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Trump profits from hotel as GOP social center

Trump profits from hotel as GOP social center

08/07/17 09:26PM

Jonathan O'Connell, reporter for The Washington Post, talks with Joy-Ann Reid about how the Trump International Hotel on Washington, D.C., functions as a social center of political influence for Republican politicians and still makes money for Donald Trump despite the obvious conflict. watch

Monday's Mini-Report, 8.7.17

08/07/17 05:30PM

Today's edition of quick hits:

* Fortunately, no one was hurt: "The governor of Minnesota denounced an attack on a mosque the previous day as a 'terrible, dastardly, cowardly' act of terrorism. 'It's an act of terrorism, a criminal act of terrorism,' the governor, Mark Dayton, said on Sunday during a visit to the mosque, Dar Al Farooq, in Bloomington. 'I hope and pray that the perpetrator will be caught and prosecuted to the full extent of the law.'"

* Netanyahu: "Israel's Supreme Court ruled Monday that Benjamin Netanyahu must reveal phone call logs with U.S. casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, and a former editor of his free newspaper in Israel, as police press ahead with investigations into corruption cases involving the prime minister."

* United Nations: "After a month of deliberations and negotiations, the Security Council on Saturday unanimously passed a resolution that would slash about $1 billion off North Korea's annual foreign revenue."

* The vote wasn't close: "In a test of labor's ability to expand its reach in the South, workers at a Nissan plant in Mississippi have overwhelmingly rejected a bid to unionize."

* Mueller's probe: "Investigators working for the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, recently asked the White House for documents related to the former national security adviser Michael T. Flynn, and have questioned witnesses about whether he was secretly paid by the Turkish government during the final months of the presidential campaign, according to people close to the investigation."

* On a related note: "Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) on Sunday said he does not expect legislation to shield special counsels from political influence to progress much."

* Trump's pipeline backlog: "Billions of dollars' worth of shovel-ready infrastructure projects have been held up by a bureaucratic morass that President Donald Trump helped to create."

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Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., stops to speak with a reporter as he arrives for the Senate Republicans' policy luncheon, May 12, 2015. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call/AP)

The Republican Party's birther problem isn't limited to the past

08/07/17 04:13PM

In Sen. Jeff Flake's (R-Ariz.) new book, he reflects on many in his party losing sight of their core principles, largely out of cowardice. "We forgot to affirm in a voice loud and clear that yes, we are proud Republicans, but that we believe in country before party," Flake argues. "We forgot to do that. We were afraid to do that."

On "Meet the Press" yesterday, NBC News' Chuck Todd asked the Arizona Republican yesterday if his party and the conservative movement are still afraid. Flake responded:

"Well, I do think that we've seen more people ready to stand up. And I wish that we, as a party, would have stood up, for example, when the birtherism thing was going along.

"A lot of people did stand up, but not enough.... That was particularly ugly."

Asked if he believes he did enough, Flake added, "On that, I think I did."

There are a few ways to look at this. At face value, Flake's correct: much of his party's base embraced a racist conspiracy theory, and many Republican leaders kept their mouths shut, afraid to anger right-wing activists and conservative media. This allowed a toxicity to spread throughout GOP politics, and now Donald Trump, whose sole contribution to American politics was championing that racist conspiracy theory, is the president of the United States.

As for whether Flake did his part to stand up to the garbage, it's probably fair to say his record is mixed.

But just as important is the fact that it's probably a mistake to perceive this as an ugly stain on Republican politics from the Obama era -- because the truth is the problem hasn't disappeared; it's evolved.

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Image: Trump departs after his remarks to the American Legion Boys Nation and Auxiliary Girls Nation in the Rose Garden at the White House

Trump's instinct for bullying behavior does not serve him well

08/07/17 12:58PM

About three months ago, after Donald Trump fired then-FBI Director James Comey to derail an ongoing federal investigation, Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) was one of the Democrats raising concerns about the president's apparent obstruction of justice. That hardly came as a surprise: Blumenthal is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and a former prosecutor.

The president, however, apparently saw the Connecticut senator on TV, and soon after launched a Twitter tantrum. "Richie," Trump said, "devised one of the greatest military frauds in U.S. history." The president went on and on, lambasting Blumenthal, saying the senator "cried like a baby."

This morning, Trump saw Blumenthal on television again, and threw the exact same tantrum.

"Interesting to watch Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut talking about hoax Russian collusion when he was a phony Vietnam con artist! Never in U.S. history has anyone lied or defrauded voters like Senator Richard Blumenthal. He told stories about his Vietnam battles and conquests, how brave he was, and it was all a lie. He cried like a baby and begged for forgiveness like a child. Now he judges collusion?"

To the extent that reality still has any meaning, Trump is wrong. Blumenthal spent years in the Marine Corps Reserves, but was not deployed overseas during the war in Vietnam, and he never saw combat. But Blumenthal also never "told stories about his Vietnam battles and conquests" -- Trump is just making this up -- and the controversy stems from a 2010 story in which the senator apparently slipped at an event, saying he served "in" Vietnam, rather than "during" Vietnam. He apologized for the mistake.

What's more, this probably isn't a subject Trump should dwell on: while Blumenthal was in the Marine Reserves, Trump was taking advantage of multiple deferments, thanks in part to a dubious foot injury. The Republican later said avoiding sexually transmitted diseases while dating was his "personal Vietnam."

But what struck me about this morning's presidential missives is Trump's reliance on classic bullying behavior.

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The NRA-ILA Leadership Forum in Louisville, Ky. on May 20, 2016. (Photo by Mark Peterson/Redux for MSNBC)

The NRA's core message takes a turn towards culture-war zealotry

08/07/17 12:00PM

The National Rifle Association released an odd video in June, complaining bitterly about American news organizations, public schools, popular culture, Barack Obama, and progressive activism. The diatribe made no mention of guns or the rights of firearm owners, which was probably not an accident: the NRA's central focus has apparently begun to shift away from its core mission.

This seemed equally obvious on Friday, when the far-right group released a follow-up online video, which also starred spokesperson Dana Loesch, and which also put a spotlight on the NRA's broad, new objectives.

"We the people have had it. We've had it with your narratives, your propaganda, your fake news. We've had it with your constant protection of your Democrat [sic] overlords, your refusal to acknowledge any truth that upsets the fragile construct that you believe is real life. And we've had it with your pretentious, tone-deaf assertion that you are in any way truth or fact-based journalism.

"Consider this the shot across your proverbial bow. We are going to fisk he New York Times and find out just what 'deep, rich' means to this old, gray hag, this untrustworthy, dishonest rag that has subsisted on the welfare of mediocrity for one, two, three, more decades. We're going to laser-focus on your so-called 'honest pursuit of truth.' In short, we're coming for you."

After the video was released, Loesch said phrasing such as "we're coming for you" shouldn't be seen as a threat of physical violence. Others appear to have had alternate interpretations.

Note, however, that the NRA once again made no mention of guns, ammunition, personal safety, or the Second Amendment, even in passing. Watching the video in isolation, free of context, and one might assume it was created by some far-right media watchdog, not the nation's premier organization committed to firearm ownership.

And that's because in 2017, the lines for the NRA have become blurred.

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Image: US-POLITICS-TRUMP-ORDER

Trump's attention span creates challenges for Afghanistan policy

08/07/17 11:20AM

There's no reason to believe the war in Afghanistan, now in its 16th year, is moving in the right direction. NBC News had a good report last week on Donald Trump's growing frustration over the state of the conflict, his team's inability to produce a strategy he approves of, and his willingness to replace Gen. John Nicholson, the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

Nevertheless, H.R. McMaster, the president's national security adviser and a three-star general, appears to be doing his best to answer Trump's questions and guide his hand through the process. The Washington Post reports, however, that one of McMaster's challenges is keeping Trump's attention and focus.

Among his biggest challenges was holding the attention of the president. In classified briefings, Trump would frequently flit between subjects.... Trump had little time for in-depth briefings on Afghanistan's history, its complicated politics or its seemingly endless civil war. Even a single page of bullet points on the country seemed to tax the president's attention span on the subject, said senior White House officials.

"I call the president the two-minute man," said one Trump confidant. "The president has patience for a half-page."

Did I mention that we're talking about the longest war in American history? And the amateur president's uncertainty about how best to proceed?

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A "Help Wanted" sign is posted in the window of an automotive service shop on March 8, 2013 in El Cerrito, California.

The part of the job numbers Team Trump doesn't want to talk about

08/07/17 10:40AM

The latest job numbers were released on Friday morning, and they looked quite good. Not surprisingly, Donald Trump has tweeted about the data four times since the employment report was made public.

But Trump's re-election campaign, which already exists, issued a curious statement about the job numbers, citing the data as "proof" of something specific.

Today Donald J. Trump for President, Inc. trumpeted the new jobs report just released, announcing that 209,000 new jobs were created, on top of revised numbers in June of 231,000 jobs, up from 222,000, as proof that the President has already begun to Make America Great Again.

For now, let's put aside the debate over whether this administration, which hasn't implemented any major economic policies, can plausibly claim credit for recent economic news.

Instead, let's consider the possibility that Trump and his team haven't looked closely enough at the data they're so excited about.

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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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