Caption This Photo: Trump and Saudi King Plot Global Domination

If this photo doesn’t set off every conspiracy theory alarm bell in Alex Jones’ head, we don’t know what will! Taken blissfully out of context from President Donald Trump’s trip to Saudi Arabia this weekend, because as you know context is for wussies.

UPDATE: Such big manly hands though.

Weekend Open Thread

“There’s nothing like a jolly good disaster to get people to start doing something.”

–Prince Charles

Hickenlooper Pardons Rene Lima-Marin While Brauchler Fumes

UPDATE: Bad news via 9NEWS’ Marshall Zelinger:

—–

Gov. John Hickenlooper.

The Denver Post’s Kevin Simpson reporting, Gov. John Hickenlooper took swift action this afternoon to prevent the deportation of Rene Lima-Marin, a Cuban immigrant whose criminal case became a cause célèbre for state legislators before they realized he was subject to deportation:

Gov. John Hickenlooper said Friday he has issued an extraordinary pardon for Rene Lima-Marin, who was mistakenly released early from a long prison sentence only to be sent back after he had forged a productive new life as a husband and father.

Lima-Marin was freed from his Colorado prison sentence earlier this week and then held by federal immigration authorities. State lawmakers, Lima-Marin’s family and others had urged the governor to act quickly to prevent what they feared would be imminent deportation to his native Cuba…

“We thought it through well,” Hickenlooper said, pointing to bipartisan unity in the state legislature resolution that called for clemency. He added that it would be a “terrible symbol” to snatch away Lima-Marin’s freedom once again.

Asked what he hopes happens to Lima-Marin now, the governor said: “I hope he doesn’t get deported.”

The governor added that with the pardon, he has done everything he can at this point to stop deportation.

We noted yesterday how at least one GOP lawmaker was still fighting for Lima-Marin’s freedom even after it came out that he was subject to deportation for the crime he originally committed–though we were waiting to hear from others to know if this was as unanimous as the original resolution calling for Lima-Marin’s release was.

Post-pardon, GOP gubernatorial candidate George Brauchler is making it painfully clear he does not approve:

So…we assume there’s a big disagreement here between Brauchler and the entire Republican caucus in the Colorado General Assembly? That’s what we have to assume until we see some more statements from Republican lawmakers. It’s going to be difficult for Brauchler to make much political hay out of this unless a bunch of silent Republicans who were in support of Lima-Marin’s freedom come out with a different opinion now.

As for Gov. Hickenlooper, it’s true that he has now done everything he can. If President Trump wants to make a political martyr of a man who has already been through a bizarre and painful mistake in the criminal justice system, it’s his fire to play with.

And now, George Brauchler’s too.

The Daily D’oh: Trump Called Comey a “Nut Job”

There is so much breaking news lately on the ever-widening allegations about Russian ties to the Trump campaign that it can be difficult to keep track of everything. With that in mind, we’ve created what we’re calling “The Daily D’oh!” to help you stay up-to-date on President Trump and the rest of the White House staff as more news emerges about Russia, James ComeyRobert Mueller, special investigations and everything else related to this ongoing crisis…

 

♦ D’OH!
The New York Times reports on new information from that infamous Oval Office meeting between President Trump and his Russian pals:

President Trump told Russian officials in the Oval Office this month that firing the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, had relieved “great pressure” on him, according to a document summarizing the meeting.

“I just fired the head of the F.B.I. He was crazy, a real nut job,” Mr. Trump said, according to the document, which was read to The New York Times by an American official. “I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off.” [Pols emphasis]

Mr. Trump added, “I’m not under investigation.”

The conversation, during a May 10 meeting — the day after he fired Mr. Comey — reinforces the notion that Mr. Trump dismissed him primarily because of the bureau’s investigation into possible collusion between his campaign and Russian operatives. Mr. Trump said as much in one televised interview, but the White House has offered changing justifications for the firing.


♦ D’OH!

Chris Cillizza of CNN offers more perspective on the “nut job” story:

There is no worse way to convince people that all of the Russia stuff is made up and a “total hoax,” in Trump’s words, than to share classified information with two top Russian officials and, in the same damn meeting, call your recently-fired FBI director a “nut job” and make clear you got rid of him because of the pressure on you regarding Russia’s influence in the election.

I dare you to come up with a scenario in which Trump could do more in a single meeting to undermine his case regarding the Russia investigation. [Pols emphasis] Short of saying “Hey guys, thanks for colluding with my campaign to hurt Hillary and get me elected,” and then releasing a video and a transcript of Trump saying exactly that, it’s hard to imagine.

The official White House response to the Times report is, in and of itself, stunning…

…The most important takeaway from that statement is that the White House is not denying the Times’ reporting on the meeting.  So, Trump did call Comey a “nut job” and did say that “great pressure” had been taken off of him in regards Russia as a result of firing Comey.


♦ D’OH!

As the Washington Post reports, the Russia probe is moving along swiftly. The investigation is coming up with specific names, including a senior White House official:

The law enforcement investigation into possible coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign has identified a current White House official as a significant person of interest, showing that the probe is reaching into the highest levels of government, according to people familiar with the matter. [Pols emphasis]

The senior White House adviser under scrutiny by investigators is someone close to the president, according to these people, who would not further identify the official.

The revelation comes as the investigation also appears to be entering a more overtly active phase, with investigators shifting from work that has remained largely hidden from the public to conducting interviews and using a grand jury to issue subpoenas. The intensity of the probe is expected to accelerate in the coming weeks, the people said.

 

♦ D’OH!
Florida Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo is working very hard to make sure that people know he was the first Republican Member of Congress to call for impeachment hearings.

 

♦ D’OH!
Congressman Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) goes ballistic on Trump in a new interview.

 

♦ D’OH!
And then there’s this quote from a story in The Daily Beast:

“Every day he looks more and more like a complete moron,” said one senior administration official who also worked on Trump’s campaign. “I can’t see Trump resigning or even being impeached, but at this point I wish he’d grow a brain and be the man that he sold himself as on the campaign.”

 

Coffman Goes Off On Trump — For All The Wrong Reasons

Rep. Mike Coffman (R).

Quite the interview from CNN posted a short while ago, letting an obvious exasperated Rep. Mike Coffman of Colorado go off on President Donald Trump this afternoon in Washington after the biggest week of crisis of Trump’s short time in office:

In an animated interview in the Speaker’s lobby Friday afternoon, Rep. Mike Coffman, a Republican from Colorado who will face a tough re-election in a swing district in 2018, described what he believed was “chaos” at the White House, saying the week had “started off horribly” and been “incredibly stressful.”

“It’s not a question of what the President can do. It’s a question of what the President can stop doing. He’s not been able to make the pivot. He’s not made the pivot between being a candidate and being the President,” Coffman said. “What he needs to do is be the President.”

“Stop this ridiculous tweeting,” he continued. “I’m a Marine Corps combat veteran on the House Armed Services Committee. We are nation at war, and what the men and women in uniform need to see is their commander and chief is focused on the fact that we are a nation at war and not in a Twitter war with Rosie O’Donnell.”

Coffman said that he feels some relief in the fact that a special counsel was appointed to handle the Russia investigation this week.

“If in fact this were left to the Congress, we couldn’t go on,” Coffman said alluding to the GOP trying to forge ahead with their agenda.

Coffman said that ultimately what the “American people need to see is a President that is not impulsive, a President that is not emotional, a President that is thoughtful and deliberative.”

Missing from Coffman’s pointed critique of President Trump’s behavior and responses to repeated crises is any criticism of the political agenda Trump has been trying to get accomplished–which would seem to be the result of Coffman’s expressed agreement with much of that agenda, confirming again today:

“I get it on the issues, [Pols emphasis] but that doesn’t mean he has to create such chaos in the White House and such confusion in the minds of the American people,” Coffman said.

So to be crystal clear about Coffman’s criticism of Trump: it’s not about the policy goals for Republicans, like repealing Obamacare or Trump’s stated next objective of tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. The problem for Coffman seems to be that all this endless scandal, and Trump’s self-immolating style of public relations via Twitter, is making it impossible to focus on the agenda.

To the constituents who have been dogging Coffman’s every step over exactly that agenda, at least as much as Trump’s daily scandal cycle, this “criticism” is not going to have the desired effect.

Get More Smarter on Friday (May 19)

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 leaves the country today for his first big overseas trip as Commander in Chief. The Washington Post has a preview of Trump’s jaunt to the Middle East and Europe:

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…

Introducing “The Daily D’oh!”

There is so much breaking news lately on the ever-widening allegations about Russian ties to the Trump campaign that it can be difficult to keep track of everything. With that in mind, we’ve created what we’re calling “The Daily D’oh!” to help you stay up-to-date on President Trump and the rest of the White House staff as more news emerges about Russia, James ComeyRobert Mueller, special investigations and everything else related to this ongoing crisis.

So, let’s jump right into the swamp with the latest news this afternoon…

 

♦D’OH!♦
As the Washington Post reports:

Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein told the full Senate he knew that former Director James B. Comey would be fired before he wrote his controversial memo that the White House initially used as justification for President Trump firing the FBI director.

♦D’OH!
 Reuters is reporting today that the Trump campaign had at least 18 undisclosed contacts with Russian officials:

Michael Flynn and other advisers to Donald Trump’s campaign were in contact with Russian officials and others with Kremlin ties in at least 18 calls and emails during the last seven months of the 2016 presidential race, current and former U.S. officials familiar with the exchanges told Reuters.

The previously undisclosed interactions form part of the record now being reviewed by FBI and congressional investigators probing Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election and contacts between Trump’s campaign and Russia.

 

♦D’OH!♦
As the New York Times reports, the Trump transition team already knew that Michael Flynn was under investigation before he came to the White House…but hired him anyway to become National Security Adviser.

 

♦D’OH!♦
South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham believes the stakes have been raised in this investigation. From CNN:

Sen. Lindsey Graham said Thursday he believes the Justice Department’s Russia probe is “now considered a criminal investigation,” comments he made following the all-senators’ briefing with deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

The South Carolina Republican said he wasn’t able to ask specifically if it was now a criminal probe “but the takeaway have is everything he said was that you need to treat this investigation as if it may a criminal investigation”.

Rosenstein briefed the US Senate just one day after he turned the political world on its head by appointing a special counsel to investigate possible collusion between the campaign of President Donald Trump and Russian officials meddling in last year’s election.

 

♦D’OH!♦
Anybody seen Vice President Mike Pence lately? CNN ponders the idea that Pence has all but disappeared over the last 48 hours.

Hick Declines Oil and Gas Lawsuit Appeal; Coffman Goes Rogue

Attorney General Cynthia Coffman.

Important news today from the Denver Post’s Bruce Finley, Gov. John Hickenlooper has come out against an appeal of an important recent court court decision obliging the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission to stop issuing drilling permits pending a review to ensure their activity doesn’t impact he environment, public health, or climate change:

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper has ordered state authorities not to fight a court ruling requiring protection of public safety, health and the environment by the state as a precondition before allowing oil and gas drilling…

Hickenlooper late Wednesday sent an e-mail message to Deputy Attorney General Laura Chartrand instructing state attorneys not to proceed with an appeal of the ruling, which reinterprets the mission of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, according to a letter sent Thursday to Hickenlooper by Coffman.

The COGCC on May 1 decided to fight the ruling. Hickenlooper contends that decision, based on a unanimous vote, was “only advisory” and that the COGCC lacks statutory authority to challenge a court’s interpretation of its mission.

But in a twist we might have seen coming, Colorado’s Republican Attorney General Cynthia Coffman isn’t going to cooperate with Gov. Hickenlooper’s request:

[Attorney General Cynthia] Coffman now is arguing that Hickenlooper is legally incorrect in trying to stop the COGCC, whose members he appointed…

“I understand that sentiment runs high surrounding oil and gas development in our state, even more so in the wake of the tragic house explosion that claimed two lives,” she wrote. “This appeal is not intended to be a statement on complex energy policy issues. Rather it is a legal challenge to a court decision that stands to have a profound effect on regulation and administrative decision-making by government entities.”

It’s a significant development for Hickenlooper to override a unanimous decision by the COGCC and recommend this case not be appealed. And since energy-friendly Gov. Hickenlooper is no “fracktivist” seeking to halt oil and gas extraction in Colorado, we have to assume that his recommendation to not appeal the decision means there would be a path for the industry to comply with the ruling and whatever remedy it prescribes.

Unless, of course, the industry has an even more energy-friendly Republican AG they can turn to! In the wake of the recent home explosion in Firestone blamed on neglected oil and gas well pipelines, Coffman’s stubbornness could be as politically damaging to her as it is beneficial to Hickenlooper to not be a part of it.

Trump Immigration Crackdown Trips Up Colorado GOP

9NEWS’ Kyle Clark reports on a fascinating development in a story that attracted much attention at the close of this year’s legislative session in Colorado–a prison inmate named Rene Lima-Marin who was mistakenly released early and then re-incarcerated, prompting a bipartisan push from legislators to win his freedom.

Apparently, no one expected what came next:

Rene Lima-Marin is now in the custody of Immigrations and Customs Agents who – years ago – had flagged him for deportation. Lima-Marin’s immigration status and possible deportation were not known to the judge who freed him, the state legislators who rallied to his cause, or the public which was implored to support his release.

Lima Marin’s advocates say he was brought to the US as a child fleeing Cuba. Cubans special status in the U.S. meant he wasn’t at risk for deportation, until he became a convicted felon in 2000. ICE flagged him for possible deportation at that time.

The ruling this week by Judge Carlos Samour did not mention Lima-Marin’s immigration status. A court spokesman confirms the Judge didn’t know he was freeing a man into the hands of ICE agents. He found out on Wednesday.

Fascinatingly, none of the politicians in either party who championed Lima-Marin’s release from prison were aware that, as a Cuban immigrant, he could be deported for his crime despite having been granted permission to remain in the country upon entry as a Cuban immigrant.

A bill in support of Lima Marin had broad bi-partisan support at the state legislature. We talked to two Democratic sponsors – Rep. Joe Salazar and Sen. Dominick Moreno – who said they did not know Lima Marin was flagged for deportation – but that wouldn’t have changed their stance. We haven’t heard back from Republican sponsors – Rep. Dave Williams and Sen. Owen Hill.

Late last night, GOP Rep. Dave Williams, who gained nationwide notoriety for his controversial failed legislation to punish so-called “sanctuary cities” this year, did respond to the news:

I’m committed to ensuring that Rene is not sent back to a communist country that is ruled by a cruel and repressive regime.  I will still do everything I can to help reunite Rene with his family while respecting the rule of law.

To which we can only say, thank goodness the guy’s from Cuba! Because otherwise he’d just be a noncitizen who committed a felony–exactly the kind of person President Donald Trump wants to deport. We’ll be very interested in seeing other Republicans who championed Lima-Marin’s freedom speak out–not least since their greater pull with the Republican administration in Washington could prove much more influential on this man’s behalf than Rep. Joe Salazar and a bunch of state house Democrats.

Whatever local Republicans do next, it’s a very straightforward question now whether they would have voted overwhelmingly to support Rene Lima-Marin’s release if they had known ICE would be waiting to pick him up. Freshman Rep. Williams may be willing to quietly munch on his crow, but we have trouble believing that will be a unanimous response from the GOP caucus.

Not to mention the soul searching. There really ought to be some soul searching.

Get More Smarter on Thursday (May 18)

Snow? Again? What is this, Russia? 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…

Mueller!

It is not difficult to picture a sullen President Trump shaking his fist and softly mumbling the name of  former FBI Director Robert Mueller, the man who will lead a special investigation into potential Trump ties with Russia. The White House issued a bland statement last night in response to the news of Mueller’s appointment, but it wasn’t long before President Twitter took to social media to vent his rage.

From the New York Times:

President Trump lashed out on Thursday, saying he was the target of an unprecedented witch hunt, a day after the Justice Department appointed a special counsel to investigate ties between his presidential campaign and Russian officials.

In a pair of early morning tweets, Mr. Trump cited, without evidence, what he called the “illegal acts” committed by the administration of his predecessor, Barack Obama, and the campaign of his former opponent, Hillary Clinton — and said they never led to the appointment of a special counsel.

“With all of the illegal acts that took place in the Clinton campaign & Obama Administration, there was never a special councel appointed!” Mr. Trump wrote, misspelling counsel.

Moments later, Mr. Trump added, “This is the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history!”

And yet, the bell tolls.

As Chris Cillizza summarizes for CNN:

Republicans — from Donald Trump on down — will now live or die by what Mueller finds out.  Full exoneration is now possible. But so too is full guilt or blame.  Republicans’ political fate — in 2018 and perhaps 2020 as well — is now largely in Mueller’s hands.

► Oh, and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy reportedly expressed concern last summer that Trump was on Russia’s payroll. From the Washington Post:

A month before Donald Trump clinched the Republican nomination, one of his closest allies in Congress — House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy — made a politically explosive assertion in a private conversation on Capitol Hill with his fellow GOP leaders: that Trump could be the beneficiary of payments from Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump,” McCarthy (R-Calif.) said, according to a recording of the June 15, 2016, exchange, which was listened to and verified by The Washington Post. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher is a Californian Republican known in Congress as a fervent defender of Putin and Russia.

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) immediately interjected, stopping the conversation from further exploring McCarthy’s assertion, and swore the Republicans present to secrecy.

 

► Colorado Republican officials had been largely quiet about President Trump as his administration unravels, but the appointment of Robert Mueller as special prosecutor appears to have finally shaken many of their media malaise. As Jason Salzman writes, Trump talk is also dominating the Republican gubernatorial primary.

 

► The oil and gas industry is directing millions of dollars to Colorado Republicans as concerns grow about the safety of drilling practices near communities. According to a new report, the amount of money pouring into GOP coffers from O&G interests provides the industry with enormous political clout — much more than had been previously considered.

 

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

(more…)

BREAKING: Robert Mueller Appointed Trumpgate Special Prosecutor

UPDATE #2: Rep. Jared Polis wants more:

—–

UPDATE: New York Times:

The appointment of Mr. Mueller dramatically raises the stakes for President Trump in the multiple investigations into his campaign’s ties to the Russians. It follows a swiftly moving series of developments that have roiled Washington, including Mr. Trump’s abrupt dismissal of the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, and the disclosure that the president urged Mr. Comey to drop the bureau’s investigation into his former national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn.

—–

Breaking via ABC News, here we go:

The United States Department of Justice has announced that a special counsel has been appointed to investigate Russian interference into last year’s presidential election.

Former FBI Director Robert Mueller has been assigned by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to “oversee the previously-confirmed FBI investigation of Russian government efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election, and related matters.”

In a statement, Rosenstein said, “My decision is not a finding that crimes have been committed or that any prosecution is warranted. I have made no such determination. What I have determined is that based upon the unique circumstances, the public interest requires me to place this investigation under the authority of a person who exercises a degree of independence from the normal chain of command.”

Mueller will have 60 days to put together a budget for resources to conduct the investigation and that budget must be approved by Rosenstein. Attorney General Jeff Sessions previously recused himself from all matters related to the presidential campaign.

For context, the last time a special prosecutor was called up at this level was the investigation into the outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame in 2003. That investigation ultimately led to the resignation and felony prosecution of White House aide I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby.

Former FBI Director Robert Mueller, who served both Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, has obvious questions to ask–well above the level of staff members.

Impeachment Talk Starts–Without Colorado Republicans

UPDATE #3: The Washington Post reports that House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy talked openly that he believed Trump…well, just read for yourself:

A month before Donald Trump clinched the Republican nomination, one of his closest allies in Congress — House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy — made a politically explosive assertion in a private conversation on Capitol Hill with his fellow GOP leaders: that Trump could be the beneficiary of payments from Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump,” McCarthy (R-Calif.) said, according to a recording of the June 15, 2016 exchange, which was listened to and verified by The Washington Post. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher is a Californian Republican known in Congress as a fervent defender of Putin and Russia.

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) immediately interjected, stopping the conversation from further exploring McCarthy’s assertion, and swore the Republicans present to secrecy.

—–

UPDATE #2: Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, a Republican, has joined the calls for an independent investigation. From Ernest Luning of the Colorado Statesman:

Coffman, a Republican who cheered Trump’s election, told The Colorado Statesman that the conversation described in the memo raises “serious concerns.”

“The initial reports regarding a memo by former FBI Director Comey detailing his conversation with the President about the Michael Flynn investigation raise serious concerns requiring further examination by an independent third party,” Coffman said in a statement. (The attorney general is attending an international conference in Europe this week, her spokeswoman said.)

—–

UPDATE: Washington Post reporting on today’s Trump-caused stock market crash:

The stock market on Wednesday took its biggest dive since before President Donald Trump’s election, as investors began to grapple with the increasing possibility that Washington would be consumed with chaos and fail to enact policies to boost the economy.

The Dow Jones industrial average lost 368 points, or 1.8 percent to 20,611, as a broad array of other indexes all lost ground. Meanwhile, a widely followed measure of volatility known as the VIX, which had been remarkably subdued in recent months, spiked by a dramatic 21 percent, suggesting sharply growing anxiety by investors about a sense of rising political risk in Washington.

Perhaps this, at long last, will get Cory Gardner’s attention.

—–

Politico updates with the latest word on President Donald Trump’s latest and deepest crisis yet–revelations that Trump indeed attempted to pressure FBI Director James Comey to drop the investigation of former National Security Advisor Mike Flynn before firing Comey, bringing Trump closer than ever to obstruction of justice charges:

Republicans quickly split into factions — from defending Trump and blaming the media on one end, to calling for a special prosecutor and even raising the specter of impeachment on the other — as they responded to news that Trump allegedly pressured the former FBI director to drop the agency’s investigation of Trump’s ex-National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. Many others demanded that Comey testify and turn over private memos documenting his conversations with Trump.

Privately, Republicans are plainly distressed and even panicked over what a prolonged scandal could mean for their agenda and grip on power. Some wonder if Trump will still be president next year, while others are frustrated that the White House hasn’t done more damage control. Chatter has begun about what a President Mike Pence might look like…

[At] least three House Republicans — Reps. Justin Amash (Mich.), Carlos Curbelo (Fla.), and Walter Jones (N.C.) — have warned that the allegations against Trump, if true, could constitute obstruction of justice and an impeachable offense. Sen. John McCain compared Trump’s situation to Watergate.

“I think it could be” impeachable, Jones told POLITICO. “We have to see where the evidence goes. If the evidence proves — and there has to be a proof — that there is reason for a discussion on impeachment, then it needs to happen… If we don’t protect the truth and defend the truth, then there’s no hope…. This has probably been the four months that I have felt like my nation is upside down.”

In the Senate, Trump’s leading Republican detractor Sen. John McCain is freely employing the most damning analogy there is in American politics:

“I think it’s reaching the point where it’s of Watergate size and scale, and a couple of other scandals you and I have seen,” the Arizona Republican said Tuesday night. [Pols emphasis] “It’s the centipede that the shoe continues to drop. Every couple of days, there’s a new aspect of this really unhappy situation.”

McCain discussed the series of scandals that brought down Richard Nixon’s presidency at the International Republican Institute’s 2017 Freedom Dinner, where he was being honored. He shared his thoughts about the latest White House news on a panel moderated by former “Face the Nation” host Bob Schieffer.

But in an updated statement today, more stalling for time from Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado:

The bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee has asked James Comey to appear in front of the committee, and they have asked acting FBI Director McCabe for any notes or memos prepared by Comey regarding communication with the Department of Justice and White House on the ongoing Russia investigation. I strongly support these bipartisan actions. We currently do not have all the information — and we need to see it before we comment further. [Pols emphasis] It’s also important that this does not impact the ongoing investigation into Russia.

Again, Gardner saw no need to wait for “all the information” before introducing legislation to strip Hillary Clinton of her security clearance last year during the presidential campaign. With hypocrisy flowing freely now as Republicans try to mitigate the widening damage from Trump’s compounding scandals, Gardner’s eagerness to vilify Clinton while giving Trump the endless benefit of the doubt stands out as one of the worst examples.

The bright side? Gardner might work up the courage to call out Trump after President Mike Pence is sworn in.