Get More Smarter on Monday (January 6)

Welcome back to your desk. There’s a lot happening with the holiday season in our rear-view mirrors, so let’s Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Former National Security Adviser John Bolton announced today that he would agree to testify in front of the U.S. Senate on matters of impeachment if called as a witness. Aaron Blake of The Washington Post explains why this is such a big development:

Bolton is among the most potentially significant witnesses who have yet to testify about the Ukraine scandal. He was perhaps the highest-profile voice of dissent internally, objecting to the “drug deal” that he said Rudolph W. Giuliani was cooking up, according to testimony from Fiona Hill, the White House’s former top Russia adviser. Bolton’s attorney has also said that, as of early November, Bolton knew about “many relevant meetings” that hadn’t been testified to. Sources tell The Washington Post that the testimony would be damaging to Trump. [Pols emphasis]

It is not clear if the Senate will actually move forward with a true impeachment trial of President Trump that includes high-profile witnesses, but Bolton’s signal that he is open to testifying could open the door for him to be called as a witness in the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives. Chris Cillizza of CNN says that Bolton’s statement today puts new pressure on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

 

The U.S. Senate is reconvening today after a couple weeks off, and the topic of an impeachment trial is still at the top of the to-do list. As Justin Wingerter reports for The Denver Post, Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) remains as tight-lipped as ever:

Gardner’s every move is being closely watched as calendars flip to 2020, a year that will decide his political future. And in the Senate, where impeachment rules will require a simple majority vote, he can play the role of decider within the narrow Senate Republican majority. But he and his office have not answered questions about his impeachment preferences.

Gardner’s silence dates back months. His public appearances, never numerous in 2019, were rarer still this fall. He has avoided conservative talk radio, once a political safe space, along with most news media. His office agreed to arrange an interview with The Denver Post in Washington, D.C., during the House impeachment process, but later said he was unavailable and instead emailed a statement criticizing that process.

 

 President Trump is reiterating threats to attack Iranian sites of cultural significance amid growing concerns about a potential war with Iran. As NBC News reports:

President Donald Trump dug in Sunday night on his threat to attack Iranian cultural sites if Tehran retaliates for the killing of Gen. Qassem Soleimani, one of Iran’s top military and intelligence officials.

Speaking aboard Air Force One on his return to Washington on Sunday from a holiday at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, Trump said: “They’re allowed to kill our people. They’re allowed to torture and maim our people. They’re allowed to use roadside bombs and blow up our people. And we’re not allowed to touch their cultural sites. It doesn’t work that way.”

Trump was responding to backlash over the threat he made via Twitter on Saturday to attack 52 targets if Iran retaliates and his claim in a tweet that those targets would be “at a very high level & important to Iran & the Iranian culture,” according to a pool report.

Asked about fears Iran might retaliate, the president told reporters: “If it happens, it happens. If they do anything, there will be major retaliation.”

Meanwhile, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi plans to introduce a war powers resolution in Congress intended to make sure that President Trump does not increase military hostilities with Iran without Congressional approval.

Colorado Public Radio queries Colorado’s Congressional delegation on the killing of Gen. Qassem Soleimani.

 

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

0 Shares

Get Ready For CD-8, Colorado

As the Wall Street Journal reports:

New state population totals released Monday offer fresh signs of how southern and western states will gain political power after the 2020 census.

The figures from the Census Bureau measure changes to state populations for the year ended July 1. Because they come less than a year before the next decennial census, they are a close approximation for which states will gain and lose congressional seats and electoral votes based on the 2020 count that gets fully under way this spring.

Based on Monday’s figures, Texas is poised to gain two congressional seats, and Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Montana, North Carolina and Oregon are expected to gain one. [Pols emphasis] Eight states are expected to lose one seat: California, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and West Virginia.

It’s been known for some time now that Colorado was likely to pick up an additional seat in Congress following the 2020 Census, and the new figures from the Census Bureau out today move the needle further from possible to probable. Ex-Denver Post reporter Nic Garcia previewed the coming 2022 free-for-all back in August:

Depending on how the lines are drawn, it could feature any number of high-profile Democrats from the Front Range. Given the churn that term limits create at the statehouse, lawmakers looking to move up usually have to wait until someone dies or retires to head to Washington. So this will be a once-in-a-political-lifetime chance for a Colorado politician to head East.

The enormous population growth in Colorado in the last decade, particularly the Front Range urban corridor and suburbs of Denver, makes some kind of further division of the metro area to accommodate a prospective CD-8 the most likely scenario. That’s good news for Colorado Democrats based on recent election results, particularly the end of ticket-splitting in suburban CD-6 that kept GOP Rep. Mike Coffman in office well past his expiration date.

And yes, assuming the state’s blue trajectory in recent years holds course, just about any way it’s drawn we expect the action for CD-8 will be in the Democratic primary. There simply aren’t enough Republicans to go around anymore.

7 Shares

The Get More Smarter Podcast: Bold Predictions for 2020

This is it: The final episode of 2019 for The Get More Smarter Podcast. To close out the year, hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii discuss the most important Colorado political stories of 2019 and look ahead to 2020 with some bold predictions. Will Democrats take control of the U.S. Senate in 2020? Can Sen. Cory Gardner win re-election? Which one of Colorado’s seven Congressional seats could flip next year? 

And for the first time, Jason plays America’s worst favorite game, “Duke or Donald.” Ian is the current record-holder in the game that nobody really wins, but can Jason take the title in the last episode of 2019?

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

1 Shares

Editorial Pages Agree: Impeach Trump

UPDATE (December 20, 2019): The influential evangelical publication Christianity Today supports impeachment and slams Trump in the process:

Trump’s evangelical supporters have pointed to his Supreme Court nominees, his defense of religious liberty, and his stewardship of the economy, among other things, as achievements that justify their support of the president. We believe the impeachment hearings have made it absolutely clear, in a way the Mueller investigation did not, that President Trump has abused his authority for personal gain and betrayed his constitutional oath. The impeachment hearings have illuminated the president’s moral deficiencies for all to see. This damages the institution of the presidency, damages the reputation of our country, and damages both the spirit and the future of our people. None of the president’s positives can balance the moral and political danger we face under a leader of such grossly immoral character…

Whether Mr. Trump should be removed from office by the Senate or by popular vote next election—that is a matter of prudential judgment. That he should be removed, we believe, is not a matter of partisan loyalties but loyalty to the Creator of the Ten Commandments. [Pols emphasis]

To the many evangelicals who continue to support Mr. Trump in spite of his blackened moral record, we might say this: Remember who you are and whom you serve. Consider how your justification of Mr. Trump influences your witness to your Lord and Savior. Consider what an unbelieving world will say if you continue to brush off Mr. Trump’s immoral words and behavior in the cause of political expediency.

—–

The New York Times keeps it simple.

UPDATE (December 16, 2019): In addition to the news outlets listed below, pro-impeachment editorials have been published in the Tampa Bay Times, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, the San Francisco Chronicle, the New York Daily News, USA Today, and locally, the Aurora Sentinel. Here’s the latest sampling:

The New York Times:

In the end, the story told by the two articles of impeachment approved on Friday morning by the House Judiciary Committee is short, simple and damning [Pols emphasis]: President Donald Trump abused the power of his office by strong-arming Ukraine, a vulnerable ally, holding up hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid until it agreed to help him influence the 2020 election by digging up dirt on a political rival.

When caught in the act, he rejected the very idea that a president could be required by Congress to explain and justify his actions, showing “unprecedented, categorical and indiscriminate defiance” in the face of multiple subpoenas. He made it impossible for Congress to carry out fully its constitutionally mandated oversight role, and, in doing so, he violated the separation of powers, a safeguard of the American republic.

To quote from the articles, “President Trump, by such conduct, has demonstrated that he will remain a threat to national security and the Constitution if allowed to remain in office, and has acted in a manner grossly incompatible with self-governance and the rule of law.”

(more…)

12 Shares

Ken Buck Says Impeachment Proves Existence of Deep State; Plans to Fight Back against Federal Workers

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Speaking on Greeley radio KFKA yesterday, U.S. Rep. Ken Buck of northern Colorado said the “really scary part” about the impeachment process is that “there really is a deep state,” and he pledged to fight back in part by taking a “very hard” look at pay raises and other benefits for federal employees and “job security” of “senior bureaucrats” in the executive branch.

“There is this group of bureaucrats that think they run the government and that Congress and the president, whether they’re elected or not, should answer to this group of bureaucrats,” Buck told KFKA host Gail Fallon. “And they — you know — fought against President Trump’s trying to reform government and trying to change the balance between the appointees in the in the executive branch and the career bureaucrats. And they won! That is the only winner of this. The Democrats didn’t win. They’ll learn that next November. The Republicans didn’t win. The president didn’t win. Congress didn’t win. The only winners in this are the bureaucrats.”

In attacking the so-called deep state, Buck is echoing a long-running theme of Trump, who’s long portrayed himself as a victim of deep state operatives.

Most recently, Trump even pointed to the existence of a deep state within the U.S. military.

Much has been written about the topic, including a New York Times bestseller.

And the deep state comes up repeatedly on conservative media outlets, like Fox News.

1 Shares

Get More Smarter on Thursday (December 19)

If you’re counting today, there are six shopping days left until Christmas. 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…

► “Trump Impeached.” If you picked up a newspaper anywhere in the United States today, there is a good chance this was the headline at the top of the page.

Collage via The Guardian newspaper

As The Washington Post explains, the impeachment spotlight now turns to the U.S. Senate:

The day after Trump was impeached by the House for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, questions continued to swirl about the timing and scope of an anticipated Senate trial regarding his conduct toward Ukraine.

House leaders suggested a possible delay until they can get a guarantee of a fair trial in the Senate. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), meanwhile, in a floor speech, sharply criticized the House process as rushed and unfair and suggested that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is “too afraid” to transmit “their shoddy work product.”

Meanwhile, Trump, who is just the third president in U.S. history to be impeached, praised Republican unity Thursday in opposing the move, claiming that is “what people are talking about.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is apparently waiting to send articles of impeachment to the U.S. Senate until she has some assurances that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has agreed to some basic parameters about how a Senate trial might proceed.

Colorado’s Congressional delegation split along party lines on both impeachment questions. Via The Denver Post:

“Unfortunately, President Trump has left us no choice,” Rep. Joe Neguse, a Lafayette Democrat, said on the House floor Wednesday. “The fact of the matter is, the president abused the power of his office and invited a foreign country to interfere in our elections. In so doing, he undermined the sanctity of the free and fair elections upon which our republic rests.”

Meanwhile, Greeley Republican Rep. Ken Buck — who also serves as the State Republican Party Chairman — continues to promote his strange argument that virtually every other President in American history could have been impeached based on the same standards as those used in allegations against President Trump.

 

► President Trump spent Wednesday evening at a campaign rally in Michigan, where he inexplicably suggested that the late Rep. John Dingell of Detroit was “looking up” from Hell.

 

 Late in the day on Wednesday, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a long-awaited ruling on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act. Politico explains the court’s decision to punt on the broader question of whether the ACA can remain in place:

…the appeals court ruling largely ducked the central question of whether the rest of the Affordable Care Act remained valid after Congress removed the penalty for not having health insurance. The three-judge panel instead sent the case back to a Texas federal judge, who previously threw out the entire law, to reconsider how much of Obamacare could survive.

The high-stakes ruling keeps the legal threat to Obamacare alive while reducing the likelihood the Supreme Court could render a final verdict on the law before the next elections. Still, the appeals court’s decision could renew pressure on President Donald Trump and Republicans to explain how they will preserve insurance protections for preexisting conditions after failing to agree on an Obamacare replacement for years.

 

Don’t miss this week’s episode of The Get More Smarter Podcast, featuring an exclusive interview with Governor Jared Polis.

 

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

0 Shares

Denver Post: Impeach Trump and Remove Him From Office

“We urge all seven members of Colorado’s congressional delegation to support the two articles of impeachment that have been approved by the House Judiciary Committee.”

— Denver Post Editorial (12/17/19)

We’ve been tracking the increasing number of editorials from newspapers around the country endorsing the impeachment (and often the removal from office) of President Trump.

Late Tuesday, The Denver Post added its voice to the mix:

It is with a solemn sense of responsibility to the U.S. Constitution and a deep love of this country that we call for Congress to exercise its power of impeachment…

…we have determined — based on hours of sworn testimony, text messages, emails and the president’s own words — that Trump has so abused the power of his office that for him to remain in the White House is a threat to our democracy.

All Americans, regardless of their political affiliation, should be deeply troubled by Trump’s actions. Standing up now as a nation and declaring that this U.S. president and future presidents cannot behave with such blatant disregard for honesty and integrity is essential. We cannot tolerate this behavior. [Pols emphasis]

The Post later quotes Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Jefferson County), who walked the Editorial Board through his own thought process on impeachment:

Trump’s actions, if they go unpunished, will pave the way for foreign prosecution powers to become proxy tools of aggrieved presidents seeking to secure a political victory at any cost. “This is precisely the thing that the founders feared — foreign interference in our elections. (George) Washington was strong about it in his farewell address,” Rep. Ed Perlmutter, D-Arvada, told The Post editorial board last week as we considered an editorial on impeachment. “I hesitated and I’ve been reluctant … but this goes to the heart of freedom, and independence, and fair elections.” [Pols emphasis]

The House of Representatives — by a largely party-line vote — is expected to approve the impeachment of President Trump in a formal vote later today.

155 Shares

Republicans Flummoxed on Prescription Drug Pricing

Image via AARP

While you were reading about impeachment news last week, you may have missed a significant vote in the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives addressing an issue that is of utmost concern to American voters in 2020: Reducing the outrageous costs of prescription drugs.

The “Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act” (HR-3) passed out of the House on Thursday on a largely party line vote (Colorado’s four Democratic House Members voted “YES,” while all three Republicans voted “NO”) and will now head to the place where all good pieces of legislation go to die: The desk of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. As CBS News explains:

Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s bill would cap Medicare recipients’ out-of-pocket costs for medicines at $2,000 a year. It would use about $360 billion of its projected 10-year savings from lower drug costs to establish Medicare coverage for dental care, hearing, and vision, filling major gaps for seniors.

But the legislation has no chance of passing the Republican-controlled Senate, and the White House has issued a veto threat. Still, Democrats saw a victory in the message their bill sends to voters…[Pols emphasis]

…Pelosi is claiming bragging rights because her bill would deliver on the promise that President Trump made as a candidate in 2016, when he said he would “negotiate like crazy” to lower prescription drug prices for Medicare recipients. It’s a pledge that Mr. Trump has backed away from as president.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Sen. Cory Gardner don’t know where to go from here.

Polling data continually shows that health care and prescription drugs top the list of voter concerns in 2020…much like they did in the Democratic wave year of 2018. A recent survey from Healthier Colorado found that 82% of Colorado voters believe that prescription drugs are too costly; nearly half of voters say that health care in general is unaffordable. The bill passed last week in the House of Representatives has the support of groups such as AARP, but McConnell won’t touch it in part because it is fiercely opposed by the pharmaceutical industry. As Politico reports today, the issue has put Republicans in a bind:

Yet with an election year cresting and massive divisions among his members, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is staying put. Associates say the Kentucky Republican is not eager to make a move that splits his caucus and could incur the wrath of the well-financed pharmaceutical industry.

A final decision will wait until after the Senate’s impeachment trial. Many Senate Republicans, however, know they need to do something to satisfy Trump and avoid the awful optics of doing nothing at all.

Senate Finance Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) this summer advanced a bill that would fine drugmakers that hike prices above inflation rates, but from the start it had more Democratic support than Republican backing. Even though a significant number of GOP members say it’s a bold stroke with crucial presidential support, many Republicans liken the move to price controls that would kill innovation.

This quote from Louisiana Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy sums up the absurdity of the GOP’s position: “Thank goodness Republicans control the Senate. That said, we still need something to make medicines affordable.” Ya think?

Republicans have lambasted impeachment investigations against President Trump as a distraction from the key issues facing average Americans, but Democrats snatched that stool right out from under them last week by multitasking on important topics. As The Hill explains:

Vulnerable Democrats in swing districts can point to the legislation as keeping a long-held promise to let Medicare negotiate drug prices. Members can show they are focused on kitchen table issues despite the chaos over impeachment.

The bill also gives moderate Democrats in Congress a chance to tout a health care issue that’s separate from the “Medicare for All” debate consuming the Democratic presidential primary.

“If a Democrat wins the White House and the party takes control of the Senate, a bill to allow the government to negotiate drug prices seems much more likely to pass than Medicare for All or even a public option,” said Larry Levitt, executive vice president for health care policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Congressional Republicans are now in the unenviable position of arguing against the substance of legislation that would reduce health care costs for millions of Americans. Republican leaders can shake their fists at the idea of “price controls” for prescription drugs, but that language only makes a dent with pharmaceutical lobbyists; controlling prices is exactly what average voters want to see from Congress on the issue of prescription drug costs.

52 Shares

The Sky is Still Blue; Up Is Not Down

Yep, still blue

Rex Huppke of the Chicago Tribune has a great column today that is worth your time. The premise of Huppke’s column is about fighting to preserve important things like truth and facts at a time when they are constantly under attack by right-wing sources:

It can feel, especially lately, as if reality has been bent sideways and backward, like facts are meaningless and, quite frankly, like many of us are losing our minds…

…First, the good: Facts still matter, and truth still exists.

Second, the bad: You can’t feel exhausted. You have to cling to the truth, tighter than ever before, because an entire political party, a massive news network and the leader of the free world are trying to pull it away.

Huppke could point to any number of recent examples in making his point, though this case he uses the release this week of a watchdog report which found that the FBI was justified in opening an investigation into President Trump’s 2016 campaign (and its ties to foreign governments) and was not influenced by political bias one way or the other. As Huppke summarizes:

Even a cursory review of the report reveals a thorough debunking of many of the president’s favorite conspiracy theories. It clearly states there is no “documentary or testimonial evidence that political bias or improper motivation influenced” the decision to launch an investigation into contacts between Russians and Trump campaign members.

The report shows the FBI had an “authorized purpose” for starting the investigation, meaning it was not, as Trump claims ceaselessly, a “witch hunt.” The report even shows that while screams of bias have been leveled ad nauseam at certain investigators who were texting anti-Trump comments, there were also investigators texting pro-Trump comments. There was no evidence either form of bias had bearing on the investigation.

I speak THIS MUCH truth.

Alas, President Trump and his apologists sought their own sort of “facts.” Trump curiously called the report “far worse than I would’ve ever thought possible.” Fox News talking monkey Sean Hannity breathlessly declared it “the biggest abuse of power corruption scandal in the history of the country.”

As Huppke writes:

Up is down. Dogs are cats. The world is flat as a pancake.

Trump, members of his party and propagandists like Hannity failed to note anything debunked by the report. They didn’t just overlook a few things. They flat-out lied.

And they did it as easy as they breathe.

Like most things in life, you can have a different opinion of these developments…but you cannot claim a different set of facts. As The Washington Post reported today, Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz told lawmakers that a senior prosecutor — appointed directly by Attorney General William Barr — failed to convince him that the FBI’s 2016 investigation was improper.

Trump and Hannity are free to say that they disagree with the report’s findings; what they shouldn’t be able to get away with is declaring that the report reached an entirely different set of conclusions. But it happens because Trumpians are incessant about driving false narratives, and because news outlets often let them get away with it.

Take, for example, this Monday story in The Denver Post recapping a day of impeachment hearings in front of the House Judiciary Committee.

The Denver Post (12/9/19)

The Post headline makes it look like this discussion is a difference of opinion, when in reality it is more about a difference in accepted truth. There is zero evidence that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 U.S. elections, yet the headline treats the discussion as though the facts are still to be determined. As the Post’s Justin Wingerter writes later:

“Isn’t it true that President Trump had a legitimate reason to request help from the Ukraine about the 2016 election?” Rep. Ken Buck, a Windsor Republican, asked a House Judiciary Committee lawyer, who was testifying during the impeachment hearing. “And I’m not suggesting for a minute that Russia didn’t interfere. Of course they interfered! But the Ukraine officials tried to influence the election.”

It’s a view asserted by an increasing number of Republicans in recent days despite the intelligence community and even Trump administration officials saying there was no evidence to support it. Democrats reiterated that on several occasions Monday. [Pols emphasis]

Again, Buck is entitled to his opinion. But media outlets should not allow him to present that opinion as fact.

Even media institutions like the New York Times are guilty of permitting this false factual equivalency. New York University journalism professor Jay Rosen was critical of a Times story that reported little more than what different sides had to say about the subject:

9News in Denver reported on different statements from Members of Colorado’s Congressional delegation, offering little in the way of context until reporter/anchor Kyle Clark Tweeted this separately:

Clark’s comments should have been included in the original 9News story, which went on to quote Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley) saying this:

“The Democrats don’t have the evidence to support their case.”

This is not true. Not even a little. 9News should have reported that it is Buck’s “opinion” that Democrats don’t have the evidence to support their case. As Huppke of the Chicago Tribune reminds us, Trump supporters are muddying the waters for a very specific purpose:

Disinformation is intended to wear critics down, to make them feel that resistance is futile, that combating nonsense with facts is a waste of time.

You can’t let that happen. You need to keep your mind right.

News outlets seem to be growing increasingly worried about being viewed as presenting “both sides of the story” at a time when what the public really needs is for the media to present “the accurate side of the story.”

2 Shares

Get More Smarter on Wednesday (December 11)

Happy “Indiana 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…

Jesse Paul of The Colorado Sun examines a question we have long pondered here at Colorado Pols: Does Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) have a breaking point when it comes to his fealty to President Trump?

Gardner made an early endorsement of Trump’s 2020 reelection campaign. He has a direct line of communication to the president — they speak on the phone fairly regularly. And he has refused to answer questions about whether Trump’s interactions with Ukraine’s president — which are now the subject of impeachment proceedings — were wrong…

…In a recent interview, Gardner declined to answer questions about his views on Trump and instead attacked Democrats. He has said, when explaining his support of the president, that he could never support someone who backs policies he said are socialist, including government-run health care or the Green New Deal.

Asked whether there is a red line that Trump could cross that would lead him to abandon his support of the president, Gardner didn’t directly answer.

There is a LOT of information to absorb about Gardner in this story — make sure to read the entire thing yourself — including some very unflattering comments from Colorado voters:

Alan Schwartz, another unaffiliated voter who said he leans left but has backed Republicans in the past, made a thumbs-down motion when asked about Gardner. “I feel he is a butt-kisser,” said Schwartz, adding that he was upset about Gardner’s support of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation. “He says he’ll do one thing and then flip over and go with Trump. I don’t trust him at all.” [Pols emphasis]

 

The House Judiciary Committee today begins the process of “marking up” articles of impeachment against President Trump.

9News runs down how Colorado elected officials feel about impeachment, none of which will surprise you. Congressman Scott Tipton (R-Cortez) announced via Twitter that he has already made up his mind on an impeachment vote:

President Trump, meanwhile, says that abuse of power “is not even a crime.”

 

 Attorney General Bill Barr has been trying to help President Trump come up with evidence that the FBI was illegally targeting his 2016 campaign by investigating contacts with foreign officials. But as The Washington Post explains, the facts keep winning out:

Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz said Wednesday that a senior prosecutor failed to convince him that the FBI’s 2016 investigation of President Trump’s campaign was improperly opened, revealing new details about internal tension among senior officials over the politically explosive case.

At a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Horowitz was asked by the panel’s senior Democrat, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (Calif.), if Attorney General William P. Barr or his hand-picked prosecutor on the issue, Connecticut U.S. Attorney John Durham, offered anything to change the inspector general’s view that the FBI had a valid reason to open the probe in July 2016.

“No, we stand by our finding,” said Horowitz, who said he met in November with Durham to discuss the findings in the inspector general’s 434-page report released Monday…

…Horowitz’s testimony marked his first public pushback to Barr and Durham, and further revealed the depths of the disagreement among senior law enforcement officials about Horowitz’s findings. Before the report was released publicly, The Washington Post reported that Barr disputed Horowitz’s conclusion that the FBI had sufficient grounds to open the investigation.

 

► Editorial pages across the country are coming to the same conclusion: President Trump must be impeached.

 

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

0 Shares

The Get More Smarter Podcast: Buck, Buck, Neguse!

This week on the Get More Smarter Podcast, President Trump is an anti-Semitic piece of garbage (more or less) who should absolutely be impeached; we find Sen. Cory Gardner at the bottom of the gutter in a new poll; Colorado Congressman Scott Tipton catches a primary challenge from a heavily armed West Slope barkeep; and Colorado Reps. Joe Neguse and Ken Buck take different roads on impeachment. Tune in now and get prepared for a special bonus podcast episode later this week.

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

0 Shares

Abuse, Obstruction: The Case Against President Trump

UPDATE: Statement from Rep. Diana DeGette of Denver:

Public office is a public trust. And those who violate that trust must be held accountable. The evidence is clear: President Trump has abused the power of his office, put our national security at risk and blocked Congress’s attempt to investigate his actions. No one in this country is above the law, not even the president. In order to protect the strength of our democracy, Congress has a duty to act.

—–

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D).

The New York Times reports on today’s announcement that two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump, for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, will proceed to a vote in the Democratic-controlled U.S. House:

House Democrats announced on Tuesday that they would move ahead this week with two articles of impeachment charging President Trump with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, as they accused him of violating the Constitution by pressuring Ukraine for help in the 2020 election.

Speaking from a wood-paneled reception room just off the floor of the House, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and leaders of six key committees said that Mr. Trump’s actions toward Ukraine, and his efforts to block Congress’s attempt to investigate, had left them no choice but to pursue one of the Constitution’s gravest remedies. The move will bring a sitting president to the brink of impeachment for only the fourth time in American history.

“Today, in service to our duty to the Constitution, and to our country, the House Committee on Judiciary is introducing two articles of impeachment charging the president of the United States, Donald J. Trump, with committing high crimes and misdemeanors,” said Representative Jerrold Nadler, Democrat of New York and the panel’s chairman. He stood before four American flags and a portrait of George Washington.

With a nation not only divided politically but unable to reach consensus on a common set of facts from which to argue our respective cases, the heart of the matter with regard to the case against Trump–that American leaders must not use the power of their office to manipulate foreign policy for domestic political advantage–has itself become a partisan political question when it should never have been.

The Republican defense of Trump relies on the idea that Trump’s actions toward Ukraine are not an impeachable offense, or even a problem at all. After the precedent set by Russia’s assistance to Trump in 2016, which Republicans have consistently sought to downplay and deny despite overwhelming evidence, the defense of Trump against articles of impeachment over pressuring Ukraine to help Trump in 2020 boils down to such actions constituting an acceptable “new normal” in American politics–despite being clearly illegal under federal law and troubling to a majority of Americans.

This is why Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who opposed the push to impeach Trump for a controversially long period of time, has now committed the House to impeachment no matter what the Republican majority in the U.S. Senate does. Because there are fundamental nonpartisan principles at stake. Were it not for the political requirement of Republicans to defend a President who has repeatedly proven himself either ignorant of or indifferent to the law, this would not be nearly as divisive a question.

Whatever happens next, Trump is about to join a very small and ignominious club.

42 Shares

Ken Buck’s Spotty Impeachment Attendance Continues

Congressman Ken Buck (R-Greeley) moonlights as the State Republican Party Chairman (or vice-versa), so he’s probably a busy guy. But it would be nice if Buck would pay a little more attention to his taxpayer-funded position in Congress.

Buck showed up briefly at a House Judiciary Committee hearing last week to ask some inane questions of witnesses, but otherwise he’s generally been hard to find on Capitol Hill when it comes to hearings on impeaching the President of the United States. As the Colorado Independent reported earlier this month, Buck missed most of the closed-door impeachment hearings this fall — he has yet to offer an explanation for his truancy — and he was largely absent again at today’s open hearing:

You can see the video yourself from today’s House Judiciary Committee hearings; the C-SPAN camera pans to an empty seat in front of Buck’s name placard during a procedural voice vote. As you can also see for yourself, the overwhelming majority of committee members — on both sides of the political aisle — are in fact sitting in their seats doing their jobs.

As we mentioned earlier, this is not the first time that Buck has wandered off in the middle of testimony. Here’s Justin Wingerter of The Denver Post last Wednesday:

Lawmakers may not want to be spending so much time on impeachment questions, as Rep. Jason Crow (D-Aurora) acknowledged to Wingerter last week, but most of them have the good sense to at least pretend to be engaged in their work.

0 Shares

Scott Tipton Faces Primary Challenge From Gun-Right

Lauren Boebert.

As the Colorado Sun’s Jesse Paul reports:

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

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

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

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

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

0 Shares

Get More Smarter on Friday (December 6)

Saturday is Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day; Gov. Jared Polis has ordered flags to be lowered to half staff from sunrise to sunset tomorrow. It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

1 Shares

Everybody Does Impeachable Things, Says Ken Buck

You’ll never catch me, logic!

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

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

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

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

Buck concluded with this perplexing high-horsed statement:

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

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

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

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

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

30 Shares

Get More Smarter on Wednesday (December 4)

Today is “National Cookie Day.” Please celebrate responsibly. Now, let’s Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

0 Shares

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

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

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

0 Shares

Just Impeachie: Know More Than Your Drunk Uncle

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

2 Shares

Steve Reams Gets His Border Photo-Op On

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

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

Senator Minority Leader Chris Holbert (R-Parker)

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

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

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

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

2 Shares

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

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

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

0 Shares

Get More Smarter on Tuesday (November 26)

Happy Snowmageddon; please celebrate responsibly. Now, let’s Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

1 Shares

Schiff: Impeachment Report Coming After Thanksgiving

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

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

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

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

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

1 Shares

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

0 Shares