Get More Smarter on Friday (December 14)

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► Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) continues to run interference for Saudi Arabia when it comes to foreign policy decisions. From the Denver Post:

Gardner voted Thursday afternoon against ending U.S. support for Saudi Arabia in its war on Yemen — one of a pair of votes taken in response to the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The amendment passed, however, with support from all Senate Democrats, including Colorado’s Michael Bennet, and a handful of Republicans.

“The tragic and extraordinarily complex situation in Yemen requires a political solution,” Bennet said in a statement. “It’s also critical to stress how inadequate the President’s response to the death of Jamal Khashoggi has been, in effect legitimizing his murder and failing to stand up for press freedom.”

President Donald Trump has continued to support Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman despite the CIA’s findings.

As the Washington Post explains, the Senate — not including Gardner — is at least trying to take on a leadership role in the absence of a strong voice in the White House:

On Thursday afternoon, a bipartisan coalition in Congress moved to fill the void and perform this function of the presidency that Trump has essentially outsourced. Senators voted 56-to-41 to cut off U.S. military support for Saudi Arabia’s often brutal conduct in the Yemen civil war. It’s the first time either chamber of Congress has asserted itself against the executive branch by using the War Powers Act, which became law during the depths of the Vietnam quagmire in 1973.

A few minutes later, the Senate voted unanimously to approve a separate, nonbinding resolution that blames Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for what happened to Khashoggi. The CIA concluded that MBS, as he’s known, probably ordered and monitored the dismemberment of the dissident journalist inside a Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2. But Trump has touted the authoritarian prince’s denials and sought to play down the expert assessment of his own intelligence community. There’s even a tape.

Gardner has said a lot of words about Saudi Arabia lately. None of them meaningful.


► Congressional Republicans have again settled on a familiar strategy regarding a potential government shutdown: Punt. As Politico reports:

The House and Senate left town Thursday with no strategy to avert a partial government shutdown next week, putting Congress on the brink of an intractable conflict that could drag out through New Year’s Day — furloughing hundreds of thousands of workers and costing taxpayers millions.

Frustrated lawmakers in both parties are complaining that congressional leaders have made zero progress since Tuesday, when Trump stunned even his fellow Republicans by boasting that he would take the blame for the closure of a dozen federal agencies if he doesn’t get money for his border wall.

Lawmakers say there is no public plan to prevent a partial government shuttering. And no secret plan either.


President Trump has more answers than a Scantron sheet in response to worsening news about Robert Mueller’s investigation into a myriad of 2016 campaign issues. From the Washington Post:

The president no longer disputes that he instructed his then-personal attorney, Michael Cohen, to make the payments to former Playboy playmate Karen McDougal and adult-film star Stephanie Clifford, who goes by the stage name Stormy Daniels.

Instead, Trump sought to evade that question Thursday by saying he never told Cohen to break the law — making a narrow assertion that was itself an admission that his and his team’s earlier denials were false…

…In these and other statements Thursday, Trump tried to place blame entirely on his lawyer for felonies that his advisers and allies are increasingly concerned could imperil the president. The statements come as Trump feels besieged by multiplying investigations in New York and Washington and uncertain about what may be around the corner, according to several of his associates.

The evolving strategy on the hush-money allegations is textbook Trump: Tell one version of events until it falls apart, then tell a new version, and so on — until the danger passes.

Get even more smarter after the jump…



► If you’re a Colorado Democrat interested in running for U.S. Senate, the line forms to your left. Former State House Speaker Andrew Romanoff and former gubernatorial candidate Mike Johnston both appear to be moving toward running in 2020, but they certainly won’t be lonely on the campaign trail. Meanwhile, Westword reports on results of a new poll showing Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) losing to a generic Democrat.


► Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl, a Republican appointed to fill the remaining term of the late John McCain, is resigning his post already. From CNN:

Kyl wrote in a letter Wednesday to Arizona Gov. Doug Doucey that he will resign from the US Senate effective December 31, 2018.

Ducey, a Republican who was just re-elected to a second term, will now pick a replacement to serve until 2020, when there will be an election to fill the remaining two years of McCain’s term…

…”I have concluded that it would be best if I resign so that your new appointee can begin the new term with all other Senators in January 2019 and can serve a full two (potentially four) years,” wrote Kyl.

Republicans are obviously nervous about Arizona after losing a Senate seat to Democrat Kyrsten Sinema in 2018. Ducey will likely appoint someone like former Rep. Martha McSally — who lost to Sinema — in order to give her a stronger position from which she can seek a full term in 2020.


► It’s looking more and more likely that North Carolina will hold a new election to determine a Congressional seat after troubling allegations of voter fraud by Republicans. As CNN explains:

Republican and Democratic officials in North Carolina are beginning to maneuver for position in anticipation of a fierce and protracted second campaign in the state’s scandal-ridden 9th Congressional District.

Leaders from both parties have all but publicly agreed that a new election is necessary, but they are pursuing much different paths to winning it.

Democrats are zeroing in on Republican nominee Mark Harris’ ties to operative at the center of the alleged election fraud, demanding Harris personally address the depth of their relationship, while escalating nationwide fundraising appeals to back their candidate, Dan McCready. Republicans have sought to nudge Harris from the stage, most clearly by moving to mandate a new primary in the case a new general election is called, and by suggesting — as one senior party official did to CNN — that the mess has rendered him damaged political goods.

On Thursday night, The Washington Post added to those doubts with a report that Harris decided to hire Dowless earlier in the campaign than had been previously known — and in defiance of warnings about his criminal background and rumors of shady tactics.


► Congress has passed a “Farm Bill,” which will allow farmers to legally grow hemp for the first time in 80 years. Colorado Public Radio has more on the local impact of the legislation. CBS4 Denver reports that hemp could have a big impact on Colorado’s economy.


► Incoming Gov. Jared Polis announced a “Blue Sneaker Ball” as part of his inauguration festivities in early January.


► The conservative media outlet The Weekly Standard will cease publication after more than 20 years.


► The Ft. Collins Coloradoan looks at key education funding issues facing Colorado lawmakers.


► Former First Lady Michelle Obama was in Denver on Thursday as part of a tour to promote her new book.


► Xcel Energy plans to be carbon-neutral by 2050. Then what?


► The Colorado Springs City Council approved new campaign finance measures that will go into effect for the spring municipal elections.


Incoming members of Congress don’t want anything to do with the House Financial Services Committee.



Your Daily Dose Of ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ 


► Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is forever interviewing for jobs in the Trump administration.


Always classy, Tucker Carlson.




► Outgoing Rep. Mike Coffman thinks Republicans should give in to President Trump’s threats of a shutdown over border wall funding because Nancy Pelosi is a meanie:

“It’s not my preference, but from a point of negotiation I think it’s important for Republicans in the House to make that statement,” Coffman said. “When Nancy Pelosi challenged the president by saying, ‘You don’t have the votes,’ that put us in a situation to at least demonstrate from a negotiating standpoint that we do have the votes.”

This is so dumb.


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