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New York Times hacked - Michele Richinick - 08/28/2013

Trump: New York Times may have 'virtually' committed treason

09/07/18 09:22AM

During a campaign rally last night in Montana, Donald Trump echoed a familiar refrain, lashing out at American news organizations. "I mean, you look at the Washington Post or the New York Times, I can never get a good story," the president said, playing the role of the victim. "I mean, you look at this horrible thing that took place today, it's really -- is it subversion? Is it treason?"

Earlier in the evening, Trump made related comments, but without phrasing his concerns in the form of a question.

In an interview with Fox News conducted in the arena before his speech, Trump accused The New York Times of "virtually" committing "treason" by publishing an opinion piece in which a senior administration official wrote that many of Trump's aides are "working diligently from within to frustrate parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations."

In the interview with "Fox and Friends," which is set to air Friday morning, the president blamed the paper.

"Number one, The Times should never have done that," he said. "What they've done, virtually it's treason."

It's really not. As we discussed yesterday, "treason" is a specific, legally defined thing. It refers to "levying war" against the United States or providing "aid and comfort" to an enemy of the United States.

Publishing an op-ed from a senior official in the executive branch, who believes the president is unbalanced and unfit for the office, is certainly provocative, but no sane person could reasonably make the case that it's treasonous.

But the fact that Trump keeps using words despite not knowing what they mean is a fairly minor issue. The more unsettling realization emerges in context: a president with authoritarian tendencies is comfortable accusing newspapers of "treason" for publishing opinion pieces he doesn't like.

That's not OK.

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US job growth remained healthy and steady in August

09/07/18 08:48AM

Ahead of this morning's new jobs report, most projections said the U.S. economy added about 192,000 jobs last month. It looks like those projections were pretty close to accurate.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported this morning that the economy added 201,000 jobs in August, while the unemployment rate held steady at 3.9%. Both numbers reflect a very healthy job market.

On a more discouraging note, the revisions for the two previous months -- June and July -- were unusually bad, with a combined loss of 50,000 jobs as compared to previous BLS reports.

In terms of the larger context, this morning's data points to 1.65 million jobs created so far in 2018, which is quite good, and which is an improvement on the totals from the first eight months of 2016 (1.59 million) and 2017 (1.51 million). That said, this year's tally is still short of the totals from the first seven months of 2014 (1.9 million) and 2015 (1.75 million).

As for the political implications, Donald Trump has now been in office for 19 full months -- February 2017 through August 2018 -- and in that time, the economy has created 3.58 million jobs. In the 19 full months preceding Trump's presidency -- July 2015 to January 2017 -- the economy created 3.96 million jobs.

The White House has not yet offered an explanation for why job growth has slowed.

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Image: President Trump Holds Make America Great Again Rally In Pennsylvania

Ahead of the midterms, Trump remains focused on impeachment

09/07/18 08:00AM

With just two months remaining before the midterm elections, Democrats generally have no interest in talking about presidential impeachment. At times, however, it seems Donald Trump wants to talk about little else.

In a Fox News interview two weeks ago, the president warned, "I'll tell you what, if I ever got impeached, I think the market would crash. I think everybody would be very poor."

A week later, the Washington Post  reported that Trump "has consulted his personal attorneys about the likelihood of impeachment proceedings." Rudy Giuliani, one of the president's defense lawyers, added, "We've talked a lot about impeachment at different times."

Last night, at his latest campaign rally in Montana, Trump's focus again shifted to the threat of congressional punishment.

"This election, you aren't just voting for a candidate, you are voting for which party controls Congress," he said just before bringing up what he called "the impeachment word."

Then, with the crowd at the Rimrock Auto Arena here rapt, he went on an extended riff on calls for his impeachment and removal from office. He said Democrats want to get rid of him regardless of whether he's done anything to merit that sanction.

"It doesn't matter, you will impeach him!" Trump exclaimed, impersonating Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif. "I say how do you impeach someone who is doing a great job that hasn't done anything wrong."

He went on to tell his supporters that if he's impeached, "it's your fault, because you didn't go out to vote. OK? You didn't go out to vote. You didn't go out to vote. That's the only way it could happen."

It's almost as if he's preoccupied with the subject.

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Thursday's Mini-Report, 9.6.18

09/06/18 05:30PM

Today's edition of quick hits:

* Just another day at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue: "A number of Cabinet and Cabinet-level officials in President Donald Trump's administration rushed to deny Thursday that they were behind the explosive anonymous opinion article published in The New York Times a day earlier."

* Today's mass shooting: "A gunman opened fire at a bank in downtown Cincinnati on Thursday morning, fatally wounding three people and injuring two others, law enforcement officials said. The suspect was also killed."

* More on this tomorrow: "The Trump administration announced a new rule Thursday that would allow immigrant children with their parents to be held in detention indefinitely, upending a ban on indefinite detention that has been in place for 20 years."

* Abortion ruling: "A federal judge on Wednesday struck down a Texas law that would have required abortion providers and other health care facilities to bury or cremate fetal remains, the latest in a series of legal setbacks for anti-abortion activists and state Republican leaders who pushed for the law."

* Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is usually very careful about criticizing the White House, but he nevertheless said on a radio show yesterday that he's dealing with an American president "who doesn't always follow the rules as they're laid out."

* Farm bill: "Nearly two million low-income Americans, including 469,000 households with young children, would be stripped of benefits under the House version of the farm bill being considered this week by congressional negotiators, according to an analysis by a nonpartisan research firm."

* A provocative new bill: "An unusual public spat between Amazon.com Inc. and Sen. Bernie Sanders over workers' wages escalated Wednesday as the Vermont independent introduced a bill aimed at taxing big companies whose employees rely on federal benefits to make ends meet." The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a progressive think tank, raised some notable concerns about the bill.

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An unfortunate boast: 'This is a functioning White House'

09/06/18 04:56PM

In early 1995, Bill Clinton hosted a primetime press conference during a difficult time for his presidency. A reporter asked for his reaction to the fact that the new Republican-led Congress appeared to be dominating the public conversation and the governing agenda in D.C. He replied, "The president is still relevant here."

The line, not surprisingly, landed with a thud. If a leader has to remind everyone of his relevance, it necessarily means his relevance is in doubt.

More than 20 years later, it's a Republican White House that is struggling badly. In fact, CNN reported today that Donald Trump is "closely watching the string of statements" from administration officials denying authorship of a brutal New York Times  op-ed about his flailing presidency. The CNN report added that the denial statements "are being printed out and delivered to the president as they come in."

Trump aides strongly denied the accuracy of the anecdote, and senior White House official gave NBC News a memorable response to conditions in the West Wing:

"This is a functioning White House," the senior official said.

But like the Clinton line from 1995, if a White House has to assert that it's actually functioning, officials have already lost at least half the battle.

Making matters much worse, of course, is the overwhelming evidence that this White House isn't functioning at all.

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Image: Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearing

Brett Kavanaugh's dubious claims under oath draw close scrutiny

09/06/18 12:45PM

For weeks, critics of Judge Brett Kavanaugh's Supreme Court nomination have faced a daunting political reality: to defeat him, opponents won't just need a united Democratic front; they'll also need to persuade some Senate Republicans to oppose Donald Trump's choice.

Some pressed the point that confirming a president's nominee while the president himself is facing a criminal investigation is irresponsible. Republicans promptly ignored that argument. Others insisted that the confirmation process be slowed in order for the Senate to examine all of Kavanaugh's professional record, instead of a small fraction. That argument didn't work, either.

Is there anything that might give GOP senators pause? How about possible false claims under oath?

The New York Times obtained previously unreported documents from Kavanaugh's past late yesterday, and there are some notable revelations in the leaked materials. As we discussed earlier, in 2003, then-White House lawyer wrote an email in which he questioned whether Roe v. Wade should be seen as "settled law of the land."

But that wasn't the only revelation from the leak.

Other documents provided to The Times included a document showing that in September 2001, after the terrorist attacks, Judge Kavanaugh engaged with a Justice Department lawyer about questions of warrantless surveillance at the time that lawyer wrote a memo an inspector general report later portrayed as the precursor to the Bush administration's warrantless surveillance program.

On Wednesday, Senator Patrick J. Leahy, Democrat of Vermont, seemed to allude to the existence of such an email, grilling Judge Kavanaugh about whether his testimony at his May 2006 appeals court hearing that he had not seen or heard anything about the Bush administration's warrantless surveillance program before its existence leaked the previous December was accurate.

Not to put too fine a point on this, but if Kavanaugh discussed warrantless surveillance with the Justice Department in 2001, but later said under oath that he didn't know anything about warrantless surveillance, then it's entirely possible he misled the Senate during a confirmation hearing.

And it may not have been an isolated incident.

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Thursday's Campaign Round-Up, 9.6.18

09/06/18 12:01PM

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

* It's Primary Day in Delaware. The race to watch is incumbent Sen. Tom Carper's Democratic primary against Kerri Evelyn Harris, an Air Force veteran and community activist.

* A Virginia judge yesterday ordered Shaun Brown (I) to be removed from the ballot in Virginia's 2nd congressional district, pointing to the "out and out fraud" surrounding her qualifying petitions. It's a setback for Rep. Scott Taylor's (R) campaign, which allegedly participated in the fraud.

* Florida's closely watched U.S. Senate race couldn't be much closer: the latest Quinnipiac poll shows incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson (D) and Gov. Rick Scott (R) tied at 49% each.

* Speaking of the Sunshine State, Rep. Ron DeSantis, the Republicans' gubernatorial nominee in Florida, is reportedly poised to name state Rep. Jeanette Nuñez (R) as his running mate. Two years ago, the Miami-area state lawmaker described Donald Trump in a tweet as "the biggest con man there is" -- but that tweet has since been deleted.

* In Indiana's closely watched U.S. Senate race, a new NBC News/Marist poll finds incumbent Sen. Joe Donnelly (D) leading Mike Braun (R), 49% to 43%.

* As if Rep. Duncan Hunter's (R-Calif.) criminal indictment weren't enough, his defense attorney told the San Diego Union-Tribune, "While there may be evidence of infidelity, irresponsibility or alcohol dependence, once properly understood, the underlying facts do not equate to criminal activity."

* Donald Trump was asked this week about his win-loss record on Republican primary endorsements, and the president acknowledged that his preferred candidate in Wyoming's gubernatorial race lost. Trump, however, quickly blamed his son for his misstep.

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Image: US-POLITICS-JUSTICE-TRUMP

In private memo, Kavanaugh questioned whether Roe was 'settled law'

09/06/18 11:20AM

One of the frustrations in examining Judge Brett Kavanaugh's Supreme Court nomination is that so much of his record has been shielded from view. There's no modern precedent for such secrecy surrounding a nominee for the nation's highest court.

But occasionally, secrets come into the light. The New York Times  reported this morning:

As a White House lawyer in the Bush administration, Judge Brett Kavanaugh challenged the accuracy of deeming the Supreme Court's landmark Roe v. Wade abortion rights decision to be "settled law of the land," according to a secret email obtained by The New York Times.

The email, written in March 2003, is one of thousands of documents that a lawyer for President George W. Bush turned over to the Senate Judiciary Committee about the Supreme Court nominee but deemed "committee confidential," meaning it could not be made public or discussed by Democrats in questioning him in hearings this week. It was among several an unknown person provided to The New York Times late Wednesday.

In context, a conservative group wanted to publish an opinion piece in support of a Bush/Cheney judicial nominee, and it said that "it is widely accepted by legal scholars across the board that Roe v. Wade and its progeny are the settled law of the land."

Kavanaugh apparently wasn't comfortable with the text. "I am not sure that all legal scholars refer to Roe as the settled law of the land at the Supreme Court level since Court can always overrule its precedent, and three current Justices on the Court would do so," he wrote at the time.

And while this may not seem terribly surprising -- Kavanaugh is a very conservative jurist who appears to oppose abortion rights -- the 2003 email strikes a very different note than the one he's shared on Capitol Hill.

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Image: TOPSHOT-US-POLITICS-ELECTIONS-TRUMP

There is no heroism in covering for an unfit president

09/06/18 10:50AM

Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) appeared on Hugh Hewitt's radio show this morning, and not surprisingly, the two conservatives were eager to talk about the anonymously written New York Times  op-ed from a senior official in the Trump administration. Asked for his reaction, the Nebraska Republican said the criticisms of the president in the piece are "similar to what so many of us hear from senior people around the White House, you know, three times a week."

This was not at all reassuring. On the contrary, it suggests members of Congress routinely hear from people in Donald Trump's orbit that the president appears unfit for office -- and yet, Congress chooses to do nothing in response to that information.

But Sasse went on to express a degree of comfort with knowing that the president has people around him who prevent Trump from making catastrophically bad decisions.

"...I think there are lots of really, really good people around the president who are trying to restrain his impulsiveness and his just regular lack of reflection on the long-term implications of different issues. And so I think it's a very moral act to love your country, and frankly try to care about Donald Trump with all the challenges that every human has, but his are kind of unique.

"I think it's a good way to serve your neighbor to stay in the administration even when you're worried."

This is certainly consistent with how the author of the op-ed sees himself or herself.

"The erratic behavior would be more concerning if it weren't for unsung heroes in and around the White House," the senior official wrote. "Some of his aides have been cast as villains by the media. But in private, they have gone to great lengths to keep bad decisions contained.... It may be cold comfort in this chaotic era, but Americans should know that there are adults in the room. We fully recognize what is happening. And we are trying to do what's right even when Donald Trump won't."

Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), a frequent Trump critic, told reporters yesterday, "I think all of us encourage the good people around the president to stay."

I understand the argument, and I wish it were sound, but it's not.

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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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