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E.g., 10/15/2019
E.g., 10/15/2019

As scandal intensifies, attitudes on Trump's impeachment shift quickly

10/01/19 10:16AM

Donald Trump highlighted the results of a "poll" via Twitter last night, which was the sort of thing to bring tears to the eyes of those who take social-science methodology seriously. In this case, a right-wing website asked its right-wing readers whether they "stand with President Trump," and wouldn't you know it, nearly 98% of respondents sided with the Republican.

This, in Trump's mind, is apparently something to be proud of. Meanwhile, in reality, real polling is producing results the president doesn't want to see.

Late last week, an NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist Poll found a plurality of Americans expressing support for congressional Democrats' decision to start an impeachment inquiry into Trump. A new CNN poll found very similar results.

As for Quinnipiac, just last week, it found 37% of Americans endorsing Trump's impeachment and removal from office, while 57% disagreed. The results are quite different now.

American voters are divided on impeaching and removing President Trump from office, 47 - 47 percent - closing a 20-point gap from less than a week ago, according to a Quinnipiac University Poll released today. In the poll released on September 25th, voters said that the president should not be impeached and removed 57 - 37 percent. [...]

While voters are split on impeaching and removing President Trump from office, a slim majority of registered voters do approve of the impeachment inquiry opened by the U.S. House of Representatives 52 - 45 percent. Approval includes half of independents, who are split 50 - 45 percent on the inquiry.

Not surprisingly, there's an enormous gap among partisans -- the overwhelming majority of Democratic voters support impeachment and removal, while the overwhelming majority of Republican voters disagree -- but support has grown among Democrats, Republicans, and independents.

I put together the chart featured above to show the shift in public attitudes over the last several months.

Quinnipiac's data also found that a 56% majority believe Trump sees himself as above the law, while a 54% majority believe the president abuses the power of his office.

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Image: President Trump Signs Executive Order In Oval Office

Trump, allies peddle bogus claim about changed whistleblower rules

10/01/19 09:20AM

Yesterday morning, Donald Trump, playing the role of a confused low-information voter, published an all-caps question to Twitter. Adjusting its punctuation, the missive read, "Who changed the long standing whistleblower rules just before submittal of the fake whistleblower report?" (In reality, the complaint from the intelligence community's whistleblower is anything but "fake.")

A day earlier, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) appeared on CBS News' Face the Nation and asked rhetorically, "What's going on here? Why did they change the rules about a whistleblower you can use hearsay when you could not just weeks before the complaint?"

At a certain level, this is a fascinating case study in the ways in which far-right propaganda can start out on a far-right website and then spread like a virus to the Oval Office. It's also, of course, the latest example, of some of the nation's most power Republicans peddling nonsense to the public. As a Washington Post fact-check piece explained, the apoplexy appears to stem from a change to the form intelligence community whistleblowers can fill out.

The original report in the Federalist focused on a change in the form, suggesting it was somehow related to the recent whistleblower case. There is no evidence that is correct.

In any case, the IG's process for handling whistleblower allegations is determined not by a form but by the law and related policy documents. The key document, ICD 120, has been virtually unchanged since 2014. Contrary to the speculation, the whistleblower used the 2018 form, not the new online form. The IG then investigated and found that his allegations were credible and that Congress should be notified.

The president seized on reports on the form to falsely claim the rules for whistleblowers were changed just before the whistleblower's report was submitted in August. That's false and worthy of Four Pinocchios.

This is in line with similar fact-check reports from NBC News and the Associated Press, as well as the latest statement from the Office of the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community -- which is led by a Trump appointee.

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Secretary of State Pompeo was on Trump's scandalous call

10/01/19 08:42AM

When Donald Trump's Ukraine scandal first started coming into focus, Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, reached out to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo with some pointed questions. The New Jersey Democrat wanted to know, for example, all about Pompeo's knowledge of and role in Donald Trump's schemes vis a vis Ukraine.

It looks like Menendez can now add to his lines of inquiry. NBC News reported overnight that Pompeo was on the call when Trump pressed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to participate in the Republican's campaign scheme.

Pompeo's involvement in the call -- during which Trump told Zelenskiy that [former Vice President Joe] Biden's conduct sounded "horrible" to him -- was first reported by the Wall Street Journal. It's not unusual for the nation's top diplomat to be on a president's call with a foreign leader, but Pompeo has not acknowledged his involvement.

Pompeo dodged questions about the phone call and the complaint during an interview with ABC's "This Week" on Sept. 22, days before the White House released a summary of the call which showed Trump asking about the Bidens' dealings in Ukraine.

When ABC News' Martha Raddatz asked the secretary of State about Trump's call with Zelensky, Pompeo acted as if he didn't know relevant details. "You just gave me information about [an intelligence community] report, none of which we've seen," he said.

After on-air comments like these, if the secretary of State believes his credibility is intact, he's mistaken.

What's more, as Rachel noted on the show last night, unless Pompeo is the whistleblower -- an extraordinarily unlikely scenario -- it means Pompeo was in a rather unique position. He knew his own State Department had signed off on U.S. military assistance to Ukraine; he knew that Trump was effectively making that aid dependent on a partisan electoral scheme; and he said nothing.

Attorney General Bill Barr isn't the only prominent member of the president's cabinet who's up to his neck in this mess.

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AG Bill Barr finds himself 'neck deep' in Trump scandal

10/01/19 08:00AM

The editorial board of the New York Times published a good overview piece of Donald Trump's brewing scandal over the weekend, highlighting prominent members of the cast of characters, and took note of Attorney General Bill Barr. "Mr. Barr," the editorial said, "is neck-deep in this mess."

As new revelations come to the fore, it's probably safe to say the mess is even deeper now. The Washington Post had this striking report overnight:

Attorney General William P. Barr has held private meetings overseas with foreign intelligence officials seeking their help in a Justice Department inquiry that President Trump hopes will discredit U.S. intelligence agencies' examination of possible connections between Russia and members of the Trump campaign during the 2016 election, according to people familiar with the matter. [...]

The attorney general's active role also underscores the degree to which a nearly three-year-old election still consumes significant resources and attention inside the federal government. Current and former intelligence and law enforcement officials expressed frustration and alarm Monday that the head of the Justice Department was taking such a direct role in reexamining what they view as conspiracy theories and baseless allegations of misconduct.

While Donald Trump is likely to be impeached over his efforts to coerce a foreign government to help with his 2020 campaign, Barr has been focused on an investigate-the-investigators scheme, overseen in part by John Durham, a U.S. attorney. To that end, the Post added that the attorney general "has already made overtures to British intelligence officials, and last week the attorney general traveled to Italy, where he and Durham met senior Italian government officials and Barr asked the Italians to assist Durham."

In other words, Bill Barr has sought foreign assistance in response to conspiracy theories about the conclusions of his own country's intelligence agencies.

It was against this backdrop that the New York Times was first to report that Donald Trump pressed Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison to help Barr "gather information for a Justice Department inquiry that Mr. Trump hopes will discredit the Mueller investigation."

The article described it as another example of the American president "using high-level diplomacy to advance his personal political interests."

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Blowout - Now available!

10/01/19 12:00AM

BigOil and Gas Versus Democracy—Winner Take All: Rachel Maddow's Blowout offers a dark, serpentine, riveting tour of the unimaginably lucrative and corrupt oil-and-gas industry. With her trademark black humor, Maddow takes us on a switchback journey around the globe—from Oklahoma City to Siberia to Equatorial Guinea—exposing the greed and... read more

Trump fixation on exonerating Russia entangles Barr, Pompeo

Trump fixation on exonerating Russia entangles Barr, Pompeo

09/30/19 09:00PM

Rachel Maddow reports on Donald Trump's unusual fixation with finding reasons to undo sanctions on Russia for the annexation of Crimea and interference in the 2016 election, to the point where he is now reportedly sending Attorney General William Barr overseas to seek help in discrediting the U.S. intelligence community's conclusions... watch

Monday's Mini-Report, 9.30.19

09/30/19 05:30PM

Today's edition of quick hits:

* Subpoenas: "The House Intelligence Committee has subpoenaed President Donald Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani for Ukraine-related documents as part of their impeachment inquiry."

* The editorial board of the Connecticut Post has called for Donald Trump to resign from office. Will other newspapers follow suit?

* Intensifying process: "House Democrats are moving swiftly in their impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, subpoenaing Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for key documents on Friday and announcing plans to haul in the intelligence community's top watchdog next week over a scheduled recess. House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) confirmed Michael Atkinson, the intelligence community's inspector general, will testify in a closed session before the panel next Friday."

* I'm not sure what to make of this story: "President Trump met in the White House on Friday with Wayne LaPierre, the chief executive of the National Rifle Association, and discussed prospective gun legislation and whether the N.R.A. could provide support for the president as he faces impeachment and a more difficult re-election campaign, according to two people familiar with the meeting."

* All is not well with the Republican Party of North Carolina: "The former North Carolina GOP chairman will admit in court that he lied to federal agents conducting a bribery investigation of a major political donor, according to court documents."

* Mar-a-Lago: "A military official formerly in charge of all White House communications for the U.S. Army at Mar-a-Lago was sentenced to three years of probation on Friday after he made false statements to a federal agent during a child pornography investigation."

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Image: Rep. Chris Collins

NY Republican and Trump ally to change his plea in corruption case

09/30/19 12:40PM

When Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.) was brought up on federal felony charges last year, he initially tried to back out of his re-election campaign. When state laws got in the way, the New York Republican reversed course and local voters re-elected him anyway in the single "reddest" congressional district in the northeast.

After pleading not guilty three weeks ago, Collins said he hadn't yet decided whether to run again in 2020. It now appears his future plans have taken an unexpected turn. NBC News reported this morning:

The first member of Congress to announce his support for Donald Trump's presidential bid is likely to plead guilty Tuesday to charges relating to insider trading, according to documents filed in federal court Monday.

Rep. Chris Collins, R-N.Y., is scheduled to appear for a "change of plea" hearing in a Manhattan courtroom at 3 p.m. Tuesday. Collins pleaded not guilty to insider trading and several other charges when he was first indicted in 2018. Experts say the hearing means he is likely changing his plea to guilty.

Assuming there isn't another dramatic shift, when Collins changes his plea, the legal process will likely advance to the sentencing phase. If the GOP lawmaker ends up in prison, it's a safe bet he'll have to give up his House seat, though it's too soon to say how quickly this might happen. [Update: see below.]

Broadly speaking, there are a couple of angles to the controversy to keep in mind. The first is that the evidence against Collins was pretty brutal.

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Monday's Campaign Round-Up, 9.30.19

09/30/19 12:00PM

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

* Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) became the latest House Republican to announce his retirement this morning. He's also the sixth Texas Republican this year to call it quits ahead of the 2020 cycle. (Thornberry, incidentally, represents the single reddest House district in the country, which suggests the GOP will keep his seat.)

* In South Carolina's Democratic presidential primary, the latest CNN poll shows Joe Biden maintaining his lead with 37% support, followed by Elizabeth Warren at 16% and Bernie Sanders at 11%. No other candidate topped 5%.

* In Nevada, meanwhile, CNN's poll found Biden and Sanders tied at 22% each, while Warren was third at 18%. Kamala Harris was fourth with 5%.

* Cory Booker's team suggested the New Jersey senator would end his Democratic presidential campaign if it fell short of its quarterly fundraising goals, but Booker announced via Twitter that his operation reached its target.

* Though competitive presidential candidates from both parties have steered clear of accepting public financing in recent years, Montana Gov. Steve Bullock will apparently become the first Democratic contender to participate in the system.

* In South Carolina, CNN's poll found 62% percent of Republican voters approve of their state party's decision to cancel the GOP presidential primary. That's an unflattering rebuke of Mark Sanford, the former governor and congressman from South Carolina, who's challenging Donald Trump for the Republican nomination.

* For reasons I cannot explain, the National Republican Congressional Committee thought it'd be a good idea to publicly mock freshman Rep. Joe Cunningham (D-S.C.) for having been to marriage counseling with his wife.

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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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