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TOP OF MIND TODAY…
► A federal judge ruled late Monday that former White House counsel Don McGahn cannot be shielded from Congressional testimony by the Trump administration. As The Washington Post explains, Monday’s ruling touches on a broader subject of executive power in the United States:
In her ruling that Don McGahn must comply with a congressional subpoena, U.S. District Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson of Washington goes to great lengths to illustrate how far out on a constitutional limb President Trump and Attorney General Bill Barr have crawled with their absolutist claims of executive power.
Jackson invokes “Animal Farm” as she dismisses the Justice Department’s position that the president alone has the authority to make unilateral determinations regarding whether he and his senior aides, current and former, will respond to, or defy, subpoenas from House committees during investigations of potential wrongdoing by his own administration.
“For a similar vantagepoint, see the circumstances described by George Orwell,” the judge writes in her 118-page decision. “All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others.”
House Democrats want the former White House counsel, who left his position in October 2018, to testify about the episodes of possible obstruction of justice that former special counsel Bob Mueller outlined in his report. They are debating whether to proceed with articles of impeachment related to the president’s alleged efforts to undermine that investigation. Jackson said McGahn can assert executive privilege when asked specific questions, but Trump cannot issue a blanket order to stop his former aide from showing up to testify.
“Compulsory appearance by dint of a subpoena is a legal construct, not a political one, and per the Constitution, no one is above the law,” she concludes. [Pols emphasis]
The Justice Department plans to appeal the ruling, because Trump minions clearly do believe that some people are “above the law.”
Chris Cillizza of CNN has more on the significance on Monday’s ruling:
Obviously, if you are McGahn, you have to now prepare yourself for at least the possibility that you will be asked — under oath — about your role in the potential obstruction of justice by Trump in Robert Mueller’s special counsel probe into Russian obstruction in the 2016 election. (McGahn is requesting a week-long stay so he can appeal the ruling.)
But if you are, say Guiliani or Mulvaney, this ruling has to give you pause. Yes, McGahn is a former White House employee while Mulvaney and Giuliani currently work for Trump. (Former national security adviser John Bolton, it’s worth noting, is also a former administration official who has not been subpoenaed, but who House investigators *really* want to talk to.)
Giuliani and Mulvaney could possibly hang their hats on the idea that Trump’s broad claim of executive privilege could well apply to them as active employees in a way that courts have ruled it doesn’t apply to McGahn. Maybe! But that line of reasoning took a hit on Monday — and will force anyone with an outstanding subpoena from Congress to reconsider their position at least somewhat in the coming days.
Predictably, President Trump took to his Twitter machine on Tuesday morning to declare that he actually wants more people to testify. Riiigghht.
► A majority of Americans believe that President Trump should not only be impeached but removed from office by the U.S. Senate. Compare these numbers to public support for the impeachment and removal of Bill Clinton in 1998, which never even reached 30%.
► Slade Gorton, a former Republican Senator from Washington, argues in a New York Times Op-Ed that there is more than enough information for the GOP to act on the impeachment of President Trump:
To my fellow Republicans, I give this grave and genuine warning: It’s not enough merely to dismiss the Ukraine investigation as a partisan witch hunt or to hide behind attacks against the “deep state,” or to try to find some reason to denounce every witness who steps forward, from decorated veterans to Trump megadonors.
History demands that we all wrestle with the facts at hand. They are unavoidable. Fifty years from now, history will not accept the position that impeachment was a referendum on the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi. It must be a verdict reached on the facts…
…Here’s what I know: Neither the country nor the Constitution is served by a partisan shouting match divorced from the facts, a process boycotted by one side refusing to engage on the merits. John Adams is still right 250 years later: Facts are stubborn things. Facts are what should determine whether a stubborn president stays in office. Republicans, don’t fight the process, follow the facts wherever they lead, and put country above party.
► The Denver City Council has approved a minimum wage increase, as Conrad Swanson reports for The Denver Post:
The new law requires employers to bump hourly employees to at least $12.85 on Jan. 1, with a second raise to $14.77 following at the start of 2021, and a third to $15.87 in 2022. After that, the new law mandates that it will then be adjusted annually for inflation using the Consumer Price Index.
Public comment was overwhelmingly, if not entirely, in favor of the law, which places Denver as the first Colorado city to raise the local minimum wage. Ultimately, the council voted 11-0…
…Initially, the ordinance proposed to mandate the raises in two tiers, reaching $15.87 by 2021, though that plan was mellowed after some criticized it as too aggressive or quick. Mayor Michael Hancock’s office later announced the three-tiered approach and the bill was introduced by Councilwoman Robin Kniech, who called it history in the making Monday night.
Get even more smarter after the jump…
IN CASE YOU ARE STANDING NEAR A WATER COOLER…
► Outside groups are already spending big money going after Republican Sen. Cory Gardner ahead of his 2020 re-election effort.
► As Aaron Tang writes for the New York Times, conservative legal arguments these days are at odds with conservative legal arguments from just a few years ago.
► If you think your kids aren’t breathing in enough benzene on a daily basis, then you might consider moving to the Greeley area. As Chase Woodruff reports for Westword:
For years, Greeley’s Bella Romero Academy has served as a rallying cry for anti-fracking activists who say the elementary school, located about 1,200 feet from an oil and gas site where drilling operations began in 2018, had become a symbol of everything wrong with Colorado’s neighborhood fracking boom. Now, state officials have confirmed the results of air-monitoring tests that activists say heighten their concerns about the site’s potential health hazards.
A mobile air-monitoring unit deployed to Bella Romero earlier this month recorded benzene levels at 10.24 parts per billion (ppb), exceeding the federal short-term health guideline of 9 ppb, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment said today, November 25…
…The Bella Romero air-monitoring tests come as the state ramps up its efforts to evaluate the health impacts of oil and gas activity following the release of a long-awaited air-quality modeling study last month. That report found the potential for short-term effects from drilling sites at distances up to 2,000 feet, well in excess of current statewide “setback” minimums, and specifically identified benzene, a toxic chemical that can cause a wide variety of short- and long-term health problems, as a top concern.
► The U.S. Supreme Court dealt a minor victory to President Trump on Monday in temporarily blocking a lower court’s decision that would have allowed the House of Representatives to scrutinize Trump’s tax returns.
► Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg jumped into the 2020 Presidential race last week, and Democrats are already lining up with tough questions. From Politico:
Rudy Giuliani is just one of many skeletons in Bloomberg’s partisan closet. As he pursues the Democratic presidential nomination, he’ll have to explain the millions he’s spent putting Republicans into office, including contributions backing more than a dozen current and former members of Congress.
The billionaire businessman, who has switched parties several times throughout his political career, endorsed George W. Bush’s 2004 reelection campaign, contributed to John McCain and even held a fundraiser for a House GOP member as recently as last year.
And that’s not all. Beneficiaries of his largesse include former Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), a vigorous Trump defender, and Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard Shelby of Alabama, who once chaired the Senate Banking Committee.
Then there’s former Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.). Bloomberg endorsed and held a fundraiser for Brown when he ran against Elizabeth Warren in 2012.
Meanwhile, Politico takes a look at the fledgling campaign for another late entry into the Democratic Presidential field: Former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick:
To call Deval Patrick’s campaign a shoestring operation would be insulting to shoestrings.
► The House Oversight Committee is suing Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross over repeated refusals to respond to subpoenas in an investigation about the 2020 U.S. Census.
► According to results from a new AP/NORC poll, Americans regularly turn to social media for political news:
It found that 54% of Americans say they get government-related information from social media at least once a day, compared with 52% who said they get information about government daily from local TV news, 50% from national TV news, 47% from cable news and 19% from nationally circulated newspapers.
But here’s the rub…
Yet the survey found only 11% of Americans say they trust information about government they see on social media a great deal or quite a bit. Nearly two-thirds said they have little to no trust in government news they find there. Of all the potential places to find news about the government included in the survey, social media was the least trusted.
► The office of Gov. Jared Polis announced on Monday that Colorado has received a federal grant for broadband internet expansion. From a press release:
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced a grant award of $2.7M to Emery Telecommunications & Video, Inc. (Emery Telecom) today, expanding western Colorado’s rural broadband access to an additional 494 homes, farms, businesses and community anchor institutions located in the town of Dove Creek and Dolores County. This weekend in Montrose, Governor Polis released the administration’s Rural Economic Blueprint, which outlines ways the administration will continue building a Colorado that works for everyone, especially those outside of the Front Range. Governor Jared Polis is committed to modernizing Colorado’s broadband infrastructure to expand internet access across the state and help rural communities overcome economic challenges.
“Colorado’s rural communities need access to affordable and reliable broadband is critical to our economy and our future. This project will further Colorado’s goal of providing rural broadband access to 92% of rural households by June 2020,” said Governor Jared Polis. “Closing the rural broadband gap requires creativity, bipartisan collaboration, and investment. Colorado has stepped up to the challenge recently, committing to invest at least $115M over the next five years. Working together with federal and state policymakers we believe we can help problem-solve and provide solutions.”
This project will further Colorado’s goal of providing rural broadband access to 92% of rural households by June 2020.
► The CEO and General Manager of RTD is retiring after 26 years, but he’s suggesting significant service cuts on his way out the door.
► As Alex Burness writes for The Denver Post, Democratic lawmakers are planning on introducing new gun safety legislation in 2020:
“It’s coming. It is. That’s why I’m here,” said State Rep. Tom Sullivan.
“I’ve made it clear to my colleagues that I will be standing up for this, and that I’m welcoming their participation as well. Many of them are joining me in starting to put together bill titles, in wanting to be involved.”
Sullivan has expressed interest in a number of policies, including one to require stores to safely store firearms after business hours, and another to require safe storage in homes. What, exactly, potential 2020 gun legislation will look like is not totally clear yet, Sullivan said.
But he added that it will likely include a bill requiring gun owners to report the loss or theft of a firearm, something roughly a dozen states currently do. House Majority Leader Alec Garnett, a Denver Democrat who joined Sullivan in sponsoring the red flag bill, sees a lost-and-stolen bill as a possible winning cause.
“It’s a great example of a bill that helps reduce gun violence, is promoting responsible gun ownership and, I would assume, would pick up the vast majority of the public support,” Garnett said. “So that seems pretty common-sense to me.”
► Colorado right-wing radio host Peter Boyles thinks Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) is a “weenie” who doesn’t deserve your vote.
Your Daily Dose Of ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
► Is Russia responsible for 2016 election interference? Outgoing Energy Secretary Rick Perry has a different theory: God did it.
As Dana Milbank writes for The Washington Post, Trump supporters seem to be living in an entirely different reality than the rest of us.
► White House adviser person Kellyanne Conway has jokes. Bad ones.
Kellyanne Conway, this morning, on the turkey pardoning ceremony: “Now when I say the president’s going to pardon a turkey, please don’t run out and say he’s preferring Erdogan over the Kurds. These are small-‘t’ turkeys… gobble gobble, stuff them, eat them for Thanksgiving.”
— Ben Gittleson (@bgittleson) November 26, 2019