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TOP OF MIND TODAY…
► President Trump is upping his ante on a misinformation campaign about potential Russian interference in the 2016 election, suggesting on Thursday that perhaps the FBI and the Democratic Party somehow conspired together to pay for a reported intelligence dossier on Trump. We’d say that this was getting strange, but we’d be repeating ourselves. From CNN:
The point here is that it is deeply irresponsible for a president of the United States to even flirt with this sort of conspiracy talk. You can love Donald Trump and still believe that the idea that the Russians, the Democrats and the FBI co-funded a dossier designed to discredit Trump’s 2016 campaign is totally bonkers.
Unfortunately, lots and lots of Trump backers will believe this stuff solely by dint of the fact that Trump tweeted it. And that, of course, is Trump’s goal. Muddy the waters and discredit the ongoing investigations into what Russia did in the 2016 election. Make the whole thing into a partisan witch hunt.
But, there is no plausible scenario by which what Trump suggested this morning — a wide-scale conspiracy involving three separate actors across federal agencies and continents — actually happened. That we can’t (won’t?) agree on that seemingly obvious fact is troubling.
► Attorney General Jeff Sessions testified Wednesday in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and the topic of Russian election meddling took center stage. As the Washington Post explains:
Jeff Sessions was the personification of a hostile witness whenever a Democratic lawmaker questioned him during a contentious five-hour oversight hearing on Wednesday.
The attorney general set the tone early in his first appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee since his January confirmation. “I can neither assert executive privilege nor can I disclose today the content of my confidential conversations with the president,” Sessions said in his opening statement.
There were several yes-or-no questions that should have been easy for Sessions to answer, but he refused. Sometimes what someone will not say is more interesting than what they do…
…Sessions declined to discuss anything the president told him before firing James Comey. He pointedly refused to answer multiple questions about whether Trump told him that getting rid of the FBI director would “lift the cloud” of the Russia investigation.
Sessions also declined to express confidence in the investigation of special counsel Robert Mueller, nor would he say whether or not he would resign his post if President Trump took the extraordinary step of trying to fire Mueller.
Get even more smarter after the jump…
IN CASE YOU ARE STANDING NEAR A WATER COOLER…
► The Republican Party is hemorrhaging rationality. As CNN reports:
The surprise resignation of Ohio Rep. Pat Tiberi on Thursday marks the latest example of GOP members affiliated with the so-called “governing wing” of the Republican Party calling it quits even as their side controls both chambers of Congress and the White House.
Tiberi is the 18th House Republican to announce plans to leave Congress sometime between now and January 2019. More importantly, he joins a rapidly swelling list of House GOPers with influential committee assignments, close ties to the party leadership and pragmatic approaches to governing to walk away. In recent months, Reps. Ileana Ros Lehtinen (Florida), Dave Trott (Michigan), Dave Reichert (Washington) and Charlie Dent (Pennsylvania) have all decided to leave. On the Senate side, Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, another member of the pragmatic establishment within the Republican conference, announced his plans to retire earlier this month.
Like the rest of America, the so-called “governing wing” of Congressional Republicans is completely and totally fed up with the circus that is the GOP in 2017.
► Officials representing the economic interest of the Denver Metro Area continue to court Amazon.com as the company looks at building a new headquarters east of Denver. But not everyone is happy about the idea, as the Denver Post reports:
Republican State Sen. Tim Neville from Littleton said the state needs to focus on fixing transportation issues and updating its infrastructure. Amazon is just side tracking state resources.
“Any company that is coming into Colorado, that’s always great news that we’re attracting people because we have a great business climate,” Neville said. “But my frustration is that the infrastructure that is going to be necessary to absorb the impact of 50,000 jobs, we haven’t been paying for that and the governor has not led successfully to make that happen. We need to make sure I-70 and other arteries are fixed. The devil is in the details but 50,000 more people and we haven’t taken care of business yet?”
Of course, it is Neville and his fellow Senate Republicans who have consistently resisted efforts to fix Colorado’s aging transportation infrastructure.
► The Colorado Republican Party can’t seem to keep its story straight on why it is cutting the price of tickets to an event with Vice President Mike Pence next week. On Wednesday, GOP spokespeople offered differing rationales, first claiming that they were cutting ticket prices in half because of high demand, and then later intimating that they had only planned on selling tickets for half of the room. This Tweet from Marshall Zelinger of 9News sums up the situation well:
— Marshall Zelinger (@Marshall9News) October 18, 2017
► State Rep. Phil Covarrubias (R-Adams County) had quite the spectacular meltdown on Facebook on Wednesday. Among his more…interesting comments was this:
“I actually think that liberals are racist against Americans.”
We’re confident that Colorado Pols readers are smart enough to understand what the term “racism” actually means.
► Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) is backing President Trump’s flippety-floppety take on opposing potential Senate legislation aimed at providing cost-sharing reduction subsidies (CSR) for healthcare companies related to Obamacare. We learned on Wednesday that health insurance rates in Colorado are rising by an average of 34% because of the Trump administration’s refusal to fund CSRs. Blair Miller of Denver7 has more on the rising rates.
► Senator Michael Bennet (D-Denver) is calling for an investigation into the “Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity,” which is working hard to prove that widespread voter fraud is occurring — despite the complete lack of evidence to support those claims.
► You can add EPA chief Scott Pruitt to the list of Trump administration officials under fire for spending taxpayer dollars on travel to events that were largely political in nature. From the Associated Press:
Top-ranking Congressional Democrats are calling on a federal watchdog to review whether Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt broke the law by making a video for a private group opposing an Obama-era clean-water rule.
Pruitt flew to Colorado for an August event organized by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, an industry trade association representing cattle producers. While at the ranch, Pruitt recorded a video urging the group’s members to file comments supporting the repeal of EPA’s Waters of the United States rule.
► Congressman Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs) will give a congressional commendation to Focus on the Family founder James “Spongedob” Dobson.
► The 2018 Senate map is looking better and better for Democrats. This is not good news for Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma), who heads up the Republican efforts to maintain their majority in the 2018 cycle.
► The 2017 election in Colorado isn’t particularly interesting overall, but one proposed ballot measure in Broomfield is being closely-watched. CBS4 Denver has more on a proposal to make health and safety concerns more prominent in discussions about new oil and gas drilling operations.
► Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran, at age 79 one of the longest-serving Republican lawmakers in American history, is facing increasing questions about his physical well-being and his ability to continue to serve in the Senate.
► The mother of a soldier killed during an Oct. 4 ambush in Niger says that President Trump was very disrespectful when he called to offer his condolences. From the New York Times:
President Trump’s condolence call to the widow of a slain soldier exploded into a vicious row that swamped the White House on Wednesday, with the soldier’s grieving mother accusing the president of disrespecting her family and a defiant Mr. Trump complaining that his words had been cynically twisted for political purposes.
The back-and-forth made a furious spectacle of what is, at the best of times, one of the most emotionally wrenching contacts between the commander in chief and a bereaved citizen. It overshadowed any talk of Mr. Trump’s legislative priorities and instead recalled his history of feuding with military families or even, as in the case of Senator John McCain, a war hero.
Twelve days after four Americans were killed in an Oct. 4 ambush in Niger, the president called the widow of Sgt. La David T. Johnson, who was among the slain, and said that her husband “knew what he signed up for,” referring to the soldier only as “your guy,” according to Sergeant Johnson’s mother and a Democratic congresswoman, who both listened to the call.
► A significant staff shake-up appears to be underway within the Democratic National Committee.
Your Daily Dose Of ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
► Former President George W. Bush is speaking out against Trumpism.
► Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) is quite the comedian.
► Unflattering stories continue to emerge about Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch. The former Colorado judge is not very popular with his black-robed colleagues.
► The Denver Nuggets opened the 2017-18 regular season with a loss in Utah on Wednesday night. The new-look Nuggets played well for most of the game but couldn’t recover from a big run by the Jazz in the fourth quarter. The Nuggets open their home schedule in Denver on Saturday with a visit from the Sacramento Kings.