After our investigation, the Department of Justice decided to end its contracts with private prisons. Read our story, and what it took to report it.
Deputy DC Bureau Chief
Dan is Mother Jones' deputy DC bureau chief. He is the New York Times best-selling author of Sons of Wichita(Grand Central Publishing), a biography of the Koch brothers that is now out in paperback. Email him at dschulman (at) motherjones.com.
Paul Manafort gets demoted and Breitbart's Stephen Bannon will become campaign CEO.
Daniel SchulmanAug. 17, 2016 7:28 AM
As Donald Trump loses ground in the polls to Hillary Clinton and his campaign continues to falter, he is once more shaking up his political operation. Declaring "I want to win" in an interview with the Wall Street Journal published early Wednesday morning, Trump announced that he is bringing on veteran Republican pollster Kellyanne Conway as campaign manger and Stephen Bannon, the executive chairman of Breitbart, as chief executive officer of the Trump team.
Paul Manafort, who has been running the Trump campaign since the ouster of Corey Lewandowski, will continue in his role as campaign chairman, but the reshuffle signals that his authority will be significantly curtailed, if he has not been altogether sidelined. Earlier this week, the New York Timesreported that a "secret ledger" listed $12.7 million in cash payments to Manafort from Ukraine’s pro-Russian ruling party, which he advised up until recently. Manafort denied receiving the payments, but his controversial background as a lobbyist who has specialized in representing some of the world's most notorious strongmen and dictators has dogged him ever since he signed on with Trump. On Wednesday, the Associated Press reported that Manafort and another Trump aide, Rick Gates, had failed to disclose their efforts to influence US policy on behalf of the Ukrainian governing party of Viktor Yanukovych, the country's ousted leader, possibly circumventing rules requiring "foreign agents" to register with the US government. But it may have been Manafort's inability to rein in Trump, as much as his past clientele, that led to his de facto demotion.
Conway—whose roster of clients has included Newt Gingrich and Trump's running mate, Mike Pence—has been advising the Trump campaign since at least July. Prior to signing on with Trump, Conway backed his rival Ted Cruz. She served as a strategist for Keep the Promise I, a pro-Cruz super-PAC bankrolled by hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer that ran attack ads against Trump during the primary campaign, including one blasting the real estate mogul for supposedly supporting government-run health care.
Along with Conway, Bannon also has close ties to Mercer, who Politico has reported is a top investor in Breitbart. A Navy veteran and former Goldman Sachs banker, Bannon has no political experience to speak of, though his news outlet has been one of Trump's biggest cheerleaders throughout the campaign. This has led to some uncomfortable moments for the conservative news outlet, including this spring when Corey Lewandowski roughly yanked then-Breitbart reporter Michelle Fields away from Trump at a campaign rally as she tried to ask the candidate a question. Breitbart went out of its way to bolster the Trump campaign's version of events, at the expense of its own reporter. Fields ended up resigning and is now a reporter at the Huffington Post.
According to Politico, Bannon has been "quietly advising people around the Trump campaign for months," an unusual move for a top executive at a news organization covering the presidential campaign. Bannon's outlet didn't even get the scoop of his new role with Trump. After the news broke, it ran the AP's version of the story.
Can the plaintive GOP candidate capitalize on his New Hampshire momentum?
Daniel SchulmanFeb. 10, 2016 12:30 AM
"Tonight, John Kasich is the story coming out of New Hampshire," John Sununu, a former US senator from the state, declared as he introduced the Ohio governor to a packed ballroom of supporters here in Concord. The crowded risers at the back of the room, lined with TV cameras and photographers, attested to the shifting narrative created by Kasich's surprise second-place finish in the New Hampshire Republican presidential primary.
Kasich himself seemed slightly shell-shocked by how well he had performed, after initially laboring in "totally obscurity" as he criss-crossed New Hampshire to introduce himself to voters. "There's something that's going on that I'm not sure that anybody can quite understand," he said when he took the podium. "There's magic in the air with this campaign. Something big happened tonight." The question for the Kasich campaign, which has focused its resources heavily on New Hampshire, with the candidate holding nearly 190 events in the state, is what comes next? South Carolina, with its base of religious conservative voters, is not considered Kasich country. And more than a month will elapse between his strong New Hampshire finish and the contest in his native Ohio.
Kasich has run a positive if deeply introspective campaign. "We never went negative because we have more good to sell than to spend our time being critical," he said, adding, "Tonight the light overcame the darkness." His message of hope and healing—he has repeatedly urged his supporters to "just slow down" and listen to others—has seemed out of place in a race that has been dominated by a candidate, Donald Trump, who has thrived on divisiveness.
"There are many people in America who don't feel connected," he said tonight. Out on the campaign trial, hearing the stories of others experiencing pain and loss had changed him, Kasich said. "I'm going to go slower."
Yet even the plaintive Kasich seems to understand that slowing down might not be an option if he hopes to extend the New Hampshire storyline into additional victories. "Tonight, we head to South Carolina," he said. "There's so much that's going to happen; if you don't have a seatbelt, go get one."
The real estate mogul is ramping up his attacks on his struggling rival. Just one question: Why?
Daniel SchulmanFeb. 8, 2016 4:11 PM
Donald Trump takes questions from voters in Salem, New Hampshire.
Has Jeb Bush finally gotten under Donald Trump's skin? During a town hall this morning in Salem, New Hampshire, the real estate mogul and GOP front-runner spent an unusual amount of time trashing Bush, who is polling near the back of the pack heading into Tuesday's primary, calling him a "lightweight," "not a smart man," "stiff," and a "spoiled child."
Throughout the campaign, Trump has relished in needling Bush, portraying him as a weak momma's boy who would struggle to find a job outside of government. But his Bush-bashing hasescalated on the eve of the primary, in which most polls suggest Trump is going to crush his competition by a sizable margin.
Does Trump have reason to think Bush is poised to do better than expected in New Hampshire and perhaps claw his way back into the race? Or does he just take special pleasure in belittling his struggling rival?
The Florida governor ramps up his attacks on Trump and Cruz.
Daniel SchulmanFeb. 6, 2016 5:05 PM
Jeb Bush holds a town hall in Bedford, New Hampshire.
"A steady hand." Jeb Bush has used that phrase repeatedly throughout the campaign, as he attempts to convince voters that he's the tried and tested choice for president—the anti-Donald Trump. Bush made that case again today, ahead of Saturday's Republican debate, at a crowded town hall meeting in Bedford, New Hampshire. Dressed casually in a black fleece and seeming at ease as he heads toward a primary that could either finish off his sputtering campaign or give it the momentum to fight on, Bush waxed wonkishly on everything from corporate inversions to student debt to mental health policy. But he also sharpened his attacks on Trump and Ted Cruz, the GOP front-runners who, he argues, can't be trusted to steer the ship of state.
"I'm not a psychiatrist or a psychologist, but the guy needs therapy," Bush said of Trump. And he derided Cruz for talking "about carpet bombing as though that is a policy."
Holding the first primary in the nation is a great privilege—but you also have to deal with this.
Daniel SchulmanFeb. 6, 2016 8:05 AM
For New Hampshire voters, there's a certain kind of flinty pride that comes with helping to set the tone of the presidential election. But, in exchange for the privilege of their first-in-the-nation status, Granite Staters must also endure a special kind of hell. I'm talking about the ceaseless robo-calls, the too-chipper canvassers, the legions of journalists taking up all the damn parking spots in downtown Manchester. And the mailers. They start trickling into mailboxes many months before the primaries, and, as the election nears, the deluge grows biblical.
My in-laws, who live in southern New Hampshire, are putting me up for a few days while I cover the primaries with my colleagues, and they saved some of their mailers for me. This is about a week or twos' worth. (They are registered Republicans, though occasionally vote Democrat, which is why the bulk of the campaign literature they receive concerns GOP candidates. Their moderate leanings may also explain why they are getting a disproportionate number of mailers for and against New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.)
Here's one from a group called America Needs Leadership. It's not entirely clear who's behind this outfit, since a group by this name doesn't even show up in the Federal Election Commission's database. What is clear is that this group's backers believe America needs leadership—and those leaders shouldn't include Marco Rubio (or Hillary Clinton).
Here's one from pro-Christie super-PAC America Leads—not to be confused with the mysterious America Needs Leadership.
Notice who's reflected in Hillary's shades in this mailer from pro-Marco Rubio super-PAC Conservative Solutions? (It's Rubio.)
Here's another Conservative Solutions mailer, this one taking on Rubio rival Ted Cruz.
This mailer from Jeb Bush's campaign is intended to appeal to Granite State gun owners. The gun-carrying guy in the right-hand corner at first glance appears to be Jeb, but he may actually be just some random guy!
At least one out of every three mailers seems to come from Right to Rise, the pro-Jeb Bush super-PAC that raised more than $100 million during its first fundraising quarter.