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John Lewis attends an event on August 23, 2013 in Washington, United States. (Photo by Riccardo S. Savi/Getty)

White House shows how not to respond to John Lewis

12/08/17 11:20AM

The White House announced earlier this week that Donald Trump planned to attend the opening of the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum this weekend. Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), an iconic hero of the civil-rights movement, said yesterday that he won't attend the event if the president is there. The New York Times reported:

In a joint statement, Mr. Lewis and Representative Bennie Thompson of Mississippi said Mr. Trump's presence at the event would be disrespectful to the memory of those who participated in the struggle for civil rights, particularly in light of his "disparaging comments about women, the disabled, immigrants and National Football League players."

They encouraged people to visit the museum "after President Trump departs."

"President Trump's attendance and his hurtful policies are an insult to the people portrayed in this civil rights museum," the statement said. "The struggles represented in this museum exemplify the truth of what really happened in Mississippi."

What struck me as especially notable was the response from White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who said yesterday that it's "unfortunate" that the Democratic congressmen would not "join the president in honoring the incredible sacrifice civil rights leaders made to right the injustices in our history."

I can appreciate that Sanders was in an awkward position, but she probably shouldn't have said anything at all, because her statement yesterday suggested it's "unfortunate" John Lewis isn't joining Trump in honoring John Lewis' sacrifices.

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Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke delivers a speech billed as "A Vision for American Energy Dominance" at the Heritage Foundation on September 29, 2017 in Washington, D.C.

Questions surround Trump cabinet secretary's use of helicopters

12/08/17 10:43AM

Most Secretaries of the Interior can go their entire tenures without generating national media attention or political controversies. Donald Trump's Interior Secretary, Ryan Zinke, has only been on the job for nine months, but he can't seem to stop generating national media attention and political controversies.

Politico reported yesterday on the Montana Republican's latest mess.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke spent more than $14,000 on government helicopters this summer to take himself and staff to and from official events near Washington, D.C., in order to accommodate his attendance at a swearing-in ceremony for his replacement in Congress and a horseback ride with Vice President Mike Pence, according to previously undisclosed official travel documents.

The travel logs, released to POLITICO via a Freedom of Information Act request, show Zinke using taxpayer-funded vehicles from the U.S. Park Police to help accommodate his political events schedule.

There's already an investigation underway into Zinke's dubious use of public money for his official travel, and this won't help.

But there's no reason to stop there. There have been questions about Zinke's wife saddling department staffers with extra work. The Federal Election Commission, meanwhile, has raised questions about a leadership PAC affiliated with Zinke during his time in Congress. Zinke also faced allegations about using unsavory lobbying tactics with U.S. senators.

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Image: Hillary Clinton

GOP rep wants scrutiny of non-existent 'Clinton administration'

12/08/17 10:02AM

About a month ago, Hillary Clinton was in Chicago promoting her book, and in reference to some of her conservative critics, the former Secretary of State joked, "It appears they don't know I'm not president."

To borrow a Homer Simpson line, it's funny because it's true.

FBI Director Christopher Wray was on Capitol Hill yesterday, participating in a House Judiciary Committee hearing in which Clinton's name came up 76 times. That's quite a bit given that she's a private citizen who hasn't held public office in five years and who'll never run for anything again

Perhaps the most amusing moment of the hearing came when Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas) shared this thought with Wray.

"Director, thank you for being here. And I know this has been touched on a couple of times, and I just want to reiterate something that I hear regularly from my constituents in South Texas. And that's a concern, we have a special counsel investigating the Trump administration, but it seems like no one is addressing the Clinton administration.

"I know the chairman touched on this, as do -- did some of the other questions. And I really don't have a question here, other than to reiterate that it is a pretty strong concern of a lot of the folks that I represent."

Farenthold should probably let the folks he represents know that there is no Clinton administration. The Democratic nominee may have received more votes than Donald Trump, but he's nevertheless the one in office.

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Image: Embattled GOP Senate Candidate Judge Roy Moore Attends Church Revival Service At Baptist Church In Jackson, Alabama

Roy Moore points to slavery era as a time when America was 'great'

12/08/17 09:20AM

Roy Moore's right-wing Senate campaign in Alabama has been plagued by allegations of sexual misconduct, including claims of child molestation. But even before the Alabama Republican was confronted with allegations from women from his past, Moore's record of extremism made his Senate candidacy the most radical in recent memory, at least in this country.

Indeed, some of his most unhinged moments are now getting a fresh look in the closing days of his special election. We talked in August, for example, about Moore suggesting that the United States may be "the focus of evil" in the world, in part because of our support for marriage equality. It's a line that's now receiving a new round of attention.

So, too, is this L.A. Times article from September.

At Moore's Florence rally, the former judge outlined all the wrongs he sees in Washington and "spiritual wickedness in high places." He warned of "the awful calamity of abortion and sodomy and perverse behavior and murders and shootings and road rage" as "a punishment inflicted upon us for our presumptuous sins."

In response to a question from one of the only African Americans in the audience -- who asked when Moore thought America was last "great" -- Moore acknowledged the nation's history of racial divisions, but said: "I think it was great at the time when families were united -- even though we had slavery -- they cared for one another.... Our families were strong, our country had a direction."

At the same event, Moore referred to Native Americans and Asian Americans as "reds and yellows," and earlier this year he suggested the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks were divine punishment.

Doug Heye, a prominent Republican strategist and pundit, responded to the report this morning by saying, "I don't know how I can say to any minority voter that they should join the GOP right now."

In recent years, one of Donald Trump's signature lines is that he intends to "make America great again." He does not, however, clarify when exactly he thought the country was "great."

Roy Moore, however, was willing to clarify: he believes America was last great when slavery was still legal.

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Job growth remains strong, but short of last year's pace

12/08/17 08:45AM

Headed into this morning, the consensus forecasts pointed to job growth in November at about 261,000. We didn't quite reach that total, but we got close.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the economy added 228,000 jobs in November, which is down slightly from October, but which is nevertheless a strong total reflecting a healthy market. The unemployment rate held steady at 4.1%, which is very low.

The revisions from the previous two months were mixed, with September's totals revised up a little, but October's totals revised down a little. Combined, they pointed to an addition 3,000 jobs added to the overall totals.

Providing some additional context, the U.S. added 1.97 million jobs over the first 11 months of 2012, 2.24 million over the first 11 months of 2013, 2.78 million over the first 11 months of 2014, 2.47 million over the first 11 months of 2015, 2.08 million over the first 11 months of 2016, and 1.91 million over the first 11 months of 2017.

Or put another way, while this year has been pretty good for job creation, we're nevertheless on pace to see the slowest job growth since 2011.

Above you'll find the chart I run every month, showing monthly changes in total jobs since the start of the Great Recession. The image makes a distinction: red columns point to monthly changes under the Bush and Trump administrations, while blue columns point to monthly job changes under the Obama administration.

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File Photo: House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on the Constitution Chairman Trent Franks (R-AZ) holds a hearing about H.R.3, the "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act" in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill February 8, 2011 in...

Republican social conservative latest to resign from Congress

12/08/17 08:00AM

When Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) announced yesterday that he's stepping down, he became the third member of Congress in the last two months to resign under a cloud of controversy. What we didn't know was that another resignation would soon follow.

Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., announced his resignation Thursday evening as the House Ethics Committee announced it was opening an investigation into potential sexual misconduct.

Franks said in a statement that he had discussed his interest in finding a surrogate mother with two women in his office, making them uncomfortable. His wife has struggled with infertility, he said.

Even by 2017 standards, this is an odd one. As best as I can tell, Franks wasn't the subject of gossip in political circles, and while the Arizona Republican had a reputation as a far-right culture warrior and ardent Donald Trump ally, the congressman wasn't someone expected to get caught up in a controversy like this one.

As for the details, there appear to be elements to the story we don't yet know. In fact, pretty much all we have to go on is a statement issued by Franks himself -- one in which he largely exonerates himself before concluding that he's stepping down from the office he's held for 14 years. [Update: The details are now coming to light and they're stunning.]

Franks insists he didn't have any physical relationships with his aides, but in his telling of events, he apparently made some of his staffers uncomfortable by asking if they'd consider becoming birth surrogates for his family.

We haven't yet heard from the staffers who were apparently displeased with Franks' overtures, and there may yet be additional aspects of this story that haven't yet come to public light. In fact, I'm assuming that there will be.

Either way, after learning that the matter had been referred to the House Ethics Committee for an investigation, Franks surprised nearly everyone by quitting.

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Congressional ethics roils both parties

Congressional ethics scandals roil both parties

12/07/17 09:04PM

Rachel Maddow reports on a spate of ethics scandals by members of Congress including Al Franken, John Conyers, Blake Farenthold, and Trent Franks, and one member, Devin Nunes, cleared by the ethics committee in what is likely to be bad news for the productivity of Trump Russia investigation. watch

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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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