For years, congressional Republicans have been very excited about the prospect of impeaching President Obama. At various times, GOP lawmakers have also considered impeaching then-Attorney General Eric Holder, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, and EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. Last week, one Republican congressman said he's eager to impeach Hillary Clinton, and she hasn't even won yet.
In each instance, far-right members of Congress have struggled to explain why, exactly, any of these officials actually deserve to be impeached, and Republicans never took their efforts beyond the rhetorical stage.
House Republicans filed papers Tuesday to begin impeachment proceedings against IRS Commissioner John Koskinen over the agency’s alleged campaign to revoke the tax-exempt status of tea party-affiliated groups.
The resolution -- filed by Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, and 18 other members of the committee -- accuses Koskinen of lying to Congress about agency emails that were found to be missing.
Just on the surface, it's alarming that too many Republicans look at Congress' impeachment power as if it were some kind of toy, to be pulled off the shelf and played with whenever it offers opportunities for entertainment.
But what's also striking about this is the GOP lawmakers' sense of timing. It was late last week that the Justice Department completed a lengthy and rigorous investigation into the imaginary IRS "scandal," concluding that no laws were broken and no charges would be filed.
It's against this backdrop that House Republicans have decided to pursue impeachment against the IRS commissioner who not only did nothing wrong, but who wasn't even at the IRS at the time of the institution's alleged misdeeds.
Rachel Maddow rounds up the latest developments in the Republican primary field, from the top tier where Ben Carson has passed Donald Trump in national polls, to the bottom rung candidates like Bobby Jindal and Chris Christie struggling to stay viable. watch
Rachel Maddow alerts viewers to the fact that Martin O'Malley will be a guest on Wednesday night's show, noting that though he is considerably behind Hillary Clinton in polls, he is making gains and is not without opportunity. watch
Courtney Kube, NBC News national security producer, talks with Rachel Maddow about testimony by Secretary of Defense Ash Carter suggesting that "direct action" by U.S. soldiers against ISIS in Syria and Iraq may become more common, an apparent change in U.S. policy. watch
Rachel Maddow reports that in addition to federal authorities looking into the violent actions of a South Carolina school officer seen on video dragging a student from her desk, the sheriff is promising a quick turnaround on an internal investigation into watch
Rachel Maddow reports on expected new House Speaker Paul Ryan signing a written promise to extremist congressman, Mo Brooks, ruling out any immigration reform legislation while Barack Obama is president. watch
Robert Costa, national political reporter for The Washington Post, talks with Rachel Maddow about expectations for tomorrow night's Republican debate, with Donald Trump looking to retake front-runner status, Jeb Bush looking to prove his worthiness as a candidate, and likely a lot of railing against the budget bill in Congress. watch
* A stunning video from Spring Valley High School in Columbia, South Carolina: "The FBI has been asked to investigate an incident at a South Carolina high school Monday in which a police officer appeared to body slam a female student and drag her across a classroom."
* Middle East: "Iran has been invited to participate for the first time in international talks over Syria's future, U.S. officials said Tuesday, a shift in strategy for the United States and its allies as they seek to halt the four-year civil war and eventually ease President Bashar Assad out of power. Iran has yet to reply, the officials said."
* This, notably, was not part of the budget deal: "The House on Tuesday approved a measure to extend federal transportation funding for three weeks in an effort to prevent a highway funding stoppage. The bill, H.R. 3819, would extend federal transportation spending, currently set to expire Oct. 29, until Nov. 20. It was approved by voice vote after a brief debate."
* ISIS: "Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said Tuesday that the U.S. will begin 'direct action on the ground' against ISIS forces in Iraq and Syria, aiming to intensify pressure on the militants as progress against them remains elusive."
* Related news: "Turkey has confirmed that it struck positions in Syria held by Kurdish militias that over the last year have become the most important allies within Syria of the American-led coalition fighting the Islamic State."
* Usually, when House Republicans rebel, it's right-wing members. Not on the Export-Import Bank, however: "A small but powerful band of House Republicans rebelled against party leadership Monday night, a near-constant theme of Speaker John A. Boehner’s tenure the past five years."
* Oklahoma: "An abortion law that was set to go into effect Sunday was put on hold Monday by the Oklahoma Supreme Court. The law, Senate Bill 642 by Sen. Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City, would require abortion providers to take a sample of the fetal tissue when the abortion patient is younger than 14 and send it to the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation."
President Obama honors winning U.S. sports teams all the time, but his event in the White House this morning celebrating the U.S. National Women's Soccer Team featured remarks that were arguably more important than most.
Note, for example, the broader context in which the president characterized Abby Wambach’s "not-so-quiet dominance."
"Abby said that she wanted her final World Cup to be like a fairytale. And I’m not sure she could have written a better ending: a world champion at last, draped in the Stars and Stripes, showing us all how far we’ve come -- on and off the field -- by sharing a celebratory kiss with her wife."
This was soon followed by a celebration, of sorts, of feminism itself.
"This team taught all America’s children that 'playing like a girl' means you're a badass. (Laughter and applause.) Perhaps I shouldn’t have used that phrase. (Laughter.) Playing like a girl means being the best. It means drawing the largest TV audience for a soccer match –- men or women’s –- in American history. It means wearing our nation’s crest on your jersey, taking yourself and your country to the top of the world. That’s what American women do. That's what American girls do. That’s why we celebrate this team."
There was even a little room for some campaign politics in Obama's remarks. Commenting on Carli Lloyd, the president said:
When Rachel asked Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) last night about the tentative budget agreement between the White House and congressional Republican leaders, the presidential hopeful conceded he hadn't yet read the agreement, but he was skeptical.
"Our goal is to expand Social Security benefits [and] to push for a Medicare-for-all single-payer program," Sanders said. I will not be supportive of cuts in those programs."
It's a safe bet that many progressive policymakers will feel the same way, which may raise doubts about the viability of the newly announced deal.
In practice, however, there are "cuts" and then there are "cuts."
Democrats have quite a few reasons to like the budget deal -- $80 billion in sequestration relief goes a long way -- on top of the peace of mind that comes with eliminating the possibility of government shutdowns and debt-ceiling crises until 2017.
But did President Obama accept entitlement cuts in exchange? I'm reluctant to start parsing the meaning of the word "cut," but the Washington Post's Greg Sargent talked to a progressive expert this morning who sounded an optimistic note.
On Medicare and Social Security: Nancy Altman, the president of Social Security Works, a group that strenuously opposes benefits cuts and argues for their expansion, tells me that the deal “doesn’t actually cut benefits or really hurt beneficiaries who aren’t gaming the system.”
Altman says the Medicare cuts are all on the provider side, which could harm beneficiaries at some point, but it’s not a major concern.
Today's installment of campaign-related news items from across the country.
* According to a new Monmouth poll, Hillary Clinton has opened up an enormous lead over Bernie Sanders among Iowa Democrats, 65% to 24%. This is the first major statewide poll since last week's Benghazi hearing, though no other recent Iowa polling shows Clinton with this kind of massive advantage.
* At a closed-door event in Houston, former President George W. Bush made a joint appearance with Jeb Bush. The elder brother assured donors, “It’s one reason Jeb is going to win because he’s a fierce competitor."
* Reflecting on his drop in some recent polling, Donald Trump said on MSNBC this morning, “I don’t get it."
* The former chairman of the New Hampshire Republican Party told the Boston Globe this week that the 2016 GOP field has a "lousy" ground game in the Granite State. "All the Republicans put together don’t have as good of an organization as Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders,” Fergus Cullen said.
* Ben Carson has a new television ad, which has already aired in South Carolina, in which he stands alongside an empty cardboard box labeled “Washington political class.” He tells viewers, "I’m very much outside the box.”
* In response to concerns from Black Lives Matter and immigration-reform advocates, Hillary Clinton will no longer "accept donations from PACs and lobbyists working on behalf of private prisons."
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.