The sun will come out tomorrow, according to weather forecasters. It’s time to Get More Smarter! If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.
TOP OF MIND TODAY…
President Trump’s learning curve on matters of foreign policy and national security was steep even before the bombshell report this week that he had blurted secrets to Russian diplomats.
Trump’s first foreign trip as president, which begins in Saudi Arabia this weekend, is a test of the lessons he has learned about geopolitics as well as whether he can reset his chaotic administration…
…Trump will also visit the West Bank and is expected to again tout his efforts to restart negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. Trump has backed away from a decades-old U.S. commitment to a sovereign Palestinian state, but held a warm meeting at the White House with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
From there Trump goes to Europe, for the NATO summit, a protocol-laden visit to see Pope Francis at the Vatican, and a gathering of the Group of Seven economic powers in Italy.
Meanwhile, longtime Washington D.C. observers can’t help but notice the historical parallels with a foreign trip taken by former President Richard Nixon in the midst of the Watergate scandal:
Those of us with long memories can’t forget President Richard Nixon making a similar trip to the Middle East in early June, 1974, at the very time the Watergate special prosecutor was in court seeking the actual White House tapes of presidential conversations and Congressional committees were looking into his possible impeachment.
Back then, ironically, Nixon visited leaders in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Israel in an unsuccessful attempt to strengthen the ceasefire agreement that halted fighting in the Yom Kippur, Arab-Israeli war.
Nixon returned home to challenge and lose his Supreme Court argument over the tapes that set him down the path to resigning the presidency.
► Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein made another visit to Capitol Hill on Friday to brief lawmakers on his decision to appoint Robert Mueller as a special counsel for investigating allegations of collusion between Russia and Donald Trump’s campaign for President. But as the Washington Post notes, Rosenstein has left many important questions unanswered:
Rosenstein had briefed senators on Thursday at an event that left several key questions unanswered, including what Trump said to Rosenstein when he told him Comey would be fired and to what degree congressional investigators will maintain access to witnesses and documents given the appointment of Robert S. Mueller III as special counsel.
These matters did not appear to be resolved on Friday.
Here at Colorado Pols, we’ve added a new feature to keep you updated on the latest news involving the Trump/Russia scandal: “The Daily D’oh!”
► Attorney General Cynthia Coffman again demonstrated her loyalty to the oil and gas industry in Colorado by ignoring Gov. John Hickenlooper’s order to NOT appeal a court ruling requiring protection of public safety, health and the environment by the state as a precondition before allowing oil and gas drilling.
Get even more smarter after the jump…
IN CASE YOU ARE STANDING NEAR A WATER COOLER…
► Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah, the Chairman of the House Oversight Committee, made a surprise announcement several weeks ago that he would not seek re-election in 2018. Now, Chaffetz says he will resign from Congress ASAP. As Uproxx writes:
Politico is reporting that Chaffetz, who has already said he won’t seek re-election in a move that surprised many in Washington, will be sprinting out the door as early as the end of June. This comes just hours after Chaffetz was on Fox News, insisting that there was no evidence Trump was tied to Russia and that Democrats “had no ideas.”
This just adds to the mystery of why Chaffetz is so eager to get away from Washington, especially as it opens the door to yet another special election in the House that the GOP will have to dedicate time, money, and other resources towards. The moves he’s making are usually the behavior of a politician resigning in disgrace. Yet while Chaffetz’ constituents are angry about how he’s handling the many, many allegations against the Trump administration, there’s yet to be any sort of major scandal engulfing Chaffetz himself.
Congressional Republicans are busy sticking “kick me” notes on Chaffetz’s back.
► Ed Perlmutter, the odds-on favorite to become Colorado’s next governor, picked up a nice endorsement that should pay dividends in a Democratic primary. Perlmutter now has the official support of the Pipefitters Local 208 union, which is a significant endorsement in Democratic circles.
► Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley) is draining the swamp…if, by “draining the swamp,” you mean “taking contradicting stances on President Trump and Russia.” Buck’s suggestion that the big mad media is inventing this entire Russia scandal is a bit hard to swallow.
► The Denver Post editorial board, which seldom misses an opportunity to pat Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) on the back, may finally be growing tired of Gardner’s wordplay:
Sen. Cory Gardner had a chance to take a stand against his fellow Republicans’ plans to ax methane emissions regulations in a way that prohibits similar rules, but he demurred last week…
…Gardner, a first-term Republican from Yuma, says he wasn’t voting on the merits of the bill, but rather to move forward the issue for debate.
While his explanation is technically true, Colorado voters deserve to know where Gardner stands on this particular issue. [Pols emphasis] Colorado has been a leader in finding middle-of-the road solutions for methane emissions, and the state’s leak detection and repair regulations are a model throughout the nation, even though compromise couldn’t be found on venting and flaring.
Coloradans deserve to know where Gardner stands on an entire litany of issues.
► The battle against “fake news” should be a bipartisan effort.
► President Trump’s aggressive actions on enforcement of illegal immigration rules has left Colorado Republicans in a very odd position.
► Chris Cillizza of CNN writes that you should be paying more attention to what happened this week at the Washington home of the Turkish ambassador. Just take a look at what Arizona Sen. John McCain had to say about a bloody confrontation between protestors and Turkish officials earlier this week:
“We should throw their ambassador the hell out of the United States of America. This is the United States of America. This isn’t Turkey; this isn’t a third-world country; and this kind of thing cannot go unresponded to diplomatically.”
As you can probably guess, the Trump administration has thus far left this issue “unresponded to diplomatically.”
► Next week the Trump administration is expected to announce massive cuts to federal research programs on clean energy. The proposed cuts would be particularly harmful to Colorado’s economy.
► It will soon be illegal in Colorado to lock someone in jail to involuntarily hold them based on mental health or suicide concerns.
► Governor John Hickenlooper has signed legislation intended to help combat the opioid epidemic in Colorado.
► Driverless cars have received a thumbs-up in Colorado. Now you just have to figure out whether or not to show robot cars your middle finger when driving.
► Don’t call it a “negative factor” anymore!
OTHER LINKS YOU SHOULD CLICK
► More bad poll numbers for President Trump as Americans express their dismay over his handling of classified materials in discussions with the Russians.
► “No. No. Next question.” Thus spoke President Trump.