Jane Sanders, wife of Democratic presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders, talks with Rachel Maddow about her role in the campaign and the apparent change in tone of the contention between the Sanders and Clinton campaigns. watch
Martin O'Malley, former Maryland governor, in his first interview since dropping out of the race for the Democratic presidential nomination talks with Rachel Maddow about the Democratic contest and what other issues he is working on now. watch
Rachel Maddow takes a look at how the New York tabloids have treated this year's presidential candidates on their front pages, particularly how the New York Daily News has responded to Ted Cruz after he disparaged "New York values." watch
* Panama Papers: "After dodging questions for days, British Prime Minister David Cameron acknowledged Thursday evening that he had owned and profited from shares in an offshore trust set up by his late father. The admission came as the impact from a massive leak of financial data continued to ripple across the globe, with Russian President Vladimir Putin alleging a Western conspiracy and Iceland reckoning with the fall of the country's prime minister."
* Brussels: "Police released new images Thursday showing the so-called man in white behind the Brussels Airport bombing and appealed for help from the public in tracing his escape from the scene of the attack."
* Quite an editorial on Alabama Gov. Bob Bentley's (R) scandal: "With rumored investigations by state and federal authorities, as well as the intent of the House to investigate impeachable offenses, Alabamians can no longer afford Bentley's distracting presence. His personal actions have turned the state into a circus.... The only action left for Bentley to alleviate this mess is to resign."
* Flint: "As the Flint water crisis continues to stir public outrage, the state of Michigan is trying to dig its way out from under a pile of lawsuits -- including one that now has the state claiming immunity."
* Every horrible story must have a Florida connection: "The Panama law firm that has helped companies, political leaders and other wealthy individuals hide assets in off-shore accounts has made itself exceedingly difficult to locate in the United States. Mossack Fonseca, the firm whose internal records were hacked and disclosed worldwide Sunday, once listed on its website that it had an office in Miami."
* Mexico: "The rise of Donald Trump and the anti-immigrant wave he is riding in his presidential primary campaign have alarmed the Mexican government so much that it has reshuffled top diplomats and, according to officials, adopted a new strategy -- to defend the image of Mexicans abroad."
* I'm noticing an ACA-related pattern: "In the first quarter of 2016, the uninsured rate among all U.S. adults was 11.0%, down from 11.9% in the fourth quarter of 2015. This marks a record low since Gallup and Healthways began tracking the uninsured rate in 2008."
Rep. Glenn Grothman (R), a far-right freshman from Wisconsin, generated national headlines this week when he admitted on television what many have long assumed. Looking ahead to this year's presidential election, the Republican congressman expressed confidence about the GOP doing well in the Badger State, thanks in part to one specific policy.
"[N]ow we have photo ID," Grothman said, "and I think photo ID is going to make a little bit of a difference."
At least in public, Republicans are supposed to say voter-ID schemes have nothing to do with rigging elections by suppressing voting rights, though some on the right occasionally slip and accidentally tell the truth, as Grothman helped prove.
Now, another shoe has fallen. A former Republican staffer in the Wisconsin legislature wrote a Facebook message this week, confirming that he saw GOP state lawmakers who, while considering voter-ID measures, "were giddy about the ramifications and literally singled out the prospects of suppressing minority and college voters."
The staffer talked to MSNBC's Zack Roth today about the Republicans' disenfranchisement campaign in Wisconsin.
Todd Allbaugh, who served as chief of staff to a Republican state senator, said in an interview Wednesday that at a closed-door caucus meeting in 2011, GOP lawmakers openly discussed how the ID bill would hit minorities and students hardest.
"One of the senators said, 'We need to think about the ramifications here, what this means, particularly in Milwaukee and college campuses across the state, what that could mean for us,'" said Allbaugh. "What I'm interested in here is winning, and we need to use the opportunity, because if Democrats had the power to do it to us, they'd do it," another senator said, according to Allbaugh.
It's worth noting that Grothman is now in Congress, but he was a Wisconsin state senator when Republicans passed the voter-ID law that puts new hurdles between 300,000 Americans and their democracy.
"He outed himself," Allbaugh said, referring to Grothman's comments this week. "People should take the congressman at his word."
In late January, Bernie Sanders held a press conference in Iowa at which reporters tried to get the Vermont senator to take a few rhetorical shots at Hillary Clinton. He wouldn't bite.
"I would argue that the reason that we're doing well is that people understand that we are trying to run a different kind of campaign -- not one of personal attacks," Sanders said. He added moments later, "I'm not going to be engaged in personal attacks on Secretary Clinton or anybody else."
At the time, the senator's boast about running "a different kind of campaign" was quite credible: Sanders and his operation really were qualitatively different from what we generally expect from presidential politics. At campaign events, the Democratic candidate wouldn't even tolerate his fans booing his primary rival.
That was before; this is now. Sanders, who took pride in never running a negative campaign in a career spanning four decades, is now overseeing a campaign that's blasting Clinton as too "ambitious," that's urging her to apologize to Iraq war victims, that's hinting at allegations of corruption, and as of last night in Philadelphia, that doesn't even believe the former senator and Secretary of State is "qualified" to be president.
"Now the other day, I think, Secretary Clinton appeared to be getting a little bit nervous," began Sanders in front of thousands at Philadelphia's Temple University Wednesday night. "And she has been saying lately that she thinks that I am, quote unquote not qualified to be president," he said as the raucous crowd booed.
"Well let me just say in response, to Secretary Clinton, I don't believe that she is qualified if she is ... through her Super PAC, taking tens of millions of dollars in special interest funds," Sanders declared.
The senator added this morning, "This is not the type of politics that I want to get in, I know it's what the media loves." But it's not the media's fault Sanders questioned Clinton's White House qualifications, just as it's not the media's fault the senator's campaign issued a statement last night listing the reasons Sanders doesn't believe Clinton is "qualified" to be president.
With passions running high, sometimes relevant details can get lost in the shuffle, but it's worth noting that when Sanders said Clinton argued that he's "quote unquote not qualified to be president," that never actually happened in reality. Clinton appeared on MSNBC yesterday morning, and despite repeated opportunities to question his qualifications, she would only say, in reference to his New York Daily News interview, "I think he hadn't done his homework, and he'd been talking for more than a year about doing things that he obviously hadn't really studied or understood."
In other words, Sanders believes he was responding in kind to an attack that didn't actually happen.
But even putting that aside, it's difficult to understand who's supposed to benefit from taking the Democratic race in this direction.
Today's installment of campaign-related news items from across the country.
* Campaigning in the Bronx yesterday, Ted Cruz struggled to defend his rejection of "New York values." The Texan, who used the line while trying to win in Iowa, said he was really just attacking "liberal Democratic" values.
* Speaking of New York, a Monmouth poll released yesterday found Donald Trump with a big lead among Empire State Republicans. The results showed the GOP frontrunner with 52%, followed by John Kasich with 25%, and Ted Cruz with 17%.
* With a few weeks remaining before the Maryland primary, a new Washington Post-University of Maryland poll shows Hillary Clinton leading Bernie Sanders in the state, 55% to 40%.
* The same poll found Trump leading Kasich among Maryland Republicans, 41% to 31%. Cruz was third with 22%.
* In Indiana this week, Senate hopeful Todd Young claimed that "politics is so new to me." For the record, Young is a three-term congressman, and a former staffer on Capitol Hill and at the Heritage Foundation.
* Speaking of Republican Senate candidates, Rep. David Jolly's (R) Senate campaign in Florida this week admitted that it touched up the congressman's Wikipedia page, removing information his aides considered potentially embarrassing.
* Sen. Jim Risch (R-Idaho) appeared on CNN yesterday and said he can't support Trump or Kasich. Asked if that meant, by process of elimination, that he's endorsing Cruz, Risch replied, "I guess it depends on your definition of the term."
We talked earlier about the Obama administration's new consumer safeguard, protecting investors planning for their retirement. Naturally, the financial industry isn't pleased, and congressional Republicans are eager to scrap the regulation.
But note the specifics of the Republican talking points. NPR reported yesterday:
Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan sides with the brokers, tweeting last week that the final rule would become "Obamacare for financial planning." He promised to push congressional action to hold up the rule, which will not be fully implemented until January 2018.
Oh, for goodness sake. Are we stuck in the "Obamacare for _______" framework again? Evidently, yes, and conservative media is only too pleased to go along. (The Daily Caller, on cue, is also complaining about "Obamacare for retirement planning.")
To the extent that policy details matter, let's note that the new financial-industry safeguards bear no resemblance whatsoever to the Affordable Care Act. I suspect that Republicans and their allies know that, but (a) they're reluctant to fight on Wall Street's behalf too openly; and (b) for lazy communications directors, simply throwing an "Obamacare" label on everything is vastly easier than thinking.
But forget policy details. This is about an elaborate, and unfortunate, rhetorical exercise.
There's been a fair amount of attention lately focused on Republican state lawmakers approving new anti-LGBT policies. But let's not forget that some "red" states are going after reproductive rights at the same time.
As MSNBC's Irin Carmon noted the other day, Florida has scrapped state aid to women's health clinics; Arizona is moving forward with new abortion restrictions; and South Dakota's governor "signed a ban on abortion at 19 weeks, with no exception for rape and incest."
And then there's Indiana, where GOP state policymakers approved a policy that's already causing problems. The Washington Postreported in late March:
One day after Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) signed a controversial bill that would block women from seeking abortions based on medical diagnoses, doctors grappled with how the measure could impact their patients.
The mandate, which takes effect July 1, bans the procedure if, among other restrictions, a woman requests it "solely" because a fetus has Down syndrome or any other disorder. She could legally obtain an abortion in the event of a lethal fetal illness -- but would have to inform the state that she chose to terminate her pregnancy.
A doctor, meanwhile, could face a wrongful death lawsuit if an abortion is granted to a woman who requests one after learning about a pregnancy complication.
Some women in the Hoosier State were so unimpressed with the governor's new law that they rallied behind something called -- I kid you not -- "Periods for Pence." WRTV in Indianapolis reported:
When Wisconsin voters went to the polls this week, the bulk of the attention was directed at the presidential primaries, with both parties hosting competitive contests. But as Rachel noted on the show on Monday and Tuesday, there was another contest on the ballot that was worth watching closely.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) appointed Rebecca Bradley, a far-right jurist, to the state Supreme Court, and it was up to voters to decide whether to give her a full term. Despite her record of extremist views and rhetoric, Bradley prevailed over her rival, JoAnne Kloppenburg, who was supported by Democrats and Wisconsin unions in a race that was technically non-partisan.
So what went wrong for the left? The Washington Post's Dave Weigel published an interesting report today on an important analysis of the election results.
Bradley won the election, a surprise to Democrats. This morning, some progressives picked a culprit: voters who cast ballots for Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.) and left the rest of their ballots blank. According to exit polling conducted by the independent group DecisionDesk and BenchMark Politics, perhaps 15 percent of Sanders voters skipped the Bradley-Kloppenburg race; just 4 percent of Hillary Clinton voters did the same.
"There was an enormous drop-off," said Brandon Finnigin of DecisionDesk. "There was a substantial number of voters in that voted for Sanders, then for nothing else."
It's important to emphasize that while Sanders has been criticized for raising money for himself, and not for other candidates, Democratic campaign committees, or state parties, he did endorse Kloppenburg over Bradley. Hillary Clinton also focused attention on the state Supreme Court fight, telling a Milwaukee audience over the weekend, "There is no place on any Supreme Court or any court in this country, no place at all for Rebecca Bradley's decades-long track record of dangerous rhetoric against women, survivors of sexual assault and the LGBT community."
But in the larger context, the fact that so many Sanders supporters showed up to vote for him, but not other like-minded candidates, reinforces Democratic concerns about the senator's electoral role. As Weigel's report added, many Dems are now arguing that Clinton "is investing in the Democratic Party's success," while "Sanders, far from a revolution, has built a personal following but little else."
A couple of months ago, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) expressed some understandable concerns about the Zika virus. "We need to get out in front of the Zika virus to make sure that we don't end up having the kind of feeling across the country that we're sort of reacting too late, like we did on Ebola," the Republican leader said in early February.
There were some problems with McConnell's argument -- U.S. officials didn't "react too late" to Ebola, and if there was a misguided "feeling across the country," it was probably because Republicans were saying ridiculous things in public -- but even putting them aside, it was heartening to see a GOP leader talk about proactive steps towards a potential hazard.
But in the months that have followed, McConnell and the Republican Congress haven't actually taken any steps to "get out in front of" the problem. As Politiconoted yesterday, the White House isn't happy.
White House officials on Wednesday criticized Republican lawmakers for holding up President Barack Obama's $1.9 billion funding request to fight the Zika virus.
The administration also announced it shifted about $600 million in unused Ebola funds to combat Zika -- a measure that congressional Republicans have called for but one that administration officials previously resisted because they're still battling the Ebola virus in West Africa.
Not only that, the money intended to address the Ebola threat isn't enough to cover a robust response to the Zika outbreak, which is why the administration urged Congress to approve a $1.9 billion package.
OMB Director Shaun Donovan told reporters yesterday, "We should not play with fire here. We should not risk the outbreak getting out of control before Congress acts."
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest added that congressional Republicans need to determine whether their distaste for Obama "trumps their desire to try to protect pregnant women in their states from this terrible disease."
It may not seem like a sexy political issue, and no one has ever accused anyone of using new fiduciary rules for click-bait, but the Obama administration made a pretty interesting move yesterday that consumers will like -- and Wall Street will not. The New York Timesreported:
The rules governing how financial professionals handle the trillions of dollars they invest on behalf of Americans saving for retirement are about to get a lot tougher.
The Labor Department, after years of battling Wall Street and the insurance industry, issued new regulations on Wednesday that will require financial advisers and brokers handling individual retirement and 401(k) accounts to act in the best interests of their clients.
The Timesadded the administration's new policy sets off "one of the biggest upheavals in the financial services industry in decades."
Labor Secretary Thomas Perez told the paper, "The marketing material that I see from many firms is, 'We put our customers first.' This is no longer a marketing slogan. It's the law."
Under the current rules, when investors meet with their financial advisers to talk about their IRAs, the advisers operate under something called the "suitability standard." As Slate's Helaine Olen explained, this standard allows finance-industry professionals "to make suggestions for retirement investments that take into account how clients' investments buttress their own bottom line. The advice just couldn't be out-and-out malfeasant."
Your adviser can't direct you to an investment he or she knows to be bad for you, but he or she isn't required to recommend the best possible option for you, either. If there's a retirement-fund option that would basically work to your benefit, and that also helps your adviser with commissions or rewards, he or she can push you in that direction -- even if you'd make more money following a better path.
According to the Obama administration, this translates into $17 billion a year that could be in investors' retirement accounts, but isn't.
So, the administration is scrapping the "suitability standard" and replacing it with the "fiduciary rule" that will take effect in 2018 (I know these labels sound dull, but work with me here.)
The bulk of the attention surrounding Bernie Sanders' interview with the New York Daily News this week focused on the senator struggling at times with policy details. In response to a variety of questions, the Vermont independent gave responses such as, "It's something I have not studied"; "I don't know the answer to that"; and "I haven't thought about it a whole lot."
But another area of contention surrounds a subject Sanders understands perfectly well.
Towards the end of the interview, the Daily News editors noted, "There's a case currently waiting to be ruled on in Connecticut. The victims of the Sandy Hook massacre are looking to have the right to sue for damages the manufacturers of the weapons. Do you think that that is something that should be expanded?" Sanders, seeking clarification, said, "Do I think the victims of a crime with a gun should be able to sue the manufacturer, is that your question?"
Told that it was the question, he replied, "No, I don't."
As Politicoreported, this isn't sitting well with some of the lawsuit's Democratic supporters.
Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy and Gov. Dannel Malloy attacked Bernie Sanders on Tuesday for stating that shooting victims should not be able to sue gun manufacturers, an issue that has dogged the Vermont senator throughout his presidential run.
"I don't know why our party would nominate someone that's squishy on the issue of guns, this is a very personal issue for those of us that represent Sandy Hook," Murphy, who is a supporter of Hillary Clinton, said in an interview with POLITICO. "The idea that Sandy Hook families should be completely barred from court is really backwards and unfair."
Keep in mind that Connecticut's Democratic presidential primary is April 26, just a week after New York's. The state's governor and both of its U.S. senators have already formally endorsed Clinton.
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.