The front page of USA Today's print edition features an all-caps, above-the-fold headline that Republicans probably didn't want to see: "Trump's Trail Of Unpaid Bills." And while the headline is rough, the article hits like a sledgehammer.
During the Atlantic City casino boom in the 1980s, Philadelphia cabinet-builder Edward Friel Jr. landed a $400,000 contract to build the bases for slot machines, registration desks, bars and other cabinets at Harrah's at Trump Plaza.
The family cabinetry business, founded in the 1940s by Edward's father, finished its work in 1984 and submitted its final bill to the general contractor for the Trump Organization, the resort's builder.
Edward's son, Paul, who was the firm's accountant, still remembers the amount of that bill more than 30 years later: $83,600. The reason: the money never came. "That began the demise of the Edward J. Friel Company... which has been around since my grandfather," he said.
USA Today recently broke some news, noting that Trump and his business enterprises have been involved in "at least 3,500 legal actions in federal and state courts during the past three decades." But this new report goes one step further, noting much of the litigation involves ordinary Americans -- mechanics, plumbers, painters, waiters, dishwashers, etc. -- who sent Trump bills for completed work, and the New York Republican simply refused to pay.
The new report added, "The actions in total paint a portrait of Trump's sprawling organization frequently failing to pay small businesses and individuals, then sometimes tying them up in court and other negotiations for years. In some cases, the Trump teams financially overpower and outlast much smaller opponents, draining their resources. Some just give up the fight, or settle for less; some have ended up in bankruptcy or out of business altogether."
Adding insult to injury, the Wall Street Journal published a related report overnight, documenting the same problem. In some instances, Trump-owned businesses felt they had leverage over small businesses, so when bills came, Trump's enterprise would offer part of what was owed -- take it or leave it -- knowing that the small businesses couldn't afford to get tied up in a lengthy court fight.
This really is brutal. It's hard to say whether this news will be overshadowed by the institutional Democratic support Hillary Clinton has picked up over the last day or so, but by some measures, these Trump revelations are absolutely devastating.
Longtime readers may recall that the Republican National Committee relied on an interesting online strategy in the 2008 presidential campaign. I noted on Oct. 29, 2008, that the RNC's official home page featured Barack Obama's name six times. John McCain's name, however, wasn't mentioned at all. The presidential election was a week away at the time.
A day earlier, Mother Jonesnoted that the only references it could find to McCain on the RNC's website was "a link to McCain's campaign store," and an out-of-date volunteer opportunity at a McCain event that had passed three days earlier. The RNC was eager to spotlight the Democratic candidate, but not its own.
It's funny how history sometimes repeats itself.
Rachel noted a week ago how weird it is that the RNC's homepage, a month after the party named Donald Trump the presumptive Republican nominee, included literally zero references to Trump's candidacy. This week, TPM's Josh Marshall noted the same thing.
There does not seem to be any mention of Donald Trump on the official Republican Party website, gop.com. Hillary is there. Bernie is there. George H.W.Bush is there. Reagan is there. Reagan/Bush. Lincoln is there. No Trump anywhere. Not on the blog, signups. Not anywhere that I could find.
I checked again this morning, assuming this oversight would be quickly fixed, if only to avoid embarrassment, but there's still nothing. I found this "Take Back The White House" page in which the RNC touts "our presidential candidates" -- as if there were still several Republican contenders -- but literally no references to Donald Trump specifically.
The RNC's homepage has two pictures of Hillary Clinton, but zero of Trump. Click on the "View All Articles" link for the latest RNC blog posts and press releases, and you'll find plenty of content, but of the top 20 items, 19 attacked Hillary Clinton, while one attacked President Obama.
Here, too, there wasn't a single Trump mention.
If you didn't know anything about politics and you stumbled onto the RNC's site, you might think the election were some kind of referendum on whether or not Clinton deserves support, rather than a choice between competing candidates.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) conceded this week that he and other Republican officials are "trying to" get Donald Trump "to act and speak like a serious presidential candidate." The senator's comments to Bloomberg Politics yesterday suggest the efforts aren't necessarily going well.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Thursday that Donald Trump needs to pick an experienced running mate because "he doesn't know a lot about the issues" and strongly urged him to change course on his rhetoric. [...]
"He needs someone highly experienced and very knowledgeable because it's pretty obvious he doesn't know a lot about the issues," McConnell said. "You see that in the debates in which he's participated."
McConnell went on to say that he's urged Trump to demonstrate "the seriousness of purpose that is required to be president of the United States." Suggesting the presidential hopeful has not yet met this threshold, the senator added, "We'll see whether that's something he's capable of doing."
The Kentucky Republican nevertheless said he's "comfortable" supporting Trump's candidacy.
Could there be a more direct validation of the post-policy thesis than this? McConnell freely admits that his party's presidential candidate is ignorant on matters of public policy and hasn't demonstrated the necessary seriousness of purpose -- but the senator nevertheless wants this man in the Oval Office, making life-and-death decisions, and leading the free world.
I half-expect McConnell to start telling reporters, "Qualified, schmalifed. As long as he has an 'R' after his name, I don't care."
About a month ago, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) was reminded that during his failed presidential campaign, he told voters that Donald Trump shouldn't be given access to nuclear codes because he lacked the necessary judgment and temperament. "I stand by the things that I said," Rubio replied, shortly before saying he'll support Trump's candidacy anyway.
Yesterday, the Weekly Standard's John McCormack talked to the Florida senator about the same issue, and received a very similar response.
One month after announcing his support for Donald Trump, Marco Rubio still believes that the presumptive GOP nominee is unfit to be commander-in-chief. "I stand by everything I said during the campaign," the Florida senator told THE WEEKLY STANDARD on Thursday when asked if he still believes Trump cannot be trusted with access to the country's nuclear weapons codes.
During the campaign, Rubio said that Trump was "dangerous" and that we must not hand "the nuclear codes of the United States to an erratic individual."
Rubio doesn't seem to understand why this posture is untenable. Perhaps I can help.
Stepping back, one of the challenges for Republicans with the controversy surrounding Judge Gonzalo Curiel is that the entire story is a trap of sorts from which there is no easy escape. If GOP officials acknowledge Trump's racism, they're effectively saying they want a racist in the White House. If they deny Trump's racism, they look like cowards. It's why so many GOP officials have tried to get creative while walking a fine line, with varying degrees of success.
Rubio's challenge, meanwhile, is every bit as dramatic, if not more so.
Less than a month ago, Fox News released a poll that caused much of the political world to gasp. For all the assumptions about Donald Trump's broad unpopularity, the network's national survey showed him leading the 2016 presidential race, 45% to 42%, over Hillary Clinton.
All of a sudden, observers had no choice but to pause, take note, and come to a striking realization: Trump, the unlikely Republican nominee, could actually win the presidency. This wasn't the only poll, of course, but it was one of many that showed the major-party rivals neck and neck, causing many to reconsider their assumptions.
Three weeks later, a new Fox poll shows a shifting national race.
The new poll shows Hillary Clinton with a three-point edge over Donald Trump (42-39 percent) in a hypothetical matchup. That's within the poll's margin of error.
The poll was conducted Sunday through Wednesday -- right as Clinton finally captured enough delegates to secure the Democratic nomination. Trump hit that mark May 26.
Clinton's narrow advantage obviously doesn't point to a looming landslide, but when a three-point Trump lead turns into a three-point Clinton lead over the course of a few weeks, it suggests the presumptive Republican nominee isn't yet moving in the right direction.
What's more, the timing offers the GOP little solace. Fox's survey was in the field through Wednesday -- which means it was mostly conducted before Clinton's latest big primary victories and her high-profile endorsements from President Obama, Vice President Biden, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).
The more Clinton can unify Democratic support after a long, contested nominating process, the stronger her poll support will be.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) had a rather interesting evening. It began with a fiery speech at the American Constitution Society's convention, where the Democratic senator shredded Donald Trump, labeling him "a loud, nasty, thin-skinned fraud who has never risked anything for anyone and who serves no one but himself."
As MSNBC's Irin Carmon added, "Just in case there was any ambiguity in how Warren sees Trump, she called him 'a total disgrace' and 'a thin-skinned, racist bully,' adding, 'You shame yourself, and you shame this great country.'"
And soon after, Warren joined Rachel Maddow on the air, where the senator, who was strictly neutral throughout the Democratic primaries, announced her presidential endorsement: "I'm ready. I am ready to get in this fight and work my heart out for Hillary Clinton to become the next president of the United States."
"Hillary Clinton won. And she won because she's a fighter, she's out there, she's tough, and I think this is what we need. Look at who she is. For 25 years, she's been taking the incomings, right? The right wing has thrown everything they possibly can at her.
"And what does she do? A lot of people would just hang up their spurs. They'd say, 'You know, I've had enough of this.' And she doesn't. What she's done is she gets back up and she gets back in the fight."
The senator added that Democrats need someone who "ought to be willing to throw a punch," and while "there are a lot of things that people say about Hillary Clinton ... nobody says that she doesn't know how to throw a punch."
It's hardly a secret that there's been considerable speculation about whether Warren might be considered for the Democrats' vice-presidential nomination, and Warren emphasized last night that she's not lobbying for the job. But the entirety of the political world took note last night when Rachel asked Warren if she believes she's capable of being president.
"I know you don't want the job," Rachel noted. "But do you know you would be capable of stepping into that job and doing that job if you were ever called to do it? Because -- and I ask you because Ed Rendell, former DNC chairman, former Pennsylvania governor, said recently that you were no -- not in any way, shape or form ready to be commander-in-chief. I want to know if you think you could be."
Warren's full answer was a three-word response: "Yes, I do."
Chris Hayes and Joy Reid join Rachel Maddow to discuss Senator Elizabeth Warren's endorsement of Hillary Clinton and her role in bridging the Sanders campaign to the Clinton campaign for the general election. watch
Senator Elizabeth Warren talks with Rachel Maddow about whether she has heard from the Clinton campaign about a possible running mate role, and how the Democratic primary process helped shift the political landscape. watch
Rachel Maddow shares a clip of Senator Elizabeth Warren criticizing Donald Trump at the American Constitution Society in Washington, D.C., for his comments about the judge in his Trump University fraud case. watch
Senator Elizabeth Warren offers her endorsement of Hillary Clinton for president of the United States, and talks with Rachel Maddow about the Democratic primary and her objections to Donald Trump. watch
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