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Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump is greeted by his family after the third and final debate with Democratic U.S. presidential nominee Hillary Clinton in Las Vegas, Nev., Oct. 19, 2016. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Reuters)

Role for Donald Trump's children continues to raise questions

11/29/16 11:28AM

What's it like to be interviewed by Donald Trump for a role in the president-elect's cabinet? It's not exactly a one-on-one conversation.

In fact, Politico reports on some of the members of Trump's inner circle who've participated in the discussions with prospective candidates.
One source said the interviews to date, which usually include Vice President-elect Mike Pence and one of his aides, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, Steve Bannon, Trump's incoming chief strategist, and one or more of Trump's adult children -- Ivanka, Donald Jr., and Eric, as well as Kushner -- can take on a circus-like atmosphere, with several people streaming in and out of the room.
Hmm. Trump and Pence overseeing the interviews make sense, it's not too surprising Priebus and Bannon would play a role. But I'd love to hear more about why "one or more" of Trump's kids are included in conversations with would-be cabinet members.

Of course, this report follows a New York Times article that noted in passing, "Mr. Trump's daughter Ivanka, who is in charge of planning and development of the Trump Organization's global network of hotels, has joined in conversations with at least three world leaders -- of Turkey, Argentina and Japan -- having access that could help her expand the brand worldwide."

And that article followed related reporting two weeks ago about the president-elect seeking security clearance for his adult children -- though Team Trump later denied this was true.

On the surface, there's at least some concern about Trump putting his kids in key positions of influence, but let's not forget that the president-elect has ignored calls for creating a blind trust, instead deciding to put his adult children in charge of his vast business enterprise.
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Pedro Rojas holds a sign directing people to an insurance company where they can sign up for the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, before the February 15th deadline on Feb. 5, 2015 in Miami, Fla. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty)

Many Trump supporters voted against their own health benefits

11/29/16 10:48AM

The political dynamic may sound familiar: a popular and successful Democratic chief executive was leaving office after two terms, and the race to replace him pitted an experienced and qualified Democratic official against an incompetent far-right Republican running for public office for the first time.

The GOP nominee wasn't respected, or even liked, by his party's leaders, and he developed a reputation for telling bizarre lies and making ridiculous promises, but he won the election anyway.

I'm referring, of course, to Kentucky's 2015 gubernatorial race, which inexplicably elevated Gov. Matt Bevin (R) to statewide office.

Bevin based much of his platform on his opposition to health care reform, vowing to reverse much of Kentucky's recent progress. As regular readers may recall, many voters who supported the Republican were surprised and disappointed when the governor took office and moved forward with plans to take families' benefits away -- just as he'd promised to do as a candidate.

"[I]t doesn't look to me as if [Bevin] understands," one middle-aged Kentucky man said after the election, struggling with the consequences of his own vote. "Without this little bit of help these people are giving me, I could probably die." It's a problem that apparently didn't occur to him until after he helped elect the far-right candidate.

It's striking to see history repeat itself.
Dalia Carmeli, who drives a trolley in downtown Miami, voted for Donald J. Trump on Election Day. A week later, she stopped in to see the enrollment counselor who will help her sign up for another year of health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

"I hope it still stays the same," said Ms. Carmeli, 64, who has Crohn's disease and relies on her insurance to cover frequent doctor's appointments and an array of medications.
As the results from the presidential election came into focus, it was tempting to think many of the millions of ACA beneficiaries simply didn't show up when it counted, but that's not quite right. Many of them of did vote -- for the candidate who promised to eliminate their health security.
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Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump looks at a sheet of notes and talking points as he speaks during a rally in Eugene, Ore., May 6, 2016. (Photo by Ted S. Warren/AP)

As pressure mounts, Trump's tantrums become more frequent

11/29/16 10:04AM

As of this morning, Hillary Clinton's popular-vote lead over Donald Trump is well over 2.3 million votes, a detail that the president-elect seems to find terribly annoying. In fact, as far as Trump is concerned, it only looks like he lost the popular vote -- which he secretly won if we "deduct the millions of people who voted illegally."

Reporters asked Trump transition spokesman Jason Miller yesterday if he or his team can substantiate such a claim with any kind of evidence. Miller pointed to a 2014 Washington Post story and a 2012 Pew Center study, neither of which support Trump's claims. In fact, the Republican and his aides have repeatedly pointed to these two reports, which Trump and his staff clearly haven't read and don't understand -- because they do not point to widespread voter fraud.

Naturally, a variety of news outlets began explaining to the public that Trump's "evidence" falls apart under scrutiny. The result, as CNBC noted, was the latest in a series of tantrums from the president-elect.
Donald Trump fired off another tweet storm on Monday night, attacking a CNN reporter who said the U.S. president-elect "falsely" claimed extensive voter fraud.

In a televised report, Jeff Zeleny, CNN's chief Washington correspondent, reported that Trump was showing signs of being a "sore winner," adding the president-elect had "zero evidence" to back his claim he won the popular vote or that he was a victim of widespread voter fraud.

Trump responded with a series of retweets of others' comments condemning CNN, including one which was tweeted by a user whose profile indicted he was a 16-year-old boy.
Yes, we've reached the point at which the president-elect of the United States, three weeks after the election, is quoting actual teenagers in order to criticize a journalist for telling the truth.
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The dome of the U.S. Capitol Building is reflected in a puddle on a rainy morning in Washington.

Democrats take aim at Trump's conflicts of interest

11/29/16 09:22AM

Donald Trump's avalanche of conflicts of interest are likely to cause controversies that will not go away. The question is what Congress intends to do about it.

As the Washington Post reported, Democrats -- who'll be in the minority for at least another two years -- believe the legislative branch has an oversight responsibility that must be met.
Democrats on Monday made their strongest call to date for a congressional investigation into President-elect Donald Trump's business entanglements and possible conflicts of interest, asking the GOP's top House investigator to launch a formal probe.

Seventeen Democratic members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee called on the panel's chairman, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) to "begin reviewing [Trump's] financial arrangements in order to identify and protect against conflicts of interest." The demand, in a seven-page letter, comes two weeks after the committee's ranking Democrat, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.), made a similar request to Chaffetz.
"You have the authority to launch a committee investigation, and we are calling on you to use that power now," Cummings and the other House Dems wrote. "You acted with unprecedented urgency to hold 'emergency' hearings and issue multiple unilateral subpoenas to investigate [Hillary Clinton] before the election. We ask that you show the same sense of urgency now."

Chaffetz, who earlier this month vowed to continue his investigation into Hillary Clinton's email server management, has not yet responded to his Democratic colleagues' appeal.

Last week, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) also spoke up on this issue, asking the Government Accountability Office to investigate whether or not the president-elect has already used his position for private gain.

But while Democrats, with severely limited power, take an interest in Trump's burgeoning scandal, the silence from Republicans is hard to miss.
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House Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price, R-Ga., presides over a markup session on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., March 16, 2016. (Photo by J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

Why Tom Price is a scary choice for Trump's HHS Secretary

11/29/16 08:42AM

The reason there's so much interest in who Donald Trump will choose for various positions in his administration is a simple principle: personnel is policy. We want to know what the Trump/Pence administration will do once it's in power, so we keep an eye on his cabinet and White House selections to get a sense of the next White House's substantive agenda.

And when it comes to health care, the president-elect apparently intends to go in a very dangerous direction.
President-elect Donald Trump announced Tuesday that he will nominate Georgia Rep. Tom Price to head the Department of Health and Human Services.

The Cabinet-level pick, which requires Senate confirmation, inserts one of Obamacare's most outspoken critics into the key position to dismantle it and help Republicans implement their own blueprint for health care reform.
I've been following Price's career for years, and it's hard to overstate just how conservative he is on, well, practically everything. The Georgia congressman, for example, is virulently anti-gay; during the BP oil spill, Price sided with the oil giant; and in 2011, he helped create Congress' Tea Party Caucus. (A year later, Price seemed confused about the meaning of the word "compromise.")

It was the same year Price considered running against John Boehner for the House Speaker's gavel -- because he considered the Ohio Republican insufficiently right-wing.

But Price, an orthopedic surgeon by trade, is primarily focused on health care -- which for the American mainstream, isn't good news. The Republican lawmakers has spent several years crusading to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and now Donald Trump is positioning Price to do exactly that.

Note, it was just a few years ago that many House Republicans endorsed the ACA provision that requires insurers to accept all applicants, regardless of pre-existing conditions. "It's a terrible idea," Price said at the time.

As the Huffington Post's Jonathan Cohn explained, Price did release his own ACA alternative -- which was never endorsed or embraced by his party's leaders -- which seems especially relevant now.
President-elect Donald Trump, arrives with his son Barron, center, and wife Melania, to speak to an election night rally, Nov. 9, 2016, in N.Y. (Photo by Evan Vucci/AP)

Team Trump relies on a bizarre definition of 'landslide'

11/29/16 08:00AM

The 2016 presidential election was three weeks ago, but it wasn't until yesterday that the state of Michigan officially finished its voting tally. The results were not a surprise: Donald Trump narrowly won the Wolverine State and its 16 electoral votes. Barring any surprises at the Electoral College, the Republican president-elect will end up with 306 electoral votes,

That's a total that Kellyanne Conway, Trump's campaign manager and spokesperson, apparently finds very impressive. "306. Landslide. Blowout. Historic," Conway said on Twitter yesterday.

The definition of "landslide" can be a little vague -- there is no specific, quantitative threshold to be met -- so it's hard to say with conviction that Conway is necessarily wrong. I can say, however, that if she believes 306 electoral votes constitutes a historic blowout/landslide, Conway is using a definition so generous, the words she's using have practically no meaning.

With 538 electoral votes available, Trump's 306 works out to roughly 57%. Given Republican difficulties in presidential races over the last couple of decades, that's not too shabby. But as Nate Silver explained, to see this as a historic blowout/landslide is tough to take seriously.
[I]n a historical context, Trump's Electoral College performance is decidedly below-average. So it's a bit Orwellian to call it a "landslide" or a "blowout." There have been 54 presidential elections since the ratification of the 12th Amendment in 1804. (Before that, presidential electors cast two votes each, making it hard to compare them to present-day elections.) Of those 54 cases, Trump's share of the electoral vote -- assuming there are no faithless electors or results overturned by recounts -- ranks 44th.
In the 538 era -- since 1964, candidates have needed 270 electoral votes to win the White House -- there have been 14 presidential elections. As Jamison Foser noted yesterday, Trump's total this year is the 10th largest of these 14 cycles.

In other words, what we're left with is a president-elect who lost the popular vote by more than 2 million votes, scored a modest electoral victory, and ends the year with the worst popular-vote performance of any president in 140 years.

A variety of adjectives come to mind. "Landslide," "blowout," and "historic" aren't among them.

Of course, the next question is why Trump and his team are so eager to turn his victory into something it's not.
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Monday's Mini-Report, 11.28.16

11/28/16 05:30PM

Today's edition of quick hits:

* Ohio: "An Ohio State University student plowed a car into a campus crowd, then jumped out and started stabbing people with a butcher knife before being shot dead by police Monday morning, officials said."

* Senior Chief Petty Officer Scott C. Dayton: "A 42-year-old Navy sailor whose many decorations included the Bronze Star has been identified as the first member of the American armed forces to be killed in combat in Syria, the Defense Department said on Friday."

* Where's Congress? "The escalating American military engagement in Somalia has led the Obama administration to expand the legal scope of the war against Al Qaeda, a move that will strengthen President-elect Donald J. Trump's authority to combat thousands of Islamist fighters in the chaotic Horn of Africa nation."

* Cuba: "Fidel Castro, the cigar-chomping Cuban revolutionary leader and dictator who defied U.S. efforts to topple him for five decades, has died. He was 90."

* I'd bet those are some very interesting conversations: "White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest on Monday confirmed that President Obama and Donald Trump have spoken a 'handful' of times since the election, including over the phone on Saturday."

* Brig. Gen. William King: "The highest-ranking officer implicated in last year's scandal involving the Pentagon's botched handling of anthrax has received career-killing discipline from the Army, USA Today has learned."

* An immigration story Republicans are likely to overlook: "As hiring accelerates and the labor market tightens thanks to a steady U.S. recovery, employers who need low-skilled workers are increasingly struggling to fill vacancies. One big reason: Mexican workers, who form the labor backbone of industries like hospitality, construction and agriculture, are in short supply."
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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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