The Rachel Maddow Show Weekdays at 9PM

Help

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

Rachel Maddow StoriesRSS

select from:

E.g., 10/17/2017
E.g., 10/17/2017
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is seen in a television cameras view finder during a press conference at the Trump National Golf Club Jupiter on March 8, 2016 in Jupiter, Fla. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty)

Identifying Trump's 'primary source of information gathering'

09/05/17 11:37AM

In the fall of 2004, the late Sen. Jim Bunning was facing unsettling questions about his fitness for public office during his re-election bid, and shortly before Election Day, the Kentucky Republican made matters slightly worse.

One of his constituents was at the center of a major controversy -- an Army Reserve soldier in Iraq refused an order to deliver fuel because his truck wasn't properly armored -- and asked for a reaction, Bunning said, "I don't know anything about that." When reporters wondered how that was possible given the attention the story had received in his home state of Kentucky, the GOP senator replied, "Let me explain something: I don't watch the national news, and I don't read the paper. I haven't done that for the last six weeks. I watch Fox News to get my information."

This was a sitting U.S. senator, running for re-election during a time of war. The idea that he'd rely on conservative media as his primary source of information gathering on current events seemed bizarre.

More than a decade later, however, it's even stranger that the president of the United States is in the same boat. The New York Times reported the other day on White House Chief of Staff John Kelly's frustrations after a month on the job.

Mr. Kelly cannot stop Mr. Trump from binge-watching Fox News, which aides describe as the president's primary source of information gathering. But Mr. Trump does not have a web browser on his phone, and does not use a laptop, so he was dependent on aides like Stephen K. Bannon, his former chief strategist, to hand-deliver printouts of articles from conservative media outlets.

Now Mr. Kelly has thinned out his package of printouts so much that Mr. Trump plaintively asked a friend recently where The Daily Caller and Breitbart were.

The American president has more access to information than probably any living human, but Donald J. Trump likes conservative outlets that tell him what he wants to hear.

And whether he realizes this or not, this isn't good for Trump's presidency.

read more

Rep. Jim Bridenstine attends a news conference in Oklahoma, May 21, 2013.

Trump's pick to lead NASA faces some bipartisan pushback

09/05/17 11:00AM

Shortly before Election Day 2016, when it was widely assumed that Donald Trump would lose, leading Republicans, including House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), were taking steps to distance themselves from their party's nominee. Some far-right GOP officials spoke up to say they didn't appreciate the tactics.

Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.), for example, declared, "Given the stakes of this election, if Paul Ryan isn't for Trump, then I'm not for Paul Ryan."

That's the kind of loyalty this president is inclined to reward.

Representative Jim Bridenstine, Republican of Oklahoma, will be nominated by President Trump to serve as NASA's next administrator, the White House said on Friday night.

Mr. Bridenstine, a strong advocate for drawing private companies like SpaceX and Blue Origin more deeply into NASA's exploration of space, had been rumored to be the leading candidate for the job, but months passed without an announcement.

For context, it's worth noting that the most recent NASA chief, Charles Bolden, is a decorated war veteran who was also an astronaut for 14 years.

Bridenstine, a former Navy Reserve pilot, helped run a space museum in Oklahoma before he was elected to Congress -- where he earned a reputation as one of the House's most ardent climate deniers. (At one point, the far-right lawmaker demanded on the House floor that Barack Obama issue a public apology for his efforts to combat the climate crisis.)

While it's true that the Oklahoma Republican has taken an interest in space-related legislation, Bridenstine's background has some NASA allies feeling a little nervous.

read more

Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice, Roy Moore, speaks to the congregation of Kimberly Church of God, June 28, 2015, in Kimberley, Ala. (Photo by Butch Dill/AP)

Alabama's Roy Moore flunks an easy test on current events

09/05/17 10:30AM

Former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore, currently a leading Republican U.S. Senate candidate, has quite a bit to say about matters pertaining to religion. In a recent interview, for example, Moore suggested the United States is arguably "the focus of evil in the modern world," because Americans "promote a lot of bad things."

Asked for an example, he said, "Same-sex marriage."

As the Washington Post reported, however, Moore is less sure what to say when it comes to discussing current events.

The Republican leading in the runoff race in Alabama's Senate primary appears to have no idea what the biggest political issues of the moment even are.

In a July 11 interview with the Dale Jackson Show on local radio channel WVNN, and uncovered Friday by Washington Examiner columnist Philip Wegmann, Judge Roy Moore appears completely stumped on what the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program is — you know, the one that's been a rallying cry on the right for liberal overreach for years, and the one President Trump has said he'll decide about over the weekend, and the one some Republicans in Congress are paradoxically encouraging him to keep.

Moore was asked during a radio interview about the president's intention to end DACA protections, and he was clearly confused by the question. "Pardon?" he asked. "The Dreamer program?"

The host clarified and responded, "You're not aware of what Dreamers are?" Moore replied, "No." When the host, WVNN's Dale Jackson, noted that this is "a big issue in the immigration debate," the Alabama Republican said the host should bring him up to speed on the issue.

Jackson obliged, though Moore still seemed confused, saying he was glad Congress has "already taken that up." He added that, if he's elected to the Senate, he would "look at that program. I surely would. I think it needs to be looked at."

read more

A doorman stands as people walk past the Trump Tower in N.Y. on May 23, 2016. (Photo by Carlo Allegri/Reuters)

Justice Department undermines Trump's wiretap conspiracy theory

09/05/17 10:00AM

Donald Trump hadn't even been in the White House for two months when he made one of the more audacious allegations ever levied by a president against his immediate predecessor. In early March, Trump woke up one Saturday morning and, shortly before going golfing, told the public that he'd "just found out" that former President Obama illegally tapped his phones at Trump Tower before the presidential election.

"This is Nixon/Watergate," the Republican said. "Bad (or sick) guy!"

Two weeks later, as it became clear that the confused president had relied on a nonsensical report from a right-wing website, Trump nevertheless told reporters he felt "somewhat" vindicated about his conspiracy theory, thanks to support from House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) -- even after Nunes had helped debunk many of the key elements of Trump's bizarre accusations.

Perhaps the president can reflect anew on whether he feels vindicated in light of Friday's news.

The Justice Department confirmed in a court filing there is no evidence that Trump Tower was targeted for surveillance by the Obama administration -- contradicting President Trump's controversial claim first made in March.

A "Motion for Summary Judgment" filed Friday evening in D.C. district court says neither the FBI nor the Justice Department's National Security Division have records confirming wiretaps that Trump accused the Obama administration of ordering.

The document was submitted in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit by American Oversight, a government watchdog group.

As the USA Today report noted, this was the first time the Justice Department has issued a formal denial of the president's conspiracy theory. That the DOJ waited until late on Friday ahead of Labor Day weekend -- the equivalent of officials declaring, "For the love of God, we hope no one sees this" -- makes it all the more noteworthy.

read more

The dome of the US Capitol in Washington, DC, Mar. 19, 2014.

The Republicans' ACA repeal crusade now faces a tough deadline

09/05/17 09:30AM

I realize phrases such as "Senate parliamentarian" and "budget reconciliation rules" don't exactly qualify as click-bait, but there was some news from Capitol Hill late last week that may end up affecting millions of Americans' lives.

At Donald Trump's insistence, congressional Republicans have spent much of the year trying to approve a regressive health care plan, which Senate Democrats haven't been able to filibuster for a specific, procedural reason: GOP lawmakers are using the budget reconciliation process, which means they can pass certain kinds of bills with simple majorities in both chambers.

When it comes to repealing the Affordable Care Act, that hasn't turned out well for Republicans, at least not yet, though the president still expects his GOP allies to return to the subject. What we learned on Friday is that Republicans will have to hurry. Politico reported:

In a potential death knell for efforts to repeal Obamacare -- at least this year -- the Senate parliamentarian has ruled that Republicans face a Sept. 30 deadline to kill or overhaul the law with only 50 votes, Democrats on the Senate Budget Committee said Friday. [...]

Senate Republicans had been relying on a fast-track budget measure known as reconciliation in their effort to repeal Obamacare, which stalled weeks ago thanks to a decisive vote by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). The parliamentarian, Elizabeth MacDonough, ruled that the budget measure expires at the end of the month when fiscal 2017 ends, meaning any repeal effort beyond that date would need 60 votes to overcome a Democratic filibuster.

An Associated Press report noted that Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is the ranking member on the Senate Budget Committee and "took the lead in the arcane arguments before the parliamentarian, who acts as the Senate's nonpartisan referee."

So, in practical terms, what does this mean? Republicans thought they could return to their health care crusade at some point in the near future, but they suddenly have far less time than they thought. Given the September to-do list on Capitol Hill, even the fiercest GOP health care critics may struggle to find time to take another bite at this apple.

But there's an under-appreciated angle to this that some of the media reports overlooked.

read more

Image: US-POLITICS-TRUMP

For everyone's sake, Trump needs to stop bluffing so badly

09/05/17 09:00AM

Two weeks ago, Donald Trump boasted to a Phoenix audience that his fight for a border wall was well on its way. "We are building a wall on the southern border," the president said, adding, "Believe me, if we have to close down our government, we're building that wall."

The likelihood of a government shutdown at the end of the month -- when current federal spending is exhausted -- immediately went up. The spike, however, was temporary: the Washington Post reports that the White House has let congressional Republicans know that if they pass a stop-gap spending bill to keep the government's lights on until December, Trump will accept it, even if it doesn't include any funds for his wall proposal.

The president, in other words, was bluffing. Indeed, this was a sequel of sorts: in April, Trump told Congress he'd force a government shutdown unless lawmakers included wall funding in a temporary spending measure, only to quietly slink away when Congress balked.

All of this came to mind over the Labor Day weekend, when Trump offered yet another example of trying to talk tough, this time about Asia-Pacific foreign policy. The president wrote on Sunday:

"The United States is considering, in addition to other options, stopping all trade with any country doing business with North Korea."

This was, of course, absurd. China, which has the world's second largest economy, does business with North Korea, and was probably the intended recipient of the American president's message. But Trump can't stop all trade with China without crashing the economy. As the New York Times noted this morning, U.S. trade with China is worth "nearly $650 billion a year in goods and services covering a range of items, like auto parts, apple juice and Apple's widely anticipated new iPhone."

Which means we have yet another example of Trump bluffing -- badly -- which doesn't do anyone any favors.

read more

Image: US-POLITICS-FBI-CONGRESS-COMEY

Investigation into Trump's Comey firing comes into sharper focus

09/05/17 08:30AM

As ridiculous as Donald Trump's presidency has been to date, it's still difficult to accept the events of early May, when the president fired then-FBI Director James Comey. Trump soon after acknowledged on national television that he was motivated by his dissatisfaction with the investigation into the Russia scandal, before quietly telling Russian officials in the Oval Office that the move relieved "great pressure" caused by the probe.

The Trump-Russia affair was already an existential threat to this presidency, but these developments four months ago took the scandal to a new level. Late last week, the seriousness came into even sharper focus.

At the time, the Justice Department prepared a memo for Trump, offering a rationalization for him to dismiss Comey. The president then admitted to NBC News' Lester Holt that the memo was irrelevant and that he'd already decided to fire the FBI director anyway. But we learned late last week that Special Counsel Robert Mueller has a copy of a separate document: a letter drafted by Trump and Stephen Miller, a White House adviser, making the case for Comey's ouster.

The Washington Post reported, "The multi-page letter enumerated Trump's long-simmering complaints with Comey, according to people familiar with it, including Trump's frustration that Comey was unwilling to say publicly that Trump was not personally under investigation." The letter was unsent -- White House Counsel Don McGahn balked -- and the administration turned to the Justice Department to create what was effectively a cover story.

But as Joy explained on Friday night's show, this document matters for all sorts of reasons. The New York Times reported:

Mr. Trump ordered Mr. Miller to draft a letter, and dictated his unfettered thoughts. Several people who saw Mr. Miller's multi-page draft described it as a "screed."

Mr. Trump was back in Washington on Monday, May 8, when copies of the letter were handed out in the Oval Office to senior officials, including Mr. McGahn and Vice President Mike Pence. Mr. Trump announced that he had decided to fire Mr. Comey, and read aloud from Mr. Miller's memo.

Let's unpack this a bit.

read more

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)

As crisis brews, some in South Korea fear Trump is 'kind of nuts'

09/05/17 08:00AM

Two weeks ago, Donald Trump acted as if he'd effectively intimidated North Korea into submission. It wasn't long, however, before the American president's boasts appeared unwise: Kim Jong-un's regime has responded with a series of highly provocative missile tests, including North Korea's largest ever nuclear test explosion over the weekend.

It's against this backdrop that Trump is going on the offensive ... against South Korea. The Republican whined over the weekend about our longtime ally's attempts at "appeasement" -- a shot that was widely reported in South Korean media -- and while he spoke twice on Sunday to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Sunday, Trump did not speak to Moon Jae-in until Monday.

The Washington Post reported that South Koreans are still coming to terms with how "different" this American leader really is.

"They think they're dealing with an unreasonable partner and complaining about it isn't going to help -- in fact, it might make it worse," said David Straub, a former State Department official who dealt with both Koreas and recently published a book about anti-Americanism in South Korea.

"Opinion polls show South Koreans have one of the lowest rates of regard for Trump in the world and they don't consider him to be a reasonable person," Straub said. "In fact, they worry he's kind of nuts, but they still want the alliance."

And though Trump's only been in office for seven months, he's already given our South Korean allies plenty of reasons to worry about his approach to our partnership.

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