The Rachel Maddow Show Weekdays at 9PM


... more Duration: {{video.duration.momentjs}}

Rachel Maddow StoriesRSS

select from:

E.g., 10/24/2016
E.g., 10/24/2016

Tuesday's Mini-Report, 9.20.16

09/20/16 05:30PM

Today's edition of quick hits:

* The latest out of New York: "When bombing suspect Ahmad Khan Rahami was captured, he was carrying a notebook containing a 'rambling' missive that praised a slain Al-Qaeda leader and mentioned several deadly terror attacks, NBC News learned Tuesday."

* Related news: "The Rahami family first appeared on the FBI's radar two years ago after police responded on Aug. 25, 2014 to a report that he'd stabbed his brother in the left leg."

* Sound advice: "President Obama on Tuesday called for a 'course correction' in the march to an integrated world, saying the gains made in recent decades were threatened by 'uncertainty and unease and strife.' Mr. Obama, making his valedictory address before the United Nations General Assembly in New York, painted a picture of nations struggling with economic inequality, sectarian conflict and rising nationalism."

* Oklahoma: "Video footage released Monday showed Tulsa police shooting an unarmed man to death on Friday night after he approached his SUV with his arms raised."

* Capitol Hill: "Senator Elizabeth Warren pulled no punches as the disgraced CEO of Wells Fargo was grilled on Capitol Hill Tuesday for his part in the bank's opening of millions of phony accounts without customers' permission."

* Texas: "A federal judge sided with the Department of Justice after it accused Texas of violating a court-ordered agreement to soften the state's voter ID law, which an appeals court previously ruled discriminatory."

* Remember the Jesse Benton case? "The chairman of Ron Paul's 2012 presidential bid was sentenced Tuesday to probation and home confinement rather than prison, and two other top aides were awaiting their sentences for a scheme to cover up campaign payments to a former Iowa state senator who agreed to endorse their boss."

* An investigation worth watching: "The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating how Exxon Mobil Corp. has valued its assets in the face of the current plunge in oil prices -- and how it estimates their future worth in a world of increasing climate change regulations, according to people familiar with the matter."

* Quite an editorial from the Detroit Free Press: "Punitive. Self-serving. Cowardly. There's no other way to describe the latest revelation about the State of Michigan's unprecedented and irresponsible actions concerning the City of Flint: that this spring -- at the direction of Gov. Rick Snyder, and with the support of GOP legislators -- the state barred the city from suing it, without approval by a state-appointed board."
read more

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump talks with press on Sept. 5, 2016, aboard his campaign plane, while flying over Ohio, as Vice presidential candidate Gov. Mike Pence looks on. (Photo by Evan Vucci/AP)

Trump Foundation starts to look like a slush fund

09/20/16 12:35PM

Just when it seemed the controversy surrounding the Donald J. Trump Foundation couldn't get any worse, the Washington Post's David Fahrenthold published new revelations this morning that, if true, suggest serious wrongdoing.
Donald Trump spent more than a quarter-million dollars from his charitable foundation to settle lawsuits that involved the billionaire's for-profit businesses, according to interviews and a review of legal documents.

Those cases, which together used $258,000 from Trump's charity, were among four newly documented expenditures in which Trump may have violated laws against "self-dealing" -- which prohibit nonprofit leaders from using charity money to benefit themselves or their businesses.
This is hardly the first controversy surrounding Trump's charitable foundation, but it may be the most damaging for one straightforward reason: it doesn't require a lot of explanation. As Josh Barro put it, the summary fits in a sentence: "Donald Trump took money other people gave his charity and used it to pay his businesses' fines."

Not to put too fine a point on this, but what's being described here sounds an awful lot like a slush fund.

The issue of "self-dealing" came up a bit last week, when we learned that Trump allegedly used foundation money to buy a giant portrait of himself, which was apparently then sent to one of Trump's golf resorts. As Fahrenthold explained, "If Trump did not give the painting to a charity -- or find a way to use it for charitable purposes -- he may have violated IRS rules against 'self-dealing,' which prohibit nonprofit leaders from spending charity money on themselves."

But today's story takes the issue quite a bit further, raising the possibility that Trump routinely used foundation money -- funds that often came from other people, intended for charitable purposes -- to pay off settlements when his business enterprises faced lawsuits.

The obvious question, of course, is whether or not it was legal for Trump to use charitable money to pay off legal settlements from for-profit businesses. The Post's report said Trump's alleged practices "may have violated U.S. tax law and gone against the moral conventions of philanthropy."
read more

Tuesday's Campaign Round-Up, 9.20.16

09/20/16 12:00PM

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

* According to this week's NBC News|SurveyMonkey Weekly Election Tracking Poll, Hillary Clinton leads Donald Trump by five, 50% to 45%, among likely voters in a four-way match-up. Last week, Clinton was ahead by four.

* Clinton turned her attention directly to younger voters yesterday, with a speech in Philadelphia and a new op-ed at on "what millennials have taught me."

* The Commission on Presidential Debates announced yesterday that the topics for next week's debate will be "America's Direction," "Achieving Prosperity," and "Securing America."

* Republican mega-donors Joe Ricketts and Sheldon Adelson are opening their deep pockets for the GOP right now in ways that Democrats should probably find alarming.

* Speaking of campaign finance, some members of the right-wing House Freedom Caucus are refusing to donate to the National Republican Congressional Committee.

* In case there were any doubts about Sen. Roy Blunt (R) being vulnerable in Missouri, note that the National Republican Senatorial Committee made its first ad buy on his behalf this week, and "more ads are on the way."

* The latest Monmouth University poll shows Trump ahead of Clinton in Georgia by only three points, 45% to 42%, despite Georgia's traditional status as a "red" state.

* And speaking of competitive Southern states, a new Elon poll shows Trump leading Clinton in North Carolina by the narrowest of margins, 44% to 43%.
read more

House Speaker Paul Ryan speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, June 23, 2016. (Photo by Yuri Gripas/Reuters)

Wealthy would reap a windfall under Paul Ryan's plan

09/20/16 11:00AM

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) has largely pulled off an impressive public-relations gambit in recent years. The Republican leader has recast himself as an anti-poverty crusader, without making any meaningful changes to his far-right agenda, simply by using the word "poverty" a whole lot.

But it's occasionally worthwhile to look past the rhetoric and focus on the hard data. The Washington Post reported the other day:
The House Republicans' proposal for tax relief could force the government to borrow trillions of dollars to continue operating and might even weaken the economy, according to a new analysis from the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center.

By 2025, when the reductions would be fully implemented, 99.6 percent of the tax cuts would benefit the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans, according to the analysis. This group would enjoy the greatest relief as a share of their income (increasing their incomes after taxes by 10.6 percent on average) and in terms of dollars (an average annual savings of $240,000 for each household).
The full Tax Policy Center report is online here.

I can appreciate why a bunch of statistics may be difficult to digest, but let these findings sink in for a minute. Ryan's tax plan is crafted in such a way as to give 99.6% of the benefits to the wealthiest of the wealthy by 2025. The other 0.4% would be divided up across the other 99% of us.

This is a feature, not a bug, of the House Speaker's approach to economic policy. Ryan genuinely believes that massive tax breaks for those at the very top will spur economic growth that would, in time, benefit everyone. For the Wisconsin congressman, trickle-down policy, its track record notwithstanding, remains the most responsible course to broad national prosperity.

If that means designing a tax plan that's ridiculously tilted towards the rich, so be it. Anyone who questions the wisdom of such a proposal will face accusations of "class warfare" -- a phrase intended to end all conversations -- as if Ryan isn't trying to redistribute wealth from the bottom up.

New York's Jon Chait joked yesterday, "The new Paul Ryan tax cuts make the Bush tax cuts look like socialism."
read more

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at a rally at University of North Carolina, Sept. 15, 2016, in Greensboro, N.C. (Photo by Andrew Harnik/AP)

Clinton takes a keen interest in Wells Fargo controversy

09/20/16 10:04AM

Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf will be on Capitol Hill today, where he's likely to receive a very unwelcome reception from the Senate Banking Committee, whose members will be demanding answers about the banking giant's latest controversy.

To briefly recap, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau recently reached a record settlement with Wells Fargo after the company was caught allegedly bilking consumers, enrolling customers in banking services without their permission, then charging them fees for accounts and services they neither sought nor authorized.

Stumpf has been in damage-control mode -- see, for example, his apologetic op-ed today in the Wall Street Journal -- though there are still some unanswered questions about what Wells Fargo executives knew and when they knew it.

Of course, all of this comes against the backdrop of the U.S. presidential campaign, and the story has not escaped Hillary Clinton's attention. In fact, the Democratic candidate released a well-timed open letter to Wells Fargo customers overnight. It reads in part:
"I was deeply disturbed when, last week, we found out that Wells Fargo had engaged in widespread illegal practices over many years. The bank secretly opened up millions of accounts for customers without their consent – betraying their customers, misusing their personal information and leading many to be slapped with unjust fees and other charges. Today, Wells Fargo's CEO will appear before Congress. He owes all of you a clear explanation as to how this happened under his watch.

"There is simply no place for this kind of outrageous behavior in America.

"Our economy depends on a strong and safe banking system to help keep it moving. But even after Americans spent years working hard to recover from the Great Recession, the culture of misconduct and recklessness that preceded that crisis too often persists. I have a plan to address it."
The first tenet of the plan: defend the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which uncovered the wrongdoing and negotiated a massive settlement.

read more

An inmate stands by his cell door. (Photo by Danny Johnston/AP)

The campaign for criminal justice reform ends with a whimper

09/20/16 09:26AM

In the wake of Republican gains in the 2014 midterms, expectations were understandably low for the 114th Congress. President Obama and the GOP majority on Capitol Hill freely acknowledged they agreed on practically nothing, leading to widely held assumptions that Congress would simply tread water for two years, accomplishing nothing.

There was, however, an exception: criminal justice reform. If policymakers were going to do anything of significance, this was the issue to watch. Obama told the NAACP last year that there's actually broad agreement on overhauling the costly and ineffective status quo: "It's created some unlikely bedfellows. You've got Van Jones and Newt Gingrich. You've got Americans for Tax Reform and the ACLU. You've got the NAACP and the Koch brothers.... That's good news."

And while that was all true, the bad news is nothing is going to happen. NBC News reported the other day:
In a huge disappointment to advocates, legislation to reform components of the criminal justice system will not come before the House adjourns this month as previously planned, according to two sources who have worked closely on the effort. [...]

House Speaker Paul Ryan had said earlier this year that he planned on bringing up criminal justice reform bills in September during the small window that Congress is in Washington between their August break and before they adjourn at the end of September to continue campaigning for re-election. But that timing has proven difficult.
With members trying to avoid a government shutdown, and then leaving D.C. as quickly as possible, the issue appears to be effectively dead. Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), one of Congress' most notable champions of a bipartisan compromise, is starting to look ahead to 2017.

In theory, one of the principal sticking points in any legislative fight is cost -- Republicans, reflexively skeptical of "government spending," are generally opposed to any priority that requires greater public investment -- but criminal justice reform actually saves money. It's one of the reasons there were high hopes for the bill in this Congress.

So what happened?

read more

Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates talks with "Face the Nation," May 11, 2013.

Bush's Pentagon chief: Trump is 'beyond repair'

09/20/16 08:43AM

About a month ago, Carlos Gutierrez, Commerce Secretary in the Bush/Cheney administration, announced his rather enthusiastic support for Hillary Clinton's candidacy. And while it always comes as something of a surprise when a notable Republican official throws support to a Democratic candidate, there's a fairly long list of Bush administration officials who are quite eager for Donald Trump to lose.

Indeed, Politico reported overnight that even George H.W. Bush himself has privately said he intends to vote for Clinton over his party's nominee.

But perhaps the highest profile veteran of the Bush cabinet to raise anti-Trump concerns is former Defense Secretary Bob Gates, who stayed on as a member of President Obama's cabinet, and who wrote a rather striking piece on the 2016 race for the Wall Street Journal.
At least on national security, I believe Mr. Trump is beyond repair. He is stubbornly uninformed about the world and how to lead our country and government, and temperamentally unsuited to lead our men and women in uniform. He is unqualified and unfit to be commander-in-chief.
And that's really just the overarching summary of Gates' concerns. The former Pentagon chief also said Trump is "in a league of his own" when it comes to "credibility problems"; he condemned Trump for being "cavalier about the use of nuclear weapons"; he criticized Trump's "insults" of service-members and their families; and he lamented the fact that Trump is "willfully ignorant about the rest of the world, about our military and its capabilities, and about government itself."
The world we confront is too perilous and too complex to have as president a man who believes he, and he alone, has all the answers and has no need to listen to anyone. In domestic affairs, there are many checks on what a president can do; in national security there are few constraints. A thin-skinned, temperamental, shoot-from-the-hip and lip, uninformed commander-in-chief is too great a risk for America.
And while all of this seems quite fair under the circumstances, Trump seemed surprisingly eager to prove Gates right about being thin-skinned and temperamental.
Smoke raises behind an Islamic State flag after Iraqi security forces and Shiite fighters took control of Saadiya in Diyala province from Islamist State militants, Nov. 24, 2014. (Photo by Stringer/Reuters)

Is one candidate a 'recruiting sergeant for the terrorists'?

09/20/16 08:00AM

In the 2004 presidential election, the first national race after 9/11, there was considerable focus on national security and the question of which candidate was better prepared to combat al Qaeda. Just a few days before the election, Osama bin Laden released a new video, which only served to intensify the debate.

Though CIA analysts later concluded that the terrorist's message was "clearly designed to assist" then-President George W. Bush's re-election, the video had largely the opposite effect. John Kerry later said the bin Laden tape contributed to his defeat.

Twelve years later, bin Laden is dead and al Qaeda's potency has waned, but a similar political fight is nevertheless underway. The New York Times reported overnight:
With a manhunt still in progress before an arrest later in the day, [Hillary Clinton] sought to shift the terms of the presidential contest back in her direction. She called [Donald Trump] a "recruiting sergeant for the terrorists" and, from a rainy airport in White Plains, offered herself as a seasoned warrior against terrorism. [...]

Citing former intelligence and counterterrorism officials who have criticized Mr. Trump's caustic remarks about Islam, Mrs. Clinton leveled an attack that might have shocked the political world in any other campaign: In addition to calling him a "recruiting sergeant" for terrorists, she accused him of giving "aid and comfort" to the Islamic State with his campaign oratory.
Not surprisingly, the Republican nominee returned fire, arguing that ISIS terrorists are "hoping and praying that Hillary Clinton becomes president so that they can continue their savagery and murder."

At a certain level, this seems like predictable campaign posturing in the midst of a competitive presidential campaign. When the public's attention turns to national security and terrorist threats, it's only natural for a candidate to say something along the lines of, "The bad guys would much rather deal with my opponent than me."

But isn't this a knowable thing? ISIS won't get a vote in the American presidential election, but isn't there independent information that offers some sense of their political preferences?
read more


About The Rachel Maddow Show

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.



Latest Book