When Republicans on the House Select Committee on Benghazi released their 800-page report this week, it landed with a thud. After years of investigations, hearings, interviews, depositions, misleading media links, and breathless coverage, GOP lawmakers once again discovered that all of their conspiracy theories were wrong. Ironically, the partisan panel, created to undermine Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign, accidentally exonerated her.
But at least it's over, right? The longest congressional investigation in the history of the United States may have ended with a whimper, but at least it ended?
Actually, no. The Huffington Post had this piece yesterday.
A day after releasing an 800-page report that failed to pin any fresh blame on Hillary Clinton, the House Select Committee on Benghazi was back to work Wednesday, interviewing a man who allegedly used the hashtag "#ifyouvoteforhillaryyouarebeyondstupid."
The report the committee released Tuesday was not necessarily the final product, as it has a working session and a vote on whether to adopt it set for July 8.
This isn't a joke. The Benghazi Committee's GOP members have already come to the conclusion that U.S. military forces couldn't have reached the Libyan city in 2012 in time to make a difference, but GOP committee members nevertheless want to hear sworn testimony from an Air Force mechanic who reached the opposite conclusion in a partisan post on Facebook.
In other words, the final report has been released to the public, but Republicans aren't giving up, and the search for evidence that doesn't exist continues.
In a press statement yesterday, Benghazi Committee Ranking Member Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) said, "Republicans are addicted to Benghazi and to exploiting this tragedy for political reasons. If we needed any more evidence that this investigation was a partisan charade, now we have it."
Cummings added, "One day after issuing their 'final' report, Republicans are requiring yet another witness to be flown to Washington so they can investigate his postings on social media. Why in the world should the American taxpayers be forced to continue paying millions of dollars for Republicans to chase down unsubstantiated conspiracy theories against Secretary Clinton?"
It can be challenging to keep track of every American constituency Donald Trump and his campaign have offended with insulting language. At various points, the Republican presidential candidate and his operation have alienated women, Latinos, African Americans, Muslims, veterans, and people with disabilities, among others.
But in case it wasn't obvious before, Native Americans certainly belong on the same list.
But while Trump was hammering trade and his should-be allies-turned-adversaries, it was his opening act that picked up the mantle of attack against Democrats, specifically Elizabeth Warren. Taking a cue from Trump's nickname of "Pocahontas" for Sen. Warren, conservative New England radio host Howie Carr took the moniker once step further during the pre-rally show.
"You know Elizabeth Warren, right?" Carr said, tapping his hand over his mouth in a mock tribal chant. The crowd loved it, some joining in with chants of their own.
Slate's Josh Voorhees raised an important point about all of this: "In the big bucket of Trump-sanctioned racism, a mock war cry from a guy who introduced the guy who introduced the candidate is but a drop. Still, if this were anyone but Trump we were talking about, he or she would be pressured to condemn the remarks. Trump, though, has dulled everyone's senses with a year's worth of controversy, so this barely registers."
And that's a shame. Casual, everyday racism should be shocking, not routine.
It's also true that for all the media chatter about the new, more mature Trump campaign operation -- we've heard quite a bit about an alleged "pivot" and "Trump 2.0" -- evidence of the purported shift doesn't appear to exist.
But Carr's ugly attempt at racial humor also serves as a reminder that when it comes to Native Americans, Team Trump's record is tough to defend.
Rachel Maddow gives an exclusive first look at new PPP national polling numbers showing relatively close race between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, but in one question, "Giant meteor hitting the Earth" polled surprisingly well. watch
Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, talks with Rachel Maddow about the follow-on effects of Monday's Supreme Court victory for abortion rights as other state laws are set to be challenged for being an undue burden to women's reproductive rights. watch
With Republican leader Donald Trump being introduced by Governor Paul LePage at an event in Maine, Rachel Maddow shares the results of a FOIA request to see the responses when LePage invited citizens to tell him whether he should resign. watch
* Turkey: "Istanbul's busy Ataturk Airport reopened on Wednesday morning, hours after a coordinated terror attack blamed on ISIS left dozens dead, scores wounded and blood streaked throughout the arrivals hall."
* On alert: "With U.S. intelligence increasingly confident that the Istanbul airport attack was the work of ISIS, officials are stepping up security at American airports -- some concerned about possible plots coinciding with the Fourth of July holiday and the Muslim Ramadan holiday, others seeking to reassure travelers with a visible show of force."
* Really, Rio? "Parts of a mutilated body washed up on the sands of Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro on Wednesday, police said, just meters from where beach volleyball athletes will compete in the upcoming Olympics."
* Today's Senate vote was 68 to 32: "Just two days before Puerto Rico is expected to miss a large debt payment, the Senate on Wednesday morning all but ensured that Congress would soon send President Obama a relief measure intended to help the financially desperate island surmount its fiscal crisis."
* Our friends to the north: "President Obama arrived in the Canadian capital on Wednesday to meet the leaders of Canada and Mexico in a summit meeting that will be his North American farewell, as well as a debut of sorts for Justin Trudeau, the Canadian prime minister, who recalls Mr. Obama's youthful image and has inherited his mantle of change."
* As "Prime Minister's Questions" go, today's session was unusually lively: "Pressure intensified on Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn to resign on Wednesday, with Britain's outgoing prime minister, the country's last Labour prime minister and Corbyn's predecessor as Labour leader all urging him to step aside." At one point, David Cameron quite literally said, "For heaven's sake, man, go!"
* Michigan "leapt at the promise of charter schools 23 years ago, betting big that choice and competition would improve public schools. It got competition, and chaos. Detroit schools have long been in decline academically and financially. But over the past five years, divisive politics and educational ideology and a scramble for money have combined to produced a public education fiasco that is perhaps unparalleled in the United States."
The scandal surrounding "Trump University" is already an albatross for Donald Trump's presidential campaign. The entire enterprise has been accused of being a con job, ripping off "students" who trusted the developer's name.
But as it turns out, there's a new, related controversy surrounding the "Trump Institute," which is something else. The New York Timesreports today that the Republican candidate "lent his name, and his credibility" to this seminar business, which offered Trump's "wealth-creating secrets and strategies" for up to $2,000.
As with Trump University, the Trump Institute promised falsely that its teachers would be handpicked by Mr. Trump. Mr. Trump did little, interviews show, besides appear in an infomercial -- one that promised customers access to his vast accumulated knowledge. "I put all of my concepts that have worked so well for me, new and old, into our seminar," he said in the 2005 video, adding, "I'm teaching what I've learned."
Reality fell far short. In fact, the institute was run by a couple who had run afoul of regulators in dozens of states and been dogged by accusations of deceptive business practices and fraud for decades. Similar complaints soon emerged about the Trump Institute.
Yet there was an even more fundamental deceit to the business, unreported until now: Extensive portions of the materials that students received after forking over their seminar fees, supposedly containing Mr. Trump's special wisdom, had been plagiarized from an obscure real estate manual published a decade earlier.
All things considered, when Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) referred to Trump as a "con man," the senator may have been on to to something.
It seems like ages ago, but the United States' international reputation took a severe hit during the Bush/Cheney years. As the war in Iraq dragged on, there were anecdotal reports about Americans traveling abroad with Canadian flags sewn onto their belongings, hoping to avoid confrontations with critics of U.S. policies and leaders.
And yet, in recent years, Republicans have invested enormous energy into an odd talking point: President Obama, they insist, has damaged America's global standing. It's not only bizarre because it was George W. Bush who actually hurt our credibility abroad, but also because there is quite a bit of evidence that our standing has improved throughout much of the world under Obama's leadership.
As the Obama era wraps up, however, international observers are keeping an eye on our presidential election, and there's fresh data showing that the world has confidence in one of the American candidates -- but not the other. The Boston Globereported today:
The world is wary of Donald Trump. Across a wide swath of advanced countries, large numbers of people say they simply don't trust Trump to do the right thing in world affairs, according to a new report from the Pew Research Center.
Even in the United States, Trump has struggled to prove his readiness on foreign policy, but those looking in from the outside seem especially skeptical.
Pew polled 15 countries, and literally none of them had confidence that Trump could be relied on "to do the right thing regarding world affairs." The Republican's best numbers were in China, but that's not saying much -- a mere 22% of Chinese respondents said they trusted the GOP candidate.
In 13 or the 15 countries included in the Pew Research Center report, people had more confidence in Russia's Vladimir Putin than Trump.
For Hillary Clinton, the numbers were largely reversed. Though the Democrat fared poorly in China and Greece, in most of the 15 countries surveyed, people said the former Secretary of State could be counted on "to do the right thing regarding world affairs."
Today's installment of campaign-related news items from across the country.
* The new national Quinnipiac poll shows Hillary Clinton leading Donald Trump by just two points, 42% to 40%. Looking through the internals, Quinnipiac found Trump doing far better with Hispanic voters than Mitt Romney did, which seems extraordinarily unlikely, and raises questions about the overall results.
* In state polls, CNN reported the results of Ballotpedia's battleground poll, which combined telephone and online respondents, and which showed Clinton with pretty sizable leads in Florida (+14), Iowa (+4), Michigan (+17), North Carolina (+10), Ohio (+9), and Pennsylvania (+14).
* The Clinton campaign announced this morning she'll campaign alongside President Obama in Charlotte, N.C., on Tuesday, July 5. It will be their first joint appearance of the cycle.
* In Arizona's U.S. Senate race, PPP shows incumbent Sen. John McCain (R) leading Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D) by only two points, 42% to 40%.
* In Iowa's U.S. Senate race, PPP shows incumbent Sen. Chuck Grassley (R) leading Patty Judge (D) by seven points, 46% to 39%.
* In New Hampshire's U.S. Senate race, PPP shows Gov. Maggie Hassan (D) leading incumbent Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R) by two points, 44% to 42%.
* In Ohio's U.S. Senate race, PPP shows incumbent Sen. Rob Portman (R) up by only one over former Gov. Ted Strickland (D), 40% to 39%.
* In Wisconsin's U.S. Senate race, PPP shows former Sen. Russ Feingold (D) with a big lead over incumbent Sen. Ron Johnson (R), 50% to 37%.
* The Senate Leadership Fund, a super PAC overseen by the Senate GOP leadership, this week reserved nearly $40 million in airtime in support of Republican Senate candidates. Note, however, which states were part of the buy: New Hampshire, Ohio, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Missouri. The fact that Illinois and Wisconsin aren't on this list, but Missouri is, raised some eyebrows.
Earlier this year, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) delivered on a key campaign promise and made his state the 31st in the nation to adopt Medicaid expansion through the Affordable Care Act. So far, the rollout process has been a great success, and hundreds of thousands of low-income Louisianans have been able to receive affordable coverage.
The question now is whether the number of Medicaid-expansion states will grow or shrink.
South Dakota was one of a handful of states considering the policy, but Gov. Dennis Daugaard (R) couldn't overcome opposition from his own party.
And then there's Kentucky, which was celebrated as a national model for ACA success, right up until Gov. Matt Bevin (R) was elected. The far-right governor ran on a platform of eliminating Medicaid expansion altogether, though he backed off soon after taking office. Last week, however, as the Courier-Journal in Louisville reported, Bevin laid out some "reforms" that he says are non-negotiable.
A thunderstorm rumbled through Frankfort Wednesday as Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin laid out his sweeping proposal to reshape the state's Medicaid plan into one he predicts will encourage responsible health choices and teach Kentuckians the basics of paying for health care.
As he spoke in the crowded Capitol Rotunda, a crack of lightning and boom of thunder reverberated through the marble corridors, prompting Bevin to pause.
"God's weighing in on this," the governor, a conservative Christian, joked. "He agrees with everything I just said."
Well, that's certainly one way of interpreting things, but given the details of his pitch, there's an alternative worth considering.
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.