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TOP OF MIND TODAY…
Gardner made an early endorsement of Trump’s 2020 reelection campaign. He has a direct line of communication to the president — they speak on the phone fairly regularly. And he has refused to answer questions about whether Trump’s interactions with Ukraine’s president — which are now the subject of impeachment proceedings — were wrong…
…In a recent interview, Gardner declined to answer questions about his views on Trump and instead attacked Democrats. He has said, when explaining his support of the president, that he could never support someone who backs policies he said are socialist, including government-run health care or the Green New Deal.
Asked whether there is a red line that Trump could cross that would lead him to abandon his support of the president, Gardner didn’t directly answer.
There is a LOT of information to absorb about Gardner in this story — make sure to read the entire thing yourself — including some very unflattering comments from Colorado voters:
Alan Schwartz, another unaffiliated voter who said he leans left but has backed Republicans in the past, made a thumbs-down motion when asked about Gardner. “I feel he is a butt-kisser,” said Schwartz, adding that he was upset about Gardner’s support of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation. “He says he’ll do one thing and then flip over and go with Trump. I don’t trust him at all.” [Pols emphasis]
► The House Judiciary Committee today begins the process of “marking up” articles of impeachment against President Trump.
9News runs down how Colorado elected officials feel about impeachment, none of which will surprise you. Congressman Scott Tipton (R-Cortez) announced via Twitter that he has already made up his mind on an impeachment vote:
I plan to vote NO on impeachment. I’ve reviewed the facts and this is just more of the same baseless allegations by the left, which has been pushing for impeachment since November 9, 2016. Time for the sham to end!
— Rep. Scott Tipton (@RepTipton) December 10, 2019
President Trump, meanwhile, says that abuse of power “is not even a crime.”
► Attorney General Bill Barr has been trying to help President Trump come up with evidence that the FBI was illegally targeting his 2016 campaign by investigating contacts with foreign officials. But as The Washington Post explains, the facts keep winning out:
Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz said Wednesday that a senior prosecutor failed to convince him that the FBI’s 2016 investigation of President Trump’s campaign was improperly opened, revealing new details about internal tension among senior officials over the politically explosive case.
At a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Horowitz was asked by the panel’s senior Democrat, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (Calif.), if Attorney General William P. Barr or his hand-picked prosecutor on the issue, Connecticut U.S. Attorney John Durham, offered anything to change the inspector general’s view that the FBI had a valid reason to open the probe in July 2016.
“No, we stand by our finding,” said Horowitz, who said he met in November with Durham to discuss the findings in the inspector general’s 434-page report released Monday…
…Horowitz’s testimony marked his first public pushback to Barr and Durham, and further revealed the depths of the disagreement among senior law enforcement officials about Horowitz’s findings. Before the report was released publicly, The Washington Post reported that Barr disputed Horowitz’s conclusion that the FBI had sufficient grounds to open the investigation.
► Editorial pages across the country are coming to the same conclusion: President Trump must be impeached.
Get even more smarter after the jump…
IN CASE YOU ARE STANDING NEAR A WATER COOLER…
► As CNN reports, a federal judge has blocked President Trump’s plans to use military funding to build his great big border wall:
Judge David Briones of the US District Court for the Western District of Texas said Tuesday that the administration cannot use military construction funds to build additional barriers on the southern border.
The ruling is a setback for the administration, which has sought to shore up money for the President’s signature campaign promise of a border wall, and marks yet another high-profile blow the courts have dealt Trump of late on key issues, including his immigration policies and his fight to not turn his tax returns over to Congress. It targets only one set of Pentagon funds, however, leaving in place the money the Supreme Court allowed to be used earlier this year.
In September, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper authorized diverting of $3.6 billion in military construction funds for 11 wall projects on the southern border with Mexico. The Pentagon said at the time that half the money was coming from deferred projects overseas, and the other half was planned for projects in the US.
“DoD is evaluating the injunction right now, and will work with the Department of Justice on the next steps. DoD will comply with all court orders,” said Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Chris Mitchell in a statement.
► New polling results from Quinnipiac University show that Democratic candidates for President have significantly different levels of support depending on age groups:
Quinnipiac poll of Democrats
— Sahil Kapur (@sahilkapur) December 11, 2019
► The Washington Post marvels at a brazen move by President Trump on Tuesday:
President Trump met behind closed doors in the Oval Office on Tuesday afternoon with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. The White House said in a readout that Trump “warned against any Russian attempts to interfere in United States elections.” Speaking to reporters at the Russian Embassy, Lavrov denied that Trump broached the issue. “We haven’t exactly even discussed elections,” he said.
The conflicting accounts force Americans to decide: Who do they believe?
This is another instance of the White House being hobbled by its lack of credibility, the consequence of Trump and his team being so willing to play fast and loose with the truth for so long.
► Colorado Public Radio looks at the Colorado angle on the new trade agreement between the United States, Mexico, and Canada.
► Governor Jared Polis is launching a new statewide campaign on mental health. From a press release:
Gov. Jared Polis joined Michelle Barnes, executive director at the Department of Human Services, to launch the new SEE ME campaign, to address the stigma associated with getting mental health or substance use disorder support. The campaign is designed to complement the work of the Colorado Behavioral Health Task Force (BHTF) and provide an opportunity for all Coloradans to take action in support of behavioral health system reform.
“This campaign is about ending the stigma for the one million Coloradans living with a behavioral health condition or substance abuse disorder,” said Governor Jared Polis. “This just one step toward reforming our behavioral health system, but a critical one. We want to ensure that Colorado is a state where anyone who needs services can get them without fear of judgement.”
“We have an unprecedented opportunity to positively influence the future of the behavioral health system in Colorado,” shared CDHS Executive Director, Michelle Barnes. “Many Coloradans are touched by mental health conditions or addiction disorders either personally or by someone they know. But, they are not reaching out for help because of the stigma associated with mental health conditions and substance use. The SEE ME campaign gives a voice and face to those impacted and takes us one step closer to reducing stigma and shame.”
► TIME magazine has selected teenaged climate activist Greta Thunberg as its “Person of the Year.” As Chris Cillizza writes for CNN, this will bother President Trump to no end.
► Officials are looking into new concerns about employment policies related to the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) upcoming HQ move to Colorado. Washington D.C.-based BLM employees have until tomorrow to inform the agency about whether or not they will accept a move to Colorado; it is expected that the BLM will have a lot of open positions that will need to be filled.
► Release the hounds! Er, wolves.
► A professor at the University of Denver has decided that the Democratic race for U.S. Senate needs more candidates.
► Another anti-abortion ballot measure in Colorado may not have a negative effect on pro-choice politicians.
► There is still time to add your name to the ballot for Colorado’s Presidential Primary on March 3, 2020.
Your Daily Dose Of ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
► Actual quote from an actual U.S. Congressman on impeachment: “The most partisan impeachment on the most less facts of any we’ve seen.”
At least Georgia Republican Doug Collins is not your Member of Congress.
► As Talking Points Memo explains, President Trump’s strategy for an impeachment trial in the U.S. Senate is to turn the entire thing into a complete shitshow:
Trump has clearly decided – not at all surprisingly – that he wants to make it all as absurd as possible, thinking that is terrain where he is best equipped, on the field of absurdity the clown is king. So make it into a reality show.
► Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Denver) is among 26 Senate Democrats calling on President Trump to fire immigration adviser and noted racist Stephen Miller. House Democrats such as Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Denver) and Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Jefferson County) made a similar request last month.
► Buck…Buck…Neguse! Check out the latest episode of The Get More Smarter Podcast.