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Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., speaks at the Capitol in Washington on Dec. 11, 2014. (Photo by J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

Bachmann's new gig: Trump adviser on evangelical issues

06/22/16 08:00AM

The religious right movement has struggled for decades to play a leading role in choosing the Republican Party's presidential nominee, but this year, social conservatives declared early on, would finally be their year.
 
And yet, after doing everything right and carefully following their specific strategy, the GOP ended up going with a thrice-married adulterous casino owner who quite literally can't tell the difference between a communion plate and a collection plate.
 
Will the right-wing theological movement and the secular nativist forge a constructive partnership? As The Atlantic noted, the two sides are working on it.
No matter how much American politics have changed during this election cycle, one eternal truth remains: Republicans need evangelical voters. Even Donald Trump, the man of botched Bible verses and many wives, is making moves to win over conservative Christians. On Tuesday, he met with more than 1,000 mostly evangelical leaders, along with some Catholics, in a closed-to-the-press meeting in New York City.
 
Big names -- from former presidential candidate Ben Carson to the Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. to the pollster George Barna -- apparently spoke at the event, while Trump took pre-selected questions in a discussion moderated by the former presidential candidate and preacher Mike Huckabee. But while Trump has a number of vocal evangelical cheerleaders, and leaders gave him a hearing on Tuesday, many conservative Christians are still wary of the presumptive Republican nominee.
Soon after, the Trump campaign announced the creation of a new "executive board convened to provide advisory support to Mr. Trump on those issues important to Evangelicals and other people of faith in America." The name at the top of the list: Michele Bachmann.
 
Yes, that Michele Bachmann. The failed former presidential candidate and former congresswoman has a new gig, advising her party's presumptive nominee on evangelical issues. What could possibly go wrong?

Citations for the June 21, 2016 TRMS

06/22/16 01:01AM

Tonight's guests:

  • Kendal Unruh, RNC Rules Committee member and co-founder of "Free the Delegates 2016"
  • Karoun Demirjian, national security and foreign policy reporter for The Washington Post

Tonight's links:

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New bipartisan gun bill might actually pass

New bipartisan gun bill might actually have a chance of passing

06/21/16 09:50PM

Karoun Demirjian, national security and foreign policy reporter for The Washington Post, talks with Rachel Maddow about a new gun regulation bill with bipartisan backing that addresses the terrorist watchlist and notifications to the FBI, and may actually have a chance of passing. watch

Trump campaign a cover for moneymaking scheme

Trump campaign a cover for moneymaking scheme

06/21/16 09:07PM

Rachel Maddow makes the case that Donald Trump's presidential campaign is essentially a moneymaking racket and a giant book tour, which explains why he is not assembling a real campaign staff or raising real campaign money. watch

Tuesday's Mini-Report, 6.21.16

06/21/16 05:30PM

Today's edition of quick hits:
 
* Orlando: "In remarks Tuesday aimed at offering solace to a grieving city and shocked nation in the wake of the deadly attack in Orlando, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch assured first responders and families of victims that officials are working on getting answers. And the Justice Dept. will make $1 million in emergency funding available to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to help cover overtime costs for state and local responders, she added."
 
* Taking their time: "Congressional negotiators may be nearing an agreement on funding to help fight the spread of the Zika virus."
 
* Mexican unrest: "The long-simmering dispute between Mexico's federal government and a radical arm of the country's teachers union erupted into violence over the weekend, as riot police clashed with protesters in the southern state of Oaxaca, leaving at least six dead and more than 100 others wounded."
 
* She's right: "Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen blasted Donald Trump's suggestion that he would renegotiate on the nation's debt if elected president, warning of 'very severe' consequences."
 
* This is largely the result of social conservatives' activism: "The nation's leading cancer doctors are pushing pediatricians and other providers to help increase use of the HPV vaccine, which studies show could help avert tens of thousands of cancer cases during young Americans' lives. Yet a decade after its controversial introduction, the vaccine remains stubbornly underused even as some of those diseases surge."
 
* Remember her? "Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk who made a splash last summer with her refusal to grant marriage licenses to gay couples, wants an appeals court to officially forget all about the incident and make the case go away."
Rep. Chaka Fattah, speaks as House Democrats hold a news conference to call for presidential action on immigration on Nov. 13, 2014. (Photo by Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call/Getty).

Dem congressman convicted on federal corruption charges

06/21/16 04:41PM

For criminal-defense attorneys in D.C., this has been a Congress to remember.
 
As we first reported a year ago, then-Rep. Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.) got the ball rolling with an indictment and conviction. Two months later, then-Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Ill.) was forced to resign and still faces the threat of possible criminal charges. A month after that, Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) was indicted. A month after that, former House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) was indicted and later sentenced to prison.
 
And two months after that, Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-Pa.) was added to the list, charged in a 29-count indictment, with charges that included bribery, fraud, and money laundering. Today, as the Philadelphia Daily News reported, the Democratic congressman was convicted.
U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah (D., Pa.) was convicted Tuesday in a federal racketeering case likely to send him to prison.
 
The verdict -- announced by a jury of nine women and three men -- comes after a four-week trial in which prosecutors alleged that Fattah took bribes and repeatedly stole charitable donations, campaign contributions and federal grant money under his control.
Fattah's sentencing is set for Oct. 4.
 
Roll Call reported, "In a statement, Fattah acknowledged the conviction but stopped short of saying outright he had any plans to resign." It's hard to imagine how such a decision should be optional.
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at the Family Leadership Summit in Ames, Iowa on July 18, 2015. (Photo by Nati Harnik/AP)

For his next trick, Trump questions Clinton's religious faith

06/21/16 02:22PM

Recently, most of Donald Trump's offensive rants have focused on race and ethnicity, but not religion. Any chance he can pick up the slack and start making faith-based insults, too?
 
As it turns out, yes, he can.
Donald Trump questioned Hillary Clinton's commitment to her Christian faith on Tuesday, saying that little is known about her spiritual life even though she's been in the public eye for decades.
 
Speaking to a group of top social conservative evangelical Christian leaders at a gathering in New York City, Trump said, "we don't know anything about Hillary in terms of religion."
"Now, she's been in the public eye for years and years, and yet there's no -- there's nothing out there," Trump said. "There's like nothing out there. It's going to be an extension of Obama but it's going to be worse, because with Obama you had your guard up. With Hillary you don't, and it's going to be worse."
 
As The Hill's report noted, the behind-closed-doors meeting was not open to the public or to journalists, but one faith leader recorded Trump's comments and posted them online.
 
The presumptive Republican presidential nominee added that the religious leaders in attendance should "pray for everyone, but what you really have to do is pray to get everybody out to vote for one specific person."
 
Let's unpack this a bit, because even by Trump standards, this is pretty amazing.
In this Sept. 3, 2014, file photo, shows flowers blooming in front of the Salt Lake Temple. in Temple Square, in Salt Lake City. (Photo by Rick Bowmer/AP)

Utah GOP chairman convinces Trump to campaign in the state

06/21/16 12:40PM

Four years ago, President Obama won re-election with 332 electoral votes. When thinking about the 2016 race, it's important to keep that number in mind: if you want to know whether Donald Trump will be in the Oval Office next year, consider the fact that the New York Republican will need to win every state Mitt Romney carried in 2012, and then also win at least another 62 electoral votes that voted "blue" in the last election.
 
The test for Republicans -- or anyone else who wants Trump to succeed -- is simple: identify the states that will switch from backing Obama to backing Trump and do the arithmetic. If you can't find these 62 votes, then you don't believe the Republican ticket will prevail. (Quinnipiac polling out this morning showed Trump competitive in Ohio and Pennsylvania, but even if he somehow won both, they would combine for 38 electoral votes.)
 
But it's actually slightly worse than that -- because there's no guarantee the GOP candidate will succeed in every state Romney won four years ago. Take this report in the Salt Lake Tribune, for example.
Concerned with polls showing Hillary Clinton has a chance to win in one of the most conservative states in the nation, Utah Republican Party Chairman James Evans huddled with Donald Trump in Las Vegas on Saturday.
 
They talked for half an hour shortly before Trump held a packed rally at the Treasure Island casino, and he vowed to campaign in Utah after the national convention in Cleveland in July.
Evans told the paper that Trump committed to campaigning in Utah after he secures the nomination. "He's definitely coming back out," Evans said.
 
And that, in and of itself, is a striking vow. Utah is one of the nation's most reliably red states, and as we discussed last week, Utah has voted Republican in 15 of the last 16 presidential elections. And yet, recent polling suggests Hillary Clinton is competitive in the state, and the chairman of the Utah GOP is concerned enough to talk directly to Trump for a half-hour about the importance of the presumptive Republican nominee campaigning in the state -- which he's apparently agreed to do.
 
It's roughly the equivalent of the chair of the Hawaii Democratic Party telling Hillary Clinton to worry about the Aloha State in the fall.

Tuesday's Campaign Round-Up, 6.21.16

06/21/16 12:00PM

Today's installment of campaign-related news items from across the country.
 
* As hard as this may be to believe, 121 members of Congress running for re-election this year currently have more cash on hand than Donald Trump's presidential campaign.
 
* As if Trump's team weren't already tiny enough, adviser Michael Caputo resigned yesterday after saying something unkind about former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski.
 
* On a related note, Lewandowski was escorted from Trump campaign headquarters yesterday by security.
 
* As Rachel noted on the show last night, Team Trump currently has "about 30 paid staff on the ground across the country," including one field staffer overseeing Florida, Virginia, and North Carolina. [Update: The latest FEC filing indicated that Trump's entire staff is now over 70 people, including field staff.]

* In Florida, if/when Sen. Marco Rubio announces he'll run for re-election, he will not clear the Republican primary field. Land developer Carlos Beruff has already spend $4 million of his own money on the Senate race, and yesterday, he said he's prepared to spend $10 million to $15 million more if necessary.
 
* Beruff also indicated yesterday that he intends to push Rubio on whether he'll serve a full term if he runs and wins this year. Rubio is expected to run for the White House again in 2020, which would mean serving only part of a possible second term.
Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback delivers his State of the State speech to an annual joint session of the House and Senate at the Statehouse in Topeka, Kan., Jan. 15, 2014. (Photo by Orlin Wagner/AP)

What happened after California raised taxes and Kansas cut them

06/21/16 11:31AM

The state of California made some headlines last week when the latest economic data found that the Golden State's economy is now the sixth largest on the planet, passing France and Brazil. It was a striking milestone just in terms of California's sheer economic might.
 
But there was something else about the news with some political salience: when California raised taxes on the wealthy in 2012, creating one of the highest marginal tax rates in the country, conservatives were certain the state's economy would take a severe hit. How'd that work out? The Washington Post reported the other day:
California grew just fine in the year the tax hikes took effect... California's economy grew by 4.1 percent in 2015, according to new numbers from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, tying it with Oregon for the fastest state growth of the year. That was up from 3.1 percent growth for the Golden State in 2014, which was near the top of the national pack.
At the same time, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback (R) slashed taxes, leading conservatives to predict great things for the state's economy. And yet, here we are.
The Kansas economy, on the other hand, grew 0.2 percent in 2015. That's down from 1.2 percent in 2014, and below neighboring states such as Nebraska (2.1 percent) and Missouri (1.2 percent). Kansas ended the year with two consecutive quarters of negative growth -- a shrinking economy. By a common definition of the term, the state entered 2016 in recession. [...]
 
Kansas's gross domestic product is still less than it was at the end of 2011, said Menzie Chinn, an economist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, who has been following Kansas's economy. Meanwhile, the economy in the rest of the country continues to expand.
In case it's not obvious, California and Kansas don't have much in common, and they have very different populations and industries. It wouldn't be fair to evaluate the two solely on the basis of size.
 
But it is fair to note that conservatives' predictions weren't even close to being correct about these two states -- though it hasn't caused much in the way of introspection.

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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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