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Files on Trump part of hacked document set

Hacked DNC files on Trump posted online

06/15/16 10:18PM

Guy Cecil, co-chair and chief strategist of the pro-Clinton Priorties USA SuperPAC, talks with Rachel Maddow about how campaigns compile opposition research against opponents, and the files stolen from the DNC by Russian hackers and published online today. watch

Trump would be oldest to take White House

Trump would be oldest to take White House

06/15/16 09:55PM

Rachel Maddow wishes a happy birthday to Republican presumptive presidential nominee Donald Trump, noting that at 70, he would be the oldest person to ascend to the office of the presidency, and as recently as a year ago probably didn't expect to find himself in such a position. watch

Russian hackers add intrigue to US election

Russian hackers add intrigue to US election

06/15/16 09:04PM

Rachel Maddow reports on the hacking theft of, among other documents, some opposition research on Donald Trump from the DNC by Russian hackers, which has not been released online and to the media, raising the prospect that Russia is involving itself in the U.S. election. watch

Wednesday's Mini-Report, 6.15.16

06/15/16 05:30PM

Today's edition of quick hits:
 
* Quite a sight: "Led by the senators who represent Newtown, Connecticut -- where a gunman fatally shot 26 people, including 20 children, in 2012 -- Democrats took control of the Senate floor Wednesday and vowed to keep talking until lawmakers start doing something about gun violence."
 
* The only responsible choice: "The Federal Reserve did not raise its benchmark interest rate on Wednesday, and the central bank said it expected to raise rates more slowly in coming years, an acknowledgment that economic growth had again disappointed its expectations."
 
* CBS News poll: "According to the survey, Americans give the President net positive ratings on his response to the Orlando attack. More than half disapprove (51 percent) of presidential candidate Donald Trump's response and are split in their opinions in how Hillary Clinton has handled the situation."
 
* Texas: "Amarillo Police say an armed man who allegedly took hostages at a Walmart store was fatally shot by police. No shoppers, employees or hostages were harmed in the incident, police said. Police have not yet released the identity of the suspect or [said] if he was a Walmart employee."
 
* Aaron Persky, "the judge facing intense backlash over his sentencing in the sexual assault trial of a former Stanford swimmer, has been removed from another sex assault case at the request of the Santa Clara District Attorney's Office."
 
* California now has the sixth largest economy in the world: "The federal Bureau of Economic Analysis says that California's economy ... had been the eighth largest economy, and passed France and Brazil with the release of the latest report."
The dome of the U.S. Capitol Building is reflected in a puddle on a rainy morning in Washington.

Why Republican despondence over Trump matters

06/15/16 12:47PM

Every time Republican officials believe Donald Trump might finally pivot, shake the Etch a Sketch, and become a credible general-election candidate, the presumptive GOP nominee moves in the opposite direction. The only difference between Primary-Phase Trump and General-Election Trump is the specific target of his ire. The overall message, however, remains the same.
 
MSNBC's Benjy Sarlin reported from Capitol Hill yesterday, where Democratic leaders challenged Republicans to come up with some kind of defense for Trump's reaction to the mass-shooting in Orlando. "Few," Sarlin noted, "took up the call."
Instead, GOP lawmakers in Washington jumped, ducked and crawled through yet another obstacle course laid by Trump as reporters peppered them with questions about the candidate's proposed ban on Muslim travel, his suggestions that President Obama sympathizes with radical Islamists and should resign and his threat of "big consequences" for Muslim communities in America who he says are harboring terrorists. [...]
 
[Some Republicans] looked like they would rather be anywhere else doing anything but taking a question on Trump.... Senator Tim Scott, R-S.C., paused a moment after being asked by NBC News whether he had any thoughts on Trump's response to Orlando.
 
"You know ... hmm," he said. Then without another word, he walked onto the Senate floor.
The Tim Scott reaction was striking, but quotes like these were extremely common yesterday. Sarlin's report is filled with quotes from Republican officials in the House and Senate -- some Trump supporters, some not -- nearly all of whom did their best to say as little as possible about the GOP presidential candidate who's left them feeling despondent.
 
Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) went so far as to say, "We do not have a nominee until after the convention." I'm not entirely sure what he meant, but they're not the words of an influential Republican insider who's feeling pride in his party's presumptive nominee.
 
The Washington Post published a similar report last night. So did Politico. So did Reuters. So did Bloomberg Politics. GOP officials are neither pleased nor confident, they're struggling to pretend otherwise, and everyone is noticing.
 
The question, of course, is why this matters.

Wednesday's Campaign Round-Up, 6.15.16

06/15/16 12:00PM

Today's installment of campaign-related news items from across the country.
 
* Hillary Clinton cruised to an easy win in yesterday's DC primary -- literally the last nominating contest of the year -- defeating Bernie Sanders, 79% to 21%. It marked the end of a strong run for Clinton: she won seven of the last nine primaries and caucuses.
 
* On a related note, Sanders and Clinton met last night for a closed-door conversation, which reportedly ran for nearly two hours, at a D.C. hotel. NBC News confirmed that Sanders' wife and campaign manager were in attendance, as were Clinton's campaign chairman and campaign manager.
 
* For only the third time this year, a congressional incumbent lost in a primary yesterday, with Rep. Randy Forbes (R) losing to a state lawmaker in a newly redrawn Virginia district.
 
* Both parties were pleased with the results of Nevada's U.S. Senate primaries, in which Rep. Joe Heck (R) and former state Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto (D) prevailed. Sharron Angle's bid for higher office will have to wait for another cycle.
 
* Also in Nevada, Democratic congressional hopeful Lucy Flores lost in a primary yesterday, despite support from Bernie Sanders.
 
* North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R) said a "scheduling issue" prevented him from joining Donald Trump at a rally yesterday, but the governor did appear at a behind-closed-doors fundraiser with Trump a few hours earlier.
A sign identifies the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) building in Washington, D.C. on May 7, 2010. (Photo by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg/Getty)

Republicans moving forward with IRS impeachment gambit

06/15/16 11:20AM

If you're waiting for cooler heads to prevail, and for House Republicans to find some new partisan toy to play with, lower your expectations. Bloomberg Politics reports that GOP lawmakers are moving forward with their latest impeachment gambit today.
A House committee plans to vote Wednesday on whether to censure Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen over Republican claims that he obstructed an investigation into whether his agency targeted conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status.
 
The action by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee comes before a planned June 22 hearing by the House Judiciary Committee about a resolution to impeach Koskinen. House Republican leaders have not promised floor votes on the proposals, and neither effort is expected to move through the Senate.
These latest steps come on the heels of House Republicans touting a slick IRS conspiracy video, created by GOP officials on the House Oversight Committee, which Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) played for members during his recent testimony in support of impeachment.

Update: The Washington Post reported midday: "A divided House committee voted Wednesday to censure Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen." The vote fell along party lines.

As for whether any of this is a justifiable use of congressional time and energy, it's an awfully tough sell.
A woman points a handgun with a laser sight on a wall display of other guns during the National Rifle Association convention Friday, April 13, 2007, in St. Louis.

AMA pushes Republicans to support gun research

06/15/16 10:40AM

The American Medical Association has traditionally been pretty friendly with Republicans, which made it all the more noteworthy when the physicians' organization voted to endorse a resolution characterizing gun violence as "a public health crisis," and pledging to start lobbying Congress on gun research. NBC News reported:
The White House and public health experts say gun research should be no different from the work that led to seat belt laws.
 
But Congress has blocked federal health agencies from the researching -- or even paying for the research of -- gun violence since the 1990s. President Barack Obama directed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to pay for and undertake gun safety research, but Congress sent a clear message by appropriating no money for the CDC to do so.
AMA President Dr. Steven Stack said in a statement, "Even as America faces a crisis unrivaled in any other developed country, the Congress prohibits the CDC from conducting the very research that would help us understand the problems associated with gun violence and determine how to reduce the high rate of firearm-related deaths and injuries."
 
He added, "An epidemiological analysis of gun violence is vital so physicians and other health providers, law enforcement and society at large may be able to prevent injury, death and other harms to society resulting from firearms."
 
This is an under-appreciated aspect of the debate. Last fall, after one of the many mass-shootings in recent years, President Obama explained, "We spent over a trillion dollars and passed countless laws and devote entire agencies to preventing terrorist attacks on our soil, and rightfully so. And yet we have a Congress who explicitly blocks us from even collecting data on how we could potentially reduce gun deaths. How can that be?"
US military soldiers march during the Veterans Day Parade in New York on Nov. 11, 2014. (Photo by Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty)

Trump accuses U.S. troops of stealing money in Iraq

06/15/16 10:00AM

As a rule, American presidential candidates tend to say positive things about U.S. servicemen and women, especially war veterans. But as Politico noted last night, Donald Trump is trying something a little different.
Donald Trump rang in the Army's 241st birthday in unusual fashion on Tuesday -- by calling attention to theft of government funds by American soldiers in Iraq.
 
"Iraq, crooked as hell. How about bringing baskets of money -- millions and millions of dollars -- and handing it out?," Trump said at an evening rally. "I want to know who were the soldiers that had that job, because I think they're living very well right now, whoever they may be."
A campaign spokesperson claimed soon after that Trump was referring to Iraqi soldiers, but that's extremely hard to believe. In reality, it was Americans, not Iraqis, who were distributing millions of dollars, so the defense doesn't make a lot of sense.
 
It's worth noting that there were allegations -- and some prosecutions -- of U.S. troops accused of skimming, so I suppose there's some truth to Trump's rhetoric. But why take a gratuitous shot like this?
 
As the Politico report put it, "Trump has painted himself as a champion of soldiers and veterans, and it is unusual for American politicians on the campaign trail to call out members of the military, one of the country's most popular institutions, for their transgressions."
A voter steps into a voting booth to mark his ballot at a polling site for the New Hampshire primary, Feb. 9, 2016, in Nashua, N.H. (Photo by David Goldman/AP)

Latest polls show Clinton getting stronger, Trump falling

06/15/16 09:20AM

When Donald Trump wrapped up the Republicans' presidential nomination, 2016 polling showed him gaining on -- and in some cases, even surpassing -- Hillary Clinton. The combination of GOP consolidation and Democratic divisions meant a general election landscape that looked very close.
 
The problem for Republicans is that this dynamic couldn't last. Consider the latest Bloomberg Politics poll released late yesterday.
Democrat Hillary Clinton has opened up a double-digit lead nationally over Republican Donald Trump, whose negatives remain unusually high for a presidential candidate amid early indications that the Orlando terrorist attack has had little direct impact on the 2016 race.
 
A new Bloomberg Politics national poll shows Clinton leading Trump 49 percent to 37 percent among likely voters in November's election, with 55 percent of those polled saying they could never vote for the real-estate developer and TV personality.
Note, there are multiple factors unfolding at the same time. Clinton is starting to consolidate Democratic backing now that her party's primaries and caucuses are over; Clinton allies have begun hitting the airwaves with effective (and for now, unanswered) ads in battleground states; and Trump has faced intense scrutiny of late over his bigoted antics.
 
The result is a 12-point lead for the former Secretary of State as the general election gets underway in earnest. (For context, it's worth noting that four years ago at this time, a Bloomberg Politics poll showed President Obama ahead by 13 points. In terms of the national popular vote, he ended up winning by 4 points.)
 
Complicating matters, a new Washington Post/ABC News poll shows a whopping 70% of Americans now have an unfavorable opinion of Trump, while only 29% have a favorable view. Both are the worst numbers the Republican has seen this year.
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump pauses while delivering a campaign speech about national security in Manchester, N.H., June 13, 2016. (Photo by Bryan Snyder/Reuters)

Trump accuses Obama of siding with U.S. enemies

06/15/16 08:39AM

Two weeks ago, Donald Trump escalated his racist attacks against a Latino federal judge, sparking a national controversy and causing widespread Republican heartburn. As the race for the Democratic presidential nomination wrapped up, this is how the presumptive Republican nominee wanted to launch the general-election phase.
 
But take a moment to consider what we've seen from the GOP candidate since his offensive against U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel. At times, it's been dizzying: Trump went after Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) in a rather racially charged way; Trump adopted a self-congratulatory posture about the deadliest mass shooting in American history; Trump said President Obama should resign because he won't use the anti-Muslim phrasing Republicans like to hear; Trump suggested the president might be a terrorist sympathizer; Trump stripped the Washington Post of its press credentials; and Trump delivered a nauseating and brazenly dishonest speech demanding a ban on Muslims entering the country and targeting American Muslims' loyalties.
 
And really, that's just a sampling -- from the last five days.
 
Yesterday, after President Obama made Trump's rhetoric look ridiculous, the Republican candidate responded in the most Trump-like fashion possible, telling the Associated Press:
"President Obama claims to know our enemy, and yet he continues to prioritize our enemy over our allies, and for that matter, the American people.
 
"When I am President, it will always be America First."
The Atlantic's James Fallows noted soon after, "Saying that the Commander in Chief has prioritized the enemy's interests is an accusation of treason.... I am not aware of any previous case, whatsoever, of a national-ticket candidate publicly accusing a president or presidential nominee of a capital offense."
House Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions, R-Texas, at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, May 7, 2014.

GOP lawmaker says Orlando shooting site wasn't a gay club

06/15/16 08:00AM

House Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions (R-Texas) has an amazing habit of saying some pretty remarkable things. Yesterday, however, the far-right congressman nevertheless managed to surprise.
 
For those unfamiliar with Sessions' background, in 2014, Sessions became strikingly confused about what a “witch hunt’ is. The year before, Sessions said he believes it’s “immoral” to extend jobless aid to “long-term unemployments [sic].” Around the same time, the congressman said the House should stop worrying about governing and focus exclusively on “messaging.”

Last year, the Texas Republican said he holds President Obama “personally accountable” for murders committed by undocumented immigrants, pointing to imaginary evidence. Sessions then insisted the Affordable Care Act costs Americans $5 million per person. (He was only off by $4,991,000.)
 
But despite this record, I didn't see this one coming.
Asked on Tuesday afternoon whether the massacre of 49 people at an Orlando gay nightclub changes his opposition to a pro-LGBT bill, House Rules Committee chairman Pete Sessions (R-TX) denied the venue had anything to do with the gay community whatsoever. "It was a young person's nightclub, I'm told. And there were some [LGBT people] there, but it was mostly Latinos," told reporters, according to National Journal.
 
Sessions has stood in firm opposition to the Maloney Amendment, an attachment that would bar federal contractors from discriminating against LGBT individuals.
Let's set the record straight: the mass shooting took place at a nightclub called Pulse, which describes itself as "the hottest gay bar in Orlando." The night of the massacre, it was hosting a Latino night, but that doesn't change the fact that the venue caters to an LGBT audience.
 
For Sessions to pretend otherwise is bizarre. The Texan's office told TPM the published quotes are correct, but "taken out of context without the background information." Sessions' spokesperson said, "What my boss meant to say was that there weren't only gay individuals at the club but people from all walks of life were present."
 
Perhaps, though that's not what the House Republican said. What's more, the broader legislative context relates to Sessions' opposition to an amendment that would ban anti-LGBT discrimination among federal contractors. The point, in other words, is determining whether the Orlando murders might change Sessions' perspective about preventing employment discrimination.
 
And it's against this backdrop that the Texas lawmaker said he doesn't necessarily consider the gay nightclub a gay nightclub.

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