After the reports in the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post went up yesterday that Sen. Cory Gardner was urging fellow Republican U.S. Senators to reject additional witnesses in the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump–most notably including Gardner’s friend John Bolton, whose explosive testimony could sink Trump’s presidency–Gardner’s communications team swung into action to refute the story:
…Sen. Gardner is concerned the longer this goes on and used as a political tool, the more it divides the country.” (2/2)
— Caitlyn Kim (@caitlynkim) January 29, 2020
Team Gardner appears to have prevailed on the Wall Street Journal to edit their story from the original:
Sens. Cory Gardner of Colorado, Martha McSally of Arizona and Thom Tillis of North Carolina, who face competitive races in the fall, warned colleagues in the meeting against backing more witnesses, people familiar with the matter said. The senators said a drawn-out trial could lead to more Democratic attacks and hurt their re-election chances, the people said. [Pols emphasis] None of the three senators’ offices immediately responded to requests for comment.
To read in the revised version now available:
Sens. Cory Gardner of Colorado, Martha McSally of Arizona and Thom Tillis of North Carolina, who face competitive races in the fall, addressed their colleagues in the meeting, people familiar with the matter said. Mr. Gardner said a longer trial would lead to more Democratic attacks, according to a spokesman, [Pols emphasis] and Mr. Tillis called impeachment a sham. Ms. McSally’s office said she doesn’t comment on what happens in private meetings.
It’s important to be clear on this point: the pushback from Gardner’s communications people yesterday was that he was not arguing in internal meetings against additional witnesses, but rather simply complaining that “a longer trial would lead to more Democratic attacks.” The specific reference to arguing against witnesses was removed after the WSJ talked to Gardner’s spokesperson.
That’s important to have clear in your mind as the Colorado Springs Gazette’s Ernest Luning reveals what you hopefully already knew: that was all a bunch of bullshit.
“I do not believe we need to hear from an 18th witness,” [Gardner] told Colorado Politics in a statement. [Pols emphasis] “I have approached every aspect of this grave constitutional duty with the respect and attention required by law, and have reached this decision after carefully weighing the House managers and defense arguments and closely reviewing the evidence from the House, which included well over 100 hours of testimony from 17 witnesses.”
If Cory Gardner had simply said this yesterday instead of lurching into media damage control mode with his trademark noncommittal pablum, this wouldn’t be quite as embarrassing. But for some reason, Gardner felt the need to keep up the pretense of an open mind last night, seeking corrections and “clarifications” that look totally absurd with this new statement in hand. Obviously, Gardner never had any intention of supporting new witnesses. He has no intention of fairly evaluating the evidence against Trump, because he doesn’t even want to see it.
The stark reversal from working over reporters to “clarify” his statements to admitting everything in less than 24 hours is another tremendous blow to Gardner’s credibility, which has been in the late-night TV punchline netherworld for some months now following his disastrous broken-record encounter with local reporters back in October. At this point, Gardner is a nationwide poster child for the servile dysfunction of the once-proud Republican Party under Donald Trump.
There’s no coming back from this, folks. Say hello to #CoverUpCory.