The Get More Smarter Show: April 13, 2018

Today on the Get More Smarter Show: in part one of our tech-challenged 23rd episode, Jason Bane talks with newly appointed Boulder County DA Michael Dougherty about the attorney general’s race and life as a prosecutor in Colorado’s most perpetually interesting jurisdiction.

Then watch part 2 of today’s episode of Get More Smarter, brought to you by technical difficulties!

Our camera flaked, but we still got the audio of your hosts Jason Bane and Alan Franklin talking about this crazy pre-assembly week in Colorado politics. Will Walker Stapleton’s desperate gamble pay off? Will Cynthia Coffman fade to black? And how many dozen people are running for state treasurer? We don’t answer any of these questions, but we do talk them through with our trademark pizzaz.

Catch up on past episodes of the Get More Smarter Show here. And thanks again for watching.

Trump Calls Michael Cohen Today to “Check In”

So, uh, about that FBI raid…

This seems like an absolutely terrible decision, as the New York Times reports:

President Trump phoned his longtime confidant, Michael D. Cohen, to “check in” on Friday as lawyers for the two men went to court to block the Justice Department from reading seized documents related to Mr. Cohen’s decade of work for Mr. Trump, according to two people familiar with the call.

It is not clear what else they discussed in a call that came days after a series of F.B.I. raids. Depending on what was said, the call could be problematic for both men, as defense lawyers often advise their clients not to talk to each other during investigations. Mr. Trump and Mr. Cohen still were trying to determine what exactly was seized.

The raids were even broader than have been previously reported. Prosecutors said the raids were part of a monthslong investigation into Mr. Cohen. In addition to searching Mr. Cohen’s office and hotel room, prosecutors also obtained warrants to seize material from his cellphones, tablet, laptop and a safe deposit box, according to people briefed on the warrants.

The Justice Department on Friday revealed that Cohen has been under criminal investigation for several months because of his business dealings.

Republicans Take Aim at Walker Stapleton

Screenshot from WhoIsWalkerStapleton.com

Sometimes the best way to figure out the frontrunner in a Primary race is to take a look at which candidate is getting attacked the most. State Treasurer Walker Stapleton has been the prohibitive favorite for the Republican gubernatorial nomination since before he was even an official candidate, but until recently other Republican candidates had largely stayed away from direct attacks. Now that the GOP Primary is kicking in to high gear, the gloves are coming off.

Stapleton’s campaign has been busy trying to consolidate support, with Tom Tancredo and Rep. Ken Buck recently announcing their endorsements and pals at the Colorado Springs Gazette going out of their way to prop him up. But at the same time that Stapleton is touting new supporters, he’s taking an increasing amount of fire from the right.

An independent expenditure committee (IEC) called “Build Colorado’s Future” — which has been linked to Mitt Romney’s Nephew — has been running digital ads lately that link to the website WhoIsWalkerStapleton.com. The site is an opposition research dump hitting Stapleton on his checkered history with trying to reform PERA, his problems with petition signatures (also detailed in a separate website StapletonPetitionFraud.com), and a 1999 DUI case in California that alleges Stapleton is guilty of a hit-and-run.

Screenshot of a digital ad targeting Walker Stapleton from a Republican-aligned group called “Build Colorado’s Future.”

During a 9News debate between Republican candidates for Governor on Thursday — which did not include Stapleton or Cynthia Coffman, both of whom declined invitations — Mitt Romney’s Nephew (Doug Robinson) went after Stapleton right off the bat. Here’s his response to a question about whether illegal immigrants suspected of traffic violations should be reported to Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE):

I’m not familiar with DUIs. Walker? He’s not here.

A bit later, Robinson jumps right into an answer about issues on which he disagrees with Stapleton:

I would say first, marijuana policy. Where has he been? He’s been the Treasurer of this state. We’re not getting the taxes that we promised. He had a platform to stand up and to protect Coloradans as marijuana [policy] was rolled out, and he hasn’t been there.

Two, PERA. He says he’s been a voice for PERA for a long time. I am tired of voices. I want action. The PERA situation is twice as bad as it was when he was first on that board. He’s missed, I think, about half of the board meetings. He’s not here today. I expect somebody who’s in that position to stand up and be courageous, and take on tough issues and solve them.

Victor Mitchell responded to the same question by going after Stapleton on his signature PERA issue.

I don’t think PERA beneficiaries should be beaten down and demonized. I think that’s fundamentally wrong. People who receive PERA benefits today don’t receive social security [benefits]. It’s their life. It’s their check. And they haven’t done anything wrong — they’ve paid into the system. We love to throw the word ‘crisis’ around. I don’t believe PERA is in crisis.

Stapleton is seeking to make it onto the Primary ballot via the state assembly process on Saturday, where he will compete against Coffman and a handful of other Republican candidates such as Steve Barlock and Greg Lopez (Robinson and Mitchell are trying to petition onto the ballot). Barlock has been particularly vocal about his concerns over Stapleton’s family ties to the Ku Klux Klan; Walker’s great-grandfather, Ben Stapleton, was Mayor of Denver from 1923-31 and received significant support from white supremacist organizations.

Get More Smarter on Friday (the 13th)

Do you know how many movies have been released as part of the “Friday the 13th” franchise? If you guessed “12,” then you’re already pretty smart. Still, 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… 

► Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein tells friends that he is prepared to be fired by President Trump. From NBC News:

One source who spoke to Rosenstein said he seemed fully aware he may soon lose his job and was at peace with the possibility, confident he had done his job with integrity…

If Rosenstein is fired, the next in line to oversee Mueller’s probe is Solicitor General Noel Francisco, though Trump could choose to replace Rosenstein with anyone who has been confirmed by the Senate.

 

► The State Assemblies for both Democrats and Republicans will be held on Saturday. The big contests are obviously those for Governor, but both parties also need to vote among candidates for State Treasurer. Among Democrats, there is also an important contest for Attorney General.

Last night, two Republican candidates for Governor (and Greg Lopez) participated in a debate on 9News that was notable largely for the roundhouse punches thrown at Walker Stapleton by Mitt Romney’s Nephew.

 

► President Trump reportedly plans to pardon Scooter Libby, former Chief of Staff for Vice President Dick Cheney, largely to send a message to potential witnesses in an investigation being led by special counsel Robert Mueller. From the Washington Post:

President Trump’s plan to pardon Lewis “Scooter” Libby is the latest signal to his associates that he has the power and inclination to reward those who stay loyal during special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.

Libby was convicted of four felonies, including obstruction of justice and perjury before a grand jury, related to the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame during his time as Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff. Libby was sentenced to 30 months in prison and fined $250,000.

Richard Painter, who was the chief ethics lawyer in George W. Bush’s White House from 2005 to 2007, tweeted: “So what’s the message here? Lie to a grand jury to protect political superiors and you will get a full pardon?”

Um, yeah, pretty much.

 

► Former FBI Director James Comey is promoting his new book set to be released last week, and early reports indicate a bombshell of a tome. CNN’s Chris Cillizza runs down 11 of the most incredible parts of Comey’s memo that have already been released. Nothing in Comey’s book, however, may be bigger than the revelation that the “pee pee tape” could be real. From the Daily Beast:

We regret to inform you that James Comey, the former director of the FBI, says it’s “possible” that a pee tape involving Donald Trump and Russian prostitutes actually exists.

The most infamous section of the Steele dossier, which was full of salacious claims involving Trump and Russia, included a totally unverified claim that the now-president paid prostitutes in 2013 to pee on a Moscow hotel bed where Barack and Michelle Obama once slept.

In his new book, Comey revealed Trump asked him to investigate the claim that any such video existed in order to prove that it wasn’t true. In an interview Friday on Good Morning America, Comey said for the first time that the near-mythical tape could really exist.

Of course the “pee pee tape” might be real. Seriously — would anyone in America actually be surprised to learn that this is a real thing?

Meanwhile, the White House is prepping an all-out messaging war against Comey. Trump is attacking Comey as a “slime ball,” but Politico writes that the President may be on the verge of a complete explosion (or implosion — some kind of ‘splosion, anyway).

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

(more…)

Team Anschutz Spins So Hard For Stapleton It’s Silly

Walker Stapleton.

The Colorado Springs Gazette, which owns the political news site formerly known as the Colorado Statesman and is owned and managed by the family of billionaire Phil Anschutz, has a long and growing track record for brazenly partisan bias in both their news and editorial coverage. This FOX News-like lack of objectivity has manifested itself in many ways, from undisclaimed attacks on critics of a political organization that had directly paid members of the Gazette’s staff and the wife of the paper’s editorial page editor Wayne Laugesen, to more recent examples of arguable bias in favor of Republican gubernatorial candidate Walker Stapleton against the entire rest of the field–most prominently helping shower Attorney General Cynthia Coffman in bad press ahead of the Republican caucuses.

With Stapleton’s campaign suddenly imperiled this week by admitted fraudulent petitions, moving Stapleton to commit to making the ballot via the state assembly coming up Saturday, the editorial board of the Gazette is shifting into overdrive to spin this disastrous situation into something resembling a positive:

Integrity has long defined Colorado State Treasurer Walker Stapleton…

His adherence to ethical and moral principles explains why he asked the Colorado secretary of state’s office Tuesday to disqualify all petitions the agency had approved to put him on the primary ballot.

Stapleton learned a Colorado Springs-based petition gathering firm he hired, Kennedy Enterprises, used a contract worker who was not a registered to vote in Colorado. By state law, only registered voters qualify to gather petitions. Stapleton says the firm previously assured him all petition workers qualified. Upon learning otherwise, he abandoned the petitions instead of preparing to defend them in a potential court challenge.

…We are not surprised Stapleton, a small business owner, made the quick executive decision to risk his candidacy and ditch questionable petitions. He cares about the people of Colorado. Win or lose, he wants a process that is fair for us all.

Integrity. Pass it on.

This over-the-top sycophantic editorial spins what happened beyond useful recognition. For one thing, they claim that Stapleton called his ad hoc press conference “shortly” after learning that he had submitted fraudulent petitions. The truth is that an opponent of Stapleton’s raised questions about Stapleton’s petitions almost two weeks ago–before Stapleton’s petitions were validated. These excuses about the back-and-forth between Stapleton’s campaign and his contractors are both unverifiable and irrelevant. What matters is that Stapleton submitted fraudulent petitions, and our Republican Secretary of State validated them.

And then it came out that the petitions were fraudulent.

The reason that Stapleton “came forward” Tuesday was simple: having recognized a serious problem, Stapleton wants to avoid the fate of 2016 U.S. Senate candidate Jon Keyser–who responded catastrophically to revelations of forged petitions among those he used to qualify for the GOP primary ballot. The ongoing investigation into Keyser’s forged petitions dominated the headlines for the remainder of the primary after the story broke, and Keyser placed 4th out of 5 candidates in the final vote.

Given the results of the related court case over petition signatures turned in by Doug Lamborn, in which Lamborn faced the court’s relatively lenient standard of “substantial compliance” and kept his spot on the ballot, there’s an argument that Stapleton mishandled his response here and created unnecessary uncertainty for his campaign. The fastest road out of this for Stapleton will be to dominate the assembly on Saturday, which would settle the question of his place on the June primary ballot.

But whatever happens this weekend, do not insult the intelligence of Colorado voters by suggesting that this was a display of “integrity.” The known and checkered history of petition gathering in Colorado in general and the contractors employed by Stapleton’s campaign in particular make it impossible for Stapleton to plausibly claim he was caught unawares by this scandal. And if he really was caught unawares, that invites its own competency questions.

Nobody gets a medal for this debacle, least of all Walker Stapleton.

You’re Damn Right Mike Coffman Is Sweating

Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora)

FOX 31’s Joe St. George takes a look at the local fallout of yesterday’s announcement by Speaker of the House Paul Ryan that he will not run for re-election–which naturally has an impact on Colorado’s most perennially vulnerable member of Congress, GOP Rep. Mike Coffman, as he plots a way forward through 2018’s historic headwinds:

“It is the clearest sign that we’ve seen that the Democrats are going to win,” Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., told Politico, “I’ve been saying, ‘I don’t quite see the wave, but I’m starting to feel the mist.’ Now I’m starting to see the wave.”

If there is in fact a wave, in Colorado the Republican trying to avoid getting drenched is Congressman Mike Coffman…

According to officials, there are 157,000 unaffiliated voters registered in the district, 145,000 registered Democrats and 138,000 registered Republicans.

But Coffman has perceived as vulnerable before — most recently in 2016 — yet he still won. In fact, Coffman won by more than 34,000 votes in 2016.

Rep. Coffman’s survival over the last few elections has come despite a district that reliably supported Democrats at the top of the ticket–like Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Michael Bennet–which speaks to the success Coffman has had positioning himself apart from his own party’s unpopular brand, even as he remains a loyal Republican vote in Congress on the overwhelming majority of issues.

This year, even before Paul Ryan announced he is pulling the proverbial ripcord, Coffman’s string of luck looked to be running out. The first year of Donald Trump’s presidency has forced Coffman to juggle his contradictory images like never before in his career, and the results have not been positive. The impression Coffman sought to foster in 2016 that he would “stand up to Trump” has not been matched with action since then, and Coffman’s vote in favor of the unpopular Trump tax plan removed all doubt as to what side he is on.

That means it’s going to be difficult to impossible for Coffman to pull off the kind of triangulation off his own party that has proven successful for him in previous elections. The failure to defeat Coffman in a district that otherwise handily elects Democrats has proven to be one of the most vexatious failures for Colorado Democrats in recent years, even as they’ve enjoyed success in so many other races.

With both Democratic as well as unaffiliated voters looking to punish the Republican Party as a unit for inflicting Trump upon the nation, Coffman’s strategy of triangulation may fail him just when he needs it most.

Get More Smarter on Thursday (April 12)

Happy Birthday, David Letterman. 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… 

► Former Kansas Congressman and CIA Director Mike Pompeo is being questioned by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee today as part of his confirmation process to become the next Secretary of State. As the Los Angeles Times reports, Pompeo is far from a sure thing to get through the confirmation process:

One Republican member of the committee, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, has said he will oppose Pompeo because of his past defense of harsh CIA interrogation tactics that critics called torture.

Unless Pompeo gains the vote of at least one Democrat, his nomination probably would move to the full Senate “without recommendation.” He is likely to win confirmation there, but not without more contentious debate.

Pompeo’s critics point to previous comments that activists describe as anti-Muslim. Many are concerned that unlike former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Pompeo would not challenge the president or offer differing views on foreign policy issues.

 

►  President Trump says a response to a potential chemical attack in Syria could come “soon” or “not at all.” Thanks for clearing that up.

 

► Congressional Republicans are expressing concern over President Trump’s apparent interest in re-doing the massive federal budget. From Politico:

A regretful President Donald Trump wants to roll back spending in a massive omnibus bill he signed into law, but Republicans who helped craft the legislation are in open revolt.

“My attitude is, your word is your bond,” House Appropriations Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen said, in his first public comments on the Trump plan.

Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.) is among more than a half-dozen appropriators who have voiced skepticism about the Trump administration’s proposal to cancel billions in spending. Nearly all said they feared that it could erode the GOP’s bargaining power in future budget talks. Their objections represented another low point in an often-tense relationship between the cost-cutting White House and GOP members of Congress who write spending bills.

The skeptics included the newly appointed Senate Appropriations chief, Richard Shelby, who met with Trump on Wednesday.

Get ready to hear a lot more about the word, “Rescissions.”

► Former gubernatorial candidate Tom Tancredo says he’ll back Walker Stapleton for the Republican nomination for Governor. Two months ago Tancredo ripped Stapleton as the “ultimate insider” in interviews following his own departure from the race.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

(more…)

Vermont Takes Action on Gun Violence

Vermont Gov. Phil Scott

As CNN reports, Vermont Republican Gov. Phil Scott has signed his name to legislation with some real proposals for combating gun violence:

As he signed the measures, Scott, a Republican, called himself a Second Amendment supporter who owns guns and has hunted his whole life. But he said continued mass shootings in the United States and a recently foiled school shooting plot at Fair Haven Union High School in Vermont “forced me to do some soul searching.”

“I want every student and every school, every mom and dad, every victim of violence in any form to know that today we stand together as we take steps towards making our community safer for all of us,” Scott said.

Vermont’s new law raises the minimum age for gun buyers to 21; bans bump stocks; requires gun transactions to be facilitated by a licensed dealer who would perform background checks; and limits rifle magazines to 10 rounds.

We’re not holding our breath that either Congress or the Colorado legislature will advance any sort of meaningful gun violence legislation anytime soon, but kudos to Vermont lawmakers for showing that it can be done in a bipartisan manner.

Tancredo Says He’ll Endorse Walker Stapleton

Walker Stapleton’s campaign for Governor should be happy about this. Probably.

You might recall that Tom Tancredo lit into Stapleton’s candidacy after dropping out of the race for Governor in late January. In an interview with Westword on January 30, Tancredo more than suggested that his candidacy was derailed by Stapleton supporters:

“It’s just the way it is. Nobody has to create it. Walker Stapleton is the ultimate insider, and I’m the ultimate outsider — and nothing has changed except that, in the past, I was able to raise enough money to make things doable, at least from my point of view. I raised $1 million the last time during the primary. But we weren’t going to be able to get anywhere near that this time.”…

…”At this point, I will endorse the Republican candidate, because the alternative is so bad,” he maintains. “That’s another reason why I got out: I don’t want to risk it. Jared Polis is a radical leftist. Even though he’s trying his best to become a moderate in the eyes of the general public, I think he’s beatable — but the only way you can beat him is to have enough money to pull back the curtain and show who’s really behind it. Jared Polis is not Mr. Moderate, but he has so much money that he can concoct the kind of picture he wants.”

To counter such efforts, Tancredo goes on, “Maybe Walker can go through his Rolodex” — a reference to Stapleton being a member of the extended Bush family that has already given the United States two presidents. “And if he looks like he could be a viable candidate, that should convince the Republican Governors Association to help. But it’s going to take a lot.”

In Tancredo’s view, Stapleton will also face Colorado voters’ traditional antipathy for any candidate portrayed as inevitable: “That’s absolutely something he’s going to have to overcome. I would have had to prove that I’m not the Devil incarnate — not a wild-eyed racist who meets on Lookout Mountain with others wearing sheets. But Walker will have to defend himself against being that ultimate insider, and I hope he has the ability and I hope he’s successful, if he’s the nominee.”

You know what they say: Time Two months heals all wounds.

The Knives Come Out For Cynthia Coffman

UPDATE: Freelance reporter Sandra Fish firms up the propriety of “Questioning Coffman,” which lead Team Stapleton operative Andy George apparently made little attempt to conceal:

The group registered in mid-March, so won’t have to report where the money is coming from until May 7. But the address listed for the group in corporate documents is a home owned by Better Colorado Now director Andy George.

And there you have it, folks.
—–

GOP operative and director of Walker Stapleton’s “independent” SuperPAC, Andy George, directs us to an opposition research dump website targeting Stapleton’s mortal enemy for the next 72 hours–Attorney General Cynthia Coffman:

“Questioning Coffman’s” summary of AG Coffman’s record appears aimed squarely at conservative Republicans:

Will Cynthia Coffman stand up for your religious liberties?

Probably not. Coffman has taken a “moderate“ stance on religious liberty in the state. As Attorney General, Cynthia Coffman refused to defend the religious liberty rights of bakers who had a conscientious objection to making a cake for a gay wedding!

Coffman’s support for the Civil Rights Commission suit is troubling because as the highest law-enforcement officer in the state, short of the Governor, Coffman has failed to defend our religious liberties.

Will Cynthia Coffman fix our broken immigration system?

Probably not. She’s consistently proven herself with record of problematic immigration positions!

She refused to join other state Attorney Generals in the DACA Suit Against Obama. When President Trump issued a travel ban from countries that have large numbers of terrorist, Attorney General Coffman refused to come out in support of the ban.

Coffman continued to distance herself from strong immigration enforcement laws. Cynthia Coffman supports providing amnesty for illegal aliens. When strong illegal immigration opponent Jan Brewer came to Colorado for an event with Cynthia Coffman, the Attorney General said that she did not support Brewer’s immigration enforcement agenda.

Will Cynthia Coffman defend life?

Probably not…

Although Andy George “breaking” the existence of this site makes it likely this was whipped up by Team Stapleton, that’s not 100% provable at first glance. The “independent” group Real Colorado Conservatives responsible for this site registered on March 15 with its stated purpose “TO OPPOSE CYNTHIA COFFMAN AND EVERY DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE FOR GOVERNOR.” Whoever created the site, from now through Saturday’s Republican state assembly we do expect that everyone supporting Stapleton will be spreading its contents.

Stapleton’s foremost goal at the state assembly is to hold Coffman below the 30% threshold required for her to appear on the June primary ballot, and these are the exact points necessary to communicate to the GOP base to make it impossible for them to support her. The likelihood of such an attack is why Coffman never intended to go through the assemblies–only doing so belatedly after it became clear she didn’t have the resources to mount a successful petition campaign.

As of now, it’s less likely than ever that Cynthia Coffman’s campaign for governor lives to see Sunday morning.

Get More Smarter on Wednesday (April 11)

On this day in history…not a whole lot happened, really. 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 Colorado political world is still buzzing about Republican Walker Stapleton’s surprise request to have his name removed from the GOP gubernatorial ballot so that he could try to get his name back on the ballot at the State Republican Convention on Saturday. 9News has more on a crazy political day that also saw Congressman Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs) succeeding in a court hearing to keep his name on the June Primary ballot. But as Ernest Luning reports for the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman, Lamborn isn’t out of the woods yet; an attorney for a group of Republicans who challenged Lamborn’s petitions says he plans to file an appeal with the Colorado Supreme Court by the end of the week.

 

► A fuming President Trump may fire Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein as part of a plan to dump special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. Congressional leaders are warning Trump not to attempt to fire Mueller, and the Senate could approve legislation designed to proactively protect the special counsel.

Steve Vladeck of NBC News outlines the different options for Trump should he really try to get rid of Mueller. Republican Rep. Devin Nunes of California seems more than willing to assist.

 

► The Washington Post reports on President Trump’s latest Twitter spasm in which the big orange guy pokes Russia and Syria with missile threats:

President Trump warned Wednesday that missiles “will be coming” toward Syria in response to a suspected chemical attack, and he taunted Russia for vowing to shoot down any incoming strikes.

“Get ready Russia, because they will be coming, nice and new and ‘smart!’” the president wrote on Twitter, referring to missile strikes that have appeared likely since the weekend deaths of more than 40 Syrian civilians, including children.

Trump’s taunt was the first explicit U.S. statement that a military response is in the offing, and it marked a turnabout for a president who ridiculed his predecessor, Barack Obama, for allegedly telegraphing military strategy.

Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner insists that everything is fine. Just fine.

 

► House Speaker Paul Ryan confirmed rumors that he will not seek re-election in November. Ryan will leave behind a legacy that is not exactly one to be admired.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

(more…)

Paul Ryan Won’t Run for Re-Election

House Speaker Paul Ryan (right)

House Speaker Paul Ryan finally confirmed rumors going back to at least December that he would not seek re-election in 2018. From the New York Times:

Speaker Paul D. Ryan announced Wednesday that he will not seek re-election in November, ending a brief stint atop the House and signaling the peril that the Republican majority faces in the midterm elections.

Mr. Ryan said he will serve until the end of this Congress in January, which will mark 20 years in Congress. He insisted he will be “leaving this majority in good hands with what I believe is a very bright future.”

But his retirement announcement is sure to kick off a succession battle for the leadership of the House Republican Conference, likely between the House majority leader, Kevin McCarthy of California, and the House majority whip, Steve Scalise of Louisiana. And it could also trigger another wave of retirements among Republicans not eager to face angry voters in the fall and taking their cue from Mr. Ryan.

As if on cue, Representative Dennis Ross, Republican of Florida, announced his retirement an hour after Mr. Ryan.

As Washington Post conservative columnist Jennifer Rubin writes, Ryan sees the writing on the wall in November:

…this is a flashing light to donors and candidates on both sides. For Republican money-men, the message is: Don’t throw away cash trying to save the House. (One wonders whether Ryan, previously a strong fundraiser, will still be able to get donors to open their wallets when he’s abandoning ship.) For Democrats, it will be further encouragement to add to the record number of candidates and to get on board for a Democratic sweep. In a wave year with the GOP leaderless, why not throw your hat into the ring?…

…Instead of achieving the entire GOP agenda, Ryan will leave a besmirched legacy defined by his decision to back, enable and defend Trump, no matter how objectionable Trump’s rhetoric and conduct. Ryan has come to embody the nasty scourge of tribalism that dominates our politics. The inability to separate partisan loyalty from patriotic obligation — or to assess the interests of the country and the need to defend democratic norms and institutions — is proving to be the downfall of the Republican Party and the principle threat to our liberal (small “l”) democracy. And no one is more responsible for this than Ryan. No one. [Pols emphasis]

For Colorado Republicans like Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) who were already looking at a difficult re-election, this cannot be encouraging news.