The Rachel Maddow Show Weekdays at 9PM

Help

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

Rachel Maddow StoriesRSS

select from:

E.g., 11/21/2017
E.g., 11/21/2017
Image: US President Donald J. Trump and President Sauli Niinisto of Finland joint news conference

Now that indictments have been issued, how far will Trump go?

10/30/17 09:41AM

Two weeks ago, Donald Trump appeared in the White House Rose Garden alongside Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) for a press conference, and the investigation into the Russia scandal came up very briefly.

REPORTER: You discussed the special counsel and the investigation currently. Are you considering firing Robert Mueller?

TRUMP: No, not at all.

That's not an excerpt; it was the entire exchange. And taken at face value, the president's response may have been reassuring that the special counsel's ongoing investigation will continue without interference from the West Wing.

But if there's one thing that should be overwhelmingly clear at this point, it's that taking Trump's rhetoric at face value is a fool's errand.

As things stand, we don't know if the president is going to seriously consider trying to oust Robert Mueller. We also don't know if Trump is going to seriously consider it, only to be talked out of it by his White House aides.

But there's already some evidence that Trump's far-right allies are responding to Mueller's probe, not by defending the president and his team, but by going after Mueller and the legitimacy of his investigation.

Over the summer, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said that if Trump went after Mueller, it "could be the beginning of the end of the Trump presidency." Today seems like a good time for the political world to revisit these sentiments -- just in case.

read more

Image: FILE PHOTO: Paul Manafort, senior advisor to Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump, exits following a meeting of Donald Trump's national finance team in New York

Mueller indicts Paul Manafort, former Trump campaign chair

10/30/17 08:49AM

When we learned on Friday that Special Counsel Robert Mueller was poised to issue the first criminal indictment in the Trump-Russia probe, it was entirely possible that it'd be a relatively low-profile figure facing charges. The president's critics, hoping for a blockbuster revelation, needed to keep their expectations in check.

As it turns out, however, when the former chairman of Donald Trump's presidential campaign is indicted, it's an extraordinarily big deal.

Former Donald Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and his longtime business associate Rick Gates have been told to surrender to law enforcement on Monday, a senior U.S. official told NBC News.

They are the first people to turn be ordered to surrender in the investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller into the Trump campaign's alleged ties to Russia and Moscow's interference in the election last year.

Rick Gates' name may not be immediately familiar, but his name came up in a recent interview Rachel did with Greg Farrell, investigative reporter for Bloomberg News. Also note, the New York Times published a profile on Gates in June.

As for Manafort, if recent history is any guide, we already know how the president and his team will respond to today's news: Trump World will insist that Manafort was a trivial figure in the president's operation, who worked on the campaign for a very brief time. This is, of course, the line they took over the summer.

But as we discussed at the time, the "Paul who?" argument isn't to be taken seriously. Manafort effectively ran the campaign when Trump secured and accepted the Republican Party's presidential nomination. By their own admission, members of Team Trump touted Manafort for being "in charge" of Trump's political operation, and "leading" the campaign team.

Without the benefit of a time machine, it's a little late to put distance between the president and his former campaign chairman.

read more

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

Special counsel to issue criminal indictment in Trump-Russia probe

10/30/17 08:00AM

As recently as Friday, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told a national television audience that she's "confident" Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into the Russia scandal was near its end.

Like so many of Sanders' claims, this doesn't appear to be holding up especially well.

A federal grand jury in Washington has approved the first criminal charges in the special counsel's investigation into Russian election interference, two sources told NBC News, marking a significant milestone in an inquiry that has roiled Donald Trump's presidency.

Mueller's Special Counsel's Office will make public an indictment on Monday, a U.S. official with firsthand knowledge of the process confirmed to NBC News, without disclosing the name of the target or the nature of the charges. The timing was confirmed by a second source familiar with the matter.

If you saw Rachel's show on Friday night, the initial report on the indictment was first published by CNN in the early evening on Friday. Soon after, Reuters and the Wall Street Journal ran pieces of their own. NBC News confirmed the report on Saturday.

Though the details should come into focus fairly soon, let's review what we know and what we don't at this point. [Update: It's Manafort.]

read more

Friday's Mini-Report, 10.27.17

10/27/17 05:30PM

Today's edition of quick hits:

* Spain's political crisis: "Catalonia's parliament declared independence from Spain on Friday in defiance of the Madrid government, which at the same time was preparing to impose direct rule over the region."

* A good Trump-Russia story: "Trump donor Rebekah Mercer in August 2016 asked the chief executive of a data-analytics firm working for Donald Trump's presidential campaign whether the company could better organize the Hillary Clinton-related emails being released by WikiLeaks, according to a person familiar with their email exchange."

* The list is growing: "A former Republican state Senate candidate from Standish has become the fourth woman to say she was groped by former President George H.W. Bush."

* Rachel will explain tonight why this is a big deal: "Dana Boente, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, has submitted his resignation, a spokesman confirmed Friday. He plans to serve until a successor is confirmed."

* Questions about this aren't going away: "Puerto Rico's power crisis has improved little a month after Hurricane Marie took out the power grid. As of Thursday, 76 percent of power users still didn't have electricity. In response, Puerto Rico's public power company has awarded big contracts to US energy companies with no experience responding to a major disaster."

* The Coordinator for Sanctions Policy office: "The State Department shuttered an office that oversees sanctions policy, even as the Donald Trump administration faces criticism from lawmakers over its handling of new economic penalties against Russia."

read more

Lightning strikes as a thunderstorm passes over the KYOVA Mall, April 8, 2015, in Cannonsburg, Ky. (Photo by Kevin Goldy/The Independent/AP)

The National Weather Service faces a cloudy forecast

10/27/17 12:51PM

The labor union representing the National Weather Service offered a rather dire assessment this week, telling the Washington Post that its lack of staff is taking a toll on forecasting operations and that the agency is "for the first time in its history teetering on the brink of failure."

The article painted an alarming portrait of overworked staff and uncertainty about the impact this might have on forecasts and warnings. The Burlington Free-Press had a related report last week.

Brooke Taber, a Weather Service forecaster and union steward, told Vermont's latest newspaper, "Given our staffing, our ability to fill our mission of protecting life and property would be nearly impossible if we had a big storm."

It's against this backdrop that Donald Trump has chosen a nominee to lead the agency that oversees the National Weather Service. As the Washington Post also reported, the president recently tapped AccuWeather CEO Barry Myers to run the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

At first blush, part of the problem with the selection is that NOAA chiefs have traditionally been scientists, and Myers is a businessman and a lawyer. But in this case, the concerns run deeper.

As NOAA administrator, Myers would be in charge of the Weather Service whose data are heavily used by his family business, based in State College, Pa.

AccuWeather has, in the past, supported measures to limit the extent to which the Weather Service can release information to the public, so that private companies could generate their own value-added products using this same information.

Ciaran Clayton, who was communications director at NOAA in the Obama administration, told the paper, "Barry Myers defines 'conflict of interest. He actively lobbied to privatize the National Weather Service, which works day in and day out to protect the lives and livelihoods of millions of Americans, to benefit his own company's bottom line."

read more

Friday's Campaign Round-Up, 10.27.17

10/27/17 12:01PM

Today's installment of campaign-related news items from across the country.

* With 11 days remaining before Virginia's gubernatorial race, a new Wason Center poll shows Ralph Northam (D) with a modest lead over Ed Gillespie (R), 50% to 43%.

* On a related note, the Washington Post's editorial board today took aim at Gillespie's racially inflammatory message, describing the Republican candidate's tactics as "a poisonous strategy for the nation and for Virginia."

* For reasons that don't make a lot of sense, Donald Trump thought it'd be a good idea to draw more attention to Tom Steyer's efforts to cultivate support for the president's impeachment. Trump called Steyer "totally unhinged," which is probably a label Steyer would use to describe Trump.

* Though Democrats are optimistic about the New Jersey elections in two weeks, the Democratic National Committee announced overnight a new "six-figure investment" in the Garden State. The party said the money is intended to help Dems "running up and down the ticket in New Jersey with GOTV organizing efforts, digital, data, and tech infrastructure."

* Speaking of Democrats, the party extended its success in state legislative special elections this week, winning another state House race in New Hampshire. The seat was previously held by a different Dem, so the results don't change the makeup of the chamber.

* Despite some rumors to the contrary, Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) said yesterday he isn't going to run for retiring Sen. Jeff Flake's (R-Ariz.) Senate seat.

read more

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)

Senate GOP support for Roy Moore is no longer unanimous

10/27/17 11:20AM

Ahead of the recent Republican Senate runoff in Alabama, Karl Rove was worried about his party's likely nominee.

"Roy Moore would be the Todd Akin of 2017 and 2018 for every Republican on the ballot," Rove predicted. "Republicans will be asked, 'Do you agree homosexuality should be punished by death, do you believe 9/11 was a result of God's anger?' He'll say outrageous things, the media will play it up, and every Republican will be asked, 'Do you agree with that?'"

As it turns out, most GOP senators have decided they simply don't care about Moore's extremism and they're endorsing the right-wing Alabaman anyway. As the Washington Post reported, there are, however, some limited exceptions.

Two days after announcing his retirement and denouncing Trumpism from the Senate floor, Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) set a different trend -- he became the sole Republican senator opposed to Roy Moore's Senate bid in Alabama.

Collared in the Dirksen Building by NBC's Frank Thorp, Flake, who does not do many hallway interviews, said that Moore represented exactly the politics that had ruined his party.

"A guy who says that a Muslim member of Congress shouldn't be able to serve?" Flake said. "That's not right."

According to The Hill, Flake isn't entirely alone. Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) appeared on a podcast this week and also blasted Moore's contention that religious minorities he doesn't like should be barred from serving in Congress.

"You can't have people running for office -- I don't know the particulars of what Moore has said -- but as it's been reported, you can't have people running for office saying that being a Muslim would be a disqualification for being in Congress," Sasse said. "The Constitution is pretty dang clear about not having a religious litmus test."

I suppose it's unrealistic to think current Republican officeholders would publicly endorse a Democratic Senate nominee, so this week's comments from Flake and Sasse are about as far as GOP senators are going to go. In theory, though, the next step should be added pressure on other Senate Republicans who no doubt realize that concerns about Moore's fitness for office are grounded in fact.

read more

Despite hurricanes, economic growth held steady over the summer

10/27/17 10:40AM

There were some concerns among economists that the hurricanes over the summer would undermine the nation's recent economic growth, but there's fresh evidence that the recovery that began in 2010 is still percolating along.

The U.S. grew at a solid 3% annual pace in third quarter despite damage from two hurricanes, according to Commerce Department data. That's above economist expectations of a 2.7% growth rate, according to a MarketWatch survey, and only slightly below the 3.1% growth rate in the second quarter.

The last time the economy had two consecutive quarters of above-3% growth was in 2014.

Today's GDP report covers economic activity from July, August, and September. The 3% figure, which is quite good, will be revised twice more in the coming months.

As a political matter, it'll be interesting to see Donald Trump use this fresh data as part of the fight over proposed Republican tax cuts. From the president's perspective, current tax rates are stifling economic growth, which is a curious pitch given that economic growth looks quite healthy.

What's more, it's a near certainty that Trump will say that "many people thought it would be years before" we saw a 3% GDP report, but that's only because he refuses to understand the difference between quarterly and annual growth rates. (According to Trump, under Barack Obama's presidency, the economy never reached quarterly growth of 3.1%. And that's true, just so long as we overlook what happened in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013, 2014, and 2015.)

read more

Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., during a press conference where he announced he will vote no on the proposed GOP healthcare bill at the Grant Sawyer State Office Building on Friday, June 23, 2017 in Las Vegas.

On judicial picks, Nevada's Heller competes for a Chutzpah Award

10/27/17 10:13AM

"The judge story is an untold story; nobody wants to talk about it," Donald Trump recently said alongside Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). "But when you think about it, Mitch and I were saying, that has consequences 40 years out, depending on the age of the judge -- but 40 years out."

The "judge story" refers to the Republican campaign to approve as many far-right jurists to lifetime positions on the federal bench as they can, as quickly as they can hold votes. On this, the president happens to be correct: the public probably doesn't appreciate the fact that the GOP is shifting the judiciary in a radical direction, which has the potential to shape the American landscape for several decades.

And since filibusters are no longer an option on judicial nominees, there are limited tools at Democrats' disposal to prevent this from happening.

But Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.), arguably the most vulnerable Republican seeking re-election next year, argued yesterday that his party should move even faster to confirm Trump's nominees, working "day and night" to approve judges "every day, for as long as we need."

"Now many of you here know that the first piece of legislation I've introduced for the past two Congresses is my No Budget No Pay Act. The concept is simple, if Congress can't pass a budget and all of its spending bills on time then it shouldn't be paid.

"Well, Mr. President, the Senate should apply the same concept, in my opinion, to confirming judges."

So, from the Nevada Republican's perspective, lawmakers' salaries should be conditioned on their ability to vote on judicial nominees.

That's probably not a realistic pitch, but it got me thinking: where was Dean Heller a year ago?

read more

Pages

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.

MaddowBlog_Appendix_logo

#Maddow

Latest Book