Trump Shitholes Bipartisan Immigration Deal

UPDATE: Nobody else is censoring the word “shithole,” so we stopped bothering to.

Please excuse…well, everybody. We’re all in this together apparently.


Denver7’s Blair Miller reports on an agreement between a small group of U.S. Senators including both Cory Gardner and Michael Bennet of Colorado on an immigration reform package that could in theory break the logjam around this long-vexing issue–creating a good deal of excitement yesterday:

The group – which Denver7 first reported in December was working toward a bipartisan deal – has worked for months to pair the Dream Act, which would extend protections for immigrants brought to the U.S. when they were children, with border security, visa lottery and family-based migration reforms.

Sens. Cory Gardner (R) and Michael Bennet (D) of Colorado are part of the bipartisan group, along with Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Robert Menendez (D-N.J.).

“President Trump called on Congress to solve the DACA challenge,” said a joint press release from the senators. “We have been working for four months and have reached an agreement in principle that addresses border security, the diversity visa lottery, chain migration/family reunification, and the Dream Act—the areas outlined by the President. We are now working to build support for that deal in Congress.”

But as CBS News reports today, President Donald Trump is throwing cold water on Gardner and Bennet’s work product in a trademark Twitter barrage this morning:

President Trump on Friday expressed opposition to the “agreement in principle” struck by a bipartisan group of senators to protect so-called “Dreamers” and to enhance border security.

In a series of tweets, Mr. Trump said that it is a “big step backwards” and that his proposed wall along the U.S.-Mexico border was “not properly funded.”

And that, dear readers, is how the President scuttles the deal.

Most of the press attention this morning is focused on a comment reportedly made by Trump yesterday about so-called “shithole countries” that the U.S. shouldn’t prioritize for immigration, and how we “need more people from Norway” as opposed to those “shithole countries” including Haiti.

Once the dust settles from Trump’s latest verbal offense, we’ll still have this more consequential development flying under the radar.

Bennet Slams GOP Tax Bill In Weekly Democratic Address

Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado pulls no punches in this week’s Democratic address, strongly calling out Republicans over controversial tax “reform” legislation currently fumbling its way toward President Donald Trump’s greedily waiting desk. Excerpt:

As early as next week the United States Senate may vote on a tax bill — an incredibly consequential piece of legislation affecting our entire economy for decades to come. Written in secret, this bill is being rushed to the floor without hearings or the chance for the American people to weigh in.

As the vote approaches, I’m reminded of a mom I met in the small town of Rifle, Colorado at an early childhood center. In the course of our conversation, she said to me, ‘I have a job so I can have health insurance, and every single dollar I earn goes to pay for this early childhood center, so I can work.’

Too many Americans face this cycle, living each day with impossible choices their parents and grandparents were never asked to make.

Yet, under the Republican tax plan, people making over $1 million a year would receive tax cuts of about $59,000 per year, while families earning $50,000 or less would see just $160 — or $7.50 more each paycheck. Tens of millions of middle class families would actually see their taxes go up.

Sen. Bennet is prevented by professional courtesy from giving you fellow Sen. Cory Gardner’s phone number, which in case you’re wondering after watching Bennet’s video is (202) 224-5941. Gardner isn’t maintaining the pretense of being “undecided” on the GOP tax bill in contrast to the many repeals of the Affordable Care Act he supported while affecting indecision, but we expect his phones will light up next week just the same.

If anything, callers might be more frank absent the need to be persuasive.

Jeff Flake Burns Donald Trump (And Coffman, And Gardner)

In the aftermath of yesterday’s apparent terrorist attack by a Uzbeki immigrant to the United States in New York City, President Donald Trump is doing what he does best in moments of national crisis–pointing the finger at his political enemies:

Trump appears to be referring to a program created by a 1990 immigration reform law signed by Republican President George H.W. Bush to increase immigration from nations that haven’t sent as many of their huddled masses yearning to breathe free. News reports as of this writing haven’t confirmed if this was the program that resulted in the alleged perpetrator of yesterday’s attack getting his green card, but that didn’t stop Trump from going off–or from blaming Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s 27-year-old bill for yesterday’s attack.

But then another Republican, Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona, rose to Schumer’s defense:

That would be the 2013 comprehensive immigration reform legislation hammered out by the so-called “Gang of Eight” U.S. Senators, which in addition to Sens. Flake and Schumer also included Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado. Whatever the relevance of this particular visa program to yesterday’s tragedy may be, the man Trump tried to blame yesterday, half-cocked without all the evidence even known, tried to fix it. Along with a host of other well-known problems with American immigration policy that still have not been addressed, even now almost a year into total one-party control of the federal government.

It should also be noted that the 2013 immigration reform plan passed by the U.S. Senate was declared dead on arrival in the U.S. House, where Colorado Republican lawmakers including then-Rep. Cory Gardner and Rep. Mike Coffman joined GOP leadership in thumbing their noses at the work product of the upper chamber. Both Gardner and Coffman have paid lip service to passing some manner of immigration reform since then, but that’s all it has amounted to. Coffman in particular has found himself repeatedly playing catchup with the news cycle following adverse Trump administration action on immigration, with his last would-be attempt to intervene unceremoniously plowed under by Republican leadership with Coffman’s sheepish consent.

The real moral of the story is that you should wait until the facts are known before you start singling out 27-year-old votes to lay blame for a terrorist attack. This is especially true if you are the President of the United States, whose first instinct should be leading not blaming fellow Americans.

Right below that, a point about how failing to lead as legislators has consequences too.

Bennet Backs “Bump Stock” Ban While Dudley Brown Fumes

UPDATE: Via KOAA-TV Colorado Springs, Sen. Cory Gardner has a fat wad of nothing to say:

“I know there’s a tendency by some to immediately jump into the debate over gun control, but we have constitutional rights that we have to protect,” Sen. Gardner said. “I don’t believe that’s the right answer.”

Gardner said he wants to wait for more information surrounding the shooting to come out.

“Let’s get the facts, let’s find out exactly what happened, let’s have a discussion about this. But I don’t believe gun control is the solution. I don’t believe trampling on constitutional rights is the right answer.” Gardner said. “We have to make sure we’re protecting the rights of every American. Let’s have a discussion about what we can do to prevent this kind of thing from happening.”

Okie dokie then.


Dudley Brown

Denver7’s Lance Hernandez:

Social media is lighting up with discussion about “bump stocks,” which are after-market accessories that make semi-automatic weapons fire faster.

There are calls to ban them, on Twitter, following revelations that the Las Vegas shooter used them in his deadly spree.

Senator Diane Feinstein, D-California, introduced a bill to do just that, saying her daughter had planned to attend the ill-fated concert in Las Vegas, but had a change in plans.

The Denver Post’s Mark Matthews reports via Twitter that Colorado senior U.S. Senator Michael Bennet was quick to sign on to the effort:

Most of the world–outside the culture of gun enthusiasts in the know about all the various ways modern guns can be modified–only learned what a “bump stock” is in the aftermath of the Las Vegas massacre. The bump stock is designed to bypass the “biomechanical limit” of how fast in individual can pull the trigger on a semiautomatic weapon by allowing the weapon’s recoil to push the trigger into the shooter’s finger at a speed closer to the action of the weapon. The result is a weapon that doesn’t quite match the rate of fire of a fully automatic assault rifle, but those on the business end would have trouble telling the difference.

For example, the dozens killed and hundreds wounded in Las Vegas on Sunday night.

With all of that in mind, you might think that defenders of the “bump stock” would be hard to find right now–or at least biding their time for a better moment to make their case than while everyone is still in a state of relative shock over the worst mass shooting in American history.

But if you think that, you obviously don’t know Dudley Brown of the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners!

Dudley Brown, the head of Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, said Feinstein’s proposal won’t do anything to limit crime…

Brown told Denver7 that bump stocks are relatively uncommon.

“Many people call them a poor man’s machine gun,” he said. “It’s mostly for people who just want to go to a range and try to see what automatic fire sounds like.” [Pols emphasis]

“What automatic fire sounds like?” Sorry Dudley, but after last Sunday, everybody knows “what automatic fire sounds like.” Thousands of people who were at the Route 91 Harvest concert on Sunday night in Las Vegas will never be able to forget “what automatic fire sounds like.” And for 58 of them, it could have been the last thing they ever heard.

This isn’t the first time we’ve been left jaws agape by Brown and RMGO’s shocking indifference to the suffering caused by the products they are lavishly funded to endorse. No matter how “uncommon” bump stocks may be–which you’d like would make banning them less of a problem–their use in the Las Vegas shooting to multiply the casualties, creating a situation indistinguishable from machine guns in a war zone with legally obtainable products, is enough to merit getting rid of them. Right there. Case closed.

And if Dudley Brown doesn’t understand that, for the safety of the American public he needs to be ignored.

Neil Gorsuch Under Fire For Trump Hotel Speech

Justice Neil Gorsuch.

As the Denver Post’s Mark Matthews reports, Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch is speaking today at a conservative political group’s event at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C.–a speech generating the first ethics controversy of what’s expected to be many decades on the nation’s highest court for Colorado’s most polite “radical son.”

It’s not clear what Gorsuch will say at the invite-only event, though organizers with The Fund for American Studies, a conservative group, said they expect he’ll talk for about 30 minutes on topics such as the constitution and American exceptionalism.

The speech, though, isn’t what is attracting an outcry — as there’s a long tradition of Supreme Court justices accepting invitations to speak before groups across the political spectrum.

Rather, it’s the setting inside the Trump International Hotel — a hangout for hangers-on of the administration just a few blocks from the White House. Critics contend Gorsuch’s presence there sends the wrong signal… [Pols emphasis]

Here’s an excerpt from the letter asking Gorsuch not to speak at the Trump hotel:

As you may know, the Trump International Hotel is owned, through LLCs and a revocable trust, by President Trump. This creates several ethical conflicts associated with your appearance there:

Political activity. Under Canon 5 of the Code of Conduct for United States Judges, a judge should refrain from “political activity.” President Trump has declared his candidacy for re-election in 2020. Consequently, your appearance at the Trump International Hotel creates the appearance of a political endorsement. However implicit, and however you may not desire to create such an impression, the appearance of such an endorsement is why you should not appear at a hotel owned by, and named after, a candidate for political office. This is not comparable to appearing at the White House, or appearing with the president at an official presidential event.

Subject of pending litigation. Because the hotel is owned by the president, it is currently the subject of several legal disputes that could come before you. These include three separate federal lawsuits involving the Constitution’s Foreign Emoluments Clause and the Domestic Emoluments Clause…

Judicial imprimatur for profiting from the presidency. Setting aside the legal questions associated with the hotel, the fact that the president is using his office to enhance the booking and room rates at a for-profit hotel for his own personal profit presents an unprecedented corruption of the presidency. Your participation in an event that will involve payments from the organizers to the hotel, and from there to the president himself, is inconsistent with the high ethical standards for an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court. More broadly, your appearing at the hotel that has become one of the foremost symbols of the for-profit presidency is inconsistent with judicial independence and integrity.

The letter goes on to cite Trump’s recent extreme statements on a variety of issues as further reason to not give the Trump International Hotel any degree of “judicial imprimatur.” The fact is that the circumstances of Gorsuch’s confirmation, coming after an unprecedented year of stalling on the nomination made by Trump’s predecessor, have already given his appointment an unwanted air of scandal. By appearing at an event at a Trump hotel already mired in controversy, Gorsuch risks tying himself even more closely to a President likely to have a lot of legal action in his near future. And not the good kind.

The only thing we can add to that for today is another word about how commendable it was for Sen. Michael Bennet to vote against Gorsuch’s confirmation–factoring Republican treachery against Merrick Garland as well as Gorsuch’s hard-right judicial record against tremendous local pressure to support a fellow Coloradan. This won’t be the last chance to favorably contrast Bennet’s difficult decision with the full-on advocacy for Gorsuch from Colorado Democrats like Gov. Bill Ritter. Since Gorsuch will still be on the court when Bennet and Ritter are old men, it will be an evergreen topic.

But every time something like scandalous happens with Gorsuch, Bennet’s conscience will be clear. Ritter’s, not so much.

“Punching Hippies?” More Like “Barbarians At The Gate”

Sen. Michael Bennet, former President Barack Obama.

The Denver Post has a story up today that is worth reading, despite a headline that some of our more aggressively liberal Democrats might find a bit incendiary–“At town hall that focused on health care, [Sen.] Michael Bennet says single-payer system isn’t best option.”

In a dialogue this week largely focused on defeating efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet dismissed another system elsewhere along the ideological spectrum: government-sponsored, or single-payer, health care.

Bennet, speaking Monday night at a town hall in Greeley, said the existing system should be the focus.

“I think we should have a discussion about how to expand Medicare, so that more people can be part of it or maybe be able to buy it and how to do the same with Medicaid.”

Bennet emphasized that his Democratic colleagues frequently debate a single-payer health care system, but that he was “in the early days of this, myself”. The senator also said he hoped the topic “won’t turn into a litmus test” for Democratic candidates.

Creating an option for individuals regardless of their income or age to buy into government-managed health insurance programs would restore one of the central objectives of the 2010 Affordable Care Act, one lost in the vain attempt to win Republican support for the bill: a “public option” that would regulate the cost of private insurance by forcing it to compete with a nonprofit model. There are good arguments for Democrats adopting a “Medicare for all” platform as part of a broader counterattack on health care leading into the 2018 elections–in addition to this being a way to build on the Affordable Care Act’s success in expanding coverage instead of trying to tear the existing law down.

At the same time, there is a significant percentage of voters on the left who have much more expansive designs for health care reform than reviving a public option, to include a single-payer model like the one proposed in Colorado last year via Amendment 69. This pressure comes despite the fact that Amendment 69 failed by nearly 80% of the vote.

There are a number of reasons why Amendment 69 failed as badly as it did, and not all of them have to do with a lack of support for single-payer health care in the abstract. Many Colorado Democrats who support going beyond the scope of Obamacare to address access to care in America still couldn’t support Amendment 69, believing that a nationwide solution was the only viable path forward–as other states who started down this road themselves discovered. There were also specific problems with the proposal as written that hadn’t been accounted for, costing it support from would-be allies. When you combine soft support on the left with the total wall of opposition from conservatives to anything that can be remotely considered “government health care,” Amendment 69’s fate was sealed. So much so, in fact, that it was more useful to Republicans as a wedge to drive within the Democratic coalition than as a rallying point for Democratic candidates in 2016.

And it has to be said: a radical change to health care like moving the entire nation to a single-payer system is politically no more viable a prospect today than it was in Colorado last year. Where the broader adoption of something Americans know and trust like Medicare could attract enough support to pass–especially after a big Democratic win in 2018–there remains a far too vast ideological chasm between the right and left to achieve more than that right now. Progressives face a years-long task of unwinding pervasive conservative messaging on this and so many other issues. They faced the same challenge in 2010, too, and the total blockade of Democratic policy priorities by Republicans since the passage of the Affordable Care Act raises legitimate questions about whether the highly compromised Affordable Care Act was worth the collateral damage. The combined objectives of policy gains and legislative majorities, in a nation that is as deeply divided as ours, makes this a far more difficult question than impatient ideologues want to admit.

The political reality of this is tough medicine for a left newly emboldened in opposition to President Trump, but it’s critical that Democrats understand the limits of their own political capital. In 2004, Colorado Democrats retook majorities in the state legislature not by proposing far-reaching “Hail Mary” progressive policy goals. They won by pledging to be more competent with the government the voters already knew.

That’s where it has to start today, too.

Get More Smarter on Monday (August 7)

You can visit Colorado State Parks for free today — just bring an umbrella. 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.



► Colorado’s top elected officials took part in a “sorta town hall” in Durango on Friday. Senators Michael Bennet (D-Denver) and Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) were on-hand to theoretically discuss the cleanup process from the Gold King Mine Spill, but the only thing that audience members wanted to discuss was Gardner’s awful votes on healthcare. As the Denver Post reports, Gardner faced “an angry crowd”:

U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner was shouted at and derided during a Durango town hall Friday afternoon that was slated to center on the Gold King Mine but which focused on almost anything but, as an unruly-at-times crowd pressed the Republican on health care.

“Why on Earth did you vote for the Republican (health) care bill when the vast majority of your constituents opposed it?” one man asked Gardner to cheers…

…One man used his floor time to ask Gardner and Tipton when they would return for a longer, individual town hall with voters. “This venue is entirely too small,” the man complained. “The amount of notice we were given was under 24 hours, and it’s in the middle of the workday.”

Perhaps the most telling thing to come out of Friday’s event is that major Colorado news outlets are clearly fed up with Gardner’s penchant for lies and half-truths. Check out this brief video from 9News:

► The U.S. Senate is in the midst of its August recess, but will they continue to try to do something to repeal Obamacare when they return to session? If it is up to Utah Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch, probably not. As Politico reports:

“We’re not going back to health care. We’re in tax now. As far as I’m concerned, they shot their wad on health care and that’s the way it is. I’m sick of it,” Senate Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said Wednesday, a day before he outlined his committee’s agenda for the fall.

That’s a…colorful explanation.


► Winning or waiting? What’s the difference, right? They both start with the letter ‘W.’ From the New York Times:

Donald J. Trump promised Americans that they would be exhausted from “winning” on trade under his presidency. But nearly seven months after Mr. Trump took office, the industries he vowed to protect have become tired of something else: waiting.

After beginning his presidency with a bang by withdrawing from the Trans-Pacific Partnership pact in January, Mr. Trump has accomplished little else of significance when it comes to reorienting deals with other countries. Instead, his administration has been struggling to work through the complicated rules that dictate international commerce. All the while, they are learning that bold campaign promises are hard to keep when many voices advocate different plans.

For many businesses that had raised their hopes, frustration is mounting by the day.

America’s steelworkers are on edge as they wait for Mr. Trump to fulfill his promise to place tariffs on steel imports. Home builders are desperate for the president to cut a deal with Canada to end a dispute over its softwood lumber exports. And cattle ranchers are longing for a bilateral pact with Japan to ease the flow of beef exports.

Elsewhere, Trump’s proposal to limit legal immigration to the United States has Colorado companies worried about where they will find the workforce needed to sustain their business.


Get even more smarter after the jump…


LIVE: Gardner/Bennet/Hickenlooper “Town Hall”

UPDATE #3: The Denver Post’s Jesse Paul reports from the scene–hoo boy:

U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner was shouted at and derided during a Durango town hall Friday afternoon that was slated to center on the Gold King Mine but which focused on anything but, as an unruly-at-times crowd pressed the Republican on health care.

“Why on Earth did you voter for the Republican (health) care bill when the vast majority of your constituents opposed it?” one man asked Gardner to cheers.

“Seven years ago when I ran for Congress I said that I would vote to repeal and replace Obamacare, and I’m going to continue to live up to the promise that I made,” Gardner said, being yelled down. “… The reason is: The Affordable Care Act isn’t working.”

Gardner has been chastised for months by liberal activists for failing to hold an in-person town hall with his constituents, and his first such appearance in more than a year was full of fireworks.


UPDATE #2: We’re waiting for news stories to be filed about today’s event, in which Sen. Cory Gardner was singled out by the capacity crowd who demanded answers on health care and loudly heckled his highly inadequate rote answers on the subject. The event is reportedly still going on, but we’ll be talking about this confrontation for days–we really thought Gardner would be better prepared for this.

Stand by for updates when coverage comes in…


UPDATE: Denver7’s feed has extended discussion continuing after the official end of the event:


Stand by for updates.

Want To Question Cory Gardner? Head For Durango–Now

Sen. Cory Gardner (R), hiding behind people.

A press advisory a short while ago announced a bonafide public town hall meeting tomorrow afternoon with the elusive Sen. Cory Gardner–in the city of Durango in the far southwest corner of the state, about six hours’ drive time from Denver. Gardner will appear with Gov. John Hickenlooper, Sen. Michael Bennet, and Rep. Scott Tipton, although it’s not as newsworthy an event for any of them:

Gov. John Hickenlooper, along with Senators Cory Gardner and Michael Bennet, and Rep. Scott Tipton, will hold a town hall following their visit with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and tour of the Gold King Mine. They, along with representatives from the EPA, will provide an update of their meeting and take questions from attendees.

Durango Town Hall

WHO: Gov. John Hickenlooper
Senators Cory Gardner and Michael Bennet
Rep. Scott Tipton
Durango Mayor Dick White & La Plata County Commissioner Brad Blake will moderate.

WHERE: La Plata County Administration Building Board Room
1101 E. 2nd Ave.
Durango, CO 81301

WHEN: Friday, Aug. 4, 2017
2:15 p.m. — 3:00 p.m.

Doors open to the public and media at 1:45 p.m.

If it goes ahead as announced, this will be the first public town hall meeting for Senator Gardner in 494 days. The lack of advance notice and remote location of the event — not to mention the 45 minute time period — are potent reminders of how difficult it is for constituents to interact with Sen. Gardner, and won’t do anything to appease his critics in more populated areas of the state. With that said, Durango has plenty of homegrown Gardner critics who will line up for this chance to hold him accountable.

On the other hand if these other politicians, for whom public town hall meetings are not the same kind of problem, were to throw their own town hall without Gardner after they all toured the Gold King Mine cleanup site together…well, that would look pretty bad too. We’re inclined doubt this town hall was Gardner’s idea, and there may have simply been no good option other than to take his lumps.

Either way, if you see a miles-long convoy of Subarus, Priuses and VW buses rolling west on US-160 tonight and tomorrow morning, this is probably why.

A Tale of Two Senators in Colorado

These photos speak for themselves, so we’ll just provide a little background information and get out of the way.

The woman in the pictures below is Dawn Russell, an activist with ADAPT who was one of many protestors with disabilities arrested at the Denver office of Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) in late June. Russell and her fellow protestors had been engaged in a sit-in at Gardner’s office in an effort to speak with him about not supporting various Republican healthcare proposals — all of which would have led to devastating cuts to Medicaid and other programs that Russell depends on for her own personal health (Gardner ended up voting “YES” on three different Senate Republican bills last week before Arizona Sen. John McCain upended the process with his infamous “NO” vote).

In the second picture, Russell is speaking with Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Denver) at the “Our Lives on the Line” rally in Denver on Saturday.


Sen. Michael Bennet: “Where’s The Bill?”

Here’s an excerpt from Sen. Michael Bennet’s speech on the floor of the U.S. Senate today, lambasting Republicans for breaking all of their own rules to pass legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act–and contrasting the opaque process Republicans are engaged in today with lengthy public debate in 2009-10:

BENNET: I don’t understand the impulse of writing the bill in secret, not having–listen to this, folks–not having a single committee hearing! Not one committee hearing in the Senate! Talk about “read the bill,” how about have a bill that’s written down on paper so we can read it? Where are my brethren in the Tea Party that wanted to read the other bill? There was a bill then! There had been a bill for a year and a half. There’s no bill!

At this point, both sides in the Senate are talking past each other–but you’ve got to agree that Bennet has a strong point. After complaining for years about the supposed “closed-door” secrecy in which the ACA was debated, Republicans have embarked on a process so secretive that there haven’t even been committee hearings on the legislation. If Democrats had tried to pass the ACA with the same non-process, Republicans would have called for a revolution. You’ll recall they very nearly did anyway.

Watch the rest of Bennet’s speech below. Who will take issue with him on the merits? We’d like to see it.

At Risk

The Senate health care bill is not in Colorado’s best interests. Call our Senators and let them know that.

Cory Gardner – (303) 391-5777
Michael Bennet – (303) 455-7600

Get More Smarter on Monday (July 10)

Can we just declare July “Fried Chicken Month?” One day just isn’t enough. 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.



► Tick-tock. Tick-tock. Tick-tock…President Trump’s Russia problem is only growing larger by the day. The New York Times dropped a bombshell on the story over the weekend with news that Donald Trump, Jr. and other leaders of Trump’s campaign met with a Russian lawyer after being promised “dirt” on Democratic Presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. As a follow-up story in the New York Times explains:

President Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., was promised damaging information about Hillary Clinton before agreeing to meet with a Kremlin-connected Russian lawyer during the 2016 campaign, according to three advisers to the White House briefed on the meeting and two others with knowledge of it.

The meeting was also attended by the president’s campaign chairman at the time, Paul J. Manafort, as well as by the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner. Mr. Manafort and Mr. Kushner recently disclosed the meeting, though not its content, in confidential government documents described to The New York Times…

…The meeting — at Trump Tower on June 9, 2016, two weeks after Donald J. Trumpclinched the Republican nomination — points to the central question in federal investigations of the Kremlin’s meddling in the presidential election: whether the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians. The accounts of the meeting represent the first public indication that at least some in the campaign were willing to accept Russian help.

While President Trump has been dogged by revelations of undisclosed meetings between his associates and the Russians, the episode at Trump Tower is the first such confirmed private meeting involving his inner circle during the campaign — as well as the first one known to have included his eldest son.

Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) is calling for Donald Trump Jr. to speak with the Senate Intelligence Committee about the reported meeting.


► You can set aside the “where there’s smoke, there’s fire” analogy for the moment, because as The Atlantic reports, “If there was no collusion, it wasn’t for lack of trying.” Trump Jr. initially claimed that the point of the alleged meeting was to discuss issues of adoption under the Magnitsky Act…but that was only the initial explanation:

Trump Jr. then changed his story, claiming he’d been promised only information relevant to the campaign, by an intermediary he met at the 2013 Miss Universe pageant, owned by his father and hosted in Moscow. (The Washington Post later identified him as Rob Goldstone, a music publicist who said he was working on behalf of an unnamed Russian client.) Trump Jr. brought his brother-in-law Jared Kushner and then-Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort to the meeting. He said that attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya offered him damaging information about Hillary Clinton, but that when it became clear she did not have the goods, he ended the meeting…

…In other words, Trump Jr. admitted (while acknowledging a prior lie) that he was open to receiving damaging information about Hillary Clinton from the Russian lawyer; he was just frustrated that she didn’t seem to have it. If there was no collusion between the Kremlin and the Trump inner circle, it was not because top Trump aides were against it.

Trump Jr.’s admission here is remarkable. Donald Trump’s tendency to speak unwisely remains one of his greatest weaknesses—his threat to release apparently fictive tapes resulted in a special-counsel investigation that has rocked his still-young presidency—and his children are a chip off the old block. (Eric Trump has admitted, contra claims of separation, that he continues to talk business with his father.)


► Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) has always tried to present himself as a “moderate” or “centrist” Republican, but as the Denver Post writes, the Trumpcare debate has shown Gardner’s true colors — and they are all red. From Mark Matthews:

Though the bill’s final language remains in flux, there is little doubt in Colorado political circles about where Gardner will stand at the end of the day — despite Gardner not taking a public position on the first Senate version when it was released in late June.

“In the end Colorado conservatives know that Cory Gardner is going to vote to repeal Obamacare and when there is a final bill Cory Gardner is going to be there,” said Guy Short, a political consultant and longtime Colorado delegate to the Republican National Convention.

ICYMI, Gardner spoke to a small group of constituents in a phone call on Thursday. Gardner’s answers to several pointed healthcare questions were astonishingly awful.

As for healthcare legislation, Congressional Republicans are back at work this week after the July 4th recess, and there are plenty of signs that Trumpcare is in trouble on Capitol Hill. Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain said over the weekend that the healthcare legislation is “probably going to be dead.”


► Don’t miss the newest episode of The Get More Smarter Show, featuring an interview with state Rep. Alec Garnett (D-Denver).


Get even more smarter after the jump…


Darryl Glenn to Join Primary Race in CD-5

Darryl Glenn

The Unicorn rides again! Ernest Luning has the scoop for the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman:

El Paso County Commissioner Darryl Glenn, the Republican nominee for Colorado’s U.S. Senate seat last year, notified GOP insiders on Friday that he plans to run for the 5th Congressional District seat held by six-term incumbent U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn in next year’s election, Colorado Politics has learned.

“Colleagues, I want to give you a courtesy heads up before the rumors start that I will be jumping into the Congressional District 5 race within a few weeks,” Glenn said in a text message sent Friday morning to prominent Republicans and obtained by Colorado Politics. “A lot has happened over the last week to move me to running. Have a great day. Darryl”

Glenn becomes the third candidate in the race in the GOP Primary in CD-5, just one day after state Sen. Owen Hill announced a record fundraising haul for Q2 in his own bid for Congress.

Incumbent Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs) was first elected in this ultra-safe Republican district in 2006. Lamborn has since been re-elected every two years, but he is such an unpopular dolt that he can never seem to prevent a Republican Primary. Hill jumped into the race in early April and seems to be off to a good start…yet, we’ve been here before. Over the last decade Lamborn has always found a way to crawl into the General Election, where there is virtually no chance of a Republican candidate losing in November.

Could 2018 be different? Lamborn may have a more difficult road to re-election now that a third candidate with strong name ID among Republicans has entered the fray. We’ve said many times in this space that Glenn is the worst statewide candidate in Colorado history; you can make an argument for others (we’re looking at you, Dan Maes), but it’s fair to say that you can’t discuss this topic without including Glenn at the very top of your list. However, Glenn should be familiar to Colorado Springs-area voters after serving two terms as an El Paso County Commissioner prior to his surprise GOP nomination for the U.S. Senate in 2016.

Whenever you have a primary with at least three known entities on the ballot, strange things can happen. Enjoy the ride.

Get More Smarter on Thursday (June 29)

Which country will Sen. Cory Gardner visit next week so that he doesn’t have to show his face in Colorado? 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.



► If you’re looking for other reasons for why the GOP healthcare bill is in so much trouble, you won’t be lacking for ideas. Greg Sargent of the Washington Post singles out an interesting moment on Capitol Hill when Republican Senators first learned of the devastating CBO score on their proposed legislation…and were curiously surprised that the news was so bleak:

If GOP Senators expected the Senate bill to achieve “greater distance” from the House bill, then they were either not reckoning with the fundamental underlying realities of what GOP health reform is trying to accomplish, or they were hoping for some magical formula to materialize that would obscure those realities from view. Here is the basic math: If you are going to cut Obamacare’s taxes on rich people by hundreds of billions of dollars, you are going to have to roll back an enormous chunk of the law’s massive coverage expansion…

…Yet the Post report indicates that Republican Senators were surprised to learn that the CBO concluded that their bill would indeed carry out this trade-off. And they responded by dividing into two camps — one that would attack the purveyor of dispassionate, empirical analysis that had confirmed this to be the case; and one that thought this was futile, because the argument could not be won [Pols emphasis], once voters back home learned how many people would lose coverage under their bill. But why did they expect any other outcome in the first place?

Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) is firmly entrenched in the first camp listed above; Gardner is desperately trying to brush off the CBO score as unimportant.


► A separate story in the Washington Post offers a simpler explanation for the GOP’s healthcare woes:

White House officials and Trump loyalists saw a president diving in to patch up strife and save legislation that had been curbed in the Senate. Some seasoned senators, however, saw a president unable to grasp policy details or the obstacles ahead, and talked with each other after the gathering about what they saw as a bizarre scene. That Republican disconnect has been a constant ever since the Senate health bill was unveiled…

…Instead of moving happily toward passage of the party’s rallying cry, Republicans are frozen and unsure of the political cost of passing the Senate bill — especially with swing voters who in many states have come to rely on aspects of Obamacare and its expansion of Medicaid.

As Politico reports, Senate Republican leaders are still trying to salvage their healthcare bill by offering billions of dollars in sweeteners to address the opioid crisis. Critics of such proposals include Ohio Republican Gov. John Kasich, who has said that a few billion dollars for short-term opioid treatment is a “drop in the bucket” compared the the massive financial losses that would be inflicted by decimating Medicaid budgets.

Here in Colorado, Republicans are having plenty of trouble trying to figure out how to explain why the GOP healthcare legislation is not terrible. Congressman Scott Tipton (R-Cortez) either doesn’t understand the healthcare bills — or he is flat-out lying to his constituents — when he says that nobody who qualifies for Medicaid will lose that coverage. Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) keeps peddling nonsense talking points about rising costs under Obamacare — while failing to mention the fact that insurance rates would rise significantly more under the Republican healthcare proposals.


► As the New York Times explains, we finally have a bit more clarification on how President Trump’s Muslim travel ban will be implemented:

Stepsiblings and half-siblings are allowed, but not nieces or nephews. Sons- and daughters-in-law are in, but brothers- and sisters-in-law are not. Parents, including in-laws, are considered “close family,” but grandparents are not.

The State Department issued new guidelines Wednesday night to American embassies and consulates on applying a limited travel ban against foreign visitors from six predominantly Muslim countries. Enforcement of the guidelines will begin at 8 p.m. Eastern on Thursday.


Get even more smarter after the jump…