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Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks to a crowd of supporters during a campaign rally on June 18, 2016 in Phoenix, Ariz. (Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty)

Trump giving new meaning to 'self-funded' campaigning

06/22/16 09:20AM

Sixteen years ago, Donald Trump joked during an interview, "It's very possible that I could be the first presidential candidate to run and make money on it." But what if he wasn't kidding?
 
The Trump campaign's Federal Election Commission filing made all kinds of headlines yesterday, largely because of his anemic fundraising. But as Rachel explained on the show last night, the more alarming revelation was the degree to which the Republican candidate is spending his limited resources on Trump corporate products and services.
 
What's more, a significant chunk of the money Trump has raised came in the form of loans the candidate made to himself -- money that donors will eventually pay back, putting their money in his pocket. A campaign finance expert with the Campaign Legal Center told the New York Times yesterday Trump could "end up turning a profit if he repaid himself for the campaign loans. He could get all his money back plus the profit margin for what his campaign has paid [Trump's larger enterprise] for goods and services."
 
There's a reason a new word is starting to enter the political lexicon: the rise of the "scampaign."
 
Imagine being a Republican donor and learning about Trump's campaign's finances. How likely are you to grab your checkbook to invest in this enterprise? As the Washington Post reported, the anxiety levels within the party are rising.
Trump is "now looking into the abyss," said Ed Rollins, the top strategist for Great America PAC, a pro-Trump super PAC. "He can either start writing checks and selling some buildings and golf courses or get on the phones and talk to donors. Big donors just don't want to give money unless they have the opportunity to talk to the candidate, hear what your positions are. There's just been a failure from start to finish on the fundraising side."
Not to put too fine a point on this, but when the guy running your super PAC uses a phrase like "looking into the abyss," it's not a good sign.
Rep. Steve King speaks with reporters as he leaves the House Republican Conference meeting, Oct. 4, 2013.

What Steve King considers 'racist' and 'divisive'

06/22/16 08:40AM

Many Americans celebrated in April when the Treasury Department announced that abolitionist Harriet Tubman will replace former President Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill. One notoriously right-wing congressman, however, is so unhappy about the change that he's fighting to block it
Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) has filed legislation that would block the U.S. Treasury Department from putting Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill.
 
King is perhaps best-known in the nation's capital for his anti-immigration rhetoric and his hostility to undocumented immigrants. But this takes his mean-spirited forays into racial politics in a new direction.
The Huffington Post's report added that King is sponsoring an amendment that would prohibit the Treasury from making any changes to American money and nullify the department's plans to honor Tubman.
 
Politico reported that the Iowa Republican said it's "racist" and "sexist" to say a woman or person of color should be added to U.S. currency. "Here's what's really happening: This is liberal activism on the part of the president that's trying to identify people by categories, and he's divided us on the lines of groups," King said, adding, "This is a divisive proposal on the part of the president, and mine's unifying. It says just don't change anything."
 
The same article went on to note that King defended his amendment as crucial. "President Obama's on his way out the door," he said. "He's going to do everything he can think of to upset this society and this civilization."
 
The Iowan didn't specify which "civilization" he was referring to.
 
Every now and then, we're confronted with a story that disgusts but doesn't surprise. For Steve King, of all people, to say it's "racist" to honor a woman best known for leading slaves to freedom through the Underground Railroad is consistent with everything we know about the congressman, but that doesn't make his proposal any less ridiculous.
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?

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.

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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.

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