose a wall and 55% blame Republicans for their shutdown.

The practical implications of results like these matter.

read more

U.S. President Donald Trump, left, and Russian President Vladimir Putin arrive for a press conference after the meeting of U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, Finland, Monday, July 16, 2

Trump went to 'extraordinary lengths' to conceal Putin chat details

01/14/19 08:40AM

Ahead of his July 2018 summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Donald Trump insisted that the meeting be limited to a one-on-one discussion, with no other U.S. officials, even members of the Trump cabinet, participating. The White House never exactly explained why, but the assumption throughout the government was that the American leader would brief U.S. officials on the details of the meeting afterwards.

That didn't happen. White House officials, military leaders, and even Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats all conceded in the days following the summit that they didn't fully know what transpired behind closed doors.

It wasn't an isolated incident. The Washington Post  reported over the weekend that the Republican has "gone to extraordinary lengths to conceal details of his conversations" with the Russian autocrat who attacked our elections in 2016 in order to put Trump in power.

[Trump has established a pattern] of shielding his communications with Putin from public scrutiny and preventing even high-ranking officials in his own administration from fully knowing what he has told one of the United States' main adversaries.

As a result, U.S. officials said there is no detailed record, even in classified files, of Trump's face-to-face interactions with the Russian leader at five locations over the past two years. Such a gap would be unusual in any presidency, let alone one that Russia sought to install through what U.S. intelligence agencies have described as an unprecedented campaign of election interference. [...]

Former U.S. officials said that Trump's behavior is at odds with the known practices of previous presidents, who have relied on senior aides to witness meetings and take comprehensive notes then shared with other officials and departments.

In one instance, according to the Post's reporting, Trump "took possession" of his own interpreter's notes after a conversation with Putin.

The publication of the report represented a one-two punch of sorts: over the course of 24 hours, the New York Times reported on the FBI's investigation into whether Trump was working on behalf of Russia against American interests, while the Washington Post reported that Trump hid details of his conversations with the Russian president.

read more

Asked whether he's worked for Russia, Trump doesn't answer directly

01/14/19 08:00AM

In late October 2016, about a week before Election Day, Kellyanne Conway thought she'd come up with a line that would help Donald Trump's candidacy. Targeting Hillary Clinton, Conway told Fox News, "If you're under your second FBI investigation in the same year, then you do have a ... corruption and an ethics problem."

In hindsight, that might not have been the ideal standard for Conway to have set.

Throughout much of his presidency, Trump has repeatedly responded to the Russia scandal with the same four-word phrase: "I'm not under investigation." We've known for quite a while that the assertion was wrong: Trump is the subject of an ongoing counter-espionage probe, which has explored, among other things, whether the president obstructed justice.

What we didn't know until Friday night, however, was that the FBI had another line of inquiry that pre-dated Special Counsel Robert Mueller's efforts.

In the days after President Trump fired James B. Comey as F.B.I. director, law enforcement officials became so concerned by the president's behavior that they began investigating whether he had been working on behalf of Russia against American interests, according to former law enforcement officials and others familiar with the investigation.

The inquiry carried explosive implications. Counterintelligence investigators had to consider whether the president's own actions constituted a possible threat to national security. Agents also sought to determine whether Mr. Trump was knowingly working for Russia or had unwittingly fallen under Moscow's influence.

According to the Times' reporting, which hasn't been independently confirmed by MSNBC or NBC News, officials at the bureau had long been concerned about Trump's Russian ties, but it was the circumstances surrounding Comey's ouster -- which the president admitted to NBC News' Lester Holt was related to Trump's concerns about the Russia investigation -- that "helped prompt the counterintelligence aspect of the inquiry."

The historic nature of this is quite breathtaking. Throughout much of the Cold War, the FBI launched plenty of investigations into Americans thought to be possibly working on behalf of a foreign adversary.

None of them was a sitting president of the United States.

For those inclined to support Trump and give him the benefit of the doubt, I suppose the obvious response to revelations like these is to argue that the president only appeared to be a Russian asset when the FBI opened its inquiry. That's not, however, the White House's argument.

read more

Friday's Mini-Report, 1.11.19

01/11/19 05:30PM

Today's edition of quick hits:

* This isn't the sort of record anyone should be proud to break: "The House broke for the weekend Friday, all but ensuring that the partial government shutdown would become the longest in U.S. history, while President Trump continued his efforts to sway public opinion on the need for a U.S.-Mexico border wall."

* In case the administration's position wasn't muddled enough already: "The U.S.-led military coalition in Syria has begun the process of withdrawing troops from Syria, a U.S. military official said Friday, declining to comment on specific timetables or movements."

* A little follow up following Rachel's RBG segment from last night: "Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg will return to work and needs no further medical treatment, the court said Friday."

* Isn't it a little late for this? "Rep. Steve King spoke on the House floor Friday to address what he referred to as 'heartburn that seems to be churning across the media and America today' after the New York Times quoted him questioning how labels like 'white nationalists' and 'white supremacists' became offensive."

* At least a dozen Ukrainian political and business figures attended Donald Trump's inauguration in 2017, which "prompted interest from the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, as he investigated Russian interference in the 2016 election, and has spawned a number of related inquiries by federal prosecutors."

* A case of interest: "Six families of victims killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School won a legal victory Friday in their fight against controversial radio and internet personality Alex Jones. A judge in Connecticut has granted the families' discovery requests, allowing them access to, among other things, InfoWars' internal marketing and financial documents."

read more

President Donald Trump talks with reporters as he reviews border wall prototypes, Tuesday, March 13, 2018, in San Diego.

During border visit, Trump gets border apprehensions backwards

01/11/19 12:57PM

When Donald Trump talks about record-setting developments, it's probably a good idea to be skeptical. He argued this week, for example, that the number of jobs created in December was "record setting," It wasn't. In fact, December wasn't even the best month for jobs in 2018, much less all of American history.

But this is how the president likes to see the world: good news isn't just good, it's the best of all time, even when that's absurd. Over the summer, for example, the Republican boasted of "record" enrollments in association health plans, despite the fact that the plans hadn't yet gone on sale. Trump has similarly bragged several times that he set a "record" by increasing defense spending, even though the record doesn't belong to him.

Occasionally, the president talks about setting records without explaining what they are. In August, Trump told Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, "We've already broken every record in the book." As Daniel Dale noted, the Republican did not specify "which records or which book."

Yesterday, Trump traveled to southern Texas, where he highlighted another non-existent record set by Customs and Border Patrol officials. "They have done a fantastic job," the president said. "Never so many apprehensions, ever, in our history."

That's not just wrong; it's backwards.

In fact, apprehensions at the southern border are at historic lows. Border Patrol agents caught just under 400,000 people trying to illegally cross the border in 2017, and just over 300,000 in 2016. Yet from 1983 to 2006, border apprehensions topped one million 19 times, with the agency setting a record in 2000 with 1,643,679 apprehensions, according to Customs and Border Patrol data.

And while it's problematic when Trump peddles claims that aren't true, in this case, the issue is made more serious by how the president intends to respond to his confusion.

read more

Friday's Campaign Round-Up, 1.11.19

01/11/19 12:00PM

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

* After his initial attempt at an apology fell short, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) again yesterday expressed his regret in response to women who endured sexual harassment while working for his 2016 presidential campaign.

* In Texas, the Tarrant County Republican Party considered removing Shahid Shafi, a trauma surgeon and Southlake City Council member, as the local GOP's vice chairman because he's Muslim. Yesterday, local Republican officials decided to let him keep his post.

* In 2020 news, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) will reportedly make a trip to Iowa next weekend. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) is preparing a similar trip.

* On a related note, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) has scheduled a few events in New Hampshire, where he'll be in a couple of weeks.

* Virginia's Corey Stewart, a controversial failed candidate for governor and U.S. Senate, announced this week that he's leaving politics "for the foreseeable future."

* The latest Public Policy Polling survey in North Carolina found Donald Trump trailing Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders in hypothetical 2020 presidential match-ups, and the Republican tied Elizabeth Warren.

read more

Pages

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.

MaddowBlog_Appendix_logo

Latest Book