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Monday's Mini-Report, 11.14.16

11/14/16 05:00PM

Today's edition of quick hits:

* Afghanistan: "A suicide bomber somehow managed to get inside the main U.S. military base in Afghanistan on Saturday and kill four Americans. Two U.S. service members and two civilian contractors were killed while 17 were wounded, of which 16 were Americans and one was a Polish service member."

* An under-reported story: "President-elect Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed in a telephone conversation Monday that relations between their countries were 'unsatisfactory' and vowed to work together to improve them, the Kremlin said in a statement."

* New Zealand's prime minister "said two people have been killed after a 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck Sunday just north of Christchurch -- the city devastated by a deadly 2011 temblor. Prime Minister John Key warned that the death toll could rise as rescue workers search isolated parts of the country."

* A different kind of earthquake: "Earthquakes are rippling through Oklahoma with an intensity so persistent they are almost considered normal. Already 46 quakes large and small, have struck the region since the start of the month. But now the swarms are becoming harder to ignore.... Even more crushing: scientists believe the causes are largely man-made."

* His final foreign trip as POTUS: "When President Obama arrives Tuesday in Europe, he will touch down in a country at the center the continent's refugee crisis -- Greece -- before journeying to one that has helped guide the continent's response -- Germany."

* Some good news before things get worse: "A world greatly concerned about how the election of Donald Trump as the next U.S. president could stall global climate policy received a major dose of welcome news Sunday, when scientists published a projection suggesting that for the third straight year, global carbon dioxide emissions did not increase much in 2016."

* On a related note: "Donald Trump isn't wasting any time and is already analyzing numerous options to withdraw from the 2015 Paris Agreement to limit climate change, a source on the president-elect's transition team tells Reuters."
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U.S. President Barack Obama meets with President-elect Donald Trump to discuss transition plans in the White House Oval Office in Washington, Nov. 10, 2016. (Photo by Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

Trump applied for a difficult job he knew very little about

11/14/16 12:53PM

On Thursday, just two days after the election, Donald Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, toured the West Wing. Kushner, who has a business background, has been a key adviser to Trump, but he has no meaningful experience in politics or government.

And so it perhaps shouldn't have come as too big of a surprise when Kushner, during his White House tour, asked how many West Wing staffers would remain in their jobs after the new administration took over. The answer, of course, is practically zero: Trump will need his own team.

The trouble is, Kushner isn't the only one on Team Trump who's completely unaware of such things. As the Wall Street Journal reported, the president-elect is ignorant, too.
During their private White House meeting on Thursday, Mr. Obama walked his successor through the duties of running the country, and Mr. Trump seemed surprised by the scope, said people familiar with the meeting. [...]

After meeting with Mr. Trump, the only person to be elected president without having held a government or military position, Mr. Obama realized the Republican needs more guidance. He plans to spend more time with his successor than presidents typically do, people familiar with the matter said.
Note that when Obama and Trump spoke briefly to reporters on Thursday, the Republican president-elect turned to the incumbent and said, "I look forward to being with you many, many more times."

Left unsaid: "I'm starting to worry that I have no idea what I'm doing, so please help me."

The New York Times reported over the weekend, meanwhile, that Trump "talking with his advisers about how many nights a week he will spend in the White House." He apparently hopes to maintain parts of his routine, which means spending time in New York, not D.C.

"The questions reflect what Mr. Trump's advisers described as the president-elect's coming to grips with the fact that his life is about to change radically," the article added. "They say that Mr. Trump, who was shocked when he won the election, might spend most of the week in Washington, much like members of Congress, and return to Trump Tower or his golf course in Bedminster, N.J., or his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach on weekends."

Do you ever get the feeling the presidency is going to make Donald Trump kind of miserable? Like he applied for a job he knew very little about, never read the job description, and isn't quite sure what to do now that he has it?
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Monday's Campaign Round-Up, 11.14.16

11/14/16 12:00PM

Today's installment of campaign-related news items from across the country.

* According to unhinged conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, Donald Trump called him personally to thank Jones for his support during the campaign.

* The race for DNC chair will apparently feature a large field of candidates, with Labor Secretary Tom Perez, a top contender for the Democratic vice presidential nomination, eyeing the job. (Note: Rachel is scheduled to speak to another unnamed contender on tonight's show.)

* Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), who's arguably the current frontrunner for the DNC chairmanship, has now picked up the support of outgoing Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).

* A Washington Post-ABC News poll found that 18 percent of voters -- nearly one in five -- do not consider Trump's victory legitimate.

* On a related note, Gallup found that only 32% of Americans say they're feeling "proud" in the wake of Trump's victory. Eight years ago at this time, 67% Americans described themselves as "proud" -- more than double Trump's total.

* Though it's not generating much attention, there's still one Senate race remaining this cycle: Louisianans will vote in a Dec. 10 runoff in a race that's expected to have low turnout. Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell (D), a former state senator, is facing State Treasurer John Neely Kennedy (R).

* In response to some reader emails, I should probably note that the single-payer ballot initiative in Colorado did not fare well last week.
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Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton walks off the stage as Republican nominee Donald Trump remains at his podium after their third and final 2016 presidential campaign debate in Las Vegas, Nev., Oct. 19, 2016. (Photo by Rick Wilking/Reuters)

The 'mandate' debate looks past Clinton's popular-vote victory

11/14/16 11:20AM

I can appreciate why many find the discussion about the popular vote irrelevant -- and as a practical matter, it is. There's a system in place; candidates were told in advance to play by the rules; and by constitutional mandate, the one who reached the 270 electoral-vote threshold wins the presidency.

But certain democratic principles shouldn't be dismissed out of hand. To hear Donald Trump's team tell it, Americans have not only endorsed his candidacy, they've also given him the authority to pursue his unpopular agenda.
Kellyanne Conway, a key adviser to Donald Trump's transition team, says the general election "was not close" and the president-elect has a "mandate" to carry out the will of the people on issues ranging from Obamacare to national security.

"This election was not close. It was not a squeaker," Mrs. Conway said on "Fox News Sunday." "There is a mandate there."
By one account, incoming White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus told MSNBC this morning that Trump won a "landslide" victory.

And while there's no denying the legitimacy of Trump's victory, it's this triumphant rhetoric that keeps bringing me back to that pesky popular vote. Americans were given a choice between two major-party candidates, and by all appearances, by the raw metric of simply counting votes, Trump came in second.

Indeed, to borrow Conway's phrasing, it wasn't exactly a "squeaker." The West Coast votes are still being counted, but by some estimates, Clinton may very well end up with a popular-vote advantage of about 2 percentage points.

That's a bigger advantage than JFK in 1960 and Richard Nixon in 1968 -- and they won.
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President-elect Donald Trump, walks with his wife Melania Trump, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell after a meeting at the U.S. Capitol Nov. 10, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty)

Team Trump still eyeing 'payback' against his critics

11/14/16 10:44AM

The day before the election, the New York Times noted that Donald Trump was privately musing about the ways in which he would "punish his enemies" after the campaign, "including a threat to fund a 'super PAC' with vengeance as its core mission."

And that was when Trump was convinced he would lose, at which point he'd have plenty of free time to plot and scheme against those who slighted him. Now that Americans actually elected the guy, Trump, if retribution remains his focus, will have the power of United States executive branch at his disposal.

At Trump's election-night party last week, one of his prominent campaign aides, Omarosa Manigault, told the Independent Journal Review, "It's so great our enemies are making themselves clear so that when we get in to the White House, we know where we stand.... Mr. Trump has a long memory and we're keeping a list."

Yes, that's right, Trump's staffer used "enemies" and "list" in the same thought.

Politico reported the other day, meanwhile, that the president-elect's team has "payback" on its mind, "plotting revenge against those they believe slighted Trump -- and them."
Since Trump's shocking upset victory in Tuesday's presidential election, several people who worked on his team have discussed ways to punish Republicans who were hostile to the New York billionaire's anti-establishment campaign, including blocking them from administration or transition posts, or lucrative consulting work, according to a handful of people involved in the conversations.

They say that Republicans who opposed -- or were seen as insufficiently supportive of -- Trump have had their entreaties rejected by people around the president-elect, some of whom have expressed wonderment that former bitter critics are now asking for jobs, lobbying leads and even Inauguration tickets.
One campaign operative told Politico, "My phone is ringing off the hook with people who were on the outs asking how they can get into Trump world. I'm telling them there is no f---ing way they're getting inside."

None of this comes as too big of a surprise. Mother Jones' David Corn recently reported, "Revenge -- it's a big part of Trump's life.... Why all the insults, bullying, and grudge matches? There is a reason. Trump fervently believes in retaliation.... [He] has said numerous times that he is driven by revenge and that it is a basic tool to use in business. He is obsessed with payback. In speeches and public talks, Trump has repeatedly expressed his fondness for retribution."

I wonder, though, whether this will extend to Hillary Clinton.
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The Arizona-Mexico border fence near Naco, Arizona, March 29, 2013.

Trump isn't giving up on his plans for a border wall

11/14/16 10:04AM

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, a prominent Donald Trump surrogate, told NPR last week what Americans should expect from the president-elect when it comes to immigration. "He'll spend a lot of time controlling the border," the Republican said. "He may not spend very much time trying to get Mexico to pay for it. But it was a great campaign device."

In this sense, "campaign device" appears to be some kind of euphemism for "ugly campaign promise the candidate had no intention of keeping." Trump wasn't telling the truth, but he fooled a bunch of unsuspecting voters into believing his vows anyway -- which Gingrich sees as "great."

Of course, on this issue, Trump also relied on a variety of other "campaign devices" his followers took quite seriously, including the creation of a "deportation force," the elimination of protections for Dream Act kids, and the construction of a massive wall along the U.S./Mexico border. Does he intend to keep these promises? CBS's Lesley Stahl asked about immigration during Trump's "60 Minutes" interview, which aired last night.
STAHL: So let's go through very quickly some of the promises you made and tell us if you're going to do what you said or you're going to change it in any way. Are you really going to build a wall?

TRUMP: Yes.

STAHL: They're talking about a fence in the Republican Congress, would you accept a fence?

TRUMP: For certain areas I would, but certain areas, a wall is more appropriate. I'm very good at this, it's called construction.
Well, it's certainly called something, though "construction" may not be the first word that comes to mind.
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Pro-choice activists hold a vigil outside the U.S. Supreme Court on Jan. 23, 2012 in Washington, DC.

Trump eyes the end of the Roe v. Wade era

11/14/16 09:20AM

On Election Night last week, as the consequences of the results started to set in, it wasn't long before those involved in the reproductive-rights debate started the clock: Roe v. Wade, all of a sudden, seemed to have an expiration date.

Donald Trump, as a candidate, vowed to appoint right-wing justices to the Supreme Court, and with a far-right Republican majority in the Senate, there's every reason to believe they'll succeed in moving the high court even further to the right. There's already one vacancy -- expect that to be filled in early 2017 -- and if one or two of the center-left justices leave the bench for any reason over the next four years, the conservative majority would swell to six or seven members.

The effects of such a move would affect American life in a broad number of ways for a generation, but on "60 Minutes" last night, CBS's Lesley Stahl asked the president-elect about one of the higher-profile issues.
STAHL: During the campaign, you said that you would appoint justices who were against abortion rights. Will you appoint-- are you looking to appoint a justice who wants to overturn Roe v. Wade?

TRUMP: So look, here's what's going to happen-- I'm going to-- I'm pro-life. The judges will be pro-life. They'll be very—

STAHL: But what about overturning this law--

TRUMP: Well, there are a couple of things. They'll be pro-life.... [H]aving to do with abortion if it ever were overturned, it would go back to the states. So it would go back to the states and--

STAHL: Yeah, but then some women won't be able to get an abortion?

TRUMP: No, it'll go back to the states.
If it seemed as if the two were talking past one another, it's because they were. Stahl was making the point that if Roe v. Wade is overturned, millions of women would no longer be able to terminate unwanted pregnancies. Trump, overlooking this detail, emphasized that reproductive rights would become a state issue.

They're both correct. If the right rejects the Roe precedent, states would be free to ban abortions, which in turn would curtail reproductive rights for women across much of the country.

Trump added, by way of a defense, that many women will "have to go to another state" in order to have an abortion. Asked if that's an acceptable outcome to him, the president-elect added, "Well, we'll see what happens."
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About The Rachel Maddow Show

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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