November 15, 2017

The lawyer for Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore disastrously bungled his defense of his client's alleged penchant for pursuing teenage girls during an interview on MSNBC on Wednesday.

Moore has defended himself against the allegations by claiming that he doesn't "remember ever dating any girl without the permission of her mother." Speaking to Ali Velshi and Stephanie Ruhle, the hosts of Velshi & Ruhle, Moore's attorney Trenton Garmon abruptly cited Velshi's "background" to answer a question about why Moore would ask permission from girl's mothers if they weren't underage.

"Culturally speaking, I would say there's differences," Garmon said. "I looked up Ali's background there, and wow, that's awesome that you have got such a diverse background. Really cool to read through that."

A stunned Ruhle interrupted: "What does Ali's background have to do with dating a 14-year-old?"

"In other countries, there's arrangement through parents for what we would refer to as consensual marriage," Garmon said — but not before Ruhle interrupted him again.

"Ali's from Canada," she said. "Ali's from Canada." Watch below. Jeva Lange

November 14, 2017

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is considering whether to appoint a special counsel to investigate Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Foundation, at the urging of House Republicans upset about the sale of a controlling stake in Uranium One to a Russian agency, among other things, and reportedly to get back in President Trump's good graces.

On Tuesday, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), a founder of the House Freedom Caucus, asked Sessions why the Justice Department hasn't already appointed a special counsel for Clinton, and Sessions said DOJ prosecutors are looking into the matter but would "use the proper standards," adding: "You can have your idea but sometimes we have to study what the facts are and to evaluate whether it meets the standards it requires." Fox News news anchor Shepard Smith decided it was time to lay out the facts about the Uranium One deal Tuesday afternoon, in what was hard not to see as an implicit rebuke of the anchors on the opinion side of his network.

Smith started with the accusation, first made by Breitbart editor at large Peter Schweizer, then repeated by Trump and other conservatives: "Nine people involved in the deal made donations to the Clinton Foundation totaling more than $140 million. In exchange, Secretary of State Clinton approved the sale to the Russians — a quid pro quo." He noted that this accusation is "inaccurate in a number of ways," then spent the next few minutes methodically explaining how. By the end, it's hard to see how there's any there there. We'll see what the Justice Department decides. Peter Weber

November 14, 2017

Attorney General Jeff Sessions insisted Tuesday that he has been answering Congress' questions to the best of his ability during several congressional hearings. Sessions made the claim while appearing before the House Judiciary Committee. Last week, 17 House Democrats signed a letter written to Sessions that announced their intent to press the attorney general on a statement made during his January confirmation hearing, when he claimed he was not aware of any contacts between Russian officials and members of Trump's campaign.

To that end, Sessions said in forceful, prepared remarks Tuesday: "I will not accept, and reject, accusations that I have ever lied. That is a lie."

Challenged by Democratic senators earlier this month about why he did not disclose that former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos had proposed a meeting between then-candidate Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin during a meeting Sessions attended, Sessions told the committee Tuesday that he had "no recollection" of the meeting until the news reports came out. "I do now recall that the March 2016 meeting at the Trump Hotel that [George] Papadopoulos attended, but I have no clear recollection of the details of what he said at that meeting," Sessions added.

All of Sessions' testimony can be watched live or from the beginning at C-SPAN. Jeva Lange

November 14, 2017

CNN's Chris Cuomo gave President Trump's former campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, no time to ease into their bout Tuesday morning as he demanded to know right off the bat: "Do you accept the U.S. intelligence community's assessment that Russia tried to interfere, and did so, during the election?"

The argument quickly spiraled from there as Lewandowski admitted to believing Russia interfered in the election, but that the Kremlin did so through Hillary Clinton's campaign. "That is a notion that doesn't meet any standard or any piece of proof that we've gotten from the investigators to date," a disbelieving Cuomo shot back. He added: "You said before, 'We had no contacts, nobody from our campaign' … We now know that's not true, Corey."

"I have never, to the best of my knowledge, ever communicated with anybody who was a Russian, a Russian agent, a Russian supporter, or someone who was from the Russian government in any way, shape, or form," Lewandowski clarified.

"How can you know that?" Cuomo fired back.

"Well that's what I said, to the best of my knowledge I've never communicated with a Russian agent," Lewandowski said. "Now maybe you're a Russian agent."

And that's just the start. Watch the battle below. Jeva Lange

November 6, 2017

The Morning Joe team expressed frustration with everyone from the media to the government following the church shooting in Texas on Sunday that left 26 people dead. "We are sadly coming up on the five-year anniversary next month of Sandy Hook," co-host Joe Scarborough pointed out. "And there were a lot of people that said ... if that's not going to do it, what is? And now we have Southern Baptist churches getting shot up."

The shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas, is the fifth-worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history, with the deadliest attack, in Las Vegas, taking place just last month.

"Had [the Texas shooter] been a radical Islamic terrorist with a beard named Mohammed, Washington would be melting down right now," Scarborough said. Read more about President Trump's response to the attack here, and watch the segment from Morning Joe below. Jeva Lange

October 31, 2017

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said she did not want to "relitigate the Civil War" during Tuesday's press briefing, but she spent a hefty amount of time doing just that. Sanders was answering questions following White House Chief of Staff John Kelly's comments Monday evening defending Confederate general Robert E. Lee as an "honorable man" and claiming the Civil War occurred because of "the lack of an ability to compromise."

After arguing to Glenn Thrush of The New York Times that "all of our leaders have flaws" to defend Kelly's appraisal of Lee, Sanders was next pressed by NPR's Mara Liasson, who asked whether the hypothetical solution Kelly was envisioning was "to leave the Southern states slave and the Northern states free." "What was the compromise that could have been made?" Liasson asked. Sanders pointed to "many historians" who "agree that a failure to compromise was a cause of the Civil War," saying that "there are a lot of different versions of those compromises":

NBC's Hallie Jackson then asked Sanders directly whether the White House would at least "acknowledge" that Kelly's comments were "deeply offensive to some folks, and historically inaccurate." "No," Sanders flatly replied, before deriding "the media" for wanting to "push that this is some sort of a racially charged and divided White House." She asserted that Kelly's comments had been "taken out of context" and called the controversy "absurd and disgraceful":

As Sanders left the lectern to signal the end of the briefing, American Urban Radio Networks' April Ryan yelled a final question: "Does this administration think that slavery was wrong?" Sanders did not reply. Kimberly Alters

October 31, 2017

President Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, was indicted Monday over an assortment of alleged financial crimes, provoking a flurry of speculation about how the commander in chief might respond. "In the hours after the indictment," The Associated Press reports, "the president angrily told one confidant that Manafort had been a campaign 'part-timer' who had only helped steer the convention and got too much credit for Trump's ability to hold onto the nomination."

Still, the charges against Manafort — which include conspiracy against the United States — are serious. Additionally, there is excitement among Trump's critics that Manafort could potentially "flip" and out other Trump associates in order to cut a better deal for himself. Trump, on the other hand, could potentially fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller — or pardon his old campaign chairman.

On Tuesday, when asked point blank if he would pardon Manafort, Trump didn't answer. Instead, he abruptly ended the conversation. Watch below. Jeva Lange

October 26, 2017

MSNBC's Morning Joe team was clearly uncomfortable reporting Thursday on allegations by five women against political analyst Mark Halperin, a regular on the show. The women claim Halperin sexually harassed them when he was political director at ABC News:

"CNN is reporting allegations regarding our friend Mark Halperin during his time at ABC News over a decade ago, unnamed sources detailing unwanted advances and inappropriate behavior," co-host Mika Brzezinski carefully explained.

Halperin apologized Wednesday night, admitting: "I did pursue relationships with women that I worked with, including some junior to me." He added, "I now understand from these accounts that my behavior was inappropriate and caused others pain. For that, I am deeply sorry and I apologize."

By Thursday, Halperin was out at NBC: "We find the story and the allegations very troubling," the network said in a statement to Fox News. "Mark Halperin is leaving his role as a contributor until the questions around his past conduct are fully understood." Jeva Lange

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