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Tuesday's Mini-Report, 10.11.16

10/11/16 05:32PM

Today's edition of quick hits:

* Yemen: "The Pentagon vowed Tuesday to deliver payback to whoever fired a pair of missiles at a U.S. Navy destroyer off the coast of Yemen. 'We are going to find out who did it and take action accordingly,' said Capt. Jeff Davis, a Defense Department spokesman. 'Anybody who puts U.S. Navy ships at risk does so at their own peril.'"

* Afghanistan: "Gunmen opened fire on Shiite worshipers at a shrine in the Afghan capital Tuesday, killing at least 14 people and wounding more than 40 others during events marking one of the holiest days for Shiite Muslims, authorities reported."

* Arizona: "Federal prosecutors say they will file criminal contempt-of-court charges against Sheriff Joe Arpaio for disobeying orders to stop his immigration patrols. The announcement in federal court Tuesday sets in motion criminal proceedings against the sheriff just as he seeks a seventh term in office."

* Hurricane Matthew "has left at least 11 dead in North Carolina, Gov. Pat McCrory said Monday, pushing the death toll across the Southeast to at least 22 even as the weakening storm still carried dangers of flooding."

* I'll have more on this tomorrow: "A federal appeals panel ruled on Tuesday that the structure of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Wall Street watchdog conceived by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), is unconstitutional."

* The right thing to say: "The White House on Monday condemned leaked Donald Trump comments about women, saying they amount to sexual assault. 'The president found the tapes as repugnant as most Americans did,' White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters aboard Air Force One. 'And I think there has been a pretty clear statement by people all along the ideological spectrum that those statements constituted sexual assault.'"
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Gov. Paul LePage speaks at a news conference at the State House, Jan. 8, 2016, in Augusta, Maine. (Photo by Robert F. Bukaty/AP)

Maine's LePage wants Trump to show 'authoritarian power'

10/11/16 04:24PM

Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R) almost went a whole month without generating national headlines for using outrageous rhetoric. Alas, he didn't quite reach the milestone. NBC News reported this afternoon:
Maine Gov. Paul LePage, famous for his controversial statements, said Tuesday morning "we need a Donald Trump to show some authoritarian power in our country" -- while also criticizing President Obama for being what he described as an "autocrat."

"Sometimes I wonder that our Constitution is not only broken," LePage told radio station WVOM, "but we need a Donald Trump to show some authoritarian power in our country and bring back the rule of law because we've had eight years of a president -- he's an autocrat, he just does it on his own, he ignores Congress and every single day, we're slipping into anarchy."
As the Portland Press Herald's report added, the beleaguered governor went on to say he sees himself as a member of the Republican Party "that is different than the people that claim to be Republicans that are out there shooting their mouth off."

Because clearly, if there's one thing that offends Paul LePage, it's people who are "out there shooting their mouth off."

But do take a moment to appreciate just how ridiculous the Maine governor's comments are, because it's rare to see a quote from an elected official that eats its own tail quite as dramatically as this.
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Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) at the Iowa GOP Lincoln Dinner at the DoubleTree by Hilton in Cedar Rapids, Iowa April 11, 2014.

With the 'shackles' off, Trump takes aim at Paul Ryan

10/11/16 12:45PM

Donald Trump, as a presidential candidate, has made quite an impression on the public -- some are more impressed than others -- but apparently we've been watching a restrained version of Trump's persona, which he no longer has any use for.

"It is so nice that the shackles have been taken off me," the Republican presidential nominee declared a couple of hours ago, "and I can now fight for America the way I want to."

Yes, effective this morning, no more Mr. Nice Demagogue. Donald J. Trump will be "shackled" no more. He has a phone and a Twitter account, and he intends to put them to use like never before.

And what's on the mind of this unshackled GOP candidate? Evidently, Trump is eager to take a few shots at House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), who announced yesterday he won't defend or campaign with his party's presidential nominee through Election Day. Trump, initiating a tweetstorm of sorts, responded this morning:
"Despite winning the second debate in a landslide (every poll), it is hard to do well when Paul Ryan and others give zero support!"
Um, a couple of things. Fist, every independent, scientific poll showed Trump losing, not winning, the second debate. Second, Trump spent months insisting he'd rely on the backing of rank-and-file voters and could thrive without the backing of the establishment and GOP leaders. What changed his mind?

Trump added soon after:
"Our very weak and ineffective leader, Paul Ryan, had a bad conference call where his members went wild at his disloyalty."
Trump complained about Republicans' failure to be "loyal" to him over and over again.

We talked this morning about the Republican Party's brewing civil war, and with the GOP's presidential nominee taking direct aim at the GOP's highest-ranking elected official -- four weeks before Election Day -- this conflict is clearly getting worse.
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Tuesday's Campaign Round-Up, 10.11.16

10/11/16 12:00PM

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

* If CNN's report is accurate, and the pro-Clinton super PAC Priorities USA is getting ready to shift its focus from the presidential race to competitive Senate races, Republicans have reason to worry.

* Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) refused to extend the state's voter-registration deadline last week, despite Hurricane Matthew. Yesterday, a federal judge reversed the decision, extended the deadline, and called Scott's decision "irrational."

* Speaking of the Sunshine State, Al Gore is scheduled to campaign in Florida this afternoon, with a joint appearance at Miami Dade College.

* Clinton headlined a rally in Ohio yesterday, where attendance reportedly reached 18,000 people, making it one of Clinton's largest events of the year.

* Though there were some reports over the weekend that Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) would once again reverse course and drop his support for Donald Trump's presidential candidacy, the Republican senator insisted yesterday he's still backing his party's nominee.

* RNC spokesperson Sean Spicer was asked about Trump's latest controversy and whether the candidate's comments amounted to sexual assault. "I don't know," Spicer was quoted as saying. "I'm not a lawyer." Though the Republican official later said the quote was inaccurate, an audio recording of Spicer's comments verified the report.

* Betsy McCaughey, a prominent Trump surrogate, said on CNN last night that it's hypocritical of Clinton to criticize Trump's language on sexual assault because Clinton likes Beyonce. (I didn't understand this, either, but apparently the Republican's supporters are getting a little desperate.)

* As of this morning, Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) is still afraid to tell anyone whom he supports in the presidential race, but the incumbent senator hasn't ruled out backing Trump.
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Republican candidate for President Donald J Trump speaks to supporters at a rally at Ambridge Area Senior High School on Oct. 10, 2016 in Ambridge, Pa. (Photo by Jeff Swensen/Getty)

Donald Trump's latest threat rings hollow

10/11/16 11:19AM

There's no denying the damage Donald Trump's campaign has suffered since Friday afternoon. An audio clip from 2005 in which Trump bragged about sexual assault has thrown his candidacy and his party into turmoil, further undermining a campaign that was already losing.

As Rachel noted on the show, however, more tapes may yet surface. Indeed, with four weeks remaining before Election Day, and rumors swirling, it wouldn't surprise anyone if additional recordings created new embarrassments for the controversial Republican presidential candidate.

But don't worry, Republicans, Trump has a plan. In fact, as Yahoo News reported yesterday, the GOP nominee hopes to stop future tapes with a new threat.
Amid rumors of potentially more tapes showing him making inappropriate comments in the past, Donald Trump issued a threat to rival Hillary Clinton, saying Monday that if he keeps getting attacked, he'll keep talking about the women who have accused former President Bill Clinton of sexual assault and harassment. [...]

Rumors have swirled of other potentially damaging videos from his days as host of "The Apprentice" and other past interviews floating around. And Trump seemed to confirm there could be more shoes to drop and issued a threat to his critics. "They want to release more tapes [of me] saying inappropriate things, we'll continue to talk about Bill and Hillary Clinton doing inappropriate things," the GOP nominee declared.
NBC News posted the video of these remarks online here.

This is not a smart strategy.
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PHOTOBLOG: People stand near a burnt car at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

Why Trump's latest Benghazi theory matters more than most

10/11/16 10:57AM

Donald Trump has said so many strange things about the 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi, it may be tempting to look past his latest tirade, assuming it's more of the same. But when it comes to the Republican candidate's rhetoric last night, don't be too quick to dismiss it out of hand.

Trump addressed a crowd in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania, where he talked about Benghazi while holding a piece of paper in his hand. According to the GOP nominee, he was holding the printout of an email Sidney Blumenthal sent John Podesta -- two prominent Hillary Clinton allies -- in which, Trump said, Blumenthal "admitted they could have done something about Benghazi."

As the crowd chanted, "Lock her up!" Trump dropped the printout and said, "This just came out a little while ago."

So, what was Trump referring to? This gets a little complicated, but stick with me.

Newsweek's Kurt Eichenwald wrote a lengthy piece about Benghazi a year ago, which acknowledged, among other things, missteps from Clinton's State Department in advance of the attack. Blumenthal emailed the article to Podesta, now Clinton's campaign chairman, whose emails were recently hacked, probably by Russian officials, and published online by Wikileaks.

Yesterday, a Russian-controlled news agency screwed up the details, and published what it characterized as a bombshell: "Blumenthal believed that the investigation into Benghazi was legitimate because it was 'preventable' and the result of State Department negligence." Apparently, Sputnik thought Blumenthal wrote Eichenwald's Newsweek piece, and interpreted last year's article, which has been online for 12 months and is consistent with everything we know about Benghazi, as a new, "major revelation."

Eichenwald asked last night:
This false story was reported only by the Russian-controlled agency (a reference appeared in a Turkish publication, but it was nothing but a link to the Sputnik article). So how did Donald Trump end up advancing the same falsehood put out by Putin's mouthpiece? [...]

The Russians engage in a sloppy disinformation effort and, before the day is out, the Republican nominee for president is standing on a stage reciting the manufactured story as truth. How did this happen? Who in the Trump campaign was feeding him falsehoods straight from the Kremlin?
Those need not be rhetorical questions.
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Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump takes questions, alongside New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, left, during a campaign press event in Palm Beach, Fla., on March 01, 2016. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post/Getty)

After days of silence, Christie speaks up on latest Trump scandal

10/11/16 10:12AM

About a year and a half ago, after the shooting massacre at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, a heated political debate ensued over the official display of the Confederate battle flag. Facing pressure and media inquiries, all kinds of politicians -- in South Carolina, but also across the country -- weighed in with their perspective.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who was getting ready to launch his ill-fated presidential campaign, preferred silence. While other GOP White House candidates felt compelled to say something, Christie took his sweet time, watching what others did before raising his head.

As the Daily Beast reported at the time, "[A]fter the entire Republican primary field -- including Donald Trump and George Pataki -- had taken a position on the Confederate flag, and after the Republican governor of South Carolina, Nikki Haley, had asked for its removal from the state capitol grounds, Chris Christie seemed to calculate that it was politically safe to do the same."

Sixteen months later, Christie has again blown his chances of winning a Profile in Courage Award.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie says he was "really disturbed" by the predatory comments Donald Trump made about women a decade ago, but he is still supporting the Republican nominee for president.

Christie had been mum on the matter since the video was released late last week, but broke his silence Tuesday as he co-hosted WFAN's "Boomer & Carton" sports radio show with Craig Carton.
The political world erupted on Friday afternoon when the audio emerged of Trump's 2005 comments on sexual assault, prompting dozens of Republicans to reject his candidacy. The uproar continued on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday.

And now that just about everyone has had something to say about the matter, New Jersey's governor, a leading Trump campaign surrogate, has decided it's finally safe to let the public know how upset he is. "It's completely indefensible and I won't defend it and haven't defended it," Christie said. "That kind of talk and conversation even in private is just unacceptable."
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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)

With new vigor, Trump pushes for Clinton's imprisonment

10/11/16 09:37AM

Just a few months ago, during the Republican National Convention, far-right activists embraced the "Lock her up!" mantra with unnerving enthusiasm. Rank-and-file Republican voters, adopting a strange fascination with cabinet-level email-server protocols, were convinced that Hillary Clinton was a criminal deserving of incarceration, and a variety of GOP leaders were only too pleased to egg them on.

But as the ridiculous line of attack snowballed, Donald Trump's team advised caution. In the United States, leaders don't try to lock up their political opponents after an election. To avoid sounding like a tin-pot dictator, Trump's aides said, he should steer clear of this garbage.

Three months later, Trump is not only expressing his admiration for dictators; he's decided he no longer cares if he sounds like one.

As we discussed yesterday, Trump used the second presidential debate to declare his intention to abuse his power and order the Justice Department to prosecute Hillary Clinton after the election -- for the express purpose of putting her "in jail." It was the first time in American history a major-party presidential candidate vowed to a national audience he'd lock up his opponent if elected.

Yesterday morning, Trump's campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, dismissed the line's importance, telling MSNBC this was merely a debate "quip." She was mistaken. Trump and his team quickly embraced the put-Clinton-in-jail message, touting the line via social media, and by midday, Mike Pence was bragging about it on national television. By last night, the idea was effectively part of Trump's platform, with the candidate himself re-embracing the argument during a campaign rally.

Which is all the more reason to shine a light on Trump's undemocratic, dictatorial rhetoric. The New York Times reported this morning:
[Trump's] move would take American democracy to a dangerous new place, legal specialists across the ideological spectrum said.

"It's a chilling thought," said Michael Chertoff, a former federal appeals court judge who also served as the secretary of Homeland Security and head of the Justice Department's criminal division in the George W. Bush administration. Mr. Chertoff, who has announced that he will vote for Mrs. Clinton, added, "It smacks of what we read about tin-pot dictators in other parts of the world, where when they win an election their first move is to imprison opponents."
Politico added that Trump's over-the-top vow "provoked a sharp blowback from former U.S. prosecutors," including many who served in Republican administrations.
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Democratic presidential candidate former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (R) and U.S. president Barack Obama greet supporters during a campaign rally on July 5, 2016 in Charlotte, N.C. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty)

Prominent Trump ally says Obama and Clinton are literal demons

10/11/16 08:54AM

A couple of years ago, some Colorado voters elected former Navy chaplain Gordon Klingenschmitt to the state's General Assembly, which struck me as rather amusing. For those who follow the religious right movement closely, Klingenschmitt is a rather notorious figure, best known for, among other things, writing a book that argued, in all seriousness, that President Obama is possessed by demons.

Things didn't go particularly well for Klingenschmitt in the state legislature -- even other Republicans kept their distance -- and the right-wing lawmaker will be out of office next year. But Klingenschmitt and his wacky ideas nevertheless came to mind yesterday, because apparently the idea of the president being demon possessed isn't limited to one obscure state lawmaker.

Media Matters noted yesterday that conspiracy theorist Alex Jones told his audience yesterday that both Obama and Hillary Clinton are literal demons.
"There are dozens of videos and photos of Obama having flies land on him, indoors, at all times of year, and he'll be next to a hundred people and no one has flies on them. Hillary, reportedly, I mean, I was told by people around her that they think she's demon-possessed, okay? I'm just going to go ahead and say it, okay?

"I'm telling you, she is a demon.... I've been told this by high-up folks. They say, 'Listen, Obama and Hillary both smell like sulfur.' I never said this because the media will go crazy with it, but I've talked to people that are in protective details, they're scared of her."
I suppose it's worth emphasizing that Jones wasn't being metaphorical. We've all heard expressions about people battling their own personal "demons," but that's not what the Info Wars host was referring to. He's talking about actual demons, running the government, and Jones believes all of this because unnamed, "high-up folks" assure him it's true.

The next obvious question, of course, is why anyone should care. Alex Jones has spent years saying all kinds of bizarre, wild-eyed things, all of which was easy to ignore. So why bother taking note now?

Because those previous quotes pre-date the Donald Trump era.
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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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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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