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E.g., 6/27/2017
E.g., 6/27/2017
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 blurts out classified info again, worrying Pentagon officials

05/25/17 09:20AM

When Donald Trump chatted with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, it was unsettling enough that the American leader started their conversation with unprompted praise for Duterte's extra-judicial killings. But we now know that Trump also decided to tell Duterte that the United States dispatched two nuclear submarines, which are off the coast of the Korean peninsula.

BuzzFeed reported that some in the Defense Department are less than pleased.
Pentagon officials are in shock after the release of a transcript between President Donald Trump and his Philippines counterpart reveals that the US military had moved two nuclear submarines towards North Korea.

"We never talk about subs!" three officials told BuzzFeed News, referring to the military's belief that keeping submarines' movement stealth is key to their mission.
The Atlantic's James Fallows added that countries like China and Russia are likely to exploit the revelation, going back and calibrating their sensors accordingly for future detection.

Some may want to be charitable, cutting the amateur president some slack because he doesn't have any background in or understanding of sensitive intelligence, but let's not forget that this is the second time -- that we know of -- that Trump has been caught sharing classified information with a foreign country for no apparent reason.

The significance of a story like this goes well beyond marveling at Trump's ineptitude. As the president develops a reputation as someone who's recklessly blurting out secrets to foreigners, it's easy to imagine our allies abroad withholding intelligence from U.S. officials, U.S. officials withholding intelligence from the White House, or both.
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Image: Jeff Sessions

AG Jeff Sessions faces new disclosure questions in Russia scandal

05/25/17 08:40AM

We learned in March that Attorney General Jeff Sessions met with a Russian official during the presidential campaign, despite saying the opposite while under oath. Much to Donald Trump’s chagrin, Sessions recused himself from the investigation into the Russia scandal soon after.

That did not, however, resolve the controversy. Many Democratic members of Congress called on Sessions to resign -- some even accused him of perjury -- and raised questions that remain unanswered. (Those questions recently took a turn when Sessions played a role in FBI Director James Comey's firing, a move that seemed to conflict with his stated recusal.)

For his part, the far-right attorney general has tried to steer clear of the controversies, but as this CNN report makes clear, the controversies are following him anyway.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions did not disclose meetings he had last year with Russian officials when he applied for his security clearance, the Justice Department told CNN Wednesday.

Sessions, who met with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak at least two times last year, didn't note those interactions on the form, which requires him to list "any contact" he or his family had with a "foreign government" or its "representatives" over the past seven years, officials said.
There are two important angles to a story like this one. First is the pattern that's emerged on Donald Trump's team: Michael Flynn, Jared Kushner, and Jeff Sessions all played leading roles on Trump's campaign; all met with Russian officials during Russia's attack on the U.S. election, all were required to disclose those interactions, and all failed to do so.

And at this point, Team Trump hasn't explained why.
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Image: GOP Candidate In Montana's Special Congressional Election Greg Gianforte Campaigns In Missoula

Republican candidate faces assault charge on eve of Montana election

05/25/17 08:00AM

Politics may have a reputation for being a rough-and-tumble business -- "politics ain't beanbag" endures as a cliché for a reason -- but at least in the United States, physical altercations and violence is exceedingly rare.

Three years ago, for example, then-Rep. Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.) made headlines for threatening to kill a reporter who bothered him, which seemed shocking enough, even though the GOP congressman never actually touched the journalist.

As Rachel noted on last night's show, the latest developments in Montana are altogether different.
A Montana sheriff has issued a citation for misdemeanor assault against Republican U.S. House candidate Greg Gianforte after a newspaper reporter said the politician "body slammed" him, an account that was backed up by witnesses.

Gallatin County Sheriff Brian Gootkin said Gianforte was issued a citation Wednesday night. The incident occurred on the eve of Thursday's special election in which Gianforte faces a Democratic opponent for the state's open House seat.

Guardian journalist Ben Jacobs was covering an event in Bozeman and tweeted the encounter at about 7 p.m. ET.
Not long after police arrived on the scene, the Gianforte campaign issued a written statement, insisting that it was the reporter who instigated the confrontation with "aggressive" behavior, and it was the candidate who'd been assaulted by Jacobs. An audio recording of the incident made clear that this account was not true.

In other words, Gianforte not only sent a reporter to the hospital, the Republican's campaign was then caught lying about it.

Montana's three largest newspapers had already endorsed Gianforte's candidacy -- a point of pride that the GOP candidate has emphasized in his advertising -- but this morning, each of the papers' editorial boards rescinded those endorsements. The Billings Gazette's piece was especially notable: "If what was heard on tape and described by eye-witnesses is accurate, the incident in Bozeman is nothing short of assault. We wouldn't condone it if it happened on the street. We wouldn't condone it if it happened in a home or even a late-night bar fight. And we couldn't accept it from a man who is running to become Montana's lone Congressional representative. We will not stand by that kind of violence, period."
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Wednesday's Mini-Report, 5.24.17

05/24/17 05:30PM

Today's edition of quick hits:

* Manchester: "The suicide bomber who killed 22 people after an Ariana Grande concert was part of a network that included his brother, who was arrested Wednesday as he was allegedly plotting a terrorist attack on the Libyan capital of Tripoli."

* Low expectations: "President Trump arrived in Belgium on Wednesday for an audience with the nation's king, a day ahead of meetings   with leaders of alliances he once derided as irrelevant — and many top officials here say they will count it a success if there are no blowups during the visit."

* Nice one, Pope Francis: "During an initially awkward meeting in Vatican City, Francis presented President Trump with a signed copy of 'Laudato Si' -- the pontiff's 192-page work calling for a new partnership between science and religion to combat human-driven climate change. In doing so, the pope seemed to make a clear statement to a president who once called climate change a Chinese plot and is on the cusp of deciding whether to honor the Paris agreement on addressing global warming."

* We may need to talk about this: "White House Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney on Wednesday said that tax receipts were coming in 'slower than expected' and that the federal government could run out of cash sooner than it had thought."

* What will I do with my unpublished item on why this would've been a ridiculous idea? "Former U.S. senator Joe Lieberman, who had risen to the top of President Trump's list of candidates to serve as the next FBI director, has fallen from the top tier amid concerns about bipartisan pushback to his nomination."

* The debate on this is overdue: "Forty Republican representatives who voted for the American Health Care Act held shares in health-care companies valued at $23 million and earned more than $2 million off those investments, a Daily Beast review of the most-recent financial records found."
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Image: U.S. President Trump celebrates with Republican House members after healthcare bill vote at the White House in Washington

CBO: Republican plan would take health coverage from 23 million

05/24/17 05:15PM

The good news for House Republicans is that they won't have to vote again on their far-right health care plan. The bad news for GOP lawmakers is that the Congressional Budget Office's final report on the American Health Care Act shows that the party's plan would be disastrous for much of the country.

Here's the key paragraph in the CBO's newly published report:
CBO and [the Joint Committee on Taxation] estimate that, in 2018, 14 million more people would be uninsured under [the House Republican health plan] than under current law. The increase in the number of uninsured people relative to the number projected under current law would reach 19 million in 2020 and 23 million in 2026.
Or put another way, if the House GOP plan became law, the ranks of the American uninsured would jump next year by 14 million Americans. Over the course of the decade, that number would grow to 23 million.

Keep in mind, if Congress simply took a sledgehammer to the Affordable Care Act, and replaced it with nothing, the CBO has found that 23 million Americans would lose their health coverage -- suggesting the Republican plan is comparable to doing nothing except destroying without legislating.

It gets worse. The new report that because the Republican proposal guts protections for essential-health benefits, people living in effected states "would experience substantial increases in out-of-pocket spending on health care or would choose to forgo the services." This would have a particular impact on those who rely on "maternity care, mental health and substance abuse benefits, rehabilitative and habilitative services, and pediatric dental benefits," who would be forced to pay "thousands of dollars" more than under the ACA.
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Image: US President Trump addresses Joint Session of Congress in Washington

At what point does the Russia scandal become too hot for the GOP?

05/24/17 01:03PM

The investigation into Donald Trump's Russia scandal is ongoing, but what we already know is rather breathtaking.

A foreign adversary attacked our election and helped elect its favored candidate. The president's claims that no one from his team was in contact with Russia during its attack have been discredited. The president fired the director of the FBI because of his dissatisfaction with the ongoing investigation. Before the firing, the president reportedly urged the FBI director to go easy on his disgraced former national security advisor, who remains at the center of the controversy, and who's already pleaded the Fifth.

This week, we learned Trump also reportedly urged the director of national intelligence and the director the National Security Administration to publicly comment on the ongoing federal investigation, while White House officials "sounded out top intelligence officials about the possibility of intervening directly" with the then-FBI director in order to "encourage the FBI to drop its probe of Michael Flynn." Yesterday, the former director of the CIA pointed to "contacts and interactions" between Russia and the Trump campaign that he found alarming, despite Trump's assurances that no such communications occurred.

To borrow a cliché, we've worked our way through the smoke and arrived at some fire. Standing above the flame is a sitting president who seems eager to boast, "Look at this yuge fire I set. Isn't it tremendous?"

Under the circumstances, the question isn't whether Trump has put his presidency in jeopardy; it's what more congressional Republicans need to see before they agree it's time for Trump's term to meet a premature end. As of yesterday, GOP lawmakers, who are well aware of each of the aforementioned details, effectively said they're not yet close to the threshold. Mother Jones' David Corn reported:
The Republicans still are not serious about investigating the Trump-Russia scandal. That message came through resoundingly when the House Intelligence Committee held a public hearing on Tuesday morning with former CIA chief John Brennan. [...]

Yet once again Republicans did not focus on the main elements of the story. When the Republicans on the committee had the chance to question Brennan, they did not press him for more details on Russia's information warfare against the United States. Instead, they fixated on protecting Trump.
At the hearing, one House Republican, Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-Ohio), sincerely tried to push the line that Russia actually used President Obama, not Trump, as a tool.
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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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