U.S. Politics

What to focus on besides Donald Trump’s tax returns

What to focus on besides Donald Trump’s tax returns

Image credit: AP


In 2005, Donald Trump paid a tax rate of about 24% — $38 million in taxes on $153 million in income. It was less than many people want to see billionaires pay, but not low enough for Democrats to attack. That was the main takeaway from Rachel Maddow’s much-hyped announcement that she was releasing one of Trump’s federal tax returns Tuesday night. Until then, only state tax returns had been made public by other reporters. Her 20-minute introduction to the tax return release led to David Cay Johnston, a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist who runs DCReport.org. Johnston brought the returns to Maddow’s show after he said he found them in his mail. Read the tax return here.

This is only a fragment of a much larger story. Maddow’s 20-minute wind-up featured all the reasons she believes the president must release his tax returns: checking Trump’s charitable giving, determining the actual scale of his wealth and, of course, determining what kind of money he received from foreign governments. The MSNBC host predicted that other Trump tax documents would be discovered in the coming months. And Johnston speculated that Trump or his team may have leaked the document themselves.

The predictable White House response: “You know you are desperate for ratings when you are willing to violate the law to push a story about two pages of tax returns from over a decade ago,” read the government’s official statement. MSNBC maintains there was nothing illegal about pushing Trump’s return. Democrats were largely quiet about (or unimpressed by) the returns.

Want more? Mic covered every angle of the tax return release.

•  Breaking down Trump’s effective tax rate.

•  Trump’s return showed the vast majority of the $38 million he paid came from the alternative minimum tax, a rule meant to guarantee wealthier Americans pay higher rates than they otherwise would. Without that tax, Trump would have paid $5 million — 4% of his income — in federal tax.

•  Turns out, Trump wants that alternative minimum tax eliminated.

•  Donald Trump Jr. decided to weigh in on Twitter.

The Twitter highlight: Trump tweeted that MSNBC’s reporting was “FAKE NEWS,” even though his staff seemed to confirm the tax return’s validity.

This is Mic’s daily read on Donald Trump’s America. Welcome to the political newsletter that would be happy to review your copy of Donald Trump’s 1040 form.

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The things to watch besides taxes:

•  Today: Everything you need about Donald Trump’s tax return, free of noise. Of course, you can also scroll for non-tax-return news.

•  More: Major developments in the Congressional Russia investigations.

•  Even more: Roadblocks to the passage of the American Health Care Act keep cropping up. House Speaker Paul Ryan said Tuesday he is open to changes to the AHCA.

•  Trump effect: A slew of negative headlines are taking a toll, and Trump’s approval rating is back under 40%.

•  Mic exclusive: Congressional leaders fighting HIV/AIDS are urging Trump to take action on the issue.

•  Trump’s agenda today: Flying to Detroit to draw attention to American auto manufacturing jobs. Traveling to Nashville, Tennessee, visiting the birthplace of Andrew Jackson and holding a “Make America Great Again” rally.

Important testimony, committee blockade imminent in Russia inquiries

Three important things are happening related to Russian investigations on Wednesday.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley will not move to confirmTrump’s pick for deputy attorney general until his committee receives a briefing on Russia from the FBI. Rod Rosenstein, the nominee for the position, told senators last week he could not commit to appointing a special prosecutor to investigate Russia. That angered Democratic senators, who said they would attempt to block Rosenstein’s confirmation — a move that seems unnecessary, at least until the FBI decides whether to testify.

Speaking of the FBI: Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) said FBI Director James Comey will tell him today whether the FBI is actively investigating ties between Russia and Trump’s campaign. That announcement, if Comey decides to meet his self-imposed deadline, would be a major public break in the Russian investigations. It would come ahead of the FBI director’s testimony in front of the House intelligence committee on Monday.

It also comes ahead of Whitehouse and Sen. Lindsey Graham holding a hearing to discuss Russian interference in the election. Comey will not be testifying, but national security and foreign policy experts, along with the former president of Estonia, will tell the Senate’s subcommittee on crime and terrorism how Russia has influenced democracies around the world. Graham, the subcommittee’s chairman, is expected to warn the FBI to comply with requests for information. Graham has also threatened to issue subpoenas for information if needed.

The status of the American Health Care Act rollout

The math is simple: House Speaker Paul Ryan needs 216 votes to pass the AHCA and send it to the Senate. That means Republican leaders can lose no more than 21 votes to advance their bill. A split between moderates and conservatives is increasingly raising questions over whether the current bill can pass.

Members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus have yet to say they’ll back the bill. Freedom Caucus member Rep. Jody Hice told Fox BusinessTuesday that the plan “has some flaws.” Rep. Ted Yoho, a member of the Tea Party Caucus, said he “could not support the bill as it is right now.” Moderate south Florida Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen said she will vote “no” on the AHCA. In the Senate, things still don’t look good. A dozen Republican senators had criticized the bill as of Tuesday, and if three of them defect, the bill will fail.

Among Trump’s staunchest supporters, alarm bells are ringing. Conservative talk radio, Breitbart and other outlets are signaling to the White House that Ryan’s plan is a “political trap.” The Washington Post has more on the right trying to influence Trump on health care reform.

Ryan signaled Tuesday the current bill may change. In an interview on Fox News, Ryan said “of course” Republican leaders are open to “some modifications” to the bill. The latest committee vote on the AHCA will happen Thursday.

A legal battle over Trump’s travel ban

At least half a dozen states are challenging Trump’s latest executive order limiting immigration and travel from six countries. On Wednesday, federal judges in Seattle and Maryland will hear challenges to the implementation of the president’s ban on travel from six Muslim-majority countries. The order is set to go into effect on Thursday.

News and insight you cannot miss:

•  The Trump administration is moving aggressively to pursue a peace plan between Israelis and Palestinians. (Los Angeles Times)

•  Planned Parenthood is planning to spend $1 million in advertising against Trump and proposals to strip the organization’s federal funding. (Politico)

•  An Oklahoma senator who has long railed against the reality of climate change is helping to shape American environmental policy. (Washington Post)

•  It has been six years since the Syrian civil war began. Mic compiled photos of the grim period in the country’s history. (Mic)

•  Artists who were slated to perform at the South by Southwest festival have been denied entry to the United States. (Jezebel)

By Will Drabold

U.S. Politics

Rachel Maddow Makes History By Finishing In The Top 10 Most Viewed Shows On All TV

Rachel Maddow Makes History By Finishing In The Top 10 Most Viewed Shows On All TV

MSNBC screencap


Rachel Maddow’s MSNBC show is growing so much so fast that she is drawing more viewers than broadcast television networks. Maddow recently finished in top ten among all networks and programs in her timeslot.

Rachel Maddow’s MSNBC show is growing so much so fast that she is drawing more viewers than broadcast television networks. Maddow recently finished in top ten among all networks and programs in her time slot.

MSNBC announced Maddow’s unprecedented ratings growth via a press release:

MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show” (M-F 9-10pm) finished in the top 10 among all networks in the time period on Thursday, March 2, according to Nielsen.

The primetime show delivered 2.5 million total viewers on Thursday and ranked #6 ahead of three broadcast networks: Fox Broadcasting, Univision and ABC. “The Rachel Maddow Show” also finished in the top 10 multiple times – including 14 out of the previous 19 days.

Among cable news networks, “The Rachel Maddow Show” topped CNN in both total viewers and in the key news A25-54 demographic on Thursday (2.5 million total viewers and 610,000 viewers A25-54 vs. CNN’s 1.3 million total viewers and 497,000 viewers A25-54).

During primetime in February 2017, more people watched MSNBC than CNN. “The Rachel Maddow Show” saw significant growth across the board and finished #2 in cable news for both total viewers and A25-54 demo. “The Rachel Maddow Show” delivered its biggest total viewer audience ever for a month. “The Rachel Maddow Show” also beat CNN’s regularly scheduled programs for the 45th straight month. The show posted its best demo delivery in the time period since November 2012.

When a cable news show is finishing in the top ten over 14 of the last 19 days and is defeating broadcast networks, that is a sign that something special is happening.

It should be noted that The Rachel Maddow Show was almost the top cable news program in its time slot. Tucker Carlson’s show, which is available in more homes than MSNBC finished 4th and Maddow finished 6th. Fox News is both available in more homes and holds a virtual monopoly on conservative cable news viewership.
Maddow is growing at a faster rate than Fox News. As President Trump attacks the media, viewers are turning to fact-based programs for the truth.

Rachel Maddow is finally getting some of the audience that she has always deserved, while MSNBC sees the highest ratings in the network’s history.

MSNBC and Rachel Maddow are finally breaking through.

U.S. Politics

Rachel Maddow Obtains Document That Means VERY BAD News For Trump’s Muslim Ban

TIMES SQUARE, NEW YORK, NY, UNITED STATES - 2017/02/19: New Yorkers of all faiths and ethnic backgrounds gathered in New York's Times Square, (at the corner of 48th Street & Broadway, Manhattan) and join hip-hop pioneer Russell Simmons. The prominent religious leaders declare their solidarity with the American Muslims who recently impacted by a discriminatory rhetoric and travel ban by the Trump's Administration. (Photo by Erik McGregor/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)


Ever since the courts blocked Donald Trump’s ridiculous Muslim ban, the White House has been saying that they will fight it all the way, that the ban would be back in short order. However, the Trump Administration keeps putting it off. Now, it seems that the ban may not happen at all.

The Rachel Maddow Show has obtained a document from the Department of Homeland Security that essentially says that the travel ban based upon nationality has absolutely nothing to do with protecting the nation from terrorist attacks. In fact, the new document says that most extremists are brainwashed into their ideology right here on American soil. They generally tend to be citizens and legal residents. So, in other words, there is absolutely no reason to ban people based upon nationality. Couple that with the fact that Trump and those in his orbit are openly anti-Muslim, and one can only conclude that this “travel ban” is nothing but an attempt to make Trump’s call to keep Muslims out of the country pass constitutional muster.

Even more damning is the fact that the chaos caused by the clumsy roll out of Trump’s original Executive Order regarding this matter, and we can only come to the conclusion that Trump will again be met with resistance from the courts if he tries to do this again.

Watch the report below:

U.S. Politics

Possibility of FBI leaks to Trump campaign raises alarm


Spencer Ackerman, national security editor for The Guardian, talks with Rachel Maddow about concerns about connections between the Donald Trump campaign and the FBI, particularly the New York field office, and the apparent willingness of some in the FBI to politicize the bureau to help Trump. Duration: 20:29


U.S. Politics

‘Why the Russians Are Backing Trump’: Maddow Previews Blockbuster Newsweek Story




Just as has been done previously with huge stories broken by Newsweek’s Kurt Eichenwald, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow got a hold of some excerpts of tomorrow’s article and shared them with her viewers.

In this instance, Eichenwald’s report appears to show the real reason why Russia and Vladimir Putin are backing Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. The story also has the subtitle that claims Putin wants to weaken NATO.

One of the parts of the story that will come out in tomorrow’s issue is that Russia was apparently freaked out when the GOP candidate attacked the Khan family, believing that these actions would end up with Trump being forced out as the nominee.

According to the article, Russian officials who were hacking to influence the election felt that if Trump were replaced by the Republicans, the next candidate wouldn’t be as good for Russia. Thus, they stopped hacking documents for a while.

Maddow also noted that the article shows U.S. allies in Western Europe are are concerned that they will not be able to trust Trump.

Watch the clip above, via MSNBC.

[image via screengrab]

U.S. Politics

Mini-Report – 6.30.16

The Rachel Maddow Show / The MaddowBlog

By Steve Benen

Today’s edition of quick hits:

* The latest historic shift: “Transgender men and women will be allowed to openly serve in the military, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter announced on Thursday – the latest move in a series of historic shifts on gender policy for the nation’s military.”
* Afghanistan: “Taliban militants launched a twin suicide attack on Thursday, targeting a convoy of buses carrying Afghan police cadets outside of the capital and killing 37 people, mostly policemen, and wounding 40, an Afghan official said.”
* If true, this is a major development: “Iraqi airstrikes destroyed around 200 vehicles believed to be carrying ISIS fighters fleeing one of their former strongholds – killing an unknown number of people, a senior official told NBC News on Thursday.”
* Turkish police “arrested 13 people in connection with the deadly attack on Istanbul’s airport, officials said Thursday. More than 40 people died and over 200 were injured when assailants with guns and explosives hit the airport on Tuesday. Officials have said the coordinated assault on Ataturk airport bore the hallmarks of ISIS, but there has been no official claim of responsibility.”
* He lit the match and then ran away: “Former London mayor Boris Johnson shocked Britain Thursday by announcing that he will not run to be the next leader of the country’s ruling Conservative party – and prime minister.”
* Indiana: “Federal Judge Tanya Walton Pratt granted a preliminary injunction Thursday that stops Indiana’s new abortion law from going into effect July 1. The law, passed this year by the Indiana General Assembly, would prohibit abortions sought solely because a fetus had been potentially diagnosed with a disability such as Down syndrome.”
* Seriously? “House Republicans are trying to block their Democratic colleagues from mentioning the gun violence sit-in on social media, arguing that the words ‘sit in’ or photos with signs calling for an end to gun violence violate rules on official business.”
* An achievable goal: “On Wednesday, the heads of state of the United States, Mexico, and Canada met at the North American Leaders Summit, aka the ‘Three Amigos’ Summit. Among other things, they announced that they would all commit to an effort to get 50 percent of their countries’ electricity from what they called clean sources by 2025.”
* Stress tests: “Big U.S. banks won permission from regulators Wednesday to boost dividends and buybacks, offering investors some welcome news after the sector got hammered when the U.K. voted last week to exit the European Union. All but two of 33 institutions passed the final round of the Federal Reserve’s annual ‘stress tests,’ conducted to gauge how such firms would fare in a new financial crisis.”
* Good move: “The Alaska Legislative Council voted Wednesday to end its lawsuit challenging the expansion of Medicaid, opting to not pursue an appeal of the decision it lost in Superior Court in Anchorage to Gov. Bill Walker.”
* Uh oh: “A House office’s water supply has been tainted by high lead levels and may be unsafe, according to a warning blasted out to congressional offices Tuesday night.”
Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.  (Maddow Blog)     (Ditto – ks)
U.S. Politics

RNC discovers a problem with the Koch brothers’ operation

David Koch (Photo by Phelan M. Ebenhack/AP)


The more Charles and David Koch provided the resources for a massive political operation, the more it seemed as if the far-right billionaires were creating a political party of their own. The Kochs had an army of field organizers, blanketed the airwaves with political ads, and even had their own voter lists.
All of this, of course, raises important questions about the role of money in the political process, and just how much influence wealthy interests can wield in a democratic system. But as Yahoo Newsreports today, for the Republican National Committee, the Koch brothers’ power is raising very different kinds of questions.
The Yahoo News report notes, for example, that in the 2014 election cycle, the RNC and the Kochs’ operation struck a deal to share voter data, though the arrangement evaporated once the season came and went. Now, however, the two sides are sharply at odds, creating what one Republican operative described as “all-out war.”
Interviews with more than three dozen people, including top decision-makers in both camps, have revealed that the Kochs’ i360 platform for managing voter contacts – which is viewed by many as a superior, easier-to-use interface than what’s on offer from the RNC – is becoming increasingly popular among Republican campaigns.
The RNC is now openly arguing, however, that the Kochs’ political operation is trying to control the Republican Party’s master voter file, and to gain influence over – some even say control of – the GOP.
Katie Walsh, the RNC’s chief of staff, told Yahoo News, “I think it’s very dangerous and wrong to allow a group of very strong, well-financed individuals who have no accountability to anyone to have control over who gets access to the data when, why and how.”
I can appreciate why fights over data may seem like the ultimate in inside-baseball, but this is a fight worth paying close attention to.
Remember, for many modern campaigns, this data is the foundation for any successful endeavor. The more reliable and comprehensive the data, and the easier it is to use, the more effective the targeting, messaging, advertising, and grassroots organizing of any major campaign.
In this case, as one might expect, the Republican National Committee controls the Republican voter file, but the Kochs’ operation seems to have discovered that it really doesn’t need the Republican National Committee – the Kochs have their own platform to manage the data, and their own relationships with campaigns that want to make use of the data.
If that’s the case, some of you may be wondering why the Republican National Committee is needed at all – and you wouldn’t be the only one. From the Yahoo piece:
The core issue, from Priebus’ point of view, is one of loyalty and allegiance. The RNC is a permanent entity, committed to the Republican Party without question. The Koch network is too independent from the party to be trusted with possession of the GOP’s most valuable core assets. If the Kochs – whose political history is steeped more in libertarianism than it is in any loyalty to the Republican Party – decided next week to use their database to benefit only their massive multinational corporation, they could do so. […]
The Kochs’ political arm, Freedom Partners, which oversees i360, views the issue as one of capability. Koch aides – several of whom used to work at the RNC – want to win elections, and in their view the RNC has inherent challenges to helping the party win. Party committee fundraising is severely limited by federal election law, while building, maintaining and enriching a database is expensive.
The other angle to keep in mind is just how striking it is to see Republican officials discover their heretofore non-existent concerns about outside money and the political process. The RNC’s Katie Walsh didn’t even rely on anonymity – she straight up told Yahoo News, on the record, that she believes it’s “dangerous” to extend too much power to “well-financed individuals who have no accountability to anyone.”
Ya don’t say. We might want to think twice before turning over parts of the democratic process to unaccountable, wealthy players with their own agenda? I’ve heard similar concerns for many years, but I don’t recall them ever coming from RNC officials.
H/t: DB
U.S. Politics

Bernie Sanders wants to debate GOP candidates now to expose their unpopular ‘reactionary agenda’

Bernie Sanders (MSNBC)
Bernie Sanders (MSNBC)


Sen. Bernie Sanders wants to debate Republican presidential candidates right away so he can expose what their unpopular “reactionary agenda.”

The Democratic presidential candidate appeared Tuesday night on The Rachel Maddow Show, where he said the media’s focus on triviality allows GOP candidates to “get away with murder,” reported Mediaite.

Sanders said Republican candidates want to offset “huge tax breaks for billionaires” with “massive cuts” to programs that help millions of American, including Medicare, Medicaid, and – in the case of likely candidates Jeb Bush and Chris Christie – Social Security.

“They get away with that stuff because a lot of people don’t know what they are talking about,” he said.

Sanders said he would like a debate between Democrats and Republicans during the primary season so he could “confront them honestly and say to their face” what voters should know about their governing intentions.

“When so many seniors are struggling right now, how in God’s name are you talking about cutting Social Security when we should expand it?” Sanders said he would ask. “When kids can’t afford to go to college now, why are you talking about cutting Pell Grants by $90 billion? Why are you on the payroll of the Koch brothers and other billionaires rather than addressing the needs of working families?”

He said a debate would help cut through the horse race-style coverage the media seem to prefer at this point in the presidential campaign.

“If we can confront them and debate issues rather than allow the media to get into political gossip and polling and fundraising, but talk about the issues, I think their agenda does not reflect more than 15 or 20 percent of the American people,” Sanders said.

Government Shutdown · Rachel Maddow

Rachel Maddow To GOP: You Broke It – You Brought It

For some, the post below this one may be too long to read.  I saw this segment of The Rachel Maddow Show last night in which she runs through the same thing as The Nation article…but with even more detail and information.  Enjoy…

Rachel Maddow reviews the years-long Republican plan to sabotage the Obama presidency at any cost, and talks with Ryan Grim, D.C. bureau chief for the Huffington Post, about House Speaker John Boehner’s struggle to find a way out of the government shutdown he allowed his party to force America into. ~ Licentiathe8th’s channel

Courtesy of the  The Rachel Maddow Show.