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Jimmy Kimmel: Bill Cassidy lied right to...

Wednesday September 20th, 2017 02:23:59 AM
Sen. Bill Cassidy vowed to support a health care bill that passed the "Jimmy Kimmel test," but his new Graham-Cassidy plan to repeal and replace Obamacare does anything but… and Kimmel has something to say about it. Sen. Chris Van Hollen joins Lawrence...

Amb. Sherman on Trump UN speech: ...

Wednesday September 20th, 2017 02:14:14 AM
Lawrence O'Donnell talks to Amb. Wendy Sherman, who worked on the Iran Deal and was a special advisor for President Clinton on North Korea, to get her take on Trump's speech and what he could have possibly meant when he threatened to "totally destroy"...

Lawrence: Why Trump's UN speech worst,...

Wednesday September 20th, 2017 02:04:27 AM
Donald Trump says the U.S. could "totally destroy" North Korea. Lawrence O'Donnell revisits a speech by Amb. Adlai Stevenson in 1962 during the Cuban Missile Crisis and argues Trump's speech is the worst ever delivered by the United States at the...

Millions threatened by Hurricane Maria

Wednesday September 20th, 2017 01:15:20 AM
Bill Karins, NBC News meteorologist, talks with Rachel Maddow about the intense strength of Hurricane Maria and the threat it poses to millions of people in Puerto Rico and its neighboring islands.

Mounting death toll in Mexico City earthquake

Wednesday September 20th, 2017 01:12:13 AM
Dudley Althaus, reporter for the Wall Street Journal, talks with Rachel Maddow about the damage suffered by Mexico following a massive earthquake, and the alarmingly increasing death toll as rescuers search through collapsed buildings.

Trump paying legal bills with RNC donor money

Wednesday September 20th, 2017 01:05:00 AM
Rachel Maddow shares new reports that Donald Trump is using money donated to the Republican National Committee to pay for lawyers for himself, family and staffers in the Trump Russia investigation.

The last stand for Obamacare

Wednesday September 20th, 2017 12:49:55 AM
Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey calls the latest Republican plan to kill Obamacare

Donald Trump's teleprompter trick - or is...

Wednesday September 20th, 2017 12:39:25 AM
Much like a blues guitarist who might improvise around a misplayed note, watch what President Trump does when he misreads his remarks.

Congressman arrested at Trump Tower DACA...

Wednesday September 20th, 2017 12:31:33 AM
Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), who was arrested outside Trump Tower, talks about the power of protest and the possibility of a deal in Congress to provide legal status to young immigrants.

Trump vs. the world at the United Nations

Wednesday September 20th, 2017 12:18:13 AM
Breaking down Donald Trump's bellicose, nationalist speech before the United Nations - and what it means for North Korea and Iran.

The Personal is the Geopolitical

Wednesday September 20th, 2017 12:00:26 AM
When the weak or the marginalized are defiant or even threatening, there is a self-regulating dynamic which limits the danger or renders it minimal. We can see this on both the domestic and international fronts. Chants of “black power” may be superficially comparable to chants of “white power”. But most of us intuitively understand they are very different. The defiance and demand of the marginalized or disempowered is inherently defensive in nature whereas the defiance and demand of the powerful is inherently aggressive and menacing. We can see comparable examples among nations. There are, for example, many small Latin American countries which have fierce and jealous nationalisms embedded in their political cultures. This is unsurprising since most of their histories have been lived under the boot of various great powers. It makes sense. It is when the powerful feel threatened and vulnerable that things get dangerous, often very dangerous. 1930s Germany presents the most harsh and chilling example. Nazi Germany launched an aggressive war of conquest which triggered the Second World War. But it presented itself as the victim of Jewish and Communist conspiracies and encircled by the Western Powers to the West and Communist Russia to the East. This was not entirely imagined. Germany was surrounded. That was a key reason – along with the behemoth across the ocean – Germany lost both the WWI and WWII. Our very limited sources suggest Rome’s rise to power began in efforts to secure itself against foreign aggressions. But long after it had become the hyper-power of the ancient Mediterranean it couched its conquests in defensive terms. Disentangling the self-delusion from aggressive bad faith in these cases is difficult. But the two are always present. Hyper-nationalism is often innocuous or even salutary for states which know mostly oppression and degradation. In powerful states, it’s a source of immense danger. All of this plays out in an almost comic, though possibly tragic, form in President Trump’s view of America’s role in the world. Trump imagines a US which is a revisionist power amidst its own global imperium. The US is the dominant military power in every corner of the globe. The global economy revolves around the dollar, providing huge benefits to the US economy. One can debate the benignity or rapaciousness of US power. But no one can deny that the current world order and its foundational institutions are built to make the United States at least the first among equals of all the nation’s of the world. And yet to President Trump we are laughed at and tricked by all the nation’s of the world, taken advantage of at every turn. We’ve been humiliated for too long and we’ve had enough. The consistency with which Trump has talked for decades about the US being ‘laughed at’ and humiliated by other countries is remarkable. This represents a deep, though minority strain of American politics on the right. But for Trump it clearly grows mostly out of personal experience and character. The mix of intense insecurity couple with a need for dominance and aggression is too central to his own personality not to be the driver of this vision of the world and America’s role in it. Nor is it a coincidence that Trump is the doyen of white Americans who feel they are discriminated against in America, despite the fact that whites remain the dominant group in almost all sectors of American life. Both internationally and domestically these are pre-existing and intermingled strains of American political culture. But Trump embodies both because through some unhinged alchemy his own life trajectory and damaged psyche made that possible. That’s why he is President.

Report: Trump Using RNC, Campaign Funds For Russia Probe Legal Bills

Tuesday September 19th, 2017 10:08:57 PM
President Donald Trump is using funds donated to his re-election campaign and the Republican National Committee to pay the team of outside lawyers representing him in the various probes into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, Reuters reported Tuesday. One of two sources familiar with the matter told Reuters that the first payments had already been made and would be disclosed in public filings. The RNC is expected to make its August spending public on Wednesday, while Trump’s reelection campaign, which launched the day he took office, makes its next disclosure on Oct. 15. CNN reported that the RNC in August shelled out some $230,000 for Trump’s Russia-related legal fees, paying $100,000 to lead outside attorney John Dowd and $131,250 to conservative constitutional lawyer Jay Sekulow. Election law experts told Reuters that Trump is the first president to use private campaign funds to cover the costs of a criminal investigation. The Federal Election Commission does permit use of private donations for legal expenses, but past presidential campaigns have spent them on routine matters like compliance requirements. An unnamed RNC official told CNN that the money for Trump’s private attorneys came through the RNC’s legal defense fund, rather than its political coffers. Dowd was a bit more tart when Reuters asked about how Trump was covering his legal bills, saying only: “That’s none of your damn business.” The third attorney assisting with the probe is special White House counsel Ty Cobb, a salaried staffer. Campaigns may pay legal fees for individuals other than the particular candidate or elected official, Reuters noted. One example was the campaign’s June payment of $50,000 to the law firm of Alan Futerfas, the attorney representing Donald Trump, Jr. That same filing showed that Trump has spent over $4.5 million of campaign funds on legal costs from January through June. A number of other White House staffers, including Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, Vice President Mike Pence, White House counsel Don McGahn, and Communications Director Hope Hicks, have retained legal representation in response to the investigation.

Manafort Demands DOJ Inspector General Probe Of FISA Order Report

Tuesday September 19th, 2017 09:52:55 PM
Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign chairman who has been a focus of various Russia probes, responded Tuesday to a CNN report that he had been the subject of a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (or “FISA”) surveillance order by calling for an investigation by the Department of Justice’s Inspector General into the revelation. “If true, it is a felony to reveal the existence of a FISA warrant, regardless of the fact that no charges ever emerged,” a statement from Manafort’s spokesman Jason Maloni said. Maloni then seemed to echo the claims by President Trump that the Obama administration was inappropriately surveilling Trump. “The U.S Department of Justice’s Inspector General should immediately conduct an investigation into these leaks and to examine the motivations behind a previous Administration’s effort to surveil a political opponent,” the statement continued. “Mr. Manafort requests that the Department of Justice release any intercepts involving him and any non-Americans so interested parties can come to the same conclusion as the DOJ – there is nothing there.” According to CNN, the FISA order began in 2014, well before Trump declared his presidential run, out of interest in Manafort’s work lobbying for a Ukrainian political party. The surveillance paused for some time in 2016, CNN reported, due to lack of evidence, but then picked up again by the end of 2016 and into 2017.

Jarring Videos Show Destruction Wrought By Quake In Central Mexico

Tuesday September 19th, 2017 09:59:46 PM
A magnitude 7.1 earthquake jolted central Mexico on Tuesday, killing at least 55 people, according to The Associated Press. It came less than two weeks after the country’s southern region suffered another quake that killed at least 90 people. The U.S. Geological Survey said the earthquake was centered near the town of Raboso in Puebla state, located about 76 miles southeast of Mexico City. Videos taken during the tremor show buildings collapsing into dust in parts of Mexico City and surrounding areas. Thousands fled buildings and poured onto the streets as the quake hit the region. Buildings shake, dust rises as 7.1 magnitude #earthquake hits Mexico City: — NBC DFW (@NBCDFW) September 19, 2017 Aquí el momento donde un edificio, al parecer en la Colonia Roma colapsa. — REFORMACOM (@Reforma) September 19, 2017 #SismoMexico Los edificios de ciudad de México se estremecieron durante el macrosismo de este martes — Joel Sampayo Climaco (@joelsampayoc) September 19, 2017 From homes to businesses, the powerful earthquake also caused panic indoors as buildings shook violently: WATCH: Video shows shaking lights and restaurant tables in Mexico City as 7.1 magnitude earthquake hit the area (Via rramos1032/IG) — NBC News (@NBCNews) September 19, 2017 Así padecieron algunos habitantes de la #CDMX el temblor de 7.1 de magnitud. — ELNORTE.COM (@elnorte) September 19, 2017 Terrifying video from inside the @Milenio newsroom during the earthquake in Mexico. #WBZ — Liam Martin (@LiamWBZ) September 19, 2017 #Ciudadanos vivieron momentos de pánico por el temblor de 7.1 de magnitud en #CDMX — ELNORTE.COM (@elnorte) September 19, 2017 The power of the quake could even be felt in the water: Oh my gosh! Gritó una turista cuando el #sismo agitó la trajinera en la que cruzaba Xochimilco — CIUDAD (@reformaciudad) September 19, 2017 After dust from collapsed buildings began settling, stunned onlookers surveyed the rubble left behind: Un edificio cayó en Chimalpopoca, Colonia Obrera#sismo — CIUDAD (@reformaciudad) September 19, 2017 Eje Central y Niños Héroes#sismo — CIUDAD (@reformaciudad) September 19, 2017 El Soriana de Taxqueña colapsó #sismo — CIUDAD (@reformaciudad) September 19, 2017 Reportan daños en la Carretera México – Cuernavaca tras el sismo en #CDMX — ELNORTE.COM (@elnorte) September 19, 2017 En la Colonia Juárez hay fuertes daños en algunos de los edificios. #temblor — REFORMACOM (@Reforma) September 19, 2017 Tuesday’s quake occurred on the anniversary of a deadly, 8.0 magnitude earthquake that struck Mexico City in 1985. Much of the capital is built on former lakebed, which means that the soil can amplify the effects of earthquakes centered hundreds of miles away.

Moore Reportedly Claimed Endorsement From Deceased Conservative Activist

Tuesday September 19th, 2017 09:26:21 PM
Alabama GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore reportedly listed the deceased conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly under his “endorsements” webpage until Monday, despite the fact that the Eagle Forum founder died more than a year ago. Schlafly disappeared from Moore’s website after RollCall asked to see a press release announcing her endorsement, the outlet reported Tuesday. Schlafly’s name had been listed next to the text: “Late President, Eagle Forum; inference of Ed Martin.” According to the report, after RollCall first asked for the press release, Moore’s campaign initially said there wasn’t one, and instead provided a link to a statement Martin, Eagle Forum’s current president, gave Breitbart News regarding his own endorsement. Martin told Breitbart about a speech he and Schlafly had seen Moore, the former chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, give to the group. “He gave an amazing speech and Phyllis and I sat and watched in wonder: here was a man who understood – in his very bones – the fights we are facing: limited government, the role of judges, and the power of God!” Martin said. “Phyllis admired Roy and his life and work. She believed in him.” Moore announced his candidacy for the Senate seat vacated by Attorney General Jeff Sessions in April. Schlafly died in September 2016. Katie Frost, communications director for Moore’s campaign, did not immediately respond to TPM’s request for comment. Schlafly was a driving force behind the movement to defeat the Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution. While she endorsed Donald Trump for the presidency before her death, she claimed that Eagle Forum’s board was trying to force her out of the group as a result (a member of the group’s board denied the story at the time.) Much of the group’s leadership were strong supporters of Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) presidential bid. Martin, on whose inference the erstwhile Schlafly endorsement was based, was still listed as an endorser Tuesday on Moore’s website.

Senate Intel Has 'Invited' Cohen To Open Hearing After Nixing Private Meeting

Tuesday September 19th, 2017 09:05:30 PM
The Senate Intelligence Committee announced late Tuesday that it has “invited” President Trump’s former lawyer and confidante Michael Cohen for a public hearing Oct. 25. The announcement comes after the committee abruptly canceled the closed door interview it had planned with Cohen earlier in the day. The committee was unhappy that Cohen had released his opening statement to the press, in apparent violation of the committee’s agreement to let him testify behind closed doors. Asked if the committee was considering subpoenaing Cohen, its Chairman Richard Burr (R-NC) told reporters, “I don’t think we’ll need to.” Earlier Tuesday — after Cohen left Capitol Hill having been informed by the committee that his interview Tuesday had been canceled — Burr (R-NC) and Vice Chairman Mark Warner (D-VA) said in a strongly worded statement that they were “disappointed” he released the statement “in spite of the Committee’s requests that he refrain from public comment.” Coming out of a seperate closed door briefing Tuesday afternoon, they elaborated that it is now the committee’s policy that those appearing behind closed doors for interviews regarding the Russia investigation must keep their statements to the committee private. “We’ve changed the agreement that we’ve had with people since Jared Kushner was in,” Burr told said, referring to the President’s son-in-law, who released a statement with his closed door appearance in front of the committee this summer. “And this is the model we’ll follow. We don’t expect individuals who come behind closed doors to publicly go out and tell…” Burr continued, before being interrupted by Warner “…their side of the story only,” Warner interjected.

Hospitals Group: 'Tens Of Millions' Could Lose Coverage Due To ACA Repeal

Tuesday September 19th, 2017 08:29:14 PM
The American Hospital Association on Tuesday said it opposed the latest Republican proposal to repeal Obamacare, and predicted that “tens of millions of Americans” will be at risk of losing coverage under the proposed legislation. “This proposal would erode key protections for patients and consumers and does nothing to stabilize the insurance market now or in the long term,” Rick Pollack, the organization’s president and CEO, said in a statement. “In addition, the block grant to provide support for the expansion population expires in 2026, thereby eliminating coverage for millions of Americans.” “For these reasons, we oppose the Graham-Cassidy plan,” Pollack said. “We continue to urge senators to work in a bipartisan manner to address the challenges facing our health care system.” The repeal bill introduced by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA) is Republicans’ last best shot to dismantle Obamacare in the current Congress.

3 Democratic Congressmen Arrested At Trump Tower DREAM Act Demonstration

Tuesday September 19th, 2017 07:46:04 PM
Three Democratic congressmen were arrested Tuesday in front of Trump Tower during a rally in support of what activists have called a “clean” DREAM Act.  “We’re taking the necessary steps to make it clear to President Trump, the Republicans and the Democrats that we will continue this peaceful fight for DREAMers and immigrants as long as it takes to enact legislation and put DREAMers in a safe place,” Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-IL) said in a statement provided to TPM by his office. He added: “A few Congressmen and elected-officials gathering in front of Trump Tower doesn’t mean much if it is not backed up by the grassroots and allies and today we are standing with diverse allies to make sure Congress and the President do more than just talk about solutions, they actually follow through with action.” The offices of Reps. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) and Adriano Espaillat (D-NY), as well as New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, also confirmed their arrests. Mark-Viverito’s office shared a video of her arrest. Espaillat’s director of communications, Candace Randle Person, said in a statement that the congressman “stood up for immigrant youth to say loud and clear – unequivocally, that he dedicates his work in Congress to protecting immigrants, immigrant families, and their future in America.” According to a press release from Make the Road New York, an immigrant advocacy organization, the rally was called to advocate for a “a clean DREAM Act that includes a path to citizenship for immigrant youth, without additional funding for the insecurity that Trump’s immigration agencies are creating at the border.” Young undocumented activists who disrupted an event held by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) Tuesday similarly demanded a “clean” DREAM Act. “All of us or none of us,” they chanted. President Donald Trump eliminated DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, earlier this month. The program protected certain undocumented young people from deportation and granted them work permits. The first permits under that program are set to expire in less than six months.  The DREAM Act, first introduced in the Senate in 2001, has never achieved enough Congressional support to reach the President’s desk. But activists and congressional Democrats hope that Trump’s elimination of DACA and his insistence that Congress “legalize” its protections will pave the way for the legislation, which would provide a path to legal status for certain undocumented young people. Still, congressional Republicans have said they would demand additional border security measures and other concessions in exchange for any post-DACA deal. After meeting with Trump last week, Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said they had agreed to pursue a deal to protect former DACA recipients that included additional border security measures. Gutiérrez was arrested in front of the White House last month as well, at a rally supporting DACA three weeks before Trump announced he was eliminating the program.

Graham: Only My Obamacare Repeal Bill Can 'Stop A March Toward Socialism'

Tuesday September 19th, 2017 07:26:18 PM
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) tried to build momentum Tuesday for his last-ditch effort to repeal Obamacare, attempting to paper over complaints about the shortcut legislative process and warning that the GOP majority in Congress would not continue to “prop up” Obamacare. “You can have different opinions about the quality of this bill. At the the end of the day, this is the only process left available to stop a march toward socialism,” Graham, the lead author of the bill, told reporters in the Capitol. Asked whether the bill’s supporters planned to address Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) concerns about regular order, which sank Republicans’ last effort to repeal Obamacare, Graham said the Senate Finance Committee had a hearing scheduled for Monday to discuss the proposal. “There will be a public hearing, what John has been asking for,” he said. Graham said Republicans who vote against the bill are voting “against federalism.” “At the end of the day we need 50 votes, and if you’re a Republican, chances are you believe in federalism, because if you don’t you probably are not a Republican,” he said. “If you’re a Republican and you vote against federalism, you’ve got to explain to people back home why Washington knows better.” Graham said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Republican leadership have “done everything we’ve asked and then some,” and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) said his chamber would pass the proposal if it cleared the Senate. “Paul Ryan told me to my face,” he said. “You pass it, we pass it.” Graham said President Donald Trump was “very excited” about the idea of a “state-centric health system.” “I’ve talked to the President five times in the last two days,” he said. “He is focused like a laser.” Graham said Trump told him he was “not going to throw good money after bad,” an apparent reference to cost sharing reduction payments, subsidies that support coverage of low-income people with severe health needs. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office on Thursday predicted that premiums will go up in 2018 because of ongoing uncertainty about whether Trump’s administration will cut off support for those subsidies. Graham indicated that Ryan also said he was unwilling to hold a vote on a bill that “props up” Obamacare by continuing to support cost sharing reduction payments. “Here’s what the speaker of the House told me: ‘I will not bring up a bill for a vote in the House that props up Obamacare because that is not why I came here and that is not what our majority wants to do,'” Graham said. “And the President of the United States is committed to repealing and replacing this bill, not propping it up.”

How The FISA Order Against Manafort Could Spell Big Trouble For Trumpworld

Tuesday September 19th, 2017 09:52:26 PM
Two bombshell reports that dropped Monday dispelled any lingering doubts about former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s serious legal exposure. First CNN reported that the FBI was monitoring Manafort’s communications prior to and after the election, and, within the hour, the New York Times reported that federal prosecutors warned him that they planned to indict him. Legal experts told TPM that these reports also have significant implications for Trump campaign and administration officials, including President Donald Trump himself, as any communications between Manafort and the President, or Manafort and other campaign aides, about sensitive matters would have been recorded and stored while the order was in effect. “You can always use that information,” Robert Deitz, former senior councillor to the director of the CIA and general counsel at the National Security Administration, told TPM. “Manafort could easily have been picked up in any of these communications citing the President for something: ‘The President told me X or I told the President Y.’ That doesn’t make it admissible evidence per se, but that’s the kind of thing that I think would scare the hell out of a principal in the investigation.” Deitz noted that all communications obtained under an order from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court—like the one that CNN reported was in operation for Manafort through the start of the Trump administration—are maintained in what the intelligence community refers to as “the primordial soup.” “Stuff you either didn’t get around to reviewing, or stuff you kind of took a first cut at and didn’t think was significant, you don’t erase it,” he said. Manafort spokesman Jason Maloni adamantly denied that there was anything untoward in the former campaign chairman’s private communications, and noted that it was a felony to reveal the existence of a FISA order. “If true, it is a felony to reveal the existence of a FISA warrant, regardless of the fact that no charges ever emerged,” Maloni said in a statement late Tuesday. “The U.S Department of Justice’s Inspector General should immediately conduct an investigation into these leaks and to examine the motivations behind a previous Administration’s effort to surveil a political opponent. Mr. Manafort requests that the Department of Justice release any intercepts involving him and any non-Americans so interested parties can come to the same conclusion as the DOJ – there is nothing there.” To obtain an order from the FISA court, the government must establish probable cause that an individual is the “agent of a foreign power,” and federal agents are then required to minimize any communications that don’t pertain to the basis for that order. The CNN report also explicitly referred to “communications that sparked concerns among investigators that Manafort had encouraged the Russians to help with the campaign”—intelligence that would directly pertain to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and whether Trump associates collaborated in those efforts, which originated with the FBI. Though Manafort left the campaign in August 2016, he continued to be in touch with Trump and his team through early 2017. The content of those conversations would be of overwhelming interest to Mueller’s team, former federal prosecutors told TPM, particularly if investigators are trying to convince Manafort to cough up whatever dirt he may possess on other Trump associates. “The $64,000 question is whether there is anything to this,” said Michael Zeldin, who served as special counsel to Mueller when he was the assistant attorney general in the DOJ’s Criminal Division. “That is, did Manafort willfully provide intelligence information to a foreign power? And, if so, who else has knowledge of or participated in the activity?” “If he did,” Zeldin continued, “the question for prosecutors is whether Manafort has a story to tell that will lead them to offer a plea bargain type of arrangement in exchange for his complete and truthful testimony.” Both Zeldin and Nick Akerman, a former prosecutor on the Watergate investigation, pointed to reports of the strong evidence Mueller is building against Manafort to bolster theories that prosecutors are trying to flip him. Though the Times report on Mueller’s team’s warning to Manafort doesn’t indicate the alleged crimes for which he could be indicted, the former campaign chair is reportedly under investigation for failing to register as a foreign agent, tax evasion and colluding with a foreign power against the interests of the U.S. “The bottom line is that the people who really should be worried now are the President, Donald Trump, Jr., [Trump son-in-law and White House adviser Jared] Kushner,” Akerman said. “People who were at that June 9 meeting, and people that Manafort could finger because ultimately what I think they’re trying to do is come at him with all the firepower they have and get him to turn and testify.” Manafort was present at that June 9 meeting in Trump Tower, where Trump Jr. was told he would receive damaging information about Hillary Clinton as part of a Kremlin-directed effort to help his father’s campaign. Trump, Kushner, Manafort and Trump Jr. have all previously denied working with Russia to influence the election. According to CNN, a previous FISA order against Manafort tied to his consulting work for a pro-Russia Ukrainian political order began in 2014 and expired sometime before he was promoted to campaign chairman in May 2016. CNN’s report noted that the order that covered Manafort’s communications through “early this year” was not in effect at the time of the Trump Tower meeting, suggesting it wasn’t issued until after early June 2016. Zeldin, Mueller’s former special counsel, said that FISA orders generally require renewal every 90-120 days, and CNN’s story implied that Manafort’s order is no longer operative. Legal experts said that cutoff could have several interpretations: It could suggest either that Mueller’s team already had obtained all the information they needed, or that, after lawyers for Manafort and the Trump administration cut off contact between the two parties, the wiretap was no longer a valuable avenue. “If he stops talking to people, then there’s nothing to intercept,” Zeldin said.

Key Governors Come Out Against Senate's Latest Obamacare Repeal Bill

Tuesday September 19th, 2017 06:41:17 PM
As Senate Republicans push full steam ahead on their final attempt to repeal Obamacare, several key governors came out on Tuesday against the bill crafted by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA). Independent Alaska Gov. Bill Walker and Republican Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval were among ten governors to sign a letter opposing the bill. Walker’s opposition could influence Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s (R-AK) vote, while Sandoval’s complaints about the bill buck Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV), who co-sponsored the bill. In the letter, the governors called on senators to abandon the Graham-Cassidy bill and pursue bipartisan legislation to stabilize the health insurance market instead. They also urged lawmakers to use regular order to craft legislation, rather than follow the rushed process GOP leaders are using in their last-ditch attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act. “Only open, bipartisan approaches can achieve true, lasting reforms,” the governors wrote. Several other Republican governors signed the letter as well, including Ohio Gov. John Kasich, Massachusetts Gov. Charles Baker, and Vermont Gov. Phil Scott. Walker, the Alaska governor, expressed concern Tuesday morning about how the Graham-Cassidy bill would impact Medicaid, but the letter later confirmed his opposition to the bill. Murkowski, who has opposed other recent attempts to repeal Obamacare in the Senate, is again a key lawmaker to watch as Republicans search for the votes needed to pass the Graham-Cassidy bill. As of Tuesday morning, she was still assessing the bill. Walker’s opposition to the bill came after the White House called the Alaska governor as part of an effort to garner more support for the Graham-Cassidy bill, according to a vice presidential pool report citing comments from Mike Pence and Graham. Republican Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan issued a statement later on Tuesday declaring his opposition to the Graham-Cassidy repeal bill and instead calling for a bipartisan fix in the Senate. “Unfortunately, the Graham-Cassidy bill is not a solution that works for Maryland. It will cost our state over $2 billion annually while directly jeopardizing the health care of our citizens. We need common sense, bipartisan solutions that will stabilize markets and actually expand affordable coverage,” he said in a statement. Read the letter below: This post has been updated.

American Medical Association Comes Out Against Senate O'Care Repeal Effort

Tuesday September 19th, 2017 05:48:25 PM
The American Medical Association, the United States’ largest advocacy group for doctors, on Tuesday urged the Senate to reject Senate Republicans’ last-minute effort to repeal Obamacare. “I am writing to express our opposition to the Cassidy-Graham-Heller-Johnson Amendment,” the group’s CEO and executive vice president James L. Madara wrote in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY). “We also urge the Senate to reject any other legislative efforts that would jeopardize health insurance coverage for tens of millions of Americans,” he said. Madara said the latest proposal, introduced by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA), “violates the precept of ‘first do no harm.'” “We believe the Graham-Cassidy Amendment would result in millions of Americans losing their health insurance coverage, destabilize health insurance markets, and decrease access to affordable coverage and care,” he said. Madara said the group is also concerned the bill would “convert the Medicaid program into a system that limits federal support to care for needy patients to an insufficient predetermined formula based on per-capita-caps” and “would allow insurers to charge unaffordable premiums” to patients with pre-existing conditions. Read the full letter:

Hail Mary ACA Repeal Kills The Senate's Bipartisan Stabilization Work

Tuesday September 19th, 2017 09:59:12 PM
Senators who have been working for months on a bipartisan bill to stabilize Obamacare’s individual market and take away one of President Trump’s ways to sabotage it are throwing in the towel, saying the GOP’s last-minute effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act has ruined their chance of passage. Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee chair Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) announced Tuesday evening in a written statement that he has “not found the necessary consensus” to advance his bill. The news broke a few hours after House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and the White House told Senate leaders on Tuesday that they oppose the stabilization bill and want all efforts focused on repeal. “It obviously makes it more difficult. That’s disappointing,” Alexander told reporters earlier in the day, before his written statement. “I know how to get bipartisan results but I’m not a magician. To get a bipartisan result on this before the end of September would mean I’d have to persuade 10 or 15 of my Republican colleagues, persuade Senator McConnell to put it on the floor, the House to pass it and the president to sign it.” “A week ago, I think that was possible,” Alexander added wistfully, arguing that both Democrats’ decision to introduce a “Medicare-for-All” bill and Republicans’ 11th hour repeal push “obviously makes achieving a bipartisan consensus more difficult.” (A Democratic Senate aide pushed back on Alexander casting blame on the single payer effort, telling TPM that Medicare-for-all is an eventual goal, while stabilizing the health care system is an immediate action Democrats support.) Walking through the basement of the Capitol building, a grave-faced Alexander urged President Trump and Speaker Ryan to “reconsider their opposition,” arguing that his stabilization bill is not mutually exclusive with the Graham-Cassidy repeal bill. “It will help keep premiums down in the first two years of the law,” he said, noting that much of the repeal bill doesn’t go into effect until 2020. “When we don’t have cost-sharing subsidies, we know that premiums go up, the federal debt goes up to pay for the higher subsidies for the premiums, about 5 percent of counties will be bare counties with no insurance offered, that’s about 1 million Americans, and Republicans will get the blame.” Alexander added that while he supports the Graham-Cassidy repeal bill—saying, “I like block grants and it appears to be good for Tennessee”—he would have preferred a vote on both bills. “I think most senators would vote for both,” he insisted. Other members of Alexander’s committee shared a sunnier view of the situation Tuesday morning, insisting to reporters that the bipartisan stabilization efforts was not dead yet. “We’re making good progress,”said ranking member Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), who for months has been hammering out a deal with Alexander and recently made major concessions to keep the negotiations alive. “I’m focused on doing what Lamar and I set out to do which is find common ground and stabilize the markets.” Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), a key member of the HELP committee and an outspoken critic of the repeal push, echoed this optimism, which later revealed itself to be unfounded. “Last I knew they were making very good progress on an agreement,” she said.

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Tuesday September 19th, 2017 06:40:07 PM
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Fox News Seeks Dismissal Or Arbitration In Suit Over Seth Rich Conspiracy Story

Tuesday September 19th, 2017 05:08:14 PM
Fox News channel and its parent company, 21st Century Fox, on Monday filed a motion to either dismiss or move to arbitration a lawsuit alleging that employees with the news network worked with the White House to push a conspiracy theory about a murdered Democratic National Committee staffer. Rod Wheeler, a contributor for the network, filed the lawsuit alleging that Fox News had defamed him by misquoting him in a story about the DNC staffer, Seth Rich. Wheeler said that a reporter for the network misquoted him in a story claiming that Rich had been in contact with WikiLeaks, which published internal emails stolen from the DNC. Fox News later retracted the story without much explanation. In the filing submitted on Monday, lawyers for Fox insisted that Wheeler was not misquoted. “He made substantially the same statements on the air in several on-camera interviews, before and after the Fox News report, and even stated publicly that the article he now challenges as false ‘was essentially correct and worthy of further investigation,'” they wrote in the filing. Wheeler alleged in his lawsuit that he was pressured to help with the story. He further claimed that the White House wanted the story published, and that he was coached to tout the story on air and push the narrative that Russia was not involved in the DNC hack. Wheeler also claimed Fox discriminated against him based on his race, which the network also pushed back on in its Monday filing. Wheeler did not offer “the facts necessary to support such a charge, because there are no such facts,” Fox argued. The network also said that Wheeler had an obligation to pursue his claims in the lawsuit through arbitration. Fox argued in the filing that if the court does not agree to move the suit to arbitration, it should dismiss the lawsuit altogether. Read the motion below: Correction: The original version of this article incorrectly described Wheeler as a former Fox News contributor. Wheeler remains a contributor to the network.

McConnell Offers Only Praise For Graham-Cassidy Obamacare Repeal Bill

Tuesday September 19th, 2017 04:44:00 PM
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) had plenty of words of encouragement Tuesday for his Republican colleagues’ recent efforts to rally the votes for an Obamacare repeal and replace bill, but stopped short of full-on endorsing the legislation. Speaking from the Senate floor, McConnell criticized Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (D-VT) recent roll-out of a single-payer health care bill, calling it a “massive expansion of a failed idea” and saying the Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson legislation will provide a better alternative. Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA) “rolled out a health-care proposal of their own last week,” he said. “It would repeal the pillars of Obamacare and replace that failed law’s failed approach with a new one: allowing states and governors to actually implement better health-care ideas by taking more decision-making power out of Washington.” He said the notion that governors and state legislators would have the chance to make health care decisions for their own constituents is “an intriguing idea” that has a “great deal of support.” But after the late-night surprise defeat of Senate Republicans’ last “skinny repeal” plan in July, McConnell appears to be unwilling to throw his full weight behind the new bill until he knows he has the votes. So instead he offered warm words of encouragement as the whipping for votes continues.  “As we continue to discuss that legislation, I’d like to thank Senator Graham and Senator Cassidy for all of their hard work. They know how important it is to move beyond the failures of Obamacare. They know that our opportunity to do so may well pass us by if we don’t act soon.”

Know The Context

Tuesday September 19th, 2017 04:41:26 PM
These tactics from Trump ‘lawyer’ Michael Cohen probably work better with New York City real estate goons than Senate Committees.

Parts Of The World 'Are Going To Hell': Trump Unleashes At UN Like It's A Rally

Tuesday September 19th, 2017 04:35:58 PM
President Donald Trump emphasized during his remarks Tuesday to the United Nations General Assembly that he would “always put America first.” And that was far from the only distinctly “Trumpian” line in the address, which included nods to the “rocket man” leading North Korea and “loser terrorists” in the Middle East. Trump read his address off a teleprompter and did not noticeably deviate from the script. Asked who had helped draft the speech, a senior administration official told reporters in a background briefing Monday that “it is the President’s vision, and that’s the only way you should think about it.” Trump identified the “growing dangers” faced by the world broadly: “Terrorists and extremists [who] have gathered strength and spread to every region of the planet,” “rogue regimes,” “authoritarian powers” and “international criminal networks.” But he also said the United States would not be “taken advantage of” in addressing these international concerns. “If the righteous many do not confront the wicked few, then evil will triumph,” Trump said. Boosting the far-right members of his administration, Trump deployed the phrase “radical Islamic terrorism,” a move he avoided in a similar foreign policy address in Saudi Arabia and that his national security adviser H.R. McMaster has advocated against using. “The United States and our allies are working together throughout the Middle East to crush the loser terrorists,” he said. Trump’s speechwriters were similarly unsparing in addressing individual regimes. The President called North Korea’s Kim Jong Un the leader of a “depraved regime” and a “rocket man […] on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime.” He added that “no nation on Earth has an interest in seeing this band of criminals arm itself with nuclear weapons and missiles.” “We will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea” if the United States is “forced to defend itself or its allies,” he said. Trump also criticized the nuclear deal his predecessor Barack Obama made with the “reckless regime” and “corrupt dictatorship” in Iran. “That deal is an embarrassment to the United States and I don’t think you’ve heard the last of it, believe me,” he said. One notable passage, reminiscent of Trump’s talk of “American carnage” in his inaugural address, summed up the President’s apocalyptic view of the rest of the globe. “Major portions of the world are in conflict,” he told the assembled heads-of-state. “Some, in fact, are going to hell.”

AARP Calls On Senators To Reject GOP's Latest Obamacare Repeal Effort

Tuesday September 19th, 2017 04:18:24 PM
The AARP, a major seniors group, called Tuesday for senators to reject the latest Republican proposal, introduced by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA), to repeal Obamacare. In a statement, the AARP said the proposal currently on the table would “increase health care costs for older Americans with an age tax, decrease coverage, and undermine pre-existing condition protections.” The AARP also said it would be “irresponsible” for the Senate to vote on a bill “without information on the potential consequences.” The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office announced Monday that it would not be able to “provide point estimates of the effects on the deficit, health insurance coverage, or premiums for at least several weeks.” “Should this bill be brought to the Senate floor for a vote, we strongly urge all Senators to vote NO,” the AARP said. Republicans’ ability to pass the repeal bill via reconciliation, with 50 votes rather than 60, will expire at the end of September. @AARP strongly opposes new healthcare bill that would raise costs and put ppl w/pre-existing conditions at risk. Urging Senate to vote NO. — Nancy LeaMond (@NancyLeaMond) September 19, 2017

One More Point on the Manafort News

Tuesday September 19th, 2017 04:15:49 PM
Following up on my post below, let me add one more point. Below I noted that having two members of Trump’s campaign the subjects of active counter-intelligence investigations must have set off alarm bells in the US intelligence world. But of course it wasn’t just that. Law enforcement and US intelligence had known for years that Trump was heavily reliant on money from countries of the former Soviet Union, with much of that money coming from dubious sources. I discussed just how much they knew here. But before Trump became a serious presidential candidate, that didn’t matter that much. Lots of Russian money gets brought into the US. Some of it is laundering dirty money. Some is just very wealthy people wanting to stow their money somewhere where asset and property values are fairly stable and where there’s a robust rule of law. New York City is a good place for that. Even after the 2008 crash, real estate values underwent only a brief and shallow dip. They recovered fairly quickly. In any case, as I said, this was all known. But it wasn’t a pressing issue because Trump was just a one time real estate developer now in the licensing business who spent most of his time starring in a reality TV show. But once he became a serious presidential candidate, those money connections, all the shadowy figures and that dependence on money from abroad started mattering a lot more. When people suspected of acting as Russian agents (that’s what you need to get a FISA warrant) started showing up in the campaign – particularly – the guy running the campaign, those alarm bells must have been going off nonstop. That is the context of what was happening – almost entirely outside our public view – in the late Spring and early Summer of 2016.  

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