UPDATE: Gardner is apparently not going to follow Mitch McConnell’s lead and flat-out declare that he is in the tank for President Trump, which McConnell revealed in astonishing fashion on Tuesday. As NPR reports:
“I’m not an impartial juror. This is a political process. There’s not anything judicial about it,” McConnell told reporters on Tuesday. “The House made a partisan political decision to impeach. I would anticipate we will have a largely partisan outcome in the Senate. I’m not impartial about this at all.”
Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) decided long ago that he would tie his political fortunes to President Trump. As such, Gardner really, really, really doesn’t want to talk about impeachment proceedings against The Big Orange Guy.
Gardner has been playing hide-and-seek with media outlets for the better part of five months now. The one time that reporters finally cornered Gardner on Trump and his dealings with Ukraine — at a Chamber of Commerce event in Denver in October — the Yuma Republican melted down like a nazi at the end of “Raiders of the Lost Ark.”
The House of Representatives is finalizing its part in the impeachment process this week, which means that all eyes are moving to the U.S. Senate as it prepares for an impeachment trial in early January. Naturally, reporters on Capitol Hill are poking around for information about how the Senate might proceed, all of which makes Gardner extremely nervous. Here’s Bloomberg News reporter Laura Litvan trying to get some sort of comment from Colorado’s Junior Senator:
As he left Thune’s office, Romney said he’s ‘indifferent’ as to whether witnesses get settled early on or later. Said he hasn’t decided yet witnesses should be called.
Cory Gardner when asked about witnesses said simply, “We’ll have a trial!” as he dashed into the GOP luncheon.
— Laura Litvan (@LauraLitvan) December 17, 2019
“We’ll have a trial!” Run!!!
We can only assume that Gardner is totally cool with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s incredible decision to coordinate strategy on an impeachment trial with White House attorneys. If Gardner has a different opinion, he’s keeping it to himself. As Jason Salzman of the Colorado Times Recorder noted on Monday, Gardner is keeping quiet so that he can pretend to be an impartial juror in the Senate:
On conservative KNUS last week, host Steffan Tubbs asked U.S. Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO) why Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner wasn’t speaking out more on impeachment.
Buck replied with, “I think Cory is absolutely right. Cory will be part of the jury in the near future, and I think Cory is demonstrating that he is entering this with an open mind, that he wants to see the evidence. But Cory is a thoughtful and he is a senator that is well-respected because he holds his cards close to his vest. And I think that that Cory Gardner, when he speaks and when he says, ‘I’ve listened to the evidence and this is my vote,’ it’s much more convincing than if he was a partisan all the way along.” [Pols emphasis]
But while Gardner might not say it directly, he has already betrayed any pretense of impartiality. As Kyle Clark of 9News noted last week:
Quite the contortion in @SenCoryGardner‘s statement on impeachment. Says it’s a “total circus” to “appease the far-left” but Gardner says as a juror in Senate they’ll be “bipartisan and fair.” #copolitics #9NEWS pic.twitter.com/KEqqttuVhr
— Kyle Clark (@KyleClark) December 10, 2019
Gardner’s persistent obfuscation would almost be funny if we weren’t talking about an issue as serious as the impeachment of the President of the United States. Don’t be shocked if he tries to call in sick for the first three months of 2020.