The Rachel Maddow Show Weekdays at 9PM


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

Rachel Maddow StoriesRSS

select from:

E.g., 4/26/2018
E.g., 4/26/2018

At fundraiser, Trump appears to threaten another U.S. ally

03/15/18 10:43AM

Given the seriousness of the threat posed by North Korea, common sense suggests Donald Trump should be doing everything possible to strengthen the alliance between the United States and South Korea. And yet, the American president seems to be doing the exact opposite.

As regular readers know, this has been going on for a while. Just a few months into his presidency, Trump lied about dispatching an "armada," led by an aircraft carrier, towards the peninsula, and South Koreans weren't pleased. When Trump falsely said the Korean Peninsula "used to be a part of China," that didn't go over especially well, either.

Last May, Trump made matters vastly worse, condemning the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement, known as Korus, and threatening to trash the deal. He then said he wants to deploy a missile-defense system – Terminal High-Altitude Air Defense (Thaad) – in South Korea to help protect against a North Korean attack, but only if South Korea pays for the technology. (White House National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster quietly let officials in Seoul know they should ignore the American presidents' bluster.)

When Trump started publicly praising North Korea's Kim Jong-un, many in South Korea were left understandably “bewildered.”

And yet, nearly a year later, Trump is still at it. The Washington Post  reported on comments he made at a fundraiser in Missouri last night.

He also seemed to threaten to pull U.S. troops stationed in South Korea if he didn't get what he wanted on trade with Seoul, an ally. He said that the country had gotten rich but that U.S. politicians never negotiated better deals. "We have a very big trade deficit with them, and we protect them," Trump said. "We lose money on trade, and we lose money on the military. We have right now 32,000 soldiers on the border between North and South Korea. Let's see what happens."

"Our allies care about themselves," he said. "They don't care about us."

Oh my.

read more

Image: US President Donald J. Trump meets with members of the House Ways and Means Committee

Trump looks ahead to 'Phase 2' of his tax-cut plans

03/15/18 10:12AM

Republicans didn't just approve massive tax breaks for the wealthy and big corporations because they believed the policy would be good for the economy; they also saw the regressive tax cuts as a powerful electoral tool. A president's party traditionally does poorly in the first midterm cycle, but GOP leaders saw their tax plan as key to bucking the historical trend.

Those assumptions have been shaken of late. In Pennsylvania's congressional special election, Republicans initially focused heavily on the GOP tax cuts, only to discover that voters in the district -- an area Donald Trump won easily in 2016 -- were wholly unimpressed.

It's against this backdrop that the president apparently wants ... wait for it ... more tax cuts. The New York Times  reports:

Amid all the turmoil and uncertainty, with his White House seemingly fraying, his legislative agenda stalled and his electoral base in danger, President Trump these days finds one area of comfort: talking about his tax cuts. He finds it so reassuring, in fact, that he is increasingly talking about doing it all over again. [...]

"We're now going for a Phase 2," he told a selected group of supporters at a Boeing factory in St. Louis. He did not describe what would be in such a Phase 2 but said he would team up with Representative Kevin Brady, Republican of Texas and chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. "It's going to be something very special. Kevin Brady's working on it with me."

Some of this might even be true. The chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee told Fox Business that Republicans believe "even more can be done" on taxes.

After the GOP plan passed, many of us assumed Republicans would turn their attention to other issues, such as infrastructure or immigration. What we didn't know was that some key GOP leaders would effectively decide, "No, we'll just keep focusing on tax breaks, thank you very much."

read more

Image: Students sit for 17 minutes in honor of the 17 students killed last month

Under pressure, House passes underwhelming bill on gun violence

03/15/18 09:20AM

When it comes to the nation's debate over guns, it's hard to miss the direction of the prevailing winds. Gallup released a report yesterday that found two-thirds of American adults want new restrictions on the sale of firearms -- the strongest support for gun restrictions in 25 years.

The same day as the poll's release, tens of thousands of students across the country participated in a walkout protesting gun violence. Exactly one month after the mass shooting in south Florida, the young activists protested for 17 minutes -- one for each of the victims in Parkland -- and organizers said the purpose was to highlight "Congress' inaction against the gun violence plaguing our schools and neighborhoods."

It was against this background that the Republican-led House did, in fact, approve legislation related to guns. It is, however, a very modest measure. Roll Call  reported:

It's not quite one and done, but the bill the House passed Wednesday to provide grants for schools to implement safety protocols and training is likely the last action GOP leaders will take this Congress in response to a recent spate of mass shootings.

The House passed, 407-10, a bipartisan measure by Florida Republican John Rutherford called the Student, Teacher's Officer's Prevention (STOP) School Violence Act.

The full roll call is online here.

To be sure, there's nothing especially wrong with the bill. As Roll Call's report explained, the proposal would "authorize $50 million in grant funding for schools to conduct training to prevent student violence, set up anonymous reporting systems for threats and implement other safety protocols."

That said, as a Vox piece added, the bill "doesn't address guns in any substantive way." It's likely why the proposal was able to get a vote in the far-right chamber and pass without much of a fuss.

read more

Image: Democratic Congressional Candidate Conor Lamb Holds Election Night Event

Trump: Pennsylvania Dem won because he's 'like Trump'

03/15/18 08:40AM

Ahead of this week's congressional special election in Pennsylvania, Republicans insisted that Conor Lamb (D) was a liberal Democrat who had no business representing a conservative district that backed Donald Trump by a 20-point margin. After Lamb's apparent victory, GOP leaders decided they no longer agreed with their own talking points.

The Republican National Committee insisted that Lamb "essentially" ran as a Republican. A White House spokesperson said the Democrat "really embraced the president's policies and his vision."

As The Atlantic  reported, Trump went a little further while reflecting on the race yesterday at a private fundraiser in Missouri.

"The young man last night that ran, he said, 'Oh, I'm like Trump. Second Amendment, everything. I love the tax cuts, everything.' He ran on that basis," Trump said. "He ran on a campaign that said very nice things about me. I said, 'Is he a Republican? He sounds like a Republican to me.'"

Look, I realize that the president, by his own admission, occasionally makes stuff up, but the GOP spin on Pennsylvania's special election is getting more than a little silly.

read more

Image: Donald Trump

Celebrating ignorance, Trump boasts about making stuff up

03/15/18 08:00AM

About a year ago, Donald Trump sat down for an interview with the Associated Press, which touched on the president's criticisms of NATO. He referenced an exchange he had during the campaign with CNN's Wolf Blitzer, in which then-candidate Trump expressed deep concerns about the security alliance despite "not knowing much about NATO."

In other words, according to Trump, he spoke with great conviction about a key area of U.S. foreign policy, despite the fact that -- by his own admission -- he had no idea what he was talking about.

Yesterday, something very similar happened. The president spoke at a fundraiser about a conversation he had had with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, in which the two leaders discussed which country had a trade deficit with the other. As the Washington Post  reported, Trump bragged last night that he made the private comments without having a clue as to whether or not he was correct.

"Trudeau came to see me. He's a good guy, Justin. He said, 'No, no, we have no trade deficit with you, we have none. Donald, please,' " Trump said, mimicking Trudeau, according to audio obtained by The Washington Post. "Nice guy, good-looking guy, comes in -- 'Donald, we have no trade deficit.' He's very proud because everybody else, you know, we're getting killed.

"... So, he's proud. I said, 'Wrong, Justin, you do.' I didn't even know.... I had no idea. I just said, 'You're wrong.' You know why? Because we're so stupid. ... And I thought they were smart. I said, 'You're wrong, Justin.' He said, 'Nope, we have no trade deficit.' I said, 'Well, in that case, I feel differently,' I said, 'but I don't believe it.' I sent one of our guys out, his guy, my guy, they went out, I said, 'Check, because I can't believe it.'"

So, Trump started with the premise that the United States is "stupid" -- a curious assumption for an American president -- and then based his assumptions on that dubious foundation. It then led him to assume, without having any facts or having done any homework ahead of his meeting with the Canadian prime minister, that we have a trade deficit with our neighbors to the north.

According to last night's story, Trump's aide then came back to him to assure the president that he was, in fact, correct about the trade imbalance -- which is bizarre, since, according to the Trump administration's own data, the United States has a trade surplus with Canada.

What's amazing about this story, however, isn't just the American president being wrong about a simple issue he's talked about for years.

read more

Wednesday's Mini-Report, 3.14.18

03/14/18 05:30PM

Today's edition of quick hits:

* Spy poisoning: "Britain is to expel 23 Russian diplomats allegedly operating as undeclared intelligence officers after Moscow ignored a midnight deadline to explain how its nerve weapon was used in the attempted assassination of a former double agent on U.K. soil."

* I wish her boss were as forceful on the issue: "U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said on Wednesday the United States believes Russia is responsible for the attempted assassination of a former Russian double agent and his daughter in Britain -- and the U.N. Security Council should hold the Kremlin 'accountable.'"

* House Intelligence Committee: "One day after the GOP announced they had completed a draft report concluding that the Trump campaign had not colluded with Russians in an effort to defeat Hillary Clinton, Democrats issued a 22-page document specifying unresolved issues they said the committee needed to continue exploring -- and that they would attempt to do so even without the GOP's cooperation."

* Hmm: "U.S. retail sales fell for a third straight month in February as households cut back on purchases of motor vehicles and other big-ticket items, pointing to a slowdown in economic growth in the first quarter."

* Minnesota: "Three men charged Tuesday with illegally possessing a machine gun are suspected of bombing a mosque in Minnesota and attempting to bomb an abortion clinic in Illinois last year, federal officials said."

* Everyone realizes how absurd this is, right? "Before House Republicans had even learned the details of a new White House proposal for a three-year renewal of DACA paired with three years of border wall funding, the White House had already walked back the idea."

* ICE: "A spokesman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has resigned over what he described as 'false' and 'misleading' statements made by Attorney General Jeff Sessions and ICE acting director Thomas D. Homan."

read more

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is seen in a television cameras view finder during a press conference at the Trump National Golf Club Jupiter on March 8, 2016 in Jupiter, Fla. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty)

Trump taps CNBC anchor for White House's top economics job

03/14/18 03:13PM

During a brief Q&A with reporters yesterday, Donald Trump conceded he's looking "very strongly" at CNBC's Larry Kudlow to lead the White House's National Economic Council. As of today, he's apparently done looking.

President Donald Trump plans to name longtime supporter Larry Kudlow as his top economic adviser, sources told CNBC Wednesday.

Kudlow would replace National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn, who resigned earlier this month after clashing with the president over controversial steel and aluminum tariffs. Kudlow also was not a fan of the policy, although Trump said Tuesday that "he has now come around to believing in tariffs as a negotiating point."

There's every reason to believe the CNBC anchor will fit in just fine on Team Trump. As a Washington Post  analysis noted yesterday, Kudlow is "as standard a Wall Street Republican as you'll find. He believes in the Reaganite Holy Trinity of low taxes, low inflation and free trade. He believes in them so much that he's spent the better part of the last 20 years proclaiming them on TV and radio."

That, alas, hasn't always worked out for him. By some measures, Kudlow has been consistently mistaken about many of the major economic debates of the last several years.

But what I think is the most important takeaway of today's news is that there are few tools in the United States more important than Donald Trump's television remote control.

read more

The Republican National Committee headquarters, Sept. 9, 2014. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty)

After another election setback, GOP scrambles to find its footing

03/14/18 12:45PM

Over the weekend, Donald Trump assured the public that Republican candidates are undefeated -- five wins and no losses -- in recent congressional special elections. That's plainly wrong, though House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) declared the same day, "There's already been five special elections and Republicans have won all five of those."

Using that same faulty arithmetic, some Republicans are content with recent results.

Walking into the meeting, New York. Rep. Chris Collins, a close ally of President Donald Trump, called the race a "one-off."

"We've won five [special elections]; they've won one. I'm feeling pretty good," he added.

I'll confess to being mystified by this. There was a congressional special election in California's 34th district last summer, which a Democrat won easily. There was also a U.S. Senate special election in Alabama in December that the GOP may have noticed.

Pretending losses didn't happen doesn't make them go away.

But even if we put Chris Collins' curious blind spots aside, the larger issue is the Republican Party's reaction to Conor Lamb's (D) apparent victory over Rick Saccone (R) in Pennsylvania's special election. Politico's report added, many GOP officials "seemed to be in denial."

The most common argument seems to be that Lamb ran "as a conservative," and since the vast majority of Democratic candidates will run on progressive platforms, this race was a fluke. There are two key problems with the assertion. First, Lamb may be to the right of the Democratic Party at the national level, but on several core issues, he's very much within the Dems' mainstream.

read more


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.


Latest Book