Eek! It’s Friday the 14th! 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…
► Let’s be honest — we’d be more surprised at this point if it turns out that Donald Trump’s Presidential campaign did not collude with the Russians. As NBC News first reported:
The Russian lawyer who met with the Trump team after a promise of compromising material on Hillary Clinton was accompanied by a Russian-American lobbyist — a former Soviet counter intelligence officer who is suspected by some U.S. officials of having ongoing ties to Russian intelligence, NBC News has learned.
The lobbyist, who denies any current ties to Russian spy agencies, accompanied the lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, to the June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower attended by Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort. The Russian-born American lobbyist served in the Soviet military and emigrated to the U.S., where he holds dual citizenship.
This is a big story, but there appears to be even more to come. As the Washington Post explains, Donald Trump Jr’s meeting with the Russians last summer is sounding sketchier every day:
A lawyer for Donald Trump Jr., could not confirm Akhmetshin’s attendance but said there was an additional participant, whom he declined to identify. [Pols emphasis]
That brings the total number of people who accompanied Russian attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya to the Trump Tower meeting to three: Akhmetshin, British music publicist Rob Goldstone, and the unidentified person.
Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Denver) told CBS News on Thursday that Russian President Vladimir Putin “couldn’t ask for a better friend” than President Trump.
► Things are not looking good for Senate Republicans as they try to cram through their new-but-basically-the-same Trumpcare legislation. As the Washington Post reports, at least 10 Senate Republicans have expressed concern over the latest version of new healthcare legislation; Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell can only afford to lose two Republicans if he hopes to pass legislation. The New York Times is equally skeptical on GOP support for passage of the new bill. Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner, however, is fully onboard with the idea of demolishing Medicaid.
Meanwhile, health insurance premiums in Colorado may be on the rise again (not that they have ever not increased, before or after Obamacare), in large part because of market uncertainty over the state of healthcare legislation. From the Denver Post:
Colorado health insurers are asking to be able to charge customers in the individual market nearly 27 percent more on average in premiums next year, the state Division of Insurance announced Friday.
The division must still review and approve the requests — after receiving public comment. But state Insurance Commissioner Marguerite Salazar said in a statement that the large proposed increases were not a surprise.
“I believe that the dubious situation at the federal level has contributed to the premium increase requests we’ve seen from the companies,” she said.
The price increases would impact a relatively small percentage of Coloradans. No more than 8 percent of people in the state shop for health insurance plans on their own. [Pols emphasis]
► House Republicans are gauging support for legislation that would lead to a massive increase in federal spending. As Politico reports:
In a closed-door GOP conference meeting Friday morning, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said all 12 appropriations bills will be finished in committee by the end of next week. Starting Monday, leadership will begin a tentative whip count on whether lawmakers would vote for a package before the August recess that combines all of those bills into one $1 trillion government funding bill.
The idea, first proposed by Rep. Tom Graves, a senior appropriator, is to give House Republicans a chance to pass a red-meat spending bill that will lay out GOP priorities. Though the bill would never pass the Senate in the face of Democratic opposition, the process would allow House Republicans to offer potentially hundreds of amendments, an exercise that excites members who are frustrated that they’ve had no input on how to fund the government.
“It’s actually been the consensus of the conference to get all this done before August,” Graves (R-Ga.) said upon emerging from conference Friday, optimistic that his idea will take. “We’re here to get our job done, and I’ll tell you, members are excited about the opportunity to put our priorities forward and advance it to the floor.
The strategy could open something of a Pandora’s box, however. Lawmakers would be required to vote on controversial amendments that could be used against them in their districts, from provisions on the Confederate flag to gay rights proposals that put them in bind. Democratic amendments chiding the administration for the Russia controversy are almost assured.
Have fun with that one, Republicans.
Get even more smarter after the jump…
IN CASE YOU ARE STANDING NEAR A WATER COOLER…
► Colorado Republicans continue their nonsensical arguments against Gov. John Hickenlooper’s decision earlier this week to join the U.S. Climate Alliance.
► The American Legislative Exchange Council — better known under their acronym, ALEC — hosts its annual meeting in Denver next week. Here’s what you need to know about the shadowy right-wing group and its policy goals.
► Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) apparently does not understand “the first rule of holes:” STOP DIGGING.
At least Gardner doesn’t have a lake house in Colorado.
► Literally dozens of people turned out for the kickoff of a “Sportsmen and Gun Owners for Brauchler” event intended to promote the gubernatorial candidacy of Arapahoe County DA George Brauchler.
► A spokesperson for Congressman Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs) wins the award for “gut punch of the week” in a statement dismissive of a GOP primary challenge from Darryl Glenn. As Ernest Luning writes for the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman:
A couple more days passed before Lamborn campaign spokesman Jarred Rego was able to get back to Colorado Politics with his boss’s take on Glenn’s entrance in the race, and it could be a dismissive comeback for the ages.
“The congressman is working on numerous policy amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act ahead of its expected passage this week,” Rego said. “His focus is on polices that strengthen our national security needs and protect and grow our local military missions, not on the ambitions of local politicians.” [Pols emphasis]
► Former Republican legislator Victor Mitchell isn’t even really trying to raise money for his bid for Governor — he’s just relying on his own checkbook to fund his campaign.
► Nobody is better than President Trump at awkward handshakes. So, we’ve got that going for us.
Nearly 3,400 Coloradans canceled their voter registrations in the wake of the Trump administration’s request for voter info, the Secretary of State’s Office confirmed Thursday, providing the first statewide glimpse at the extent of the withdrawals.
The 3,394 cancellations represent a vanishingly small percentage of the electorate — 0.09 percent of the state’s 3.7 million registered voters. But the figure is striking nonetheless, with some county election officials reporting that they’ve never seen anything quite like it in their careers…
…“It’s my hope that folks who withdrew their registration will re-register, particularly once they realize that no confidential information will be provided and that the parties and presidential candidates already have the same publicly available information from the 2016 election cycle,” Republican Secretary of State Wayne Williams said in a statement.
► You can count Colorado’s Children’s Hospital among the many organizations opposing the Senate Republican healthcare legislation.
OTHER LINKS YOU SHOULD CLICK
► More state lawmakers are signing their names to the “Fake News Pledge.”
► Congressman Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) believes that Senate Republicans need to ditch their current attempts at repealing Obamacare and adopt a more plausible strategy.
► Democrats in Oklahoma pulled off two big victories in a special election this week in state legislative districts that had been reliably-Republican areas.