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 Newsreported, 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 Callreported, "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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Postreported 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.
The United States spends a lot on health care, but thanks in part to the Affordable Care Act, we're going to spend quite a bit less than expected. The Huffington Postreported yesterday:
Twenty million or so more people have health insurance now than they did before Obamacare, and yet the American health care system is on track to spend $2.6 trillion less from 2014 to 2019 than before the Affordable Care Act became law.
That's right -- $2.6 trillion, which is equivalent to about 1.5 percent of U.S. gross domestic product. That's the conclusion researchers at the Urban Institute came to when comparing health care spending projections made in 2010 before Congress passed the ACA, and projections made later that year after President Barack Obama enacted the statute, with more recent findings.
I can appreciate why this is counter-intuitive -- we're getting more while spending less -- but it's nevertheless true.
"Health care costs have had several years of really historic low spending during the period, so overall, public programs, private spending is all less than we thought it would be," Gary Claxton, vice president at the Kaiser Family Foundation, told TPM. "Each year we see spending going up 3 percent, 2 percent, whatever, and not 5 percent, and because that stuff compounds, when it continues to go up more slowly ... it starts to really add up."
The right will be quick to insist that the Affordable Care Act can't claim all of the credit for the progress, and there's some truth to that. The report noted, for example, that in recent years, policymakers have approved Medicaid and Medicare savings, which contribute to the overall savings.
"There's lots of things, and you can't ever really disentangle them," Claxton added.
Hillary Clinton recently delivered a brutal speech condemning Donald Trump's views on foreign policy, exposing the Republican presidential hopeful as an untrustworthy and incompetent fraud. Today, she's reportedly going to take another swing, this time hammering the presumptive GOP nominee over economic policy.
But before considering Clinton's indictment, it's worth appreciating what independent economic analysts are saying about Trump's economic agenda. The Wall Street Journalreported yesterday:
A new analysis concludes Donald Trump's economic proposals, taken at face value, could produce a prolonged recession and heavy job losses that would fall hardest on low- and middle-income workers.
The Moody's Analytics report, which a person close to the Trump campaign strongly disputed, is the first that attempts to quantify the cumulative economic benefits and costs of Mr. Trump's proposals on taxes, trade, immigration and spending. It determines that full adoption of those policies would sharply reduce economic output during his first term and reduce employment by 3.5 million jobs.
Under almost any scenario, the report says, "the U.S. economy will be more isolated and diminished."
The report is available in its entirety here (pdf). Were it not for Trump's campaign turmoil and anemic fundraising, it's likely this scathing analysis would have been pretty big news yesterday.
While Trump hasn't gone into any real detail on his economic plans, the New York Republican has sketched out a broad outline of massive tax cuts, deep reductions in public investment, and a possible trade war with China. In fact, Trump's exact words last month were, "Who the hell cares if there's a trade war?"
As it turns out, economists care quite a bit. This new analysis found that Trump's approach to trade would contribute to a sharp economic downturn.
Making matters worse, the WSJ article added, "On immigration, Moody's estimates that a crackdown on illegal immigration through forced deportations would reduce slack in the labor force but also leave more positions unfilled, particularly in industries such as agriculture where native-born workers have been reluctant to seek work even at modestly higher wages. Labor shortages in those industries could prompt job losses in upstream and downstream industries and also boost inflation as labor costs run higher, the report said."
We've reached the curious stage in the presidential race at which Donald Trump can't even agree with himself about whether or not he's losing. Over the weekend, for example, the presumptive Republican nominee acknowledged he's "down" in the polls, but his deficit doesn't really count -- because he hasn't "started yet" and some of his supporters are too embarrassed to admit it to pollsters.
Soon after, however, Trump said he's "essentially even" with Hillary Clinton. He added on Fox News last night, "I have spent much less money than her [sic] and the result so far is the same. I should be credited for that."
But the results so far are not "the same" and the two major-party presidential hopefuls are not "essentially even." Consider, for example, the latest Monmouth University poll.
In a head-to-head contest for president, Hillary Clinton leads Donald Trump by 7 points among registered voters and by 8 points among likely voters. The Democrat's lead shrinks by a point when potential third party support is taken into account.
Currently, Clinton holds a 7-point lead in a direct match-up against Trump -- 47% to 40% among registered voters nationally.... Importantly, Clinton holds a 47% to 39% lead in the all-important swing states -- ten states where the winning margin in the 2012 election was less than seven points.
A new CNN poll points in a similar direction, showing Clinton ahead of Trump in a head-to-head match-up, 47% to 42%. Overall averages put Clinton's advantage a little higher.
A couple of weeks ago, the Wall Street Journalquoted Fred Malek, the finance chairman of the Republican Governors Association and a leading GOP fundraiser, reflecting on Donald Trump's finances. The presumptive 2016 nominee, Malek said, is facing a fundraising disadvantage that's "huge and not widely understood."
Trump raised just over $3 million in May -- the month he secured enough delegates to win the Republican nomination -- while Clinton raked in more than $26 million, according to the latest filings from the Federal Election Commission.
Those numbers -- weak for a Congressional campaign, let alone a run at the White House -- have put Trump and the Republican Party at an extraordinary financial disadvantage heading into the general election.
I can appreciate why some of these figures and fundraising terms can make eyes glaze over, but it's important to understand just what a disaster this is for the presumptive Republican nominee. As June got underway, Trump had just $1.29 million in the bank (or "cash on hand"). That's a joke. When Rachel noted this on the show last night, she had to check to make sure the decimal point wasn't in the wrong place.
To put that in context, at the same point four years ago, Mitt Romney had $17 million in the bank. Hillary Clinton started June with $42 million.
Heck, Ben Carson -- remember him? -- ended May with $1.7 million cash on hand, and he ended his campaign in early March.
On Twitter in late May, Trump wrote, "Good news is that my campaign has perhaps more cash than any campaign in the history of politics- b/c I stand 100% behind everything we do."
Three weeks later, it's the sort of comment that's become a cringe-worthy punch-line.
Similarly, Trump boasted on NBC's "Today" this morning, "I understand money better than anybody." If that's true, then the Republican candidate should understand just how big a problem he has. (In the same interview, Trump suggested "the party" is to blame for his campaign's financial troubles, which doesn't make a lot of sense.)
Eight days after the deadliest mass shooting in American history, how much has changed on Capitol Hill? Very little.
Four gun policy measures failed to pass the 60-vote threshold to move forward in the Senate on Monday, following impassioned debate from both sides of the aisle.
The votes came just over a week after a deadly shooting spree in a gay nightclub in Orlando -- the nation's worst mass shooting in modern history -- and a subsequent 15-hour filibuster by Senate Democrats who demanded action on gun control.
For a breakdown on what these four proposals were all about, take a look at our report from Friday.
The two key measures -- Sen. Chris Murphy's (D-Conn.) proposal to expand background checks and Sen. Dianne Feinstein's (D-Calif.) amendment on blocking suspected terrorists from buying guns -- were expected to fall short and they did. Murphy's proposal lost on a 44-56 vote, while Feinstein's measure did only slightly better, failing on a 47-53 vote.
There may be some talk about the votes not falling neatly along partisan lines, but the broader truth is more straightforward: nearly every Democrat in the Senate voted for these reforms, while nearly every Republican in the chamber voted against them.
As the Washington Post's Dana Milbank put it, "[O]n the question of closing the 'terror gap' in gun laws, it really isn't a close call.... Republicans responded as if President Obama himself were going door-to-door, confiscating every American's guns."
For those hoping to see meaningful policy changes, last night was the latest in a series of disappointing setbacks, but there were some silver linings in this cloud.
Dan Gross, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, talks with Rachel Maddow about the changing politics surrounding gun safety legislation and the failure of the Senate to heed that change when it defeated four new bills today. watch
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.