Get More Smarter on Wednesday (February 19)

Today is the 50th day of 2020; please celebrate responsibly. 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…

► We really can’t be far away from Donald Trump declaring himself King of America. As The Washington Post reports:

On Tuesday, Trump granted clemency to a clutch of political allies, circumventing the usual Justice Department process. The pardons and commutations followed Trump’s moves to punish witnesses in his impeachment trial, publicly intervene in a pending legal case to urge leniency for a friend, attack a federal judge, accuse a juror of bias and threaten to sue his own government for investigating him.

Trump defended his actions, saying he has the right to shape the country’s legal systems as he sees fit. [Pols emphasis]

“I’m allowed to be totally involved,” he told reporters as he left Washington on Tuesday for a trip to California, Nevada and Arizona. “I’m actually, I guess, the chief law enforcement officer of the country. But I’ve chosen not to be involved.”

Of course, this is NOT true. The Attorney General is the chief law enforcement officer in the United States, but when the AG just does whatever the President wants…

The president’s post-impeachment behavior has alarmed Attorney General William P. Barr, who has told people close to the president that he is willing to quit unless Trump stops publicly commenting on ongoing criminal matters, according to two administration officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations. It also has appalled several legal experts and former officials, who have said his direct intervention in legal matters risks further politicizing law enforcement at a time of fraying confidence in the Justice Department.

As The Washington Post reports in a separate story, Trump is almost daring Attorney General William Barr to quit his job:

Against the wishes of Attorney General William P. Barr, President Trump continued to tweet Wednesday about the Justice Department, relaying the sentiments of conservative allies that Barr should “clean house” and target those involved in the Russia investigation.

Former Colorado U.S. Attorney Bob Troyer is among many current and former Justice Department officials who think Barr should resign

You can thank Senate Republicans for fully unlocking Trump’s dictator mode. Here in Colorado, voters are well aware that Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) voted for Trump’s impeachment acquittal purely as political protection.

 

The Democratic candidates for President will debate tonight in Nevada, which will also mark the first on-stage appearance of former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Here’s more on how candidates are courting Coloradans leading up to Super Tuesday on March 3:

♦ Jon Murray of The Denver Post breaks down how Bloomberg has been courting politicos in Colorado for decades.

♦ Elizabeth Warren has launched a new ad campaign in Colorado.

 Amy Klobuchar will be in Denver on Thursday. Tulsi Gabbard will be in Colorado Springs and Boulder. Joe Biden will not be appearing anywhere.

♦ President Trump is in Colorado Springs on Thursday with Sen. Cory Gardner. As The Colorado Springs Independent reports, Trump’s expensive visit will be paid for…by local taxpayers.

 

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Iacino Picks Up Big Endorsement in CO-3

Gail Schwartz

Businessman James Iacino, who is running against Diane Mitsch Bush for the Democratic nomination in CO-3 (Western/Southern Colorado) announced a significant endorsement today. From a press release:

Today, former State Senator, and former candidate for the 3rd Congressional District, Gail Schwartz announced her endorsement of James Iacino ahead of the June 2020 Democratic Primary.

From 2007 until 2015 Gail Schwartz represented large areas of the district in the Colorado Senate. from Eagle to Gunnison, and as far south the San Luis Valley and New Mexico border. Expressing her support Schwartz stated:

“I’m proud to endorse James Iacino, Democrat for Congress in Colorado’s 3rd district. A proven leader on sustainability, James also has the track record and solid business experience to help build an economy that works for everyone,” said Fmr. State Senator Gail Schwartz. “Having worked his way from the loading docks to running one of Colorado’s most successful businesses, we can trust James to look out for the hardworking families of Western and Southern Colorado. It is time for a strong voice in Washington who will stand up for the values of rural Colorado. I know James Iacino, and he has what it takes to beat Scott Tipton in 2020.”

Schwartz has long been a visible figure in Democratic politics, even aside from the time she spent in the legislature and as a Congressional candidate (her husband, prominent attorney Alan Schwartz, is also a well-known fundraiser). Gail Schwartz wasn’t able to defeat Republican Rep. Scott Tipton in 2016, but she raised a ton of money and her strong campaign put in play a seat that would otherwise have been largely ignored.

Iacino finished 2019 with impressive fundraising numbers, pulling in $295k compared to just $182k for Tipton. The Schwartz endorsement is a tangible sign of real momentum for Iacino as we move closer to caucus season.

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Trump Unleashed: Acquittal Has “Emboldened” President

Really, really great.

When Senate Republicans acquitted President Trump on two impeachment charges on February 5, some foolhardy souls — like Maine Sen. Susan Collinstried to argue that the impeachment process itself would make Trump more introspective and less authoritarian. That message remained digestible about as long as a container of cottage cheese left out on the kitchen counter.

As Salon.com reports today, Collins can’t run fast enough away from that narrative:

Collins, R-Maine, dodged questions from a reporter Wednesday who pressed her on whether she still believed her claim that President Donald Trump has learned a “lesson” by being impeached.

Collins, along with several other Republicans, defended her vote to acquit Trump in his Senate impeachment trial by arguing that though his actions were “wrong,” he had learned a “pretty big lesson” from being impeached.

Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) never pretended that Trump would be chastened by his near-impeachment experience (though his acquittal explanation was equally ridiculous), but like Collins, Gardner wants nothing to do with questions about Trump’s behavior since he was officially let off the hook for obstruction of Congress and the extortion of a foreign country for personal gain. That’s because Trump has been an absolute menace in the last 10 days, laying waste to government norms and institutions because he is convinced that he can.

As the Associated Press reports in a frightening story today, Gardner and his fellow Senate Republicans have absolutely made Trump more dangerous — to everyone:

In the week since his acquittal on impeachment charges, a fully emboldened President Donald Trump is demonstrating his determination to assert an iron grip on government, pushing his Justice Department to ease up on a longtime friend while using the levers of presidential powers to exact payback on real and perceived foes.

Trump has told confidants in recent days that he felt both vindicated and strengthened by his acquittal in the Senate, believing Republicans have rallied around him in unprecedented fashion while voters were turned off by the political process,[Pols emphasis] according to four White House officials and Republicans close to the West Wing who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about private conversations.

Since then, Trump and his aides have moved with haste to clear his administration of those he sees as insufficiently loyal, reaching all the way back to the time of former special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Or as Jennifer Rubin writes today for The Washington Post:


Trump isn’t just pushing on Justice Department lawyers — he’s going after the judges, too:

“He’s trying to delegitimize anyone appointed by someone other than him and say that the only people who can be trusted are Trump judges,” said retired federal judge Nancy Gertner in a recent interview.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Sen. Cory Gardner.

Some of Trump’s rage-vengeance, like the firing of White House aide Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, has been widely covered in the media. Other pieces have not. Again, from the AP:

In recent days, the White House has yanked a senior Treasury Department nomination away from a former Justice Department official who supervised the prosecutions of several of Trump advisers. The administration also fired an EPA official who claims he was ousted because he was deemed too friendly with Democrats. [Pols emphasis]

If you don’t train your dog to go to the bathroom outside, then you sure as hell can’t yell at him every time he pisses on the carpet. Senate Republicans taught President Trump that there were no consequences to his actions. As Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer noted on Wednesday, Senate Republicans fully own The Orange Scare:

We’ll give the last word to Rubin in The Washington Post:

…without the cowardice of Republican senators including Susan Collins of Maine, Cory Gardner of Colorado, Thom Tillis of North Carolina and others, Trump would not be lighting a fire to the Justice Department and the Constitution. Voters must remember this come November.

There aren’t enough reporters on earth for Cory Gardner to blame for this one. For Gardner and Senate Republicans, President Trump is both their leader and their charge.

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Get More Smarter on Thursday (February 13)

Happy “World Radio Day.” Please celebrate responsibly. 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…

►As Jennifer Rubin writes for The Washington Post, President Trump is turning the Justice Department into his own political hit squad — with little sign that Senate Republicans will do anything to rein him in:

President Trump, empowered by acquittal in his impeachment trial and allowed free rein by his Republican Senate allies, has waged a war of vengeance and retribution against those who declined to enable his impeachable conduct. Now he has taken a club to the Justice Department.

The Post reports on the four prosecutors who refused to go along with their boss’s directive to reduce the sentencing recommendation for Roger Stone following Trump’s tweet criticizing the seven- to nine-year sentence recommendation…

…Aside from the Saturday night massacre, we have never seen multiple Justice Department lawyers resign to protest a presidential abuse of power.

Just as Trump tried to engage a foreign government to announce an investigation into former vice president Joe Biden and ordered up a probe of Hillary Clinton (which came to nothing), this is an egregious perversion of the rule of law. The president, like a tin-pot dictator, now uses the Justice Department to shield his criminal cronies, putting his finger on the scale in a way no other president has done in the modern era.

Politico has more on the shockwaves of Trump’s Justice Department meddling, while Vox.com takes a deeper dive into overall problems under Attorney General William Barr.

Meanwhile, CNN Congressional reporter Manu Raju approached Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) for comment on Wednesday. This was Gardner’s response:

“I’m sorry…miss my vote.”

As such, Rubin finishes her Washington Post column with an appropriate hammer:

Coming on the evening of the New Hampshire primary, the latest crisis should remind us of the stakes in 2020 and the necessity that Democrats nominate someone who can beat Trump and stop our slide into authoritarianism. It should also remind us that without the cowardice of Republican senators including Susan Collins of Maine, Cory Gardner of Colorado, Thom Tillis of North Carolina and others, Trump would not be lighting a fire to the Justice Department and the Constitution. Voters must remember this come November. [Pols emphasis]

 

► Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders will visit Denver this weekend as he campaigns for the Democratic Presidential nomination, but he won’t be the only top candidate coming through our state. From Jon Murray at The Denver Post:

Sanders, the progressive U.S. senator from Vermont who won the New Hampshire primary Tuesday, has set a rally for 6 p.m. Sunday in Denver, inside the Colorado Convention Center’s Exhibition Halls C and D. Doors open at 4 p.m., the campaign says, and the event is open to the public but an RSVP is encouraged via Sanders’ website. (The location was changed to a larger venue from the convention center’s Bellco Theatre, which has a seating capacity of 5,000, due to high demand.)

Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, placed a close second Tuesday and narrowly beat Sanders in Iowa last week. He will have a town hall in Aurora at 7 p.m. Feb. 22, according to a campaign event page. The location will be revealed closer to that date, but supporters are encouraged to RSVP on his website…

…Sanders has had a small staff in Colorado for months, and Buttigieg’s campaign, hoping to capitalize on its all-volunteer effort here so far, is expected to announce the hiring of its first three staffers in Colorado on Thursday. Buttigieg’s lead staffer here will be Ken Gonzalez, who has shifted from organizing duties in Iowa, a campaign spokesperson said.

Biden, the former vice president, is scheduled to visit Denver on Monday for a private fundraiser hosted by former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. He is alone among the major candidates in not having had a large public event in Colorado so far this campaign, though he has been sending surrogates.

 

► It’s “Hate Week” at the State Capitol. House Majority Leader Alec Garnett explains how that moniker applies to what GOP lawmakers are attempting in the latest episode of The Get More Smarter Podcast:

 

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The GMS Podcast: You’ve Got Questions; These Aren’t Answers

This week on The Get More Smarter Podcast, hosts Jason Bane and Alan Franklin preview the New Hampshire Democratic Primary; discuss a wacky vacancy committee for Republicans that doesn’t bode well for their hopes in 2020; and delve into Sen. Cory Gardner’s impeachment debacle. House Majority Leader Alec Garnett joins us once more in our regular “Smart Alec” crossover, talking about kill committees; confusing abortion bills; and how Republican lawmakers are rolling out “Hate Week” under the Gold Dome.

Questions? Comments? Complaints? Hit us up at AngryRants@getmoresmarter.com.

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Get More Smarter on Monday (February 10)

Valentine’s Day is on Friday; you’re welcome. 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…

President Trump is making his swamp…swampier. Still basking in the orange glow of a Republican Senate cover-up for his impeachment crimes, Trump is taking out his anger on administration officials and staffers who dared speak the truth. As The Atlantic explains in a story titled, “The Crime of Doing the Right Thing“:

Trump managed to wait two days after his Senate acquittal before taking care of family business, as Michael Corleone would put it, with respect to those who had upset him in the Ukraine affair.

[On Friday] he removed from the National Security Council staff Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman—along with Vindman’s twin brother, who served as an NSC attorney, for good measure. Lieutenant Colonel Vindman had had the temerity to object to Trump’s “perfect” phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and then committed the unforgivable sin of telling the truth about the matter when the House impeachment investigation sought his testimony. The brothers were, according to reports, escorted out of the White House complex…

…Trump also fired Gordon Sondland, the ambassador to the European Union, who had tried to play both sides—testifying in a fashion that upset Trump while being cagey at first and thus raising questions to House members about his candor. Sondland had managed to please nobody, and his presence on the scene at all was, in any event, a function of his large donation to the presidential inaugural committee. He had bought his way into service at the pleasure of the president and, having done so, proceeded to displease the president.

 

► After spending the end of last week bumbling and fumbling for a coherent message on why he voted to acquit President Trump in the Senate impeachment trial, Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) threw some red meat around in an interview with “Fox & Friends.” Gardner needs these softball interviews, because he keeps bombing with local news reporters asking relevant questions.

 

► Voters in New Hampshire cast their ballots in Presidential Primary race on Tuesday; on the Democratic side of the ledger, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders looks like the frontrunner.

Meanwhile, we finally found out who won the Iowa caucuses and associated delegates — well, mostly. South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg won the most delegates, while Sanders appears to have won the popular vote. The Sanders campaign is indicating that it will ask for a remcanvass of votes in at least some districts; the current results would assign 14 delegates to Buttigieg and 12 delegates to Sanders. The New York Times breaks down how the Iowa caucuses went so awry for Democrats.

Here in Colorado, mail ballots for the Presidential Primary races will start going out this week; Jesse Paul of The Colorado Sun has more on what to expect in your mailbox.

 

► The Trump administration budget is rolling out its new budget proposal, which seeks to cut domestic spending on the backs of Americans relying on Medicaid and food stamps, while also slashing foreign aid by a considerable amount. Via Politico:

As with his previous budget proposals, Trump is once again seeking deep and unrealistic cuts to most federal agency budgets, according to the budget summary tables. The cuts are unlikely to be embraced by Congress.

For example, the administration is seeking an 8 percent cut to USDA’s budget over current funding levels. Trump’s plan would cut the Commerce Department by 37 percent, the Education Department by 8 percent, the Energy Department by 8 percent, the Department of Housing and Urban Development by 15 percent, and the Department of Health and Human Services by 9 percent.

The administration is also seeking a 13 percent cut to the Interior Department, a 2 percent cut to the Justice Department, an 11 percent cut to the Labor Department, a nearly 21 percent cut to the State Department and a 13 percent cut to the Department of Transportation. The EPA’s budget would see a nearly 27 percent chop, the Army Corps of Engineers would see a 22 percent reduction and the Small Business Administration would see an 11 percent decrease.

As Greg Sargent writes for The Washington Post, this seems like an odd election-year strategy for Trump:

This new budget is being widely described as a blueprint for Trump’s argument for a second term. It’s actually a very good argument against a second term.

 

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Get More Smarter on Friday (February 7)

Remember that old joke about how your (grand)parents had to walk 10 miles a day to school in the snow, and it was uphill both ways? Yeah, well, your kids won’t be able to use that one. 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…

► The 2020 “Thanks for Covering Up for Me on Impeachment” tour is coming to Colorado. President Trump will stump for himself (mostly) and Sen. Cory Gardner in Colorado Springs on February 20. If you’ve always wanted to see the Big Orange Guy bloviate in person, this could be your last chance; Colorado isn’t what you’d call a “winnable state” for Trump in 2020, so he may not be back.

Gardner could use all the help he can get for his re-election bid; he’s getting absolutely hammered in Colorado for his inept explanations about why he supported Trump’s acquittal. As the editorial board of The Denver Post writes: “Coloradans deserve better than Cory Gardner.”

 

President Trump held court in front of a microphone at the White House on Thursday for an airing of grievances related to his impeachment acquittal. As Chris Cillizza of CNN explains, everyone who was in attendance should be ashamed of themselves:

Less than 24 hours after formally being acquitted by the Senate, President Donald Trump riffed for over an hour from inside the White House — a vengeful, angry, fact-challenged spew of score-settling that even for this most unorthodox of presidents was eye-opening in its tone and jaw-dropping in its boundary busting…

…It felt like watching a bully beat up a helpless kid. Sure, the bully is to blame. But the crowd of people surrounding the beating and either cheering or doing nothing at all are far worse.

Trump is Trump. While he stepped beyond where has gone before in many respects during Thursday’s “celebration,” it hard to say that no one saw this coming.

But the complicity of those in attendance — the most powerful people within the Republican Party — is what was truly astounding. Yes, the Republican Party threw in its lot with Trump (and his forced takeover of it) long ago. But to sit by or even celebrate while Trump used the White House as a combination of a campaign venue, or a bathroom wall on which to write his darkest thoughts about those who oppose him, was beyond unforgivable. [Pols emphasis]

Interestingly, Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner did not warrant a special shout-out from President Trump:

Meanwhile, President Trump is working on ousting all dissidents — the honest people on payroll — from his administration, as The Washington Post reports.

 

Surrogates for Democratic Presidential candidates are scheduled to tool around in Colorado this weekend. Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro is stumping for Elizabeth Warren today and tomorrow. Former “Law & Order” actor Sam Waterston will help open new field offices this weekend for Mike Bloomberg.

Elsewhere in Democratic Presidential candidate news, the campaign for Bernie Sanders is hiring more staff in Colorado and increasing its advertising budget; and State Sen. Julie Gonzales is endorsing Elizabeth Warren.

 

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A Coward and a Liar: Poor Reviews for Gardner on Impeachment

“Coloradans deserve better than Cory Gardner.”

The Denver Post (2/6/20)

Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) did what everyone expected him to do yesterday when the Senate voted on two articles of impeachment against President Trump: He covered up for Trump and voted to acquit the President.

What Gardner did not do, however, was find a way to explain his rationale for acquittal in any sort of manner that would make it appear as though he was not just participating in a cover-up. Gardner’s asinine speech on the floor of the Senate was notable mostly for his misinterpretation of Alexander HamiltonGardner’s media interviews on impeachment were, frankly, insulting to Coloradans.

In response to a question from Joe St. George of Fox 31 News about whether the Senate vote set a new precedent for election interference, Gardner had the temerity to exclaim that “foreign interference in our elections is absolutely wrong.”

In an interview with Colorado Public Radio, Gardner argued that the impeachment of Trump was really just a policy kerfuffle. “This is a policy question,” he said. “Does the United States have the ability to investigate how its taxpayer dollars are being spent?”

Gardner’s bullshit was swiftly condemned by lawmakers and media outlets alike. Here’s Rep. Jason Crow (D-Aurora), who served as one of the House impeachment managers in the Senate trial, speaking to Colorado Public Radio in response to Gardner’s “policy disagreement” explanation:

“The trial showed unequivocally that that’s just not true. Cory Gardner is not telling the truth there.’’

Crow said further that he believed Gardner was “doing what he feels is politically in his own best interest instead of doing what is right and upholding his oath,” and it’s impossible to argue otherwise. Kyle Clark of 9News had this to say on Wednesday evening:

Hundreds of Democrats and Republicans in Congress faced that central question of whether President Trump did something wrong, and they showed the basic courage to directly answer that question for voters…

But the whole impeachment trial has now come and gone without Senator Cory Gardner ever coming up with the basic courage to directly answer that question. [Pols emphasis]

But the unkindest cut was reserved for the editorial board of The Denver Post, which absolutely lit into Colorado’s Junior Senator on Thursday:

Sen. Cory Gardner either thinks it’s OK for a president to pressure a foreign government to investigate a U.S. citizen for personal and political gain or he’s too afraid to criticize this president for doing just that.

We’re not sure which is worse.

Gardner failed to address the issue on the floor of Congress while he was explaining to the public his decision to acquit the president on that very question. In subsequent media interviews where he was asked the question directly, he did the trademark Gardner dodge and weave.

That was just the beginning. Here’s the knockout blow:

Gardner once said he would stand up to his own party. Turns out he won’t even be critical of the actions of a member of his own party. He must believe what Trump did was fine. Why won’t he just say that?

Coloradans deserve a senator who will be straightforward and honest with them. Coloradans deserve a senator with a track record of bipartisanship. Coloradans deserve a senator who will call out things that are wrong and work to correct them. Coloradans deserve better than Cory Gardner. [Pols emphasis]

Ooof. Make sure to take a moment to read the entire Post editorial.

There’s a good reason that even staunch Republicans are sick of Gardner’s crap. He might have helped save Trump’s skin on Wednesday…but nobody will be bailing Gardner out in November.

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The Get More Smarter Podcast: Impeach the Caucuses!

This week on The Get More Smarter Podcast, hosts Jason Bane and Alan Franklin discuss the disastrous Iowa caucuses; the final day of the Senate impeachment trial; and what we learned from a couple of big last-minute campaign finance reports. We also chat again with House Majority Leader Alec Garnett in our regular “Smart Alec” crossover, covering topics including the death of a puppy mill bill; the latest on efforts to repeal the death penalty; legislation that would allow college athletes to get paid; and how Colorado decided to ditch its Presidential caucus system in favor of holding a straightforward vote. It would be impossible to not Get More Smarter this week!

Questions? Comments? Complaints? Hit us up at AngryRants@getmoresmarter.com.

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Will Cory Gardner Say ANYTHING on Impeachment?

UPDATE: The Senate has adjourned for the day. Gardner did not speak.

—–

Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) does not like talking about the subject of President Trump’s misconduct. He doesn’t talk to reporters or constituents. If he gets cornered by journalists, he melts into a puddle of pitiful talking points or blabbers out some nonsense like, “We have a trial.”

Today is the last day of the Senate impeachment trial of President Trump. Many U.S. Senators, including those facing difficult re-election campaigns in 2020, are explaining how and why they plan to vote for Trump’s acquittal on Wednesday.

But not Cory Gardner.

As CNN’s Manu Raju reported on Monday:

A number of Republican senators on Monday dodged questions about whether President Donald Trump acted appropriately with Ukraine, underscoring the internal GOP divide about his conduct even as the Senate is poised to acquit him later this week on charges of high crimes and misdemeanors.

Many Republicans instead are eager to shift the attention away from the President’s conduct and onto House Democrats, whom they argue failed to prove that Trump’s actions warrant his removal from office. Yet they won’t say if Trump acted appropriately in urging Ukraine to announce investigations that would help him politically, highlighting the fine line many are walking as they seek to avoid angering the President while not endorsing his actions…

Colorado GOP Sen. Cory Gardner, one of the most vulnerable senators up for reelection, would not comment about Trump’s conduct after the closing arguments were delivered on Monday. Gardner last week joined 50 of his GOP colleagues in voting to block any witnesses or subpoenas for documents in the Senate trial.

“We’re still in the middle of this trial,” Gardner said when asked if Trump’s conduct was appropriate. “We still have tomorrow to deliberate and consider. I made my comments about witnesses, and I’m not going to go on screen now that I still think we’re in the middle of an important process.”

After a reporter noted that closing arguments had ended, Gardner said he would reserve his comments for the Colorado press. “I’ll talk to them,” he said. [Pols emphasis]

You can forgive local reporters for not believing that #CoverUpCory plans on speaking with them on the subject of Trump’s transgressions. Our guess is that Gardner’s office will issue some sort of statement once the trial is concluded — “We HAD a trial,” perhaps? — and that will be all we hear from the Yuma Republican. At most Gardner will show up as a guest on some small right-wing radio program in Colorado in the next week, or his office will again convince Shaun Boyd of CBS4 Denver to pretend to interview him.

Gardner has made it this far without saying anything of substance about Trump, Ukraine, or impeachment; there is little reason to think he’ll break that streak. On the first day of impeachment hearings in the House of Represenatives, Gardner issued a video statement about…some sort of new committee related to the Olympics.

Gardner knows full well that the central arguments in Trump’s defense are complete horseshit, but he’s cool with it. Late last week — after much equivocating and obfuscation — Gardner finally acknowledged (via statement) that he planned to vote against the introduction of new witnesses in the Senate impeachment trial, all but closing the door on any possibility of a serious accounting of the accusations against President Trump.

We’ll update this post if Gardner actually speaks about his vote on the Senate floor (or anywhere else, for that matter). We don’t need to tell you not to hold your breath.

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Get More Smarter on Monday (February 3)

It’s cold, wet, and icy today — please be careful out there, and don’t put stock in weather forecasts from rodents. 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…

Closing arguments are being made today in the Senate impeachment trial of President Trump, though acquittal appears to be a foregone conclusion — nevermind a new NBC News/Wall St. Journal poll showing that most Americans believe Trump abused his power and obstructed Congress. On Friday, Republican Senators blocked efforts to add new witnesses or documents to the impeachment inquiry, effectively ending any hope of a real trial in the Senate.

House impeachment managers are nevertheless making their final case today in the Senate. “Your duty demands you convict President Trump,” said Congressman Jason Crow (D-Aurora) today on the Senate floor. As The Denver Post reports:

The Aurora Democrat spoke first Monday morning as the seven impeachment managers made their final case to the Senate and the American people. He quoted from the nation’s Founding Fathers and former giants of the Senate, such as Daniel Webster, as he urged senators to do what they almost certainly will not do: convict the president and remove him from office. [Pols emphasis]

“I submit to you, on behalf of the House of Representatives, that your duty demands you convict President Trump,” Crow said. “I don’t pretend this is an easy process. It’s not designed to be easy. It shouldn’t be easy to impeach or convict a president. Impeachment is an extraordinary remedy, a tool only to be used in rare instances of grave misconduct, but it is in the Constitution for a reason.

“In America, no one is above the law, even those elected president of the United States, and I would say, especially those elected president of the United States.”

You can watch Rep. Crow’s entire closing argument below:

 

 

► Meanwhile, Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) is still getting a lot of impeachment-related attention…but not in a good way. #CoverUpCory has become a national trend.

The editorial board of The Aurora Sentinel calls out Gardner and his fellow Republicans for their cowardice on impeachment:

America can add Jan. 31, 2020 to the list of the nation’s most appalling blunders.

Defying their sworn duty, overwhelming public opinion and decency, the Republican Party on that day succumbed to fear and corruption in the impeachment case against President Donald Trump.

Friday became historical as the day Senate Republicans refused to seek the truth about just how far the president had gone in blackmailing Ukranian officials, forcing them to undermine Trump’s political opponent…

…Republicans, and the entire nation know full well that a tsunami of truth and facts will eventually wash away Trump’s deceptions and obfuscations. Cowardly members of Trump’s own party, however,  prevented those revelations now.

Instead, Jan. 31, 2020 was the day Senate Republicans like Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner shrank in fear and colluded in the scheme to hide Trump’s crimes from the American public. [Pols emphasis]

 

► It’s caucus day in Iowa. Readers of Colorado Pols will tell you who is going to win tonight. The Washington Post takes a look at how the ghost of Hillary Clinton still haunts Democrats in Iowa. Here’s a primer on the Iowa caucuses and how they will be different than they were in 2016.

 

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Neguse Slams Trump For Restricting Immigration From Eritrea

Rep. Joe Neguse (D-Lafayette)

AP and the Denver Post reported Friday, and we wanted to make sure it got a mention:

The Trump administration announced Friday that it is curbing legal immigration from six additional countries that officials said did not meet security standards, as part of an election-year push to further restrict immigration.

Officials said immigrants from Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar, Eritrea, Nigeria, Sudan and Tanzania will face new restrictions in obtaining certain visas to come to the United States. But it is not a total travel ban, unlike President Donald Trump’s earlier effort that generated outrage around the world for unfairly targeting Muslims…

“America offered my family freedom and the opportunity to live the American dream,” said Neguse, of Lafayette. “The president’s ban does not align with American values or promises our country offers to migrants and refugees. I’m committed to making sure America welcomes all faith and religions.”

Historically independent, Eritrea endured a long and bloody conflict with neighboring Ethiopia that resulted in a large refugee diaspora and over 20,000 Eritreans migrating to the U.S. by 2000. Rep. Joe Neguse’s parents came to the U.S. during that conflict, and Neguse’s story as the son of immigrants from a war-torn nation is major plank in his biography.

A total of about 12,000 people from the six affected countries are estimated to be impacted by the new travel restrictions:

The new ban will “result in more suffering for untold numbers of families who will be prevented from reuniting,” said Mariko Hirose, litigation director for the International Refugee Assistance Project, in response to the announcement. “Many of our clients, who are in extremely vulnerable situations, will once again be harmed by this order, among them Eritrean children trying to reunite with their family members in the United States.”

Like so much else in the last three years, it’s likely that the swiftest remedy for these new travel restrictions will be the 2020 elections–especially after the new conservative Supreme Court backed the Trump administration over the first round of travel bans. Between now and then, we expect to see Rep. Neguse making the case for Trump’s ouster on this action and his personal story.

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Romanoff Posts Awful Q4 Fundraising Numbers

Andrew Romanoff

Former House Speaker Andrew Romanoff, one of many candidates seeking the Democratic U.S. Senate nomination in 2020, filed his Q4 2019 fundraising report this afternoon…

It’s not good.

Romanoff reported raising about $313,000 in the last three months of 2019, leaving his campaign with roughly $686,000 cash on hand to start 2020. He also reported spending about $352,000 in Q4, which puts his burn rate somewhere south of terrible and well beyond anything sustainable.

These numbers would be fine if Romanoff were a candidate for Congress, but they are catastrophic for someone seeking a U.S. Senate seat in what is expected to be one of the most competitive races in the country in November. Here’s how Romanoff’s numbers compare to some of the other fundraising reports from the last quarter:

 

Romanoff can probably list a number of reasons as to why his fundraising has been so poor, but it doesn’t really matter why he is having trouble raising money. In 2020, you cannot win a U.S. Senate seat with a couple hundred thousand dollars.

Democratic frontrunner John Hickenlooper is putting together the necessary resources to win a tough U.S. Senate race after joining the field in late August. Romanoff has been a candidate for twice as long but has raised only about one-fifth of what Hickenlooper has reported.

Tomorrow is the first day of February in an Election Year. Romanoff is out of time.

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Get More Smarter on Friday (January 31)

Happy Nauru Independence Day; please celebrate responsibly. 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…

► It appears that we are nearing the inevitable conclusion of President Trump’s acquittal at the hands of Senate Republicans who refuse to see anything wrong with anything wrong. On Thursday evening, Tennessee Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander — who is not seeking re-election — was nevertheless unable to summon the courage to support a call for more witnesses in the Senate trial. Maine Sen. Susan Collins announced that she WOULD support a call for witness testimony, but without Alexander’s support there probably aren’t enough Republicans to make that happen. CNN’s Chris Cillizza breaks down how Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell kept his caucus together on avoiding new witnesses.

As The Washington Post reports, the end is near — though it may be drawn out a bit longer still:

While many Republicans have expressed hopes that the expected failure of a vote to call new witnesses would mean a rapid end to Trump’s impeachment trial, officials are warning that might not be the case.

A longer schedule could mean the trial stretches beyond Monday’s Iowa caucuses, further complicating the campaign schedules of the four senators seeking the Democratic nomination who are sitting as jurors.

A senior administration official and two congressional officials said Friday it was unlikely that senators would rush immediately to a verdict after the witness vote fails. They requested anonymity to speak candidly about internal discussions.

The administration official and a congressional official raised the possibility that the Senate could take up a new procedural resolution laying out rules for the trial’s endgame — which could include time for closing arguments, private deliberations and public speeches by senators.

The Senate passed such a supplemental resolution in the middle of the 1999 impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton.

Perhaps no Senate Republican is more emblematic of the GOP’s blind loyalty to Trump than Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner. As Greg Sargent of The Washington Post revealed on Thursday, there is significant evidence that Gardner has known for years that former Vice President Joe Biden did nothing unethical in relation to his dealings with Ukraine, which invalidates a key Trump argument about why $391 million in foreign aid was withheld from the country.

You’ll be seeing a lot of the hashtag #CoverUpCory over the next year.

 

► Jason Salzman of the Colorado Times-Recorder takes an impeachment-related comparison of two of the most endangered Republican Senators in 2020: Gardner and Susan Collins of Maine. You can probably guess who ends up looking better.

 

► Monday is the deadline to change your voter affiliation in Colorado if you want to cast a vote in the March 3 Democratic Presidential Primary. There will probably not be chaos.

 

► As Jim Anderson writes for the Associated Press, legislation to repeal the death penalty in Colorado moved a step closer to passage with a vote in the State Senate.

 

► We’re still waiting for end-of-year fundraising reports from several federal campaigns, most notably those of Sen. Cory Gardner and Democratic Senate challenger Andrew Romanoff. If both campaigns wait as long as possible to file their reports, you probably won’t hear anything about the numbers until Saturday.

 

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

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WHOA: Gardner Already Knows Trump Defense is Bogus

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Sen. Cory Gardner.

Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner made headlines across the country on Wednesday when he announced that he would not support calling new witnesses in the Senate impeachment trial. As we’ve discussed at length in this space, there has never been any real reason to believe that Gardner would could be dissuaded from covering up for President Trump’s misdeeds. But Gardner isn’t just ignoring any evidence in the Senate trial about President Trump’s extortion attempts with Ukraine; he already KNEW that allegations of corruption against former Vice President Joe Biden were completely without merit.  

As Greg Sargent outlines today in a devastating story for The Washington Post, Gardner has known for years that there was nothing even remotely suspicious about Biden’s dealings with Ukraine.

You should really read Sargent’s entire story, but we’ll summarize as best we can. Stay with us here, because this is a significant development.

President Trump and Sen. Cory Gardner.

First, you need to understand one of the primary defense arguments regarding Trump’s withholding of foreign aid to Ukraine in exchange for an investigation into Biden. Writes Sargent:

A core claim from Trump’s team has been that Trump had at least some reason to suspect there was something untoward about Joe Biden’s efforts as vice president to oust a Ukrainian prosecutor.

They’ve cited two facts — that Biden threatened to withhold loan guarantees from Ukraine to leverage that ouster and that Biden’s son Hunter sat on the board of Ukrainian company Burisma — which they claim presented a potential conflict of interest. That made Trump’s suspicions reasonable, they say.

 
Gardner knows this isn’t true, but how do we know that? Because he was present at multiple Senate hearings – in 2015 and 2016 – in which it was openly discussed that Biden was following stated U.S. foreign policy goals in pressuring Ukraine to dismiss prosecutor Viktor Shokin. As Sargent explains:

But, crucially, the public record at the time also shows that the ouster of Shokin, including the use of loan guarantees as leverage, was U.S. policy — and that at least some Republican senators knew all of this as it was happening.

Gardner was in attendance at this Senate Foreign Relations committee hearing on October 8, 2015, in which an assistant secretary of state named Victoria Nuland explained that it was U.S. foreign policy – supported by the International Monetary Fund — to target Shukin as part of an effort to rid the Ukranian prosecutor general’s office of corruption.

Gardner was also present at this Senate Foreign Relations committee hearing on March 14, 2016, at which Nuland updated Senators on efforts to oust Shukin.

This bears repeating: Cory Gardner has known for years that there was no basis for the Trump administration to allege that Joe Biden was involved in any sort of illicit dealings with Ukraine.

Cory Gardner KNOWS that there was no reason for Trump to seek a Ukrainian investigation of Biden, let alone to withhold foreign aid in exchange for such an investigation…which means Gardner KNOWS that Trump’s actions were a blatant abuse of power.

We’ll let Sargent bring this home:

The bottom line is that it was not legitimate for Trump to claim Biden’s effort to oust Shokin was linked to Hunter’s Burisma gig to justify his corrupt demand of Zelensky. To allow Trump to make this legitimate simply by saying there might have been such a link is to concede to him the power to rewrite reality with disinformation, all to justify his extortion of a foreign power to help him cheat his way through the next election.

GOP senators who know better might be prepared to concede that power to him. But we don’t have to.

#CoverUpCory isn’t just a fun hashtag. It’s the truth.

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Get More Smarter on Thursday (January 30)

On this day in 1933, Adolf Hitler was sworn-in as Chancellor of Germany. 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…

► Why was #CoverUpCory trending nationally on Twitter on Wednesday? Because Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) announced — after months of dodging the issue — that he opposes calling witnesses in the Senate impeachment trial of President Trump.

Earlier this week, Gardner said that he had “approached every aspect of this grave constitutional duty with the respect and attention required by law, and with the seriousness our oath requires.” He apparently forgot to add the part, “but only for two weeks.” Gardner really just wants this all to go away.

Meanwhile, the Senate impeachment trial continues today, with Republicans looking to wrap things up in the next couple of days as long as they can prevent four elephants in their ranks from voting to hear from new witnesses.

 

President Trump’s attorneys presented a brazen new strategy on Wednesday in the Senate impeachment trial. As Aaron Blake writes for The Washington Post:

A decade after being acquitted of murder, Alan Dershowitz’s former client O.J. Simpson questionably planned a book and a TV special titled, “If I Did It, Here’s How It Happened.”

On Wednesday, Dershowitz assisted in a novel defense for his current client, President Trump: If he did it, it’s still okay. [Pols emphasis]

As The Post’s Erica Werner, Karoun Demirjian and Elise Viebeck write, Trump’s legal team advanced an exceptionally broad defense of Trump’s actions at Wednesday’s Q&A session of the impeachment trial. The most striking parts of that defense came when they entertained the idea that Trump was indeed out for personal political gain when he asked Ukraine to investigate former vice president Joe Biden, a political rival, and his son Hunter Biden — despite long-standing denials that he was — and suggested even that that would be aboveboard.

It was almost as if they are girding for what might come from former national security adviser John Bolton.

In a separate story, The Washington Post points out that Trump’s attorneys notably refused to answer two very important questions.

As NBC News reports, legal experts are aghast at Dershowitz’s logic:

Dershowitz argued Wednesday that if a president engaged in a quid pro quo arrangement for their own political benefit, it is not impeachable because all politicians believe that their elections are in the public interest…

…Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of the University of California, Berkeley, law school, said he thought Dershowitz’s argument was “absurd and outrageous.”

“It means that a president could break any law or abuse any power and say that it was for the public interest because the public interest would be served by his or her election,” he said.

And Sanford Levinson, a University of Texas law professor, said Dershowitz’s argument was “on its face, preposterous.”

And yet…Senate Republicans are eating it up.
► Fundraising reports for federal campaigns are due to be filed before the end of the day on Friday, January 31. While many candidates for federal office in Colorado have already made their end-of-year and Q4 2019 fundraising numbers public, we’re still waiting to find out results from the campaigns of Sen. Cory Gardner and Democratic Senate challenger Andrew Romanoff. If both campaigns wait as long as possible to file their reports, you probably won’t hear anything about the numbers until Saturday.

 

► The Colorado State Senate is again debating legislation that would end the death penalty in Colorado. House Majority Leader Alec Garnett discusses this bill and other hot items under the Gold Dome in this week’s episode of The Get More Smarter Podcast.

 

 

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

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The Get More Smarter Podcast: #CoverUpCory

This week on The Get More Smarter Podcast, your regular (relatively) host Jason Bane is joined by Alan Franklin and producer extraordinaire Ethan Black to discuss the latest impeachment news — we had to come back and record twice just to keep up — as well as #CoverUpCory Gardner, John Bolton, and next week’s Iowa caucuses. Later, House Majority Leader Alec Garnett joins us to update the latest news on the Colorado legislative session and to provide his “lock of the week” for those of you laying down bets on the Super Bowl “Big Game” this weekend.

Questions? Comments? Complaints? Hit us up at AngryRants@getmoresmarter.com.

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“Yosemite Samantha” Lands Coveted Tom Tancredo Endorsement

Lauren Boebert.

Ernest Luning at the Colorado Springs Gazette reports, the CD-3 Republican primary heats up with the announcement that former Republican congressman, presidential candidate, and fringe-right gadfly extraordinaire Tom Tancredo is throwing his weight behind upstart primary challenger Lauren Boebert:

Calling her a “principled, no-nonsense patriot,” former U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo on Monday endorsed fellow Republican Lauren Boebert, who is challenging U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton in a primary.

The immigration hardliner who served five terms in Congress said in a radio ad obtained by Colorado Politics that Boebert, the pistol-packing owner of Shooters Grill in Rifle, “has the same fight in her that I brought to Washington.”

…The ad also touts Boebert’s well-publicized confrontation with Beto O’Rourke when the Texas Democrat brought his soon-to-be-concluded presidential campaign to Aurora to talk about gun violence in September.

Tancredo, one of the legendary pillars of Colorado’s special breed of “kamikaze conservatives” who helped relieve the GOP of most of its power in this state in the last fifteen years (see: The Blueprint by Adam Schrager and Rob Witwer), nonetheless wields a built-in base of support that remains quite influential within the party. Tancredo is also blissfully untethered by any loyalty to the Republican elites in Colorado, who generally remain supportive of incumbent Rep. Scott Tipton.

Does Tancredo’s support win Boebert the primary? Of course not. But we can’t see how it hurts.

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Tipton, Gardner Celebrate “Dirty Water Act”

Ricardo Lopez Jr. of the Pueblo Chieftain reports:

On Thursday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of the Army finalized the Navigable Waters Protection Rule, which replaces the Waters of the United States Act approved by the Obama administration in 2015.

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis immediately denounced the move, calling it a plan “to gut federal clean water protections.”

The revised definition identifies four clear categories of waters that are federally regulated under the Clean Water Act: the territorial seas and traditional navigable waters; perennial and intermittent tributaries; certain lakes, ponds, and impoundments; and wetlands that are adjacent to jurisdictional waters…

“In Colorado, we value our clean water. Our rivers, streams, and lakes serve as the lifeblood of our communities and help support our thriving outdoor and agriculture industries,” Polis said Thursday. “Our administration will continue to reject attempts by the Trump administration to gut proven ways to protect our health and environment.”

The Grand Junction Sentinel’s Dennis Webb:

Federal agencies on Thursday finalized a new clean-water rule that supporters including U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton say provides much-needed regulatory certainty.

But opponents, including the administration of Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, say it will result in the weakest protections since the passage of the Clean Water Act nearly a half a century ago…

Last April, the Polis administration and Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser submitted joint comments on the rule proposal that was finalized this week. Their letter said that as with many western states, the large majority of Colorado’s stream miles are intermittent or ephemeral. [Pols emphasis] The state said the proposal would shrink federal jurisdiction far below guidance issued in 2008 by the George W. Bush administration “to a smaller number of Colorado waters” than what presidential administrations have required since the Clean Water Act’s passage. While many ephemeral waters aren’t jurisdictional under the 2008 guidance, the new rule categorically excludes them from jurisdiction, “regardless of their connection to downstream waters,” the state wrote.

Although the new rule is intended to resolve “uncertainty” over the extent of the Clean Water Act’s jurisdiction, meaning continued special-interest grumbling and court challenges since the Obama administration passed the 2015 “Waters of the United States” rule, this rollback is particularly bad for arid Western states. The seasonality of precipitation and overall scarcity of water here compared to states east of the “20 inch isohyet” means many ephemeral waterways which most certainly can contribute to water pollution in “navigable” bodies of water covered by the Act will lose their federal protection.

It’s a classic case of choosing economic interests over environmental protection, and it works against both Rep. Scott Tipton’s and Sen. Cory Gardner’s claims to be different from other Republicans on conservation–or at least attuned to how these issues differ in the state they represent from other regions of the country. The only people this new rule should make happy are those who benefit financially from being able to pollute small bodies of water with impunity.

And it’s hard to imagine that being a majority of Colorado voters.

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Crow Impresses on First Day of Impeachment Trial

Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma), who sits dutifully behind President Trump’s legal team on the floor of the U.S. Senate, has been getting hammered in national news outlets for his blind obedience to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Team Trump despite an oath to be an “impartial juror” in the President’s impeachment trial.

Colorado Rep. Jason Crow (D-Aurora), meanwhile, is earning rave reviews for his performance as one of seven House “impeachment managers” prosecuting the case against Trump. Here’s NBC News Capitol Hill Correspondent Kasie Hunt on Tuesday:

In Gardner and Crow, Colorado has two high-profile connections to the Senate impeachment trial of President Trump. The contrast couldn’t be more stark.

From The Daily Caller:

Tuesday’s session lasted almost 13 hours, according to CNBC. Crow, a former Army Ranger, spoke late into the evening and noted that despite the late hour, it was morning in Ukraine, where soldiers were fighting Russia and depending on U.S. aid. He previously served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“The American people deserve answers,” Crow said Tuesday. “I remember what it feels like to not have the equipment you need when you need it. Real people’s lives are at stake. That’s why this matters. We need this information so we can ensure that this never happens again. Eventually, this will all come out.”

“We will have answers to these questions. The question now is whether we will have them in time, and who here will be on the right side of history.”

— Rep. Jason Crow (D-Aurora)

Justin Wingerter of The Denver Post has more on Crow’s performance from Tuesday:

Crow took to the Senate floor in the evening to argue for a subpoena of documents from OMB, where testimony and media reports suggest officials were concerned by Trump’s withholding of military aid to Ukraine.

“We know these documents exist and we know the only reason we do not have them is because the president directed OMB not to release them,” Crow said, referring to what he claims are key documents that reveal how the president’s controversial order was enacted. “Because he knows what they would show.”

Crow went through a timeline of events related to the withholding of aid to Ukraine in the summer of 2019, punctuating his remarks on several occasions by saying, “The American people deserve answers.” Crow talked about his own combat service in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the importance of military aid to soldiers in wartime.

“Who knew what, and when? OMB documents would shed light on OMB’s actions as the president’s scheme unraveled,” the congressman said.

Crow’s background as an Army Ranger who served in both Iraq and Afghanistan allows him to frame the withholding of military aid from Ukraine in a very personal manner; there aren’t many Members of Congress who could have the same impact, as you can see from this CNN clip below:

One member of Colorado’s Congressional delegation is standing up for what he believes and making a passionate case for his colleagues to follow. The other is Cory Gardner.

Kudos to Jason Crow.

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The Get More Smarter Podcast: Colorado’s Critical Role on Choice

This week on The Get More Smarter Podcast, Ian Silverii has a baby (well, not on the podcast), so Alan Franklin joins Jason Bane to talk about Sen. Cory Gardner getting hammered by national reporters; how Jon Caldara getting canned from The Denver Post epitomizes a larger problem for Colorado Republicans; and how Big Potato picked up a smashing victory. Later, journalist Madeleine Schmidt joins Alan and Jason to discuss her reporting for Jezebel about Colorado’s important role as a safe-haven for women facing difficult decisions about abortions later in pregnancy.

Questions? Comments? Complaints? Hit us up at AngryRants@getmoresmarter.com.

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McConnell Backs Down as Impeachment Trial Begins

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell

As Politico reports, there are some significant happenings already as the Senate impeachment trial of President Trump gets underway:

Senate Republicans backed down from an aggressive timetable and new restrictions on evidence in President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial, changing course after protests from senators like Republican Susan Collins of Maine.

Instead of crammingas many as 48 hours of opening arguments from House impeachment managers and the White House counsel into just four days this week, McConnell’s resolution will now give each side 24 hours to speak over three days. That could ultimately extend the trial by two days. And a controversial provision in the plan that would not have automatically included the House’s evidence was also scuttled from a previous draft.

McConnell’s rule changes — which include the admission of evidence from the House impeachment process — were so last-minute that they were actually written out by hand, as NBC News reports. As the New York Times confirms, McConnell made the adjustments due to pushback from his own caucus:

Mr. McConnell made the change after key Republican senators, including Susan Collins of Maine, argued that the rules for Mr. Trump’s impeachment trial should not deviate from the rules used during the only modern precedent, the impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton in 1999.

Ms. Collins, a moderate Republican who is likely to face a tough re-election bid later this year, has significant sway with Mr. McConnell, as her votes could change the outcome of the trial.

We will update this post as more information becomes available.

 

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New York Times Can’t Find Cory Gardner, Either

Invisible Cory GardnerOver the weekend, the New York Times published a long, comprehensive story about the curious inaccessibility and general invisibility of Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma).

They keep expecting to see Senator Cory Gardner everywhere — on the local Fox affiliates in Colorado, on Facebook, on literature crammed inside their mailboxes. They are voters who wear tasteful crepe blouses and carry structured Kate Spade totes, who like how their 401(k)’s are performing but say they could do without President Trump’s “temperament.”

They are members of one of the most coveted groups in electoral politics: suburban women. But in their field of vision, Mr. Gardner, Colorado’s top Republican officeholder, is almost nowhere to be found…

… Unlike most Republican senators, Mr. Gardner has been largely mum on the articles of impeachment against the president and the Senate trial starting Tuesday. Early in the process, he called the impeachment inquiry a “total circus,” but notably refused to answer questions about whether the president’s conduct with Ukraine had been appropriate.

Mr. Gardner hasn’t indicated one way or the other whether he’d vote to subpoena witnesses in President Trump’s impeachment trial, even as some other senators facing tough re-election fights, like Senator Susan Collins of Maine, have expressed an openness to doing so. Last week on Capitol Hill, he evaded reporters eager to pin down his thoughts, his handler hurrying him into the nearest elevator. On Thursday evening, when a local Colorado reporter caught him at the Denver airport, a smiling Mr. Gardner offered still no clarity. “We have a trial,” he said. “That’s where we’re at right now.”…

… “I’m confused as to why he’s not out on the stump more, because that’s what he was so good at in 2014,” said Colorado Republican operative Tyler Sandberg.

We took note last week about Gardner’s embarrassing run-in with 9News, in which he repeatedly said “We have a trial” in response to questions seeking much more substantial responses from a United States Senator about the most important political issue of the day. What the Times story also found, however, is that Gardner’s fellow Republicans are as mystified as everyone else by the Yuma Senator’s current political strategy:

Dick Wadhams, a veteran Colorado Republican operative, was not bashful about calling out Mr. Gardner’s fear of public exposure. “If I had one criticism of him,” Mr. Wadhams said, “it’s that his team keeps him locked up in a fortress.” (Mr. Gardner and his aides did not return multiple requests for comment.) [Pols emphasis]

Impeachment has served only to highlight Mr. Gardner’s silence, whether on his own record or the national issues du jour, according to other Colorado Republicans. His caginess has frustrated some Trump supporters in Colorado, whose votes Mr. Gardner will almost certainly need to prevail in November, when Democrats are likely to come out in force in the presidential election.

Sen. Cory Gardner waves as he exits Air Force One behind President Trump in Oct. 2018.

Gardner’s attempts at invisibility might not be paying off in the manner in which he might hope, as this closing paragraph from the Times elaborates:

Amy Conklin [a former Littleton City Council member who has supported Gardner in the past] conceded that Mr. Gardner had done some good work in the Senate. But what looms largest in her mind, what she says she’d be hardest pressed to forget, are a handful of photographs she’s seen of Mr. Gardner, including one from last winter, in which she described him as “smiling and waving, following Trump out of Air Force One.” [Pols emphasis]

The Senate impeachment trial against President Trump gets underway today. Gardner will hide as much as he can and is not expected to be anything but a loyal soldier for Senate Majority Leader “Moscow” Mitch McConnell and the White House (as Politico made clear in an impeachment preview today).

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Get More Smarter on Thursday (January 16)

Happy “National Nothing Day.” We’re not sure if you are supposed to celebrate or not. 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…

► And so it begins. From The Washington Post:

The historic impeachment trial of President Trump got underway Thursday with the arrival in the Senate of the seven House managers to formally present the two charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

John G. Roberts Jr., chief justice of the United States, is headed to the Senate later Thursday, where he is expected to be sworn in to preside over the trial focused on the president’s conduct toward Ukraine. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has said the trial will get underway “in earnest” next week.

Fallout also continued Thursday from new allegations by Lev Parnas, a former associate of Trump’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani, that Trump knew of his efforts to dig up dirt in Ukraine that could benefit Trump politically. The impeachment charges — abuse of power and obstruction of Congress — center on the allegation that Trump withheld military aid and a White House meeting to pressure Ukraine to investigate his political rivals, including former vice president Joe Biden.

The Washington Post has more on the latest allegations from Lev Parnas that do not look good for President Trump.

 

► The Government Accountability Office says the Trump administration broke the law in attempting to restrict foreign aid to Ukraine. From the New York Times:

The Trump administration violated the law in withholding security assistance aid to Ukraine, a nonpartisan federal watchdog agency said on Thursday, weighing in on a decision by President Trump that is at the heart of the impeachment case against him.

The Government Accountability Office said the White House’s Office of Management and Budget violated the Impoundment Control Act when it withheld nearly $400 million for “a policy reason,” even though the funds had been allocated by Congress. The decision was directed by the president himself, and during the House impeachment inquiry, administration officials testified that they had raised concerns about its legality to no avail.

“Faithful execution of the law does not permit the president to substitute his own policy priorities for those that Congress has enacted into law,” the G.A.O. wrote. “The withholding was not a programmatic delay.”

“Trump did nothing wrong” was never a sustainable argument, but it has become downright silly now.

 

► Ahead of the Senate impeachment trial, all 100 U.S. Senators will take an “oath of impartiality” given by Chief Justice John Roberts that will go something like this:

Getty Images

 

Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) continues to run in terror from reporter questions about impeachment and President Trump, though late Wednesday he veered away from pretending to have not seen the articles of impeachment so that he could pay lip service to the idea of being “an impartial juror.” Meanwhile, it seems even some of the more unflappable Republican Senators are starting to snap under the pressure of trying to support a corrupt President:

 

► Congressman Jason Crow (D-Aurora) is getting lots of attention as one of the seven House impeachment “managers” appointed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday. You can read more from The Denver Post, The Colorado Sun/CBS4, Denver7, and Colorado Public Radio.

Elsewhere, Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Denver) played a part in the historic decision to transmit articles of impeachment to the U.S. Senate.

 

 

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

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