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Thursday's Mini-Report, 7.21.16

07/21/16 05:30PM

Today's edition of quick hits:
 
* It's been quite a year for politics, hasn't it? "Roger Ailes resigned as chairman and CEO of Fox News Thursday, after days of speculation as to his future with the network after a sexual harassment lawsuit was filed against him by a former anchor, 21st Century Fox said."
 
* When an unarmed man is lying on the ground, with his hands in the air, and gets shot anyway, there's a problem: " A North Miami behavior therapist trying to help a patient with autism says he was shot in the leg by cops responding to the scene -- even after he laid down on the pavement and put his hands in the air."
 
* France: "Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, who killed 84 people in a terrorist attack in Nice, France, last week, planned his assault over several months and got help from at least five people, the Paris prosecutor said on Thursday."
 
* Brazilian police "have arrested 10 people suspected of planning terrorist attacks during the Rio Olympics, Brazilian prosecutors said Thursday."
 
* The response to the failed coup isn't nearly over: "The day after Turkey's president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, declared a national state of emergency in the wake of a failed coup, an anxious nation awoke on Thursday to a text message from its leader, personally exhorting continued loyalty as the government moved against its enemies."
 
* DOJ: "The Justice Department filed lawsuits on Thursday to block two huge health insurance mergers, extending a string of antitrust actions that have made this year the largest on record for abandoned deals."
 
* The best numbers since 1973: "The number of applications for U.S. unemployment benefits unexpectedly fell last week, reaching a three-month low, indicating the labor market remains steady. Initial jobless claims dropped by 1,000 to 253,000 in the week ended July 16, from an unrevised 254,000 in the prior period, a report from the Labor Department showed Thursday in Washington."
The main stage on the convention floor at the Quicken Loans Arena in downtown Cleveland, Ohio, is prepared for the upcoming RNC, as workers stand in a man lift, July 13, 2016. (Photo by Gene J. Puskar/AP)

How the RNC turned into The Mistake by the Lake

07/21/16 01:05PM

It's not as if we haven't seen bad nominating conventions before. During the 1968 Democratic convention, there were literal riots outside the hall. At the 1972 Democratic convention, the presidential nominee chose a running mate, then felt the need to swap him out for someone else.
 
As the 1992 Republican convention, the American mainstream recoiled when Pat Buchanan declared a religious war. Twenty years later, Clint Eastwood got into an argument with an empty chair -- and somehow managed to come out on the losing end of the quarrel.
 
And yet, reading the New York Times' David Leonhardt's summary of the 2016 Republican gathering, it's hard not to marvel at this week's developments in Cleveland.
Screaming matches between delegates. Past nominees who refused to attend. Speakers who seem allergic to mentioning the nominee's name -- or policies. The runner-up refusing to endorse the winner.
 
Plagiarism. Lies about plagiarism. Talk of Lucifer from the stage. Humanizing stories about the nominee relegated to obscure time slots. Multiple speakers calling for the jailing of the opposing nominee. A prominent delegate calling for that nominee's execution by firing squad.
Well, sure, when you put it that way, it sounds like things haven't gone well.
 
It's important to note that this week's Mistake By The Lake still has one more night to go. Who knows, it's possible that this evening's developments will go off without a hitch and Americans will marvel in the splendor of a Republican triumph.
 
But if that happens it will be quite a turnaround from the convention's first three nights.

Thursday's Campaign Round-Up, 7.21.16

07/21/16 12:00PM

Today's installment of campaign-related news items from across the country.
 
* Donald Trump was asked yesterday what he hoped people would take away from the convention. The candidate told the New York Times, "The fact that I'm very well liked."
 
* Hillary Clinton's campaign unveiled a new video this morning highlighting many of the complimentary things Trump has said about the Democratic candidate in recent years. Why Trump's primary rivals didn't make better use of content like this, I'll never know.
 
* As the Republican convention wraps up, no one seems to know if the Trump campaign currently has a campaign manager.
 
* On a related note, Trump's former campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, denied yesterday that he's pitching Republican donors on the creation of a new pro-Trump super PAC. Lewandowski later conceded he has an advisory role with such a venture.
 
* Newt Gingrich argued yesterday that Melania Trump's plagiarism controversy won't matter much, in part because she's "stunningly attractive." Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) raised a similar point, insisting Melania Trump is "a very pretty woman with that foreign accent of hers."
 
* In New Hampshire's closely watched U.S. Senate race, a new WMUR Granite State Poll shows Gov. Maggie Hassan (D) with a modest lead over incumbent Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R), 45% to 42%.
 
* Sen. Richard Burr (R), facing a competitive race in North Carolina this year, said yesterday that if he wins, this will be his last race and he'll retire at the end of his next term.
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Tex., flashes a thumbs up as he leaves the stage during the third day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, July 20, 2016. (Photo by J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

Looking ahead to the 2020 race, GOP jostling is already underway

07/21/16 11:00AM

Before Ted Cruz's memorable remarks at the Republican National Convention last night, the Texas senator hosted an outdoor event with supporters in Cleveland yesterday afternoon. As luck would have it, Donald Trump's plane flew overhead when Cruz said the party had a nominee -- and his backers started booing.
 
And while the timing was notable, so too was the fact that Cruz's supporters chanted "2020" during the event.
 
I don't think they were talking about the senator's eyesight. In fact, as ridiculous as this may seem to Americans who are already tired of the 2016 presidential race, there is little doubt that Republican jostling is well underway -- in the 2020 race.
Before voters have even cast their ballots in the 2016 election, some conservatives are quietly eyeing 2020 White House bids. [...]
 
If you squint just a bit, it looks an awful lot like 2020 just kicked off.
Some of these folks aren't exactly being subtle. Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) scheduled three separate meetings with GOP delegates from Iowa, giving him an opportunity to not only pitch his right-wing worldview, but also the fact that his wife is from -- you guessed it -- Iowa. (The Arkansan also took his message to South Carolina Republicans.)
 
Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), meanwhile, spoke to members of the New Hampshire delegation this week.
 
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R), apparently undeterred by his failed 2016 bid, reportedly lined up meetings with Republican delegates from Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina.
 
But it's probably fair to say no one is doing more in advance of the 2020 race than Cruz. Last night's refusal to support Donald Trump was the senator's way of throwing down the gauntlet, but that's not all he's doing.
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump listens at left as Al Baldasaro, a New Hampshire state representative, speaks during a news conference in New York, May 31, 2016. (Photo by Richard Drew/AP)

Secret Service takes an interest in Trump adviser's rhetoric

07/21/16 10:19AM

On Tuesday, Al Baldasaro, a New Hampshire Republican who advises Donald Trump on veterans' issues, called for Hillary Clinton to be "put in the firing line and shot for treason." Baldasaro, who is also a Trump delegate to the Republican National Convention, went on to describe the Democratic candidate as "a piece of garbage."
 
Offered a chance to walk back the comments, Baldasaro refused, saying, "I stand by what I said.... Freedom of speech is a beautiful thing."
 
As we discussed yesterday, however, the First Amendment does not give people the right to encourage violence against American political leaders. It's probably why Baldasaro's case has caught the attention of the Secret Service.
The Secret Service said Wednesday that they are looking into New Hampshire State Senator Al Baldasaro after he called for Hillary Clinton's execution for "treason."
 
Baldasaro is an adviser to the Trump campaign for veteran's issues and has appeared at Trump campaign events.... "The U.S. Secret Service is aware of this matter and will conduct the appropriate investigation," Secret Service spokesman Robert Hoback told NBC News in a statement Wednesday.
As for the campaign's response, TPM reported that Trump spokesperson Hope Hicks said, "We're incredibly grateful for his support, but we don't agree with his comments."
 
Wait, what?
Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump listens to a question during an interview after a rally in Virginia Beach, Va., July 11, 2016. (Photo by Steve Helber/AP)

Trump trashes the moral authority of the United States

07/21/16 09:39AM

For years, Republicans have been fairly consistent in their criticisms of President Obama's foreign policy. Former Gov. Jeb Bush (R-Fla.), for example, insisted last year that the president "does not believe that American power is a force for good." Senate Homeland Security Committee Chairman Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) used nearly identical language a year earlier. 
 
Reality, of course, points in the opposite direction, and President Obama has proven repeatedly that the Republican attacks are the opposite of the truth.
 
But in 2016, there is a presidential hopeful who genuinely believes that the United States lacks moral authority on the international stage. After years of inexplicable anti-Obama whining, ironically, it's the Republican nominee.
Donald J. Trump, on the eve of accepting the Republican nomination for president, said Wednesday that if he were elected, he would not pressure Turkey or other authoritarian allies about conducting purges of their political adversaries or cracking down on civil liberties. The United States, he said, has to "fix our own mess" before trying to alter the behavior of other nations.
 
"I don't think we have a right to lecture," Mr. Trump said in a wide-ranging interview in his suite in a downtown hotel here while keeping an eye on television broadcasts from the Republican National Convention.
When the New York Times asked if he'd honor the NATO treaty, and defend allied nations if attacked, Trump balked -- saying he'd check first to see if he's satisfied with their contributions to the alliance.
 
Last night, Republican vice presidential nominee Mike Pence assured the nation that a President Trump would "stand with our allies." This came just hours after Trump himself told the New York Times that he's prepared not to stand with our allies.
 
I can relate to those who tire of hearing reporters, pundits, and commentators like me characterize various campaign developments as wildly important, game-changing moments, which are soon after forgotten. But this isn't hyperbole: Trump's interview with the Times should change the nature of the 2016 presidential campaign. He's articulating a perspective Americans have never before heard from a major-party presidential nominee.
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump talks about his book during a campaign stop at Iowa Central Community College on Nov. 12, 2015 in Fort Dodge, Iowa. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty)

Trump takes steps to silence his former ghostwriter

07/21/16 08:40AM

Tony Schwartz spent quite a bit of time with Donald Trump while working on "The Art of the Deal," and gained valuable insights on the kind of man the New York Republican is. In fact, Schwartz is eager to tell the public about what he learned about Trump after their collaboration.
 
As Rachel discovered last night, Trump's lawyers have a different plan in mind.
Tony Schwartz, ghostwriter of Donald Trump's book "The Art of the Deal," told MSNBC Wednesday that the Trump campaign sent him a cease and desist letter in response to his comments about the Republican candidate.
 
Schwartz, a former journalist, was employed by Trump to ghostwrite his memoir in 1987. In an interview with MSNBC, Schwartz described the Republican candidate for president as "having no heart and no soul."
Note, Schwartz recently sat down with the New Yorker to offer his perspective, and a FedEx delivery arrived soon after with a cease-and-desist letter -- a development the author described as "nuts."
 
"This notion that I didn't write the book is so preposterous," Schwartz added. "You know, I am not certain that Donald Trump read every word, but I'm sure certain that I wrote every word. And he made a few red marks on the manuscript and sent it back to me, and the rest was history. The idea that he would dispute that is part of why I felt I had to come forward. The notion that if he could lie about that he could lie about anything."
 
Of course, the more Team Trump wants to shut Schwartz up, the more curious I am about what Schwartz has to say.
Senator Ted Cruz addresses delegates on day three of the Republican National Convention at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio on July 20, 2016. (Photo by Dominick Reuter/AFP/Getty)

GOP divisions laid bare as Ted Cruz draws relentless boos

07/21/16 08:00AM

During the Republican presidential primaries, a variety of candidates, including Ted Cruz, were quite candid in their assessments of Donald Trump. GOP White House hopefuls characterized the television personality as a lunatic con artist, a pathological liar, a cancer on the party, and a racist who lacked the morals, intellect, and character necessary to lead.
 
But after the primaries, most of these critics decided to support Trump anyway. Ted Cruz, however, did not. The Texas senator, offended not only by Trump's lack of integrity, but also by his attacks on Cruz's wife and father, made clear he would not endorse the Republican nominee.
 
Team Trump and Republican National Convention organizers took a chance and gave Cruz a prime-time speaking slot anyway. As became painfully clear last night, the gamble did not pay off.
Donald Trump paid a steep price for his brutal insults and outrageous innuendo against his Republican primary rivals Wednesday when Ted Cruz, who placed second behind Trump in the delegate count, refused to endorse the GOP nominee during his nationally televised speech to the party's convention.
 
The arena rained boos, chants, and jeers on Cruz, widening the Republican Party's cracks into a chasm and completely overshadowing the rollout of Trump's running mate, Mike Pence.
Not since 1964 has a prominent political leader faced intense booing -- in prime time -- at his or her own party's national convention. Then, it was Nelson Rockefeller who endured jeers from Barry Goldwater's far-right supporters as the New Yorker urged his party to push back against the extremists in their midst. (Republicans didn't listen; Goldwater lost 44 states.)
 
This year, it was Cruz's turn, with the Texan telling his party, "If you love our country and love your children as much as I know that you do, stand, and speak, and vote your conscience." Convention attendees wanted and expected Cruz to extend his support to the party's nominee, and when he didn't, they turned on him with a vengeance.
 
It quickly became one of the defining moments of the Republican convention, and easily overshadowed the speech that soon followed -- which was Pence accepting the party's vice presidential nomination.
 
Whether Cruz's act was noble or disgraceful is a matter of perspective, but it's clear that the senator took a risk of his own by deliberately trying to embarrass his party's presidential nominee at the nominee's own convention.
Trump responds to Cruz boos

Trump responds to Cruz boos

07/20/16 11:49PM

Rachel Maddow reads a tweeted statement from Donald Trump, his first comment on the booing of Ted Cruz, in which he claims to have seen the speech in advance but didn't care about the lack of endorsement. watch

Another weird night in Cleveland

Another weird night in Cleveland

07/20/16 11:46PM

Jacob Soboroff and Andrea Mitchell describe what it was like on the floor of the Republican National Convention as the mood turned from energized jubilation to rancorous booing at the end of Ted Cruz's speech. watch

Trump gambles with Cruz and loses

Trump gambles with Cruz and loses

07/20/16 11:32PM

An MSNBC panel discusses the acrimonious history between Ted Cruz and Donald Trump and the risk the Trump campaign was taking by giving Ted Cruz such an important time slot to address the convention. watch

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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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