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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)

Trump sees Paul Ryan involved in a 'sinister deal'

10/13/16 10:01AM

On Monday, with Republican politics facing crisis conditions, Jerry Falwell Jr. shared a new conspiracy: maybe GOP leaders on Capitol Hill were responsible for the 2005 "Access Hollywood" recording in which Donald Trump boasted about sexual assault.

"I've got some independent information, but I'm not going to reveal it on the air, but I think some of the establishment folks who reluctantly endorsed him had this planned all along as a way to slither out of the endorsement," the Liberty University chief said. "It wasn't a coincidence that it came out right before Trump was supposed to appear with Paul Ryan at a rally, and it conveniently gave Paul Ryan a way to disinvite Trump."

Breitbart News, true to form, found this quite compelling.

The conspiracy theory is obviously hard to take seriously, but it may have helped influence Donald Trump a bit. Yesterday, the Republican presidential hopeful said the Speaker of the House didn't congratulate him on his latest debate performance -- which  is proof of something "sinister."
"Wouldn't you think that Paul Ryan would say 'Good going'? In front of just about the largest audience for a second night debate in the history of the country?" Trump began. "You'd think they would say 'Great going, Don. Let's go. Let's beat this crook. She's a crook. Let's beat her. We've got to stop it!'"

"No, he doesn't do that," Trump said as the crowd booed along. "There is a whole deal going on there. There is a whole deal going on and we're going to figure it out. I always figure things out. But there's a whole sinister deal going on."
Let's unpack this a bit, because while much of this is nonsensical, something important is lurking in the background.
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Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., chair of the Senate Republican Caucus, speaks with reporters at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, July 24, 2013. (Photo by J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

Some of Trump's GOP critics reverse course, re-endorse him

10/13/16 09:21AM

On Saturday, Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) heard the recording of Donald Trump boasting about groping women and decided she'd had enough. The Nebraska Republican denounced her party's presidential nominee and declared that Trump ought to "step aside and allow Mike Pence to serve as our party's nominee."

By Tuesday, Fischer had reversed course, announcing that she'd vote for Trump after all. As the New York Times reported, she wasn't alone.
Stung by a fierce backlash from Donald J. Trump's ardent supporters, four Republican members of Congress who had made headlines for demanding that Mr. Trump leave the presidential race retreated quietly this week, conceding that they would still probably vote for the man they had excoriated just days before.

From Senator John Thune of South Dakota, the only member of the Republican leadership in either chamber who had disavowed Mr. Trump, to Representative Scott Garrett of New Jersey, who is in a difficult re-election fight, the lawmakers contorted themselves over Mr. Trump.
For some of these Republicans, the quick reversal is tough to explain. Thune, for example, made his thoughts quite clear on Saturday afternoon: "Donald Trump should withdraw and Mike Pence should be our nominee effective immediately." Trump, of course, didn't withdraw, and Thune has decided he wants Trump to be president anyway.

Among U.S. House members, Alabama's Bradley Byrne (R) and New Jersey's Scott Garrett (R) also said over the weekend that Trump should be replaced as the GOP nominee. Yesterday, they both re-endorsed Trump's candidacy.

I'm trying to think of the most charitable interpretation of these events. Let's say for the sake of conversation that these congressional Republicans were outraged by the 2005 "Access Hollywood" recording, but they were also satisfied when Trump apologized and said he didn't actually do what he claimed to have done.

Perhaps Thune, Fischer, and others believe Trump was lying when he bragged about groping women, but he was telling the truth when he denied physical misconduct.
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Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at the Lakeland Linder Regional Airport on Oct. 12, 2016 in Lakeland, Fla. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty)

Trump's rejection of opposition research comes back to haunt him

10/13/16 08:40AM

As the public learned last night about new allegations of sexual misconduct against Donald Trump, cartoonist Tom Tomorrow raised a good point: evidently, none of Trump's Republican primary rivals "have ever heard of oppo research."

It's an important observation. In every presidential election, it's a standard practice for campaigns to hire professional opposition researchers to investigate rivals and look for potentially damaging information about their records. Somehow, even in an enormous, 17-candidate GOP field, Trump's Republican opponents failed to uncover many of the controversies that are currently dogging the party's nominee.

It's easy to imagine folks like Ted Cruz and Jeb Bush turning to their aides last night and asking, "Why didn't you guys find any of this stuff?"

But let's also not forget that opposition research is also supposed to be introspective. As we discussed in May, it's Campaign Management 101: It's not enough to research your rivals; you have to research yourself. Taking a close look at your opponents' backgrounds will help uncover their strengths and weaknesses, but digging through your own background will help you anticipate and prepare for potential embarrassments and controversies.

And if it seems as if Team Trump has been caught unprepared for some of its recent scandals, it may have something to do with the fact that the Republican campaign never scrutinized the candidate's past.

Remember this report from Mother Jones' David Corn?
For most major presidential campaigns, it is a routine act: You conduct opposition research on your own candidate. The reason is obvious; campaign officials and candidates want to know what they might have to contend with once the you-know-what starts flying. But not Donald Trump.

At least not at the start of the campaign that would lead to him becoming the presumptive GOP nominee. According to a source with direct knowledge, when Trump was considering entering the presidential race early last year, his political advisers, including Corey Lewandowski, who would become his campaign manager, suggested that he hire a professional to investigate his past. But the celebrity mogul said no and refused to pay for it.
In other words, when any of the various damaging revelations -- about Trump's finances, his boasts about his romances, women who allege he groped them -- the Republican candidate's staff has no prepared response because they don't know what's coming.
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Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is seen during a press conference at Los Pinos on Aug. 31, 2016 in Mexico City, Mexico. (Photo by Hector Vivas/LatinContent/Getty)

Trump confronts new allegations of sexual misconduct

10/13/16 08:00AM

Last night, new allegations of sexual misconduct directed at Donald Trump were almost hard to keep up with. Women, who just recently decided to go on the record with their stories, talked to a variety of news outlets about their alleged experiences, and each of the stories are worth considering in detail.

Here's the New York Times report, the Palm Beach Post report, and the People magazine report, each featuring accounts that have not yet been verified by MSNBC or NBC News. There's also this NBC News report on allegations from a former participant in the 1997 Miss USA pageant.

As Rachel emphasized on the show, as of last night, the Republican candidate and his campaign team emphatically denied the accuracy of each of the claims. Because many of the incidents involve actions that may have taken place several years ago, it will be difficult to know with certainty what did and did not occur between Trump and his accusers.

As for the politics of all of this -- the allegations surfaced with just four weeks remaining until Election Day, with early voting in some states already underway -- one of the unusual facets to these developments is the order in which they unfolded.

Late Friday, we learned that Trump was recorded in 2005 boasting about his romantic exploits, which eventually led him to brag about committing sexual assaults. The Republican presidential candidate said, among other things, that he kisses women he considers beautiful -- "I don't even wait," Trump claimed -- which he said he can get away with because of his public profile.

"And when you're a star, they let you do it," Trump said on the recording. "You can do anything. Grab 'em by the p—y."

Two days later, Americans saw this exchange between Trump and Anderson Cooper at the second presidential debate:
COOPER: So, for the record, you're saying you never did [the things you described in 2005]?

TRUMP: I've said things that, frankly, you hear these things I said. And I was embarrassed by it. But I have tremendous respect for women.

COOPER: Have you ever done those things?

TRUMP: And women have respect for me. And I will tell you: No, I have not.
It was this back and forth that apparently encouraged some women to speak up.
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Wednesday's Mini-Report, 10.12.16

10/12/16 05:30PM

Today's edition of quick hits:

* This keeps happening: "A U.S. Navy destroyer was targeted on Wednesday in a failed missile attack from territory in Yemen controlled by Iran-aligned Houthi rebels, the second such incident in the past four days, U.S. officials told Reuters."

* Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf "is retiring as chairman and CEO of the bank, effective immediately, Dow Jones reported on Wednesday citing a source."

* Russia isn't denying the allegations anymore: "The Federal Bureau of Investigation suspects Russian intelligence agencies are behind the recent hacking of the emails of Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman and of a contractor handling Florida voter data, according to people briefed on the investigations."

* On a related note: "The White House vowed to hit Russia with a 'proportional' response after the conclusion by U.S. intelligence officials that Moscow hacked into emails from the Democratic National Committee and other organizations, then leaked thousands of files to interfere with the outcome of the presidential election."

* The death toll in the state has reached 19: "As North Carolina struggles with the deadly aftermath of Hurricane Matthew, forecasters Wednesday warned that rain-fed waters were still on the rise in some areas -- with at least one river expected to crest this weekend at nearly double the flood stage."
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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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