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Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) speaks to the media on June 3, 2016 in Doral, Fla. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty)

Rubio breaks his word, decides to seek re-election

06/22/16 10:43AM

As we recently discussed, when Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) launched his ill-fated presidential campaign, he made a bold and meaningful promise to the public: White House or bust. Rubio wouldn't treat a Senate seat as a consolation prize; he'd either win the 2016 presidential election or he'd be out of public office altogether. It was probably the most honorable moment of his career.
 
After his national campaign failed miserably, Rubio heard the speculation about him possibly breaking his word, and he dismissed the chatter as an irritating distraction. Just five weeks ago, the senator, annoyed by Beltway scuttlebutt, said on Twitter, "I have only said like 10,000 times I will be a private citizen in January."
 
But the political pressure started soon after. Republican officials, facing the prospect of a Democratic Senate, began urging Rubio to break his word. According to the Washington Post, he's going to do exactly that.
Sen. Marco Rubio will announce Wednesday he will seek re-election to the Senate, reversing a pledge he made a year ago to either assume the presidency or return to private life in Florida, instantly transforming an already competitive race and improving the chances that Republicans can maintain the Senate majority.
 
Rubio is set to announce the decision sometime Wednesday, according to three people familiar with the decision who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss it before a formal announcement. One person said Rubio has started privately informing key Republicans he will run.
This reversal will surprise no one; the far-right senator has been telegraphing the move for weeks. It was largely a matter of when, not if, Rubio would go back on his promise to the public.
 
But that doesn't make the reversal any less ridiculous.
House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., heads to the House floor for votes on Jan. 14, 2015. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call/AP)

Republicans continue to turn to the wrong economist

06/22/16 10:00AM

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) yesterday tweeted a picture of him sitting down with a familiar figure in his leadership office. The far-right Louisianan wrote, "Great to meet with President Reagan's former economic advisor Art Laffer to discuss the benefits of tax reform!"
 
Soon after, The Hill reported that Laffer publicly defended Donald Trump's trade policies.
"Having spent time with him and virtually all of the other candidates, I would say that he has as firm a grasp of international trade as any candidate," Laffer said a breakfast at The Podesta Group. "He clearly understands foreign investments, foreign locations, foreign businesses."
 
The presumptive Republican presidential nominee has the "best chance of doing good trade policy," added Laffer, who was an economic policy adviser to former president Ronald Reagan.... Laffer also said that Trump's tax plan would be "phenomenal" for the U.S.
The problem with both of these stories -- Laffer vouching for Trump and Scalise discussing tax policy with Laffer -- is that they treat the Republican economist as a credible figure. He's not.
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks to a crowd of supporters during a campaign rally on June 18, 2016 in Phoenix, Ariz. (Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty)

Trump giving new meaning to 'self-funded' campaigning

06/22/16 09:20AM

Sixteen years ago, Donald Trump joked during an interview, "It's very possible that I could be the first presidential candidate to run and make money on it." But what if he wasn't kidding?
 
The Trump campaign's Federal Election Commission filing made all kinds of headlines yesterday, largely because of his anemic fundraising. But as Rachel explained on the show last night, the more alarming revelation was the degree to which the Republican candidate is spending his limited resources on Trump corporate products and services.
 
What's more, a significant chunk of the money Trump has raised came in the form of loans the candidate made to himself -- money that donors will eventually pay back, putting their money in his pocket. A campaign finance expert with the Campaign Legal Center told the New York Times yesterday Trump could "end up turning a profit if he repaid himself for the campaign loans. He could get all his money back plus the profit margin for what his campaign has paid [Trump's larger enterprise] for goods and services."
 
There's a reason a new word is starting to enter the political lexicon: the rise of the "scampaign."
 
Imagine being a Republican donor and learning about Trump's campaign's finances. How likely are you to grab your checkbook to invest in this enterprise? As the Washington Post reported, the anxiety levels within the party are rising.
Trump is "now looking into the abyss," said Ed Rollins, the top strategist for Great America PAC, a pro-Trump super PAC. "He can either start writing checks and selling some buildings and golf courses or get on the phones and talk to donors. Big donors just don't want to give money unless they have the opportunity to talk to the candidate, hear what your positions are. There's just been a failure from start to finish on the fundraising side."
Not to put too fine a point on this, but when the guy running your super PAC uses a phrase like "looking into the abyss," it's not a good sign.
Rep. Steve King speaks with reporters as he leaves the House Republican Conference meeting, Oct. 4, 2013.

What Steve King considers 'racist' and 'divisive'

06/22/16 08:40AM

Many Americans celebrated in April when the Treasury Department announced that abolitionist Harriet Tubman will replace former President Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill. One notoriously right-wing congressman, however, is so unhappy about the change that he's fighting to block it
Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) has filed legislation that would block the U.S. Treasury Department from putting Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill.
 
King is perhaps best-known in the nation's capital for his anti-immigration rhetoric and his hostility to undocumented immigrants. But this takes his mean-spirited forays into racial politics in a new direction.
The Huffington Post's report added that King is sponsoring an amendment that would prohibit the Treasury from making any changes to American money and nullify the department's plans to honor Tubman.
 
Politico reported that the Iowa Republican said it's "racist" and "sexist" to say a woman or person of color should be added to U.S. currency. "Here's what's really happening: This is liberal activism on the part of the president that's trying to identify people by categories, and he's divided us on the lines of groups," King said, adding, "This is a divisive proposal on the part of the president, and mine's unifying. It says just don't change anything."
 
The same article went on to note that King defended his amendment as crucial. "President Obama's on his way out the door," he said. "He's going to do everything he can think of to upset this society and this civilization."
 
The Iowan didn't specify which "civilization" he was referring to.
 
Every now and then, we're confronted with a story that disgusts but doesn't surprise. For Steve King, of all people, to say it's "racist" to honor a woman best known for leading slaves to freedom through the Underground Railroad is consistent with everything we know about the congressman, but that doesn't make his proposal any less ridiculous.
Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., speaks at the Capitol in Washington on Dec. 11, 2014. (Photo by J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

Bachmann's new gig: Trump adviser on evangelical issues

06/22/16 08:00AM

The religious right movement has struggled for decades to play a leading role in choosing the Republican Party's presidential nominee, but this year, social conservatives declared early on, would finally be their year.
 
And yet, after doing everything right and carefully following their specific strategy, the GOP ended up going with a thrice-married adulterous casino owner who quite literally can't tell the difference between a communion plate and a collection plate.
 
Will the right-wing theological movement and the secular nativist forge a constructive partnership? As The Atlantic noted, the two sides are working on it.
No matter how much American politics have changed during this election cycle, one eternal truth remains: Republicans need evangelical voters. Even Donald Trump, the man of botched Bible verses and many wives, is making moves to win over conservative Christians. On Tuesday, he met with more than 1,000 mostly evangelical leaders, along with some Catholics, in a closed-to-the-press meeting in New York City.
 
Big names -- from former presidential candidate Ben Carson to the Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. to the pollster George Barna -- apparently spoke at the event, while Trump took pre-selected questions in a discussion moderated by the former presidential candidate and preacher Mike Huckabee. But while Trump has a number of vocal evangelical cheerleaders, and leaders gave him a hearing on Tuesday, many conservative Christians are still wary of the presumptive Republican nominee.
Soon after, the Trump campaign announced the creation of a new "executive board convened to provide advisory support to Mr. Trump on those issues important to Evangelicals and other people of faith in America." The name at the top of the list: Michele Bachmann.
 
Yes, that Michele Bachmann. The failed former presidential candidate and former congresswoman has a new gig, advising her party's presumptive nominee on evangelical issues. What could possibly go wrong?

Citations for the June 21, 2016 TRMS

06/22/16 01:01AM

Tonight's guests:

  • Kendal Unruh, RNC Rules Committee member and co-founder of "Free the Delegates 2016"
  • Karoun Demirjian, national security and foreign policy reporter for The Washington Post

Tonight's links:

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New bipartisan gun bill might actually pass

New bipartisan gun bill might actually have a chance of passing

06/21/16 09:50PM

Karoun Demirjian, national security and foreign policy reporter for The Washington Post, talks with Rachel Maddow about a new gun regulation bill with bipartisan backing that addresses the terrorist watchlist and notifications to the FBI, and may actually have a chance of passing. watch

Trump campaign a cover for moneymaking scheme

Trump campaign a cover for moneymaking scheme

06/21/16 09:07PM

Rachel Maddow makes the case that Donald Trump's presidential campaign is essentially a moneymaking racket and a giant book tour, which explains why he is not assembling a real campaign staff or raising real campaign money. watch

Tuesday's Mini-Report, 6.21.16

06/21/16 05:30PM

Today's edition of quick hits:
 
* Orlando: "In remarks Tuesday aimed at offering solace to a grieving city and shocked nation in the wake of the deadly attack in Orlando, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch assured first responders and families of victims that officials are working on getting answers. And the Justice Dept. will make $1 million in emergency funding available to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to help cover overtime costs for state and local responders, she added."
 
* Taking their time: "Congressional negotiators may be nearing an agreement on funding to help fight the spread of the Zika virus."
 
* Mexican unrest: "The long-simmering dispute between Mexico's federal government and a radical arm of the country's teachers union erupted into violence over the weekend, as riot police clashed with protesters in the southern state of Oaxaca, leaving at least six dead and more than 100 others wounded."
 
* She's right: "Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen blasted Donald Trump's suggestion that he would renegotiate on the nation's debt if elected president, warning of 'very severe' consequences."
 
* This is largely the result of social conservatives' activism: "The nation's leading cancer doctors are pushing pediatricians and other providers to help increase use of the HPV vaccine, which studies show could help avert tens of thousands of cancer cases during young Americans' lives. Yet a decade after its controversial introduction, the vaccine remains stubbornly underused even as some of those diseases surge."
 
* Remember her? "Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk who made a splash last summer with her refusal to grant marriage licenses to gay couples, wants an appeals court to officially forget all about the incident and make the case go away."
Rep. Chaka Fattah, speaks as House Democrats hold a news conference to call for presidential action on immigration on Nov. 13, 2014. (Photo by Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call/Getty).

Dem congressman convicted on federal corruption charges

06/21/16 04:41PM

For criminal-defense attorneys in D.C., this has been a Congress to remember.
 
As we first reported a year ago, then-Rep. Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.) got the ball rolling with an indictment and conviction. Two months later, then-Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Ill.) was forced to resign and still faces the threat of possible criminal charges. A month after that, Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) was indicted. A month after that, former House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) was indicted and later sentenced to prison.
 
And two months after that, Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-Pa.) was added to the list, charged in a 29-count indictment, with charges that included bribery, fraud, and money laundering. Today, as the Philadelphia Daily News reported, the Democratic congressman was convicted.
U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah (D., Pa.) was convicted Tuesday in a federal racketeering case likely to send him to prison.
 
The verdict -- announced by a jury of nine women and three men -- comes after a four-week trial in which prosecutors alleged that Fattah took bribes and repeatedly stole charitable donations, campaign contributions and federal grant money under his control.
Fattah's sentencing is set for Oct. 4.
 
Roll Call reported, "In a statement, Fattah acknowledged the conviction but stopped short of saying outright he had any plans to resign." It's hard to imagine how such a decision should be optional.

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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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