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Friday's Mini-Report, 9.23.16

09/23/16 05:30PM

Today's edition of quick hits:

* Charlotte: "Unsettling footage obtained by NBC News shows the moments leading up to the fatal police shooting of Keith Lamont Scott in Charlotte, North Carolina."

* Also in North Carolina: "Charlotte police on Friday announced the arrest of a suspect in the killing of a demonstrator shot during protests this week over a police-involved shooting."

* Tulsa: "The life and career of the white Oklahoma police officer who fatally shot an unarmed black man last week is now under a microscope. Tulsa police Officer Betty Shelby, a five-year veteran of the force, has been charged with manslaughter for fatally shooting 40-year-old Terence Crutcher on a highway."

* Big news out of Ohio: "In the latest court victory for voting rights, a federal appeals panel on Friday ruled against Ohio's controversial procedure for removing inactive voters from the rolls. The decision could give a modest boost to Hillary Clinton in a crucial swing state."

* A rare veto: "President Barack Obama on Friday vetoed controversial legislation aimed at helping the families of the victims of the September 11th attacks sue Saudi Arabia -- a move that sets up an emotionally-charged, election year showdown between an outgoing commander-in-chief and members of his party who supported the bill."

* New Jersey: "Key members of the New Jersey Assembly have begun researching whether or not to bring articles of impeachment against Gov. Chris Christie, NBC 4 New York has learned."

* Sometimes, little, off-the-beaten-path stories can be incredibly important: "A judge appointed by President Obama has been added to the group that will decide the fate of his landmark climate change regulation. The addition of Judge Nina Pillard tips the scales further toward Democratic appointees for the case, which comes before the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit next week."
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Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) speaks with Donald Trump during a Tea Party Patriots rally against the Iran nuclear deal on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 9, 2015. (Photo by Pete Marovich/Bloomberg/Getty)

Abandoning all principles Ted Cruz backs Donald Trump

09/23/16 04:42PM

It was one of the most striking and memorable moments of the Republican National Convention. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), the runner-up in the race for the party's presidential nomination, was under pressure to endorse Donald Trump, but the Texas senator just couldn't bring himself to do it.

Facing a chorus of relentless boos from Trump loyalists on the convention floor, Cruz instead told Republicans, "Vote your conscience."

That was two months ago. This afternoon, Cruz changed his mind, publishing a 700-word piece on Facebook announcing his support for his party's nominee.
"After many months of careful consideration, of prayer and searching my own conscience, I have decided that on Election Day, I will vote for the Republican nominee, Donald Trump. I've made this decision for two reasons. First, last year, I promised to support the Republican nominee. And I intend to keep my word.

"Second, even though I have had areas of significant disagreement with our nominee, by any measure Hillary Clinton is wholly unacceptable...."
The Texas senator's piece went on to highlight a variety of key priorities that he considers pivotal -- the Supreme Court, health care policy, energy policy, refugees, immigration, and Internet governance -- as part of his case for supporting Trump.

Of course, what he didn't mention is that those identical issues were equally important to Cruz two months ago, when he refused to endorse the GOP nominee.

In other words, if today's announcement makes it seem as if Cruz is a craven opportunist, far more interested in partisan gamesmanship than deeply held principles, it's probably because he's making it difficult to draw any other conclusion.
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Podiums stand empty prior to the start of a South Carolina Republican presidential debate in Myrtle Beach, S.C. on Jan. 16, 2012 (

The debates leading up to the debates

09/23/16 01:02PM

The first presidential debate featuring Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump is scheduled for Monday night, which means assorted partisans are hard at work, furiously trying to shape public perceptions ahead of the big showdown.

There are three broad angles to this that are worth keeping in mind between now and showtime.

1. Donald Trump is terrified of real-time fact-checking.

Republicans are still angry with CNN's Candy Crowley fact-checking Mitt Romney during a debate four years ago, and Donald Trump spent some time this week lobbying NBC News' Lester Holt, among other moderators, to let the candidates argue among themselves.

"You're debating somebody, and if she makes a mistake, or if I make a mistake, we'll take each other on," Trump said during one of his several Fox News appearances this week. He added that he and Clinton should simply "argue it out."

It's bound to be tricky. If a moderator, such as Crowley, provides the public with information that contradicts a candidate, he or she is the target of intense criticism. Note, however, that NBC News' Matt Lauer also faced equally intense rebukes recently for hosting an event in which he let some brazen Donald Trump lies go without pushback.

Trump clearly prefers the latter, creating a "he said, she said" dynamic in which viewers aren't sure who to believe. Whether Holt and other moderators stick to that model remains to be seen.

2. The expectations game is getting ridiculous.

I wrote a piece a few weeks ago about the campaigns going to borderline silly lengths to set expectations ahead of the debate -- "Our candidate is going to do terribly, and our rival will be amazing" -- and the problem has only intensified. The New York Times reported today:
Mr. Trump is largely shunning traditional debate preparations, but has been watching video of Mrs. Clinton's best and worst debate moments, looking for her vulnerabilities. [...]

Mr. Trump ... is approaching the debate like a Big Man on Campus who thinks his last-minute term paper will be dazzling simply because he wrote it. He has paid only cursory attention to briefing materials. He has refused to use lecterns in mock debate sessions despite the urging of his advisers. He prefers spitballing ideas with his team rather than honing them into crisp, two-minute answers.
The Associated Press has a similar report today. Take both with many grains of salt.
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Friday's Campaign Round-Up, 9.23.16

09/23/16 12:00PM

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

* Hillary Clinton's campaign released a hard-hitting new ad this morning, highlighting Donald Trump's most offensive rhetoric towards women. The spot, titled "Mirrors," apparently began airing today in Ohio, New Hampshire, Iowa, Florida, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and on national cable.

* The Trump campaign announced a new campaign chair for Mahoning County, Ohio, after the previous chair resigned following racist comments. The successor, Ohio GOP Treasurer Tracey Winbush, reportedly deleted 17,000 tweets yesterday, including one in which she described Trump as a "racist, sexist demagogue."

* Trump's campaign unveiled a new list overnight of 10 additional conservatives the Republican would consider for the U.S. Supreme Court if elected. The list includes Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), who's said a few unflattering things about Trump.

* In Alaska, former Sen. Mark Begich (D) openly flirted with the idea of running a write-in Senate campaign this year, but yesterday, he announced that he's decided against it.

* Trump talked a bit about his approach to energy policy yesterday in Pittsburgh, and vowed to be an ambitious industry ally -- which means scrapping regulations on the oil and gas industry, boosting coal, and opening more public lands to drilling.

* The Washington Post reported this week that a group of 75 "retired career Foreign Service officers, including ambassadors and senior State Department officials under Republican and Democratic presidents over nearly a half-century, has signed an open letter calling Donald Trump 'entirely unqualified to serve as President and Commander-in-Chief.'"
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Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks to retired and active law enforcement personnel at a Fraternal Order of Police lodge during a campaign stop in Statesville, N.C. on Aug. 18, 2016. (Photo by Gerald Herbert/AP)

Donald Trump's stop-and-frisk policy raises eyebrows

09/23/16 11:20AM

At a Fox News event this week, Donald Trump seemed to endorse taking "stop-and-frisk" policies to a national level to address urban crime. "I would do stop-and-frisk," the Republican said. "I think you have to. We did it in New York, it worked incredibly well and you have to be proactive and, you know, you really help people sort of change their mind automatically."

Of course, what Trump doesn't seem to understand is that stop-and-frisk didn't work "incredibly well" at all, and when challenged in the courts, the policy was ruled unconstitutional.

When Trump recently told African-American communities, "What do you have to lose?" he neglected to mention the answer: Fourth Amendment rights.

Nearly as important, however, is how the Republican candidate tried to clean up his latest mess, calling into Fox News yesterday to elaborate on his preferred approach.
"[Police officers are] proactive, and if they see a person possibly with a gun or they think they have a gun, they will see the person and they'll look and they'll take the gun away. They'll stop, they'll frisk and they'll take the gun away, and they won't have anything to shoot with."
I have a strong hunch Trump doesn't appreciate how interesting his comments are.
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Omarosa Manigault arrives at the 44th Annual NAACP Image Awards at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles on Feb. 1, 2013. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

Trump aide: Critics will 'bow down to President Trump'

09/23/16 10:40AM

Perhaps now would be a good time to talk a bit about Donald Trump's messianic streak.
Donald Trump's director of African-American outreach has an ominous warning for all who dared to criticize the Republican presidential nominee: Soon, they will have to bow down to "the most powerful man in the universe."
No, really. Omarosa Manigault, a reality-show personality who joined the Trump campaign as a staffer in July, told PBS -- out loud, on the record, on camera -- "Every critic, every detractor, will have to bow down to President Trump. It's everyone who's ever doubted Donald, who ever disagreed, who ever challenged him. It is the ultimate revenge to become the most powerful man in the universe."

Eight years ago, one of the more common Republican criticisms of then-Sen. Barack Obama was that he had a messianic streak. Talk of "Greek columns" at the Democratic convention was one of the most popular GOP talking points of 2008.

Try to imagine what the reaction might have been if an Obama campaign aide had said, "Every critic, every detractor, will have to bow down to President Obama."
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Libertarian Party presidential candidate Gary Johnson gives acceptance speech during National Convention held at the Rosen Centre in Orlando, Fla., May 29, 2016. (Photo by Kevin Kolczynski/Reuters)

Gary Johnson isn't doing himself any favors

09/23/16 10:10AM

Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson spoke at a Bloomberg Politics event this week, where he made quite an impression. If you watch this clip, note the part in which Johnson, a former Republican governor, makes a strange face and starts shaking his chair for reasons that aren't altogether clear.

This week, Johnson also sat down with NBC News' Kasie Hunt, and during the interview, the presidential candidate apparently thought it'd be funny if he spoke -- for a surprisingly long time -- with his tongue out. As the video shows, Hunt seemed baffled, as any normal person would be.

The clips are a reminder of Johnson's unusual position as a presidential hopeful right now. On the one hand, polls show the former governor doing quite well for an underfunded Libertarian, and this year he'll be the first third-party candidate to appear on the ballot in all 50 states since Ross Perot in 1996.

On the other hand, Johnson isn't exactly taking full advantage of the opportunity he's been given. It's not just the goofy persona, either -- this week, the national candidate said how relieved he was that "nobody got hurt" when a bomb exploded in New York and a man with a knife attacked people in a Minnesota mall. In reality, dozens of people were injured in the incidents.

Stories like these don't help, either.
Peter Schulman of Mother Jones has found a remarkable video from 2011 where Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson dismissed concerns about climate change because, countless generations from now, the earth will be destroyed. As Johnson explained to the National Press Club in 2012, "In billions of years the sun is going to actually grow and encompass the Earth, right? So global warming is in our future."

As Schulman notes, this absurd argument is in keeping with Johnson's general opposition to doing anything about climate change.
This is the guy many young, liberal voters are gravitating towards?
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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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