Members of Congress are holding fewer town hall meetings in August than they have in recent years — try to contain your surprise. 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…
► The war of words between the United States and North Korea reached a new level on Tuesday after President Trump promised to unleash “fire and fury” on the reclusive country if it continues to threaten the U.S. with nuclear weapons. Trump’s strong rhetoric is raising concerns in Asia, and as the New York Times reports, Trump’s bombastic (pun intended) statements caught his own staff off guard:
President Trump delivered his “fire and fury” threat to North Korea on Tuesday with arms folded, jaw set and eyes flitting on what appeared to be a single page of talking points set before him on the conference table at his New Jersey golf resort.
The piece of paper, as it turned out, was a fact sheet on the opioid crisis he had come to talk about, and his ominous warning to Pyongyang was entirely improvised, according to several people with direct knowledge of what unfolded. In discussions with advisers beforehand, he had not run the specific language by them. [Pols emphasis]
The inflammatory words quickly escalated the confrontation with North Korea to a new, alarming level and were followed shortly by a new threat from North Korea to obliterate an American air base on Guam. In the hours since, the president’s advisers have sought to calm the situation, with Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson assuring Americans that they “should sleep at night” without worrying about an imminent war.
Yes, you read that correctly. President Trump improvised threatening North Korea. If we end up in a military conflict with North Korea, maybe Trump can go do the fighting himself, too.
Hopefully, North Korea is listening more closely to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
► Luis Toro of Colorado Ethics Watch calls for more transparency in campaign fundraising in light of a Denver Post story that Treasurer Walker Stapleton is using a big loophole in the law to raise unlimited amounts of money for his upcoming campaign for governor. The editorial board of the Denver Post is also not thrilled with Stapleton’s loophole maneuvering:
While his move can be viewed as an understandable and inevitable outgrowth of the reality of how tangled campaign finance laws corrupt our politics, we wish the treasurer had set a better example and not led us down this path — for others surely will follow.
As The Denver Post’s Mark K. Matthews reported, the Republican plans to appear at a high-dollar fundraiser on Aug. 21 on behalf of BetterColoradoNow, an independent expenditure committee that seeks to cause trouble for Democratic candidates. Stapleton is doing so even though he hasn’t made his candidacy official. His coyness allows him to avoid rules that prohibit cooperation between such committees and candidates.
We argue that Stapleton’s planned workaround violates the spirit of the law and the clear expectation of Colorado voters, who have consistently sought to set strict limits on political fundraising. Such dodges add to the reasons voters feel down in their bones that the system is falling apart.
► Big news from the Washington Post regarding Robert Mueller’s investigation into potential ties between Russia and the Trump campaign:
FBI agents raided the Alexandria home of President Trump’s former campaign chairman late last month, using a search warrant to seize documents and other materials, according to people familiar with the special counsel investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
Federal agents appeared at Paul Manafort’s home without advance warning in the predawn hours of July 26, the day after he met voluntarily with the staff for the Senate Intelligence Committee.
The search warrant was wide-ranging and FBI agents working with special counsel Robert S. Mueller III departed the home with various records. Jason Maloni, a spokesman for Manafort, confirmed that agents executed a warrant at one of the political consultant’s homes and that Manafort cooperated with the search.
As “The Fix” concludes, there are few phrases scarier than “predawn raid” when it comes to the topic of a federal investigation.
Get even more smarter after the jump…
IN CASE YOU ARE STANDING NEAR A WATER COOLER…
► Colorado House Speaker Crisanta Duran is blasting House Minority Leader Patrick Neville over his comments that Democrats have a secret plan to make Colorado roads “terrible” in order to convince voters to approve a tax increase. Peter Marcus of the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman has more on the back-and-forth exchange…including Neville doubling-down on his conspiracy alert.
► This is creepy: Twice each day, someone in the White House delivers a folder full of happy Trump news to the President. From Vice News:
These sensitive papers, described to VICE News by three current and former White House officials, don’t contain top-secret intelligence or updates on legislative initiatives. Instead, the folders are filled with screenshots of positive cable news chyrons (those lower-third headlines and crawls), admiring tweets, transcripts of fawning TV interviews, praise-filled news stories, and sometimes just pictures of Trump on TV looking powerful.
One White House official said the only feedback the White House communications shop, which prepares the folder, has ever gotten in all these months is: “It needs to be more fucking positive.” That’s why some in the White House ruefully refer to the packet as “the propaganda document.”
► Despite what Ann Coulter says, public support for legalized marijuana has never been stronger. From The Cannabist:
An increasing number of Americans are in favor of national legalization of recreational and medical marijuana, and few support a federal crackdown in states that have legalized marijuana for either purpose.
A new Quinnipiac poll released August 3 reported that medical marijuana in particular has broad support: 94 percent of Americans support “allowing adults to legally use marijuana for medical purposes if their doctor prescribes it,” up from 93 percent 5 months ago, and up 5 points in the last year.
Non-medicinal marijuana is growing in support as well, with 61 percent agreeing that “the use of marijuana should be made legal in the United States,” up from 59 percent in February 2017, and up 10 points since December 2012.
► Former Lieutenant Governor and U.S. Senate candidate Jane Norton has reappeared in the media after a long absence. Norton works in Washington D.C. as the director of intergovernmental affairs for the Department of Health and Human Services; in her first interview since taking the job, Norton tells John Frank of the Denver Post that she believes Congress will eventually repeal Obamacare. If you are worried that Congress might still repeal Obamacare, this is good news for you.
► Tom Perez, the Chairman of the Democratic National Committee, was in Denver on Tuesday and spoke with 9News about whether or not critics of President Trump should publicly question Trump’s mental state.
► The greater sage grouse will be motivated to get out and vote in 2020.
► “Skinny town hall.”
► Colorado Republican Party Chair Jeff Hays predicts failure in a Sept. 23rd vote on potentially scrapping the 2018 GOP Primary.
► Agritainment? Apparently this is a real word.
► The Aurora Sentinel wonders whether Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) is genuine in his remarks about LGBT Americans serving in the military.
► Denver Mayor Michael Hancock has selected Eric Hiraga as the new head of the Denver Office of Economic Development.
► Fact-checking President Trump is not an exercise in futility.
OTHER LINKS YOU SHOULD CLICK
► Republican infighting is on the rise after failure to make any progress on repealing Obamacare.
► Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) is testing the limits of political polling as his approval rating plummets to new lows.
► The Denver Nuggets unveiled new uniform designs for the 2017-18 season that begins in October. The old powder-blue scheme has been ditched in favor of a darker blue: