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TOP OF MIND TODAY…
► Colorado Senate Republicans somehow managed to figure out a way to enact the worst possible response to claims of sexual harassment against one of its members. After waiting for weeks to take action on the results of an investigation into sexual harassment claims against state Sen. Randy Baumgardner, Senate President Kevin Grantham orchestrated a truly absurd response on Tuesday. This editorial from the Aurora Sentinel sums up the nonsense well:
It was, at best, one of the most astonishing exhibitions of political tone deafness ever to ring out in the State Capitol. More likely, it was an ill-conceived scheme to diminish or dismiss allegations against Baumgardner, which, as told, border on assault. Grantham issued a scathing letter to the press, in which he tries to undermine the investigation conducted by an outside human relations consultant, without ever offering any details or explanation as to why he denounced the process. Then Grantham issued an edict that he considers “the matter closed.”…
…Baumgardner should either offer credible proof of his allegations that his accuser is a liar, or that the investigation was rigged, or he should offer a meaningful apology and resign from the state Senate.
Grantham has shown he hasn’t the temperament, the understanding nor the ethical temerity to lead the Senate chamber. He should step down as president now. [Pols emphasis]
Grantham will have a few more opportunities to screw this up even further. An investigation into an allegation of sexual harassment against Republican state Sen. Jack Tate was made available to Grantham on Monday — the same day that a second sexual harassment complaint was formally filed against Baumgardner.
Senate Democrats, meanwhile, are pushing ahead with a resolution to expel Baumgardner from the State Capitol entirely.
For the third Florida bellwether election in a row, the Republican candidate lost to the Democrat, giving activists and elites in both parties a sense that the GOP’s political grip is slipping in the nation’s largest swing state heading into President Donald Trump’s first midterm election.
Aside from her big 7.4 percentage-point win, what made Margaret Good’s victory Tuesday night over Republican James Buchanan so significant was that it took place in Florida’s 72nd House District. It had been held by a Republican in Sarasota County, where registered Republicans outnumber Democrats by 12,000, or about 10 percentage points. Buchanan, the son of local Congressman Vern Buchanan, also had an advantage in name ID.
And Trump had carried the district by 4.6 percentage points in a state that he won by just 1.2 points in November.
Have fun with this, “Chairman Gardner.”
► Questions surrounding the White House’s coddling of former staff secretary/domestic abuser Rob Porter continue to grow as more evidence suggests the Trump administration made a conscious effort to keep Porter on the job. From the Washington Post:
The White House struggled Tuesday to contain a widening crisis over its handling of domestic violence allegations against a senior official, as it reeled after sworn testimony by the FBI chief directly contradicted what President Trump’s aides had presented as the official version of events.
FBI Director Christopher A. Wray told the Senate Intelligence Committee that the bureau had completed a background report on then-staff secretary Rob Porter last July and closed out the case entirely last month. Wray’s account is at odds with White House claims that the investigation required for Porter’s security clearance was “ongoing” until he left his job last week, after his two ex-wives publicly alleged physical and emotional abuse.
The latest bout of turbulence is exacerbated by the administration’s reputation, earned over 13 chaotic months, for flouting institutional norms and misrepresenting facts to the public — a culture set by the president himself.
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