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TOP OF MIND TODAY…
President Trump wanted Attorney General William P. Barr to hold a news conference declaring that the commander in chief had broken no laws during a phone call in which he pressed his Ukrainian counterpart to investigate a political rival, though Barr ultimately declined to do so, people familiar with the matter said.
The request from Trump traveled from the president to other White House officials and eventually to the Justice Department. The president has mentioned Barr’s demurral to associates in recent weeks, saying he wished Barr would have held the news conference, Trump advisers say.
In recent weeks, the Justice Department has sought some distance from the White House, particularly on matters relating to the burgeoning controversy over Trump’s dealings on Ukraine and the impeachment inquiry they sparked…
…The request for the news conference came sometime around Sept. 25, when the administration released a rough transcript of the president’s July phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Can you guess what President Trump is saying in his defense? If you selected “Fake News,” then you can move your piece ahead three spaces on the board.
► Jennifer Williams, an aide to Vice President Mike Pence who was listening in on the infamous July 25 call between President Trump and Ukraine’s President, is testifying behind closed doors today as part of the House impeachment investigation. The White House had attempted to block Williams from testifying despite a Congressional subpoena. Former National Security Adviser John Bolton was requested to testify today but is not expected to appear.
► Public impeachment hearings will begin next week in the House of Representatives, and nobody in Trumpland is looking forward to what happens next. As Politico notes, this week’s release of transcripts from recent closed-door testimonies have one thing in common: They’re all BRUTAL for President Trump.
Rudy Giuliani was President Donald Trump’s enforcer, circumventing official channels and bewildering professional diplomats as he pressured Ukraine to target Trump’s political opponents.
Along the way, career foreign service officers became collateral damage — and questions of a Trump-authorized quid pro quo emerged, blowing up into a scandal that now imperils the Trump presidency.
Those are the unchallenged details revealed so far in five transcripts of depositions released this week as part of the House impeachment inquiry. And as Democrats prepare for public hearings next week, they are underscoring the common thread running through the witnesses’ accounts.
“I think you will see throughout the course of the testimony — not only their testimony but many others — the most important facts are largely not contested,” House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff said Wednesday.
Dana Milbank of The Washington Post wonders if the meticulous note-taking habits of diplomat Bill Taylor might be Trump’s equivalent of the “Nixon tapes.”
► There are still a number of races in Aurora waiting to be called, as the Aurora Sentinel reports — including the question of whether or not former Congressman Mike Coffman has been elected Mayor:
As of 5 p.m. Nov. 6 about 15,000 ballots remain un-tabulated, according to Arapahoe County clerk spokesperson Winna MacLaren. Counting will resume Thursday…
…Though pressed by reporters to claim victory Tuesday night, Coffman agreed that thousands of outstanding ballots could still sway the vote. The candidate currently in second-place in the race for Aurora mayor, Omar Montgomery, had not conceded as of Wednesday evening.
In the at-large contest, councilwoman Angela Lawson and challenger Curtis Gardner led the race for the two posts up for grabs. For Ward 4, incumbent Charlie Richardson was edging challenger Juan Marcano. In Ward 5, incumbent Rob Roth held a narrow lead over Allison Coombs, and in Ward 6, incumbent Francoise Bergan was comfortably ahead of Bryan Lindstrom.
► Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) is taking part — along with President Trump — in a “save the Senate” retreat/fundraiser today and tomorrow at the Trump International Hotel in Washington D.C. Gardner had better make sure he has his campaign credit card handy.
Get even more smarter after the jump…
IN CASE YOU ARE STANDING NEAR A WATER COOLER…
► The White House is adding former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi to its impeachment defense team, which is an odd choice considering Bondi’s history with Trump. From The Daily Beast:
In 2014, Trump reportedly donated $25,000 to a political action committee supporting Bondi’s re-election campaign in Florida. About a month after the donation, her office announced that it would not be acting on complaints against Trump University—which raised quid pro quo suspicions.
► New polling numbers suggest that Iowa is a four-candidate race for the Democratic Presidential nomination. Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet is not among that four, so he’s pinning his Presidential hopes on New Hampshire. From Colorado Public Radio:
He may keep missing the debate stage and his poll numbers remain in the low single digits, but Bennet’s not giving up his White House quest. To underscore his determination for a strong showing in New Hampshire, Bennet has announced a handful of local endorsements and his campaign is staffing up here.
He also came in person to New Hampshire to file his paperwork and hand over a $1,000 check to secure a spot on the Democratic presidential primary ballot. On the wall looking down on him, were photos of primary candidates from days gone by, including former Colorado Sen. Gary Hart.
Bennet hopes to emulate Hart’s 1984 surprise victory in the New Hampshire primary.
► Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin is not conceding that he lost his re-election bid to Democrat Andy Beshear, tossing out baseless accusations of voter fraud and asking for a recount. Bevin trails Beshear by about 5,000 votes, which is far too much of a gap to hope to bridge with a recount; Bevin is going to have to accept the embarrassment of losing eventually.
► Saudi Arabia is alleged to have spied on the United States thanks to two (now former) Twitter employees.
► Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions is expected to announce today that he is again running for U.S. Senate in Alabama.
► Congressman Jason Crow (D-Aurora) is bringing home some bacon. From a press release:
Crow announced that a full $25 million federal grant for the City of Aurora’s I-70/Picadilly Interchange project has been awarded. The project will improve overall access and cut down on commute times by creating direct access to multiple job, retail, and residential centers as well as increased freight mobility serving Denver International Airport. An estimated 75,000 jobs are expected to be in the area by 2040.
In September, Crow led a letter to Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao advocating for the grant. Crow had visited the site of the proposed I-70/Picadilly Interchange with Aurora Mayor Bob LeGare in February 2019. The visit was part of Crow’s Lead Locally tours where he travels to different cities, towns, and municipalities in the district each month to meet with city managers and mayors.
The project will help ease congestion, provide greater connectivity to a rapidly growing area, and enhance safety by reducing vehicle miles traveled by roughly 9.3 million miles, which equates to 6 fewer crashes per year.
► Opponents of Proposition CC think that Colorado can solve its budget needs by “prioritizing.” Just don’t ask them for any specifics on this plan.
As Jon Murray writes for The Denver Post, the failure of Prop CC doesn’t make the problems with TABOR just go away.
► Proposition DD officially eked out a victory on Tuesday. Colorado Public Radio gets you caught up on the important news — like when you’ll be able to make your first sports wager. Spoiler alert: It won’t be in time for the Super Bowl.
► Election Day turnout was better in 2019 than in recent off-year elections. Thank an old person for that.
► Colorado voters voiced their disapproval with tobacco and vaping products.
► Arvada Democrat Tracy Kraft-Tharp will challenge incumbent Jefferson County Commissioner Libby Szabo in 2020.
Your Daily Dose Of ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
► How dedicated is the cult of Trump? As CNN found out in talking to voters from Pennsylvania, President Trump actually could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue in New York City and not lose support from his rabid base.
► President Trump’s asinine desire to buy Greenland was of the holdups in arranging discussions to approve military aid for Ukraine.
► The failure of Proposition CC on Tuesday doesn’t portend as much for 2020 as Colorado Republicans would hope.
► Be sure to check out the latest episode of The Get More Smarter Podcast: