Is Cory Gardner Done?

JAMES CARVILLE: That poor guy, I don’t think he is vulnerable, I think he’s done. He ought to just drop out of the race.

Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

In the past 24 hours, Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado has transitioned from merely the nation’s most vulnerable Republican Senator up for re-election in 2020 into a living metaphor for the Republican Party’s inability to hold President Donald Trump accountable as Trump’s chaotic presidency barrels toward catastrophe.

Gardner was not the only vulnerable Republican caught giving completely unsatisfactory answers to reporters about impeachment inquiry dominating national headlines, but Gardner’s evasive and increasingly hostile interaction with FOX 31’s Joe. St. George and 9NEWS’ Anusha Roy seems to have struck a nerve like few other moments in Gardner’s career. This was hardly Gardner’s first go-round trying to manage a bad Trump story, but after these two competing reporters tag-teamed to prevent Gardner from changing the subject his “torture to watch” evasions became the functional equivalent of pleading guilty. The Hill’s Jordain Carney captured the moment well:

When the reporter tried to follow up to ask again if Gardner thought it was appropriate, Gardner said that he had answered the question and turned to another reporter.

After the second reporter asked Gardner if his answer was “yes or no,” the GOP senator pivoted to talking about House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry and told reporters they were focusing on politics…

The clip of the back-and-forth between Garner and reporters quickly garnered attention from national media, Gardner’s 2020 rivals and even Trump, who liked a tweet from a Bloomberg reporter weighing in on a video of Gardner’s comments. [Pols emphasis]

Given the extent of the backfire, perhaps Gardner’s performance was worse than pleading guilty.

One of the recurring comments we’ve seen in response to yesterday’s punishing back-and-forth is that it was an “uncharacteristic” reaction from a Senator who has established a reputation for staying composed no matter what he’s confronted with. But yesterday Gardner’s mask slipped, and in addition to getting visibly irritated in the clip now seen by the whole country he had this telling separate exchange with 9NEWS’ Anusha Roy:

Folks, that is not how a happy politician interacts with the press.

In 2014, Gardner powered through scrutiny of his record by audaciously re-inventing himself and successfully turning liabilities into sympathetic backlash against his “overly negative” opponent. Five years later, Gardner can’t count on any of that–and the “message discipline” that helped Gardner eke out his 1.9% win in 2014 is blowing up in Gardner’s face.

Cory Gardner has never faced anything quite like this before. In a way, this problem is worse than Gardner’s underwater poll numbers, since losing credibility with the media makes it much harder to recover lost support. And while we don’t expect Gardner to take James Carville’s advice today…the thought has to have crossed his mind by now.

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Ambassador Will Ignore Trump and Testify Before Congress

UPDATE: CNN reports on some eye-opening statements today from Marie Yovanovitch, former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine.

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The White House has been refusing to cooperate with Congress regarding impeachment investigations, but it appears that President Trump’s hands are not large enough to corral all of his underlings. As the Washington Post reports:

U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, a key figure in the Ukraine controversy, bucked the State Department on Friday and announced he would appear before House investigators under subpoena next week.

The State Department blocked Sondland from appearing before three panels last week as the White House informed Democratic leaders they had no intention of cooperating with the impeachment inquiry.

Lawmakers also are hearing closed-door testimony Friday from Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine who was recalled from her post in May.

As NBC News reports, Sondland may have realized that he had better speak for himself on this matter:

Fiona Hill, who was until recently President Donald Trump’s top aide on Russia and Europe, plans to tell Congress that Rudy Giuliani and E.U. ambassador Gordon Sondland circumvented the National Security Council and the normal White House process to pursue a shadow policy on Ukraine, a person familiar with her expected testimony told NBC News.

Hill’s appearance next week before Congress has stoked fear among people close to the president, said a former senior White House official, given her central role overseeing Russia and Ukraine policy throughout most of the Trump administration…

…Hill plans to say that Giuliani and Sondland side-stepped the proper process for accessing Trump on Ukraine issues, the person familiar with her expected testimony said, including circumventing John Bolton, who was Trump’s national security adviser until September.

It appears that there are plenty of people not named Cory Gardner who have no intention of going quietly under the bus for the Big Orange Guy.

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Beginning Of The End? Gardner Implodes on Ukraine Questions

UPDATE #5: AP’s Nick Riccardi reports, Sen. Cory Gardner’s flop sweat is contagious:

On Thursday, two Republican senators — Joni Ernst of Iowa and Cory Gardner of Colorado — repeatedly refused to answer reporters’ questions on whether a president should make such a request of a rival power. “I don’t know that we have that information in front of us,” Ernst said in Iowa, even though the president made the request in front of cameras on the White House lawn.

In Denver, Gardner likewise wouldn’t answer reporters’ variations on the question 12 separate times before an appearance with the Colorado Chamber of Commerce. Like Ernst, he tried to punt to the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is investigating the circumstances around Trump’s private call with Ukraine. “It’s an answer that you get from a very serious investigation,” Gardner told reporters when asked about the appropriateness of the president’s public comments…

Ernst and Gardner seemed to follow a pattern set by fellow Republican Arizona Sen. Martha McSally — also a top Democratic target next year. On Monday, McSally also wouldn’t answer whether the president can ask for overseas help, instead referring to the Senate Intelligence Committee probe and taking swipes at House Democrats.

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UPDATE #4 (4:10 pm): Gentle readers, the loop of the Ouroboros is closed:

It would appear that Sen. Gardner is now well and truly playing to an audience of one.

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UPDATE #3 (3:45 pm): The Colorado Sun’s Jesse Paul:

U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner on Thursday repeatedly refused to say whether he thinks it’s appropriate for the president to ask a foreign government to investigate a political rival.

In two sometimes-tense scrums with groups of reporters before and after an event with the Colorado Chamber of Commerce, the normally upbeat Colorado Republican rejected questions, accused a reporter of being biased and then jostled his way out of a downtown Denver hotel. It was an uncharacteristic display of frustration. [Pols emphasis]

The Denver Post’s Justin Wingerter:

“This is a partisan exercise that ought to be about the seriousness of the moment,” he added. “I see that you guys are going to continue to drill this. I’ve given you my answer.”

Gardner met with reporters for more than five minutes at the Westin Denver Downtown, at times sounding exasperated by the repeated questions about impeachment. [Pols emphasis] He said more than once that it would be inappropriate for him to weigh in on impeachment before a full investigation has been conducted, even as he criticized the House’s impeachment inquiry.

Mark it down, folks. Today Cory Gardner’s political destiny took a big turn for the worse.

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UPDATE #2 (3:40 pm): “Cory Gardner” is trending on Twitter at the moment — at #10 in the entire United States:

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UPDATE: Democratic Senate candidate John Hickenlooper twists the knife:

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Senator Cory Gardner is going down with the ship.

It was only a matter of time before Sen. Cory Gardner was cornered by a reporter and forced to discuss a subject he’s been doing his level best to avoid–the fast-moving impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump over his manipulation of foreign aid to Ukraine in order to pressure that nation to investigate the son of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.

Gardner’s longstanding lip service to defending Ukraine against Russian aggression has made Gardner’s silence on the issue problematic to say the least–but if you’re hoping Gardner was finally ready directly to address the situation, KRDO-TV’s report from yesterday evening after Gardner spoke to them in Colorado Springs will disappoint:

Speaking of the President, we also asked Gardner for his thoughts on the impeachment inquiry. He said the probe feels one-sided, “I’m very concerned this has turned into a partisan circus right now.”

He says some Democrats have even admitted they need to impeach Trump now or face losing the 2020 election. “That is taking this into politics and using a constitutional weapon and that type of political circus doesn’t benefit anybody,” Gardner says.

And…that’s it. No acknowledgement of the seriousness of the allegations against President Donald Trump, or the condemnation of Trump from a growing number of fellow Republicans, or how Trump’s actions affect Gardner’s own stated foreign policy priorities. Nothing but evasion and finger-pointing. This morning at a Colorado Chamber of Commerce event in Denver, Gardner tried the same approach–but instead of getting away with it, Gardner was punished with two minutes of video that every Colorado voter needs to see:

The transcript is almost as brutal as watching the video:

(more…)

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Mike Pence is a Blubbering Idiot on Ukraine

You’re not getting away from this one, Mike

Vice President Mike Pence perhaps still holds out hope that something will prevent President Trump from completing his term in office and allow Pence to at least sit behind the Resolute Desk for a few days. Pence has been trying to lay low amid the latest scandals enveloping the White House, but he apparently hasn’t been spending that time practicing his answers to questions about Ukraine.

As the Washington Post reports, Pence needs some new talking points. STAT!:

…when pressed Wednesday on what he knew and when he knew it, Pence was extremely evasive — and conspicuously so.

Pence has previously said that his meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in early September included no talk about investigating the Bidens, but that they did discuss the broader concept of “corruption.” A whistleblower has also alleged that Trump canceled Pence’s planned trip to Zelensky’s May inauguration and sent Energy Secretary Rick Perry instead — one of several indications that high-level meetings have been withheld for leverage.

So with that as the backdrop, NBC News’s Vaughn Hillyard did yeoman’s work Wednesday pressing Pence on the matter. But Pence declined to directly answer many of the questions he was asked. Most notably, he repeatedly declined to say whether he we even aware of Trump’s interest in getting Ukraine to investigate former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden. [Pols emphasis]

Biden? Hmmm…the name sounds vaguely familiar. No, no, I don’t know anybody named “Biden.”

Pence didn’t limit his gibberish to his NBC News interview. As CNN reports:

Vice President Mike Pence is defending President Donald Trump for asking the Ukrainian president to investigate Joe Biden — even when faced with his past comments on foreign interference in US politics.

In Iowa on Wednesday, CNN’s Randi Kaye asked Pence if he stood by his comments during the 2016 election that foreign governments “cannot participate” in the US political process.

“Well, I do,” Pence replied. “I think that’s why President Trump is so concerned about a foreign interference in our election in Ukraine.” [Pols emphasis]

Speaking of pretending to be concerned about foreign interference in American elections, this is what Pence said back in 2016: “This is basic stuff. Foreign donors, and certainly foreign governments, cannot participate in the American political process.”

D’oh!

CNN political guru Chris Cillizza is baffled by Pence’s double-talk:

…this defense makes zero sense. Like, none. It’s totally clear that Trump was asking Zelensky for help in digging up dirt on the leading Democratic candidate in the 2020 presidential race. He was not simply telling Zelensky that “our country had been through a lot, and then had a question about foreign interference in our 2016 election” as Pence described it. That is simply not accurate. [Pols emphasis]

Cillizza suggests that Pence remains a loyal soldier to Trump because he’ll need the Big Orange Guy to support his eventual campaign for President, but that seems like an odd bargain. By the time 2024 rolls around, Trump’s endorsement probably won’t be worth squat.

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Colorado GOP’s “Stop the Madness” Pro-Trump Event Invokes Racial Themes

(Stay classy, Colorado GOP – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

POLS UPDATE: Keeping America Great, sort of:

If these half dozen protesters want to “stop the madness,” we suggest they go inside and have some hot chocolate.

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Trump Victory, along with Colorado Republican Party leaders, is hosting a “counter-impeachment” press conference today called, “Stop the Madness!” The event is one of many such events across the country, coordinated by the Republican National Committee (RNC), which says its goal is simply “to cause chaos.”

The press conference will call on Rep. Jason Crow (D-CO) to “drop the impeachment inquiry against President Trump,” according to a news release. The event takes place at Crow’s Aurora office at 11:00 a.m. today.

The website features photos of three of the four congresswomen known as “The Squad,” women of color at whom Trump has tweeted racist insults in recent months.

Speakers at the event include: Colorado GOP Vice Chair Kristi Burton Brown, Colorado House Minority Leader Patrick Neville (R-Castle Rock) and Congressional District 6 candidates Steve House and Casper Stockham.

Also appearing is right-wing social media personality, Ashley St. Clair, a former Colorado Springs college student who worked as a “brand ambassador” for Turning Point USA until two weeks ago. The far-right group dropped St. Clair after Right Wing Watch’s Jared Holt reported on photos of her partying with white nationalists at an alt-right gathering in Florida last month.

Prior to working with Turning Point USA, St. Clair interned with the Starboard Group, the preeminent fundraising firm for Colorado Republicans, chiefly Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO), whose holiday party she attended.

St. Clair was in Aurora back in July to counter-protest the pro-immigration rally that took place at the contract ICE facility.

Trump remains unpopular in Colorado, according to multiple polls, so unpopular, in fact, that former Congressman Mike Coffman blamed his defeat to Crow directly on Trump.

There’s no evidence that Crow’s district is feeling any more warmly toward Trump now.

Still, the RNC is targeting Crow as part of a $2 million advertising campaign for allegedly not “reaching across the aisle” to work with Trump.

As part of this, the RNC has also set up a StopTheMadness website, which will be a “one-stop clearing house to defend the president — including opportunities for people to sign up as a volunteer, details on how to show up to a counter protest, and more.

“The Democrats refuse to accept the results of the 2016 election and are on a never-ending fishing expedition to tear down President Trump,” states the website. “We need your help in standing up to these members of Congress across the nation to stop the madness!”

The site’s centerpiece is a video that links the impeachment inquiry to violence. Besides Pelosi, it features three members of Congress: Rep Maxine Waters (D-CA), Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) and Rep. Al Green (D-TX). All three are African-American.

Jason Salzman contributed to this report.

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Squirrel! Gardner Tries (Poorly) to Draw Attention Elsewhere


Another gold star for Cory.

Earlier this week we wrote about Sen. Cory Gardner’s attempt to appear as though he is taking a very important position on a very obvious policy question regarding President Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria. Gardner voiced his opposition to Trump’s move but hasn’t done much else of note; Turkey has since attacked U.S.-aligned Kurdish forces in Northern Syria, which means that U.S. allies that had been focused on fighting against ISIS are now instead worried about protecting their own families from the Turkish military.

Gardner’s comments about Syria were interesting mostly because he has said virtually nothing about other recent foreign policy problems created by President Trump’s distressing discussions with Ukraine and China. This is a pretty standard practice by Gardner when faced with pressure to comment on a distasteful situation involving his own political party; it is the equivalent of yelling “SQUIRREL!” and pointing behind someone so that you can run away when they turn their head.

Ol’ Cory is suddenly very excitable about how the National Basketball Association (NBA) may be dealing with free speech issues related to protests in Hong Kong (we’ll get to the hypocrisy of this response in a moment). He’s a bit mixed up about the facts, but Gardner nevertheless Tweeted about the issue yesterday and then followed up again this morning:

 
Surprise! Gardner’s manufactured angst isn’t supported by recent developments. As Jerry Brewer writes for the Washington Post, the NBA actually did the right thing in this situation, albeit belatedly:

In less than a week, the NBA has been stunned, soft, clumsy and redemptive in addressing a tweet sent by Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey that supported pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.

After the league initially expressed regret about Morey’s actions and left the impression of an apology, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has clarified the league’s position and refused to back down amid increased pressure from the Chinese government and businesses to make an example of Morey.

On Tuesday, Silver made it very clear that the NBA will not restrict the speech of its employees even if that decision may harm its economic interests in China:

It is inevitable that people around the world — including from America and China — will have different viewpoints over different issues.  It is not the role of the NBA to adjudicate those differences.

However, the NBA will not put itself in a position of regulating what players, employees and team owners say or will not say on these issues.  We simply could not operate that way. [Pols emphasis]

Now, here’s where Gardner’s faux outrage gets particularly disgusting. As CNN reported last week, “President Trump promised Chinese President Xi Jinping that the US would remain quiet on pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong while trade talks continued.” In other words, Trump did EXACTLY what Gardner is mistakenly berating the NBA for doing. From CNN:

The remarkable pledge to the Chinese leader is a dramatic departure from decades of US support for human rights in China and shows just how eager Trump is to strike a deal with Beijing as the trade war weighs on the US economy. [Pols emphasis]

And like other calls with the leaders of Ukraine, Russia and Saudi Arabia, records of Trump’s call with Xi were moved to a highly-classified, codeword-protected system, greatly limiting the number of administration officials who were aware of the conversation.

Trump’s commitment to China had immediate and far-reaching effects throughout the US government as the President’s message was sent far and wide.

And what was Gardner’s response about President Trump’s direct promise to China to not talk about protests in Hong Kong?

That’s right, Sen. Cory Gardner hasn’t said a damn thing about President Trump’s pledge to prevent U.S. officials from commenting on Hong Kong protests in order to curry favor with China.

“This is what communist dictators do, not the U.S.,” said Gardner in his Tweet today about the NBA — conveniently ignoring the fact that this is exactly what President Trump did just a few months ago. Gardner even traveled to New York City last weekend to headline a Trump re-election fundraiser, knowing full well what Trump had said to China’s President.

Unbelievable? Not if you know anything about Cory Gardner.

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Get More Smarter on Wednesday (October 9)


The hashtag #RepublicanCampaignSlogans is trending on Twitter today. Now, let’s 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 an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us Facebook and Twitter.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is scaling back his Presidential campaign as he continues to recover from a heart attack suffered last week.

 

Turkey has begun a military offensive against American-allied Kurds in Syria, just days after President Trump announced a withdrawal of U.S. troops from the region.

 

► Former Gov. John Hickenlooper announced on Tuesday that his campaign for U.S. Senate raised an astonishing $2.1 million in just five weeks.

 

► If you’re having trouble keeping up with the rapidly-changing news on impeachment proceedings against President Trump, we’ve got you covered with a new feature we’re calling “Just Impeachie.”

 

► Check out the latest episode of The Get More Smarter Podcast and play the game that everybody is talking about (probably): “Duke or Donald?”


Get even more smarter after the jump… (more…)

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JBS USA in Colorado … Trump-aided international corruption comes home


JBS USA has this to say on their webpage: “Headquartered in beautiful Greeley, Colorado, JBS® USA processes, prepares, packages and delivers fresh, further-processed and value-added beef, pork, and poultry products for sale to customers in more than 105 countries on six continents.” “Through determination, discipline, simplicity, years of hard work and a few acquisitions along the way, JBS has grown from a small, family-owned business into the world’s leading provider of quality meat protein, leather and sustainable co-products.”

You’ll no doubt notice there is nothing in their list of characteristics to hint of developing the corporation within the laws. Now, their activities have triggered some questions. According to several news sources, including New York Daily News, Colorado business JBS USA Food Company Holdings (and its corporate kin) may be getting a new level of attention.

Rubio, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relation Committee’s panel on transnational crime, urged Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in a letter to have his department begin a formal review of how JBS SA has been able to become one of the biggest players in the U.S. food industry, even though its notoriously corrupt owners have admitted to bribing thousands of Brazilian officials, done business with Venezuela and relied on financing tied to China’s authoritarian government.

Rubio’s letter, which was co-signed by Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ranking Member Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), stressed that Mnuchin should use his authority to look into whether JBS’s American foray was illegal, since it has admitted to using illicit funds to establish its main U.S. subsidiary, Colorado’s JBS USA….

JBS, which is already under Justice Department investigation for potential violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, has been able to expand in the U.S. with help from President Trump’s Agriculture Department,

Seems as if there are questions about the initial investments AND the $62 million in tariff bail-out subsidies. If the Treasury Department is not too busy, perhaps we’ll find out a bit more about the expansion and the character of one of our corporate citizens.

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Just Impeachie: White House Puts Up Roadblocks


UPDATE: Here’s the letter sent to Congress by the White House in which the Trump administration explains that it will not cooperate with impeachment investigations.

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There is a LOT of impeachment news to digest these days. If it is hard for us to keep up with all of this impeachment news, it’s probably difficult for our readers as well. So, as a public service, we decided to roundup some of the top impeachment stories floating around the Internet tubes and condense them in one location.

We’re tentatively calling this roundup “Just Impeachie.” Enjoy…

 

“The White House all but declared war on the House impeachment inquiry on Tuesday,” writes the New York Times. President Trump is blocking Congressional testimony from a key witness, EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland. As the Washington Post reports, Democrats will subpoena Sondland.

 

As the Washington Post reports, President Trump’s attorney, Rudy Giuliani, said Tuesday that he “can’t imagine” anyone from the Trump administration would appear before a Congressional panel looking into impeachment.

 

A new poll from NBC News/Wall Street Journal shows support for impeachment continues to rise. “Most Americans – including one in five Republicans – now back an impeachment inquiry or already believe Congress should remove President Donald Trump from office.” The Hill rounds up similar poll findings.

 

“Crazy,” “frightening,” and “completely lacking in substance related to national security.” That’s how a whistleblower described a phone call between President Trump and the President of Ukraine in late July. (New York Times)

 

As Politico reports, network news anchors are growing increasingly open with viewers about their trouble finding elected Republicans to come on their show as guests to discuss impeachment news.

 

Rep. Adam Schiff, Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, vows that Democrats will “get to the bottom” of Trump’s corruption and misconduct, “no matter how hard the president fights us.” (Washington Post)

 

As Vox.com explains, some Congressional Democrats think White House stonewalling on impeachment proceedings will backfire and end up helping the House of Representatives in making its case for Trump’s removal from office.

 

Axios reports that President Trump is privately telling confidants that he is concerned that impeachment will stain his legacy. Up to this point, Trump has been doing a pretty good job staining his legacy all by himself.

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“There, I said it”

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Given the repellent effect Trump has on election-deciding independent voters in Colorado, and failed U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman’s post-election declaration that Trump caused him to lose his swing district last year, you’d expect more Colorado Republicans to start jumping off the Trump ship, at least here in Colorado.

Maybe they think it won’t help, and they’re probably right, if you look at how hard Coffman tried (and failed) to make people believe he was the anti-Trump Republican.

But conservative KOA 850-AM radio host Mandy Connell might be leading the way on her show, which airs from noon till 3 p.m.

“There, I said it.”

On her blog yesterday, she wrote, “Could Mitt Romney be considering a primary run at Trump? I would consider voting for him. There, I said it.”

But will other Colorado conservatives start saying it? Chances are the dam won’t break until/if the blue-wave round-two strikes next year here.

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The Impenetrable Trump Base Might Be a Myth


TUESDAY UPDATE: As the Washington Post reports, another new batch of polling numbers look grim for President Trump:

A new Washington Post-Schar School poll shows support for an impeachment inquiry rising to a new high after Democrats formally launched one. The 58 percent who support the inquiry is higher than in any other poll; the 38 percent who oppose it suggests only Trump’s most devoted base is now opposed.

But even that isn’t quite accurate — because it shows some of Trump’s base does support the inquiry and even his removal.

In fact, 28 percent of Republicans support the impeachment inquiry, and 18 percent say they support removing Trump from office, according to the poll. [Pols emphasis] The rise in GOP support for the impeachment inquiry in the poll is commensurate with the rise in support among other groups, according to The Post’s Dan Balz and Scott Clement.

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Somewhat realistic

Elected Republicans won’t abandon President Trump because they are afraid of his base of voter support.

This has long been the rationale behind the (largely) unwavering support Trump enjoys from Republican elected officials such as Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma). It is a statement that we all “know” to be true primarily because everybody — including President Trump — repeats it so often.

But what if this isn’t true? Much like the Yeti, perhaps Trump’s base is both mostly white and largely fictional. This is the argument made by E.J. Dionne Jr. of the Washington Post over the weekend, and it’s a compelling proposition:

Polls conducted throughout Trump’s presidency show that his critics feel far more strongly about their opposition to him than his defenders feel about their support. [Pols emphasis] The latest Reuters/Ipsos poll, conducted between Sept. 30 and Oct. 1, found that only 24 percent of registered voters strongly approved of Trump’s performance, while 44 percent strongly disapproved. Significantly, 74 percent of Democratic registered voters strongly disapproved of Trump, but only 50 percent of Republican registered voters strongly approved of him. Which base would you rather have going into this fight — and into 2020?

The 24 percent are the folks you see at the Trump rallies. Trump’s more tepid approvers (17 percent of registered voters in this survey) tend to stay home, take in the news and ask questions about what’s going on.

The big gap between strong approvers and strong disapprovers was very predictive of the 2018 election turnout that gave Democrats control of the House. Those elections showed that many who voted for Trump in 2016 were prepared to vote for Democrats two years later. This was a telling sign that a sizable share of Trump’s voters are not lockstep apologists.

Dionne notes further polling data in recent months showing that Trump’s approval ratings, which are generally not very good, are not accompanied by the unbreakable levels of support that the President believes to exist. In an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll conducted last month before the “transcript” of Trump’s Ukraine call was released, “only 30 percent said they had “very positive” feelings toward him, and only 25 percent said they both liked Trump personally and approved of most of his policies.”

We can see some of this disconnect in Colorado in the repeated failure by Republicans to recall Democratic elected officials in 2019. There is no question that there are a number of Colorado Republicans who are very unhappy with Democrats and more than willing to voice that disapproval whenever possible (mostly on Facebook and in the comments section of the Denver Post). It also appears that there are not nearly enough of these right-wing diehards to enact a successful recall campaign anywhere in the state. This is similar to the voter intensity argument that Dionne makes in the Washington Post:

In fact, a lot of Trump’s one-time supporters do not believe everything they hear from him or Fox News. A fair number of them don’t like him very much…

…Those advancing the case for impeachment believe that, whether the Senate removes Trump from office or not, it’s important to make clear how corrupt and dangerous his behavior has been. More Trump voters are listening to these arguments than their pretend-friends want us to believe. [Pols emphasis]

Republican Senators are indeed beginning to back away from President Trump. It’s too late for sycophants like Gardner to find an exit now — not when Gardner has pushed all of his chips over to Trump — but the door is still ajar for the likes of Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and others who haven’t completely sold out to the Big Orange Guy.

If we see elected Republicans leaping off of the Trump bandwagon in the coming weeks, it won’t be out of any sort of moral concern. It will instead be a reflection of a massive miscalculation by Republicans about the foundation of Trump’s support.

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Remember When Cory Gardner Cared About China? The Kurds?


UPDATE: Sen. Cory Gardner joins Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and most of the Senate GOP in saying nay:

U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado joined a growing number of GOP leaders Monday afternoon in criticizing President Donald’s Trump decision to pull out of northern Syria, abandoning Kurds who have been fighting the Islamic State there.

“I am deeply concerned that this decision fails to protect allies who gave their lives alongside our troops to accomplish U.S. objectives and fails to facilitate our continued efforts against ISIS,” Gardner said in a statement his office sent The Denver Post in response to an interview request.

It could be the start of a great unraveling–but like we said earlier (below), why does this decision trouble Gardner more than President Donald Trump extorting Ukraine and hitting up the Chinese for help winning the 2020 election? If and when Gardner does definitively walk away from Trump, he’s going face pointed questions about his judgment going all the way back to October of 2016 and the infamous Access Hollywood tape. Also…does this mean no more Trump fundraisers like the one Gardner spent the weekend attending?

It’s a day of reckoning that’s getting closer. In the meantime, expect more carefully-worded statements in lieu of interviews.

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NBC reports on the other case of Trump administration pressure on a foreign government to give the President a leg up against possible 2020 Democratic presidential opponent Joe Biden–improper requests made of the government of the People’s Republic of China similar to demands put to Ukraine, while the United States is mired in a trade war with China among numerous other foreign policy disputes like the status of Taiwan:

The invitation to the Chinese government, denounced by Democrats and excoriated by two Republican senators, mirrored the private behavior on which the House is partially basing their formal impeachment inquiry — using the office of the presidency to press a foreign leader to investigate a political rival. Trump has defended his actions in recent days by saying he has a right, even a duty, to root out “corruption” around the world.

But much like the president’s Ukraine conspiracy theories, the serious accusations that Trump and his allies, including personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, have leveled against the Bidens with regard to China are unsupported. All the details of Hunter Biden’s business dealings aren’t known, since he has always been a private citizen, but there’s no evidence of wrongdoing on behalf of either Biden. Trump and his allies has yet to offer evidence of the claims, while the former vice president has said the president is the one who is corrupt…

Building on the baseless claims that the former vice president — now a leading contender for the Democratic nomination in 2020 — corruptly used the power of his office to boost his son’s business interests in Ukraine, Trump began making similar unfounded allegations related to China.

As we discussed last week, Sen. Cory Gardner’s service on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has frequently put Gardner in the position of making strong statements of support for Ukraine in particular as a primary victim of Russian aggression in recent years. Gardner has also repeatedly criticized the People’s Republic of China for human rights violations, territorial aggression in the South China Sea, and above all Gardner’s allegedly fervent support for the small-d democratic government of Taiwan in that territory’s decades-long existential standoff with the PRC.

The crisis is expanding, but the question remains: how can Cory Gardner remain silent while Donald Trump plays havoc with all these countries Gardner says he cares so much about? It’s worse than Gardner having to play second fiddle to Trump on North Korea while Trump gives away the farm. This is happening because Trump pursued electoral leverage against his opponent from foreign powers–something Gardner claims to despise after the 2016 elections, though he refuses to connect the dots everyone in the world can see clearly.

In the last 24 hours, Trump’s announcement that U.S. troops will exit Syria and effectively abandon Kurdish allies in the country to their fate at the hands of hostile powers on all sides, especially Turkey, has dropped yet another major foreign policy controversy in Gardner’s lap. To be fair, Gardner hasn’t been nearly as vocal on defending the Kurds as the Ukrainians or the Taiwanese–but he did cosponsor an amendment and called publicly for arming the Iraqi Kurds in their fight against ISIS.

Gardner isn’t making the press rounds to defend Trump, but he hasn’t risked even the restrained criticism other vulnerable Republicans like Sen. Susan Collins of Maine are finding necessary over the Ukraine and China “requests” either. If Gardner chooses abandoning the Kurds as his moment to break with Trump, he’ll immediately draw the question of why this suddenly matters more than the foreign policy crises directly involving the President that have raged for over two weeks now–involving countries Gardner has paid so much more attention to in the past. And of course, if Gardner stays silent and something terrible happens to the Kurds…well, obviously, that’s bad too.

Whatever happens next, Colorado’s junior Senator has proven himself to be hopelessly behind the curve: either unwilling or unable to show leadership when it’s needed most. For anything other than belated damage control that will fool no one, it’s already too late.

101 Shares

Collins, Romney, Sasse Shred Cory Gardner’s Credibility


President Trump and Sen. Cory Gardner.

Politico’s Christian Vasquez reports:

Susan Collins on Saturday became the latest Republican senator to criticize President Donald Trump for calling on foreign countries to investigate a political rival, saying he made a “big mistake.”

“I thought the president made a big mistake by asking China to get involved in investigating a political opponent,” Collins said at a press gaggle in her home state of Maine, according to the Bangor Daily News. “It’s completely inappropriate.”

Collins is the third Republican senator to voice criticism of Trump for the ongoing Ukraine scandal at the heart of the House’s impeachment proceedings, joining Mitt Romney and Ben Sasse.

Sen. Susan Collins of Maine regularly appears with Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado on lists of the nation’s most vulnerable incumbent Republican Senators up for re-election in 2020. For Sen. Collins to split from Donald Trump now is a significant development that could presage a wider defection–and a sign that the risk of suffering Trump’s Twitter wrath like Sen. Mitt Romney is today is becoming preferable to staying with the President as the damning disclosures pile up:

In a crude attack against a sitting senator from his own party, Trump tweeted, “Mitt Romney never knew how to win. He is a pompous ‘ass’ who has been fighting me from the beginning, except when he begged me for my endorsement for his Senate run (I gave it to him), and when he begged me to be Secretary of State (I didn’t give it to him). He is so bad for R’s!”

Trump’s attack comes as he faces a widening impeachment inquiry in the House of Representatives. Most congressional Republicans have remained silent and declined to speak out in opposition to the President’s comments on Thursday that he wants both Ukraine and China to investigate Joe Biden and his son, Hunter. But Romney criticized the President in a statement Friday, saying, “By all appearances, the President’s brazen and unprecedented appeal to China and to Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden is wrong and appalling.”

Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska’s criticism was somewhat more restrained and politicized that Romney’s, but still identified the heart of the problem:

“Hold up: Americans don’t look to Chinese commies for the truth,” [Pols emphasis] Sasse said in a written statement to The World-Herald. “If the Biden kid broke laws by selling his name to Beijing, that’s a matter for American courts, not communist tyrants running torture camps.”

Because the basic facts of the case against President Trump for extorting political help from foreign leaders are not in dispute, the war for public opinion–a war being lost by Republicans as polls show rapidly growing support for impeachment–is essentially one of spinning the facts to make what Trump did appear more or less of a crime depending on whose side you’re on. The judgment of legal experts that Trump’s actions are unambiguously criminal is simply ignored by Republicans seeking to “normalize” the situation as they have with so many previous Trump-induced crises.

When does it end? When enough Republican Senators decide it’s time for Trump to go.

And that it what makes the distinction between Susan Collins and Cory Gardner stand out this weekend. Where Sen. Collins sees the oncoming train and is trying to put distance between herself and the wreckage, Gardner is headlining the Trump campaign’s “fall retreat” in New York City. Running for re-election in a state that rejected Trump in 2016 and then punished local Republicans severely in a referendum on Trump in 2018, Gardner’s enduring support for Trump, and refusal to engage on a situation directly relevant to his position on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is nothing short of catastrophic politically. By not even appearing to be equivocally concerned as the impeachment crisis deepens, Gardner’s silence makes the choice for him.

Cory Gardner’s going down with the ship.

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Activist Tries to Find Gardner at Trump Tower in New York

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

“Have you seen Cory Gardner yet?” I asked Laura Packard, as she was trekking through New York today.

No. But she’s convinced she’s getting close.

As a National Co-chair of Health Care Voter, Packard knows Gardner is the featured attraction at this weekend’s “Trump Victory Committee’s Fall Retreat” in New York City.

But Packard doesn’t know precisely where the Victory Committee is meeting.

Her first assumption was Trump Tower. So Packard went there. No Gardner.

A tweet bounced around showing Packard standing next to a Trump Tower doorman. She held leaflets stating, “MISSING: CORY GARDNER” and “TELL HIM TO GET BACK TO WORK,” along with his phone number, “202-224-5941.”

Then Packard went to another hotel, Lotte New York Palace, identified by conservative author Bill Kristol as the location for the lavish gathering..

No Gardner.

In between, Packard went to Central Park.

“I asked all the carriage drivers, and they have not seen him,” said Packard. “I asked the horses, and they had nothing to add.”

(more…)

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Blame Trump, But Don’t Forget His Republican Enablers


Republicans don’t seem to sweat President Trump’s dangerous behavior.

According to the website VeryWell Family, these are the top warning signs for children with a “serious behavior problem”: 1) Difficulty managing emotional outbursts, 2) Difficulty managing impulses, and 3) Behavior that does not respond to discipline.

You don’t need to be an expert or a parent to recognize reckless behavior in children. We’ve all seen out-of-control children at grocery stores, shopping malls, and airplanes. Our first reaction in this situation is usually to glance around in search of a parent or guardian, shaking our head in bewilderment that such behavior could go unchecked. We might be dismayed at the child’s actions, but our ire is generally reserved for the oblivious or indifferent parent nearby.

President Trump is the man-child in this analogy, and the Republican Party — particularly top GOP elected officials such as Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) — are the parental guardians. While the world collectively shakes its head at Trump’s ridiculous behavior, it is Trump’s Republican enablers who deserve an equal amount of scorn. When Trump throws a tantrum, he doesn’t get rebuked by fellow Republicans; instead, he gets a cookie. Trump can all but beg to be impeached, as he did on Thursday, and Republicans like Gardner will still headline a big fundraiser for him days later.

Chris Cillizza of CNN has a great outline today of this phenomenon, which he calls “the real issue” regarding President Trump’s scandalous behavior:

And yet, even as his actions in office grow more and more erratic and without historical precedent, the party stays united behind him.

Why? Simple! Fear.

“What is surprising, or shocking might be the better word for it, is the fact that Republican elected officials seem willing to not just condone this sort of behavior but even defend it.”

Every GOP elected official lives in fear of becoming the next Jeff Flake or Justin Amash — conservative Republicans in good standing with the party until they decided to publicly criticize Trump for something or other. The President pounced, his base attacked and both men found themselves in deeply precarious political predicaments.

Fear of being “Flaked” explains, for example, Sen. Lindsey Graham’s (R-South Carolina) absolute and total about-face on Trump. Ditto Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul. And dozens and dozens of other Republican elected officials who voiced deep concern about the idea of Trump even being their party’s nominee in 2016 — much less the President of the United States.

If political survival is your only goal, then what Republicans are doing vis a vis Trump is not only fine, but right. Of course, leadership is a very different thing than what we are seeing out of Republican elected officials at the moment.

And there is the very real possibility that the damage Trump is doing to the party (let alone the country) will have impacts that last well after he is gone from office — and come back to haunt those Republicans who stood silently by. [Pols emphasis]

Republicans like Gardner have always valued political survival above the interests of anything else, but it’s still hard to fathom the idea that there is no line Trump can cross that will be a line too far for the GOP.

Sen. Cory Gardner always stands behind President Trump

Gardner has made it abundantly clear, in fact, that he won’t be backing away from Trump for any reason. As Ian Silverii writes today in the Denver Post:

That Gardner would participate in this fundraiser with the full knowledge of the whistleblower scandal probably tells us that he understands that there will be no political exit for him. If new facts emerge from the impeachment inquiry or if public opinion continues to move against him, calling for Trump’s resignation will also be an indictment against Gardner for supporting him this far. Afterward, if Gardner tries to pull the ripcord, Trump-brand forks and knives will come out of the bag instead of his parachute.

The 2020 election will be a referendum on President Trump. It should also be a referendum on his Republican enablers. History will not be kind to the likes of Gardner and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, but Americans won’t have to wait for those books to be written in order to take action.

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Trump Basically Begging To Get Impeached Now


Does not know when to stop talking.

The Hill, just wow:

President Trump on Thursday publicly encouraged both China and Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son amid growing concerns over how Trump has used his position to pressure foreign governments to look into his political rivals.

“I would think that if they were honest about it they’d start a major investigation into the Bidens,” Trump told reporters at the White House when asked what he wanted Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to do about the Bidens following the July 25 call between the two leaders…

“China should start an investigation into the Bidens,” Trump said before departing for an executive order signing in Florida.

The president, whose administration is negotiating with China to resolve a trade dispute, said he had not explicitly asked Chinese President Xi Jinping to open an investigation, but that it’s “certainly something we can start thinking about.”

The intent here is obviously to normalize the idea that a sitting President can ask foreign governments to attack his political rivals in the middle of high-stakes negotiations (or in the case of Ukraine, freezing millions in foreign aid), and even though that is a crime under federal law if Trump just up and does it in front of news cameras it is somehow acceptable. And just in case you were wondering whether China is even a little bit interested in taking Donald Trump up on his request:

A Chinese diplomat suggested that China is not likely to be interested in investigating Democratic frontrunner Joe Biden, as President Trump suggested today.

“We do not want to get in the middle of the US politics,” the diplomat said. [Pols emphasis]

Before this is over, President Trump may wish he’d said the same. In 2015.

As Sen. Cory Gardner has said, “I think the President is going to continue to do what the President is going to continue to do.”

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Get More Smarter on Thursday (October 3)


It’s finally time to celebrate Fullmetal Alchemist day. Now, let’s 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 an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us Facebook and Twitter.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

President Trump is now publicly calling on China to investigate various Bidens for some sort of invented transgression. As NBC News reports:

“China should start an investigation into the Bidens because what happened in China is just about as bad as what happened with Ukraine,” Trump told reporters outside the White House.

While Trump said he hasn’t requested Chinese President Xi Jinping investigate the Bidens, the public call mirrors the private behavior on which Democrats are partially basing their impeachment inquiry— using the office of the presidency to press a foreign leader to investigate a political rival.

It is “certainly something we can start thinking about, because I’m sure that President Xi does not like being on that kind of scrutiny, where billions of dollars is taken out of his country by a guy that just got kicked out of the Navy,” Trump said Thursday of asking China to probe the Bidens. “He got kicked out of the Navy, all of the sudden he’s getting billions of dollars. You know what they call that? They call that a payoff.”

Now it’s “billions” of dollars. By this time next week, Trump will be alleging that the Bidens pocketed trillions.

In a related story, CNN’s Chris Cillizza takes us through the transcript of Trump’s bananas press conference on Wednesday alongside the President of Finland.

 

► Welcome to the shitshow, Vice President Mike Pence. From the Washington Post:

President Trump repeatedly involved Vice President Pence in efforts to exert pressure on the leader of Ukraine at a time when the president was using other channels to solicit information that he hoped would be damaging to a Democratic rival, current and former U.S. officials said.

Trump instructed Pence not to attend the inauguration of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in May — an event White House officials had pushed to put on the vice president’s calendar — at a time when Ukraine’s new leader was seeking recognition and support from Washington, the officials said.]]
Months later, the president used Pence to tell Zelensky that U.S. aid was still being withheld while demanding more aggressive action on corruption, officials said. At that time — following Trump’s July 25 phone call with Zelenksy — the Ukrainians probably understood action on corruption to include the investigation of former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden.

Pence is trying to claim ignorance about the whole Ukraine scandal, but as the Post reports, officials say that “one of Pence’s top advisers was on the July 25 call and the vice president should have had access to the transcript within hours.”

Have fun with this one, Mr. Vice President.

 

 The battle has been joined! The “YES” on Proposition CC campaign kicked off on Wednesday with the support of Gov. Jared Polis (D-Boulderish).

 

► Check out the latest episode of The Get More Smarter Podcast, featuring an interview with Los Angeles Times White House reporter Eli Stokols.

Get even more smarter after the jump… (more…)

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No Comment Cory: Dodgy As Ever


Invisible Cory GardnerCory Gardner is a United States Senator. This is a full-time job that fundamentally requires Gardner to take a position on important issues of the day. We assume that Gardner has opinions on things, but it is hard to know for sure because the Yuma Republican goes to such great efforts to avoid discussing…well, anything.

In early August we published a roundup of Gardner’s powers of invisibility that we titled, “No Comment Cory.” Over a period of about one month, we found more than 12 examples of Gardner or his office flat-out refusing to offer comment on a variety of topics. Two months later, we took a look to see if anything had changed.

It hadn’t.

 

August 9, 2019

The Denver Post wondered what Gardner thinks about a new television ad critical of his refusal to take any sort of meaningful action to curb gun violence in the United States:

Gardner’s campaign had no comment on the ad.

August 21, 2019

Proving that no subject is too inane to be dodged, Gardner was asked by the Washington Post about visiting the Colorado offices of Amazon.com:

Gardner stayed mum on Twitter about his Amazon tour, even though he tweeted about visits to Maxar Technologies in Westminster, Colo., and Swisslog Healthcare in Broomfield, Colo., the same day. Gardner spokeswoman Annalyse Keller declined to comment.

August 26, 2019

The Huffington Post wondered what Gardner thought about the rising popularity of Cardboard Cory:

Gardner’s office didn’t respond to a request for comment from HuffPost.

September 4, 2019

The Colorado Sun came this close to getting a comment from Gardner’s office about his decision to again support President Trump’s “emergency declaration” for border wall money:

Gardner’s office did not respond to a request for comment until midday Wednesday, nearly 24 hours after the story of the Peterson impact first broke. In it, the Republican blamed Democrats for the situation leading to the reallocated funds.

 

September 8, 2019

How about CNN? Would Gardner respond for a story about gun violence prevention measures? You already know the answer to this:

The Gardner campaign did not make the senator available for an interview with CNN for this story and did not respond to questions about whether the senator would support or oppose expanded background check or federal red flag legislation if either came up for a vote in the Senate.

September 11, 2019

Politico wondered about Gardner’s second vote in support of President Trump’s “emergency declaration,” which stalled an $8 million project at Peterson Air Force base:

When asked Wednesday if he’d support the national emergency declaration, Gardner responded: “I haven’t seen the resolution of disapproval, but I mean, the Democrats refuse to fund the border.”

 

September 19, 2019

The Colorado Sun reported on a story about federal leadership PACs. They tried and failed to get a response:

Gardner’s campaign declined to comment about Project West PAC.

 

September 24, 2019

What say Gardner about impeachment proceedings against President Trump? As Politico found, not much:

Gardner said Trump’s conversations with the president of Ukraine about Joe Biden and his family as well as a whistleblower complaint about the president’s conversations with a world leader are a “serious issue.” Asked if he still supported Trump’s reelection, Gardner declined to address the question: “Let’s find out what’s happening. Let’s get to the bottom of this.”

 

September 26, 2019

It’s your turn, Wall Street Journal:

September 26, 2019

As The Hill found, Gardner will go to great lengths to explain why he won’t explain:

Gardner was on his phone and unavailable to comment at a vote shortly before lunchtime. His office did not respond to a request for comment.

 

September 26, 2019

9News reporter/anchor Kyle Clark had some questions about Gardner concerning his continued support for President Trump’s “emergency declaration”:

For weeks now we’ve been asking Senator Gardner’s staff whether the Senator knew that Colorado could lose money when he was out there publicly promising that Colorado would be spared cuts. We’ve been trying to figure out, did the Trump administration pull a fast one on Gardner, or did Gardner know that we could lose a military project when he seemed to indicate otherwise. Once again today, Sen. Gardner’s spokeswoman would not answer that question.

September 27, 2019

The Denver Post got bupkus when they tried to ask Gardner about impeachment proceedings:

Ditto RealVail.com on a question about Gardner’s thoughts on the Ukraine whistleblower:

Colorado Republican Sen. Cory Gardner called the whistleblower allegations a “serious issue” but would not comment further until more facts are available.

 

We don’t pretend to understand the political or strategic calculations behind Gardner’s consistent dodginess, but there’s simply no denying that inaccessibility is the Gardner brand.

 

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Alligator Moats, Electrified Walls, and Migrant Snipers


If you were still one of the holdouts who didn’t believe that President Trump is completely out of his goddamn mind, new reports about Trump’s ideas for tightening border security should be enough to convince you otherwise.

As the New York Times reports:

The Oval Office meeting this past March began, as so many had, with President Trump fuming about migrants. But this time he had a solution. As White House advisers listened astonished, he ordered them to shut down the entire 2,000-mile border with Mexico — by noon the next day.

The advisers feared the president’s edict would trap American tourists in Mexico, strand children at schools on both sides of the border and create an economic meltdown in two countries. Yet they also knew how much the president’s zeal to stop immigration had sent him lurching for solutions, one more extreme than the next.

Privately, the president had often talked about fortifying a border wall with a water-filled trench, stocked with snakes or alligators, prompting aides to seek a cost estimate. He wanted the wall electrified, with spikes on top that could pierce human flesh. After publicly suggesting that soldiers shoot migrants if they threw rocks, the president backed off when his staff told him that was illegal. But later in a meeting, aides recalled, he suggested that they shoot migrants in the legs to slow them down. That’s not allowed either, they told him. [Pols emphasis]

Read that last paragraph again, and remember that these are serious proposals from the actual President of the United States of America.

In typical Trump fashion, the President expressed frustration to his advisors that more wasn’t being done to stop the flow of immigrants along the Mexico border. “You are making me look like an idiot!” he shouted during a March meeting in the Oval Office, completely oblivious to the absurdity of his own ideas. It’s worth noting that White House aides reportedly did look into cost estimates for an alligator moat.

Trump is not the first President to think of an alligator moat, though he is most certainly the first to have suggested it as a serious proposal. President Barack Obama once mentioned the idea of an alligator moat for border security — as a joke. As CBS News reported in May 2011:

“We have gone above and beyond what was requested by the very Republicans who said they supported broader reform as long as we got serious about enforcement,” Obama said. “But even though we’ve answered these concerns, I gotta say I suspect there are still going to be some who are trying to move the goal posts on us one more time.”

“Maybe they’ll need a moat,” Obama said mockingly to laughter from the crowd. “Maybe they’ll want alligators in the moat.” [Pols emphasis]

As far back as 2007, The Onion was laughing at the idea of an alligator moat as a border security option.

We’ll take this opportunity to remind you that Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) is one of the headliners at a Trump 2020 fundraiser this weekend in New York City. One day Gardner will tell his grandkids about the years in which he pandered to a lunatic.

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Dems Simply Upset With Last Election Or Playing Politics, Say Republicans Who Backed Colo Recall Efforts

(O-kay… Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Democrats are pursuing impeachment for political reasons or simply because they’re upset with the last election, say Republicans who backed the recall of Gov. Jared Polis (D-CO) and/or other Democrats soon after they were elected.

U.S. Rep. Ken Buck, head of the Colorado Republican Party, came out against impeachment, saying: “Democrats spent three years trying to overturn an election that didn’t go their way… It’s time to move on.”

In reporting on the statement, 9News’ Kyle Clark pointed out Sept. 25, “But the Colorado GOP pushed for the recalls of six Democrats this year.”

Buck called for the recall of Colo Democrats in a campaign-style speech in March, saying, “We need to teach them how to spell “R-E-C-A-L-L.”

Now, state Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg of Sterling is echoing Buck, telling a northern Colorado radio station that the impeachment effort is “playing politics,” and it’s a “distraction.”

“It’s a huge huge mistake for Nancy Pelosi to go down a path in which the polling that I have seen across the country is, people don’t want us to go down that path they actually want us to actually get our business taken care of in Washington DC and quit playing games,” said Sonnenberg on air.
“It just seems ludicrous to me that you would want to continue down that path rather than move an agenda forward,” he added.

Yet, Sonnenberg was a high-profile signer of the petition to recall Polis, having been featured on the Facebook page of “Dismiss Polis,” a group backing the now-failed effort.

Does Sonnenberg think the Polis recall was less about “playing politics” than the impeachment inquiry?

“They are two different scenarios,” Sonnenberg told the Colorado Times Recorder, emphasizing his point that he thinks the impeachment inquiry will hurt Democrats. “A recall is grassroots driven. It comes from the people. The impeachment came from the Speaker of House or a faction of that caucus.”

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The Get More Smarter Podcast: Episode 11


This week on The Get More Smarter Podcast, hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii interview Eli Stokols, White House reporter for the Los Angeles Times, for more perspective on President Trump’s impeachment troubles.

Last week, Stokols broke the story of President Trump suggesting that the whistleblower in the UkraineGate case was “almost a spy” and could be executed for treason. Stokols discusses his big scoop and his thoughts on how the case for impeachment will proceed.

Later in the show, Bane and Silverii talk about impeachment implications in Colorado, more trouble with recall grifting, and Ken Buck’s potentially precarious hold on the Chairmanship of the Colorado Republican Party.

The Get More Smarter Podcast is available on Apple Podcasts, Buzzcloud, Spotify, and Overcast. You can also follow the Podcast on Twitter @MoreSmarterShow. Thanks for listening!

Click after the jump to read a few selected quotes from the Stokols interview…

 

(more…)

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Gardner Straps In For More “Maximum Pressure”


Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

CNN, here we go again:

“I can confirm that US and (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) officials plan to meet within the next week. I do not have further details to share on the meeting,” US State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in a statement Tuesday.

The US special representative for North Korea, Stephen Biegun, will lead the US side of the working-level talks with North Korea, according to a State Department official.

Negotiations on denuclearization have stalled since February, when President Donald Trump cut short his meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Hanoi. Trump left the meeting with no joint agreement after Kim insisted all US sanctions be lifted on his country.

The last time the two leaders met was in June in the Korean Demilitarized Zone where they agreed to revive staff-level talks.

North Korea, like American relations with Russia, Ukraine, the Philippines, and any number of other flashpoints around the world, is a subject on which Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado has been obliged to tread very carefully since Donald Trump took office. Coming from a hayseed congressional district and the state legislature of a landlocked state, Gardner has worked hard to upgrade his international diplomacy credentials serving on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Gardner repeatedly chastised Trump’s Democratic predecessor for perceived weakness in relations with traditional American adversaries Russia and North Korea in particular.

Trump’s erratic on-again-off-again engagement with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, as well as the interference by Russia in the 2016 elections to help Trump win, has left Gardner’s hawkishness toward both countries in a very awkward position. Gardner denounces “Russian meddling” when he’s forced to, but without admitting on whose behalf the Russians meddled and why–obvious realities Gardner is politically unable to acknowledge. On North Korea, Gardner has been left to spin events he has no influence over after the fact as best he can, without breaking the cardinal rule of never saying anything on the record that could make Trump mad. Because the moment Trump’s Tweets of love for Gardner turn into nastygrams, Gardner loses his Republican base.

With all of this in mind, stay tuned for the results of this latest round of bilateral negotiations elevating the “Hermit Kingdom” to parity with the world’s greatest superpower! Gardner will be tuned in, too–and with former National Security Adviser John Bolton freshly trashing Trump on North Korea while boosting Gardner’s re-election campaign, we’ll be watching to see how Gardner manages to thread this rhetorical needle.

You know, along with all the others.

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Get More Smarter on Tuesday (October 1)


They say “spooky season” starts today; it kinds feels like that’s already been happening. Now, let’s 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 an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us Facebook and Twitter.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► The U.S. Department of State apparently plans to ignore Congressional subpoenas related to impeachment proceedings against President Trump. As the Washington Post explains:

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo fired a broadside at House Democrats on Tuesday, saying State Department officials scheduled to appear this week before committees conducting the impeachment inquiry would not be made available until “we obtain further clarity on these matters.”

The refusal, in a letter to House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot L. Engel (D-N.Y.), described the demand for depositions by five officials who played a role in U.S. relations with Ukraine as “an attempt to intimidate, bully, and treat improperly, the distinguished professionals of the Department of State.”…

…The statements came as Pompeo’s role in the Ukraine investigation broadened with reports that he was a participant in the July 25 call by President Trump to Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky, which led to the impeachment investigation.

Before that report, first published by The Wall Street Journal, Pompeo had brushed off questions about the incident, saying last week that he had not yet read the transcript of the telephone call released by the White House, or the whistleblower complaint that it sparked.

It was widely reported on Monday that Pompeo was indeed a participant on the infamous July 25 call with Ukraine. Now Pompeo is accusing Democrats of “bullying.”

The Trump administration appears to be digging in on impeachment at the same time that public opinion is drastically shifting in favor of ousting Trump. As Stephen Collinson writes for CNN, Trump’s impeachment defense strategy has more holes than the Denver Broncos’ roster:

The President seems to be reeling, waiting for the next blow to fall, defended only by his increasingly unhinged tirades, his tweets quoting supporters on cable news and confrontational and conspiracy-laden appearances by aides on TV.

The President’s unaccustomed struggle to control the narrative and to get his opponents to respond to his moves bodes ill for any hopes he has of avoiding a full House impeachment vote.

There is no sign of the organized, disciplined political and legal strategy that for instance helped Bill Clinton emerge from his impeachment trial as a viable President.

 

 As the New York Times reports, President Trump recently pressured Australia to get involved in helping to discredit the Mueller investigation.

 

 Democratic Presidential candidates are starting to reveal third quarter fundraising numbers. As CBS News reports Sen. Bernie Sanders raised $25 million in the last three months and South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg pulled down $19 million.

 

► Check out the latest episode of The Get More Smarter Podcast, featuring an interview with Los Angeles Times White House reporter Eli Stokols.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump… (more…)

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Next Question: Is Cory Still Heading To NYC This Weekend?


TUESDAY UPDATE: Via FOX 31’s Joe St. George, here’s your answer:

Duly noted for posterity. Filed under “fateful decisions.”

—–

Back in late August, we learned of a major Trump campaign fundraising “retreat” scheduled for the first week of October in New York City–the presumption is that it’s being held at Trump Tower though that has yet to be confirmed. Headlining this weekend’s retreat are former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley and Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado, who are both actually listed ahead of Donald Trump, Jr. in formation on the invite you can see above.

As our readers know, the month of September has been very bad for the Trump administration, starting the month having gummed the Mueller investigation to death but ending today with Democrats moving to impeach the President over a scandal the public wasn’t even aware of when September began. All eyes are now on vulnerable Republicans in general and Cory Gardner in particular for signs of a split from the President to save their own hides. The latest word we have on this front comes from National Journal Friday:

Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado called the transcript between Trump and the Ukrainian president “a serious issue” and declined to commit support for Trump’s reelection. (A spokesman for Gardner’s campaign called National Journal — after this column was published — to clarify that Gardner still supports the president’s re-election.)

Add this weekend’s Trump retreat to your list of bellwethers to watch in the impeachment crisis. If Gardner shows, it’s a sign that he’s standing by Trump no matter what happens. But if Gardner suddenly realizes he has a junket to the Philippines or a surprise swing through the Eastern Plains of Colorado on his schedule this weekend…

You’ll know what’s really going on. Stay tuned.

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Impeachment Rapidly Gaining in Popularity


Wayyy up.

As The Hill reports, Americans are growing increasingly more supportive of the idea of impeaching President Trump:

A survey from Quinnipiac University Poll released Monday found respondents evenly split, 47 percent to 47 percent, on whether they support impeaching President Trump and removing him from office, a 10-point swing in favor of impeachment over a five-day period. [Pols emphasis]

The polling firm previously found voters opposed to impeachment and removal, 57 percent to 37 percent, in a poll released Sept. 25. The shift is largely driven by increased support of impeachment among Democrats, who support it 90 percent to 5 percent in the newest poll, up from 73 percent to 21 percent last week…

…A majority of voters, 52 percent, said they specifically support the impeachment inquiry announced last week by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), with independents supporting it 50 percent to 45 percent.

Fifty-six percent of respondents said they think Trump believes he is above the law, compared to 42 percent who do not, while 54 percent agreed that Trump abuses the powers of his office versus 43 percent who disagreed.

Last week, Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) justified his opposition to an impeachment investigation in part by suggesting that public opinion was against the idea. It appears that Gardner is going to need a new argument.

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