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May 30, 2017 01:55 PM UTC

Get More Smarter on Tuesday (May 30)

  • by: Colorado Pols

After a long and (hopefully) relaxing Holiday Weekend, we’re here to help you get caught up on all things political in Colorado and beyond. 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 a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.


► President Trump is back in the White House following his “big foreign trip.” If Trump was hoping that America had forgotten about his suspicious ties to Russia while he was gone…well, no such luck. From CNN:

Russian government officials discussed having potentially “derogatory” information about then-presidential candidate Donald Trump and some of his top aides in conversations intercepted by US intelligence during the 2016 election, according to two former intelligence officials and a congressional source.

One source described the information as financial in nature and said the discussion centered on whether the Russians had leverage over Trump’s inner circle. The source said the intercepted communications suggested to US intelligence that Russians believed “they had the ability to influence the administration through the derogatory information.”…

…None of the sources would say which specific Trump aides were discussed. One of the officials said the intelligence report masked the American names but it was clear the conversations revolved around the Trump campaign team. Another source would not give more specifics, citing the classified nature of the information.


Jared Kushner’s alleged ties to Russia sucked most of the oxygen out of the room for any other news story over Memorial Day weekend. Kushner, a top advisor to President Trump (and, also, his son-in-law), has some serious ‘splaining to do about his reported quests for secret back-channel discussions with Russia. As the New York Times reports:

Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, was looking for a direct line to President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia — a search that in mid-December found him in a room with a Russian banker whose financial institution was deeply intertwined with Russian intelligence, and remains under sanction by the United States.

Federal and congressional investigators are now examining what exactly Mr. Kushner and the Russian banker, Sergey N. Gorkov, wanted from each other. The banker is a close associate of Mr. Putin, but he has not been known to play a diplomatic role for the Russian leader. That has raised questions about why he was meeting with Mr. Kushner at a crucial moment in the presidential transition, according to current and former officials familiar with the investigations.

The New York Times first reported the meeting between Mr. Kushner and Mr. Gorkov in March, but the White House at the time did not explain its aim. That article quoted a White House spokeswoman, Hope Hicks, who said that the meeting came at the request of the Russian ambassador to the United States, Sergey I. Kislyak, with whom Mr. Kushner had met earlier in December at Trump Tower to discuss opening a communications channel with Russian officials during the presidential transition.

But the half-hour meeting with Mr. Gorkov since has come under increasing scrutiny. The current and former American officials now say it may have been part of an effort by Mr. Kushner to establish a direct line to Mr. Putin outside established diplomatic channels.


► President Trump needs a new Communications Director with the resignation of Mike Duke. As first reported by Axios this morning:

Mike Dubke, President Trump’s communications director, is leaving the White House — the start of a wave of changes as the West Wing struggles to cope with burgeoning scandals and a stalled agenda.

Dubke served for just three months before tendering his resignation May 18. He offered to stay through the overseas trip, and Trump accepted. He has been trying to help restructure the press and communications operation, and is parting on good terms, a senior administration official said.

Insiders say Dubke came in with few patrons, and never gelled with the originals. His departure is a reminder of how hard it is for newcomers to thrive in Trumpland.

Dubke is still coming in to work, and his last day hasn’t been set. His job is likely to remain open for a bit.

As Politico reports, a larger staff shakeup at the White House appears to be on the horizon.


Get even more smarter after the jump…


► The Denver Post takes a 30,000-foot view into how Colorado’s congressional delegation feels about the Trump administration these days. There are some interesting tidbits in the story, including this observation about Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma):

The ongoing saga over Russia and the 2016 election has continually tested the first-term senator, and when he’s been asked about the president’s reactions — and the Trump campaign’s potential involvement — Gardner has followed the lead of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell by taking a low profile with little outright criticism. [Pols emphasis] For example: He didn’t call for a special counsel to lead the investigation but then applauded the appointment of Mueller to do just that.


► The Denver Post publishes an editorial encouraging Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) to tackle entitlement reforms for programs like Medicaid without killing off necessary programs like Medicaid. It’s a tad confusing, but the editorial does use the phrase “glide path” on two separate occasions.


► New findings in the Firestone area, coupled with another explosion at an oil and gas site, are creating rising anxieties in Northern Colorado over oil and gas drilling near residences.


► Right-wing talk radio will rot your brain.


► Congressman Ken Buck (R-Greeley) is trying his best to rationalize cutting programs like Medicaid — a program that 24% of Weld County residents rely upon — by making absurd blanket statements about work ethics. As we wrote on Tuesday:

Buck is evoking the worst kind of prejudice against recipients of all kinds of public assistance, the assumption that safety nets breed dependency and complacency instead of bridging financial gaps any family could face. The argument that we need to “incentivize employment” by cutting public assistance assumes a lack of work ethic that is simply offensive to recipients–especially considering how many recipients work full time at jobs that don’t pay enough to cover basic needs.

With all of this in mind, Rep. Buck’s dismissive insult of 24% of the population of the largest county in his congressional district is politically mind boggling to us. There is nothing to be gained politically from making such heartless assumptions about thousands of your own constituents.


► Congressman Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs) believes there is a good chance the EPA will drop a storm-water lawsuit against the city of Colorado Springs. Of course, always use the requisite grains of salt when considering news that Lamborn has inside knowledge of…anything, really.


► Colorado Senators Michael Bennet (D-Denver) and Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) are working on federal legislation that would allow marijuana business in Colorado to open bank accounts.


► The City of Denver is taking an interesting approach in dealing with “sanctuary city” concerns and the safety of local immigrants.


► The Boulder Daily Camera reports on local pushback to a law enforcement doctrine being promoted by Attorney Genera Jeff Sessions:

Boulder District Attorney Stan Garnett was one of three Colorado district attorneys to sign a letter expressing concern over U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ call for maximum sentences on low-level offenders.

The policy memo released earlier this month by Sessions says prosecutors should “charge and pursue the most serious, readily provable offense” — something more likely to trigger mandatory minimum sentences.

“This policy affirms our responsibility to enforce the law, is moral and just, and produces consistency,” Sessions wrote in a memo.

But 31 U.S. prosecutors signed an open letter to Sessions criticizing the reversal of President Barack Obama-era policies and saying the move would be a step back in the effort to curb drug crimes…

…Three Colorado prosecutors — Garnett, Breckenridge District Attorney Bruce Brown and Denver District Attorney Beth McCann — signed the letter.

“I was concerned, as a number of progressive prosecutors are, that the policy stated in Jeff Sessions’ memo was really a step backward in the area of drug enforcement,” Garnett said. “It reflects a false premise that a longer prison sentence enhances the public’s safety.”

Garnett said prison sentences are more appropriate for serious, violent crimes, not lower-level, drug-related crimes.


► Congressman Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) talks to “Balance of Power” on 9News.


► Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) remains light on specifics in talking about what the Senate may do regarding healthcare legislation.




► Dominoes are starting to fall into place as 2016 candidates jockey for position. Just days after announcing her intention to run for State Senate in SD-20 (Sen. Cheri Jahn is term-limited), Rep. Jessie Danielson put her name behind Monica Duran in the race to fill her own seat in HD-24.


► For crying out loud, Faye Griffin! The longtime Jefferson County elected official is rumored to be considering leaving her elected job (AGAIN) before the end of her term in order to take a different position.


The Washington Post explains how Congressional Republicans worked with the White House to quietly dismantle Internet privacy regulations.


Click here for The Get More Smarter Show. You can also Get More Smarter by liking Colorado Pols on Facebook!


One thought on “Get More Smarter on Tuesday (May 30)

  1. Can we anticipate our litte moran pushing back on our junior senator for introducing legislation legitimizing the marijuanas? 

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