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Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally at the W.L. Zorn Arena Nov. 1, 2016 in Eau Claire, Wis. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty)

Team Trump won't let facts get in the way of anti-Clinton story

11/04/16 05:07PM

Your Republican uncle who watches Fox all day might have emailed you the other day, alerting you to a big scoop: the FBI was "likely" to issue an indictment as part of an investigation into the Clinton Foundation. In fact, your uncle's note probably included a question such as, "Why aren't other news outlets covering this?"

The answer, it turns out, is because the report was wrong. Several news organizations, including NBC News, quickly discredited Fox's report, and Bret Baier apologized on the air this morning for his mistaken reporting.

There are plenty of questions surrounding this incident -- we don't know, for example, who gave Fox the bogus information -- but in the short term, it's important to appreciate the fact that Donald Trump and his team have decided to believe Fox's debunked claims and they're inclined to keep treating fiction as fact.

This morning, for example, Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-N.C.), a Trump surrogate, suggested that repeating a false claim that the campaign knows to be false is acceptable behavior. When CNN's Chris Cuomo asked the congresswoman for proof, Ellmers said, "I'm hearing about it. I don't really have all that many connections and yet I'm hearing about the investigation."

Of course, "hearing about" lies doesn't make them true.

Similarly, on MSNBC last night, Brian Williams asked Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway whether Trump will walk back his claims about the Fox report, now that everyone including Fox knows the claims are wrong. She didn't answer directly, instead saying, "Well, the damage is done to Hillary Clinton.... It just doesn't change what's in voters' minds right now."

Don't brush past this too quickly. This was the campaign manager for a presidential campaign telling a national television audience that her team spread bogus information -- and she doesn't really care, because some people are believing falsehoods.

Conway's boss appears to care even less. TPM reported today:
Lawyer and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani comments on a lawsuit filed against video game giant Activision outside Los Angeles Superior court in Los Angeles, Calif., on Oct. 16, 2014. (Photo by Damian Dovarganes/AP)

Trump surrogate Giuliani admits he received inside scoop from FBI

11/04/16 04:21PM

A week ago, FBI Director James Comey sent a letter to Congress that effectively intervened in the presidential campaign. Two days earlier, Rudy Giuliani, one of Donald Trump's surrogates, told Fox News that the Republican ticket had "a surprise or two that you're going to hear about in the next few days."

Giuliani added that he was "talking about some pretty big surprises" that "should turn [the presidential campaign] around." He added, "I think it will be enormously effective."

With the benefit of hindsight, we now know, of course, what the former mayor was referring to. But it raises a fairly obvious question: how'd the Trump campaign know what the FBI intended to do and when the bureau would do it?

As the Huffington Post noted this morning, Giuliani appeared on Fox and explained what happened.
Rudy Giuliani said Friday that he knew the FBI planned to review more emails tied to Hillary Clinton before a public announcement about the investigation last week, confirming that the agency leaked information to Donald Trump's presidential campaign. [...]

"I did nothing to get it out, I had no role in it," he said. "Did I hear about it? You're darn right I heard about it, and I can't even repeat the language that I heard from the former FBI agents."
It's worth emphasizing that Giuliani said he didn't speak to active FBI officials, only former bureau agents*.

But that only helps as a matter of degree. FBI officials didn't give the Trump campaign advance warning about a campaign bombshell, but FBI officials did tell former FBI officials, who in turn gave the Trump campaign advance warning about a campaign bombshell.

We're no longer talking about speculation. This isn't an instance in which the Clinton campaign is accusing the FBI of tipping off a top official in the Trump campaign. Rather, we're now talking about an admission from Trump's top surrogates, who bragged about it on national television. "You're darn right" Giuliani got a tip from inside the bureau, receiving internal details despite his partisan role in the election.
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Senate Chairman Of Transportation Committee Calls For Investigation Into George Washington Bridge Lane Closures

Chris Christie aides found guilty in 'Bridgegate' affair

11/04/16 12:25PM

In his cringe-worthy speech at the Republican National Convention, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) created a Kangaroo Court of sorts, repeatedly asking his rabid audience, "Guilty or not guilty?" Nearly four months later, with two of the governor's top aides on trial, we now have an answer to that question.
A jury has found two of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's former allies guilty on all counts for their roles in the George Washington Bridge lane closure scandal, capping a case that roiled state politics and captured national attention.

Christie's ex-deputy chief of staff, Bridget Anne Kelly, and his former top Port Authority official, Bill Baroni, had faced nine counts of conspiracy and fraud stemming from the scheme to block access to the George Washington Bridge as a means to punish Democratic Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich for not endorsing Christie's re-election bid.
I can appreciate why some may see these developments as less relevant now than they used to be. After all, Christie is no longer a presidential contender or under consideration for the Republicans' vice presidential nomination, and the now-convicted aides left their government posts years ago.

But don't be too quick to dismiss the significance of the jury's findings. This is the same trial, for example, in which both the defense attorneys and the prosecutors said Christie knew about the abuse-of-power conspiracy, despite his claims to the contrary. If accurate, the possibility of the governor facing impeachment is very real.

But even more important still in the short-term is the fact regular readers probably know: Christie is still positioned to serve as chairman of Donald Trump's transition team -- if the Republican candidate wins the presidential race next week.

Christie's top responsibility as transition team chair? Helping put together a staff for the president-elect.
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Friday's Campaign Round-Up, 11.4.16

11/04/16 12:00PM

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

* The latest ABC News/Washington Post daily tracking poll shows Hillary Clinton leading Donald Trump by three, 47% to 44%, which is a modest margin, but it's also the best result for her in this poll in over a week.

* A new batch of PPP state-based polls shows Clinton up by four points in Pennsylvania, seven in Wisconsin, two in North Carolina, three in Nevada, and five in New Hampshire.

* On the other hand, In New Hampshire, the latest Suffolk poll shows Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump tied at 42% each. A new UMass Lowell poll in New Hampshire shows Clinton and Trump tied at 44% each.

* As for the Granite State's closely watched U.S. Senate race, the Suffolk poll shows incumbent Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R) with a two-point lead, while the UMass Lowell poll shows Gov. Maggie Hassan (D) with a one-point lead.

* Accused of using campaign funds for personal use, Rep. Duncan Hunter Jr. (R-Calif.) has agreed to "repay $49,000 to his campaign account" following "months of revelations."

* National Review asked Mike Pence, Donald Trump's running mate, three times this week whether House Speaker Paul Ryan should be re-elected to his post. Pence "declined" to answer each time.

* A batch of state-based NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist polls were released late yesterday, which found Trump with a one-point lead in Georgia, a five-point lead in Arizona, and a nine-point lead in Texas.

* Quinnipiac, meanwhile, released a batch of U.S. Senate polls, with incumbents Marco Rubio up by six in Florida and Rob Portman up by 18 in Ohio. The news was not all good for Republicans, however: the same batch showed North Carolina's Richard Burr and Pennsylvania's Pat Toomey trailing in their respective races.

* In Virginia, a new Roanoke College poll shows Clinton ahead of Trump, 45% to 38%.
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Snow begins to gather on a statue outside the Capitol Building in Washington, DC, Dec. 10, 2013.

Congressional GOP tries 'poisoning the well,' two years later

11/04/16 11:10AM

Two years ago this week, congressional Republicans had mixed feelings. On the one hand, they'd just racked up some impressive midterm victories, and were poised to take control of both chambers of Congress for the first time in nearly a decade. On the other hand, President Obama was moving forward with a sweeping immigration policy, which he intended to implement without legislation.

GOP leaders came up with a carefully worded warning to the White House: Obama, they said, shouldn't "poison the well." It was a phrase House and Senate Republican leaders used, over and over again. The point was straightforward: if the president took steps GOP lawmakers didn't like before the new Congress even started, it would hurt Republicans' feelings, and make constructive, bipartisan policymaking all but impossible. (Obama, aware of GOP tactics from the previous six years, acted anyway, realizing that Republicans would never compromise.)

Two years later, who's poisoning the well now? The Washington Post has a report this morning that seems like an article from a farcical drama, but happens to be entirely real.
Senior Republican lawmakers are openly discussing the prospect of impeaching Hillary Clinton should she win the presidency, a stark indication that partisan warfare over her tenure as secretary of state will not end on Election Day.

Chairmen of two congressional committees said in media interviews this week they believe Clinton committed impeachable offenses in setting up and using a private email server for official State Department business.

And a third senior Republican, the chairman of a House Judiciary subcommittee, told The Washington Post he is personally convinced Clinton should be impeached for influence peddling involving her family foundation. He favors further congressional investigation into that matter.
The trio the Post mentioned doesn't include House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas), who this week suggested Hillary Clinton's email server management constituted "treason" against the United States.

It also doesn't include Senate House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) also asserting this week that he too believes Clinton has committed impeachable offenses.
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A general view of the US Supreme Court in Washington, DC, Dec. 30, 2014. (Photo by Jim Watson/AFP/Getty)

An indefinite Supreme Court blockade picks up far-right backing

11/04/16 10:30AM

The New York Times highlighted an interesting anecdote this morning.
Senator Jeff Flake was startled a few months ago when a constituent pressed him on whether he was willing to hold up any Supreme Court nominee chosen by Hillary Clinton if she was elected president.

"I asked for how long, and he said for four years," Mr. Flake, an Arizona Republican, recounted in an interview. "I said no, of course not. That is not what I came to Washington to do."

But that's precisely what some of his Republican colleagues are considering.
Flake added that Senate Republicans can't reasonably expect to block any and all high court nominees from a Democratic White House, simply because they're from a Democratic White House. "You shouldn't and you can't," the Arizonan told the Times. "People expect to have a full court."

Evidently, that depends on which "people" you're referring to. Heritage Action, a project of the far-right Heritage Foundation, hosted a briefing yesterday on Capitol Hill, calling on Senate Republicans to leave Supreme Court vacancies alone "perhaps for as long as five years," assuming there's a Democratic president.

Dan Holler, Heritage Action's vice president of communications and government relations, said such a gambit would require "an immense amount of willpower" from Senate Republicans, but they should be prepared to do it anyway.

It may seem absurd to think about the political dynamic this way, but relatively soon, the belief that the Senate should hold confirmation votes on qualified Supreme Court nominees will pass for "Republican moderation."
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A crest of the Federal Bureau of Investi

Allegations mount against FBI, possible campaign intervention

11/04/16 09:46AM

For much of 2016, the fear was that Russian President Vladimir Putin and officials from his government would interfere in the American presidential election, taking wildly improper steps to boost Donald Trump. More recently, however, related concerns came to the fore -- about domestic officials doing the same thing.

A week ago, FBI Director James Comey intervened in the presidential campaign in a highly provocative way, releasing a vague letter to Congress about Hillary Clinton emails that seemed almost designed to generate innuendo. Reuters reported yesterday Comey "was driven in part by a fear of leaks from within his agency" when he decided to release the document.

The same Reuters report added that "a faction of investigators" based in the FBI's New York Field Office is "known to be hostile to Hillary Clinton."

As Rachel reported last night, the effects of such anti-Clinton hostility within the bureau are raising the kind of questions the FBI hoped to leave behind in the J. Edgar Hoover era. Consider the report from the Guardian's Spencer Ackerman, who discussed his reporting on the show.
Deep antipathy to Hillary Clinton exists within the FBI, multiple bureau sources have told the Guardian, spurring a rapid series of leaks damaging to her campaign just days before the election.

Current and former FBI officials, none of whom were willing or cleared to speak on the record, have described a chaotic internal climate that resulted from outrage over director James Comey's July decision not to recommend an indictment over Clinton's maintenance of a private email server on which classified information transited.

"The FBI is Trumpland," said one current agent.
The scope of these concerns helps to reinforce impressions that the FBI has its thumb on the scale when it comes to this year's presidential election. Comey's letter to Congress is a problem. Anti-Clinton officials at the bureau taking "Clinton Cash" seriously is a problem. The FBI's Twitter feed is a problem. Allegations that pro-Trump officials at the FBI are leaking to Rudy Giuliani are a problem.

The Atlantic's Adam Serwer had a very compelling piece this week, arguing that the presidential race should be guided "by voters, not federal agents." It's hard not to get the impression that some in the FBI have a very different opinion.
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U.S. job growth remains steady in final pre-election report

11/04/16 08:44AM

Those hoping the final jobs report ahead of Election Day might shake up the campaign season are going to be disappointed.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported this morning that the U.S. economy added 161,000 jobs in October, which is roughly in line with projections. The unemployment rate inched lower, dropping from 5% to 4.9%. It's the 13th consecutive month the rate has been at 5% or lower.

As for the revisions: August's job totals were revised up, from 167,000 to 176,000, while September's were also revised up, from 156,000 to 191,000. Combined, that's a net gain of 44,000.

Over the last 12 months, the overall economy has created 2.35 million new jobs, which is a pretty healthy number. And with two months remaining in 2016, the U.S. remains on track to create over 2.1 million new jobs this calendar year. What's more, October was the 73rd consecutive month of positive job growth, which is the longest on record.
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Melania Trump, wife of Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump walks onto the stage during the opening day of the Republican National Convention on July 18, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

Melania Trump's cultural criticism overlooks her husband's record

11/04/16 08:00AM

Faced with an opponent who's notoriously abusive towards anyone who bothers him, Hillary Clinton lamented yesterday, "Our culture has gotten too mean and too rough, especially to our children and teenagers."

Wait, did I say Hillary Clinton? I meant the remarks came from Melania Trump, Donald Trump's wife, who delivered brief public remarks yesterday about the scourge of cyber-bullying.
"As we know now social media is a centerpiece of our lives," she told a small but supportive crowd in Berwyn, Pennsylvania. "But like anything that is powerful it can have a bad side."

Children and teenagers "can be fragile," she said. "They can be made to feel less in looks and intelligence." ... "Our culture has gotten too mean and too rough, especially to our children and teenagers," she added.
At face value, there's nothing wrong with remarks these. On the contrary, Melania Trump's societal and cultural concerns are well founded.

And by all appearances, her fears are entirely sincere. Last week, the prospective First Lady told ABC she wants to see more done to protect kids because what goes on online can be "very hurtful" to children. "We need to teach them how to use it," she said. "What is right to say. What is not right to say."

But listening to Melania Trump make these points inevitably leads to a related question: has she met Donald Trump? Has she noticed the kind of impact he's had on America's public discourse?
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Attention: You cannot vote by text!

Attention: You cannot vote by text!

11/03/16 09:38PM

Rachel Maddow alerts viewers to an insidious new disinformation campaign telling people they can avoid lines at polling places by voting by text or online. There is no state that allows voting by phone or e-mail or text or hashtag or Facebook post. watch


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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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