Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) has handled the current Supreme Court vacancy about as badly as humanly possible. The result has been an ignominious mess without precedent in American history.
The Iowa Republican, whose 2016 re-election bid is suddenly a lot less obvious than it was a few months ago, seems to realize that things aren't going well. Two weeks ago, Grassley acknowledged that he's facing the toughest campaign cycle of his lengthy career, and he blamed his political difficulties on "the Supreme Court issue."
Donald Trump's rise as the Republicans' presumptive presidential nominee complicates "the Supreme Court issue," of course, since in practical terms, Grassley and his GOP colleagues are imposing a blockade in order to empower Trump to make the selection. Senate Republicans, in other words, are executing an unpopular strategy in order to help an unpopular candidate.
Grassley conceded last week that the entire gambit is a "gamble," since it could mean Hillary Clinton nominating a younger, more progressive jurist. But as the Des Moines Registerreported this week, it's a gamble the Iowa Republican is prepared to make.
U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley said Wednesday he thinks Donald Trump, now the presumptive Republican nominee for president, would nominate the "right type of people" to the U.S. Supreme Court. [...]
"Based upon the type of people he'd be looking for, I think I would expect the right type of people to be nominated by him to the Supreme Court," Grassley said.
By most measures, Maine Gov. Paul LePage's (R) tenure hasn't gone especially well. The Tea Party Republican, elected twice after an independent candidate split the center-left in both races, has generally earned a reputation as an offensive buffoon, whose antics often border on repulsive.
But as WMTW in Portland reported yesterday, the Maine governor is nevertheless ready for some kind of promotion.
Gov. Paul LePage hopes Donald Trump picks him to be part of his administration if he is elected to office.
If not, he'll run against Angus King for U.S. Senate in 2018. That's what the governor said at his town hall meeting in Lewiston on Wednesday night.
"I said earlier that if I'm not into the Trump Administration, I will be running against Angus King," LePage reportedly said. "Now, don't tell my wife. She hasn't said yes yet."
In other words, the Maine governor is so confident in his successes as a state policymaker, he's ready to parlay his unique talents into shaping federal policy, too.
The Republican didn't specify exactly which job he'd like to have in a Trump administration -- LePage has no real areas of expertise -- and the presumptive Republican nominee, who picked up the Maine governor's endorsement in February, hasn't publicly suggested he expects LePage to be part of his team.
And yet, the governor, perhaps tired of his current job and the frequency with which his many vetoes are overturned, is nevertheless daring to dream.
After strong jobs reports in February and March, expectations were that the hot streak would continue into April.
That's not quite what happened. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported this morning that the U.S. economy added 160,000 jobs in April, below projections. The overall unemployment rate remained 5.0%, and for the first time in over eight years, we've been at or below this level for seven consecutive months.
As for the revisions: February's job totals were revised down a little, from 245,000 to 233,000, while March's totals were also revised down a bit, from 215,000 to 208,000. Combined, that's a loss of 19,000.
All things considered, it's a discouraging report, though the news wasn't all bad: this same report pointed to a decent bump in wages, which serves as a nice silver lining.
Over the last 12 months, the overall economy has created 2.69 million new jobs, which is a pretty healthy number. What's more, March was the 67th consecutive month of positive job growth -- the best stretch since 1939 -- and the 74th consecutive month in which we've seen private-sector job growth, which is the longest on record.
Over the weekend, President Obama spoke at the White House Correspondents' Dinner where he directed jokes at all kinds of folks, friend and foe, though he seemed to especially enjoy mocking presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.
"The Republican establishment is incredulous that [Trump] is their most likely nominee -- incredulous, shocking," Obama said. "They say Donald lacks the foreign policy experience to be president. But, in fairness, he has spent years meeting with leaders from around the world: Miss Sweden, Miss Argentina, Miss Azerbaijan...."
The point, obviously, is that experience with beauty pageants is a poor substitute for actual foreign policy experience. And with this in mind, it was striking to see Trump's latest interview on Fox News late yesterday, where life imitated art. Mid-way through the interview, Bret Baier brought up Russia:
BAIER: About Russia, you were asked yesterday if you've ever spoken to Vladimir Putin, and you said, "I don't want to say."
TRUMP: Yeah, I have no comment on that. No comment. I was in Russia --
BAIER: But one of the things people like about is to answer any question.
TRUMP: Yeah, but I don't want to comment because, let's assume I did. Perhaps it was personal. You know, I don't want to hurt his confidence. But I know Russia well. I had a major event in Russia two or three years ago -- Miss Universe contest -- which is a big, incredible event, and incredible success. I got to meet a lot of people. And you know what? They want to be friendly with the United States. Wouldn't it be nice if we actually got with somebody?
Rachel Maddow reports on the mayoral election in London in which Sadiq Khan, who happens to be Muslim is favored to win, and notes that Donald Trump's proposed ban on Muslims entering the United States would then negate a visit from the mayor of London. watch
Joy Reid, host of MSNBC's new Saturday morning show, talks with Rachel Maddow about whether the early assessments of Democratic chances against Donald Trump in the general election are overconfident. watch
Rachel Maddow reports on the disturbing record of the Donald Trump campaign's new national finance chair, Steven Mnuchin, and the federal corruption conviction of the senior strategist for Trump's newly embraced super PAC, Jesse Benton. watch
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* Canada: "Fast-moving wildfires spread farther across the Alberta oil sands region on Thursday, forcing the evacuation of three more communities south of Fort McMurray and the work camps north of the city. Thousands of people who fled the flames earlier in the week had to evacuate for the second time in three days."
* North Carolina: "[State] House Speaker Tim Moore said Thursday that legislators won't meet the U.S. Department of Justice's Monday deadline to repeal or stop enforcing House Bill 2."
* FDA: "The Food and Drug Administration, for the first time, imposed far-reaching regulations on e-cigarettes, cigars and other tobacco products, requiring manufacturers to disclose their ingredients and submit their products for government approval, and barring retailers from selling the items to anyone under 18 years old."
* Brazil's scandalized system continues to spiral: "A Brazilian Supreme Court justice ruled on Thursday that Eduardo Cunha, the powerful lawmaker who orchestrated the effort to impeach President Dilma Rousseff, must step down because he is facing a corruption trial."
* Commutations: "President Obama commuted the sentences of 58 federal prisoners convicted of drug crimes, the White House announced Thursday. Eighteen of the inmates were serving life sentences, mostly on crack- or cocaine-related charges. Most will be released on Sept. 2, but some will be freed early next year."
* Turkey's prime minister "resigned Thursday after a public rift with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, throwing the country's politics into turmoil and paving the way for Erdogan to consolidate power at a time of domestic and regional crises."
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.