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TOP OF MIND TODAY…
► The Washington Post catches us up on the latest news on today’s public impeachment hearings:
Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a National Security Council official, testified Tuesday that he spoke to an intelligence community official, whom he declined to name, about President Trump’s July call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Vindman also testified in the impeachment proceedings that he was concerned about Trump’s statements about domestic politics on the call, which he characterized as “improper.”
Vindman is one of four key witnesses testifying at the House Intelligence Committee hearing Tuesday. The others are: Jennifer Williams, an adviser to Vice President Pence, Tim Morrison, another senior NSC official, and Kurt Volker, a former envoy to Ukraine.
President Trump is claiming that he doesn’t know any of the witnesses testifying in impeachment proceedings, which would probably be irrelevant even if it were true; this strategy is about as effective as claiming that everyone involved is a “Never Trumper.”
Meanwhile, Trump says that he would consider testifying on impeachment matters “in writing,” a claim the President made as news was breaking that House Democrats may also be looking into allegations that Trump lied to special prosecutor Robert Mueller.
Chris Cillizza of CNN has more on Tuesday’s impeachment hearings.
► Today’s revelations could be just the appetizer to Wednesday’s main course, when EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland sits down in front of the House Intelligence Committee. Will Sondland have trouble “remembering” his July 26th telephone conversation with President Trump regarding efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden?
► Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) is the Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Asia and calls himself the “leader in the Senate” on issues relating to North Korea. Yet Gardner still hasn’t said a public word about President Trump’s recent decisions to weaken U.S. alliances with South Korea and Japan.
► Check out this week’s episode of The Get More Smarter Podcast for more on how Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley) tries using the “Sideshow Bob” defense on impeachment.
Get even more smarter after the jump…
IN CASE YOU ARE STANDING NEAR A WATER COOLER…
► There’s another whistleblower related to malfeasance in the White House. As The Washington Post explains:
Two senators are looking into a whistleblower’s allegations that at least one political appointee at the Treasury Department may have tried to interfere with an audit of President Trump or Vice President Pence, according to two people with knowledge of the matter, a sign that lawmakers are moving to investigate the complaint lodged by a senior staffer at the Internal Revenue Service.
Staff members for Sens. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) and Ron Wyden (Ore.), the chairman and ranking Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, met with the IRS whistleblower earlier this month, those people said. Follow-up interviews are expected to further explore the whistleblower’s allegations.
It could not be learned to what extent the senators consider the whistleblower a credible source. Trump administration officials have previously played down the complaint’s significance and suggested that it is politically motivated.
Trump administration officials downplayed a whistleblower’s significance? Get outta town!
► Republican National Committee head Ronna Romney McDaniel apparently didn’t want to be left out of the discussion when it comes to blatant Republican corruption.
In the 2017 fiscal year, FedEx owed more than $1.5 billion in taxes. The next year, it owed nothing. What changed was the Trump administration’s tax cut — for which the company had lobbied hard.
The public face of its lobbying effort, which included a tax proposal of its own, was FedEx’s founder and chief executive, Frederick Smith, who repeatedly took to the airwaves to champion the power of tax cuts. “If you make the United States a better place to invest, there is no question in my mind that we would see a renaissance of capital investment,” he said on an August 2017 radio show hosted by Larry Kudlow, who is now chairman of the National Economic Council.
Four months later, President Trump signed into law the $1.5 trillion tax cut that became his signature legislative achievement. FedExreaped big savings, bringing its effective tax rate from 34 percentin fiscal year 2017 to less than zero in fiscal year 2018, meaning that, overall, the government technically owed it money. But it did not increase investment in new equipment and other assets in the fiscal year that followed, as Mr. Smith said businesses like his would.
Nearly two years after the tax law passed, the windfall to corporations like FedEx is becoming clear. A New York Times analysis of data compiled by Capital IQ shows no statistically meaningful relationship between the size of the tax cut that companies and industries received and the investments they made. If anything, the companies that received the biggest tax cuts increased their capital investment by less, on average, than companies that got smaller cuts. [Pols emphasis]
FedEx is very angry about this story. The company’s CEO is challenging the publisher of the New York Times to a debate on tax policy, which could potentially be the single most boring debate in the history of debating.
► Congressman Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs) is asking constituents to vote in his totally-unscientific poll about impeachment. Lamborn should probably just stop talking about impeachment altogether.
► Colorado is unveiling a plan to allow for importation of cheaper prescription drugs from Canada.
► As CNN reports, there’s a new breakthrough in solar technology that could be a legitimate game-changer in the world of energy:
Heliogen, a clean energy company that emerged from stealth mode on Tuesday, said it has discovered a way to use artificial intelligence and a field of mirrors to reflect so much sunlight that it generates extreme heat above 1,000 degrees Celsius.Essentially, Heliogen created a solar oven — one capable of reaching temperatures that are roughly a quarter of what you’d find on the surface of the sun.
The breakthrough means that, for the first time, concentrated solar energy can be used to create the extreme heat required to make cement, steel, glass and other industrial processes. In other words, carbon-free sunlight can replace fossil fuels in a heavy carbon-emitting corner of the economy that has been untouched by the clean energy revolution.
“We are rolling out technology that can beat the price of fossil fuels and also not make the CO2 emissions,” Bill Gross, Heliogen’s founder and CEO, told CNN Business. “And that’s really the holy grail.”
► State Sen. Angela Williams (D-Denver) probably won’t be the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate, but that campaign may now cost her her seat in the legislature.
► Republican Judy Reyher is trying to make a comeback in the state legislature after losing her brief hold on a State House seat in 2018. This is the same Judy Reyher who famously claimed that you can’t be a racist if you attended a wedding in China.
► Questions are swirling about President Trump’s health after an unplanned and poorly-explained visit to Walter Reed Hospital over the weekend.
► The State Treasurer’s office had a massive backlog of cases related to unclaimed property. With Democrat Dave Young in office instead of Republican Walker Stapleton, things are getting cleared up quickly. It’s amazing what you can get done when you have an elected official who actually shows up to work once in awhile.
► California Sen. Kamala Harris is planning to visit Denver in early December as she tries to get her Presidential campaign back on the rails.
► Colorado is revamping rules for overtime pay and minimum wage requirements.
► State Attorney General Phil Weiser announced a new public-private partnership that he hopes will result in better reporting of hate crimes in Colorado.
Your Daily Dose Of ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
► South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham is learning that you might get bitten when you lie down with snakes.
► White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham apparently doesn’t have enough work to do.
► Pssst…you’re in the shot.
When the coffee is just that good pic.twitter.com/8vPBoIY34H
— Colin Jones (@colinjones) November 19, 2019
► They may not be on meth, but it’s possible that the people behind this South Dakota ad campaign are smoking something funny.
► Colorado was featured in a “60 Minutes” profile on Sunday on efforts by local sheriffs to ignore new gun safety measures in the state.