Surveying the responses from Colorado politicos to the rapidly-deepening impeachment crisis threatening to end Donald Trump’s presidency, we were struck in particular by Rep. Ken Buck of Greeley’s defense of Trump in an interview with the Denver Post’s Justin Wingerter. Buck as readers know was formerly the district attorney of Weld County, and never misses a chance to remind audiences of his steel-trap prosecutorial mind:
“The chief of law enforcement in the United States asked the chief of law enforcement in a foreign country to assist on an ongoing investigation,” Rep. Ken Buck, a Windsor Republican who sees no reason for an impeachment inquiry, told The Post in an interview. “He didn’t suggest what the outcome was. He asked for cooperation from the new government because of election interference in the 2016 election, as well as alleged crimes (involving) the former vice president in the country.”
Buck said Democrats and the press have attacked Trump constantly, fostering cynicism among the public that amplifies otherwise minor revelations, such as those unveiled this week.
“I don’t think this rises to an impeachable offense,” said the congressman, who is chair of the Colorado Republican Party. “I don’t think this is necessarily even wrong. [Pols emphasis] Could it have been handled better? Sure. But it is not something that, I think, is suggesting this president was trying to interfere in an ongoing criminal investigation or trying to affect the outcome of an election in 2020.
In order for Rep. Buck to suggest that this wasn’t “necessarily even wrong,” he has to ignore all of the context of this story in addition to the phone call in question–the freezing of hundreds of millions of dollars in foreign aid just before the call and un-freezing of the aid in its aftermath, Trump’s private attorney Rudy Giuliani who Trump told the Ukrainian president would “be in touch” along with Attorney General William Barr, the resignation of the special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker on Friday…the list goes on and on. It’s true that Republicans are being asked to swallow a lot here in order to stay loyal, but for Ken Buck apparently no encouragement is needed to put his own credibility on the line in defense of Trump. To the point of absurdity:
“Vice President Biden is not going to be the Democratic nominee,” Buck added. [Pols emphasis] “I think that is more than just conventional wisdom at this point. And what the president was doing involved a matter within the scope of the executive branch.”
Whether or not Democratic primary voters ultimately agree, it’s widely known that Trump considers Joe Biden to be his most dangerous potential Democratic adversary. Biden may be in a tight three-way race for the Democratic presidential nomination, but to assert flat-out that Biden is “not going to be the nominee” is a ridiculous attempt at clairvoyance. It’s a useful thing to say if the goal is to minimize Trump’s actions, but as a prediction it simply it has no factual basis.
In recent months Ken Buck’s reputation has been under heavy assault, as his early support for recalling Colorado Democrats collapsed in a heap along with those efforts and his absentee management of the Colorado Republican Party has allowed the conservative backlash coming out of the 2019 legislative session to dissipate in confusion. But it should be noted that Buck’s questionable judgment goes back to his days as a deputy U.S. Attorney where he was reprimanded for damaging the case against a politically-connected gun dealer and then as Weld County DA, when a sexual assault case Buck dismissed as “buyer’s remorse” helped seal his narrow defeat in the 2010 U.S. Senate race.
As rumors of Buck’s retirement continue to swirl, nobody’s quite sure what his next move will be.
But we sincerely hope he’ll never be asked to prosecute another case.