Happy “National Nothing Day.” We’re not sure if you are supposed to celebrate or not. It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.
TOP OF MIND TODAY…
► And so it begins. From The Washington Post:
The historic impeachment trial of President Trump got underway Thursday with the arrival in the Senate of the seven House managers to formally present the two charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
John G. Roberts Jr., chief justice of the United States, is headed to the Senate later Thursday, where he is expected to be sworn in to preside over the trial focused on the president’s conduct toward Ukraine. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has said the trial will get underway “in earnest” next week.
Fallout also continued Thursday from new allegations by Lev Parnas, a former associate of Trump’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani, that Trump knew of his efforts to dig up dirt in Ukraine that could benefit Trump politically. The impeachment charges — abuse of power and obstruction of Congress — center on the allegation that Trump withheld military aid and a White House meeting to pressure Ukraine to investigate his political rivals, including former vice president Joe Biden.
The Washington Post has more on the latest allegations from Lev Parnas that do not look good for President Trump.
► The Government Accountability Office says the Trump administration broke the law in attempting to restrict foreign aid to Ukraine. From the New York Times:
The Trump administration violated the law in withholding security assistance aid to Ukraine, a nonpartisan federal watchdog agency said on Thursday, weighing in on a decision by President Trump that is at the heart of the impeachment case against him.
The Government Accountability Office said the White House’s Office of Management and Budget violated the Impoundment Control Act when it withheld nearly $400 million for “a policy reason,” even though the funds had been allocated by Congress. The decision was directed by the president himself, and during the House impeachment inquiry, administration officials testified that they had raised concerns about its legality to no avail.
“Faithful execution of the law does not permit the president to substitute his own policy priorities for those that Congress has enacted into law,” the G.A.O. wrote. “The withholding was not a programmatic delay.”
“Trump did nothing wrong” was never a sustainable argument, but it has become downright silly now.
► Ahead of the Senate impeachment trial, all 100 U.S. Senators will take an “oath of impartiality” given by Chief Justice John Roberts that will go something like this:
Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) continues to run in terror from reporter questions about impeachment and President Trump, though late Wednesday he veered away from pretending to have not seen the articles of impeachment so that he could pay lip service to the idea of being “an impartial juror.” Meanwhile, it seems even some of the more unflappable Republican Senators are starting to snap under the pressure of trying to support a corrupt President:
Sen. Martha McSally, a Republican facing a difficult election race, lashed out when I asked if she would consider new evidence as part of the Senate trial. “You’re a liberal hack – I’m not talking to you. You’re a liberal hack.” She then walked into a hearing room.
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) January 16, 2020
► Congressman Jason Crow (D-Aurora) is getting lots of attention as one of the seven House impeachment “managers” appointed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday. You can read more from The Denver Post, The Colorado Sun/CBS4, Denver7, and Colorado Public Radio.
Elsewhere, Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Denver) played a part in the historic decision to transmit articles of impeachment to the U.S. Senate.
Get even more smarter after the jump…
IN CASE YOU ARE STANDING NEAR A WATER COOLER…
► As Colorado Public Radio reports, the first Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) in the state has been approved two weeks after the new law went into effect:
On Tuesday, a Denver man agreed to hand over his firearms for 364 days under Colorado’s so-called red flag law.
The law allows a judge to temporarily remove somebody’s firearms if they’re deemed a danger to themselves or others.
According to documents filed in a Denver Probate Court, there was “clear and convincing evidence” that the man posed a significant risk of causing injury to himself or others.
Denver police officers filed a petition for an order on Jan. 2 after an altercation between the man and his wife in December. That led to a temporary order until a hearing initially scheduled for Jan. 16.
But this week, the man waived his right to a hearing, putting the 364-day order into effect.
Meanwhile, Larimer County Sheriff Justin Smith is refusing to serve an ERPO petition in Fort Collins, calling it “a fraud.”
► As the Associated Press reports, the Trump administration was handed another setback in its efforts to stiff-arm refugees from moving to the United States:
A federal judge agreed Wednesday to block the Trump administration from enforcing an executive order allowing state and local government officials to reject refugees from resettling in their jurisdictions.
U.S. District Judge Peter Messitte in Maryland issued a preliminary injunction requested by three national refugee resettlement agencies that sued to challenge the executive order.
In his 31-page ruling, Messitte said the agencies are likely to succeed in showing that the executive order is unlawful because it gives state and local governments veto power over the resettlement of refugees.
Many Denver metro area counties, cities and towns have been passing resolutions over the last few weeks declaring that they are open to accepting refugees from other countries — in direct response to President Donald Trump’s executive order.
► Here’s a Colorado Public Radio story about legislation intended to increase transparency in forced arbitration cases.
► State lawmakers will make a fourth attempt at trying to ban the use of cellphones while driving.
► As Dana Milbank writes for The Washington Post, Senate Majority Leader “Moscow” Mitch McConnell is doing everything he can to limit media access to a Senate impeachment trial:
As the long-delayed transfer of the impeachment articles finally got underway, President Trump’s allies in the Senate announced extraordinary new restrictions on press coverage of the upcoming trial, shielding senators in unprecedented ways from the prying eyes of the American public…
…Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his team — the Senate sergeant-at-arms and Rules Committee make the decisions, but McConnell (R-Ky.) is the driving force behind the restrictions, people involved tell me — further decreed that journalists would be confined during the entire trial to roped-off pens, forbidden from approaching senators in Capitol corridors.
They also required journalists to clear a newly installed metal detector before entering the media seats above the chamber. Why? Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) suggested to PBS’s Lisa Desjardins, The Post’s Paul Kane and others that journalists might bug the chamber with surveillance equipment.
► Colorado hospitals are pushing back against requests that they an early payment toward a plan that would reduce insurance costs for Colorado consumers.
► A Democratic vacancy committee in SD-31 will meet tonight to fill the seat of State Sen. Lois Court, who announced her resignation last week because of a serious health condition. State Rep. Chris Hansen, who was already running for a full term in SD-31, is the favorite to win the vacancy.
► A new study from the University of Colorado projects that violent crime will increase along with Climate Change.
► Colorado Springs couldn’t govern itself out of a paper bag.
► The U.S. Senate passed USMCA, President Trump’s trade deal with Mexico and Canada.
► Wyoming Republican Rep. Liz Cheney says she will not seek an open U.S. Senate seat and will instead run for re-election in the House. Because nobody lives in Wyoming, it requires a statewide campaign to run for either the House or Senate.
Your Daily Dose Of ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
► Republican Rep. Devin Nunes, the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee who seems to have been closely involved in the Trump administration’s shady dealings with Ukraine, must have been taking a lot of Ginkgo Biloba recently:
So now Devin Nunes is admitting he talked to Lev Parnas… He claims when he was asked a few months back, he didn’t recognize the name Parnas pic.twitter.com/3dgoGfsKFd
— Acyn Torabi (@Acyn) January 16, 2020
► We have all been Tom Steyer at one point or another.
► Tune your pods into the latest episode of The Get More Smarter Podcast.