At Least He’s Not Your Governor

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback.

For the last few years under ultra-conservative Gov. Sam Brownback, our neighbors in Kansas have been part of an experiment to see what happens if you do what conservative lawmakers from coast to coast say they want: cut taxes, cut them a lot, and then keep cutting in hope that if you cut taxes enough eventually more money will flow into state coffers to pay for the stuff that matters.

As the Los Angeles Times reports, it didn’t work:

The grand economic experiment on the prairie has ended.

Kansas’ Republican-held Legislature delivered a stunning defeat to Republican Gov. Sam Brownback on Tuesday, voting to demolish his massive tax cut that led to massive budget shortfalls and sent Kansas into a political tailspin.

It was a Waterloo moment for the conservative second-term governor, who refused to back down from the tea-party-inspired plan he signed in 2012 to promote business growth in the state.

After the Legislature passed a bill Tuesday morning, just after midnight, to roll back most of Brownback’s tax agenda, the governor exercised his veto power to kill it. But a coalition of Republicans and Democrats united Tuesday night to override the veto with a two-third’s majority in both chambers.

You see, rather than fulfilling the long-held conservative axiom that cutting taxes increases overall tax revenue by stimulating economic growth, in Kansas the Brownback tax cuts plunged the state into a fully avoidable fiscal crisis. Instead of growing revenues, the state faced an almost $900 million deficit for the coming fiscal year–a hard reality that forced Republican lawmakers to take action counter to their ideological convictions.

But Gov. Brownback, more or less by himself, refuses to concede he was in the wrong:

“The state has taken a big step backwards,” Brownback said. “I think it’s the wrong philosophy. I just think this is the wrong way for us to go.”

…Brownback said a lot of people mistakenly made the override votes on tax policy about the governor himself.

“But it’s not about me. It’s about Kansas. It’s about the future of the state. It’s about which way we want to go. Do we want to be a high-tax, low-growth or no-growth state? Or a pro-growth state?” Brownback said.

In the end, Kansas decided it wants to be a functional state. It seems to us there is no more important foundation for growth. The “experiment” of Kansas slashing taxes for the sake of slashing taxes is now a cautionary tale, showing again how the excesses of theoretical ideology can prove destructive in the real world.

Comey’s Devastating Testimony Discussion Thread

UPDATE 12:45PM: Ernest Luning reports on the response from a handful of Colorado Members of Congress in a story for the publication formally known as the Colorado Statesman.

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UPDATE 11:40AM: The Denver Post declares President Donald Trump’s credibility “in tatters” after Comey’s testimony:

Even if Trump isn’t implicated in colluding with the Russians, even if none of his campaign staffers are found guilty, Comey’s sworn testimony and the known facts about his firing cripple the president’s credibility.

Comey’s testimony portrays a president who only cares about loyalty to himself, and not loyalty to all Americans. By repeatedly pressuring the then director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation to swear allegiance to him, Trump betrayed America. He never reversed this error, and kept up talking about the necessity of personal loyalty with Comey all the way up unto his firing.

Trump denies everything, of course. But who can believe him? He’s proven himself wonderfully skilled at telling lies.

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UPDATE 11:00 am: The White House decides to go with an “I am not a crook” response. From The Hill:

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Thursday that President Trump is “not a liar” hours after ousted FBI Director James Comey said the president had lied about the FBI.

“I can definitively say the president is not a liar,” Sanders told reporters during an off-camera briefing at the White House. “I think it is frankly insulting that question would be asked.”…

…Comey began his highly anticipated testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee by telling the panel that the president had defamed him by saying that the FBI was in disarray under his leadership.

“The administration chose to defame me and, more importantly, the FBI by saying that the organization was in disarray, that it was poorly run,” Comey told a rapt hearing room.

“Those were lies, plain and simple,” he said.

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UPDATE 10:42 am: The Senate Intelligence Committee has wrapped up Comey’s public testimony and will immediately reconvene for a confidential hearing with the former FBI Director.

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From CNN:

In the first hour of former FBI Director James Comey testimony on Capitol Hill about the nature and details of his relationship with President Donald Trump, he’s already called the president a “liar” twice.

In his opening remarks, Comey flashed anger at Trump’s characterization of him as unpopular among the rank and file of the FBI as well as the idea that the bureau was disorganized and chaotic.

“Those were lies. Plan and simple,” Comey said flatly.

Then, when asked by Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Mark Warner (D-Va.) why he felt the need to document his meetings with Trump when he didn’t do the same with past presidents, Comey responded: “I was honestly concerned he might lie about the nature of our meeting.”

Stop. Go back and read those two quotes again.

What you see there is a former FBI director not once but twice calling the president a liar — and acknowledging that his concerns about Trump’s willingness to bend (or break) the truth led him to repeatedly document their interactions.

That’s stunning stuff.

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We’re working on updates while we pick our jaws up off the floor, stand by.

Daily D’oh: Comey’s Senate Testimony Will be BRUTAL for Trump

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!
There are plenty of “D’oh!” moments to discuss today, but nothing bigger than an early preview of remarks that FBI Director James Comey will make on Thursday when he testifies in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee on President Trump and his Russian problem. From the New York Times:

The former F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, plans to testify on Thursday that President Trump repeatedly pressured him to publicly announce that he was not personally under federal investigation in connection with the Justice Department inquiry into Russian meddling in last year’s election.

Mr. Comey will say that he told Mr. Trump on at least one occasion in January that he was not under investigation at that time. Mr. Comey has said that investigators are looking into possible links between associates of Mr. Trump and the Russian election interference.

Mr. Trump, in a previously undisclosed phone call on March 30, also asked Mr. Comey what could be done to “lift the cloud” over Mr. Trump from the investigation, according to remarks written by Mr. Comey and published Wednesday by the Senate Intelligence Committee, before which he will appear. During the call, the president told Mr. Comey that the Russia investigation was hurting his ability to govern.

The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence has published online a “Statement for the Record” from Comey prior to Thursday’s hearings. You can read the full seven-page document yourself, or check out some of the highlights we pulled after the jump…

(more…)

Pressure Builds Over Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Bill

Updating one of the final lingering points of contention from this year’s legislative session, as the Denver Post’s Jesse Paul reports:

The ACLU of Colorado has sent a letter to Gov. John Hickenlooper urging him to sign a bill that changes how officers and sheriff’s deputies seize money and property suspected of being tied to illegal activity, saying he should not “stand in the way of bipartisan reform.”

“Civil asset forfeiture reform passed the legislature by a combined vote of 81 to 19. It was supported by Republicans, Democrats, libertarians, progressives and just about everyone in between,” wrote Denise Maes, the group’s public policy director. “Coloradans want and deserve stronger protections when property is taken by police…”

“Opponents argue that House Bill 1313 will make crime-fighting more difficult because if there are less forfeiture actions under federal law, local law enforcement agencies will get less money and, therefore, not be able to fight crime,” Maes said. “This position is untenable and frankly, I’m surprised this argument is asserted with such vigor.”

Pueblo County Sheriff Kirk Taylor.

But as the Pueblo Chieftain’s Ryan Severance reports, police agencies are arguing exactly that:

“If the governor does not veto this bill, it will have an adverse impact on local law enforcement and local jurisdiction period,” [Pueblo County Sheriff Kirk] Taylor said. “It will affect our ability to dismantle the large criminal organizations that we’ve done in the past and it will literally decimate some of the smaller agencies out in southeast and southwest Colorado.”

Denver7’s story today has the same justice-vs. cash for cops argument playing out:

“Local law enforcement is actually selling property before someone is even showing up to trial. That’s a huge problem and so we need to make sure we have reporting, transparency and yes we need penalties for local law enforcement agencies that abuse the process,” said bill sponsor Representative Leslie Herod, a Democrat.

The County Sheriffs of Colorado agree with the need for transparency, but do not agree on how they say it could limit task force resources throughout the state.

“A lot of the counties don’t have the money to put the supplemental budgets in there to make these drug task forces go, and so that leads to decreased ability to do drug investigations and human trafficking investigations,” said Chris Johnson, Executive Director of the County Sheriffs of Colorado.

Politically, this is a bill that Gov. Hickenlooper should definitely sign. The self-interested case from law enforcement that they need the money sidesteps the real problem, which is that assets should not be seized from innocent people. In a civil asset forfeiture case, persons who have had their property seized have no right to legal counsel as in a criminal case. As a Denver7 report last year explained, prosecutors are under time constraints to file the civil forfeiture case, which leads to subsequently exonerated citizens having to wage costly legal battles to recover their property.

The bill in question does not end civil asset forfeiture in Colorado, requiring only greater transparency and a requirement that smaller seizure cases use Colorado’s tighter standards instead of the federal program. The reason law enforcement is resorting to scare tactics in demanding this bill be vetoed is they really don’t have a rational case to make here.

The reason this legislation passed the General Assembly this year with lopsided bipartisan support is simple: there’s no good reason to oppose it. If there was ever a case when Hickenlooper should set aside inside-baseball pressure and do both the right and politically expedient thing, this is it.

Get More Smarter on Wednesday (June 7)

Prince Day?” WTF? 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…

► We’re just one day away from Comey-mania on Capitol Hill, and President Trump is doing his damnedest to distract from the upcoming testimony from former FBI Director James Comey. As CNN reports:

In short: Donald Trump has spent his whole life manipulating his image through the news and TV.  Which brings me to Trump’s Wednesdaymorning tweet that he had selected Christopher Wray to succeed deposed director James Comey at the FBI.

It is impossible to see the move as anything other than Trump throwing some chum to the news gods — and some news that tells a much more positive story for this White House than the testimony expected later today from deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and, especially, from Comey on Thursday.

Trump knows that the next 48 hours are going to be very, very rough for him. No matter how confident he acts publicly about the Comey testimony — “I wish him luck,” Trump said on Tuesday when asked about it — Trump has to be worried about the prospect of the former FBI director directly contradicting the idea that he reassured the president that Trump was not under investigation.

 

► As for that aforementioned piece of chum, Trump has apparently found someone who is actually willing to submit to the confirmation process for becoming the next FBI Chief. From the Washington Post:

President Trump announced Wednesday that he would nominate Christopher A. Wray — a white-collar criminal defense attorney who led the Justice Department’s Criminal Division during the George W. Bush administration — to serve as the next FBI director…

…Wray, now a partner at King & Spalding, led the Justice Department’s Criminal Division from 2003 to 2005, and his firm biography says that he “helped lead the Department’s efforts to address the wave of corporate fraud scandals and restore integrity to U.S. financial markets.” He oversaw the president’s corporate fraud task force and oversaw the Enron Task Force. Before that, he worked in a variety of other Justice Department roles, including as a federal prosecutor in Atlanta.

Trump announced Wray’s nomination via Twitter, of course. Twitter is the same medium that White House staffers insisted days ago should not be cited as official Trump policy news.

Also, if there is a worse job right now than “FBI Director,” you’d be hard-pressed to make that argument.

 

► They aren’t getting the same headlines that James Comey is getting, but some top intelligence officials are testifying today in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee about Trump’s Russian connections. Politico highlights some of the key moments from today’s testimonials, featuring Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, National Security Agency Director Mike Rogers, Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

The New York Times is also providing live updates on today’s hearings.

 

► Attorney General Jeff Sessions may be the next big name in the Trump administration to nab a spot under the bus. As the New York Times reported on Tuesday:

Attorney General Jeff Sessions offered to resign in recent weeks as he told President Trump he needed the freedom to do his job, according to two people who were briefed on the discussion.

The president turned down the offer, but on Tuesday, the White House declined to say whether Mr. Trump still had confidence in his attorney general.

“I have not had that discussion with him,” Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, told reporters, responding to questions about whether the president had soured on Mr. Sessions.

Mr. Spicer’s remarks came after The New York Times reported that Mr. Trump had vented intermittently about Mr. Sessions since the attorney general recused himself from any Russia-related investigations conducted by the Justice Department. Mr. Trump has fumed to allies and advisers ever since, suggesting that Mr. Sessions’s decision was needless.

If recent history is any indication, Sessions is probably a goner. The White House operates under the “law of the jungle,” and by showing weakness to the head of the pack (Trump, if you’re still following this tortured analogy), Sessions probably sealed his fate.

Get even more smarter after the jump…

EMILY’s List Backstops Cary Kennedy

Cary Kennedy.

A not-unexpected but notable development in the Colorado Democratic gubernatorial primary, leading backer of Democratic women candidates EMILY’s List is throwing its considerable organizing weight behind former state treasurer Cary Kennedy:

Colorado is a true swing state whose Democratic governor is term-limited, leaving an open seat that has already attracted a crowded field of both Democrats and Republicans. Cary is sure to face a highly competitive primary election before she can go on to the general, and with our support she has what it takes to fight all the way and win for Colorado’s working families. Deep-pocketed special interests are sure to back the Republican nominee in this high-stakes race: The winner in 2018 will have an outsize influence on the next round of redistricting, the once-a-decade process of state redrawing the boundaries of statehouse and congressional seats.

Colorado is a top priority for EMILY’s List, and we are proud to have supported Cary for over a decade. Colorado has never before elected a woman governor, and Cary is poised to make history as the first. Women remain underrepresented in these powerful executive leadership positions, and as governor Cary will be able to make a tremendous positive impact in the lives of women and families.

As Donald Trump and his allies advance a dangerous agenda in Washington, putting all of our communities at risk, Cary will fight back to protect all Coloradans and to keep the state moving forward. The GOP will fight for this governorship with all they’ve got, so let’s show Cary the full support of the EMILY’s List community in this must-win fight for working families.

What matters here is not so much the fact that EMILY’s List is endorsing Kennedy, although that wasn’t exactly a foregone conclusion–but more the long-term strategic assistance the organization offers to Kennedy’s campaign. EMILY’s List’s experienced staff provide good advice for candidates in high-profile races, and the added visibility from being supported by this organization can be a help for fundraising across the country.

Without question it’s good news for Kennedy’s campaign. Yes, EMILY’s List works to support women running for office, but the candidate still has to meet standards for viability to win the organization’s support. This is a good indicator that, after a somewhat bumpy kickoff, Cary Kennedy is doing some things right.

Cory Gardner’s Ceiling is Wayne Allard

This is what it looks like when Cory Gardner works on important issues.

Politics is no different than any other industry in the world in one regard: Everyone always wants to know about the “next” big thing. We all like to gaze at shiny new objects and project the next transcendent athlete or business leader or movie star.

Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) has been labeled a “rising star” by local and national media outlets for many years, but given everything we’ve seen in the past couple of months, it’s time to rethink this outlook. Gardner has risen to the ranks of leadership in the Republican Senate, where he is in charge of GOP efforts to maintain their Senate majority in 2018. He is a young elected official in a legislative body where the average age is 61 years old. He is cherubic, camera-friendly and an expert in the art of using a lot of words to say very little. In short, Gardner is everything that Republicans think they want to project in a future leader…but it’s all theoretical.

The reality is hard to ignore: Cory Gardner is terrible at his job.

Now, before you start to disagree with us here, consider this question: Since Cory Gardner was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2014, what has he done that has worked out well?

Gardner is great at muttering nonsense answers to specific questions, but he falls apart in the face of follow-up queries. When confronted with difficult issues, Gardner turns off the ringer on his phone and crawls under his desk. Gardner pretends to support things he actually opposes depending on the political winds, and if you put him in charge of directing specific policies, you can rest assured that nothing will get accomplished.

If you put Gardner in charge of something as important as healthcare policy, you can’t get him to talk about it unless your goal is vague generalities. If you give Gardner a leadership role on foreign policy matters, he somehow wanders into the office of a murderous lunatic (seriously, this was really awful).

Gardner has made a career out of throwing rocks, targeting everyone from Mark Udall to Barack Obama, and his bomb-throwing persona has taken him to the highest levels of government (and dinner at the White House!). Gardner is great at telling people what is wrong with the United States. He is a maestro of partisan politics who excels at complaining about Democrats, and he doesn’t even pretend to be interested in what anyone else has to say. Unfortunately, Gardner doesn’t have a second act. He throws rocks. That’s it.

It is a function of both time and circumstance that nobody can be a “rising star” indefinitely. Gardner is what he is, and he has been this way for a long time. Take a look at something we wrote about this “rising star”  back in March 2013 — a full year before he made a surprise jump into the 2014 U.S. Senate race:

The problem for Gardner is that the “rising star” label can quickly be lost when it looks like you are more sheep than shepherd. He regurgitates nonsense conservative talking points that make no sense considering his own record, and the more you do that, the more you turn into someone like listless Colorado Springs Republican Rep. Doug Lamborn. To be considered a “rising star,” you need to be seen as a “leader” (not a Lamborn). Gardner is quite clearly failing on that front, and he should be careful to prevent that label from becoming permanent.

Former Sen. Wayne Allard (left) and Sen. Cory Gardner

We wrote this paragraph four years ago, and it holds up just as well today. The only thing that has changed for Gardner is the title on his door; otherwise, he’s the same guy.

Gardner is a former staffer for two-term Republican Sen. Wayne Allard, the man who was succeeded by Sen. Mark Udall (whom Gardner defeated in 2014). Gardner is certainly louder than Allard — in part because today’s media landscape provides so many more opportunities to be seen and heard — but functionally, he isn’t all that different than Allard as a Senator. Gardner may have better name ID than Allard, sure, but we don’t recall that Allard was ever as disliked as Gardner is today (the polling speaks for itself).

Before Donald Trump was elected President in 2016, Gardner was being mentioned in some circles as a potential candidate to run for the White House in 2020. This always seemed premature to us, but that’s what often happens when you get labeled a “rising star” in politics — you can be an up-and-comer until you prove otherwise. That’s exactly where we are with Gardner.

Three years from now, Gardner will be facing a dogfight in his bid for re-election to the Senate. If he somehow manages to pull out a victory in 2020, he’ll match his former boss, Allard, as a two-term Republican Senator in Colorado. Winning two terms in the U.S. Senate is certainly no small accomplishment, and Gardner deserves plenty of credit if he can make it that far.

What’s on George Brauchler’s “Busy” Calendar, You Ask?

UPDATE: Looks like Team Brauchler fixed the “busy” problem. This is the second time we’ve done troubleshooting for Brauchler’s web presence, and we need to re-evaluate lest we be accused of making an in-kind donation. Lots of competent web talent out there…they just don’t work for George Brauchler.

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If you visit the website of Colorado Republican gubernatorial candidate George Brauchler–which appears to be somewhat easier to find via Google now after spending some cash to loosen his opponents’ grip on his own name in search queries–one of the top-level menu selections for visitors is Brauchler’s Google calendar. When we first ran across this calendar, we had every intention of complimenting Brauchler for being so up-front about disclosing his schedule as a candidate for the state’s highest office.

That is, until we looked at it:

For a relatively unknown candidate running in a crowded primary against well-funded challengers, George Brauchler has an awful lot of free time on his calendar, don’t you think? For example, he appears to have nothing whatsoever scheduled for this week. But that’s not the weirdest part: from what we can see, the events present on Brauchler’s calendar aren’t identified in any way except for a one-word description: “busy.”

Don’t get us wrong–we’re glad that Brauchler is at least occasionally busy! But why on earth would you go through the trouble of publicly embedding your calendar on your campaign website if there is no useful information in it? It’s more than just a waste of website space, it’s a waste of your site visitors’ time. And it’s the kind of avoidable amateur thoughtlessness that invites basic questions about one’s competency as a candidate.

Our advice to Brauchler: find some stuff to do. Add some descriptions to the stuff you’re doing.

That, or take your Google calendar offline. Because this doesn’t make you look good.

Get More Smarter on Tuesday (June 6)

Do not cuddle up with your chickens. 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 is…ugh. From the New York Times:

President Trump thrust himself into a bitter Persian Gulf dispute on Tuesday, claiming credit for Saudi Arabia’s move to isolate its smaller neighbor, Qatar, which is a major American military partner.

“During my recent trip to the Middle East I stated that there can no longer be funding of Radical Ideology,” Mr. Trump said in a morning post on Twitter. “Leaders pointed to Qatar — look!”

On Monday, Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen broke diplomatic and commercial ties with Qatar, citing its support for terrorist groups. Mr. Trump, who made the cutting of terrorist funding a centerpiece of his trip to Saudi Arabia in May, said he was responsible…

…Mr. Trump’s Twitter messages also appeared to contradict that of the American ambassador to Qatar, Dana Shell Smith, who tweeted earlier in the week that Qatar had made “great progress” in curbing financial support for terrorists. Both Qatar and Saudi Arabia have been previously accused of support for extremist militants.

At the Pentagon, some Defense Department officials said they were taken aback by Mr. Trump’s decision to thrust the United States into the middle of a fight with its close partners, particularly given the American military’s deep ties to Qatar.

We can’t even…

 

 If the Super Bowl and Election Day were held at the same time, it might approximate the level of coverage you can expect to see on Thursday when former FBI Director James Comey testifies before the Senate Intelligence Committee. All of the major television networks will cover the Comey hearings LIVE, and you can be sure that there will be many hours worth of follow-up news coverage throughout the rest of the day. Corey’s testimony is scheduled to begin at 8:00 am (MST) on Thursday.

 

► Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) will have dinner tonight at the White House with “Two Scoops” Trump. From the Denver Post:

President Donald Trump plans to discuss foreign policy — including his first overseas trip as chief executive — during a Tuesday night dinner at the White House with U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado and five other congressional Republicans…

…The dinner also could provide a platform for Gardner to talk about his own overseas travels, including a controversial meeting with Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte that Gardner said last week included a discussion of Duterte’s brutal crackdown on drug dealers and users that’s left thousands dead. Trump has praised that bloody approach and has invited Duterte to the White House in the future.

Oh, to be a fly on the wall for this dinner meeting…So, Cory, how about that Duterte fellow?

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

Gardner, Trump To Talk Cory’s Philippines Field Trip!

Sen Cory Gardner, Filipino strongman Rodrigo Duterte.

That’s what the Denver Post’s Mark Matthews would have us believe:

President Donald Trump plans to discuss foreign policy — including his first overseas trip as chief executive — during a Tuesday night dinner at the White House with U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado and five other congressional Republicans.

The get-together will give Trump an opportunity to debrief lawmakers on his nine-day, five-country tour that included a royal welcome in Saudi Arabia, a sitdown with Pope Francis at the Vatican and often-tense meetings with other NATO leaders in Brussels, Belgium.

The dinner also could provide a platform for Gardner to talk about his own overseas travels, including a controversial meeting with Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte that Gardner said last week included a discussion of Duterte’s brutal crackdown on drug dealers and users that’s left thousands dead. Trump has praised that bloody approach and has invited Duterte to the White House in the future.

The anti-drug campaign by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, which has allegedly resulted in thousands of extrajudicial killings and has been condemned by human rights organizations across the globe, has met with a decidedly mixed response from the United States since President Donald Trump took office. Trump has reportedly praised Duterte’s tactics in terms that fully acknowledge the killing of drug dealers and addicts without trial, while Sen. Cory Gardner claimed–at least after news of his trip to Manila broke–that he went to Manila to express his concerns over those very same tactics.

We still haven’t seen any coverage of Gardner’s supposed criticism of Duterte in Filipino media, although Trump’s support for Duterte has been very well publicized. The silent video of Gardner’s “courtesy call” in Manila betrays nothing about what was discussed there, but the images of Gardner smiling and giving gifts to Duterte don’t reconcile with Gardner’s claims that he went to Manila to complain at all.

With all of this in mind, obviously, we’d love to be a fly on the White House wall tonight! We have trouble imagining the conversation will be as tense as Gardner’s backside-covering rhetoric suggests.

Trump Sure Knows How To Comfort Our Closest Ally

President Donald Trump.

CNN reporting on the one-man war of words against London Mayor Sadiq Khan waged by President Donald Trump in the aftermath of a terror attack in London this weekend–stunning for its pointless criticism of a public official trying to get his city back on track after a tragedy they didn’t ask for:

US President Donald Trump renewed his criticism of London Mayor Sadiq Khan on Monday, a day after attacking his handling of the weekend’s terror attack in the city.

Trump, writing on Twitter Monday, said: “Pathetic excuse by London Mayor Sadiq Khan who had to think fast on his ‘no reason to be alarmed’ statement. MSM is working hard to sell it!”

It is the second day that Trump has twisted the mayor’s words. In the immediate aftermath of the attack, Khan said there was “no cause for alarm” when referring to a visible increase in police activity on the streets of London…

After Trump’s first attack on Khan, the acting US ambassador to the UK, Lewis Lukens, notably singled out the London Mayor for praise.

“I commend the strong leadership of the @MayorofLondon as he leads the city forward after this heinous attack,” read a tweet from the US’ London embassy attributed to Lukens.

Trump’s context-free broadsides against Mayor Khan, who was in no way attempting to downplay the shock of this weekend’s vehicle and knife attack, stand in ugly contrast to the support the United States has received from Great Britain during terror attacks against this country. It’s just bizarre to see this kind of behavior from a sitting President of the United States, openly disparaging our nation’s closest ally and recklessly making an ass out of himself–as a viewer “pop quiz” from MSNBC’s Morning Joe makes painfully clear:

We’re really sorry about this, Britain. Nobody is getting used to it.

Smart Democrats Don’t Let The GOP Own Civil Asset Forfeiture

UPDATE: ACLU of Colorado urges Gov. John Hickenlooper to sign HB17-1313:

The Colorado Legislature came together in 2017 to pass a bill reforming civil asset forfeiture (HB 1313), but Governor Hickenlooper is being pressured by police and sheriffs to veto it.

HB 1313 brings civil asset forfeiture into the light of day by increasing transparency into police forfeiture activities. Under HB 1313, officers will have to detail to the public when they use civil asset forfeiture and tell what was taken and what ultimately happened to the property. Law enforcement will also have to report if the person from whom the property was taken was ever charged with or convicted of a crime.

The bill also closes a loophole in state law that police have used extensively to bypass state-level due process protections by teaming up with federal agencies and seizing property under federal law.

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Rep. Leslie Herod (D).

As the Denver Post’s Jesse Paul reports, Gov. John Hickenlooper is under pressure to veto a bill regulating civil asset forfeiture by police agencies–a controversial issue that local Republicans have identified in recent years as good political ground to grandstand on:

Law enforcement and local government groups across Colorado say hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in crime-fighting dollars could be lost if Gov. John Hickenlooper signs legislation that changes how officers and sheriff’s deputies seize money and property suspected of being tied to illegal activity.

Supporters of House Bill 1313 say the measure would add accountability to the controversial practice, called civil asset forfeiture, and better protect Coloradans’ rights to due process. Opponents say that while they support aspects of the bill that add oversight, the money that could be siphoned away would curtail important law enforcement investigations — and they want the legislation vetoed.

“I think this is a solution looking for a problem,” said Colorado Springs Police Chief Pete Carey, who is among the top law enforcement officials in the state urging Hickenlooper to reject the legislation. “I don’t think our senators and our representatives understand.”

It’s generally agreed that Colorado laws on civil asset forfeiture by police are somewhat more honest than horror stories that have been profiled in other states. With that said, the fact that assets can be seized, distributed and spent by Colorado police agencies with no criminal charges being filed against the individual whose property is seized, or charges being dismissed but the seized assets never being returned, is a serious problem that legislators in both parties in Colorado have tried to solve in recent years. Prosecutors say the law requires them to file the civil suit to seize assets before the criminal case is resolved, while defendants complain they either aren’t notified about the civil suit or have no means of defending themselves from one.

And when the system has such a conflict, it’s the little guy who loses his property.

It should be noted that a lot of the pressure to reform civil asset forfeiture in Colorado in recent years has come from Republicans. Ex-Sen. Laura Woods of Arvada in particular made reform of asset forfeiture laws a major issue. Other Republicans have highlighted the problem as an example of government overreach and abuse of power. In 2017, freshman Rep. Leslie Herod took up the issue in the Colorado General Assembly, and is the prime House sponsor of House Bill 17-1313.

This legislation would not reform the civil asset forfeiture system in Colorado to the extent activists on the issue would prefer. The bill would require better reporting by police agencies on asset forfeiture and require that small-dollar forfeiture cases use a more rigorous state procedure than the more permissive federal law. It would lead to a better understanding of how asset forfeiture is used in Colorado, and set the stage for reducing abuse of the program in the future.

State Rep. Leslie Herod, D-Denver, said lawmakers worked with district attorneys and other stakeholders to create the legislation. There were just a handful of “no” votes for the bill and Herod — one of the legislation’s main proponents — called it “extremely frustrating” that there is so much opposition now.

She also noted that the bill’s legislative process included testimony from people about problems with forfeiture process in Colorado and added that the legislation has public support, including from people who have sent notes to Hickenlooper urging him to make it law.

Politically, this is an issue that could be very advantageous to politicians who come down on the side of not taking property from innocent people. Defenders of law enforcement run into trouble very quickly trying to explain how residents can lose their property without being charged with a crime, and resort to threats of harm done from loss of these seized assets to law enforcement programs as a way to justify the status quo.

But if the money is not rightfully theirs, it doesn’t matter what it’s spent on. To voters this is a no-brainer.