Transcribed for those readers who find a minute and twelve seconds of Trump too much to bear:
TRUMP: They want to use wind, wind wind, wind blow please, please blow. Please please keep the birds away from those windmills, please. Tell those beautiful bald eagles, oh no a bald eagle! You know if you shoot a bald eagle, they put you in jail for a long time. But the windmills knock them out like crazy. It’s true. And I think they have a rule, after a certain number of kills they have to close down the windmill until the following year. Do you believe this? Do you believe this? And they’re all made in China and in Germany, Siemens… [Pols emphasis]
AUDIENCE: (boos loudly)
TRUMP: And for those of you that want to hear it, when they’re making them, more stuff goes up into the air, and up into the ozone, the atmosphere. More stuff is going up there, they’re making it, ay yi yi…and they don’t say this but after a period of time they get tired, they get old, they get rusty, and a lot of the guys say hey their useful life is gone, let’s get the hell out of here. And they’re all over the place. You look at Palm Springs California, take a look, Palm Springs, they’re all over the place. They’re closed, they’re rotting, they look like hell.
We’ll start by acknowledging the possibility that the audience booed Trump after he claimed wind turbines “are all made in China and in Germany,” because they knew that Colorado is home to four wind power manufacturing facilities owned by Vestas which directly employ over 3,700 Coloradans–from Windsor in the northern part of the state to Pueblo’s Vestas turbine tower plant in the south. But as much as we would like to give the crowd in attendance the benefit of the doubt, it’s sadly much more likely that the crowd was simply booing any mention of China and Germany: either ignorant or unconcerned with the robust wind power manufacturing industry in our own state.
For at least three Republicans who stood with Trump on stage yesterday, there’s a bigger problem. Reps. Ken Buck and Scott Tipton both represent Vestas wind power manufacturing plants in their districts, as well as the thousands of employees who work there. And not only did Sen. Cory Gardner represent Vestas plants and workers in Congress and the U.S. Senate, in 2014 Gardner ran for the U.S. Senate on his “different kind of Republican” platform that highlighted Gardner’s support for renewable energy (see above).
With all of this in mind, what should Colorado voters take away from Trump’s low-information lambasting of wind power while Republicans who know better stood idly by and cheered his falsehoods on? Do they agree with Trump disparaging thousands of Colorado workers based on egregiously false information, or are they just too afraid to call Trump out?
Back before Trump turned bald-faced lies into a daily routine, this would be a front page story.
President Trump was in Colorado Springs on Thursday for a political rally focused mostly on himself and his various grievances (including the media and The Academy Awards), but also to help out Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) who demonstrated his allegiance earlier this month when he voted to acquit Trump on impeachment charges.
Trump has been in office for more than three years now — and Gardner has been right beside him the whole time — but until Thursday there were literally no photos of the two of them close enough to touch except for a few screenshots of the two exiting Air Force One in West Virginia back in August 2018.
So it was that Gardner’s greeting of Trump onstage Thursday was…pretty awkward. Here’s how it starts, with Gardner reaching out for a long-range handshake as though they are separated by a canal full of alligators:
President Trump and Cory Gardner in Colorado Springs (*not a real alligator).
From here, Gardner launches into a strange hug shake that was enjoyable to watch in the same way that it’s fun to giggle at cringeworthy reality television shows.
How do you classify this? Is it a handshake? A bro hug? A bro shake? Whatever you call it, Cory is coming in hot!
If we slow it down a little, we can see that the greeting starts as a handshake…
It isn’t until you watch this exchange in super-slow motion that you can fully understand the awkwardness. Watch below as Trump recoils in horror as Gardner attempts to turn his handshake into a hug. Marvel at how Trump yanks his arm away as though it were about to be eaten by a lion. As soon as Gardner touches his arm with his left hand, Trump jolts like Cory has an electric buzzer in his palm.
Also, the guy in the back standing next to Rep. Scott Tipton (R-Cortez) is very excited about all of this. Like, weirdly excited. (Chicago Cubs owner Tom Ricketts, perhaps?)
We hope you enjoy this as much as we did. Have a nice weekend.
Colorado’s near-neighbor Nevada weighs in on the 2020 Democratic Presidential race on Saturday, which means it’s time for us to once again ask your opinion.
As with all of our totally non-scientific polls here at Colorado Pols, we want to know what you think will happen on Saturday — not who you support or what outcome you would prefer. Think of it like a placing a wager on a sporting event; if you had to put money on the outcome in Nevada, who would you pick?
Yesterday’s massive GOP rally at the Broadmoor World Arena in Colorado Springs, headlined by President Donald Trump, Vice-President Mike Pence, and front-and-center Sen. Cory Gardner, took one of the biggest variables in the 2020 elections in Colorado off the table. Gardner, down by double digits in the polls in a state strongly trending away from the GOP brand in recent elections, has had every opportunity put distance between himself and Trump before November.
As of yesterday evening, we can predict confidently that’s not going to happen. Denver7’s Blair Miller:
President Donald Trump and Sen. Cory Gardner propped up one another as well as the Republican policies implemented by both as they campaigned for re-election Thursday at a lengthy rally in Colorado Springs.
Trump, whose approval ratings are far underwater in Colorado, called Gardner “a champion” and said Gardner had his “complete and total support and endorsement,” adding that Gardner “will never let you down.” Both have endorsed one another for re-election.
“Vote for Cory, vote for Trump, vote for the Republican Party,” Trump said. “We’re getting it done.” [Pols emphasis]
Last night’s mutual lovefest between Trump and Gardner puts to rest forever the false claim Gardner made to inquiring reporters during the impeachment trial–at least the ones who were able to corner him long enough to ask. Even as Gardner’s Senate colleagues from Mitch McConnell on down the line publicly scoffed at the idea that Senators were expected to be impartial, despite their oath requiring exactly that, Cory Gardner insisted that he was indeed impartially weighing the evidence:
“I am focused entirely on fulfilling my Constitutional duty as an impartial juror and my responsibility to listen to both sides present their case,” [Gardner] said in a statement. [Pols emphasis]
But as the Denver Post’s Justin Wingerterreports, anybody who ever believed that was the butt of the joke last night in Colorado Springs.
“You are going to help us get Cory Gardner across that line because he’s been with us 100%,” Trump told a boisterous crowd of supporters in Colorado Springs, referring to Gardner’s re-election in November. “There was no waver. He’s been with us. There was no waver with Cory and we appreciate that.”
Gardner, who voted this month to acquit Trump and prevent witnesses in the Senate’s trial, has his “total support and endorsement,” the president said.
“We went through hoaxes, we went through the impeachment scam. And by the way, Cory was with us all the way,” Trump said. “He didn’t move, he didn’t budge. He said it’s a lot of bull. He said it’s a lot of bull.” [Pols emphasis]
That Gardner was dishonest with the press and the voters of Colorado when he claimed to be “impartial” is of course not a surprise. Gardner was one of the first to endorse Trump’s re-election. Before and since the impeachment trial, Gardner has headlined Trump fundraising events, and the two campaigns have established a joint fundraising committee. If anything it was a surprise to see Gardner insisting on this obviously false pretense even after his colleagues had discounted the whole idea of impartiality.
As everyone looking at this race seems to understand by now, Gardner is politically obliged to stick with Trump to the bitter end–lest he lose the only base from which he can build a majority coalition. Every chance Gardner had to show backbone–even Gardner’s own call for Trump to withdraw from the race in 2016, condemning Trump’s ‘brags about sexual assault’–has ended with quiet capitulation. And by pretending his fealty to Trump wasn’t what it looked like for so long, well past the point of believability, Gardner has only further squandered his reputation outside the Republican faithful.
This was a fateful moment for Cory Gardner. His metaphorical ships have now been burned.
Intelligence officials warned House lawmakers last week that Russia was interfering in the 2020 campaign to try to get President Trump re-elected, five people familiar with the matter said, a disclosure to Congress that angered Mr. Trump, who complained that Democrats would use it against him.
The day after the Feb. 13 briefing to lawmakers, the president berated Joseph Maguire, the outgoing acting director of national intelligence, for allowing it to take place, people familiar with the exchange said. [Pols emphasis] Mr. Trump was particularly irritated that Representative Adam B. Schiff, Democrat of California and the leader of the impeachment proceedings, was at the briefing…
…Though intelligence officials have previously told lawmakers that Russia’s interference campaign was continuing, last week’s briefing included what appeared to be new information: that Russia intended to interfere with the 2020 Democratic primaries as well as the general election.
On Wednesday, the president announced that he was replacing Mr. Maguire with Richard Grenell, the ambassador to Germany and an aggressively vocal Trump supporter. And though some current and former officials speculated that the briefing might have played a role in that move, two administration officials said the timing was coincidental. [Pols emphasis]
Former acting DNI Joseph Maguire, who lost his job for doing his job.
Let’s break this down into a short timeline of events:
1. Members of the House Intelligence Committee — both Democrats and Republicans — are briefed by national intelligence officials and told that not only is Russia trying to mess around with American elections again, but they are doing it in order to smooth the path for a second Trump term. Acting head of national intelligence Joseph Maguire presides over this briefing.
Trump announced Wednesday that he was replacing Maguire with a vocal loyalist, Richard Grenell, who is the U.S. ambassador to Germany. The shake-up at the top of the intelligence community is the latest move in a post-impeachment purge. Trump has instructed aides to identify and remove officials across the government who aren’t defending his interests, and he wants them replaced with loyalists.
Maguire, a career official who is respected by the intelligence rank and file, was considered a leading candidate to be nominated to the post of DNI, White House aides had said. But Trump’s opinion shifted last week when he heard from a Republican ally about the official’s remarks. [Pols emphasis]
President Trump is concerned that Democrats will be able to hurt his re-election chances by pointing to the fact that Russia wants him to remain in the Oval Office. He’s probably not wrong about this, but that doesn’t change the fact that Russia is actively trying to influence the 2020 Presidential election. Again.
Does Trump want Russia’s help in winning re-election? Nobody would believe him if he said otherwise, but that’s really a separate issue at this point. The important thing isn’t to figure out whether or not anyone wants Russian interference to happen — what is absolutely critical is making sure that Russian election interference is stopped. Period.
ZELINGER: We’ve never heard from you if you thought asking foreign assistance is illegal or unconstitutional would you do so in your…
GARDNER: It’s never okay for a foreign government to interfere with our elections. It’s never okay for that and I’ve certainly made a lot of points about that introducing legislation to make sure that other countries don’t do that. But if you’re talking about impeachment, that was a policy issue that we had to — you can’t impeach over policy issues.
ZELINGER: But in your campaign, would you do that would you ask for…
GARDNER: Absolutely not. In fact I’ve said I would go immediately to the FBI if there was any such an issue that we thought was coming up.
ZELINGER: ‘No’ because it’s illegal or because it’s unconstitutional…
GARDNER: If you look at what’s happening, look at what Russia wants to do, they want to destabilize our institutions they want to decrease the trust of our institutions and that that goes to the heart of it and so we have to do everything we can to protect the integrity of our institutions and the elections.
ZELINGER: But would you put a label on it? Illegal or unconstitutional?
GARDNER: I guess I don’t understand what you mean.
ZELINGER: If you were asking for foreign assistance?
GARDNER: No I wouldn’t do that, it’s wrong. It’s wrong, I wouldn’t do it.
Gardner has had trouble with this simple question for months, but now he says that it is wrong to ask foreign governments for election assistance. That’s cute, since Gardner had no problem with President Trump quite literally asking Ukraine to interfere in the 2020 election by kneecapping Joe Biden, a potential General Election opponent. Gardner will eventually say what he thinks you want to hear, but he clearly has no intention of doing what you think ought to be done. Remember that Gardner is a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, so this sort of thing is right in his supposed wheelhouse.
Russia wants Donald Trump to remain President of the United States. How Republicans respond to this reality is much more important than what words they use with reporters.
Republicans can take active efforts to thwart Russian election interference…or not. These are the only two courses of action that matter.
UPDATE:Colorado Public Radioreports, together forever:
Between sweeping tributes to American greatness, sinister warnings and teases about the Space Command — along with complaints about fake news and the Oscars — the president showered praise on Sen. Cory Gardner, the Yuma Republican.
“We are going to win Colorado in a landslide. And you’re going to help us get Cory Gardner across that line, because he’s been with us 100 percent,” Trump said. “There was no waiver. We appreciate it. Thank you, Cory. Thank you.”
It was just the first of several times in the speech that the president praised Gardner and urged the crowd to support his reelection. Later, he described the freshman senator as “rock solid.”
They’re counting down the hours now in Colorado Springs to the arrival of President Donald Trump, newly-announced surprise guest Vice President Mike Pence, and the man of the hour GOP Senator Cory Gardner at the Broadmoor World Arena–and in case you’re not in the crowd either attending or protesting outside, here’s where you can watch the main event live later today (expected to begin around 5:00 pm):
The crowd waiting outside is chilly but well-bundled under Trump-branded swag and MAGA hats:
► President Trump is in Colorado Springs today for a rally with Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) as part of the post-impeachment payback tour. This event has been publicly known for about a week, but there was an interesting late addition to the schedule on Wednesday: Vice President Mike Pence. It’s pretty unusual for both the President and Vice President to appear in the same place at the same time for a political rally.
► 9News managed to catch up with “Colorado’s most elusive politician,” finding Sen. Cory Gardner bobbing his head like some kind of maniacal, over-caffeinated squirrel:
Gardner danced around when 9News reporter Marshall Zelinger asked him if there was anything Trump could do to lose his support, then mumbled something about how it is inappropriate for foreign governments to interfere in American elections. Gardner really tried to expand the meaning of the phrase “town hall” at the end of this interview; he has not held one of those since November 2017. Senator Michael Bennet (D-Denver) is holding three town hall meetings this week.
► It’s been a good week for former Gov. John Hickenlooper, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate in 2020. Hickenlooper’s campaign needed just a couple of weeks to collect the required number of signatures to grant him ballot access in June. This week he also picked up high-profile endorsements from Senate President Leroy Garcia and Pipefitters Local 208.
Although we are predominately concerned with Colorado politics in this space, our upcoming Super Tuesday date with destiny has all eyes in Colorado squarely focused on every development in the Democratic presidential primary–and last night, by all accounts, something dramatic happened at the Democratic presidential debate in Las Vegas that could have far-reaching effects on the race. Politico:
The Vegas debate stage had the feel of a late-night party suddenly crashed by an unwelcome visitor. [Sen. Elizabeth] Warren, who often says she “grew up fighting,” seized the role of bouncer from the earliest minutes, when the TV audience is often largest, by describing Bloomberg as “a billionaire who calls women ‘fat broads’ and ‘horse-faced lesbians.’” She later moved on to his record on civil rights (“You need a different apology here, Mr. Mayor”), accused him of “hiding his tax returns,” and performed an impromptu prosecution of Bloomberg’s use of non-disclosure agreements.
“Democrats take a huge risk if we just substitute one arrogant billionaire for another,” she said. [Pols emphasis]
When Warren wasn’t filleting Bloomberg, who stood directly to her right — mostly expressionless except for a dramatic eye roll during the NDA exchange — she turned to her left and delivered a rapid-fire series of attacks on Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, and Amy Klobuchar, often in the same 90 seconds of her allotted time to answer a question.
The Daily Beast’sErin Gloria Ryancaptured some of the emotion from the epic “beatdown” delivered by Sen. Elizabeth Warren last night, mostly to former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg but ably knocking down everyone else on stage–not even fully sparing Sen. Bernie Sanders as she’s developed a reputation for. Warren took a rare shot at Sanders, calling out his campaign for “relentlessly [attacking] everyone who asks a question or tries to fill in details about how to actually make this work.”
The Vegas crowd went wild, as Vegas crowds are wont to do during a beatdown.
After that, Bloomberg spent the rest of the debate with about as much gravitas as a ventriloquist dummy without a lap to sit on. Elizabeth Warren, meanwhile, turned in her strongest debate performance yet, striking Bloomberg over and over again like a viper with a grudge. Bloomberg was annihilated. He was decimated. He was degloved. Everything that a Democratic voter might find distasteful about Bloomberg was laid bare for everybody to see.
Warren didn’t just turn her sights on Bloomberg. She diminutized Mayor Pete’s health-care plan by calling it “a PowerPoint.” She called out Amy Klobuchar for having only two paragraphs explaining hers. She called out the idea of being a moderate in the first place. “We can’t be so eager to be liked by Mitch McConnell that we forget how to fight,” she said in reference to the moderates Joe Biden and Klobuchar, to thunderous, Vegas-y applause. By the time it was all over, it was clear that she’d won this one like Secretariat won the 1973 Belmont Stakes. Like a tremendous machine.
Sen. Warren is headed to Denver on Sunday for a rally at the Fillmore Theater, and her field campaign is fully engaged chasing ballots which are already in the hands of Colorado voters. The effect this powerful debate performance could have on the result, inversely proportional to the damage it may do to Bloomberg, is limited only by the audience for presidential primary debates and post-debate coverage of the extent to which Warren shredded the entire rest of the stage. Warren needs this to be a turning point, and Bloomberg needs the Democratic electorate to develop mass amnesia.
With that, we’ll turn it over to our readers: did Warren end Bloomberg last night? If so, did she distinguish herself enough to pull support from the rest of the field in time to stop Sanders’ widening delegate lead? The growing recognition that there can be only one Sanders alternative, and the persistently undecided nature of primary voters right up until the last minute this year, creates space where anything seems possible.
The likely Democratic nominee, Hickenlooper, is not a perfect candidate, but he is a proven one, having won the state’s governorship in the difficult Democratic years of 2010 and 2014. He is hardly a favorite of the left, but that’s probably an asset in a general election environment. Republicans have been trying to criticize Hickenlooper over whether it was appropriate for him to accept free air travel while he was governor. Gardner’s path to victory likely involves Trump getting at least a little bit closer in Colorado than he did in 2016 and outwitting Hickenlooper on the trail. This reelection path for Gardner isn’t impossible, but he needs some things to break his way in order to retain his seat. Hence, it makes more sense to look at Gardner as an underdog. [Pols emphasis]
This analysis fits well with what we’ve been seeing over the past couple of years. Gardner’s poll numbers have been consistently terrible, and his decision to glue himself firmly to President Trump’s derriere on impeachment was not well-received in Colorado. And as you can see from the map below, voters in Colorado have steadily moved toward the left since Gardner was elected to the Senate by a slim margin in 2014.
[T]he Center for Public Integrity notes that Trump, who frequently frames himself as a champion of law enforcement, has left at least 10 cities holding the bill for nearly $1 million in public expenses, including police support, for his campaign events since 2016.
But Trump’s campaign won’t have to worry about stiffing the city of Colorado Springs or El Paso County for traffic control, police presence or other help with his Feb. 20 rally at The Broadmoor World Arena.
That’s because the city and county provide such services gratis to political candidates. Or at least that’s what officials tell the Indy on the eve of Trump’s first appearance here in the 2020 campaign cycle.
As readers know, the subject of reimbursement of local governments for the often-considerable expense of providing police and other municipal services for visiting political campaigns has been a hot-button issue in Colorado recently. Last July, the Pitkin County sheriff was obliged to go public with his attempts to collect for services rendered at a Mike Pence fundraiser in Aspen–funds in the end reimbursed after embarrassment in the media by high net worth Republican donors, including the co-owner of the Arizona Diamondbacks Ken Kendrick.
With that in mind, we’ll take El Paso County at their word regarding free motorcade services available to all political comers. As host to the Air Force Academy and other major federal installations, no doubt expensive police motorcades come with the territory. Especially when it’s a Republican President rolling into town, “small government” takes a back seat to pomp and circumstance.
And really, is anybody surprised that Trump doesn’t pay these bills, even when asked? You shouldn’t be.
Sen. Cory Gardner (left) and Sen. Michael Bennet. You’ve probably only seen Bennet in real life.
The answer to the question in the headline is not very difficult to ascertain, so we’ll just skip to this story from The Denver Post:
On Tuesday evening, U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet fielded concerns about the upcoming election during a town hall to a crowd of around 120 at the Peak Community and Wellness Center in Littleton.
“Everyone has to understand what’s at stake here,” Bennet said. “The rule of law is getting shattered.”…
…Bennet discussed the challenges Coloradans face trying to afford health care, housing and higher education. Jo Douglas, a 60-year-old from Littleton, asked Bennet about getting health insurance plans that are more accustomed to the needs of Coloradans.
“We have a broken health care market,” Bennet said. “Part of the problem we have, especially in rural areas, is there aren’t enough people in certain parts Colorado to have a real market to get people insured in a way that’s predictable and affordable.”
Bennet plans to hold two more town hall events this week: in Grand Junction (Thursday) and Steamboat Springs (Friday).
As a candidate for President, Bennet has spent most of the last year campaigning in other states; one week after ending his Presidential bid, he was back in Colorado talking to constituents.
This week on The Get More Smarter Podcast, hosts Jason Bane and Alan Franklin talk about the Presidential candidates as they start filing into Colorado; new polling on impeachment is bad news for Sen. Cory Gardner; and voter and demographic changes hint at more trouble for Republicans.
The U.S. Senate campaign for former Gov. John Hickenlooper today filed petition signatures for inclusion on the Democratic Primary ballot in June. Hickenlooper’s campaign had previously said that it would pursue both the petition signature and caucus routes for ballot access.
At the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office, there’s a stack of petitions with Hickenlooper’s name on them.
The Hickenlooper campaign had until March 17 to submit petition signatures for ballot access; Hick’s camp began collecting signatures on Jan. 21, which means it took less than a month to reach the goal (candidates for U.S. Senate must collect 1,500 valid signatures from each of Colorado’s seven congressional districts). It’s difficult to say for sure that Hickenlooper set the mark for the shortest time required for a statewide candidate to collect petition signatures — there are no real records for this — but we certainly can’t recall another campaign putting signatures together this quickly.
Global Strategy Group, a nationwide public relations and comms firm, released new polling data via local liberal activist group ProgressNow Colorado reinforcing what a host of recent polls in Colorado have already corroborated: enduring Democratic majority “generic ballot” support from Colorado voters, the continuing deep unpopularity of President Donald Trump, and vulnerable incumbent GOP Sen. Cory Gardner even less loved than our unpopular president:
Democrats may only have a 2-point lead on party registration, but they lead Republicans on party self identification and the generic vote for state legislature by much larger margins. Self-identified Democratic voters are also more motivated to vote in November than Republicans, with nearly nine in 10 being extremely motivated.
Meanwhile, voters view Democratic Governor Polis favorably and rate his job in office even higher, at a firm +10. Attitudes towards Democrats in the Colorado state legislature are mixed, but much warmer than those towards their Republican counterparts. Republican President Trump and Senator Gardner are both far underwater in comparison…
Trump’s job approval is quite poor (-12 NET approve) and is particularly bad with unaffiliated voters (-15). Moreover, while Trump has very conservative Republicans (who make up 11% of the electorate) consolidated, a good quarter of the larger block of less-conservative Republicans (17% of the electorate) disapprove of his performance. These low marks translate into a 12-point disadvantage against a generic Democrat in the race for President, when just 4 years ago he only lost Colorado by a 5-point margin.
Cory Gardner may be in an even worse position, and his decision to put his loyalty to Donald Trump ahead of doing what’s right for Colorado is costing him dearly. [Pols emphasis] By aligning himself with Trump, he has unified Democrats against him and alienated middle-of-the-road voters – but his own base remains fractured as well. Gardner not only loses the same less-conservative never-Trump Republicans that the president does, but he also garners approval from just three-quarters from the hard-right GOP base that universally adores Trump.
Read more details here. Although this poll doesn’t contain any head-to-head matchups, Sen. Cory Gardner came in with a 14-point disadvantage against a generic Democrat among voters who indicated a strong likelihood to turn out. Voters also have a heavy preference for Democratic legislative candidates in the upcoming election, another sign that the GOP’s retaliation campaign following the 2018 Democratic wave win has failed to gain traction. If there is any good news for Republicans, it’s that Trump’s approval rate remains pretty much static at 44%–perhaps a floor for Trump personally, though not for Gardner for whom GOP base support is consistently less committed.
For Democrats, it’s more encouraging news. For Republicans, 2018’s downward trajectory has only steepened.
► We really can’t be far away from Donald Trump declaring himself King of America. As The Washington Post reports:
On Tuesday, Trump granted clemency to a clutch of political allies, circumventing the usual Justice Department process. The pardons and commutations followed Trump’s moves to punish witnesses in his impeachment trial, publicly intervene in a pending legal case to urge leniency for a friend, attack a federal judge, accuse a juror of bias and threaten to sue his own government for investigating him.
Trump defended his actions, saying he has the right to shape the country’s legal systems as he sees fit. [Pols emphasis]
“I’m allowed to be totally involved,” he told reporters as he left Washington on Tuesday for a trip to California, Nevada and Arizona. “I’m actually, I guess, the chief law enforcement officer of the country. But I’ve chosen not to be involved.”
Of course, this is NOT true. The Attorney General is the chief law enforcement officer in the United States, but when the AG just does whatever the President wants…
The president’s post-impeachment behavior has alarmed Attorney General William P. Barr, who has told people close to the president that he is willing to quit unless Trump stops publicly commenting on ongoing criminal matters, according to two administration officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations. It also has appalled several legal experts and former officials, who have said his direct intervention in legal matters risks further politicizing law enforcement at a time of fraying confidence in the Justice Department.
As The Washington Post reports in a separate story, Trump is almost daring Attorney General William Barr to quit his job:
Against the wishes of Attorney General William P. Barr, President Trump continued to tweet Wednesday about the Justice Department, relaying the sentiments of conservative allies that Barr should “clean house” and target those involved in the Russia investigation.
UPDATE #2: The White House denies everything, but:
It seems like news today, but then-Rep. Rohrabacher went on camera and told our LA station in September 2017 that he was engaged in a "confidential interaction" with the WH on a pardon for Assange.https://t.co/2563YgQ9Rg
U.S. President Donald Trump offered to pardon WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange if he said that Russia had nothing to do with WikiLeaks’ publication of Democratic Party emails in 2016, a London court heard on Wednesday…
At Westminster Magistrates’ Court, Assange’s barrister, Edward Fitzgerald, referred to a witness statement by former U.S. Republican congressman Dana Rohrabacher who had visited Assange in 2017, saying that he had been sent by the president to offer a pardon.
The pardon would come on the condition that Assange complied with the U.S. by saying that the Russians were not involved in the email leak which hurt Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign in 2016, Rohrabacher’s statement said.
President Trump offered to pardon Julian Assange if he agreed to cover up the involvement of Russia in hacking emails from the Democratic National Committee, which were later published by WikiLeaks, a London court was told on Wednesday. [Pols emphasis]
Lawyers acting for Assange have argued that the Australian should not be extradited to the U.S. because the case is political not criminal.
Edward Fitzgerald, Assange’s lawyer, said on Wednesday that a message had been passed on to Assange by former Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher.
Fitzgerald said a statement produced by Assange’s lawyer, Jennifer Robinson, showed “Mr Rohrabacher going to see Mr Assange and saying, on instructions from the president, he was offering a pardon or some other way out, if Mr Assange… said Russia had nothing to do with the DNC leaks.”
Brenda Stokes, aka Brenda Valdez-Stokes (or vice-versa)
We wrote last week about the results of a Republican vacancy committee in HD-38 (Arapahoe County) in which some dude with the pun-worthy name of Richard Champion was selected to fill the remainder of the State House term vacated by the resignation of Rep. Susan Beckman. The outcome of that vacancy committee was a surprise to some who had expected right-wing crusader Brenda Stokes to claim Beckman’s crown. At the time, Stokes vowed that she would run a primary challenge against Champion in June, but apparently she has decided on another course of action.
Stokes is now Brenda “Valdez-Stokes” and is running for State Senate in District 26, where Democrat Jeff Bridges will be running for a full-term after winning his own vacancy election last year.
Stokes…or Valdez-Stokes, or whatever her name is now, made some local headlines last May when she promoted the disastrous recall attempt against Rep. Tom Sullivan and accused him of “politicizing” the death of his son, who was killed in the 2012 Aurora Theater Shooting. She is currently the Vice-Chair of the Arapahoe County Republican Party.
At one point last year, Colorado Republicans talked about a recall campaign against Bridges; it’s probably best that they didn’t pursue this strategy after the GOP failed spectacularly at trying to recall a bunch of other Democratic lawmakers. Senate District 26 was primed to be a battleground race in 2016, but Democrat Daniel Kagan ended up beating Republican favorite Nancy Doty by 7 points. Bridges was re-elected in HD-3 in 2018 by a 22-point margin over Toren Mushovic.
Colorado media outlets were not impressed with Gardner’s obfuscation. As the editorial board of The Denver Post wrote, “Coloradans deserve better than Cory Gardner.”
As we can see from new polling data from Senate Majority PAC out today, Gardner’s excuses weren’t convincing to the majority of Colorado voters, either:
Large majorities of voters in these states say their GOP incumbent voted to acquit President Trump because they were voting with their party and trying to protect Trump politically, not because they actually believed Trump was innocent of an impeachable offense. The perception that these senators put party politics and Trump’s interests over principle is likely to affect the way voters assess their conduct on other issues.
President Donald Trump announced Tuesday he’d commuted the prison sentence of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who was impeached and removed from office in 2009 on corruption charges, and pardoned former New York police commissioner Bernard Kerik…
“He served eight years in jail, a long time,” Trump told reporters at Andrews Air Force Base. “I don’t know him very well. I met him a couple of times. He was on for a short while on the Apprentice some years ago. He seems like a very nice person, I don’t know him.”
Trump said “many people” thought the sentence was unfair. “He’ll be able to go back home to his family,” he added.
Blagojevich, a Democrat, has been serving his term at the low-security Federal Correctional Institute in Englewood, Colorado. He’d been a contestant on Trump’s reality TV show “The Celebrity Apprentice” in 2010.
It’s almost too perfect–just a couple of weeks out from under his own presidency-jeopardizing corruption scandal, a period which has been dominated by President Donald Trump’s score-settling against those who testified or otherwise worked against him, Trump has freed the Illinois governor accused of “selling” former President Barack Obama’s U.S. Senate seat! The best theory we’ve heard as to why this commutation was important to Trump is that Rod Blagojevich’s 14-year sentence after being found guilty of official corruption was making all similarly “transactional” politicos look bad. Graded on Blago’s curve, Trump himself could in all fairness find himself looking at his own stint in the “Club Fed” of FCI Englewood.
This was Sen. Cory Gardner’s takeaway from impeachment, wasn’t it? A little corruption never hurt anybody?
As the Denver Post’sSam Tabachnikreports, Sen. Elizabeth Warren is coming next Sunday to Denver’s Fillmore Auditorium ahead of a do-or-die Super Tuesday, where if Warren does not manage to stage a significant comeback her presidential campaign is likely to end:
Warren, the progressive senator once a front-runner in the presidential race, is looking for a shot in the arm after disappointing finishes in Iowa and New Hampshire.
Colorado, however, remains tough to read because of a lack of public polling. The last publicly released poll in the state came in August, showing a tight race between Sanders, Biden and Warren nearly all within the margin of error. The dynamics of the race have shifted considerably since then.
The New York Timesran an insightful story today about the sobered but still hopeful Warren campaign, eyeing a path to victory despite the caucus disaster in Iowa clouding a respectable showing there, and then a tough fade in New Hampshire leaving Warren’s campaign battling to stay relevant:
Supporters and allies are doing their part to generate excitement, New Hampshire be damned. Organizations that are supporting Ms. Warren have blasted out emails with subject lines like “Warren the Warrior Wonk Returns — and people LOVE it,” sent after Ms. Warren criticized one of her favorite targets, Michael R. Bloomberg, the former New York mayor and a presidential rival. On Monday, which was Presidents’ Day, Ms. Warren’s supporters helped make #PresidentWarren a national trending topic on Twitter.
“Elizabeth is third in delegates, has over a million grass-roots donors, and is drawing thousands of people to her events,” said Kristen Orthman, Ms. Warren’s communications director. “The pundits have consistently been wrong about this primary and that’s why it’s important for people to organize for and support the candidate they believe in rather than the candidate the coverage says is on top.”
Polling in Nevada shows Warren battling for third place against Pete Buttigieg ahead of that state’s caucuses next Saturday. In South Carolina, The Joe Biden “firewall” is dominating the narrative–which means Super Tuesday is the day Warren’s campaign rockets back from the abyss or gets put to bed. The flip side of the coin is that Warren is arguably the only non-billionaire contender outside the Bernie Sanders/Biden/Buttigieg “boy’s club” troika who still has a shot.