Following the vote last Wednesday afternoon by the GOP-controlled U.S. Senate to acquit President Donald Trump, Sen. Cory Gardner has been on a tear of press avails both in Washington, D.C. and back home in Colorado–more availability (voluntary availability, that is) than Gardner has seen fit to grant reporters in either location for a very, very long time.
The Fort Collins Coloradoan’s Jacy Marmaduke sat down with Gardner on Friday to discuss a range of issues from the novel coronavirus outbreak to the recently-concluded impeachment trial. And on the matter of impeachment the Coloradoan pursued Gardner commendably on the essential question he still refuses to answer:
Coloradoan: […] Do you feel that the question here did not at all address whether a president can use political influence to pressure another country for his political gain?
Gardner: I think the question before us was whether we … have a right to investigate how those taxpayer dollars are being used. The policy difference of whether you can or can’t or should or shouldn’t was really the heart of this debate. And a policy difference, a difference of opinion on where the policy could lead you in that question, is not something that should be used for grounds for impeachment.
Coloradoan: Where do you stand, then, on whether a president should be permitted to pressure another nation’s leadership for political gain?
Gardner: I certainly don’t support foreign interference in our elections, if that’s the question. [Pols emphasis] But the question here was about whether or not we have the ability to investigate how our taxpayer dollars are being used.
Of course that was not the question, the question was and is whether a president should be allowed to manipulate foreign policy for domestic political advantage. It’s the same question Gardner spectacularly failed to answer in a nationally-rebroadcast impromptu interview in Denver last October soon after the Ukraine scandal broke. The pretext for Gardner’s evasion may have changed with the end of the impeachment trial, but it’s clear that Gardner is no better prepared to answer this essential question than he was months ago. Like the Denver Post editorial board said last week after the vote to acquit:
U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner either thinks it’s OK for a president to pressure a foreign government to investigate a U.S. citizen for personal and political gain or he’s too afraid to criticize this president for doing just that.
We’re not sure which is worse. [Pols emphasis]
On the matter of additional witnesses, which Sen. Gardner voted against hearing, Gardner claims “[The House] said it was overwhelming and airtight, even though they then asked for additional witnesses. I don’t think an 18th witness would’ve done anything.” Of all of the retorts offered by Republicans in defense of their handling of Trump’s impeachment, rejecting witnesses like former national security adviser John Bolton because the House somehow “didn’t make their case” is probably the most disingenuous. New evidence continued to flow in well after the House passed the articles of impeachment, and the explosive confirmation of the worst in Bolton’s forthcoming book was simply not known at the time of the House investigation. There’s little reason to expect that Gardner’s answer to this question will ever improve, but the voters of Colorado who supported the impeachment process will never consider this to be a satisfactory answer. It’s part of the reason why Gardner is even less popular in Colorado than President Trump.
As readers can imagine, however, Gardner had a much easier time on the notoriously pro-GOP softball Fox & Friends Thursday morning–a forum where Republicans appear knowing that President Trump himself is probably watching live. After a bit of “come together” platitudes and some damning faint praise for Sen. Mitt Romney, who Gardner bashed indirectly by suddenly remembering all the mean things Democrats said about Romney back in the day, Gardner had a wide-open chance to sling some red meat to the Republican base–and when the interview turned to Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s pre-recycling of Trump’s State of the Union address, Gardner let his inner nasty slip out:
This is a solemn, constitutionally prescribed occasion, the State of the Union is. And to see a Speaker premeditated embarrassingly rip the State of the Union apart really shows what the House of Representatives is willing to do to our country. [Pols emphasis]
Got that? The House wants to literally tear up the country. Never in history have a dozen sheets of printer paper counted for so much! But this final over-the-top anecdote is illustrative of the dilemma Gardner faces, and has not gone away simply because the impeachment process has reached its foregone conclusion. He remains painfully unable answer the questions that matter, and shoveling irresponsible red meat to the nationwide faithful on Fox & Friends only further alienates Gardner from the majority of Colorado voters.
Trump remains President, but Cory Gardner’s downward spiral continues.