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Ripped Donald Trump signs lay on the floor at a rally in Radford, Va., Feb. 29, 2016. (Photo by Mark Peterson/Redux for MSNBC)

As Election Day looms, Republican Party faces crisis conditions

10/11/16 08:00AM

With four weeks until Election Day, the question is not whether the Republican Party is facing crisis conditions; it's how severe and consequential this crisis will be. As Rachel noted on the show last night, NBC News reported on the Republican National Committee's latest efforts to calm the intra-party waters.
In another battle in the Republican Party's civil war, the Republican National Committee sought to downplay any split among the party over its presidential nominee, holding an emergency conference call with its party members to tell them that the party stands with Donald Trump.

RNC Chairman Reince Priebus assured the party's 168 members that "nothing has changed" in their support of Trump. He said that the RNC and the Trump campaign are working well together and are completely coordinated, adding that Trump top officials had volunteered to also join the call in a show of unity.
"So everything is on course, and I want you to understand that," Priebus assured RNC members.

The party chairman's pep talk may have helped some Republican officials feel a little better, but the fact remains that "everything" is clearly not on course.

Priebus' call came on the heels of House Speaker Paul Ryan's (R-Wis.) latest efforts to distance himself from his party's controversial presidential nominee, which came on the heels of a weekend in which dozens of Republican officials, including several sitting senators and governors, withdrew their support for Trump, called for his removal from the ticket, or both.

By midday yesterday, Trump had turned to Twitter to take a shot at Ryan, while Fox's Sean Hannity, one of Trump's closest allies, was telling his audience that the House Speaker and his allies are "done" -- though "they don't know it yet."

It was around this time that Trump's Republican backers protested outside RNC headquarters -- one carried a sign that read, "Better to grab a p***y than to be one" -- at a gathering that was reportedly organized by Trump's state director in Virginia, who was later removed from his post.

At Trump campaign headquarters, meanwhile, the candidate's chief spokesperson is threatening the party with an alarming warning: Trump voters will reject down-ballot Republicans. That followed the presidential hopeful's campaign manager defending Trump's 2005 remarks on sexual assault by arguing that members of Congress are themselves guilty of sexual assault.
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The Republican Party is Donald Trump's party

The Republican Party is Donald Trump's party

10/10/16 09:00PM

Rachel Maddow reports on the assurances by Reince Priebus that the RNC is in full support and coordination with Donald Trump, and points out that empty gestures by Republican leaders like Paul Ryan to "stop defending" Donald Trump have no bearing on their endorsements and continued support for him to be president. watch

Monday's Mini-Report, 10.10.16

10/10/16 05:30PM

Today's edition of quick hits:

* Haiti "is facing a surge in cholera cases in the wake of Hurricane Matthew, doctors warned as the death toll on the devastated island climbed past 1,000. U.S. Marines delivered badly-needed food aid Sunday, after Haiti's government said more than 1.5 million people had been affected by the storm and 350,000 of those were in need of immediate assistance. Ninety percent of crops have been destroyed in worst-hit areas of the country according to U.N. World Food Program officer for Haiti, Lorene Didier."

* North Carolina: "Rivers are rising to record crests in North Carolina after more than 17 inches of rain fell during Hurricane Matthew. Water rose over a levee on the Lumber River in Robeson County and hydrologists are concerned about the levees and cities on the Tar, Neuse and Black rivers as billions of gallons of water drain east to the Atlantic."

* Yemen: "A U.S. Navy destroyer off the coast of Yemen came under attack Sunday night in the Red Sea, with two missiles fired at it in the same region where an Emirati-leased vessel was badly damaged by rocket fire last week."

* It would've been tough to match the first one: "Viewership of Sunday night's presidential debate fell sharply, with 66.5 million viewers tuning in -- a more than a 21 percent drop from the 84 million who watched the first showdown between Republican nominee Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton at the end of September."

* Turkey: "Two suicide bombers blew themselves up after refusing to surrender to police during an operation in the outskirts of the capital Ankara Saturday, a senior official said. No one else was killed or hurt."

* Mylan NV "agreed to pay $465 million to settle allegations that it overcharged the government for its EpiPen products, the latest move by the embattled pharmaceuticals firm to quell the furor over its pricing practices."
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Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump listen to a question during the town hall debate at Washington University on Oct 9, 2016 in St Louis, Mo. (Photo by Saul Loeb/Pool/Getty)

What losing a debate looks like

10/10/16 04:35PM

There's no denying the fact that Donald Trump's most rabid followers had reason to cheer last night's presidential debate: the Republican nominee spent 90 minutes throwing red meat at them, fulfilling their dreams of what an unapologetic, uncompromising, angrily partisan debate performance should look like.

And if Trump had gone into the debate as the overall favorite in the presidential race, bolstering his base might have even made sense as an electoral strategy. But given that the GOP nominee is losing, he has limited opportunities to find new support, and he made literally no effort to reach out to anyone beyond his existing backers, last night's spectacle was needlessly strange.

The misguided strategy was only part of the problem. This was a debate in which Trump called for his opponent's imprisonment. It was a debate in which he defended Russian and Syrian leaders, while denouncing his own running mate's foreign policy. It was a debate in which he conceded he exploited tax loopholes to avoid paying his fair share.

And as the New York Times' David Leonhardt explained, it was a debate in which Trump lied -- a lot.
He lied about a sex tape. He lied about his lies about ‘birtherism.’ He lied about the growth rate of the American economy. He lied about the state of the job market. He lied about the trade deficit. He lied about tax rates.

He lied about his own position on the Iraq War, again. He lied about ISIS. He lied about the Benghazi attack. He lied about the war in Syria. He lied about Syrian refugees. He lied about Russia’s hacking. He lied about the San Bernardino terrorist attack.

He lied about Hillary Clinton’s tax plan. He lied about her health care plan. He lied about her immigration plan. He lied about her email deletion. He lied about Obamacare, more than once. He lied about the rape of a 12-year-old girl. He lied about his history of groping women without their consent.
This list is not comprehensive. There are a variety of related fact-checking pieces, which include additional falsehoods, repeated as fact, from the Republican nominee during the debate.

Charles Krauthammer recently urged Trump to "ignore the fact checkers." The GOP nominee took the advice to heart.
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U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan speaks during his weekly news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Sept.22, 2016. (Photo by Yuri Gripas/Reuters)

On Trump, Paul Ryan's new posture looks a lot like the old

10/10/16 12:37PM

From late Friday to late Saturday, dozens of Republican officials dropped their support for Donald Trump's presidential candidacy, and many publicly called for him to end his campaign altogether. But even as the stampede unfolded, many watched House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) to see if the latest revelations, including Trump's comments on sexual assault, would be enough to prompt the GOP leader to finally give up on the controversial nominee.

It was not. Ryan criticized Trump's remarks -- a step the Speaker has taken several times over the course of the campaign -- and said he wouldn't appear alongside the White House hopeful at a Wisconsin event over the weekend, but the congressman couldn't bring himself to withdraw his presidential endorsement.

People close to the Speaker told Politico Ryan "discussed" dropping his support for Trump with aides over the weekend, but ultimately did not. This morning, however, NBC News reports that the House Republican leader is trying to adopt a slightly different posture.
Hours after a contentious second presidential debate, House Speaker Paul Ryan told Republicans Monday he will not be defending Donald Trump or campaign with him for the next 30 days and instead will focus on down ballot races. [...]

"You all need to do what's best for you in your district," Ryan said on a call with House Republicans.
Ryan spokesperson AshLee Strong added that the House Speaker "is going to spend the next month focused entirely on protecting our congressional majorities."

And while I imagine this will draw some praise from pundits, it's hard not to notice that Ryan's new position looks an awful lot like his old one.
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Monday's Campaign Round-Up, 10.10.16

10/10/16 12:00PM

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

* Mike Pence, Donald Trump's running mate, insisted this morning that ABC's Martha Raddatz "misrepresented" his Syria policy during last night's presidential debate. For the record, Raddatz quoted Pence literally word for word.

* The latest NBC News|SurveyMonkey Weekly Election Tracking Poll shows Hillary Clinton leading Trump by five, 46% to 41%, in a four-way match-up. Note, the poll was conducted from October 3 through 9, which means many of the responses came before Trump's sexual-assault tape.

* On MSNBC last night, Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway said she intends to remain in her current post "unless." Unless what? She didn't say.

* Trump and his business enterprises have faced quite a few lawsuits in recent years, and as USA Today reported over the weekend, "allegations outlined in at least 20 separate lawsuits accuse Trump and managers at his companies of discriminating against women, ignoring sexual harassment complaints and even participating in the harassment themselves."

* In 1964, five sitting Republican senators opposed Barry Goldwater's candidacy, a modern record. As of this morning, 16 sitting Republican senators either oppose Trump's candidacy, have called for him to drop out of the race, or both.

* In New Jersey, Gov. Chris Christie's (R) lieutenant governor, Kim Guadagno (R), has withdrawn her support for Trump.

* In Florida, the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll found Clinton leading Trump by three in the presidential race, and Marco Rubio (R) leading Patrick Murphy (D) by two in the U.S. Senate race. The poll was conducted ahead of Hurricane Matthew -- and before Trump's sexual assault story.
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A child walks past a graffiti depicting Russian President Vladimir Putin and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump on the walls of a bar in the old town in Vilnius, Lithuania, May 14, 2016. (Photo by Mindaugas Kulbis/AP)

Trump's odd new line: 'Maybe there is no hacking'

10/10/16 11:20AM

Given months of speculation about Donald Trump's ties to, and affection for, Russian President Vladimir Putin, the Republican presidential hopeful took another risk in last night's debate, defending the Russian autocrat against hacking allegations.

"I notice, anytime anything wrong happens, they like to say the Russians are -- she doesn't know if it's the Russians doing the hacking," Trump said, pointing at Hillary Clinton. "Maybe there is no hacking."

No, really. The GOP nominee actually said, "Maybe there is no hacking."

The comments came two weeks after Trump's other debate appearance, in which he defended Russia. "I don't think anybody knows it was Russia that broke into the DNC," he said. "She's saying Russia, Russia, Russia, but I don't – maybe it was. I mean, it could be Russia, but it could also be China. It could also be lots of other people. It also could be somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds, OK?"

Trump's efforts to defend his Russian allies continue to be bizarre, but putting the politics aside for a moment, the evidence is increasingly pointing in a rather obvious direction. CNBC reported on Friday:
The U.S. has formally blamed Russia for recent political hacking attacks, saying they were "intended to interfere with the U.S. election process."

U.S. intelligence officials said they are "confident" that the Russian government directed those attacks on American political organizations, the Department of Homeland Security and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence on Election Security said Friday in a joint statement.
"The U.S. Intelligence Community is confident that the Russian Government directed the recent compromises of e-mails from U.S. persons and institutions, including from U.S. political organizations," the agencies' statement said. In added, "These thefts and disclosures are intended to interfere with the U.S. election process."

As the Washington Post noted, congressional Republicans welcomed the findings from the DHS/DNI investigation. "Today was just the first step," said Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), a member of the Homeland Security Committee. "Russia must face serious consequences. Moscow orchestrated these hacks because Putin believes Soviet-style aggression is worth it. The United States must upend Putin's calculus with a strong diplomatic, political, ­cyber and economic response."

But remember, as far as the Republicans' presidential candidate is concerned, not only should Russia not be blamed for the hacking, but "maybe there is no hacking."
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A sign at an Affordable Care Act outreach event in Los Angeles, California, September 28, 2013.

Unwrapping Donald Trump's health care confusion

10/10/16 10:44AM

Last night's debate featured a question from an audience member about the Affordable Care Act, and Hillary Clinton answered first, demonstrating real fluency with health care policy. She talked about the ACA's strengths and weaknesses, and her intention to build on what works.

Then it was Donald Trump's turn. Count the number of times he used the word "lines."
"We have to get rid of the lines around the state, artificial lines, where we stop insurance companies from coming in and competing, because they want -- and President Obama and whoever was working on it -- they want to leave those lines, because that gives the insurance companies essentially monopolies. [...]

"Once we break out the lines and allow the competition to come ... President Obama, by keeping those lines, the boundary lines around each state, it was almost gone until just very toward the end of the passage of Obamacare..."
Trump went on to insist that Clinton is pushing a single-payer plan, which is demonstrably wrong, and that Canadians love the U.S. health care system, which is also untrue.

But putting that aside, it's clear that Trump had no idea what he was talking about. President Obama doesn't want insurance "monopolies"; he wants the opposite, with exchange marketplaces where insurers compete for consumers' business.

But what about these "lines" Trump seemed so excited about? The Republican nominee was trying and failing to explain a bad idea. Let's take a minute to explain what the GOP candidate couldn't.
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Presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump take the stage and begin the second presidential debate without shaking hands, Oct. 9, 2016. (Photo by Mark Peterson/Redux for MSNBC)

Trump fesses up to tax scheme, blames Clinton

10/10/16 10:11AM

When the New York Times first broke the news about Donald Trump's $916 million annual loss in 1995, the article raised a possibility that hadn't been definitely proven: Trump's deduction was so substantial, the Times reported, "it could have allowed him to legally avoid paying any federal income taxes for up to 18 years."

"Could have," of course, left a fair amount of ambiguity in the controversy, and the only way to know for sure was to get the information from Trump himself. With that in mind, in last night's debate, co-moderator Anderson Cooper sought some clarity on the subject.
COOPER: You've said you pay state taxes, employee taxes, real estate taxes, property taxes. You have not answered, though, a simple question. Did you use that $916 million loss to avoid paying personal federal income taxes for years?

TRUMP: Of course I do. Of course I do.
There's a bit of a present-tense/past-tense problem with the exchange -- Cooper asked about events from the recent past and Trump answered to suggest he's still exploiting loopholes to avoid a federal tax bill -- but it was nevertheless the first time the Republican nominee publicly acknowledged the accuracy of the original report.

Soon after, the CNN anchor added, "Can you say how many years you have avoided paying personal federal income taxes?" Trump replied, "No, but I pay tax, and I pay federal tax, too."

Again, there's a syntax problem -- "I pay tax" sounds about as clumsy as Brick Tamland's "I love lamp" -- that makes it difficult to say with confidence what exactly Trump is trying to say. But in context, it seemed relatively clear that the Republican nominee was saying he used a massive loss in 1995 to avoid paying at least some of his tax bill over the course of some period of time.

For more clarity, Trump would have to release his tax returns -- which Hillary Clinton has already done, and which Trump had previously promised to do.

But the real punch-line to all of this was Trump blaming Clinton for his tax avoidance.
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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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