The Rachel Maddow Show Weekdays at 9PM

Help

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

Rachel Maddow StoriesRSS

select from:

E.g., 6/23/2018
E.g., 6/23/2018

Tuesday's Campaign Round-Up, 5.22.18

05/22/18 12:00PM

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

* Arkansas, Georgia, and Kentucky will host a series of primary races today, and Texas also holds primary runoffs. Among the races to watch are Georgia's Democratic gubernatorial primary, pitting former state House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams against former state Rep. Stacey Evans, and the Democratic primary in Kentucky's 6th congressional district, where Lexington Mayor Jim Gray is going up against former fighter pilot Amy McGrath.

* Also on tap today is a gubernatorial primary in Arkansas, where Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) is facing a right-wing challenge. Donald Trump yesterday officially endorsed the incumbent's re-election bid.

* Newly uncovered materials show that South Carolina's Archie Parnell, a Democratic congressional candidate, physically abused his ex-wife in the 1970s. Parnell has acknowledged the violent incident, and his staff resigned en masse when confronted with the facts, but at least for now, he's refusing to withdraw from the race.

* Sen. Sherrod Brown's (D-Ohio) first television ad buy of the year goes right after his opponent, Rep. Jim Renacci (R-Ohio), for his background as a lobbyist.

* Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), one of the Senate's more peripatetic members, was in Missouri the other day, campaigning in support of Sen. Claire McCaskill's (D-Mo.) re-election bid.

* Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) officially announced yesterday that he's running for re-election in Vermont this year. As was the case six years ago, he'll be formally nominated by the state Democratic Party, but he'll turn down that nomination and run once again as an independent.

* In Florida's U.S. Senate race, Gov. Rick Scott (R) headlined the Hillsborough County Republican Party's major annual fundraising dinner Saturday night, but the governor made no mention of the man who pressured him to launch this campaign: Donald Trump.

read more

Image: President Trump Signs Executive Order In Oval Office

Trump campaign turns DOJ 'demand' into fundraising opportunity

05/22/18 11:20AM

Politicians, just as a matter of course, are generally desperate to raise as much money as possible. They're usually careful, however, about exploiting certain developments.

Donald Trump's political operation has no such fears.

Last fall, for example, the president's re-election campaign sent a solicitation to donors using the mass shooting in Las Vegas as the basis for a pitch. When the administration decided to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census, that too was turned into a fundraising opportunity.

When Vice President Mike Pence left a football game because some players kneeled in protest against racial injustice, Trump's campaign said donors should get out their checkbooks. A week earlier, the president's operation even referenced disaster relief while asking for money.

But as Trump takes aim at our system of justice, using this a fundraising opportunity seems especially offensive. TPM noted yesterday afternoon:

President Donald Trump's reelection campaign used his recent "demand" that the Justice Department investigate special counsel Robert Mueller's probe in a fundraising email Monday.

"WORSE than Watergate," the email's subject line read. "I hereby DEMAND that the Department of Justice investigate whether Obama's FBI and DOJ infiltrated or surveilled our campaign for political purposes," the email, signed by Trump, reads. "THIS COULD BE THE GREATEST POLITICAL SCANDAL IN AMERICAN HISTORY."

"I need you to sign your name right this second to join me in demanding this abuse of power gets investigated."

The "petition," of course, isn't real; it's just a common tactic to get donors engaged and more likely to contribute. In this case, folks sign the "petition" -- giving Trump's political operation their contact information for future use -- they're directed to a donation page. In small font, the page says, "Paid for by the Trump Make America Great Again Committee, a joint fundraising committee authorized by and composed of Donald J. Trump for President, Inc. and the Republican National Committee."

read more

Mick Mulvaney

White House budget director discusses plan to replace Paul Ryan

05/22/18 10:40AM

Mick Mulvaney is one busy guy. The South Carolina Republican, for example, is already serving as Donald Trump's budget director, which has traditionally included some time-consuming responsibilities. He's also the acting head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, where Mulvaney has been running interference for financial institutions accused of widespread abuses.

In his free time, Mulvaney has even offered advice to banking industry executives on how they can best buy influence and access in the Trump era.

And in case that weren't enough, the Washington Post  reports that Mulvaney even finds time to work on partisan strategies on Capitol Hill, where he was once a member.

White House budget director Mick Mulvaney acknowledged having discussions with House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy about replacing House Speaker Paul D. Ryan before Ryan retires from Congress next year, a conservative newsmagazine reported Monday.

The Weekly Standard reported that Mulvaney made the remarks Sunday during a conference sponsored by the publication in Colorado Springs. Fox News Channel anchor Bret Baier asked Mulvaney about the prospect of McCarthy succeeding Ryan this year, before the midterm elections, and Mulvaney suggested that it would become a referendum on the top Democratic leader, Nancy Pelosi.

As the Weekly Standard, a conservative magazine, explained, Mulvaney conceded that he'd spoken "privately" to the House majority leader about a scheme in which Ryan would resign; Republican members would elevate McCarthy; and House Democrats would cast votes for Nancy Pelosi, which would apparently become the subject of new attack ads.

"Wouldn't it be great to force a Democrat running in a tight race to have to put up or shut up about voting for Nancy Pelosi eight weeks before an election?" Mulvaney asked. "That's a really, really good vote for us to force if we can figure out how to do it."

As a rule, top White House officials don't generally speak publicly about working behind the scenes to oust a sitting House Speaker, which made Mulvaney's comments stand out as unusual.

But just as interesting are the flaws in the budget director's scheme.

read more

Rep. Mike Pompeo listens during the House Select Committee on the Events Surrounding the 2012 Terrorist Attack in Benghazi hearing, Sep. 17, 2014. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call/Getty)

Pompeo's vision suggests Trump has no real plan for Iran

05/22/18 10:03AM

After Donald Trump withdrew from the international nuclear agreement with Iran, ignoring much of his team and the judgment of key U.S. allies, the announcement was followed by a fairly obvious question: What are you going to do now, smart guy?

As the Washington Post's Dana Milbank recently noted, after the president shared a "torrent of adjectives" to condemn the Iran deal, "Trump had few words left to say about what would happen next, beyond working with our allies (who oppose the U.S. reversal), economic sanctions on Iran (which does little business with the United States) and threatening Iran with military action for noncompliance ("bigger problems than it has ever had before"). In other words, he has no idea."

Maybe Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has some idea? Maybe not.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned Monday that the United States would impose "the strongest sanctions in history" against Iran if it did not agree to change course.

"We will apply unprecedented financial pressure on the regime," Pompeo said in his first major foreign policy address, delivered at the conservative Heritage Foundation. "The leaders in Tehran will have no doubt about our seriousness."

Pompeo outlined an alternate path: reprieve from sanctions and restoration of full diplomatic and economic relations should Iran meet a list of 12 demands aimed at the heart of Iran's foreign policy agenda.

The full list of demands is long and unrealistic. Stephen Walt, a professor of international affairs at Harvard, joked after the secretary of state's remarks, "I'm still a bit surprised Pompeo didn't demand that Iran agree to open a Trump-branded golf course in Teheran and pay for the wall with Mexico."

But what struck me as important was Pompeo's willingness to impose "the strongest sanctions in history" against Iran. Whether the Trump administration understands this or not, we already had the strongest sanctions in history against Iran.

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)

To sound like Trump, White House aides create poorly written tweets

05/22/18 09:20AM

An English teacher once told me that writing styles are like fingerprints: everyone's is different. That doesn't mean, however, that they can't be copied.

There's a parlor game in some circles about Donald Trump's tweets, as observers wonder whether individual missives were written by the president or one of his aides. I tend to believe that if the messages include complete sentences and proper capitalization, it's a safe bet the wording didn't come from Trump.

But the Boston Globe's Annie Linskey reports today that figuring out the author of the presidential tweets isn't always easy.

The hallmark of President Trump's Twitter feed is that it sounds like him -- grammatical miscues and all.

But it's not always Trump tapping out a Tweet, even when it sounds like his voice. West Wing employees who draft proposed tweets intentionally employ suspect grammar and staccato syntax in order to mimic the president's style, according to two people familiar with the process.

They overuse the exclamation point! They Capitalize random words for emphasis. Fragments. Loosely connected ideas. All part of a process that is not as spontaneous as Trump's Twitter feed often appears.

I see. We've reached the point in American history at which White House professionals, with high-paying jobs in the West Wing, take care to write badly, on purpose, in order to sound like the president of the United States.

Somewhere, the aforementioned English teacher is weeping.

read more

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump listens to his mobile phone during a lunch stop, Feb. 18, 2016, in North Charleston, S.C. (Photo by Matt Rourke/AP)

Trump reportedly thinks it's 'too inconvenient' to use a secure phone

05/22/18 08:40AM

It's no secret that Donald Trump makes frequent use of his mobile phone. Not only does the president have an active Twitter account, but he uses his phone to circumvent White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, receiving private advice from trusted confidants.

In fact, Trump apparently has two smart phones, one of which he uses to make calls, the other of which he uses to tweet and access a handful of news sites. The trouble, as Politico  reported, is the president's disinterest in proper security protocols.

President Donald Trump uses a White House cellphone that isn't equipped with sophisticated security features designed to shield his communications, according to two senior administration officials -- a departure from the practice of his predecessors that potentially exposes him to hacking or surveillance.

The president, who relies on cellphones to reach his friends and millions of Twitter followers, has rebuffed staff efforts to strengthen security around his phone use, according to the administration officials.

While Barack Obama turned over his devices every 30 days for a security review, the current president believes that would be "too inconvenient."

Politico's report added, "The president has gone as long as five months without having the phone checked by security experts. It is unclear how often Trump's call-capable phones, which are essentially used as burner phones, are swapped out."

And in case the security risk weren't already obvious enough, note that while Obama's phones didn't have a camera or a microphone, the phone Trump uses to make calls has both.

In the early days of Trump's presidency, there were a variety of reports that the Republican was making use of an unsecured phone, to the frustration of his aides. I'd assumed the issue would be addressed soon after. Evidently, it wasn't.

There are a few interesting angles to this, but it's worth pausing to pay particular attention to the hypocrisy.

read more

Two men stand on the plaza of the U.S. Capitol Building as storm clouds fill the sky, June 13, 2013 in Washington, DC.

Dems take aim at the Republicans' 'culture of corruption'

05/22/18 08:00AM

The circumstances may sound familiar: in 2006, the nation had an unpopular Republican president, who was struggling despite a fairly strong economy, working with a Republican-led Congress. Democrats believed there was a public backlash brewing, which gave them a shot at retaking control of the House, the Senate, or both.

To that end, Dems focused at least some of their energies on targeting the GOP's "culture of corruption" -- a theme made possible by a series of Republican scandals surrounding officials whose names may be familiar to those who were engaged at the time: Duke Cunningham, Bob Ney, Mark Foley, et al.

The message resonated, and voters rewarded Democrats with control of Congress. Twelve years later, the party believes a similar opportunity exists.

Democrats are going to make prosecuting what they called a "culture of corruption" in President Donald Trump's administration a central theme of this year's midterm elections, the party's congressional leaders signaled Monday.

"The swamp has never been more foul or more feted than under this president," Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York said at a news conference on the Capitol steps.

This year, the GOP's problem is less about scandals on Capitol Hill and more about scandals in the White House -- which congressional Republicans are ignoring and enabling. It's an issue quite a few observers have picked up on: Vox had a piece in March urging Democrats to make Donald Trump's corruption "a central issue in the 2018 midterms." BuzzFeed published an item the same week that said, "The real threat to Trump isn't Russia, racism, or incompetence; it's corruption."

Jon Chait added in April that "the best way" for Democrats to reclaim power is to shine a light on Trump's corruption.

But what was especially interesting about the Dems' newly unveiled push is the policy agenda included in the message.

read more

Monday's Mini-Report, 5.21.18

05/21/18 05:30PM

Today's edition of quick hits:

* Gorsuch wrote the ruling: "The Supreme Court on Monday ruled that companies can use arbitration clauses in employment contracts to prohibit workers from banding together to take legal action over workplace issues. The vote was 5 to 4, with the court's more conservative justices in the majority. The court's decision could affect some 25 million employment contracts."

* On a related note, Helaine Olen stressed an important point: "This ruling is a significant blow to the #MeToo movement, as well as to people attempting to combat wage theft and on-the-job discrimination. 'It drastically tilts the playing field in favor of employers,' Ceilidh Gao, a staff attorney with the National Employment Law Project, told me. 'It is a backdoor way to repeal workplace laws.'"

* I have a hard time relating to how this White House thinks: "The White House refers to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un as 'Supreme Leader' on a challenge coin made for the upcoming peace talks between President Donald Trump and Kim, several reports revealed Monday."

* A potentially interesting case: "How have FBI staff fared since James Comey was fired as director last year? The Trump administration doesn't want the public to know. A new lawsuit is seeking to force the administration to release the results of the FBI's February-March 2018 'climate survey,' an anonymous annual review that takes the temperature of worker morale at the agency."

* The RNC does it again: "The Republican National Committee paid nearly half a million dollars to a law firm that represents former White House communications director Hope Hicks and others in the Russia investigations, according to a new federal filing."

* Good for him: "Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo has been calling for action over the string of mass shootings in the United States. But when that shooting happened at a high school close to his city on Friday, Acevedo said he's had enough and wrote a Facebook post that quickly went viral because it seems to express the frustration many people feel at the lack of action from political leaders every time there is a new mass shooting."

read more

Image: SKOREA-NKOREA-US-NUCLEAR-DIPLOMACY

Trump begins to confront a difficult reality on North Korea

05/21/18 12:50PM

One month ago tomorrow, Donald Trump declared with great pride that North Korean leaders "have agreed to denuclearization." Even at the time, it was a bizarre thing for the American president to say: Kim Jong-un's regime had agreed to discuss denuclearization, but Trump made it sound like the negotiations were over and he'd already gotten exactly what he wanted.

White House speechwriters probably had to put aside the Nobel Peace Price draft when North Korea's chief nuclear negotiator said his country would never give up its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief -- which is what the Trump administration is offering.

"It doesn't look like they want to denuclearize at all," a U.S. official told the Washington Post.

You don't say. Trump, without any real forethought or strategy, jumped into high-risk negotiations with a rogue nuclear dictatorship. He's apparently now surprised that his non-existent plan isn't going well and the experts were right about North Korea's posture.

The New York Times  reports that the American president is seeking advice on whether to proceed with plans for the summit. The article added that White House officials are concerned that Trump has already "signaled that he wants the summit meeting too much," creating leverage for North Korea, complicated by the fact that the Republican still doesn't want to do his homework.

The aides are also concerned about what kind of grasp Mr. Trump has on the details of the North Korea program, and what he must insist upon as the key components of denuclearization. Mr. Moon and his aides reported that Mr. Kim seemed highly conversant with all elements of the program when the two men met, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has made similar comments about Mr. Kim, based on his two meetings with him in Pyongyang, the North's capital.

But aides who have recently left the administration say Mr. Trump has resisted the kind of detailed briefings about enrichment capabilities, plutonium reprocessing, nuclear weapons production and missile programs that Mr. Obama and President George W. Bush regularly sat through.

This might be more amusing if the issue weren't so important.

read more

Monday's Campaign Round-Up, 5.21.18

05/21/18 12:00PM

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

* Fresh off his third-place finish in West Virginia's Republican Senate primary, Don Blankenship is moving forward with a plan to run as a third-party candidate in the fall as the right-wing Constitution Party's candidate. Whether Blankenship can overcome the state's "sore loser" law is unclear.

* Voters in Arkansas, Georgia, and Kentucky will be able to vote in primaries tomorrow, when Texas also holds primary runoffs. Among the races to watch are Georgia's Democratic gubernatorial primary, pitting former state House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams against former state Rep. Stacey Evans, and the Democratic primary in Kentucky's 6th congressional district, where Lexington Mayor Jim Gray is going up against former fighter pilot Amy McGrath.

* American Action Network, a conservative group closely aligned with House Speaker Paul Ryan, picked up $24.6 million "from a single anonymous donor" last year. Because AAN is a dark-money organization, we'll never know who wrote that check.

* Vice President Mike Pence is scheduled to speak at a fundraiser tonight for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's (R-Ky.) super PAC. Because the event is being held at the Trump International Hotel near the White House, it means the president will profit from the gathering.

* Though California Republicans have low expectations about this year's gubernatorial race, Donald Trump has nevertheless formally thrown his support behind businessman John Cox's (R) candidacy. (Rumor has it, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a presidential ally, urged Trump to back Cox.)

* Republican leaders were led to believe Hirsh Singh would invest $2 million of his own money into his campaign in New Jersey's 2nd congressional district, but it turns out he has a lot less money than he claimed.

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