Scott Tipton Faces Primary Challenge From Gun-Right

Lauren Boebert.

As the Colorado Sun’s Jesse Paul reports:

Lauren Boebert, the owner and operator of a Western Slope restaurant where all staffers openly carry guns, announced on Sunday a conservative primary challenge to Republican U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton.

“Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the Squad and the rest of these left-wing lunatics are taking a wrecking ball to our country while our current representative stays utterly silent,” Boebert said in a statement announcing her candidacy in Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District…

“Hard-working, patriotic Americans like you and me don’t want the Green New Deal and socialized medicine,” Boebert said. “Every time AOC and the rest of the Squad pipes up with another crazy idea, I will remind them that our belief in God, country and family are what built the United States of America into the greatest nation the world has ever known.”

Lauren Boebert, the owner of the relatively famous Shooters Grill in Rifle which features wait staff openly carrying loaded handguns so you don’t have to worry about anything in the middle of lunch, gained additional notoriety last September when she vocally weighed in at a town hall in Aurora held by then-Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke. This was right after O’Rourke had called for an Australia-style mandatory buyback of assault weapons, which didn’t boost O’Rourke’s campaign but did make him an especially reviled figure among the gun rights crowd.

Will Boebert’s newfound fame as the “Hell No Beto Mom” give her a competitive advantage taking on the low-charisma but surprisingly durable Republican incumbent in Colorado’s Third District, Rep. Scott Tipton? There’s a lot that has to happen before we can say that with any certainty. But if we were Tipton, we’d be more worried about Boebert than many of his previous small-time primary opponents. If Boebert gains momentum with fiercely conservative Western Slope Republicans, and shovels the red meat the base wants to hear better than Tipton, an upset in the GOP CD-3 primary is not beyond possibility.

0 Shares

Get More Smarter on Friday (December 6)

Saturday is Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day; Gov. Jared Polis has ordered flags to be lowered to half staff from sunrise to sunset tomorrow. 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 an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Will President Trump and/or his attorneys participate in impeachment hearings in front of the House Judiciary Committee? As The Washington Post reports, Trump has until 5:00 today to make that decision…but might choose to wait until the issue reaches the U.S. Senate:

A White House spokesman said Friday that Trump “welcomes” a trial in the Republican-led Senate and plans to bring forward “serious witnesses,” including the anonymous whistleblower who sparked the impeachment inquiry, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), and Joe and Hunter Biden.

“If it goes there, he wants a trial,” White House spokesman Hogan Gidley said during an appearance on Fox News. “He welcomes it. He wants the American people to see the truth. . . . He absolutely wants to bring forward serious witnesses, like the whistleblower, like Adam Schiff, like Hunter and Joe Biden. It they’re going to do this, if the Democrats want this fight, it’s something the president is willing to have.”

“He welcomes it.” That seems like a bit of a stretch.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced on Thursday that she had instructed her Democratic colleagues to begin preparing articles of impeachment. Justin Wingerter of The Denver Post wrote up one of those “here’s what officials on each side have to say” stories that doesn’t tell you anything you didn’t already know.

 

 Former New York City Mayor and newly-minted Democratic Presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg was in Aurora on Thursday to discuss his plans for addressing gun violence in the United States. As the Associated Press reports, Bloomberg is “calling for a ban on all assault weapons, mandatory permits for gun purchasers and a new position in the White House to coordinate gun violence prevention.”

 

► At least four people are dead after a shooting at a naval base in Pensacola, Florida.

 

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

1 Shares

Everybody Does Impeachable Things, Says Ken Buck

You’ll never catch me, logic!

Congressman Ken Buck (R-Greeley), who moonlights as the Colorado Republican Party Chairman (or vice-versa), has been struggling to come up with a coherent and consistent defense of President Trump in the face of mounting evidence for Trump’s impeachment. While Buck has been critical of the impeachment process and protective of President Trump, he also hasn’t bothered to actually attend most of the impeachment hearings to which he has been invited. After listening to Buck question witnesses on the first day of impeachment hearings in the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, it’s fair to argue that both he and Trump would have been better served in Buck’s absence.

In recent months Buck has offered various explanations for excusing Trump; he’s even been a public proponent of what has come to be called “The Sideshow Bob Defense,” which tries to excuse President Trump of wrongdoing based on the idea that his attempted bribery of Ukraine’s President didn’t work as intended. This is a particularly absurd defense from Buck; as a former prosecutor, he knows damn well that “attempted” robbery and “attempted” murder are criminal matters regardless of the outcome of the offense.

Buck took a different approach in his Trump defense on Wednesday, arguing that EVERY President — other than William Henry Harrison, who died 32 days into his first term in the White House — has committed what House Democrats would call an impeachable offense.

“The other three witnesses have identified this amorphous standard for impeaching a President,” said Buck in addressing Professor Jonathan Turley, the Republican-called legal/constitutional expert (CLICK HERE for the full clip of Buck’s ranting). Buck then listed off numerous “impeachable” offenses committed by everyone from Abraham Lincoln to Barack Obama. It was as if to say, Who among us hasn’t committed an impeachable offense?

Buck concluded with this perplexing high-horsed statement:

Now isn’t the difference, Professor Turley, that some people live in an ivory tower, and some people live in a swamp, and those of us that are in the swamp are doing our very best for the American people, but it’s not pretty.

Turley responded with an attempted joke about living in an ivory tower within a swamp. Immediately following this exchange, Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.) began her time at the microphone by saying, “I don’t believe the people’s house is a swamp.”

Social media users were equally perplexed with Buck’s line of questioning:

Fortunately for Buck and Trump, the Greeley Congressman wasn’t quite the disaster that he was when he was questioning Robert Mueller last summer. Instead of countering his own argument — which is what happened last July — Buck followed the script of his own version of a Chewbacca Defense.

To paraphrase the debate moderator character from the movie “Billy Madison,” everyone is now dumber for having listened to Ken Buck.

30 Shares

Get More Smarter on Wednesday (December 4)

Today is “National Cookie Day.” Please celebrate responsibly. 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 on Facebook and Twitter.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► The House Judiciary Committee today began its role in impeachment hearings by hearing testimony from prominent legal experts as to whether evidence unearthed thus far constitutes impeachable conduct by President Trump. Today’s hearings come one day after the House Intelligence Committee released a thorough report on findings from weeks of impeachment hearings and investigations. From The Washington Post:

“Ultimately the reason the Constitution provided for impeachment was to anticipate a situation like the one that is before you today,” Harvard Law School professor Noah Feldman testified. “If we cannot impeach a president who uses his power for personal advantage, we no longer live in a democracy, we live in a monarchy or a dictatorship.”

The questioning had the air of an introductory constitutional law class focused on impeachment – including a featured chart listing the A, the B, and the C of high crimes and misdemeanors: Abuse of Power, Betrayal of National Interest, and Corruption of Elections.

House Democrats’ committee counsel Norm Eisen asked the law professors to explain whether it was necessary for Trump to have committed a statutory crime to be impeached. University of North Carolina law professor Michael Gerhardt said no. The scale of Trump’s obstruction was an abuse, he stressed, because it “torpedoes” the separation of powers in the Constitution.

“If what we’re talking about is not impeachable, then nothing is impeachable,” he said.

One of the more dramatic moments in early testimony came after Republican Rep. Doug Collins questioned the knowledge and preparation of the legal experts testifying today. Stanford Law Professor Pamela Karlan was incensed at the suggestion:

“That everything I know about our Constitution and its values and my review of the evidentiary record and here, Mr. Collins, I would like to say to you, sir, that I read transcripts of every one of the witnesses who appeared in the live hearing because I would not speak about these things without reviewing the facts, so I’m insulted by the suggestion that as a law professor I don’t care about those facts.”

Colorado Rep. Joe Neguse (D-Lafayette) and Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley) are both members of the House Judiciary Committee and were in attendance this morning…though Buck must have had something more important to do later:

It was revealed last week that Buck, who also serves as the Chairman of the Colorado Republican Party, blew off most of the prior impeachment hearings that he was invited to attend as a member of the House Judiciary Committee.

 

President Trump is making a fool of himself and the United States at the NATO summit in London, and foreign leaders are having a hard time ignoring the circus. As CNN explains:

After President Donald Trump called him “two-faced,” Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, admitted Wednesday that he and other world leaders were talking about the US President when they were caught on camera at a Buckingham Palace event the night before.

The video, which has gone viral, shows British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, French President Emmanuel Macron, Trudeau and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte appearing to have a laugh about Trump’s behavior during the summit. But none of the leaders explicitly named Trump.

“Last night I made reference to the fact that there was an unscheduled press conference before my meeting with President Trump. I was happy to be part of it but it was certainly notable,” Trudeau said during a Wednesday press conference.

As The Washington Post adds, Trump was clearly stung by the reaction of his counterparts:

Trump was later caught on an audio recording bragging to an unidentified summit attendee, “That was funny when I said that guy was two-faced.”

CLICK HERE to watch the video of foreign leaders expressing exasperation with Trump during a conversation at Buckingham Palace.

 

► North Korea is making vague threats toward the United States about expecting a “Christmas Gift” in the upcoming weeks. From CNN:

The ominous comments, which some have interpreted as a sign that North Korea could resume long-distance missile tests, comes as the clock ticks closer to the country’s self-imposed end-of-year deadline for nuclear negotiations with the Trump administration.
Talks between the two sides have appeared to be in a rut in recent months, with North Korea conducting several shorter-range missile tests.

In a statement translated on the state news agency, Ri Thae Song, a first vice minister at the North Korean Foreign Ministry working on US affairs, accused US policy makers of leveraging talks with Kim Jong Un for domestic political gain.

“The dialogue touted by the US is, in essence, nothing but a foolish trick hatched to keep the DPRK bound to dialogue and use it in favor of the political situation and election in the US,” Ri said, using the acronym for North Korea’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

“It is entirely up to the US what Christmas gift it will select to get,” added Ri.

Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma), the self-professed “leader in the Senate” on North Korea, STILL hasn’t said a public word about this or anything related to strained U.S. relations with South Korea.

Gardner also won’t comment on Trump’s claims of election interference by Ukraine, but he will still say that Russia should be labeled a “state sponsor of terror.”

 

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

0 Shares

The Get More Smarter Podcast: No Defense? Just Make Stuff Up!

This week on The Get More Smarter Podcast, ProgressNow Colorado Political Director Alan Franklin joins Jason Bane to talk about a new phase in impeachment proceedings that includes a Colorado connection; legislative plans to push forward on gun safety measures; and how Sen. Cory Gardner’s big BLM deal just keeps looking worse. Later, Alan performs well in “Duke or Donald,” the game that nobody can really win.

The Get More Smarter Podcast is available on Apple Podcasts, Buzzcloud, Spotify, and Overcast. You can also follow the Podcast on Twitter @MoreSmarterShow. If you have a question or comment, hit us up at AngryRants@GetMoreSmarter.com.

0 Shares

Just Impeachie: Know More Than Your Drunk Uncle

UPDATE: President Trump now insists that he definitely did not do that thing that he already said that he did:

President Donald Trump on Tuesday denied that he directed his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani to go to Ukraine and seek out investigations on his behalf, contradicting his own words to the Ukrainian President in the White House released transcript of the July 25 call.

Trump also contradicted sworn testimony from members of his administration and claims from his own White House acting chief of staff.

—–
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 into one convenient location.

For this chapter of “Just Impeachie,” we’re getting you caught up on all things impeachment-related so that you are fully prepared to argue with your drunk uncle on Thanksgiving (or whatever it’s called now).

 

President Trump knew all about the whistleblower’s complaint when he made the decision to release hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid to Ukraine. This report from The New York Times effectively destroys one of Trump’s main impeachment defense arguments:

President Trump had already been briefed on a whistle-blower’s complaint about his dealings with Ukraine when he unfroze military aid for the country in September, according to two people familiar with the matter.

Lawyers from the White House counsel’s office told Mr. Trump in late August about the complaint, explaining that they were trying to determine whether they were legally required to give it to Congress, the people said.

The revelation could shed light on Mr. Trump’s thinking at two critical points under scrutiny by impeachment investigators: his decision in early September to release $391 million in security assistance to Ukraine and his denial to a key ambassador around the same time that there was a “quid pro quo” with Kyiv. Mr. Trump used the phrase before it had entered the public lexicon in the Ukraine affair.

 

Greg Sargent of The Washington Post explains why Tuesday’s New York Times story is so important to the impeachment case:

First, it refutes the absurd notion that, because Trump ultimately released the aid, this somehow shows the plot to pressure Ukraine into announcing investigations to help his reelection was never corrupt. We now know Trump knew it had been exposed before the aid was released…

…But this new revelation also undercuts the “I want nothing — no quid pro quo” defense as well. It sheds light on another key subplot: the manner in which Trump appears to have corruptly directed Sondland to convey the extortion demand to Ukraine, while preserving plausible deniability for doing so…

…The whistleblower conceded he didn’t know for certain that Trump’s freezing of the aid was directly linked to his pressure on Ukraine to launch sham investigations validating the 2016 CrowdStrike conspiracy theory and the invented narrative of Joe Biden’s corruption. But he said officials were alarmed by it.

Sondland, however, did ultimately draw this direct link — and testified that he discussed it with the president himself. And that’s why the revelation that Trump knew of the whistleblower complaint fills in a crucial piece of the puzzle.

 

President Trump held a campaign rally in Florida on Tuesday that was largely focused on his impeachment defense (or what’s left of it).

 

As Maeve Reston writes for CNN, a key Republican talking point in for defending Trump against impeachment was blown up on Tuesday:

New transcripts of witness testimony and news reports revealing key details on the Ukraine scandal timeline show in vivid detail the way President Donald Trump and top officials maneuvered behind the scenes to block aid to Ukraine as the President sought an investigation into his political rival Joe Biden…

…We now know that White House budget office took its first official action to withhold $250 million in aid to Ukraine on the evening of July 25, according to a House Budget Committee summary of the office’s documents.

That was the very same day that Trump spoke by phone with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky, prefacing his request for an investigation of the 2016 election with the now infamous phrase “I would like you to do us a favor, though.” Agencies had been notified at a July 18 meeting that the aid had been frozen by the President, a week before the call.

 

Here’s a brief rundown from a separate CNN story about the big developments from Tuesday’s impeachment testimony. Vox.com also breaks down Tuesday’s revelations.

 

Two officials in the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) apparently resigned over concerns about the holdup of military aid to Ukraine.

 

Former White House counsel Don McGahn received a brief respite in his case pitting the Justice Department against House Democrats seeking his testimony on impeachment-related matters.

 

President Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, was reportedly in talks to represent Ukraine’s former top prosecutor as Yuri Lutsenko attempts to recover assets that he alleges were stolen by the Ukrainian government. Talks surrounding this $200,000 contract were happening at the same time that Giuliani was working with Lutsenko to dig up dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden

 

Fox News’ talking monkey, Tucker Carlson, argues that impeachment hearings are actually making President Trump stronger. Like Godzilla, or something.

 

White House lawyers are debating whether or not to accept an invitation from House Democrats to participate in impeachment hearings next week.

 

Polls show that a majority of Americans support President Trump’s impeachment and removal from office; at least one poll indicates that impeachment support among Independent voters is on the rise. Trump is responding by inventing his own poll numbers out of thin air.

 

Listen to this week’s episode of The Get More Smarter Podcast for more on how Republicans are turning to “The Chewbacca Defense” as they struggle to figure out a way to defend President Trump against impeachment.

2 Shares

Steve Reams Gets His Border Photo-Op On

It’s a rite of passage for Colorado Republicans aspiring to higher office to take a trip to the Mexican border (needless to say, well outside their jurisdiction) for the purpose of demonstrating their commitment to “stopping the invasion.” Back in 2010, a group of Republican state lawmakers made a now-infamous trip to Arizona hosted by SPLC-listed hate group American Border Patrol to study the impact of that state’s anti-immigrant law Senate Bill 1070, which was later overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court:

From left: 2010 House candidate (now Senate Minority Leader) Chris Holbert, then-Rep. Kent Lambert, Sen. Scott Renfroe, then-Rep. Laura Bradford, 2010 House candidate Janak Joshi, then-Rep. Randy Baumgardner.

Senator Minority Leader Chris Holbert (R-Parker)

The 2010 visit to Arizona in particular raised eyebrows due to the contact by Colorado Republican lawmakers with decidedly non-governmental militia groups and anti-immigrant activists. Lawmakers “toured” the border with the so-called “American Border Patrol” openly carrying weapons and playing with night vision equipment (photo right).

In 2014, Republican lawmakers paid another visit to the Texas border, but this time SB-1070 had been repealed and lawmakers confined their visit to official Border Patrol and other agencies. Ironically there seem to have been fewer trips of this kind to the border by Colorado Republicans since Donald Trump took office, or in any event less publicized. We assume that’s because it’s mostly Democrats heading to the border now documenting a humanitarian crisis.

With that said, Trump’s border wall remains very popular with base conservative Republican voters, the exact segment of the electorate the upwardly mobile Weld County Sheriff Steve Reams hopes to rally to victory in a future election for higher office. Reams is promising a big reveal on his Facebook page from his time on the border last week, and even though Weld County is 700 miles from the nearest Mexican border he’ll no doubt rivet his target audience with tales of intrigue and danger and steel slats.

As the most visible of the state’s elected politician-sheriffs, it’s been clear for some time now that Reams has higher ambitions–whether the legislature, the on-again off-again list to succeed Rep. Ken Buck in CD-4, or another more overtly political role than sheriff. We’re not as confident how he’ll fare once he gets there, but the border photo op checks off a telltale box.

2 Shares

The Get More Smarter Podcast: Jim Jordan’s Jibber Jabber

This week on The Get More Smarter Podcast, Republicans turn to “The Chewbacca Defense” on behalf of President Trump; Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley) doesn’t bother to show up to impeachment hearings; Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) still hasn’t said anything about either Korea; Andrew Romanoff weaves a complicated narrative in the U.S. Senate race; and Indivisible leader Katie Farnan plays America’s worst favorite game, “Duke or Donald.”

The Get More Smarter Podcast is available on Apple Podcasts, Buzzcloud, Spotify, and Overcast. You can also follow the Podcast on Twitter @MoreSmarterShow. If you have a question or comment, hit us up at AngryRants@GetMoreSmarter.com.

0 Shares

Get More Smarter on Tuesday (November 26)

Happy Snowmageddon; please celebrate responsibly. 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 on Facebook and Twitter.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

►  A federal judge ruled late Monday that former White House counsel Don McGahn cannot be shielded from Congressional testimony by the Trump administration. As The Washington Post explains, Monday’s ruling touches on a broader subject of executive power in the United States:

In her ruling that Don McGahn must comply with a congressional subpoena, U.S. District Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson of Washington goes to great lengths to illustrate how far out on a constitutional limb President Trump and Attorney General Bill Barr have crawled with their absolutist claims of executive power.

Jackson invokes “Animal Farm” as she dismisses the Justice Department’s position that the president alone has the authority to make unilateral determinations regarding whether he and his senior aides, current and former, will respond to, or defy, subpoenas from House committees during investigations of potential wrongdoing by his own administration.

“For a similar vantagepoint, see the circumstances described by George Orwell,” the judge writes in her 118-page decision. “All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others.”

House Democrats want the former White House counsel, who left his position in October 2018, to testify about the episodes of possible obstruction of justice that former special counsel Bob Mueller outlined in his report. They are debating whether to proceed with articles of impeachment related to the president’s alleged efforts to undermine that investigation. Jackson said McGahn can assert executive privilege when asked specific questions, but Trump cannot issue a blanket order to stop his former aide from showing up to testify.

“Compulsory appearance by dint of a subpoena is a legal construct, not a political one, and per the Constitution, no one is above the law,” she concludes. [Pols emphasis]

The Justice Department plans to appeal the ruling, because Trump minions clearly do believe that some people are “above the law.”

Chris Cillizza of CNN has more on the significance on Monday’s ruling:

Obviously, if you are McGahn, you have to now prepare yourself for at least the possibility that you will be asked — under oath — about your role in the potential obstruction of justice by Trump in Robert Mueller’s special counsel probe into Russian obstruction in the 2016 election. (McGahn is requesting a week-long stay so he can appeal the ruling.)

But if you are, say Guiliani or Mulvaney, this ruling has to give you pause. Yes, McGahn is a former White House employee while Mulvaney and Giuliani currently work for Trump. (Former national security adviser John Bolton, it’s worth noting, is also a former administration official who has not been subpoenaed, but who House investigators *really* want to talk to.)

Giuliani and Mulvaney could possibly hang their hats on the idea that Trump’s broad claim of executive privilege could well apply to them as active employees in a way that courts have ruled it doesn’t apply to McGahn. Maybe! But that line of reasoning took a hit on Monday — and will force anyone with an outstanding subpoena from Congress to reconsider their position at least somewhat in the coming days.

Predictably, President Trump took to his Twitter machine on Tuesday morning to declare that he actually wants more people to testify. Riiigghht.

 

A majority of Americans believe that President Trump should not only be impeached but removed from office by the U.S. Senate. Compare these numbers to public support for the impeachment and removal of Bill Clinton in 1998, which never even reached 30%.

 

Slade Gorton, a former Republican Senator from Washington, argues in a New York Times Op-Ed that there is more than enough information for the GOP to act on the impeachment of President Trump:

To my fellow Republicans, I give this grave and genuine warning: It’s not enough merely to dismiss the Ukraine investigation as a partisan witch hunt or to hide behind attacks against the “deep state,” or to try to find some reason to denounce every witness who steps forward, from decorated veterans to Trump megadonors.

History demands that we all wrestle with the facts at hand. They are unavoidable. Fifty years from now, history will not accept the position that impeachment was a referendum on the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi. It must be a verdict reached on the facts…

…Here’s what I know: Neither the country nor the Constitution is served by a partisan shouting match divorced from the facts, a process boycotted by one side refusing to engage on the merits. John Adams is still right 250 years later: Facts are stubborn things. Facts are what should determine whether a stubborn president stays in office. Republicans, don’t fight the process, follow the facts wherever they lead, and put country above party.

 

► The Denver City Council has approved a minimum wage increase, as Conrad Swanson reports for The Denver Post:

The new law requires employers to bump hourly employees to at least $12.85 on Jan. 1, with a second raise to $14.77 following at the start of 2021, and a third to $15.87 in 2022. After that, the new law mandates that it will then be adjusted annually for inflation using the Consumer Price Index.

Public comment was overwhelmingly, if not entirely, in favor of the law, which places Denver as the first Colorado city to raise the local minimum wage. Ultimately, the council voted 11-0…

…Initially, the ordinance proposed to mandate the raises in two tiers, reaching $15.87 by 2021, though that plan was mellowed after some criticized it as too aggressive or quick. Mayor Michael Hancock’s office later announced the three-tiered approach and the bill was introduced by Councilwoman Robin Kniech, who called it history in the making Monday night.

 

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

1 Shares

Schiff: Impeachment Report Coming After Thanksgiving

As The Washington Post explains, impeachment hearings against President Trump will soon be moving from the House Intelligence Committee to the House Judiciary Committee:

Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) said Monday that House investigators will transmit a report on Trump’s conduct in the Ukraine controversy to the Judiciary Committee shortly after Congress returns from Thanksgiving recess next week.

In a letter to colleagues, Schiff underscored that stonewalling by the White House could form the basis for a separate article of impeachment.

Meanwhile, a federal judge has said she will rule by the end of the day on whether former White House counsel Donald McGahn must testify before Congress.

The House Judiciary Committee includes two Colorado Congressional Members: Rep. Joe Neguse (D-Lafayette) and Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley). We have no doubt that Rep. Neguse will be in attendance for the next phase of impeachment hearings; whether or not Rep. Buck will bother to show up is a different question, but he’s (probably) not going to skip out on public testimony.

1 Shares

“Post-9/11 Recovery Funds?” You Mean the “Bush Tax Cuts?”

The ethics complaint filed by former GOP House Speaker Frank McNulty against former Gov. John Hickenlooper has been generally discounted by knowledgeable observers looking at what appear to be the innocuous facts of some travel Hickenlooper took as governor–including in large part by Hickenlooper’s primary opponents. Despite this, the process of such a complaint against either a sitting or a former elected official provides political opponents numerous opportunities to pitch negative stories along the way to reporters, sometimes with success and sometimes not.

One of those fairly predictable negative pitches involves the fact that the legal defense for public officials in ethics proceedings in Colorado is paid for by the state. Former Secretary of State Scott Gessler, for example, spent hundreds of thousands of dollars unsuccessfully defending himself against an ethics complaint stemming from his use of discretionary funds for partisan political event travel. In the case of the complaint against Hickenlooper, the Denver Post and 9NEWS both reported yesterday that the public has picked up a little north of $40,000 of the tab for defending Hickenlooper from McNulty.

There’s nothing unusual in reporting on a detail like this, and we’re happy to recount news reports of Gessler’s legal tab for that particular case. But the Denver Post led its story with a bizarre detail that we’ve been puzzling about all day:

John Hickenlooper’s attorney has been paid $43,390 — at a rate of $525 per hour — in taxpayer money to defend him before the Colorado Independent Ethics Commission as part of an arrangement that dates back to the former governor’s time in office.

It’s common for Colorado elected officials to be represented by government lawyers, or by private attorneys enlisted by the government, but in this case, the recipient of the money was hidden and the money came from a federal fund meant to help the state after 9/11. [Pols emphasis]

Wait, what? Post 9/11 economic recovery fund? What in the hell is that?

Here’s what the Post’s Justin Wingerter writes to back up his sensational allegation:

According to the transparency database, money paid by the state to Grueskin comes from the Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003, a bundle of federal dollars allocated as part of a President George W. Bush-era plan to jump-start the post-9/11 economy. [Pols emphasis]

You haven’t heard of this “post-9/11 recovery fund” because nobody ever called it that. What Wingerter is referring to is the Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003, otherwise known as the “Bush Tax Cuts.”

Of course, the 2003 Bush Tax Cuts did pass through Congress “post-9/11.” In that regard, every piece of legislation that has been approved since September 11, 2001 could also be called “post-9/11.” This executive order from Gov. Bill Owens in 2003 — which is linked in the Post story — makes no mention whatsoever of “9/11.” The money allocated in the Bush Tax Cuts went to all sorts of purposes, including immunization programs and charter school construction. Nobody would characterize the 2003 Bush tax cuts as “9/11 relief” because that’s not how they were sold even at the time.

The group that filed this ethics complaint in the first place, which is run by former State House Speaker Frank McNulty, is trying to re-name decades-old legislation in order to give their flailing argument a boost. Today, two Republican lawmakers are speaking out in an effort to boost this “9/11 relief” nonsense. As Marianne Goodland writes for the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman:

Sen. Paul Lundeen, R-Monument, and Rep. Rod Bockenfeld, R-Watkins, sent a letter to chair and vice-chair of the Legislative Audit Committee on Thursday, seeking an investigation into “the inappropriate, perhaps illegal” use of federal dollars for Hickenlooper’s legal bills. Bockenfeld and Lundeen are both members of the audit committee…

…That letter, which was obtained by Colorado Politics, said those federal dollars were intended to “jump start” Colorado’s post-9/11 economy. According to an executive order from then-Gov. Bill Owens, the dollars were to provide “essential government services or to cover the costs of certain unfunded federal mandates.”

The letter said the executive order does not say anything about being used to cover legal bills for Hickenlooper’s private lawyers. Since it does not allow for those kinds of expenses, no argument can be made that paying Hickenlooper’s legal bills “is an essential government service or unfunded federal mandate,” the letter said. [Pols emphasis]

Great work, detectives. It would be very odd indeed if the 2003 executive order said something about the money being used to cover Governor Hickenlooper’s legal bills, since Hickenlooper was at that point in time beginning his first term as MAYOR OF DENVER. 

There will inevitably be negative stories that present themselves in the process of an ethics complaint. Whether it’s Scott Gessler or John Hickenlooper, nobody enjoys reading about taxpayer dollars spent on legal defense. But taxpayer money is often used for the legal defense of elected officials who were serving in publicly-funded jobs at the time. The real absurdity here is the “9/11 relief funds” angle on the original Post story, which no doubt helped generate clicks to the Post website but has nothing to do with the rest of the story.

If there’s something we’re missing here, the comment section is open.

0 Shares

Nunes, Republicans Get Smacked for Silly Questions

Fiona Hill isn’t playing around.

Fiona Hill, a former member of President Trump’s national security team and an advisor on Russia, is testifying publicly today as part of impeachment hearings into Trump’s bribery scandal with Ukraine. Hill also took her opportunity in front of the cameras to push back against Republican conspiracy theories that Ukraine, and not Russia, interfered in the 2016 U.S. elections — ideas that are being promoted by the ranking Republican member of the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Devin Nunes.

As The Washington Post explains:

“This is a fictional narrative that has been perpetrated and propagated by the Russian security services,” Hill said in her opening statement.

The statement amounted to a rebuke of President Trump; Rep. Devin Nunes (Calif.), the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee; and others who have advanced claims that it was Ukraine — and not Russia — that waged information warfare against the United States in 2016.

“Some of you on this committee appear to believe that Russia and its security services did not conduct a campaign against our country,” she said.

Hill’s testimony sets the stage for an extraordinary development in the impeachment hearings, with Trump’s former top adviser on Russia essentially telling the public under oath that his refusal to accept the reality of Moscow’s intervention in 2016 is wrong.

“The unfortunate truth is that Russia was the foreign power that systematically attacked our democratic institutions,” Hill said. “It is beyond dispute.” [Pols emphasis]

Nunes and other Republicans have continually sought to sow Ukrainian conspiracy theories into impeachment testimony. On Wednesday, Nunes said point-blank that Democrats “got campaign dirt from Ukrainians in the 2016 election” and “were heavily involved, working with Ukrainians, to dirty up the Trump campaign.”

Via CNN (11/21/19)

Hill’s statements today are another black eye for Nunes, a staunch Trump ally who has played the role of a bumbling fool for much of the impeachment process. As Salon.com reports, Nunes’ opening statement on Wednesday — prior to the explosive testimony of EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland — indicated that he was completely unprepared for the day’s testimony:

Nunes began by comparing the Democrats’ impeachment push to former special counsel Bob Mueller’s probe, listing off numerous charges that although he dismissed at false were actually proven true.

“Trump had a diabolical plan to build a Trump Tower in Moscow,” he said. (True.) “Trump changed the Republican National Committee platform to hurt Ukraine and benefit Russia,” he added. (True.) “Trump’s son-in-law lied about his Russian contacts while obtaining his security clearance,” he continued. (True.)

“It’s a long list of false charges, and that’s merely a partial list,” Nunes declared after reading the largely corroborated list.

Nunes then went on to claim that Democrats were again pushing false charges in the Ukraine case.

“When the Democrats can’t get any traction for their allegations of a quid pro quo, they move the goalposts and accuse the president of extortion, then bribery, and as a last resort, obstructing justice,” Nunes said, moments before Sondland explicitly described a “quid pro quo.” [Pols emphasis]

Nunes has, in fact, turned into something of a Trump clone. He has devoted much of his time during impeachment hearings to floating miscellaneous conspiracy theories and attacking the media. As CNN’s Chris Cillizza notes, Nunes appears to be concerned only with how he appears to President Trump.

Via The Atlantic (11/20/19)

Is all of this obfuscation and verbal nonsense from Nunes actually working in Trump’s favor and weakening the case for impeachment? As The Hill explains, pictures tell the story better than anything Nunes can say. This brief montage from The Daily Show works even better:

 

133 Shares

The Get More Smarter Podcast: The Sideshow Bob Defense

This week on The Get More Smarter Podcast, Congressmen Ken Buck (R-Greeley) and Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs) test out some odd impeachment defense strategies; Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) celebrates two years without a town hall event; Colorado Republicans promote a pointless new ballot measure; and the “fairy godmother” of the #resistance, Jessica Zender, plays America’s worst favorite game show, “Duke or Donald.”

The Get More Smarter Podcast is available on Apple Podcasts, Buzzcloud, Spotify, and Overcast. You can also follow the Podcast on Twitter @MoreSmarterShow. If you have a question or comment, hit us up at AngryRants@GetMoreSmarter.com.

1 Shares

Get More Smarter on Tuesday (November 19)

Happy World Toilet Day; please celebrate responsibly. 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 on Facebook and Twitter.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

The Washington Post catches us up on the latest news on today’s public impeachment hearings:

Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a National Security Council official, testified Tuesday that he spoke to an intelligence community official, whom he declined to name, about President Trump’s July call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Vindman also testified in the impeachment proceedings that he was concerned about Trump’s statements about domestic politics on the call, which he characterized as “improper.”

Vindman is one of four key witnesses testifying at the House Intelligence Committee hearing Tuesday. The others are: Jennifer Williams, an adviser to Vice President Pence, Tim Morrison, another senior NSC official, and Kurt Volker, a former envoy to Ukraine.

President Trump is claiming that he doesn’t know any of the witnesses testifying in impeachment proceedings, which would probably be irrelevant even if it were true; this strategy is about as effective as claiming that everyone involved is a “Never Trumper.

Meanwhile, Trump says that he would consider testifying on impeachment matters “in writing,” a claim the President made as news was breaking that House Democrats may also be looking into allegations that Trump lied to special prosecutor Robert Mueller.

Chris Cillizza of CNN has more on Tuesday’s impeachment hearings.

 

► Today’s revelations could be just the appetizer to Wednesday’s main course, when EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland sits down in front of the House Intelligence Committee. Will Sondland have trouble “remembering” his July 26th telephone conversation with President Trump regarding efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden?

 

► Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) is the Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Asia and calls himself the “leader in the Senate” on issues relating to North Korea. Yet Gardner still hasn’t said a public word about President Trump’s recent decisions to weaken U.S. alliances with South Korea and Japan.

 

► Check out this week’s episode of The Get More Smarter Podcast for more on how Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley) tries using the “Sideshow Bob” defense on impeachment.

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

0 Shares

Lamborn Tosses Giuliani Under the Bus

Rep. Doug Lamborn (R) as a fictional character.

Congressman Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs) isn’t a member of the House Intelligence Committee (in any sense of the phrase) that is currently overseeing public impeachment hearings against President Trump, but that doesn’t mean he can’t try to advance his own ridiculous theory on the matter.

David Corn of Mother Jones and MSNBC apparently found Lamborn talking to reporters in Washington D.C. today on the second day of public impeachment hearings. Lamborn’s take on the Ukraine scandal is that Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani acted as some sort of rogue actor:

LAMBORN: I have some questions about what Mr. Giuliani was doing. But that’s a side issue. That…that’s got really nothing to do with the President.

Lamborn’s comment is justifiably met with credulity from Corn, who tries unsuccessfully to get the Colorado Springs Republican to explain how 2+2 = 5.

REPORTER: But doesn’t it have everything to do with the President when the President is telling officials, ‘Talk to Rudy. Talk to Rudy.’

LAMBORN: Unless he [Giuliani] was off on his own mission doing things that people didn’t know about, kind of like a loose cannon. Then, that’s a Rudy Giuliani problem, not a President Trump one.

REPORTER: But, this is what I don’t get: The President told [Ukrainian President] Zelinsky, ‘I want you to talk to Rudy.’ The President told top diplomats when they came in to see him, ‘Talk to Rudy. Talk to Rudy.’ So the President is empowering Rudy Giuliani, so isn’t he responsible for Rudy Giuliani’s involvement in all of this? If he’s telling people, ‘Rudy’s my man.’

LAMBORN: He may have been wrong to trust Rudy Giuliani if Giuliani was doing things on his own that were improper. So maybe he was trusting him too much.

The reporter tries once more to get Lamborn to explain his incongruent logic, but Lamborn begs off by saying that he has to go vote on something.

You can watch the entire exchange below:

108 Shares

Witness Alleges Intimidation, So Trump Responds with Threats

If Trump believed in Climate Change, he’d have something else to blame for all of this heat.

The second day of public testimony on impeachment hearings against President Trump took a very Trumpian direction today. As the Associated Press reports:

Former U.S. Ukraine Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch provided chilling detail Friday in Trump impeachment hearings of being suddenly ousted from her post and feeling threatened upon learning President Donald Trump had denounced her in a July phone call with Ukraine’s president. In that call, Trump assailed her as “bad news” and said she was “going to go through some things.”

In an extraordinary moment, even in an administration filled with them, Trump himself went after her again as she spoke, tweeting from the White House that everywhere she served had “turned bad.” He emphasized that as president he had the “absolute right” to appoint his own ambassadors…[Pols emphasis]

…After Trump’s tweet on Friday, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee swiftly intervened, halting the questioning to read the president’s comments out loud to the witness — and Americans following the hearing — during a live broadcast across the country.

“Ambassador Yovanovitch, as we sit here testifying, the president is attacking you on Twitter,” said Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff of California. “What effect do you think that has on other witnesses’ willingness to come forward and expose wrongdoing?”

“Well, it’s very intimidating,” she said.

But don’t worry about any of this; the White House issued a statement saying that President Trump’s Tweets are “not witness intimidation.” Trump himself later defended his Tweets by saying, “I have freedom of speech, just like other people do.”

It’s hard to think that a person could be handling this any worse, but if anybody can find a way…

119 Shares

Impeachment Logic with Ken Buck

Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley)

Congressional Republicans are scrambling to figure out how to proceed with their full-throated support of President Trump in the wake of Wednesday’s public impeachment hearings, in which Ambassador William B. Taylor, Jr. and George Kent, a deputy assistant secretary at the State Department, testified for hours in front of members of the House Intelligence Committee. Taylor’s testimony was particularly damning, and not just because it included new revelations about a phone call between Trump and EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland that makes it appear that Trump was really only interested in investigating political rival Joe Biden.

While we have yet to hear from Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) on his opinion of Wednesday’s hearings, Congressman/State Republican Party Chairman Ken Buck (R-Greeley) talked to Justin Wingerter of The Denver Post and gave his thoughts on what took place yesterday. We’ll get to Buck’s incredible nonsense in a moment, but first we should present some background information.

Buck had previously been a fan of what has come to be called “The Sideshow Bob Defense,” owing to the nefarious character from the long running TV show “The Simpsons.” In essence, this theory is based on the idea that Trump did not actually commit a crime because his extortion attempt with Ukraine was unsuccessful. This is, of course, completely absurd; attempting to commit a crime is still a crime. Ineptitude is not a defense.

“Convicted of a crime I didn’t even commit. Hah! Attempted murder? Now honestly, what is that? Do they give a Nobel Prize for attempted chemistry? Do they?”

As we wrote last month, Buck’s usage of “The Sideshow Bob Defense” was patently ridiculous:

As for whether or not Trump committed a crime even if the quid pro quo is universally acknowledged, that’s not up to Ken Buck to decide. Federal law says clearly that seeking assistance from a foreign government in an American election is a crime. Again, if anyone out there should be expected to know this without being told, it’s a former prosecutor. At the end of September, Buck even said “I don’t think this is necessarily even wrong” in reference to what  federal law clearly defines as a criminal act. Today, Buck sidesteps the question by saying only that it’s not an “impeachable offense,” but his credibility to make that judgment is already spent after he argued that what is clearly a crime is in fact not.

You’ll never catch me, logic!

Buck never misses a chance to remind a reporter that he is a “former prosecutor,” though it appears that the former Weld County District Attorney either didn’t really know what he was doing at the time or forgot everything he once knew about the law…which leads us back to his comments to The Denver Post today:

“Whether it’s appropriate or not, the voters can decide. It’s not impeachable,” the congressman said in a phone interview Thursday morning, a day after public hearings in the impeachment inquiry began…

…Buck compared the allegations against Trump — that he withheld nearly $400 million in military aid to Ukraine because the Eastern European ally would not investigate the son of Joe Biden, a possible Trump opponent — to conditions the U.S. government routinely places on foreign aid, while reiterating that he does not believe Trump withhold the money in order to force an investigation into the Bidens.

“For example, we put tariffs on Mexico and say to Mexico, ‘Help us stop the flow of illegal immigrants into the United States’ and Mexico agreed to do that and has been doing that and the president withdrew the tariffs. That’s a quid pro quo. It’s not illegal. In and of itself, a quid pro quo does not violate the law,” Buck said. Over the summer, Trump threatened to place tariffs on all Mexican goods, but backed off after an agreement was reached on immigration enforcement.

This is objectively wrong. Period.

It is irrelevant whether or not Buck thinks President Trump’s request of Ukraine is illegal. We don’t need Buck’s opinion here because the law itself is clear.

Now take a gander at how the Greeley Congressman would raise the bar on Presidential misconduct:

The congressman declined to say whether he believes it’s appropriate for a president to ask such a favor, calling that a hypothetical scenario. A quid pro quo, as Democrats allege Trump engaged in, would only be an impeachable offense if it rises to the level of a crime, said Buck, a former prosecutor.

“In other words, if I’m the president of the United States and I say to (Russian President) Vladimir Putin, ‘If you go and kill these three political opponents of mine, I will give you aid, or I will stop giving Ukraine aid,’ yes, that’s a crime,” the congressman said.

It’s getting hot in herre

It’s noteworthy in itself that Buck declines to say whether he believes President Trump’s actions to be appropriate, but the real problem here is Buck’s faulty response to Trump’s actions as a “hypothetical scenario.” Trump did talk to the President of Ukraine and he did ask him to “do us a favor, though” and start an investigation into the Bidens. There’s nothing hypothetical about any of this.

Furthermore, according to “Buck logic,” Trump would have to ask another country TO MURDER SOMEONE for this sort of request to rise to an impeachable offense.

WUT?

Most adults understand that this scenario would still include separate crimes — for murder and for bribery. Then again, most adults also don’t believe that people are purchasing AR-15 rifles in order to obliterate raccoons.

You might remember that Buck damn near sunk President Trump during the testimony of former special prosecutor Robert Mueller when he repeatedly asked if Trump could be charged with a crime and kept getting the same affirmative answer. Buck later attempted to defend his blunder by saying that “only very soft people” are worried about Trump’s actions. In other words, it’s not necessarily a good thing for Trump that Ken Buck is trying to publicly defend him.

Buck tells The Denver Post that he will “will go where the evidence takes me in this case.” If Buck was making an honest attempt to understand the evidence, this might be reassuring.

52 Shares

Get More Smarter on Thursday (November 14)

There are 40 shopping days remaining until Christmas. 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 on Facebook and Twitter.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Unless you’ve been living inside an old Budweiser box, you’re probably aware that Wednesday was the first day of public impeachment hearings on Capitol Hill. Ambassador William B. Taylor, Jr. and George Kent, a deputy assistant secretary at the State Department, testified for hours in front of members of the House Intelligence Committee and the eyes of the world.

Taylor dropped a bombshell in his opening statement, telling a story about a phone call between President Trump and EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland that apparently laid bare that Trump cares only about Ukraine insofar as they might investigate former Vice President Joe Biden for invented transgressions. The rest of the hearing went downhill from there for Republicans.

For more on Wednesday’s proceedings, here’s a quick list of links:

Trump Exposed: A Brutal Day for the President (Politico)

In the big moment, Republicans go small (Washington Post)

♦ New revelations from first public hearings paint damning portrait of Trump (CNN)

♦ How Adam Schiff Avoided a Circus (Washington Post)

♦ Republicans’ Best Defense is a Bad Offense (New York Times)

♦ Impeachment hearing testimony further connects President to Ukraine pressure (CNN)

♦ Pelosi says Trump has admitted to “bribery” with Ukraine (Axios)

Of course, as Philip Bump notes for The Washington Post, your takeaway from Wednesday’s hearings might be quite a bit different if you get your information from the likes of Fox News.

 

► At least one person is dead and several others injured in a school shooting in Santa Clarita, California. This is the 30th school shooting of 2019.

 

► As the Associated Press reports, Gov. Jared Polis (D-Boulder) unveiled a new state budget with a heavy focus on education spending:

Polis proposed a $34.5 billion state budget Wednesday for the next fiscal year, once again emphasizing early and higher education investments and seeking to increase rainy-day reserves.

Polis presented his request to the Joint Budget Committee, which will craft a balanced budget during the 2020 legislative session.

Polis noted that the requested funding increase of 2.9% kept with the inflation rate, Colorado Politics reported.

“There’s not a lot of free money” available, he said.

The Denver Post has more on the upcoming budget battle.

 

► Rocky Mountain Gun Owners (RMGO) is trying to overturn a magazine ban in Colorado as gun stores openly flaunt laws designed to prohibit high-capacity gun magazines.

 

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

0 Shares

Republicans Slink to Gutter on First Day of Public Hearings

Ambassador Bill Taylor (left) and House GOP counsel Steve Castor

If you read just one summary of Wednesday’s first day of public impeachment hearings on Capitol Hill, make it this piece from Dana Milbank of The Washington Post:

Of all the excuses, defenses, distractions and outright non sequiturs President Trump’s defenders deployed at Wednesday’s first public impeachment hearing — the whistleblower is biased! Hunter Biden is corrupt! Adam Schiff wanted nude photos of Trump! — the most telling came from Steve Castor, the Republicans’ chief counsel, as he questioned Bill Taylor, America’s man in Kyiv.

Describing the “irregular channel” Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani and his team of “amigos” used to coerce Ukraine’s president to announce investigations into Trump’s political opponents, Castor asked Taylor: “In fairness, this irregular channel of diplomacy, it’s not as outlandish as it could be — is that correct?”

Taylor seemed to think Castor was telling a joke. “It’s not as outlandish as it could be,” he said with a laugh. “I agree.”

True! Giuliani could have conducted the entire scheme in drag. Or they could have threatened the Ukrainian president with a Nerf gun instead of merely withholding military aid. But Castor wasn’t kidding. He defended his point at length, then asked again: “It may be irregular, but it’s certainly not outlandish?”

Taylor smiled, shook his head and nodded, as if to convey: Whatever you say.

As the website Law & Crime notes, Wednesday’s performance by Republican attorney Steve Castor was a “trainwreck” worthy of the intense derision it received on social media. As John Harris writes for Politico, the first day of public hearings was a “brutal day for the President.”

And this is only the beginning.

88 Shares

Get More Smarter on Wednesday (November 13)

Happy first day of public impeachment hearings…day. Please celebrate responsibly. 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 on Facebook and Twitter.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► The headline and subhead in every media outlet in the country is all about public impeachment hearings beginning today on Capitol Hill. William B. Taylor Jr., acting ambassador to Ukraine, dropped a bombshell piece of news in his testimony this morning when he revealed that an aide overheard a damning phone call between President Trump and EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland that took place on July 26, one day after Trump’s infamous “perfect” phone call with the Ukrainian President.

You can get live updates of today’s impeachment hearings via The Washington Post, CNN, The New York Times, and just about anywhere else on the Internet. Heck, you could probably find live updates on PornHub, but we’re not going to check that one for ourselves. For more information, go to The Washington Post for initial reactions to today’s testimony and for fact-checking on the spin machine.

We’ll end this section with some advice for Republicans from the editorial board at The Washington Post:

 

► Congressman Jason Crow (D-Aurora) writes an Op-Ed for The Hill newspaper about honoring the service of those who are testifying on impeachment hearings:

The American people will soon hear the testimony of veterans, career foreign service officers, and dedicated public servants. As both a combat veteran and member of Congress, I have one request of my colleagues: do not question the patriotism of these decorated veterans and public servants.

We can and will debate the merits of the testimony, but baseless smears against those who have dedicated their lives to our country are beneath our nation’s dignity. Unfortunately, we have seen these attacks before.

► It’s been one week since the polls closed on the 2019 Election, and Aurora still doesn’t know who will be the city’s mayor. As The Denver Post reports:

The votes cast in the five-way race, which appeared to be in former U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman’s favor Nov. 5, ended up being too close to call when the three counties involved finished their main ballot counts Thursday.

Coffman was leading Omar Montgomery, the NAACP chapter president, by fewer than 300 votes.

And there were still about 2,300 votes out in Arapahoe, Adams and Douglas counties combined — all counties that can claim part of Aurora — that needed signature and identification verification before they could be counted. There were also additional military and overseas ballots that needed to be counted as well as ballots that were transferred from various county offices. However, many of the uncounted ballots are probably not from Aurora.

So Montgomery volunteers started knocking on doors again, trying to cure, or correct, signature and identification discrepancies, on hundreds of ballots that weren’t counted.

 

DACA recipients in Denver are anxiously awaiting a ruling from the Supreme Court as to whether or not President Trump can lawfully cancel the Obama-era program. As NBC News reports, observers expect the court to side with Trump on ending DACA, but as the New York Times explains, a ruling favorable to President Trump might actually be the worse outcome for the White House.

 

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

2 Shares

Bombshell on First Day of Public Impeachment Hearings

UPDATE: So, what happens when EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland testifies publicly, which could come as soon as next week?

—–

William Taylor, acting ambassador to Ukraine, during the swearing-in process prior to House testimony.

William B. Taylor Jr., acting ambassador to Ukraine, opened up the first day of public impeachment hearings in front of the House Intelligence Committee today with a bombshell bit of new information. As The Washington Post explains:

Taylor added new information to his opening statement Wednesday, describing a July phone call between Trump and U.S. ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland overheard by a member of Taylor’s staff in which Trump purportedly asked about “the investigations.”

Taylor said one of his aides told him that Sondland called Trump from a Kyiv restaurant on July 26 to update him on meetings he was having in the city.

The aide heard Trump through the phone asking about “the investigations” and Sondland said the Ukrainians were ready to move forward, according to Taylor.

The phone call purportedly took place after Sondland met with Andriy Yermak, a top aide to Zelensky, and one day after Trump asked Zelensky to pursue investigations into his political opponents in a controversial phone call.

“Following the call with President Trump, the member of my staff asked Ambassador Sondland what President Trump thought about Ukraine. Ambassador Sondland responded that President Trump cares more about the investigations of Biden.”

  — Ambassador Bill Taylor

As CNN notes, “Bill Taylor’s opening statement is a wow.”

George Kent, a deputy assistant secretary at the State Department, joined Taylor in testifying this morning.

38 Shares

Steve House Gets a Little Silly on Veterans Day

Military adviser for Steve House campaign for Congress

Congressman Jason Crow (D-Aurora) is a former Army Ranger who served in both Afghanistan and Iraq and was awarded a Bronze Star. Crow honored American service members on Veterans Day on Monday by thanking them for their service and attending the groundbreaking ceremony for the Colorado Fallen Heroes Memorial in Denver.

Steve House is one of three Republicans looking to challenge Crow in CO-6 next November. The former State Republican Party Chairman (and later State Party “CEO”)  can’t match Crow’s military record, but he does know people who do things with the word “veteran” in their job description. As Ernest Luning explains for the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman:

House marked Veterans Day by announcing he’s been endorsed by five Coloradans with records of military service and four Republican state lawmakers with more tenuous connections to veterans.

The endorsements listed in a release issued Monday by House’s campaign include an oral surgeon who serves in the Army National Guard, a prosecutor who serves in the Marine Reserves, a Marine Corps veteran who chaired the El Paso County Republicans, and a retired Army officer who lost a primary for Elbert County commissioner last year by just two votes.

There’s also a state lawmaker from Colorado Springs who went to the Air Force Academy and two Republicans who sit on their chamber’s respective State, Veterans and Military Affairs committees — known as the “kill committees,” where legislation of all sorts routinely goes to die — and two GOP lawmakers from Western Colorado who look out for veterans while they’re at the Capitol, according to the House campaign. [Pols emphasis]

House does have a couple of endorsements from honest-to-goodness military veterans, but his announcement on Monday was watered down quite a bit by the inclusion of people who have nothing to do with the armed services of the United States.

Two of these endorsements (State Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg and state Rep. Janice Rich) are apparently related to “Veterans Day” because they are state lawmakers who sit on the State, Veterans, and Military Affairs committees. This is sort of like claiming the support of South Americans because you are endorsed by someone who delivers packages for Amazon.com. But these endorsements almost make sense compared to state Sen. Ray Scott and state Rep. Matt Soper, both of whom are included on House’s “Veterans Day” list because they…appreciate veterans?

Scott honors the servicemen and women of Colorado and fights to ensure they are treated with honor and dignity by the State of Colorado’s highest legislative body…

…Soper has fought tirelessly for veterans and their families since he was first elected in 2018.

The House campaign must have forgotten to mention that Sen. Scott also likes to watch movies about Americans who are in the military when he is supposed to be paying attention on the Senate floor.

Via press release (11/11/19)

Perhaps on Valentine’s Day, House can wrangle the endorsement of former Utah Congresswoman Mia Love.

3 Shares

Get More Smarter on Tuesday (November 12)

Happy World Pneumonia Day; please celebrate responsibly. 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 on Facebook and Twitter.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► The U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments today about whether or not President Trump can legally end the Obama-era DACA program. From The New York Times:

The Supreme Court’s conservative majority on Tuesday appeared ready to side with the Trump administration in its efforts to shut down a program protecting about 700,000 young immigrants known as “Dreamers.”

The court’s liberal justices probed the administration’s justifications for ending the program, expressing skepticism about its rationales for doing so. But other justices indicated that they would not second-guess the administration’s reasoning and, in any event, considered its explanations sufficient.

Still, there was agreement among the justices that the young people who signed up for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, were sympathetic and that they and their families, schools and employers had relied on it in good faith.

The arguments in the case, one of the most important of the term, addressed presidential power over immigration, a signature issue for President Trump and a divisive one, especially as it has played out in the debate over DACA, a program that has broad, bipartisan support.

Coloradans who back DREAMERs are rallying in Washington D.C. today, as CBS4 Denver reports. Closer to home, Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser is leading a DACA rally on the campus of Metro State University.

 

Colorado gun shops are using a loophole in state law to continue selling equipment that is supposed to be banned. As Marshall Zelinger reports for 9News:

A state law banning the sale and transfer of large-capacity gun magazines has not stopped the sale and transfer of magazines that hold more than 15 rounds of ammunition.

An undercover investigation by 9Wants to Know found examples of gun stores in Colorado either ignoring the law altogether or finding a loophole to get around the law…

…Our undercover investigation found gun stores selling these “parts kits” in Arapahoe, Douglas, El Paso and Larimer counties. The kits are large-capacity magazines sold in pieces, ready to be assembled after they are purchased.

“This is a 30-round mag; we have to sell it as parts,” said the employee at Iron Horse Armory. “That’s one of Colorado’s retarded laws.”

 

Public impeachment hearings begin Wednesday on Capitol Hill. As Politico explains:

The hearings alone are a historic moment; only three presidents have been subject to an impeachment inquiry before. And though the probe was launched by Speaker Nancy Pelosi in September, this is the week when it all becomes real…

…Democrats plan to hold two weeks of hearings in the House Intelligence Committee and will later hold hearings in the Judiciary Committee, which will draft any articles of impeachment.

Three key witnesses will testify before the committee this week. On Wednesday, William Taylor and George Kent are expected to appear; on Friday, it’s Marie Yovanovitch.

As the Colorado Independent notes, two Colorado Congressmen — Rep. Joe Neguse (D-Lafayette) and Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley) — will play an important role in upcoming impeachment hearings. 

 

Axios got hold of the plan Congressional Republicans have put together for defending President Trump against impeachment. If you were hoping the GOP had prepared a bold new strategy…you’re going to be disappointed. The big problem of this approach, as Greg Sargent writes for The Washington Post, is that President Trump himself keeps kicking sand into the gears.

 

► Check out this week’s episode of The Get More Smarter Podcast for more post-election analysis and other political jabberings:

 

 

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

0 Shares

2019 Election Winners and Losers

The 2019 election isn’t quite finished yet, but we’re not waiting for Aurora to announce our Winners and Losers from the cycle.

WINNERS

Mayors
Incumbent mayoral candidates won re-election in several cities, including Lakewood, Arvada, Longmont, and Greeley. Voters in Broomfield also welcomed back former Mayor Pat Quinn. Incumbent victories might have more to do with the quality of their opponents than the power of the office itself (see Ramey Johnson below), but Tuesday was generally a good night for Mayors seeking another term.

 

Mike Coffman
The former Congressman from CO-6 appears likely to have won his race for Mayor of Aurora, which extends Coffman’s 30+ years in elected office.

 

Non-White Candidates
As the Associated Press reports, the 2019 election results included some encouraging signs of diversity:

People of color made history this week by winning municipal races in places their families were once ignored or prevented from voting, including a New Mexico mayor whose father was forced into a Japanese internment camp during World War II.

From Arizona to Massachusetts, the gains highlight the ongoing demographic changes in the nation but also the growing political power of black, Latino and Native American voters ahead of the 2020 presidential election.

Sin Taxes
Colorado voters may not have agreed with forgoing potential TABOR refunds, but they don’t have much of a problem with “sin taxes.” Proposition DD, which permits sports betting in Colorado via a tax on casinos, won a narrow victory on Tuesday. Voters in several communities also approved significant new taxes for cigarettes and vaping products.

 

Colorado Water Plan
The passage of Proposition DD provides funding for the Colorado Water Plan, one of the signature achievements of John Hickenlooper from his time both as Denver Mayor and Governor of Colorado. The Colorado Water Plan was created to help ensure that the state has enough agua for a population that could double by 2050.

 

DCTA
The Denver Classroom Teacher’s Association (DCTA) will have a pro-union majority on the Denver School Board for the first time in many years — a change from the “reform” direction that had enjoyed popular support in recent elections. Denver voters were moved in part by a three-day teacher’s strike last spring.

 

 

LOSERS

 

President Trump and Cory Gardner
Election results in Kentucky and Virginia can be viewed as pretty clear referendums against President Trump, which doesn’t bode well for his chances in Colorado in 2020 (and by association, the hopes of Sen. Cory Gardner). Kentucky voters booted an incumbent Republican Governor, despite Trump’s last-minute campaigning in the state. In Virginia, voters gave Democrats majority control of the state legislature for the first time in decades, affirming progressive policies to curb gun violence that Gov. Ralph Northam has already promised to re-introduce.

Republicans should also be very worried about what is happening in American suburbs, which used to be strongholds for the GOP. As Dan Balz writes for The Washington Post:

For Republicans looking beyond the president’s reelection campaign, the deterioration of support in the suburbs should be cause for major alarm. Democrats won control of the House in 2018 by flipping suburban districts, and there was nothing in the results Tuesday night to suggest that the anti-Trump energy that fueled those victories has slackened. Trump is the master of motivating voters — both those for him and, clearly, those against him.

“This is an overwhelming Trump phenomenon,” said a gloomy Republican strategist who spoke on the condition of anonymity to offer a candid assessment of the party’s plight. “Trump has accelerated everything. There is no path in a swing, suburban district for a Republican — male, female or minority. . . . It’s not a challenge, it’s a hill. . . . There’s no strategy to climb it.”

This strategist said she worries about the GOP losing more suburban swing districts in 2020. If that happens, she said, the diversity of the Republican conference in the House will be reduced to “white men with white hair and white men with gray hair and a few token women, and when [Rep.] Will Hurd [Tex.] leaves, no African Americans and only a couple of Latinos.”

 

Ryan Frazier and Ramey Johnson
Barack Obama lost a Congressional race before being elected to the Senate and the Presidency. Abraham Lincoln lost a bunch of elections before making it to the White House. Both men are often cited to encourage politicians to keep trying to fulfill their election hopes and dreams.

Conversely, Frazier and Johnson are excellent examples of politicians who should probably do something else.

Frazier finished a distant third in the race for Aurora Mayor, his latest bid for elected office after multiple failed attempts for Congress and U.S. Senate. Frazier even changed his voter registration from Republican to Unaffiliated in hopes of winning another election, but it didn’t make any difference; he’s been stuck in the loss column since finishing his second term on the Aurora City Council in 2011. For whatever reason, voters in Colorado just aren’t interested in what Frazier is selling.

Johnson, meanwhile, was defeated for the second time in her bid to become Mayor of Lakewood (losing both times to Adam Paul). It didn’t help her cause in 2019 when she promoted the Climate Change denial theories of one Tyler Durden, who is in fact a fictional character. Running for office is basically Johnson’s hobby; she’s been a candidate for office in just about every election cycle since at least 2000 — seriously, we’re not exaggerating here — and she’ll probably be on the ballot again for something in 2020. In 20 years, Johnson has won one race for State Representative, another for RTD Board, and has even managed to get elected to Lakewood’s City Council (all while using the same headshot). It’s probably time for the 73-year-old Johnson to do something else.

 

Medicaid Work Requirements
We’ll let The Washington Post explain this one:

There was a clear loser in last night’s elections: Medicaid work requirements in Kentucky and Virginia.

To accomplish its goals for Medicaid, the Trump administration needs the help of state political leaders – and election results in Kentucky and Virginia yesterday made that less likely as Democrats widened their control in those states. Meanwhile, a Republican won in Mississippi, keeping it in the camp of states aligning themselves with the administration’s vision for the health insurance program for the low income.

In all three of these states, Medicaid work requirements and its expansion through the Affordable Care Act were on the line. The Trump administration can only do so much in carrying out its vision for the Medicaid program, which includes requiring able-bodied enrollees to work or volunteer and generally trying to limit further dependence on public benefits by discouraging Medicaid expansion. It’s up to governors and legislators to decide whether to expand Medicaid under the 2010 health-care law and what types of eligibility requirements to impose.

 

Local Ballot Measures in Big Counties
Voters in both Arapahoe and Jefferson counties, respectively, rejected ballot measures to allocate more funding for jails. Arapahoe County wanted to raise property taxes, while Jeffco was asking to keep more of the money it is required to return because of TABOR. Both measures suffered from poor campaigns that failed to adequately explain why the changes were needed; Jeffco has seen several particularly bad ballot measure campaigns in recent years and will need a different approach in the future.

 

Younger Voters
Colorado saw decent ballot returns in 2019 thanks primarily to older voters. Younger voters may be getting more involved in even-year election cycles, but they aren’t showing a lot of interest in off years.

 

9 Shares

Get More Smarter on Thursday (November 7)

Happy Hungarian Opera Day! Please celebrate responsibly. 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 on Facebook and Twitter.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Attorney General William Barr may be a Trump lackey, but he’s not a complete fool. As The Washington Post reports:

President Trump wanted Attorney General William P. Barr to hold a news conference declaring that the commander in chief had broken no laws during a phone call in which he pressed his Ukrainian counterpart to investigate a political rival, though Barr ultimately declined to do so, people familiar with the matter said.

The request from Trump traveled from the president to other White House officials and eventually to the Justice Department. The president has mentioned Barr’s demurral to associates in recent weeks, saying he wished Barr would have held the news conference, Trump advisers say.

In recent weeks, the Justice Department has sought some distance from the White House, particularly on matters relating to the burgeoning controversy over Trump’s dealings on Ukraine and the impeachment inquiry they sparked…

…The request for the news conference came sometime around Sept. 25, when the administration released a rough transcript of the president’s July phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Can you guess what President Trump is saying in his defense? If you selected “Fake News,” then you can move your piece ahead three spaces on the board.

 

Jennifer Williams, an aide to Vice President Mike Pence who was listening in on the infamous July 25 call between President Trump and Ukraine’s President, is testifying behind closed doors today as part of the House impeachment investigation. The White House had attempted to block Williams from testifying despite a Congressional subpoena. Former National Security Adviser John Bolton was requested to testify today but is not expected to appear.

 

Public impeachment hearings will begin next week in the House of Representatives, and nobody in Trumpland is looking forward to what happens next. As Politico notes, this week’s release of transcripts from recent closed-door testimonies have one thing in common: They’re all BRUTAL for President Trump.

Rudy Giuliani was President Donald Trump’s enforcer, circumventing official channels and bewildering professional diplomats as he pressured Ukraine to target Trump’s political opponents.

Along the way, career foreign service officers became collateral damage — and questions of a Trump-authorized quid pro quo emerged, blowing up into a scandal that now imperils the Trump presidency.

Those are the unchallenged details revealed so far in five transcripts of depositions released this week as part of the House impeachment inquiry. And as Democrats prepare for public hearings next week, they are underscoring the common thread running through the witnesses’ accounts.

“I think you will see throughout the course of the testimony — not only their testimony but many others — the most important facts are largely not contested,” House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff said Wednesday.

Dana Milbank of The Washington Post wonders if the meticulous note-taking habits of diplomat Bill Taylor might be Trump’s equivalent of the “Nixon tapes.”

 

► There are still a number of races in Aurora waiting to be called, as the Aurora Sentinel reports — including the question of whether or not former Congressman Mike Coffman has been elected Mayor:

As of 5 p.m. Nov. 6 about 15,000 ballots remain un-tabulated, according to Arapahoe County clerk spokesperson Winna MacLaren. Counting will resume Thursday…

…Though pressed by reporters to claim victory Tuesday night, Coffman agreed that thousands of outstanding ballots could still sway the vote. The candidate currently in second-place in the race for Aurora mayor, Omar Montgomery, had not conceded as of Wednesday evening.

In the at-large contest, councilwoman Angela Lawson and challenger Curtis Gardner led the race for the two posts up for grabs. For Ward 4, incumbent Charlie Richardson was edging challenger Juan Marcano. In Ward 5, incumbent Rob Roth held a narrow lead over Allison Coombs, and in Ward 6, incumbent Francoise Bergan was comfortably ahead of Bryan Lindstrom.

 

► Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) is taking part — along with President Trump — in a “save the Senate” retreat/fundraiser today and tomorrow at the Trump International Hotel in Washington D.C. Gardner had better make sure he has his campaign credit card handy.

 

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

2 Shares