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Meet the shady fundraisers for Trump — including one guy who bribed NYC pension with $1 million

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MSNBC host Rachel Maddow shed some light on Tuesday on some of the men the Republican National Committee (RNC) has chosen to raise funds for Donald Trump — a fact that she said in and of itself changes his campaign.

“They are starting the effort of shoveling money to him,” Maddow said, adding that after months of boasting about running a self-financed campaign, “he just raises money from rich people like all the other candidates do.”

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Heading the effort, she explained, was Steve Mnuchin, who she described last month as a “cartoon vulture villain” who was targeted by protesters over his business practices.

Mnuchen, Maddow said, was part of a group that “bought the scraps of a bank that had gone bust in the financial collapse, had taxpayers bail them out to the tune of $13 billion, and then themselves profited handsomely as they threw 35,000 California families out of their homes by foreclosing on the mortgages that these billionaire guys had bought for pennies on the dollar.”

But other members of the RNC’s “victory” team had their own questionable pasts, Maddow said, including venture capitalist Elliott Broidy, who admitted in 2009 that he gave New York state pension fund officials almost $1 million in gifts, including $75,000 that went toward a trip to Jerusalem by former state comptroller Alan Hevesi.

But despite pleading guilty to bribery, he never served any jail time, because he worked with prosecutors to implicate the officials who took the bribes.

“Nice work if you can get it,” Maddow quipped. “And that guy was just named the vice chair of the Donald Trump ‘Victory Fund’ for the Republican National Committee. Where do they find these guys?”

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Watch Maddow’s commentary, as aired on Tuesday, below.

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Elections 2016

Vietnamese women strive to clear war-era mines

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Inching across a field littered with Vietnam war-era bombs, Ngoc leads an all-women demining team clearing unexploded ordnance that has killed tens of thousands of people -- including her uncle.

"He died in an explosion. I was haunted by memories of him," Le Thi Bich Ngoc tells AFP as she oversees the controlled detonation of a cluster bomb found in a sealed-off site in central Quang Tri province.

More than 6.1 million hectares of land in Vietnam remain blanketed by unexploded munitions -- mainly dropped by US bombers -- decades after the war ended in 1975.

At least 40,000 Vietnamese have since died in related accidents. Victims are often farmers who accidentally trigger explosions, people salvaging scrap metal, or children who mistake bomblets for toys.

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Elections 2016

Chief Justice John Roberts issues New Year’s Eve warning to stand up for democracy

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In a progressive welcoming move, Chief Justice John Roberts issued his New Year's Eve annual report urging his fellow federal judges to stand up for democracy.

"In our age, when social media can instantly spread rumor and false information on a grand scale, the public's need to understand our government, and the protections it provides, is ever more vital," he wrote. "We should celebrate our strong and independent judiciary, a key source of national unity and stability."

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Trump’s next 100 days will dictate whether he can be re-elected or not — here’s why

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According to CNN pollster-in-residence Harry Enten, Donald Trump's next 100 days -- which could include an impeachment trial in the Senate -- will hold the key to whether he will remain president in 2020.

As Eten explains in a column for CNN, "His [Trump's] approval rating has been consistently low during his first term. Yet his supporters could always point out that approval ratings before an election year have not historically been correlated with reelection success. But by mid-March of an election year, approval ratings, though, become more predictive. Presidents with low approval ratings in mid-March of an election year tend to lose, while those with strong approval ratings tend to win in blowouts and those with middling approval ratings usually win by small margins."

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