At Least It’s Not Your Congressman (Ship Spotting Edition)

In Colorado politics, one of the seminal faux pas a candidate can commit is using a scenic photo of a mountain range that turns out to not be located in the state of Colorado. Various locations from Alaska’s Denali to the Canadian Rockies, not to mention a Utah canyonscape or two, have embarrassingly stood in for Colorado locales in ads and other literature–which understandably tends to punch holes in a candidate’s authenticity.

Well folks, here’s the nautical version of getting your mountains wrong, courtesy Florida GOP Rep. Brian Mast:

As the world continues to wrestle with the aftermath of what could be the most successful Russian intelligence operation against our country since the theft of the atomic bomb, it’s hard to imagine a more…tragicomic mistake from a Republican congressman.

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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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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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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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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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Colorado Republicans Might Impeach Ken Buck

With President Trump dominating the news cycle this week in extraordinary fashion, there have been a couple of important Colorado political stories that have flown under the ol’ radar. One story we wanted to be sure to rewind involves Colorado Republican Party Chairman Ken Buck, whose leadership seat is getting warmer despite the fact that he’s rarely ever sitting in the chair himself.

As the Colorado Sun reported via its newsletter “The Unaffiliated” earlier this week, there is a brewing discomfort with the GOP’s absentee chairman:

Headline from Colorado Sun political newsletter “The Unaffiliated” (9/24/19)

A Republican activist began collecting signatures Saturday at the Colorado Republican Party’s organizational meeting to oust new Chairman Ken Buck.

Peg Cage, the immediate past chairwoman of the Boulder County Republican Party, told The Sun that Buck is spending too much time in Washington as a congressman and not doing his job as chairman to fundraise, recruit candidates or serve as the GOP’s public voice.

“He’s demonstrated no leadership toward that objective goal of taking back the state,” she said. “He’s not doing the job.” [Pols emphasis]

At the party’s central committee meeting, Cage distributed forms seeking written consent from members of the governing body to force his removal. She needs to collect a majority of the roughly 450 members to force the issue. She declined to say how many she’s received, but added: “We have a long way to go, but it’s the right thing to do.”

Buck won the party’s leadership post in a close vote in April. Cage supported Buck’s opponent in the chairman’s race, state Rep. Susan Beckman. A party spokesman said he was not aware of any such effort and Buck did not return a call seeking comment. [Pols emphasis]

Ken Buck races to his side hustle.

Chairman Buck, you may recall, spends most of his week masquerading as the Congressman from CO-4. Buck’s plan to split his time in Congress with overseeing the State Republican Party from afar has not endeared him to GOP activists and doesn’t appear to be providing much benefit to Colorado Republicans.

Congressman Buck will occasionally take to Twitter to stick his foot in his mouth or blurt out something stupid in a House committee meeting. Chairman Buck, meanwhile, has been relatively quiet about the GOP’s summer of failed recall attempts after infamously promising to teach Democrats “how to spell R-E-C-A-L-L.” In fact, Chairman Buck can be difficult to run down altogether:

Congresschairman Buck’s “Jekyl and Hyde” routine is already wearing thin with reporters and GOP activists alike. When Buck was elected Party Chair in late March, the plan was that former State Party Chairman Steve House would serve as the “CEO” of the party when Buck was off playing Congressman in Washington D.C. Even though Buck was elected Chairman, this proposal was not particularly popular. As Ernest Luning reported in March:

Veteran Republican strategist Dick Wadhams, who served two terms as state chairman last decade, said he was stunned after reviewing Buck’s proposal, calling it “unworkable” and “absolutely nonsensical.”

“If Steve House wants to be state chairman, he ought to run for it, and if Ken Buck doesn’t want to be state chairman, he ought to get out of the race,” Wadhams said… [Pols emphasis]

…He also slammed Buck’s plans to run the party from Washington, D.C., saying he was “baffled” by the proposition.

Last month House stepped down as Republican Party “CEO” so that he could pursue the GOP nomination for Congress in CO-6. House was quickly replaced by former vice-chairman and congressional candidate Don Ytterberg, but as reporting from the Colorado Sun and 9News indicates, the case of the missing GOP Chairman continues to be a problem.

Congressman Buck will be running for re-election a year from now, where he is still favored to keep his seat because CO-4 is a heavily-Republican district. The odds of Buck holding onto his other title are considerably worse.

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Let’s Not Pretend Republicans Care About Public Opinion Now

FRIDAY UPDATE: The Washington Post reports on the Trump administration’s anti-impeachment strategy, which includes a pretty significant hole:

Trump’s advisers said they envision a “split screen” strategy in the coming weeks. The president is considering stepping up his fall schedule of campaign rallies at arenas across the country to galvanize his supporters outside of Washington and portray House Democrats as liberal insiders who are focused on impeachment instead of governing. [Pols emphasis]

If the House is skirting its governing responsibilities to focus on impeachment, then what is the Senate’s excuse? Senate Majority Leader “Moscow” Mitch McConnell and friends haven’t been governing for most of 2019.

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Sen. Cory Gardner yuck it up on the Senate floor.

Senate Republicans are responding to questions about President Trump’s Ukraine scandal — and associated impeachment proceedings — with what you might call “skeptical irritation.” Trump defenders have tried to brush aside questions of impropriety while simultaneously putting on a show about how the Senate should be focused on policy work instead of political squabbles — a particularly absurd position to take considering the fact that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has famously refused to even allow discussions on dozens of pieces of legislation passed by the House of Representatives (McConnell refers to himself as the “Grim Reaper” for progressive policies).

Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner is taking a typical mealy-mouthed approach in response to mounting questions about the Trump administration, but he has largely settled on the idea that the Senate should be focused on other issues. Gardner was initially noncommittal about his reaction to reports of a whistleblower report, as Politico reported on Tuesday:

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.” 

“I’m not going to get in front of the facts that I simply don’t have right now,” he added. [Pols emphasis]

Later on Tuesday, Gardner issued a statement calling impeachment a step too far:

Today the Senate unanimously voiced its support for the full release of the whistleblower report and the Senate Intelligence Committee will be conducting a formal inquiry, which I support. Starting an impeachment inquiry to appease the far-left is something the majority of Americans do not support and will sharply divide the country. [Pols emphasis] Instead, we should focus our efforts on finding real, bipartisan solutions to lower health care costs, solve our broken immigration system, and protect our public lands.

If this statement doesn’t raise your blood pressure a bit, then you really haven’t been paying much attention to Congress in the last year. Gardner is saying that Congress should not pursue impeachment proceedings against President Trump because it does not align with public opinion in the United States. Available public polling has generally shown a lack of support for the idea of impeachment, but those numbers are changing as more information comes out about Trump’s Ukrainian shakedown (the latest numbers indicate that voters are split on the topic, which is an increase in support from recent months). Regardless, it is absolutely absurd for any Republican Senator to attempt to paint impeachment as folly because of public opinion polls.

The chart below shows just how much Senate Republicans care about public opinion:

On Wednesday, Sen. Gardner voted for the second time this year to support Trump’s “emergency declaration” for border wall funding, even though only 39% of Americans agree with the idea. Gardner cast this vote the day after issuing a statement opposing impeachment because of a lack of public support.

Senate Republicans who support President Trump are free to oppose the idea of impeachment, but they don’t get to hide behind “public opinion” as a rationale.

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Same Vote, Different Day

Right behind you, Mr. President!

As Roll Call reports, the Senate today voted once again to reject President Trump’s “emergency declaration” for border wall money, though it is a largely symbolic move since there aren’t enough votes in the Senate to override a promised Presidential veto:

Eleven Republicans joined 43 Democrats in support of ending the emergency declaration, which allowed the administration to repurpose $3.6 billion in funds appropriated for military construction projects. That money has been diverted to border wall construction…

…Both chambers previously voted to end the Feb. 15 emergency declaration, but without sufficient majorities to override Trump’s veto, which immediately followed the Senate’s passage in March. By law, Congress has the ability to reconsider ending national emergencies every six months, which enabled Wednesday’s vote.

The resolution passed with the support of 11 Republican Senators — none of who are named Cory Gardner. For the second time this year, Sen. Gardner voted in support of President Trump’s emergency declaration for stealing money from other projects, and he’s not done yet:

Senator Gardner will apparently also support the backfill of money stolen from shovel-ready military projects, putting the proverbial cherry on the top of a pretty amazing policy waffle; you may recall that Gardner claimed he was opposed to building a border wall until literally hours before Trump made his “emergency declaration,” and now he’s ready to endorse a giant check for that exact purpose. As the Denver Post wrote earlier this month:

“It’s unfortunate Gardner can’t defend Colorado and the U.S. Constitution at the same time, or even one at a time, or just one or the other.”

Gardner voted “NO” on a similar resolution of opposition back in March, which led directly to the Denver Post’s stunning un-endorsement of the Yuma Republican. When news of this second vote on Trump’s declaration was breaking a few weeks ago, Gardner again pretended that he was undecided, which was transparently silly. In a pitch-perfect response to Gardner’s second vote, ProgressNow Colorado sent out a statement that was basically a cut-and-paste from their reaction last March:

Two can play that game.

 

As Democratic Party Chair Morgan Carroll said in a statement after the vote: “Senator Cory Gardner had a very clear choice with today’s vote: double down on his support for Trump’s unconstitutional power grab, or prevent Peterson Air Force Base from losing $8 million in funding. Gardner chose Trump over doing what’s right for Colorado.”

Senator Cory Gardner may hail from Colorado, but he’s always going to choose Trump over his home state.

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“Transcript” of Ukraine Call is Bad News for Trump, GOP

UPDATE #4: Senate Republicans are apparently baffled that the White House would release a “transcript” that undermines their own claims of innocence.

—–

UPDATE #3: Congressman Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs) reacts in a very Lambornesque manner:

You know that old expression about “missing the forest for the trees”? Lamborn isn’t aware of the existence of a forest or trees. No conscious politician ever wants to echo Lamborn’s thoughts on anything.

—–

UPDATE #2: CNN’s Chris Cillizza:

“It ended up being a nothing call,” Trump said in the wake of the release of the transcript on Wednesday morning.

But what is documented, very clearly, in this kind-of, sort-of transcript is this: The American President pressuring a foreign leader to look into the frontrunner for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination. And doing it by reminding the Ukrainian President of all the US has done for his country.

The transcript is truly stunning stuff — even from a President who has moved the goalposts on “stunning” a long time ago. If Trump thought releasing this transcript would somehow make Democrats look like fools for beginning an impeachment inquiry against him, he was wrong. Very, very wrong. [Pols emphasis]

—–

UPDATE: Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani is not projecting a lot of confidence:

“Shut up moron. Shut up. Shut up. You don’t know what you’re talking about, idiot.”

That was Rudy Giuliani, President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, shouting down a guest on Fox News who disagreed with him about the whistleblower complaint filed against the President regarding a conversation he had in July with the President of Ukraine.

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President Trump has been promising for days that we would all see that he is totally innocent when a “transcript” was released of a phone call he held on July 25 with Ukraine’s President. That phone call is part of a whistleblower complaint alleging that Trump withheld foreign aid to Ukraine until he could ask that country’s President to investigate some sort of made-up scandal involving former Vice President Joe Biden.

On Wednesday, the White House released a “transcript” (we use quotes here because the “transcript” is not an exact word-by-word account of the July discussion) of the call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that absolutely does not exonerate Trump:

Front page of The Washington Post (9/25/19).

As the Washington Post explains:

President Trump told his Ukrainian counterpart to work with the U.S. attorney general to investigate the conduct of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and offered to meet with the foreign leader at the White House after he promised to conduct such an inquiry, according to a newly-released transcript of the call.

Those statements and others in a July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky were so concerning that the intelligence community inspector general thought them a possible violation of campaign finance law…

…The call begins with Trump congratulating Zelensky on his election victory, but quickly devolves into the president pressing for an investigation of his political rivals and endorsing an apparent conspiracy theory. He seems to suggest Hillary Clinton’s private email server is in Ukraine and asserts that special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation started with that country. He repeatedly says Zelensky should work with Attorney General William P. Barr or his personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani. Giuliani had separately pressed Ukrainian officials for a Biden inquiry. [Pols emphasis]

The biggest new development from the “transcript” is the degree to which Trump goes out of his way to push for Zelensky to talk further with Attorney General William Barr and Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani.

The “transcript” of Trump’s call with the Ukrainian President is just a piece of what is thought to be a more detailed allegation from a whistleblower. Congress is pushing for the full whistleblower report — the White House is offering only a redacted version — and the person making the accusations may soon testify on Capitol Hill behind closed doors.

Front page of CNN.com (9/25/19)

The uncertainty surrounding the whistleblower report has many Senate Republicans treading carefully in their pre-emptive defense of Trump, as Amber Phillips writes for the Washington Post:

Maybe Trump has nothing to hide. Maybe we already known the worst of the story, and at the very least, it’s spinnable for Republicans. (We wish he didn’t bring up his reelection on a diplomatic call, but the president should have the prerogative to talk to foreign leaders how he wants, or something like that.) That seems to be the pattern for most of Trump’s scandals. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) even defended Trump after he tweeted that four minority members of Congress, all U.S. citizens, should “go back.”

But there’s also the possibility Trump did something indefensible, and that it eventually comes out. That’s the gamble most Senate Republicans are taking right now. [Pols emphasis]

That’s not a wager we’d be willing to make.

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Impeachment: It’s On

UPDATE #2: Colorado Public Radio looks at how Colorado’s congressional delegation is responding on the question of impeachment and the Ukraine controversy.

—–

UPDATE: The Washington Post reports–the dam has officially burst:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi plans to announce a formal impeachment inquiry into President Trump, a dramatic turnaround by the Democratic leader that sets up a constitutional and political clash pitting the Congress against the nation’s chief executive.

Pelosi (D-Calif.) is slated to make her announcement later on Tuesday after a closed-door meeting with her caucus, according to Democratic officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to freely describe private deliberations.

Impeachment is a rare and extraordinary step that would overturn the decision of U.S. voters in 2016 to elect Trump. Pelosi’s decision foreshadows an intensely partisan fall, triggering pushback from Trump allies with repercussions for the 2020 campaign.

—–

Rep. Jason Crow (D-Aurora)

Congressman Jason Crow (D-Aurora) is one of seven freshman Democrats — all with military or defense/intelligence backgrounds — signing on to an editorial published in today’s Washington Post that makes a strong case for investigating what they call “impeachable offenses”:

The president of the United States may have used his position to pressure a foreign country into investigating a political opponent, and he sought to use U.S. taxpayer dollars as leverage to do it. He allegedly sought to use the very security assistance dollars appropriated by Congress to create stability in the world, to help root out corruption and to protect our national security interests, for his own personal gain. These allegations are stunning, both in the national security threat they pose and the potential corruption they represent. We also know that on Sept. 9, the inspector general for the intelligence community notified Congress of a “credible” and “urgent” whistleblower complaint related to national security and potentially involving these allegations. Despite federal law requiring the disclosure of this complaint to Congress, the administration has blocked its release to Congress.

This flagrant disregard for the law cannot stand. To uphold and defend our Constitution, Congress must determine whether the president was indeed willing to use his power and withhold security assistance funds to persuade a foreign country to assist him in an upcoming election.

If these allegations are true, we believe these actions represent an impeachable offense. We do not arrive at this conclusion lightly, and we call on our colleagues in Congress to consider the use of all congressional authorities available to us, including the power of “inherent contempt” and impeachment hearings, to address these new allegations, find the truth and protect our national security. [Pols emphasis]

Crow is a former Army Ranger who served in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

House Democrats appear to be moving closer to initiating impeachment hearings in the wake of an alleged whistleblower complaint regarding threats by President Trump to withhold military aid to Ukraine unless it investigates former Vice President Joe Biden for some sort of invented transgression.

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Get More Smarter on Tuesday (September 24)

Today is National Voter Registration 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 Facebook and Twitter.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

President Trump’s latest scandal, involving withholding military aid to Ukraine in exchange for that country potentially investigating one of Trump’s political opponents, looks to have tipped the scales on impeachment proceedings. From the New York Times:

House Democrats hurtled on Tuesday toward a consequential set of decisions about the potential impeachment of President Trump, weighing a course that could reshape his presidency amid startling allegations that he sought to enlist a foreign power to aid him politically.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California, who has stubbornly resisted a rush to impeachment, appeared to be rapidly changing course, as lawmakers from every corner of her caucus lined up in favor of filing formal charges against Mr. Trump if the allegations are proven true, or if his administration continues to stonewall attempts by Congress to investigate them.

“We will be making announcements later,” she told reporters in the Capitol, declining to discuss her views on impeachment.

One possibility was the formation of a special committee — reminiscent of the one created in 1973 to investigate the Watergate scandal — to look into the president’s dealings with Ukraine and potentially lay the groundwork for articles of impeachment based on the findings.

Colorado Rep. Jason Crow (D-Aurora) is among seven freshman Democrats who penned an Op-Ed for the Washington Post making the case for proceeding with impeachment proceedings.

President Trump today confirmed that he made a decision to withhold military aid from Ukraine, though he claims it is totally unrelated to his requests to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden.

 

 If you’re waiting for Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) to weigh in on President Trump’s Ukraine scandal…well, you might want to get comfortable.

 

 Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser is supporting an effort to require federal background checks for ammunition purchases.

 

► Make sure to check out the latest episode of The Get More Smarter Podcast. Hosts Jason Bane and Alan Franklin have Ukraine on the Membrane!

 

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

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This is What Elected Officials Are Supposed to Do

Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Jefferson County) held his 100th “Government in the Grocery” event last weekend.

We all get tired of negative news, even if we recognize that the negative aspect of a story might be what makes that story relevant in the first place. Media outlets report on airplane crashes but never list out every flight that landed safely in a given day. “Dog Bites Man” is not a newsworthy headline because it’s not unique, but “Man Bites Dog” will get your attention every time.

It is for similar reasons that we often discuss the inexplicable inaccessibility of Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma), who can be easily located in cardboard form but can be almost impossible to find in real life. It is not normal — nor should it be — for an elected official to be so completely disconnected from his or her constituents. To quote Kyle Clark of 9News:”Citizens shouldn’t have to be detectives to meet with their representatives.”

Or, to put it another way, Sen. Gardner is the “Bizarro” version of Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Jefferson County).

Perlmutter was first elected in CO-7 in 2006 and hasn’t lost a re-election contest ever since. In fact, Perlmutter has won every one of his re-election bids by at least a double-digit margin. There are many reasons for Perlmutter’s success, but at the top of the list is a very simple explanation: Constituent services. Perlmutter makes it easy for his constituents to find him and goes out of his way to provide assistance — which is exactly what you should expect from your elected official.

Rep. Ed Perlmutter holds a “Government in the Grocery” event in 2007.

Over the weekend, Perlmutter reached a milestone by holding his 100th “Government in the Grocery” event, in which he sets up a table at a grocery store in the district so that constituents can talk to their Congressman directly. From a press release:

Perlmutter started the Government in the Grocery program when he first took office in 2007 in order to better hear from constituents and meet them in their local community. The first Government in the Grocery was held on January 27, 2007 in Wheat Ridge. Perlmutter holds these events on a regular basis at different grocery stores in cities across the 7th Congressional District and meets with constituents one-on-one about whatever is on their mind.

“I believe being accessible and engaging often with constituents is essential to the fabric of our democracy,” said Perlmutter. “The Government in the Grocery program is an easy and convenient way for constituents to share their concerns, ideas and questions and, in turn, makes me a better representative.”

Congratulations, and kudos, to Congressman Perlmutter.

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DeGette Nabs Notable Endorsement

Rep. Diana DeGette (left) and Crisanta Duran

Politics is often compared to chess, and for good reason. A successful political campaign requires sound strategy and foresight to cut off your opponent at the most opportune moments.

This analogy is particularly apt in light of a notable endorsement today in the Democratic Primary race for CO-1. Incumbent Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Denver) picked up the endorsement of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), one of the largest labor unions in Colorado. From a press release:

Today, the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 7 Union announced their endorsement of Congresswoman Diana DeGette as she seeks re-election in 2020. UFCW Local 7 President, Kim Cordova, announced the endorsement at their union hall alongside Congresswoman DeGette and Local 7 members.

“United Food and Commercial Workers Local 7 is proud to announce our Endorsement of Diana DeGette, a proven workers champion for another term. Diana shares our core values through her advocacy for affordable and quality healthcare, gender equity, raising the minimum wage and workers’ rights. Colorado needs her continued strong leadership in Congress to fight for workers and to ensure Labor has a voice.” – UFCW Local 7 President Kim Cordova…

…UFCW Local 7 is Colorado’s largest labor union representing Supermarkets, Packing Houses, Food Processing Plants, Barbers and Cosmetologists and Healthcare facilities. Large employers in Congressional District One include Mission Tortillas, King Soopers, and Safeway.

The significance of this endorsement will be obvious to longtime political observers. It was nearly 10 years ago to the day that Ernie Duran, Jr. — UFCW’s longest-standing President — was voted out of office after charges of nepotism. As the Denver Post reported on September 22, 2009:

During the contentious battle over the “right to work” ballot measure last year, reports surfaced about nepotism within the union under Duran’s leadership.

In 2007, Crisanta Duran was paid $133,410 and Ernie Duran’s son, Ernie Duran III, was paid $134,378 as an executive staff member, according to Labor Department filings. The elder Duran earned $162,368 that year.

“The nepotism was a big issue with the workers — Ernie hiring his family and putting them into high-paid positions,” Cordova said.

Allegations surfaced this year about misspent union funds.

Duran’s daughter is Crisanta Duran, who picked up the job as UFCW’s staff attorney not long after she graduated from law school. Duran would later earn a seat in the State House of Representatives, where she served as the first Latina Speaker of the House in Colorado (2017-19). Earlier this year Duran announced that she was mounting a Primary challenge against DeGette, the longest-serving member of Colorado’s Congressional delegation.

Duran kicked off her CO-1 campaign with much fanfare but has failed to gain any momentum against DeGette; Duran has posted a couple of miserable fundraising quarters and lost out on the endorsement of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, which backed DeGette in July.

Given the controversy that surrounded the elder Duran’s departure from UFCW, it was probably unlikely that Crisanta Duran was ever going to earn the support of the grocery workers’ union — but it’s not insignificant that the UFCW decided to publicly back DeGette. In every political campaign, some endorsements mean more than others. For Denver politicos — the sort of voters that DeGette and Duran will be fighting over next spring — this is one of those endorsements.

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Get More Smarter on Friday the 13th

For the first time in nearly two decades, there will be a full moon on Friday the 13th; this won’t happen again for another 30 years. 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…

► Ten Democratic candidates for President took to the debate stage in Houston on Thursday night. The Washington Post does a quick breakdown of everything you might have missed.

There are plenty of “Winners and Losers” lists from Thursday’s debate. Check out the Washington Post; CNN; the New York Times; Vox.com; and Politico.

 

 The Trump administration is rolling back clean water standards to 1986 levels, and Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) is thrilled about the move. From the Associated Press via Fox 31 Denver:

The Trump administration on Thursday revoked an Obama-era regulation that shielded many U.S. wetlands and streams from pollution but was opposed by developers and farmers who said it hurt economic development and infringed on property rights, a move that Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner cheered as “a victory for Colorado’s farmers.”…

…Environmentalists say the move would leave millions of Americans with less safe drinking water and allow damage of wetlands that prevent flooding, filter pollutants and provide habitat for a multitude of fish, waterfowl and other wildlife…

…Betsy Southerland, who was director of science and technology in EPA’s Office of Water during the Obama administration, said repealing its regulation would create further regulatory confusion.

“This repeal is a victory for land developers, oil and gas drillers and miners who will exploit that ambiguity to dredge and fill small streams and wetlands that were protected from destruction by the 2015 rule because of their critical impact on national water quality,” Southerland said.

 

► Taking money from military projects to fund a wall along the Mexico border is a serious security risk, according to a report from the U.S. Air Force. As NBC News reports:

The report, obtained by NBC News, details the importance of each of the 51 military projects chosen by the Trump administration to lose their funding, including construction of a new gate to address a growing security concern at an overseas U.S. base, projects to build facilities to safely store more than $1 billion in munitions overseas, and even replacing a boiler whose failure is “imminent” and could cause the evacuation of an entire base in Alaska…

…There is no guarantee the funds will automatically be backfilled, according to a congressional official and a U.S. defense official. The congressional official said the projects may be set back a year or more.

The funding diversions include an $8 million project for Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado; Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) promised to prevent this exact scenario last spring.

 

The mystery of two anonymous donors who covered security costs for Vice President Mike Pence’s visit to Aspen this summer has been solved…but it creates a whole new batch of questions. Thanks in part to an idiotic comment from the Chair of the Pitkin County Republican Party, this story is getting an extended shelf-life.

 

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

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What In the Hell Is Cory Gardner Doing?

Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma)

Senate Democrats are pushing for another vote to get Republicans on the record supporting President Trump’s money grab for building his great big wall at the U.S.-Mexico border. As Politico explains:

Last week, the Trump administration unveiled its plan to divert $3.6 billion in military construction funding to build the president’s border wall, a move which came after Trump declared a national emergency in February to access the funds. Among the states with projects the administration plans to raid are Colorado, Arizona, North Carolina, Texas and South Carolina — all of which have senators up for re-election in 2020.

But Democrats are seeking to pressure Republicans to go on the record with their support for Trump’s national emergency by forcing another vote disapproving of it in the next month.

You may recall a similar vote back in March that turned Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) into a crispy waffle. After pretending that he was opposed to President Trump’s efforts to go around Congress for wall money, Gardner ultimately folded and voted “NO” on a resolution of opposition to Trump’s bogus emergency declaration. It was this vote that prompted the Denver Post editorial board to famously un-endorse Gardner, an unusual and incredibly damaging moment for Gardner’s re-election hopes in 2020.

But since Gardner has already taken his lumps for that terrible decision last March, you would think his response to this latest effort by Senate Democrats would be pretty straightforward. You would be wrong.

Let’s go back to Politico:

Democrats plan to attack Republicans politically for supporting Trump’s wall over projects in their home states. Democratic challengers bashed Republicans last week when the list of military projects affected was announced. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), who chairs the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, referenced a Denver Post editorial criticizing Sen. Cory Gardner for failing to speak out against Colorado funds being diverted.

“I think from my perspective, at the end of the day we should all be fighting for our states on issues that matter and no matter what the president is doing if it’s going to harm our communities then we should be standing up against it,” Cortez Masto said. “At least from what I’ve seen from the Denver Post it’s having an impact, absolutely.”

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.” [Pols emphasis]

Trying to shift blame to Democrats is the same dumbass comment that caused the Denver Post to rip into Gardner just last weekend, but that’s not what makes this response from Gardner so supremely stupid (although continuing to touch a hot stovetop is pretty silly in itself). What is truly baffling here is that Gardner is avoiding a direct response about a question he’s already answered.

Because Gardner was not one of the 12 Republicans to support the March resolution condemning Trump’s emergency declaration, there would be no logical reason for him to support a similar resolution in the coming weeks — yet he still dances around the question. Even Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) was smart enough to acknowledge to Politico that he would oppose such a resolution — and Tillis famously wrote an Op-Ed for the Washington Post condemning Trump’s emergency declaration just days before he flip-flopped and voted in the opposite direction.

Perhaps feigning ignorance is such a reflex for Gardner that he doesn’t even think twice about muttering that sort of statement anymore, but these defensive responses don’t serve him well at all. Gardner has already proven that he’ll acquiesce to President Trump on any topic; anybody paying even a lick of attention to this knows that Gardner will absolutely do it again if Senate Democrats force another vote. What’s the point of pretending otherwise?

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Get More Smarter on Wednesday (September 11)

It’s been 18 years since the September 11 attacks; the Denver Post remembers Coloradans who perished that day. 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…

Congressional Republicans avoided a disastrous outcome in a special election in North Carolina on Tuesday. But as Chris Cillizza writes for CNN, all is not well:

Republican Dan Bishop beat Democrat Dan McCready in a special election in North Carolina’s 9th District, an outcome that, given the clear Republican lean of the suburban Charlotte district, should have been a lay-up for the GOP. Bishop won by 2 points after both national parties spent more than $10 million in the district.

That Bishop won — whether by two votes, 2 points or 20 points — averts what would have been an absolute panic within the GOP conference had he come up short. Politics is, at its essence, about winning and losing — and when you have a party coming off as sweeping a defeat as House Republicans suffered in 2018, it’s always a good thing to wind up on the victorious side of the ledger.

But it is also true that Bishop’s victory — and the way in which it was achieved — should still be read as a warning sign for a party that is dealing with a very unpopular President and a decidedly unsettled political environment.

President Trump carried NC-9 by 12 points in 2016. Bishop’s 2-point victory on Tuesday means that the national environment is still terrible for Republicans. That’s significant news in Colorado for Rep. Jason Crow (D-Aurora), who will be defending his seat for the first time in 2020.

 

 Democratic Senate candidate John Walsh is exiting the 2020 race and endorsing former Gov. John Hickenlooper for his party’s nomination:

 

 Colorado Republicans are now 0-4 in their efforts to recall various elected officials in Colorado. On Tuesday recall groups announced that they were ending efforts to gather petition signatures for the removal of State Sens. Pete Lee (D-Colorado Springs) and Brittany Pettersen (D-Lakewood). In a nutty statement, the group “Recall Et. All” said that they “are confident in the success of our future efforts to recall both of these elected officials” and then accused mysterious “leftists” of targeting 60-80 year old female petition gatherers for abuse of some sort.

 

 Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) is quite clearly very nervous about the lack of enthusiasm over his pet project to move the headquarters of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to Colorado. Gardner delivered a stupifying speech on the Senate floor on Tuesday that relied on absurd rhetoric to make his point:

The only reason to oppose this move is if you don’t care about the people of the western United States, or you don’t think somehow the people of the western United States are smart enough to figure out how to run public lands, or to manage public lands. Or maybe you don’t think that Colorado is up to the task of being the headquarters of the BLM, because apparently you don’t trust the people in the West.

This is, in a word, childish.

Members of the House Resources Committee grilled BLM leaders on Tuesday about the proposed HQ move to Grand Junction.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

(more…)

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Get More Smarter on Tuesday (September 10)

Sorry, Broncos fans — it’s gonna be a loonnngg season. 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 looking for a new National Security Adviser — the fourth NSA of his first term in office — after dismissing John Bolton and his obnoxious mustache on Tuesday. Bolton is a notorious Hawk whose default position on national security matters tended to start and end with dropping bombs, metaphorical and otherwise. Trump Tweeted that Bolton is out because the Big Orange Guy continually disagreed with his advice, though Bolton is insisting that he actually resigned.  

Meanwhile, Trump’s approval ratings are as bad as the Denver Broncos. From Politico:

Thirty-eight percent of respondents in an ABC News/Washington Post pollreleased Tuesday approve of Trump’s performance in office, a drop of 6 percentage points from a peak of 44 percent approval in July. A majority, 56 percent, disapprove of the way Trump is handling his job as president, while 6 percent have no opinion.

Americans’ opinions on Trump’s stewardship of the economy, which his campaign plans to emphasize to voters as he battles for a second term, have also diminished, according to the survey.

Less than half of respondents, 46 percent, approve of the way the president is handling the economy, a decrease from 51 percent approval in midsummer. Fewer of those polled, 35 percent, approve of the way the president is handling trade negotiations with China, and 60 percent worry the trade conflict between the two countries will raise the price of goods for their families.

 

 As the Associated Press reports, the number of uninsured Americans is on the rise as President Trump and Congressional Republicans continue to undermine the Affordable Care Act:

The number of Americans without health insurance edged up in 2018 — the first evidence from the government that coverage gains from President Barack Obama’s health care plan might be eroding under President Donald Trump…

…Though the increase in the number of uninsured Americans last year was modest, it could be a turning point, the first real sign that coverage gains under Obama could be at least partly reversed. This year, the number of uninsured could rise again because a previous Republican-led Congress repealed fines under the Affordable Care Act for people who remain uninsured if they can afford coverage.

 

 An effort to recall State Sen. Pete Lee (D-Colorado Springs) comes to a tipping point today, the deadline for the group to submit signatures in hopes of initiating a recall election. If the results are anything like the recent failed attempt to oust Gov. Jared Polis, this will be another sad day for Colorado Republicans.

Elsewhere, there appears to be a bipartisan effort forming in Colorado to reform the process for attempting a recall of an elected official.

 

► Why, yes, there is a new episode of The Get More Smarter Podcast. This week, hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii discuss Sen. Cory Gardner’s no-good, very bad summer; the empty Republican bench; and more trouble with the Bureau of Land Management’s pending move to Colorado.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

(more…)

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Scott Tipton Won’t Do Squat About Gun Violence

Rep. Scott Tipton (R-Cortez)

Congressman Scott Tipton (R-Cortez) was a guest on “Politics Unplugged” on Denver7 last weekend. Late in the interview, Denver7 host Anne Trujillo tried to ask Tipton several questions about how Congress plans to address the issue of gun violence and got absolutely nowhere with the CO-3 Republican.

You can watch the entire interview below, but here’s the relevant pablum on gun violence:

TRUJILLO: Do you think Congress has a role in addressing gun violence? What would that be?

TIPTON: I think, uh, as a society we have an obligation to be able to deal with this. The one issue that I hope to have a lot more conversation on…

[TIMEOUT!] We’d bet $1,000 that he says “mental health” next. Any takers?

TIPTON: …I just had a few visits earlier today with people in regards to mental health…

Somebody owes us $1,000! Let’s continue…

TIPTON: As a society, what did we do that was so wrong that all of a sudden this becomes an outlet? To be able to have these mass tragedies that are going on when they never, ever used to happen before, and we had guns, uh, that were there. [Pols emphasis] So, a lot of mental health issues, talking to our families in terms of awareness of issues, and building that family structure again.

The Columbine High School massacre took place in April 1999. We understand that Tipton is 700 years old, but there are entire generations of Americans who have absolutely no experience living in a time when mass shootings “never, ever used to happen before.”

Also, we need to build “that family structure again.” Whatever that means. Look, squirrel!

TRUJILLO: And how do you feel about background checks?

TIPTON: You know, here in Colorado we have the universal background checks. I always want to be able to look…speculation in terms of what’s always in legislation, to be able to look at. None of us want to be able to have guns in the hands of people who shouldn’t have them…

TL;DR: Scott Tipton does not support background checks.

TRUJILLO: So, ‘red flag’? Where do you view that…

TIPTON: So, ‘red flag’ needs to be sure that it’s always protecting also something that is integral to the American system, and that’s called ‘due process.’ To make sure that you don’t have somebody just assign something, and you pay a consequence, and have to prove yourself innocent, if you will, to be able to address that. [Pols emphasis]

Please, tell us more about this “due process” thing, Congressman.

If we’re worried about consequences, how about we consider the people who get shot and killed by someone with an assault rifle when they are just minding their own business shopping or going to school? That’s seems like an unfair consequence for doing absolutely nothing wrong.

TRUJILLO: So, are you prepared to address any changes in our gun laws right now?

TIPTON: You know, we’ll see. We’re having conversations currently. We’re in, you know, what’s called the ‘August break,’ the recess for Congress to be out. There are a couple of pieces of legislation that are being discussed in a tentative fashion right now until we get back to Washington. And, uh, it’s always important to be able to look at the legislation and to be able to see where there is an appropriate role to play.

See, Anne, we’re in what they call an “August break,” which means that I don’t have to even pretend to be considering legislation to curb gun violence. But if people are still talking about gun legislation when I get done with this “August break,” there’s a decent chance that I’ll read at least some of those bills. In the meantime, are there any other terms that I can mansplain for you?

TRUJILLO: So you’re willing to consider changes?

TIPTON: Huh? Wha…I think we all want to make sure that we are ending gun violence in this country. This should not happen. We ought to be able to go to our schools, to our shopping areas, and also to be able to be safe in our homes. And to be able to protect the Second Amendment. [Pols emphasis]

Yada, yada, yada, Second Amendment.

This epidemic of gun violence absolutely “should not happen.” But it does. Scott Tipton isn’t going to do a damn thing to stop it, but he is going to trot around the topic as long as he can. Heck, even Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) eventually stops dancing enough to say, “I don’t support gun control.”

We’ve said it over and over and over again: If we really want to see movement on curbing gun violence, we’re going to have to elect different people.

 

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Oh, No Joe! Fox 31 Reporter Falls Hard for Gardner Scam

UPDATE #2: 9NEWS’ Kyle Clark masticates and spits the pitiful spin:

Pretty much exactly this, folks.

—–

UPDATE: As an eagle-eyed reader points out, there are 69 total events listed in the Fox 31/KDVR story…including at least 6 8 9 duplicates and one birthday party. Here are those duplicates listed side-by-side:

Colorado State Fair Parade – Pueblo – Pueblo
State Fair Parade

Legislative BBQ – Pueblo – Pueblo
Legislative BBQ

Meeting with Pueblo GOP Women – Pueblo – Pueblo
Pueblo Republican Women Meet and Greet

Foothills GOP event – Littleton – Jefferson
Foothills Republican BBQ

Teller County GOP Event – Woodland Park – Teller
Big Tent Event- Teller County

Picnic – Golden – Jefferson
HD 23/24 Picnic

Larimer County GOP Meet and Greet – Fort Collins – Larimer
Larimer County GOP Meet and Greet

Boulder County GOP Meet and Greet – Boulder – Boulder
Boulder County GOP Meet and Greet

GOP Meet and Greet – Aspen – Pitkin
Pitkin GOP Meet and Greet

And here is the “birthday party”:

Gardner Birthday Party in Yuma

How is this a “public event?” In lieu of gifts, bring policy questions!

—–

Sen. Cory Gardner (top left), Fox 31 Reporter Joe St. George, and piles of Nigerian gold

Most people fundamentally understand that they are unlikely to receive millions of dollars worth of gold in exchange for the low, low price of $1,000. Yet the Nigerian Prince/Letter scam — also known as “419” fraud or an “advance-fee scam” — remains in existence more than a decade after it first appeared because it still works often enough to be profitable. Last year alone, Americans were bilked out of at least $700,000 after responding to an unsolicited email message from a mysterious “Nigerian prince.”

Sadly, this sort of scam also works in politics from time to time. Today Joe St. George of Fox 31 News bit embarrassingly hard on a ridiculous bit of spin from the office of Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) that other news outlets have already dismissed as nonsense. Be prepared to cringe:

If you are a follower of #copolitics on social media you have likely seen the accusation that Senator Cory Gardner is hiding.

“Cardboard Cory” is a popular meme on Twitter with Democrats accusing Gardner of not taking questions from constituents.

While Gardner has not hosted a large scale townhall in Denver this year — featuring widespread publicity in advance like other GOP candidates have done over the years– Gardner is not in hiding.

A review of Senator Gardner’s schedule shows he has actually hosted more than 50 events throughout the state in August — giving the candidate for reelection in 2020 a chance to interact with thousands of Coloradoans.

Oh, boy. St. George goes on to list a full page of “events” in which Gardner supposedly appeared in public during the month of August. Team Gardner tried this exact spin with the Greeley Tribune last week but were rebuffed:

In fact, the Gardner office informed the Greeley Tribune on Tuesday afternoon the real Gardner would be in Greeley that very same day, touring a pair of food production facilities in town. The public was not invited to either event, but the newspaper was invited, without cameras, to join the senator as he toured Hungenberg Produce. [Pols emphasis]

A few days after this story appeared, the editorial board of the Greeley Tribune reaffirmed Gardner’s inaccessibility:

…it’s also true Gardner has been largely absent during the past five years when it comes to being available for his constituents, to whom he needs to be accountable.

His own office couldn’t even recall his last appearance in a town hall-like setting. Instead, they provided the Tribune a list of events Gardner had appeared at in the past few months, most of which were private or were the sort of public appearances, like walking tours, that don’t actually give voters the kind of access the “Cardboard Cory” folks have been asking for. [Pols emphasis]

Walking tours provide a great photo opportunity, but they don’t allow constituents to directly interact with Gardner, and that’s especially true when the tour hasn’t been advertised or put on some kind of schedule to which the public has access.

That’s what the “Cardboard Cory” tour is really seeking, scheduled events at which they have direct access to their Senator. We don’t think that’s an unreasonable expectation.

Team Gardner also managed to fool Shaun Boyd of CBS4 Denver into reporting about the Senator’s non-existent “town hall” events, but at least Boyd’s inaccurate mention was a throwaway line at the end of a separate story.

What is doubly weird about this blunder by St. George is that he appeared to know better. Just last week we praised St. George in this space for conducting an interview with Gardner in which he specifically asked the Senator about why he was refusing to hold public events. Now, just 10 days later, St. George is carrying a completely different message on Gardner’s behalf.

It’s inexplicable…and quite embarrassing.

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Gardner Growing Nervous About Trade War, Farmer Backlash

Well, look, if I wasn’t doing everything in my power to help farmers, then why would I be posing in front of a bunch of tractors?

American farmers are mad.

“I couldn’t vote for him. I have to protect my business,” Ohio soybean farmer Christopher Gribbs told CNBC earlier this month. Gribbs voted for Trump in 2016 and was once part of the President’s midwestern base, but no longer. “The geopolitical problems that we have with the Trump tariffs have weighed on market confidence and the market just can’t move.”

Trump’s trade war is costing American farmers BIGLY — and they’re going to be returning the favor in 2020; a survey from Farm Journal found that Trump’s support from farmers has dropped to 71 percent. As the New York Times explains:

More than a year into the trade dispute, sales of American soybeans, pork, wheat and other agricultural products to China have dried up as Beijing retaliates against Mr. Trump’s tariffs on Chinese imports. Lucrative contracts that farmers long relied on for a significant source of income have evaporated, with Chinese buyers looking to other nations like Brazil and Canada to get the commodities they need. Farm bankruptcy filings in the year through June were up 13 percent from 2018 and loan delinquency rates are on the rise, according to the American Farm Bureau.

The predicament of farmers is becoming a political problem for Mr. Trump as he heads into an election year. For months, farmers have remained resolute, continuing to pledge support to a president who says his trade policies will help the agricultural industry win in the end. While there are few signs of an imminent blue wave in farm country, a growing number of farmers say they are losing patience with the president’s approach and are suggesting it will not take much to lose their vote as well. [Pols emphasis]…

Via The New York Times (8/27/19)

President Trump’s trade war with China has farmers speaking out with increasing levels of anger. You can tell that these concerns are getting through to Republican lawmakers, because Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) is now pretending that he is riding to the rescue (spoiler alert: Nope). In a recent interview with Bente Birkeland of Colorado Public Radio (CPR), Gardner said some words:

“It is tough for businesses to plan and that’s why we need to have a resolution. And that’s why I have from day one even before, long before they went into effect said ‘Hey, you can’t do this. Don’t move forward on this,'” Gardner said. “And that’s why I support efforts to take that power back by Congress.”

Say what? If Gardner has said any of these things “from day one,” he has said them under his breath. The only thing Gardner has really said publicly is that tariffs are “a bad idea,” and he has repeatedly demurred when pressed for specifics.

As we all know, Gardner doesn’t push back against Trump on anything. There are a number of Republican Senators who have strongly opposed the Trump tariffs, but Gardner is most certainly not among them. Here’s what Gardner actually said about the tariffs earlier this summer, via Marianne Goodland of the Colorado Springs Gazette:

Gardner told Bloomberg News Monday that tariffs are “a bad idea, plain and simple.” His office declined to comment about whether his opposition would include any efforts to overturn the President’s authority under IEEPA. [Pols emphasis]

And this from Politico (June 7, 2019):

Several Republican senators are warning the president they would vote to overturn the new levies, though Gardner has not explicitly said he would go that far. [Pols emphasis]

You’re really giving him the business, Senator!

There’s Cory!

This has been the extent of Gardner’s “opposition.” He won’t even hint that he might support legislation to curb Trump’s tariff powers. But now that farmers are finally getting fed up, Gardner is putting inserts in his shoes to look taller.

Here’s more of Gardner’s pablum from Colorado Public Radio:

GARDNER: That’s why I oppose the tariffs, and that’s why I continued to try to find a solution that involves more trade opportunities, a more open trade without tariffs, to surround China and the bad actions that they have with a significant portion of the global economy so that they can’t pick our friends off and try to undermine us. And this isn’t just an interest of the United States to make sure that China behaves good. It’s an interest of the entire world to make China behave fairly when it comes to trade. I think the tariffs approach is the wrong way to do it, but we ought to continue our efforts to change their bad behavior while opening up Colorado opportunities.

“We ought to continue our efforts to change their bad behavior while opening up Colorado opportunities.” Shermanesque, he is not.

BIRKELAND: And so would you push President Trump to find a trade deal sooner rather than later?

GARDNER: I have already pushed President Trump to find a trade deal sooner rather than later. I’ve been meeting with the groups of senators over at the White House for well over a year and a half, bringing people like Sen. Ernst and Sen. Fisher to ag states, Sen. Graham and Sen. Alexander, more manufacturing based states, to the White House to talk about how we need a trade agreement. We need to enter into things like the Transpacific Partnership. We ought to have a European free trade agreement. I passed a bill called the Asia Reassurance Initiative Act, and the president signed it into law on December 31 of this past year. And in that legislation, it directs the administration to pursue multilateral and bilateral trade agreements, hopefully the first of which we’re starting to see with Japan.

Trade agreements with Japan, eh? Trump recently dismissed sales of wheat in Japan, saying the country was only buying from American farmers as a favor to the United States.

Got anything else, Sen. Gardner?

No?

Well, then, let’s give the last word to an actual farmer:

“If [President Trump] doesn’t lose 100 percent of [votes] from the farm belt then people are kind of crazy because this is not going well for farmers at all.”

     — Bob Kuylen, North Dakota farmer (8/27/19)

 

Here’s the full interview with North Dakota farmer Bob Kuylen on CNN earlier this week:

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Report: Rep. Buck Will Retire, Brauchler/Neville Primary?

Colorado GOP chairman Rep. Ken Buck (R).

Newsmax, a right-wing media outlet not generally known for high journalistic standards, nonetheless reports news our readers will be keen to discuss:

Should Reps. Paul Cook, R-Calif., and Ken Buck, R-Colo., make their exits official, they will bring the number of House Republicans resigning, retiring, or seeking another office to 14…

Stalwart conservative Buck, 60, has held Colorado’s strongly Republican 4th District since 2014. In recent weeks, discussion of his not running again or even resigning from office persist. Last week, Buck (who also is state Republican chairman) raised eyebrows by failing to attend a major party function at which he was billed as a speaker along with Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo.

Centennial State sources told Newsmax that Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler, who lost a tight race for state attorney general last year, and State House GOP Leader Patrick Neville, son of a popular former state senator, are considered certain candidates should Buck bow out. Both are conservative in the mold of Buck.

We reported back in May on word that Rep. Ken Buck may retire rather than run for re-election in 2020. At that time Buck’s office denied that report, saying “Congressman Buck has no official plans to retire anytime soon nor in the foreseeable future.” Something about that answer always seemed fishy, and now we may know why.

If Rep. Buck does decide to retire and focus on his newer job of chairman of the Colorado Republican Party, the prospect of a Republican primary to succeed him between Arapahoe County DA George Brauchler and House Minority Leader Patrick Neville would be, to say the least, very exciting–pitting two Republicans who have fiercely disagreed with each other on gun policy, with Brauchler having been targeted by Neville’s allies at Rocky Mountain Gun Owners with damaging ads blasting his (erstwhile) support for Colorado’s popular red flag law. There are some other potential candidates we wouldn’t rule out, but this would be a battle royale matchup with implications for the Colorado GOP’s long-term direction.

We’ve long known it’s a good idea to fact-check anything Ken Buck says.

The new rule appears to be, don’t accept the first round of denials either.

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Get More Smarter on Tuesday (August 27)

Colorado could see its first snow of the season as soon as next week. Yes, it is still officially summer. 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 wrapped up his visit to the G7 summit in France with a long, rambling press conference that could easily just be a cold opener for “Saturday Night Live” by itself. This is the actual President of the United States of America at the peak of his lunacy.

 

Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was in Aurora on Monday to talk about curbing gun violence. As the Denver Post reports:

“Be bold, be courageous. The nation is counting on you,” Giffords told a standing-room-only crowd of about 150 people during a town hall meeting in Aurora.

Giffords was shot and nearly assassinated in early 2011 during a constituent event in Arizona. To focus on a lengthy recovery, she retired from Congress the following year and has since become one of the nation’s leading advocates for gun control measures.

On Monday night, she hosted the town hall event with three Democratic members of Congress from Colorado — Reps. Jason Crow, Joe Neguse and Ed Perlmutter — as part of her advocacy work in the Centennial State. Attorney General Phil Weiser and several state lawmakers were also in attendance.

“The good news is, the tide is turning,” said Crow, who represents Aurora and ran for Congress on a gun control platform last year. “The majority of Americans are with us” on gun control.

Cardboard Cory — who has had a very big month already — was also in attendance on Monday:

Photo via Aaron Ontiveroz/Denver Post

 

► Democratic Senate candidate Andrew Romanoff reached a new level of self-parody on Monday.

 

► The latest episode of The Get More Smarter Podcast is now available for your listening pleasure. Find out more about John Hickenlooper’s Senate candidacy, Cardboard Cory’s adventures, and whether or not wearing pants will become the signature issue of 2020.

 

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AOC Coming To Boulder, Republicans Go Wild!

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D).

As the Denver Post’s Sam Talabchnik reports:

Colorado Democrats will get a chance to see U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in September when the freshman congresswoman headlines the annual Boulder County party fundraiser.

Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., will be joined by Rep. Joe Neguse, a Democrat from Lafayette, at the 44th annual Truman Dinner on Sept. 21 at the University of Colorado, according to a news release from Boulder County Democrats.

“Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez is not only a great friend but an amazing colleague whose ability to speak truth to power has inspired millions of people across our country, including many here in Colorado,” Neguse said.

Freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is currently one of the bigger draws for Democrats on the fundraising circuit, with her high profile as a young fiercely progressive woman who unseated an establishment stalwart. Ocasio-Cortez’s visibility has also made her a target of heavy Republican vilification, which has greatly intensified since President Donald Trump started singling out Rep. Ocasio-Cortez and several other Democratic women of color for racially-charged attacks on their patriotism.

All things being equal it should be a great fundraiser for Boulder County Democrats, as well as another chance for local Republicans to offend swing 2020 voters by gratuitously trashing the best-known Latina lawmaker in contemporary American politics.

There’s something for everybody.

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Get More Smarter on Friday (August 16)

We should just buy all of the islands. 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 apparently getting nervous about the economy — mostly for what it means related to his 2020 re-election. From the Washington Post:

Mounting signs of global economic distress this week have alarmed President Trump, who is worried that a downturn could imperil his reelection, even as administration officials acknowledge that they have not planned for a possible recession.

Trump is banking on a strong economy to win a second term in 2020, and in recent weeks he has impulsively lashed out at the Federal Reserve, pressured Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to label China a “currency manipulator,” and unexpectedly delayed tariffs on Chinese imports out of fear they could depress holiday retail sales.

Yet despite gyrations in the U.S. stock market and economic slowdowns in other countries, officials in the White House, at the Treasury Department and throughout the administration are planning no new steps to attempt to stave off a recession. Rather, Trump’s economic advisers have been delivering the president upbeat assessments in which they argue that the domestic economy is stronger than many forecasters are making it out to be.

President Trump might be setting up Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell to take the fall for any potential economic troubles, but as Catherine Rampell writes in a separate story for the Washington Post, there’s no real plan from the White House:

If things go south, this administration doesn’t have a plan. It never had a plan. And it doesn’t have competent personnel in place to come up with a plan.

Trump’s economic brain trust consists of a guy who plays an economist on TV, a crank  who has been disowned by the (real) economics profession and the producer of “The Lego Batman Movie.”

D’oh!

 

► “So whether you love me or hate me, you’ve got to vote for me,” said President Trump at a campaign rally in New Hampshire on Thursday. 

 

► House Minority Leader and recall grifter Pat Neville says that he is personally responsible for talking President Trump out of supporting so-called “red flag” laws in the aftermath of the Parkland High School shootings in Florida last year.

 

► An astonishing 67% of Americans support an assault weapons ban, according to polling conducted on behalf of Fox News. As CNN’s Chris Cillizza explains:

Yes, there is something of a partisan divide on the question — with 86% of Democrats favoring a ban on automatic and semiautomatic weapons, while 46% of Republicans feel the same. But look at it another way: On a proposal that is widely regarded in GOP congressional circles as a non-starter because it is going too far in limiting guns, self-identified Republicans are split right down the middle — 46% support, 46% oppose.

Among Republican women — one of the key swing voting blocs heading into 2020, a majority (54%) support an assault weapons ban, while just 36% oppose it. And even a majority of people in gun-owning households (53%) support an assault weapons ban.

There hasn’t been an assault weapons ban in place in the United States since the last one expired in 2004, after a decade on the books. Attempts to renew it in 2004 failed — due at least in part, to a heightened national security climate in the wake of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and a lack of urgency from the Bush White House.

 

 

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Get More Smarter on Tuesday (August 13)

Enjoy your last day of summer vacation, Jefferson County students. 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…

► Eight counties in Western Colorado are among the fastest-warming places in the entire country, according to data compiled by the Washington Post:

Over the past two decades, the 2 degrees Celsius number has emerged as a critical threshold for global warming. In the 2015 Paris accord, international leaders agreed that the world should act urgently to keep the Earth’s average temperature increases “well below” 2 degrees Celsius by the year 2100 to avoid a host of catastrophic changes…

…A Washington Post analysis of more than a century of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration temperature data across the Lower 48 states and 3,107 counties has found that major areas are nearing or have already crossed the 2-degree Celsius mark.

— Today, more than 1 in 10 Americans — 34 million people — are living in rapidly heating regions, including New York City and Los Angeles. Seventy-one counties have already hit the 2-degree Celsius mark.

Montrose, Rio Blanco, Mesa, and Ouray counties are among the Top 10 most rapidly warming counties in the United States.

 

Colorado Public Radio follows up on a story we’ve been watching closely here at Colorado Pols: The real reason for moving the headquarters of the Bureau of Land Management to Colorado. From CPR:

Critics of the Trump administration’s decision to move the Bureau of Land Management headquarters to Grand Junction fear the real goal is to weaken the bureau.

These concerns and suspicions have only been heightened by recent statements and actions from administration leaders. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt appointed William Perry Pendley as acting BLM director. For years, Pendley advocated selling off the public lands of the agency he’s now leading…

…George Stone, with the Public Land Foundation, a nonprofit made up of many former BLM employees said there’s another saying in D.C.: “If you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu.”

He and many others fear BLM is the next dish to be served up, facing de-facto cuts and a marginalized position far from D.C. power players to advocate for its interests.

 

A “Draft Hick” movement is the next step in what is increasingly looking like an inevitable U.S. Senate campaign for former Gov. John Hickenlooper. Recent polling indicates that Hickenlooper holds a 51-point lead over the rest of the Democratic field should he join the race for the 2020 nomination.

 

 

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