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Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks at Youngstown State University in Youngstown, Ohio, Aug. 15, 2016. (Photo by Eric Thayer/Reuters)

Trump's 'extreme' plan raises more questions than answers

08/16/16 08:00AM

Most of Donald Trump's big speeches tend to raise questions about his competence, but yesterday's address on foreign policy and national security was stranger than most. It left many wondering, for example, if the Republican presidential candidate is familiar with his own past opinions.
 
Trump, for example, is on record supporting the war in Iraq, the ouster of the Mubarak government in Egypt, and the U.S. military offensive in Libya. Yesterday, Trump not only pretended he never held those positions, he also blamed these policies for contributing to the rise of ISIS.
 
It led MSNBC's Benjy Sarlin to note that the national security framework he described "was so contradictory and filled with so many obvious falsehoods that it's virtually impossible to tell what he would do as president."
 
There was, meanwhile, one part of the speech that deserves closer scrutiny. NBC News reported:
Donald Trump on Monday promised "extreme vetting" of immigrants, including ideological screening that that will allow only those who "share our values and respect our people" into the United States.
 
Among the traits that Trump would screen for are those who have "hostile attitudes" toward the U.S., those who believe "Sharia law should supplant American law," people who "don't believe in our Constitution or who support bigotry and hatred."
All of this is intended to shed light on Trump's proposed ban on Muslims entering the United States, unveiled in December. A month ago, the GOP nominee added a geographic "expansion" to his idea, saying he wants closer scrutiny of immigrants from countries "compromised by terrorism" -- a policy that would apparently include most of the planet.
 
Now, evidently, there's a new prong to the policy: an ideological test. Those immigrants who declare their hostility for American law and their contempt for pluralism won't be allowed in.

Monday's Mini-Report, 8.15.16

08/15/16 05:30PM

Today's edition of quick hits:
 
* Louisiana's flooding crisis continues: "Louisiana has been deluged by rainfall since last week, with at least seven people dead and thousands of homes damaged by floods. Gov. John Bel Edwards said officials 'won't know the death toll for sure for several more days.' President Barack Obama signed a disaster declaration for the state Sunday, freeing up federal aid to support recovery efforts."
 
* A different kind of crisis in Wisconsin: "The mayor of Milwaukee imposed a 10 p.m. Monday curfew for teenagers after the city was rocked by a second straight night of violent street protests over the fatal police shooting of a local man."
 
* NYC: "Police were questioning a suspect early Monday in the brazen broad-daylight killings over the weekend of a local imam and his assistant in New York City, sources told NBC News. The man, who police say matched a description of the shooter, was detained while returning to a vehicle near the scene of the killings, the sources said."
 
* Syria: "U.S.-backed fighters have liberated the Syrian town of Manbij from ISIS, observers and Syrian-Kurdish officials said Saturday as dazed residents reportedly described their terror at the hands of militants."
 
* ISIS: "The leader of the Islamic State branch that operates in Afghanistan and Pakistan was killed in an American airstrike on July 26 in eastern Afghanistan, the Pentagon said Friday. It was the United States military's second killing of an anti-American Islamist militant leader in the region in the past three months."
 
* Socialism: "U.S. stocks hit record highs on Monday as traders remained buoyant and oil prices ticked upward."
 
* Regulations can make quite a difference: "While the earth continues to shudder more frequently than seven years ago beneath Oklahomans feet, the rate of earthquakes in the state in 2016 is down from last year.... Increased regulation on wastewater disposal related to oil and gas extraction could be one reason behind the decline, said Robert Williams, a geophysicist at the United States Geological Survey."
Former Mayor of New York Rudolph Giuliani speaks at the Cisco Connect 2013 conference in Warsaw, Poland, November 26, 2013.

Rudy Giuliani, of all people, has a 9/11 problem

08/15/16 03:58PM

In early January 2010, Rudy Giuliani, known for his obsessive focus on the 9/11 attacks, made a bizarre comment on ABC's "Good Morning America." The former mayor argued, "What [President Obama] should be doing is following the right things that [George W. Bush] did -- one of the right things he did was treat this as a war on terror."
 
Giuliani added, "We had no domestic attacks under Bush. We've had one under Obama."
 
Of course, we had a very memorable domestic attack under Bush. The "one" under Obama, in this case, apparently referred to "Underwear Bomber" Umar Abdulmutallab, who attempted to detonate a concealed explosive on a flight from Amsterdam to Detroit, but who failed. This "attack," fortunately, led to zero casualties.
 
More than six years later, Giuliani is still confused.
Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani on Monday said terrorists failed to successfully strike the United States in the eight years before President Obama and former secretary of State Hillary Clinton took office.
 
"Under those eight years, before Obama came along, we didn't have any successful radical Islamic terrorist attack in the United States," Giuliani said Monday ahead of a speech by Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump on foreign policy. "They all started when Clinton and Obama got into office."
Context, of course, is everything. If you watch this clip, note that Giuliani was praising Republican vice presidential hopeful Mike Pence, and appeared to refer to a period after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
 
I'm not sure, however, how much that helps Giuliani's case.
Trump Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort is surrounded by reporters on the floor of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. (Photo by J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

Trump campaign chairman faces new questions about Russian ties

08/15/16 12:51PM

The connections between Donald Trump's presidential campaign and Vladimir Putin's government in Russia have raised far more questions than have been answered. From Trump's evasive rhetoric about his relationship with the autocratic leader, to the Trump campaign's efforts to change his party's platform to boost Putin's position, to Trump's antipathy towards the NATO alliance, the Republicans' 2016 nominee is the most pro-Russia candidate Americans have seen in generations.
 
But perhaps most striking of all is the degree to which Trump has surrounded himself with a team of advisers, led by lobbyist Paul Manafort, whose alliances with Putin's regime create the basis for an ongoing controversy. The latest New York Times report about Trump's campaign chairman is a doozy.
...Mr. Manafort's presence remains elsewhere here in the [Ukranian] capital, where government investigators examining secret records have found his name, as well as companies he sought business with, as they try to untangle a corrupt network they say was used to loot Ukrainian assets and influence elections during the administration of Mr. Manafort's main client, former President Viktor F. Yanukovych.
 
Handwritten ledgers show $12.7 million in undisclosed cash payments designated for Mr. Manafort from Mr. Yanukovych's pro-Russian political party from 2007 to 2012, according to Ukraine's newly formed National Anti-Corruption Bureau. Investigators assert that the disbursements were part of an illegal off-the-books system whose recipients also included election officials.
Manafort insisted this morning that the Times' reporting is inaccurate.
 
While the questions linger, let's note that these new allegations don't exactly come out of the blue: Manafort's lobbying record is well documented, including his pro-Putin work.

Monday's Campaign Round-Up, 8.15.16

08/15/16 12:00PM

Today's installment of campaign-related news items from across the country.
 
* If you missed Friday night's show, note that the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist polls show Hillary Clinton with sizable leads over Donald Trump in Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, and Colorado.
 
* At a campaign event in Connecticut over the weekend, Trump said he's not running against Hillary Clinton, but rather, "I’m running against the crooked media."
 
* Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort told the AP, in reference to Trump, "For the last week or so, he’s been very focused and very much on his game.” Manafort did not appear to be kidding.
 
* An unflattering New York Times piece over the weekend reported that Trump's advisers are, with increasing frequency, conceding that the Republican candidate "may be beyond coaching." The piece added, "In private, Mr. Trump’s mood is often sullen and erratic, his associates say. He veers from barking at members of his staff to grumbling about how he was better off following his own instincts during the primaries and suggesting he should not have heeded their calls for change."
 
* A new USA Today/Rock the Vote Poll found Clinton leading Trump, 56% to 20%, among voters under the age of 35.
 
* Trump had previously indicated his intention to compete in his home state of New York, but a new Siena Research Institute poll shows Clinton crushing the GOP nominee in the Empire State, 57% to 27%.

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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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