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The sun rises near the White House on Nov. 8, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Zach Gibson/Getty)

Trump's Commerce Secretary has some explaining to do

11/06/17 10:00AM

When it comes to the Russia scandal and Donald Trump's cabinet, much of the focus has been on Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and for good reason. The Alabama Republican has made quite a few claims under oath about interactions with Russia that don't appear to be true.

But let's not forget Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.

If you've been keeping an eye on Rachel's coverage of the Russia scandal in recent months, you may recall that Ross helped lead the highly controversial Bank of Cyprus, home to a Russian oligarch who did this otherwise inexplicable real-estate transaction with Donald Trump in Palm Beach a few years ago

Over the weekend, NBC News raised new questions about Ross, reporting that Trump's cabinet secretary "shares business interests with Vladimir Putin's immediate family," which Ross failed to previously disclose.

Ross -- a billionaire industrialist -- retains an interest in a shipping company, Navigator Holdings, that was partially owned by his former investment company. One of Navigator's most important business relationships is with a Russian energy firm controlled, in turn, by Putin's son-in-law and other members of the Russian president's inner circle.

Some of the details of Ross's continuing financial holdings -- much of which were not disclosed during his confirmation process -- are revealed in a trove of more than 7 million internal documents of Appleby, a Bermuda-based law firm, that was leaked to the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung. The documents consist of emails, presentations and other electronic data. These were then shared with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists -- a global network that won the Pulitzer Prize this year for its work on the Panama Papers -- and its international media partners. NBC News was given access to some of the leaked documents, which the ICIJ calls the "Paradise Papers."

The New York Times published a related piece, noting that Ross' personal share in Navigator Holdings lessened after he became a cabinet secretary, but he maintained a multi-million-dollar investment in the company, which this year increased its business dealings with Sibur, a giant Russian energy company whose clients include Putin's family member.

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U.S. President Donald Trump looks at Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during a joint news conference at the White House in Washington, U.S.

Trump raises eyebrows with odd economic rhetoric in Japan

11/06/17 09:20AM

At a news conference in Tokyo today, Donald Trump read from a prepared script and praised Japan's economy while standing alongside Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The American president then paused for a moment and decided to add an unscripted thought.

"I don't know if [Japan's economy is] as good as ours. I think not. OK? We're going to try to keep it that way. And you'll be second."

First, I realize America's amateur president isn't skilled in diplomacy, but when visiting an allied country, it's generally not polite to brag publicly that the host nation's economy isn't as impressive as the United States' economy.

Second, while the American economy is, by a wide margin, still the largest on the planet, China is the next closest, not Japan. Trump's dig at the Japanese economy created a needlessly awkward moment, but it was also factually wrong.

This followed a similar problem last night, when Trump shared some related thoughts on Japanese manufacturing during a briefing with business executives.

"If you're a Japanese firm, we love it -- try building your cars in the United States instead of shipping them over," the American president said. "Is that possible to ask? That's not rude. Is that rude? I don't think so."

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Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) emerges from a closed-door weekly policy meeting with Senate Republicans, at the U.S. Capitol, May 10, 2016, in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty)

Rand Paul recovering following assault at his Kentucky home

11/06/17 08:40AM

There were some odd reports on Saturday about Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) being assaulted at his Kentucky home late last week, but a spokesperson for the Republican senator said he was "fine." The Kentucky State Police added that Paul suffered "a minor injury."

By yesterday afternoon, our understanding of what transpired was quite a bit different.

Sen. Rand Paul was "blindsided" and broke five ribs when he was tackled by a neighbor at his home in Bowling Green, Kentucky, police and an aide to Paul said Sunday.

Rene Boucher, 59, of Bowling Green, was charged with one count of fourth-degree assault in the incident, which occurred at about 3:20 p.m. (4:20 p.m. ET) Friday, Kentucky State Police said.

According to a spokesperson for the senator, Paul suffered five rib fractures, including three displaced fractures, and it's "not clear exactly how soon he will return to work."

State police indicated that the FBI is involved in the investigation, which makes sense given the fact that a sitting senator was apparently the victim of a violent assault.

And I'll look forward to learning the results of that investigation, because what we know at this point is quite bizarre.

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Image: US-POLITICS-TRUMP-DEPARTS

Following mass shooting, Trump says this 'isn't a guns situation'

11/06/17 08:00AM

As of this morning, the death toll from yesterday's mass shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas, stands at 26 people, with at least 19 others in nearby hospitals. According to NBC News' reporting, the ages of the victims ranged from 5 to 72, although later one bereaved family reportedly said an infant girl was among those killed. The gunman was also later found dead.

The shooting at the First Baptist Church was the fifth deadliest in American history, the deadliest in Texas' history, and comes just a month after the mass shooting in Las Vegas.

It's against this backdrop that Donald Trump delivered a predictable message this morning: this "isn't a guns issue."

President Donald Trump said Monday that Sunday's mass shooting at a Texas church "isn't a guns situation" but instead "a mental health problem at the highest level."

Asked at a joint press briefing with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe if he would consider pressing for gun control measures in the wake of America's second mass shooting in a month, Trump said "mental health is your problem here," calling the shooter a "very deranged individual" with "a lot of problems over a long period of time."

At a certain level, this brings us to a very familiar place: opponents of new gun reforms respond to mass shootings by pointing to mental health, while proponents of new gun reforms point out that every country has people who suffer from mental illness, but the United States is unique in its experiences with gun violence.

But even if we look past this back-and-forth, Donald Trump's specific record in this area is problematic in ways the president doesn't seem to fully appreciate.

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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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