Enjoy your Friday afternoon commute; things might really suck on Monday. 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 Facebook and Twitter.
TOP OF MIND TODAY…
► Senate Republicans are listening to President Trump and “toughening up” in opposition to impeachment investigations. We’re skeptical that Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) will ever extricate himself from Trump’s derriere, but it’s worth noting that Gardner has not yet signed on to Sen. Lindsey Graham’s resolution of opposition to impeachment. As Steve Benen writes for MSNBC:
As of this morning, 44 Senate Republicans have signed on as original co-sponsors of Graham’s non-binding resolution denouncing the House’s impeachment process. There are currently 53 Senate Republicans in total, which means all but eight of the GOP members in the chamber have linked arms with Graham in support of this misguided measure.
(The eight, in case you’re curious, are Cory Gardner, Susan Collins, Mitt Romney, Lamar Alexander, Johnny Isakson, Rob Portman, Lisa Murkowski, and Mike Enzi.) [Pols emphasis]
Graham has said he actually has 46 co-sponsors lined up, though it’s not yet clear who the other two supporters are.
Of course, it would surprise nobody if Gardner is among those two other unknown supporters, but the New York Times lists the Yuma Senator among the Senate Republicans who are getting nervous about supporting Trump:
Senate Republicans facing steep re-election races next year know the impeachment inquiry coursing steadily ahead on the other side of the Capitol will determine President Trump’s political fate. Their growing fear is that it will also determine their own….
…Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado, known as a talented campaigner, abruptly walked away from a filmed interview last weekend to avoid answering a question about the military assistance Mr. Trump withheld from Ukraine, a central issue in the inquiry into whether the president enlisted a foreign government to smear his political opponents. In brisk dashes back to their offices, Senators Martha McSally of Arizona and Joni Ernst of Iowa, quickly pivoted to other issues such as rising health care costs, border security and the trade deal with Mexico and Canada. And Senator Susan Collins of Maine has rebuffed any effort to get her to weigh in on impeachment, saying that doing so could jeopardize her impartiality as a juror in an increasingly inevitable trial of the president.
The Washington Post has more updates on impeachment proceedings, including House Democrats’ request to hear from two top officials at the Office of Management and Budget.
► As CNN explains, Tuesday’s testimony from Bill Taylor, a top U.S. diplomat, could be moving some Republicans toward support for impeachment:
A senior Republican source on Capitol Hill told CNN that Taylor’s statement was so detailed, so specific and that he is so respected that it is having an impact.
“It points to quid pro quo,” the GOP source told CNN.
There is an ongoing conversation among GOP members on Capitol Hill about the impact of Taylor’s testimony, but it remains a question whether it will move Republicans closer to considering impeachment…
…While most Republicans have sided publicly with the President, they’ve been privately grumbling that they’re “fed up and tired” of being asked to defend him in the impeachment investigation.
Republican sources on Capitol Hill told CNN there’s a “growing unease that there is no defense” of the President’s actions.
“How do you defend the indefensible?” one source told CNN. “We can’t defend the substance, all we can do is talk about process.”
IN CASE YOU ARE STANDING NEAR A WATER COOLER…
► The Washington Post reports on a growing unease with Facebook’s stated indifference to allowing false political advertising on its platforms:
…civil rights leaders learned that Facebook had announced what many now call the “Trump exemption” — meaning the policy allowing any politician to lie freely in ads or free posts without consequences.
Though Facebook has portrayed this decision as reflecting the nation’s ideals of unfettered political speech, civil rights leaders say they see another value emerging preeminent in Facebook’s calculations: the unfettered quest to profit from political advertising…
…Facebook’s announcement was one of several incidents in recent months that have inflamed its fragile relations with civil rights leaders, undoing years of progress on several fronts, including combating housing discrimination in the company’s ad platform.
Among the more damaging was chief executive Mark Zuckerberg’s speech at Georgetown University last week in which he invoked the legacies of civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr. and revered 19th-century abolitionist Frederick Douglass in defending the company’s approach to political speech. The civil rights leaders saw this as a brazen act of appropriation that showed little awareness of the false and misleading information that King in particular battled in his lifetime.
King’s daughter Bernice King lashed out at Facebook in a tweet saying, “I heard #MarkZuckerberg’s ‘free expression’ speech, in which he referenced my father. I’d like to help Facebook better understand the challenges #MLK faced from disinformation campaigns launched by politicians. These campaigns created an atmosphere for his assassination.”
► Colorado Republican leaders are joining together with anti-vaxxer groups for a national “vaccine and health summit” at the State Capitol on Monday.
► As Politico reports, the White House is finally moving toward hiring a full-time communications staffer to deal solely with fighting back against impeachment investigations.
► A dark money group with ties to former Republican gubernatorial candidate Walker Stapleton is spending big buck in Aurora’s municipal races. From the Aurora Sentinel:
The group, called Neighbors for Aurora, received a total of $400,000 from the Colorado Taxpayers Advocate Fund. The bulk of those funds were spent on direct mail for candidates. At-large candidates Johnny Watson, a sitting councilman, received $66,570. Curtis Gardner also received upwards of $66,500, according to this report. In the previous report, due 30 days before the election, the group spent another $4,850 on Gardner.
In all, the group spent $18,601 on Ward VI incumbent Francoise Bergan, $25,618 on Ward V incumbent Bob Roth and $14,468 on and Ward V incumbent Charlie Richardson.
While the city council races are non-partisan, party politics and money have traditionally been an influence in the races for both Democrats and Republicans. Of the candidates backed by the Colorado Taxpayers Advocated Fund, all are Republicans except for Richardson, who dropped his Republican Party affiliation a few years ago, according to the candidates and county voting records.
The group also spent $125,000 on canvassing, according to the report filed to the city on Tuesday.
This is also the same group that helped to fund widely-refuted smears against Democrat Jared Polis in the 2018 campaign.
► Senator Cory Gardner voted on Thursday to confirm a federal judge that the American Bar Association deemed “unqualified” for the bench. Justin Walker is an outspoken opponent of the Affordable Care Act, however, which gives you an idea about Gardner’s support.
► As the New York Times reports, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has been held in contempt of court for keeping her foot on the necks of students who are buried under a pile of student loan debt from bullshit for-profit diploma factories:
A federal judge on Thursday fined Education Secretary Betsy DeVos for contempt of court, ruling that she had violated an order to stop collecting on loans owed by students from a now-defunct for-profit chain of colleges.
Magistrate Judge Sallie Kim of the Federal District Court in San Francisco ordered the Education Department to pay a $100,000 fine. The money will go toward various remedies for students who are owed debt relief after President Barack Obama’s Education Department found they were defrauded by the chain, Corinthian Colleges, which collapsed in 2014.
The ruling is a victory for the more than 60,000 students who have been on a financial roller coaster since Corinthian imploded, after state and federal officials found that it lured students through deceptive recruitment practices and falsified job placement rates.
The decision stems from a class-action lawsuit filed in 2017 by the Project on Predatory Student Lending of the Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School and the group Housing and Economic Rights Advocates, both of which represent former Corinthian students. For more than a year, the students’ lawyers argued that Ms. DeVos had illegally punished thousands of cheated students who were owed relief from the federal government.
► Memorial services for the late Rep. Elijah Cummings are being held today in Baltimore.
► The Denver Post explains how it botched the story of a recall campaign targeting Senate President Leroy Garcia of Pueblo. Garcia talked with reporters about the failed recall effort while at the State Capitol on Thursday.
► Alleged Russian spy Mariia Butina has been released from federal prison and is in the process of being deported back to the motherland.
Your Daily Dose Of ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
► The Trump organization might be looking to sell its Washington D.C. property.
► Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard announced that she will not seek re-election in 2020 so she can focus on not winning the Democratic nomination for President.
► Congressman/Colorado Republican Party Chair Ken Buck says he fully supports Republican efforts to storm the gates of impeachment hearings earlier this week…nevermind that Buck should have just been in the room himself.