The Rachel Maddow Show Weekdays at 9PM

Help

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

Rachel Maddow StoriesRSS

select from:

E.g., 8/23/2017
E.g., 8/23/2017

Tuesday's Campaign Round-Up, 8.15.17

08/15/17 12:00PM

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

* Primary voters in Alabama will head to the polls today in the state's U.S. Senate special election. Donald Trump continues to scramble in support of Sen. Luther Strange (R), tweeting twice about him this morning, and recording robocalls on the appointed senator's behalf.

* In Nevada, the Democratic National Committee announced yesterday it's putting Sen. Dean Heller (R) on a couple of billboards, highlighting his vote for the Republicans' unpopular health care bill. The National Republican Senatorial Committee, meanwhile, is creating billboards targeting Heller's likely Democratic opponent, Rep. Jacky Rosen, trying to tie her to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

* On a related note, Heller told reporters in October 2016 that he was 99% certain he wouldn't vote for Donald Trump. It took a while for the GOP senator to come clean, but Heller finally admitted yesterday that he did, in fact, vote for his party's presidential ticket.

* Some odd people end up running for Congress: "House Speaker Paul Ryan's Republican challenger says he believes an unfounded right-wing online conspiracy theory dubbed 'pizzagate.' Paul Nehlen voiced his opinion during an online question-and-answer session with voters earlier this month on Reddit. He was asked, 'What are your thoughts on Pizzagate?' In response, Nehlen wrote, 'I believe it is real.'"

* Because contemporary politics continues to get even weirder, the head of the Senate Republican leadership's super PAC said on Friday's he's "very interested" in having Kid Rock run for the U.S. Senate in Michigan next year.

read more

The Oklahoma City skyline is pictured in an aerial photo, May 15, 2014. (Photo by Sue Ogrocki/AP)

Anti-government bomb plot thwarted in Oklahoma

08/15/17 11:21AM

Before 9/11, the deadliest terrorist attack on American soil was carried out in Oklahoma City in 1995 by Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols, two anti-government radicals. The blast left 168 people, including many children, dead.

Someone apparently wanted a sequel.

Federal authorities were holding a man in custody Monday who domestic terrorism investigators said planned and tried to execute an anti-government bombing of an Oklahoma City bank.

Documents filed in federal district court say that Jerry Drake Varnell, 23, drove what he believed was a stolen van containing a 1,000-pound ammonium nitrate bomb early Saturday morning to an alley beside BancFirst in downtown Oklahoma City.

There was, however, no real bomb. Varnell came under FBI surveillance several months ago, when he started discussing plans for a domestic bombing, and the people the terrorist suspect thought were his co-conspirators were actually law enforcement officials. As the NBC News report added, "The cell phone that Varnell believed was a detonator dialed law enforcement, and the getaway driver was an undercover agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation."

The alleged terrorist was apparently another anti-government radical, and in a Facebook message he thought would be posted after his plot succeeded, Varnell wrote that the bombing was in "retaliation" for the "freedoms that have been taken away from the American people."

The officials involved in this case are to be congratulated, of course, for preventing the suspect from hurting anyone, but the news got me thinking about Sebastian Gorka, an adviser to Donald Trump who routinely appears in the media.

read more

(L to R) President-elect Donald Trump shakes hands with retired United States Marine Corps general James Mattis after their meeting at Trump International Golf Club, Nov. 19, 2016 in Bedminster Township, N.J. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty)

Defense chief hedges on implementing Trump's transgender ban

08/15/17 10:31AM

Three weeks ago tomorrow, Donald Trump surprised a lot of people by announcing a new policy via Twitter: "Please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military."

Almost immediately, it became obvious that the president had tweets, but no policy. The White House struggled to defend the discriminatory ban; service chiefs dismissed it; and the Joint Chiefs effectively ignored it, leaving the status quo in place.

Yesterday, as the Washington Post reported, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis left open the possibility that at least some transgender service members could continue their military careers, despite what Trump said on Twitter.

Mattis, speaking to reporters at the Pentagon, said that he and his staff are still studying the issue, including how having transgender service members affects other members of their units.

The Pentagon chief, asked whether transgender people now in the military will be forced out of their service, pointed to a statement that Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, issued a day after Trump's announcement last month. Dunford said that openly transgender people will be allowed to continue to serve until there is guidance from the president on how to proceed.

The oddity of the circumstances is hard to miss. The Commander in Chief publicly declared that the United States military "will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity." No one knew exactly what that meant, so everyone simply put the declaration aside.

Three weeks later, there's still no clarity as to what Trump was talking about, so his ban is in limbo: it exists on Twitter and in the president's mind, but in practice, according to Mattis, the Pentagon has decided to "study" the issue.

read more

Two men stand on the plaza of the U.S. Capitol Building as storm clouds fill the sky, June 13, 2013 in Washington, DC.

Dems demand scrutiny of white supremacists and domestic terrorism

08/15/17 09:25AM

Twice this year, Democrats on the House Homeland Security Committee have urged Republican leaders to hold hearings on the security threats posed by white supremacists and their allies. In both instances, GOP officials ignored the requests.

Politico reports that in the wake of Charlottesville, House Dems are trying again.

Democrats on the House Homeland Security Committee are asking panel Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas) to examine racist fringe groups, including those that organized Saturday's violent protest against the removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee on the University of Virginia campus. [...]

California Rep. Lou Correa, who sits on the Homeland panel, was the first Democrat to call for hearings. "Yesterday's horrific acts against innocent Americans were clear acts of terrorism," he said. "Our country has a homegrown terrorism problem we refuse to address. That ends now. We must hold hearings and finally address that terrorism inflicted by white supremacy extremists is destroying our country."

As best as I can tell, the panel's Republican leadership hasn't yet responded, but I'm hard pressed to imagine why the House Homeland Security Committee would choose not to take a closer look at this threat.

Indeed, just yesterday, Foreign Policy magazine published a striking report, noting that the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security warned in May "that white supremacist groups had already carried out more attacks than any other domestic extremist group over the past 16 years and were likely to carry out more attacks over the next year, according to an intelligence bulletin obtained by Foreign Policy."

read more

Image:

After finally denouncing racists, Trump steps on his message

08/15/17 08:45AM

It took far longer than it should have, but Donald Trump finally denounced white supremacists yesterday, two days after the president responded to Saturday's deadly violence in Charlottesville by condemning bigotry "on many sides." And while I think it's generally wise to steer clear of questioning others' motives, it's also fair to consider the broader context of Trump's brief public statement to get a sense of his sincerity.

For example, the president's use of Twitter last night shed light on what was on his mind. The Chicago Tribune reported:

[Trump] retweeted a post from an eyebrow-raising Twitter account: that of right-wing provocateur Jack Posobiec, a Trump supporter known for advancing a number of conspiracy theories, such as those tied to "Pizzagate" and the murder of Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich.

His tweet had nothing to do with Charlottesville, instead linking to a story about Chicago homicides.

Posobiec's tweet linked to a story from the Chicago ABC affiliate and read, "Meanwhile: 39 shootings in Chicago this weekend, 9 deaths. No national media outrage. Why is that?"

The implication wasn't exactly subtle: Trump promoted a message that suggested there was too much coverage of Charlottesville violence.

That, of course, followed Trump telling Fox News he's considering pardoning Arizona's Joe Arpaio, a notorious birther and hero to fringe far-right activists.

read more

Image: President Trump Meets With The National Association of Manufacturers

CEOs start running away from away from Donald Trump

08/15/17 08:00AM

When Donald Trump unveiled his White House American Manufacturing Council in January, it had 28 members, each of whom were prominent business or labor leaders. In June, Tesla's Elon Musk resigned from the panel after the president abandoned the Paris climate accords, and yesterday, it shrunk a bit more.

Ken Frazier, the CEO of Merck, got the ball rolling yesterday morning, announcing that he'd stepped down from Trump's council, following the president's reaction to white-supremacist violence in Charlottesville. True to form, Trump responded by lashing out at Frazier -- twice.

Nevertheless, by last night, Frazier had some company. The New York Times reported:

Brian Krzanich, C.E.O. of Intel -- one of the most important global manufacturers of computer chips -- announced his departure from President Trump's advisory council on manufacturing in a late-night blog post on Monday.

The decision followed similar moves from Kenneth C. Frazier, the chief executive of drugmaker Merck, who was the first executive to leave the advisory group on Monday, and Kevin Plank, the founder and chief executive of athletic apparel maker Under Armour, who also announced his decision on Monday evening.

Taken together, the executives' decisions are the business community's strongest rebuke to date of a president who has courted controversy for his entire career.

Other members of the American Manufacturing Council -- and other White House panels featuring plenty of other private-sector chiefs -- have plenty of reasons to do the same thing.

read more

Monday's Mini-Report, 8.14.17

08/14/17 05:30PM

Today's edition of quick hits:

* James Alex Fields Jr. in court: "The Ohio man accused of killing a woman when he allegedly rammed his car into a group protesting against white nationalists rallying in Virginia was denied bail Monday in his first court appearance since the chaos in Charlottesville."

* Justice Department: "Late on Saturday night, the Department of Justice announced that it was opening a civil rights investigation into 'the circumstances of the deadly vehicular incident,' to be conducted by the F.B.I., the United States attorney for the Western District of Virginia, and the department's Civil Rights Division."

* Iraq: "Two American soldiers have been killed while conducting combat operations in Iraq, the U.S. military said Sunday, adding that 'initial reports indicate the incident was not due to enemy contact.' Five other soldiers were wounded, it said in a statement, without providing further details. It did not identify the soldiers."

* A story to watch: "President Trump told Fox News he is 'seriously considering' issuing a pardon for former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was convicted last month of criminal contempt for ignoring a judge's order to stop detaining people because he merely suspected them of being undocumented immigrants."

* I wonder what Priebus has to share: "In a sign that the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election will remain a continuing distraction for the White House, the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, is in talks with the West Wing about interviewing current and former senior administration officials, including the recently ousted White House chief of staff, Reince Priebus, according to three people briefed on the discussions."

* This was pretty weird: "President Trump called Guam Gov. Eddie Calvo to express his support to the U.S. territory amid the threats of an imminent strike from North Korea. But the commander in chief told him not to worry because the threat of a nuclear attack would only help Guam woo tourists."

* Add this to the list of failed predictions: "Doctor Shortage Under Obamacare? It Didn't Happen."

read more

Image: U.S. President Trump delivers statement following a shooting at a Congressional Republicans baseball practice, at the White House in Washington

Two days later, Trump tries to get Charlottesville right

08/14/17 02:27PM

When Donald Trump was given an opportunity to comment on Saturday's deadly violence in Charlottesville, it didn't go well. The president condemned bigotry "on many sides," which delighted white supremacists and sparked bipartisan pushback.

And so, under significant pressure, Trump spoke from the White House today and gave this another try.

For reasons that aren't entirely clear, the president began his remarks by referencing trade, tax cuts, the stock market, and unemployment, which made it seem as if these were the issues that were foremost on his mind. Trump, carefully following his trusted teleprompter, eventually got around to addressing Saturday's violence.

"We must love each other, show affection for each other and unite together in condemnation of hatred, bigotry and violence. We must rediscover the bonds of love and loyalty that bring us together as Americans.

"Racism is evil. And those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans.... Those who spread violence in the name of bigotry strike at the very core of America."

The president did not take questions.

What was wrong with Trump's prepared remarks? Nothing. It was a perfectly fine speech. What's hard to brush aside, however, is what it took to get him to that podium.

read more

Image: TOPSHOT-US-POLITICS-TRUMP

Has Trump reached the bottom, or can he fall further?

08/14/17 12:41PM

On Friday afternoon at one of the golf resorts he still owns and profits from, Donald Trump fielded some reporters' questions on a variety of topics. For example, with the crisis in Venezuela continuing to unfold, the president was asked about what options he's considering to "deal with this mess." Trump, for the first time, publicly raised the specter of U.S. military intervention.

"We have many options for Venezuela. And by the way, I'm not going to rule out a military option. We have many options for Venezuela. This is our neighbor. This is -- you know, we're all over the world. And we have troops all over the world in places that are very, very far away. Venezuela is not very far away. And the people are suffering. And they're dying. We have many options for Venezuela, including a possible military option if necessary."

The president wouldn't go into any details, but he added moments later that "a military operation, a military option is certainly something that we could pursue."

By all appearances, Trump just blurted all of this out without any real thought or planning. The United States hasn't actually taken any steps to prepare for military intervention in Venezuela, and Vice President Mike Pence soon after sent a very different signal about U.S. intentions -- Trump and Pence routinely say very different things to different audiences -- but the damage was already done.

As a Slate report explained, "Throughout his power grab that has accompanied Venezuela's descent into chaos, Maduro has long warned the United States was planning to invade the country. Trump's words seemed to play straight into his narrative.... 'Maduro must be thrilled right now,' said Mark Feierstein, who was a senior aide on Venezuela to former president Barack Obama. 'It's hard to imagine a more damaging thing for Trump to say.'"

That sentiment -- "It's hard to imagine a more damaging thing for Trump to say" -- keeps coming up, in all kinds of contexts.

read more

Monday's Campaign Round-Up, 8.14.17

08/14/17 12:00PM

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

* The Republican primary in Alabama's U.S. Senate special election is tomorrow, and a pro-Trump super PAC, America First Action, has made a last-minute, six-figure ad buy in support of appointed Sen. Luther Strange (R).

* On a related note, Donald Trump himself reiterated his support for Strange yesterday on Twitter. If no candidate gets 50% tomorrow, as seems likely, the top two Republicans will face off in a primary runoff on Sept. 26. The general election is scheduled for Dec. 12.

* Speaking of special election primaries, Republicans in Utah's 3rd district will choose the party's nominee to replace former Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R) tomorrow. The general election is Nov. 7, and Kathie Allen, a physician, is running unopposed for the Democratic nomination.

* In Wisconsin, Kevin Nicholson, a Republican U.S. Senate hopeful, has pulled his first campaign ad last week because it inappropriately featured footage from a veterans cemetery. The commercial has been edited and re-released.

* A day after the president called for national unity, Trump's re-election campaign released a new 30-second commercial, attacking Democrats and journalists as the president's "enemies."

* Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) faces a tough re-election challenge in Missouri next year, and to complicate matters, the incumbent senator now has a primary rival. 31-year-old Angelica Earl kicked off her campaign last week. Earl, running for the Democratic nomination, describes herself as a "big Bernie Sanders supporter" and "more of an independent than a Democrat."

read more

Image: First Lady Melania Trump Hosts A Celebration Of MilitaryMothers Event

Trump slams Merck CEO after resignation from White House council

08/14/17 10:47AM

Kenneth Frazier, the CEO of Merck, one of the nation's largest pharmaceutical companies, announced this morning that he's resigning as a member of Donald Trump's American Manufacturing Council. Apparently, the president's reaction to white-supremacist violence in Charlottesville was simply too much.

"As CEO of Merck and as a matter of personal conscience, I feel a responsibility to take a stand against intolerance and extremism," Frazier explained.

With remarkable efficiency, Trump returned fire with an angry tweet.

"Now that Ken Frazier of Merck Pharma has resigned from President's Manufacturing Council, he will have more time to LOWER RIPOFF DRUG PRICES!"

It's hard not to appreciate the irony: Merck's CEO resigned because Trump wouldn't denounce white supremacists. The president responded, not by condemning dangerous radicals, but by blasting ... Merck's CEO.

Also note the speed with which Trump can move when he wants to. Facing criticism that he was slow to speak out on Saturday's deadly violence -- the president published an underwhelming tweet hours after the fact, and still hasn't condemned the white supremacists who gathered in Charlottesville -- Trump went after Ken Frazier by name less than an hour after the Merck chief's statement.

If he'd invested this much energy in condemning white supremacists on Saturday, Trump wouldn't be in this mess.

It's a reminder, of course, that nothing motivates this president like a sense of grievance in response to a personal slight. Trump isn't especially concerned by criticisms of the United States, but affronts to him personally are nearly always met with swift and angry rebukes.

Those who praise Trump, meanwhile, can feel confident that they will remain in the president's good graces -- indefinitely and unconditionally.

read more

Image: US-POLITICS-TRUMP-PENCE

After Trump's Charlottesville debacle, Pence admonishes media

08/14/17 10:00AM

Vice President Mike Pence is in Colombia today, where he specifically condemned the American radicals responsible for Saturday's deadly violence in Charlottesville. "We will not tolerate hatred and violence of groups like white supremacists, the KKK and neo-Nazis," he told NBC News. "These extremist fringe groups have no place in the American debate."

Had Donald Trump said the same thing on Saturday, the White House wouldn't be scrambling to mitigate the damage done by the president's fiasco.

But the vice president didn't just condemn the racists the president chose not to single out; Pence also tried to redirect the criticisms towards the media.

Pence said he took issue with "the fact that many in the media are spending more time criticizing how the president addressed the issue yesterday."

"Many in the media spent an awful lot of time focusing on what the president said and criticisms of what the president said instead of criticizing those who brought that hatred and violence to the streets of Charlottesville, Virginia," Pence said.

It's a problematic defense. Trump faced criticism -- from the left, right, and center -- because much is expected from a president, especially after developments like those we saw on Saturday, and Trump failed to clear a low bar. For Pence to suggest everyone leave the president alone, and focus criticisms solely on the white supremacists, misses the point.

But just as important, it wasn't just "the media" that recognized Trump's failure.

read more

Pages

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.

MaddowBlog_Appendix_logo

#Maddow

Latest Book