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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)

As crisis brews, some in South Korea fear Trump is 'kind of nuts'

09/05/17 08:00AM

Two weeks ago, Donald Trump acted as if he'd effectively intimidated North Korea into submission. It wasn't long, however, before the American president's boasts appeared unwise: Kim Jong-un's regime has responded with a series of highly provocative missile tests, including North Korea's largest ever nuclear test explosion over the weekend.

It's against this backdrop that Trump is going on the offensive ... against South Korea. The Republican whined over the weekend about our longtime ally's attempts at "appeasement" -- a shot that was widely reported in South Korean media -- and while he spoke twice on Sunday to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Sunday, Trump did not speak to Moon Jae-in until Monday.

The Washington Post reported that South Koreans are still coming to terms with how "different" this American leader really is.

"They think they're dealing with an unreasonable partner and complaining about it isn't going to help -- in fact, it might make it worse," said David Straub, a former State Department official who dealt with both Koreas and recently published a book about anti-Americanism in South Korea.

"Opinion polls show South Koreans have one of the lowest rates of regard for Trump in the world and they don't consider him to be a reasonable person," Straub said. "In fact, they worry he's kind of nuts, but they still want the alliance."

And though Trump's only been in office for seven months, he's already given our South Korean allies plenty of reasons to worry about his approach to our partnership.

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Friday's Mini-Report, 9.1.17

09/01/17 05:30PM

Today's edition of quick hits:

* Relief aid: "The White House and Congress are hoping to swiftly approve billions of dollars in aid for the victims of Hurricane Harvey as Texas begins to dry out from the unprecedented rainfall that has crippled the Texas Gulf Coast."

* After several contradictory deadlines, a DACA decision is on the way: "The White House said Friday that President Donald Trump would announce his decision Tuesday on an Obama-era policy that allows young people who came here illegally as children to remain in the United States."

* Related news: "House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and other Republican leaders in Congress on Friday urged President Trump not to terminate an Obama-era program that has allowed nearly 800,000 undocumented immigrants to live and work in the country without fear of deportation."

* Another legal setback for Texas Republicans: "A federal judge has temporarily blocked a Texas law that would restrict the most common type of second-trimester abortion."

* The Department of Homeland Security has been without a secretary for a month. Trump hasn't yet interviewed possible nominees.

* If Congress doesn't appropriate the money, I suspect these companies won't work for free: "The Department of Homeland Security took a critical step Thursday toward building the wall promised by President Donald Trump along the U.S. southern border. Officials of Customs and Border Protection announced they've awarded contracts to four companies that will build different prototypes."

* Some far-right internet hoaxes are more offensive than others: "A false claim that Black Lives Matter activists blocked Hurricane Harvey relief efforts has gone viral on several large conservative Facebook pages. The stories use a false headline and photo to trick readers into clicking through to a story that has nothing to do with Black Lives Matter."

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Then FBI Director Robert Mueller arrives on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., May 16, 2012, to testify during a hearing.

Special counsel in Trump-Russia investigation partners with IRS

09/01/17 03:17PM

We learned this week that Special Counsel Robert Mueller and his team investigating the Trump-Russia scandal have begun working with New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman (D), whose office is also scrutinizing relevant players in the controversy. It's an important revelation: if charges are eventually filed against anyone involved in the affair, Donald Trump wouldn't be able to issue pardons to anyone accused of state crimes.

But according to The Daily Beast, this isn't the only office Mueller and his team are working with.

Special counsel Bob Mueller has teamed up with the IRS. According to sources familiar with his investigation into alleged Russian election interference, his probe has enlisted the help of agents from the IRS' Criminal Investigations unit.

This unit -- known as CI -- is one of the federal government's most tight-knit, specialized, and secretive investigative entities. Its 2,500 agents focus exclusively on financial crime, including tax evasion and money laundering. A former colleague of Mueller's said he always liked working with IRS' special agents, especially when he was a U.S. Attorney.

And it goes without saying that the IRS has access to Trump's tax returns -- documents that the president has long resisted releasing to the public.

NBC News has not verified The Daily Beast's reporting, though as Joy noted on last night's show, the trajectory of the probe makes sense.

The president, you'll recall, recently said he expects -- and to a certain extent, demands -- that Mueller's investigation will steer clear of his finances. That's never been an especially realistic expectation: if the probe leads to questions about whether the president has been compromised by a foreign adversary, it stands to reason the investigation will include a financial component.

All of which gives Trump and his allies another reason to worry about the seriousness of this scandal.

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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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