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TOP OF MIND TODAY…
► As expected, former White House Counsel Don McGahn failed to show up for a hearing in front of the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday. House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler is pretty steamed about this, as the Washington Post explains:
Nadler vowed that his panel would eventually hear McGahn’s testimony about alleged obstruction of justice by Trump “even if we have to go to court to secure it.”
“We will not allow the president to block congressional subpoenas, putting himself and his allies above the law,” Nadler said. “We will not allow the president to stop this investigation, and nothing in these unjustified and unjustifiable legal attacks will stop us from pressing forward with our work on behalf of the American people. We will hold this president accountable, one way or the other.”
Nadler’s remarks came at the outset of the second “empty chair” hearing this month held by the Judiciary Committee. Three weeks ago, Attorney General William P. Barr declined to appear.
Meanwhile, President Trump’s all-out blitz to prevent Congress from seeing or hearing anything about pretty much anything — including his financial records — ran into a legal wall on Monday. As CNN reports:
A federal district judge has told the accounting firm Mazars it will need to turn over Donald Trump’s accounting records from before he was President to the Democratic-controlled House Oversight Committee.
In a 41-page opinion, Judge Amit Mehta of the DC District Court dealt a significant blow to the White House as he rejected Trump’s attempt to block the committee’s subpoena, asserting that Congress is well within its authority to investigate the President…
…Congress specifically can probe the President for conflicts of interest and ethical questions, Mehta wrote, reaching into history — citing everything from the presidency of James Buchanan, to the Teapot Dome scandal, to Watergate and Whitewater — to back up his ruling.
In a delicious bit of irony, Trump’s lawyers will now appeal in a federal court overseen by none other than Judge Merrick Garland himself. Garland was nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court by President Obama in early 2016, but his confirmation was blocked by Senate Republicans so that a Republican President (Trump) could fill the vacancy instead.
As Jennifer Rubin writes for the Washington Post:
We see a crack opening in Trump’s unconstitutional stonewall strategy. It’s the courts that might have the will and the ability to defuse a constitutional standoff.
As Elie Honig explains for CNN, Trump’s “legal” strategy for avoiding Congress is, in a word, “nuts”:
The White House previously invoked executive privilege in an effort to prevent McGahn from producing documents to Congress. Now the White House — perhaps recognizing that its executive privilege invocation would likely fail on the legal merits — has changed tack and instead made an even broader claim that Congress cannot ever compel testimony from a senior adviser to the President.
This is nuts. The White House is relying on a brand new memo from the Office of Legal Counsel claiming that, as an absolute matter of separation of powers and executive branch autonomy, Congress cannot force the President’s senior advisers to testify.
Notably, the memo cites not a single court decision to support this novel proposition. The memo does begrudgingly note in passing that the only court opinion on the matter, a 2008 decision relating to testimony from former White House Counsel Harriet Miers, actually reaches the opposite conclusion: Senior advisers to the President are not immune from compelled congressional testimony.
► Some House Democrats, including freshman Rep. Joe Neguse (D-Lafayette) are pushing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to move ahead with an impeachment inquiry against President Trump. From Politico:
Reps. David Cicilline of Rhode Island, Jamie Raskin of Maryland and Joe Neguse of Colorado — all members of Democratic leadership — pushed to begin impeachment proceedings during a leadership meeting in Pelosi’s office, said the sources. Pelosi and Reps. Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut, Ben Ray Luján of New Mexico, Hakeem Jeffries of New York and Cheri Bustos of Illinois — some of her key allies — rejected their calls, saying Democrats’ message is being drowned out by the fight over possibly impeaching Trump.
Raskin — a former law professor — said he wasn’t advocating impeaching Trump but suggested that opening an impeachment inquiry would strengthen their legal position while allowing Democrats to move forward with their legislative agenda. [Pols emphasis]
► Could Colorado follow in the footsteps of states such as Alabama and Missouri in passing legislation to essentially make abortion illegal? We could be closer than you might think.
Meanwhile, Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) took time out from running away from reporters to answer a question about abortion with an intentionally-vague and pointless statement that laws should be left “up to the states.” Gardner knows full well that the entire point of strict anti-abortion laws passed by individual states is to ultimately force a reconsideration of Roe v. Wade in the U.S. Supreme Court.
Get even more smarter after the jump…
IN CASE YOU ARE STANDING NEAR A WATER COOLER…
► The editorial board of the Denver Post has high praise for legislative efforts to combat Climate Change:
Democrats achieved much in 2019 with their complete control of the Colorado state governance, but of all the policies that Gov. Jared Polis has or likely will sign into law, none is as important as the work lawmakers did to reduce Colorado’s carbon footprint.
There’s a good chance toxic D.C. politics will prevent the federal government from ever responding to the threat of climate change. States and local governments must step up and do what they can, and individuals, for that matter, must start chipping in too.
That’s why we applaud the relatively moderate “climate change” legislative agenda passed by Speaker of the House K.C. Becker, House Majority Leader Alec Garnett, Senate President Leroy Garcia, and Senate Majority Leader Steve Fenberg. Polis has signed some of these into law already but not all of them.
► Former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach was apparently willing to consider a post as the White House “immigration czar,” but his demands were pretty heavy. As the New York Times reports:
Access to a government jet 24 hours a day. An office in the West Wing, plus guaranteed weekends off for family time. And an assurance of being made secretary of homeland security by November.
Those were among a list of 10 conditions that Kris Kobach, the former Kansas secretary of state, has given to the White House if he is to become the administration’s “immigration czar,” a job President Trump has been looking to create to coordinate immigration policy across government agencies. The list was described by three people familiar with it…
…[Kobach] said he would need to be the main television spokesman for the Trump administration on immigration policy. And he said he wanted a guarantee that cabinet secretaries whose portfolios relate to immigration would defer to him, with the president mediating disputes if need be.
The list was submitted by Mr. Kobach in recent weeks as he discussed his interest in the job. Other conditions included having a staff of seven reporting to him, “walk in” privileges to the Oval Office, a security detail if deemed necessary and the title of assistant to the president.
Seems like a cool guy.
According to the New York Times, Trump has instead decided on former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli for the vague role of head immigration guy in the White House. No word on whether Cuccinelli demanded the same kind of perks as Kobach and a host of others in the Trump administration.
► The House Freedom Caucus is shaking angry fists at Republican Rep. Justin Amash for his weekend comments in favor of impeachment proceedings against President Trump. Amash is the first Republican lawmaker to publicly suggest impeachment.
► Legislation to strengthen election security in the United States keeps running into the same roadblock: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
► Colorado Democrats are pondering new ideas for gun safety legislation while their Republican counterparts continue to push nonsense ideas to create more crossfire in the event of a mass shooting.
► Meg Wingerter of the Denver Post reports on new poll results about education policies in Colorado:
A new poll by Magellan Strategies found 83 percent of a sample of Colorado registered voters surveyed favored increasing opportunities for vocational education in high school. The idea was popular across subgroups, with at least 80 percent support from men, women, Democrats, Republicans, unaffiliated voters and people in a range of geographic areas and income groups.
There also appeared to be a broad consensus that teachers were underpaid, with nearly three-quarters of those surveyed agreeing with that statement. At least half of every subgroup thought teachers should be paid more, though Republicans were less likely than Democrats or unaffiliated voters to think they were underpaid.
Two-thirds of voters polled said they thought schools were underfunded, but more than half thought they also weren’t managing their money well. Those two ideas aren’t necessarily contradictory, said Ryan Winger, director of data analysis and campaign strategy at Magellan.
“There’s a general perception that school districts aren’t managing their money well because not enough money is getting directly into the classroom — the implication being that too much goes to administration or other costs,” he said in a written response. “So I think a voter could believe that to be the case but still believe that public schools are underfunded.”
► President Trump is doubling down on his rhetoric accusing the FBI of “spying” on his 2016 campaign. Vox.com reports from a Trump campaign rally in Pennsylvania:
Trump’s accusation is transparently meritless, but that’s beside the point. Heading into his 2020 reelection campaign, Trump — with help from Barr — is trying to establish a narrative that the entire investigation into his campaign’s contacts with Russia stemmed from anti-Trump bias in the law enforcement and intelligence communities, not his campaign’s secretive contacts with people in the Kremlin’s orbit. Trump wants to portray himself as a victim and Obama-era officials as bad actors who had it out for him from the beginning.
Trump’s audience seemed ready to get on board, cheering his accusations of treason and then breaking out in “lock them up!” chants. Trump basked in the chants for a moment before threatening to sic Barr on law enforcement officials who investigated him.
► Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser is suing the federal government over an effort to carve out “religious exceptions” for health care providers.
► Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Denver) wants to invest $1 trillion in an effort to address Climate Change as part of his campaign for the Democratic Presidential nomination.
Your Daily Dose Of ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
► Alabama Public Television is refusing to air an episode of the PBS children’s cartoon “Arthur” because of a gay wedding that takes place between two aardvarks.
► At least we’re not dealing with Brexit.
► Congressman Scott Tipton (R-Cortez) has a lot of explaining to do after a weekend Tweet mocking women over the issue of abortion.
Check out the latest episode of The Get More Smarter Show, featuring an in-depth interview with Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser. You can also Get More Smarter by liking Colorado Pols on Facebook!