The issue of Donald Trump's personal health was already one of the stranger stories of the 2016 presidential race, as Rachel explained at the top of last night's show. This morning, however, the story got even stranger.
The original plan, according to the Republican candidate himself, was to release "very detailed" information about his health "this week," following a physical exam Trump underwent last week. The vow was itself something of a reversal: the only information Americans have seen about Trump's health to date was a laughable letter from the candidate's gastroenterologist, Dr. Harold Bornstein, which the physician concedes was thrown together in five minutes without careful review, and which included language the doctor himself did not take seriously.
Yesterday, however, we were told Trump would discuss the results of last week's physical on Dr. Oz's television show -- a curious choice given Oz's controversial background and a reversal from the campaign's previous position -- as part of what the host described yesterday as a "no-holds-barred conversation." Oz added, however, that Trump would control the release of the information and the host wouldn't ask any questions that the candidate "doesn't want to have answered."
On a related note, Oz conceded he would do this interview despite having no direct communications with the doctor who actually did the physical exam.
This morning, the Trump campaign said the entire plan had been changed and the candidate wouldn't release any medical records through Dr. Oz's show. The GOP candidate would have a conversation about general well-being, but Americans would have to wait for specific information related to Trump.
After a whiplash-inducing morning of mixed messages, Donald J. Trump on Wednesday gave a small window into some of the results from his most recent physical examination in a taped appearance with the television celebrity Dr. Mehmet Oz.
The quick run-through of results, which Mr. Trump is said to have given to the doctor to read from a piece of paper, came after the Republican presidential nominee's aides had said he would, and then that he wouldn't, broach the topic with the celebrity doctor on the "Dr. Oz Show."
According to CNN's report, Trump's "surprise" disclosure was "a one-page summary of the physical exam he underwent last week." The physical, the CNN piece added, was conducted by -- wait for it -- Dr. Harold Bornstein.
Today's installment of campaign-related news items from across the country.
* Hillary Clinton has been off the campaign trail for a few days, but as Rachel noted at the top of last night's show, she's scheduled to appear at an event in Greensboro, North Carolina, tomorrow night.
* In Ohio, polling averages suggest Clinton has a narrow advantage over Donald Trump, but a new Bloomberg Politics poll shows the Republican ahead by five, 48% to 43%.
* It wasn't easy, but Rep. Frank Guinta (R) managed to narrowly win his Republican primary in New Hampshire yesterday. Though the race was too close to call last night, Guinta's challenger conceded the race this morning.
* The Clinton campaign this morning released a new 30-second ad, contrasting the Clinton Foundation with the Trump Foundation. It's a brief-but-unflattering look at the latter.
* The Democrats' Senate Majority PAC is launching television ads in Indiana this week in support of former Sen. Evan Bayh (D). Though Bayh is generally seen as the favorite, he's been heavily outspent in recent weeks by Republicans.
* In Virginia, the latest PPP poll shows Clinton with a pretty comfortable lead over Trump, 50% to 42%. That eight-point advantage shrinks to six points with the third-party candidates in the mix.
* In Maine, a new Colby College-Boston Globepoll found Clinton with a modest advantage over Trump, 42% to 39%. Note that Democrats have prevailed in Maine -- one of only two states to divide their electoral votes by congressional district -- in each of the last six election cycles.
Just 48 hours after House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) released an op-ed arguing that President Obama's record discredits the entire progressive ideology, Americans learned that income growth last year was the fastest on record; poverty rates saw their largest one-year drop since 1968; and the number of Americans without health insurance dropped to the lowest point ever recorded in the United States.
The far-right Speaker's timing could have been better.
As the Washington Post's Matt O'Brien noticed, this wasn't Ryan's only recent trouble with timing.
It's generally a bad idea to say something is a failure right after its biggest success.
That might seem sort of self-evident, but it apparently isn't. Take House Speaker Paul Ryan. He's been trying to recast the election as a contest between Hillary Clinton and not Donald Trump, but rather his "Better Way" agenda -- basically tax cuts for the rich, spending cuts for the poor, and deregulation for big business -- and what he says would be President Obama's third term. Now, as part of that, he recently had this to say about the newly-created Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, whose job is, well, to protect consumers from financial malfeasance.
"The CFPB," the Speaker said via Twitter, "supposedly exists to protect you, but instead it tries to micromanage your everyday life. That's NOT a #BetterWay."
Right off the bat, the idea that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is trying to "micromanage your everyday life" is plainly silly. The agency has been around five years. Can you think of a single instance in which the CFPB has tried to micromanage any part of your everyday life? What percentage of the public even knows the CFPB exists?
But more to the point, Ryan's complaints about the agency come directly on the heels of one of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's greatest success stories. Late last week, the CFPB reached a record settlement with Wells Fargo after the banking giant was caught allegedly bilking consumers, enrolling Wells Fargo customers in banking services without their permission, then charging them fees for accounts and services they neither sought nor authorized.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau did its job, looked out for the public, and scored its biggest victory to date. In response, Paul Ryan condemned the agency and questioned its very existence.
Colin Powell is still a Republican and a veteran of a Republican administration, but he's been quite candid when expressing concerns about what's become of his party. In 2013, for example, the former Secretary of State lamented the "dark vein of intolerance in some parts of the party," featuring GOP voices who "look down on minorities."
To bolster his point, Powell added at the time, "The whole 'birther' movement -- why do senior Republican leaders tolerate this kind of discussion within the party?"
With this in mind, it hardly comes as a surprise that Powell condemned Donald Trump as a "national disgrace" and "international pariah" in a personal email exchange that was leaked online by hackers. NBC News reports:
Powell, a retired 4-star general and a Republican, confirmed the authenticity of the emails to NBC News. "The hackers have a lot more," he added.
The contents of the emails were first reported by Buzzfeed News. It said the messages had been obtained by the website DCLeaks.com which MSNBC reported is rumored to have ties to Russian intelligence services.
The leaked materials offer an unvarnished look at Powell's perspective, including a 2015 message to former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in which he described the Republicans' obsession with Benghazi as "a stupid witch hunt."
And while revelations like these are notable given Powell's public profile -- he generally remains a popular national figure -- I'm also curious about the motivations behind the leak.
After nearly two decades on Capitol Hill, Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) will leave political office at the end of 2016. The far-right lawmaker lost a gubernatorial race in Louisiana last year -- a contest he was supposed to win -- at least in part because of his prostitution scandal, and in the wake of his defeat, Vitter understandably concluded it was time to walk away.
The race to replace him hasn't generated much national attention, largely because the seat is very likely to remain in Republican hands. That said, there are quite a few top-tier GOP candidates vying to fill Vitter's vacancy, and the race received a significant jolt this week when one of the leading contenders was confronted with alarming allegations. The Washington Postreported:
On Tuesday, journalist Ethan Brown published a book "Murder in the Bayou" detailing the killing of eight prostitutes from 2005 to 2009 in Jefferson Davis Parish. In one of the chapters, Brown alleges that [Rep. Charles Boustany] was involved with the prostitutes (though not the killings). [...]
The book also alleges that a former Boustany aide helped run a hotel frequented by the prostitutes.
Particularly given Vitter's experience with hookers, allegations like these are bound to get some attention in a competitive Senate race.
Boustany, widely seen as a top contender for the seat, said through a spokesperson this week that the claims are "completely false," and the congressman's wife issued a statement of her own, rejecting the allegations and accusing Boustany's rivals of spreading "lies."
At first blush, Donald Trump announced a proposal yesterday in Pennsylvania that might have seemed half-way progressive. But in this case, appearances can be deceiving.
Donald Trump on Tuesday filled in the details of the childcare affordability plan he floated at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland over the summer. He did so with his daughter Ivanka Trump, an energizing force behind the policy, and behind him.
Trump's plan allows for a federal income tax deduction of childcare expenses for up to four children and elderly dependents. It is capped at the average cost of care in the state and is available in single-income households making up to $250,000 and $500,000 in joint-income households. Further, it guarantees six weeks of paid maternity leave, paid out of the unemployment insurance fund, to women whose companies don't provide the benefit.
Given the importance of the issue, it might seem like a step in the right direction to have the Republican presidential nominee unveil a proposal like this one. But the closer one looks at this, the worse Trump's "plan" appears.
There are three broad angles to keep in mind. The first is that the policy details of Trump's plan, to the extent that they exist, are a bit of a joke. The proposal would exclude many families who need help the most; the Trump campaign's numbers don't come close to adding up; and for much of the country, the size of the candidate's recommended tax credit would fall far short.
The second angle to remember is that Trump has some pretty serious credibility problems on this issue given his private-sector record. Many of his own employees, for example, wanted paid maternity leave but didn't receive it. What's more, the Associated Press reported last month that Trump's boasts about providing child-care at his hotels and resorts were wildly misleading: he offered programs that catered to his customers, but not his employees.
Yamiche Alcindor, a reporter with the New York Times, talks with Rachel Maddow about Donald Trump's announcement of a surprise visit to Flint, Michigan, and the less-than-enthusiastic response from Flint to the news of Trump's arrival. watch
Steve Kornacki talks with Rachel Maddow about how much Hillary Clinton is likely to benefit from President Barack Obama campaigning for her given good economic news and high approval ratings but a remaining national divide. watch
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.