Weekend Open Thread

“Much that passes as idealism is disguised hatred or disguised love of power.”

–Bertrand Russell

InCOPetence: Stapleton Contradicts Stapleton

Walker Stapleton.

We wrote earlier today about the controversy over poorly-explained delays by Treasurer Walker Stapleton’s staff in issuing certificates of participation, bond-like instruments to provide funding for roads and other capital construction projects that were supposed to be issued on July 1 to allow those projects to proceed. Stapleton’s deputy in the treasurer’s office blasted Democrats for a “poorly orchestrated and ill-informed political attack,” while simultaneously admitting that the concern over the delay was legitimate–even to the point of explaining that a lawyer who had argued for the delay based on a pro-TABOR lawsuit by conservative activists had been fired. As The Pueblo Chieftain’s Peter Roper reported today:

[T]he treasurer’s office acknowledged that the lawyer who counseled Stapleton to delay financing had been fired and that the staff member who told the project committee that financing would have to be delayed “didn’t have the current information.” [Pols emphasis]

Based on this update, Rep. Daneya Esgar of the Capital Development Committee said she was “pleased” that the funding would be able to at least get moving by the Treasurer’s office’s revised September deadline–based on the belief that the objections inside Stapleton’s office had been resolved.

But as Westword’s Nora Alabi reports in a new Friday story, apparently nobody told this to Walker Stapleton!

At a press conference July 19 at the Colorado Farm Bureau headquarters in Centennial, where Stapleton was discussing the impacts of President Donald Trump’s tariffs on Colorado’s agricultural exports after a private roundtable, reporters asked the state treasurer about the letter and capital construction delays. Stapleton called Democratic accusations that his delay issuing bonds was ideologically motivated a “fabricated political stunt” and a “perfect example of why people lose faith in government.” Stapleton says the delay is justified because of pending litigation that could determine the fate of the capital construction funds. Not only is the outcome of the lawsuit unknown, it has made investors in the bond markets antsy, he adds. [Pols emphasis]

“My paramount concern as the treasurer of Colorado is to make sure we’re not issuing bonds when there is economic uncertainty. Anybody in the capital markets can tell you that from an investment standpoint, when you’re issuing bonds and those bonds are being impacted by pending litigation, which we had nothing to do with, it makes investors skiddish,” Stapleton says. “I’m not going to issue bonds when it could negatively impact the credit of Colorado based on hair around the deal resulting from the lawsuit. It would be fiscally irresponsible for me to do so…”

“The statute calls for the bonds to be issued within the fiscal year. We’re going to issue those bonds in September, which is well ahead of schedule,” Stapleton says. The lawsuit he cites as reason for the delay, however, does not to go trial until late October.

Westword reports that these certificates of participation are not the only financial instruments apparently stymied by the TABOR lawsuit, with bonds to add an additional lane to I-25 between Castle Rock and Monument also delayed for the same stated reason–a lawsuit that Stapleton’s deputy says doesn’t matter.

So folks, which is it? Is the delay justified or isn’t it? Is the TABOR lawsuit the reason for the delay issuing these certificates and bonds…or isn’t it? All of these questions begin and end inside Stapleton’s office. Stapleton is the only one who can explain what’s really going on, and in the last 24 hours the treasurer and his deputy treasurer have said two directly contradictory things that no one has even tried to clarify. The situation is almost, well, Trumpian.

The one thing we do know is it’s absolutely absurd for Stapleton, either in his official capacity as treasurer or as a gubernatorial candidate, to lay this confusion at the feet of Democrats. Until Stapleton and his staff can get on the same page as to what is happening here and why, they’re making colossal fools only of themselves.

At Least He’s Not Your Congressional Candidate

Dusty Johnson

It’s time for another edition of our long-running series, “At Least They’re Not Your Legislator.” Today, we visit South Dakota and the Rapid City Journal:

How did the South Dakota Teen Age Republicans end up hosting a woman at their 2015 camp who was later accused of being an unregistered foreign agent for Russia?

Quite innocently, according to the current U.S. House candidate who was running the camp at the time.

Dusty Johnson won the Republican nomination for U.S. House this past June, but in July 2015, he was directing the Teen Age Republicans Leadership Camp at Camp Rimrock near Rapid City in the Black Hills.

Johnson said he was contacted that summer by Paul Erickson, a longtime Republican political operative who grew up in Vermillion and has an apartment in Sioux Falls. Erickson offered to bring Maria Butina to speak at the camp, and described her as an advocate for expanded gun rights in Russia who was on an American speaking tour, Johnson said.

Maria Butina is the accused Russian spy who was arrested earlier this week by federal agents. Butina worked her way into the good graces of conservative political groups, and even the National Rifle Association (NRA), as part of her plan to get close to the Republican levers of power in the U.S. For obvious reasons, this is creating problems now for people like Johnson:

It is Really Hot Outside, and It’s Only Getting Hotter

If you’re still arguing about the validity of Climate Change, you must not get outside all that often.

As Kirk Mitchell writes for the Denver Post, this is a good time to be an air conditioning salesman:

The Mile High City tied an all-time heat record in June and hovered around 100 degrees, topping out at 98, on Thursday,  according to National Weather Service forecasters.

Had temperatures reached 100 Thursday, it would have marked the third time this year that we sweltered in triple-digit heat. By comparison, temperatures only reached 100 twice between 1910 and 1920, NWS meteorologist Bernie Meier said…

…On Thursday, Denver surpassed 90 degrees for the 35th day this year, a pace slightly ahead of the hottest year in the city’s recorded history in 2012.

July 20 is typically the hottest day of the year in Denver, but it looks like we won’t be breaking a new single-day temperature mark today — not that it would be a surprise if it happened. Denver has reached temperatures as hot as 105 degrees just four times in recorded history — all since 2005 — and the last 105 degree day came on June 28 this year. NWS chief meteorologist Nazette Rydell tells Mitchell that the June 28 temperature record is “the story of the year.”

Here are a few more troubling numbers related to rising temperatures:

Already this year, eight daily high temperature records have fallen or been tied, according to NWS data. Record highs were set April 12 (79 degrees), April 29 (83), May 10 (90), May 25 (91), June 5 (95), June 6 (95), June 9 (95) and June 28 (105)…

…Denver isn’t the only location undergoing a heat wave. Much of the world had one the warmest Junes in history, according to the National Centers for Environmental Information. [Pols emphasis]

No, Mr. President, we can’t “invade” the sun.

As we’ve said before in this space, arguing about the existence of Climate Change is kind of like trying to prove that water isn’t wet. The only “debate” left on the subject is about the extent to which humans are causing these extreme changes, though more than 97% of scientific experts are 100% convinced that this is absolutely a people problem.

The other three percent of scientists seem to have an undue influence with the Trump administration. As NBC News reported earlier this week:

Reports of climate science being scrubbed from U.S. government websites arrived early in President Donald Trump’s tenure. And the hits keep coming. From the Environmental Protection Agency, to the Energy Department, to the State Department and beyond, references to climate change, greenhouse gases and clean energy keep disappearing.

But even as some corners of the Trump administration sow a cyber garden fertile for the fossil fuel industry, a pair of websites funded by the federal government have proclaimed an unvarnished view of the dangers of carbon-driven climate change.

The two sites, Climate.gov and CLEANet.org, have expanded to more than 700 entries and collectively drew more than 68,000 page views in May, a more than 50 percent increase from the year before. And the lessons delivered by the two sites — about the threat posed by a planet warmed by human actions — extends well beyond that core audience. That’s because both sites are aimed at teachers, who say they use the taxpayer-supported websites to create lessons on everything from increasing CO2 levels to threatened biodiversity to the potential of solar power.

Meanwhile, people around the world are suffering from extreme temperatures. At least 14 people have died in Tokyo because of record highs. Sweltering heat is punishing Texas and the South-Central United States. California is bracing for another heat wave next week that is forecasted to create temperatures as much as 18 degrees above normal for several days. And lest we forget: There are wildfires currently burning in the freaking Arctic Circle!!!

Use lots of sunscreen, wear a hat, and drink plenty of water. And start thinking harder about supporting politicians who aren’t pretending that this isn’t happening.

Stapleton InCOPetence Blows Up In New Finger-Pointing Idiocy

Walker Stapleton.

We reported yesterday on a letter from Democrats on the legislative Capital Development Committee, calling out Republican Treasurer Walker Stapleton over delays in issuing certificates of participation (COPs) for construction projects across the state–unnecessary delays that could cost real money, not to mention time as important road and other capital construction projects wait for their funding.

As the Pueblo Chieftain’s Peter Roper reports today, Stapleton’s over-the-top reaction to this perfectly reasonable inquiry reflects a pattern we’ve seen establishing itself strikingly since Stapleton’s campaign for governor began: incompetence, finger-pointing, and then attempting to bury the underlying very real problem.

Pueblo Rep. Daneya Esgar, co-chairman of the capital project committee, sent a letter to Stapleton on Wednesday that said any delay in financing the long list of authorized state projects will mean higher costs and delays…

“In order to make the best use of public funds and get these critical projects started rapidly, the (financing) should be issued as soon as possible,” the letter says. It was co-signed by Rep. Chris Hansen, D-Denver.

The letter points to two events — a statement in June by the treasurer’s staff that the financing would be delayed beyond July 1 and legal advice to Stapleton’s office that funding might have to wait because of a pending lawsuit against the state by the Tabor Foundation, a group that first filed suit in 2015 against lawmakers. [Pols emphasis]

As Ed Sealover at the Denver Business Journal reports, Stapleton’s deputy Ryan Parsell practically hissed out the Treasurer’s office’s response–a response that would have required almost no revision to come from Stapleton’s gubernatorial campaign:

Stapleton’s office, however, characterized the criticisms as partisan attacks that are being made and publicized because he is the Republican gubernatorial nominee and is running for the open seat against Democratic Congressman Jared Polis. No transportation projects’ construction will be delayed because of the planned September issuance of the COPs, they said.

“There is no delay. The office is on track to issue these COPs in September,” deputy treasurer Ryan Parsell said. “The faked outrage from Democrats is nothing more than a poorly orchestrated and ill-informed political attack because Walker also happens to be running for governor.”

As Roper reported above, in the press release from House Democrats yesterday, the specifics of the problem that resulted in their letter to Stapleton were not ambiguous:

At a meeting of the CDC last month, nonpartisan staff notified the committee that the Certificates of Participation (COPs) that will launch hundreds of millions of dollars in funding for capital construction and transportation would not to be issued at the start of the fiscal year as originally planned, but would be delayed until a date uncertain.

In short, it was Stapleton’s own staff who told the committee that the paperwork wouldn’t be ready by July 1, and was also apparently being delayed by a legal opinion that a right-wing lawsuit based on the 1992 Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR) might interfere with the issuance of these bond-like certificates of participation.

In other words, the Democrats didn’t make this up. And that’s where it all takes a turn for the stupid:

[T]he treasurer’s office acknowledged that the lawyer who counseled Stapleton to delay financing had been fired and that the staff member who told the project committee that financing would have to be delayed “didn’t have the current information.” [Pols emphasis]

Got that, Colorado? Stapleton fired the lawyer who opined he had to delay the issuance of these certificates, and says now under scrutiny that Stapleton’s own staffer who told Democrats there would be a delay was wrong–and yet it’s Democrats who launched a “poorly orchestrated and ill-informed political attack?” Once you understand all the events along the way to this story, it’s painfully obvious that Stapleton once again is trying to cover for his own incompetence with a pre-emptive volley of bellicose finger-pointing.

Like we said above, this tactic of firing off an acrimonious press release in response to every legitimate point of inquiry or criticism, then being forced to concede that the issue was actually quite valid via their own attempt to quietly remediate, is becoming a distinct pattern for Stapleton and his communications team. When Stapleton attacked his Democratic opponent for selecting a running mate one day before the deadline to do so as a “rushed announcement,” the subsequent uproar over Stapleton’s failure to announce his own selection by the deadline made that attack look totally ridiculous. Now we have Stapleton laying into Democrats with election-year partisan rhetoric via his official proxy, while quietly conceding their point.

It’s a theater of the absurd, folks. Watch for it to keep happening.

Trump Invites Putin to White House; DNI Still in the Dark

Dan Coats, Director of National Intelligence

Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Dan Coats was a guest speaker at the Aspen Security Forum today, where he was interviewed on stage by NBC’s Andrea Mitchell. As the Washington Post reports, Coats still has no idea what was discussed during President Trump’s Helsinki meeting:

Coats on Thursday acknowledged that he did not know what took place in President Trump’s one-on-one meeting in Helsinki with Russian President Vladi­mir Putin, even as the White House announced plans to invite the Russian leader to Washington for a second meeting in the fall.

“Well, you’re right. I don’t know what happened in that meeting,” Coats told NBC’s Andrea Mitchell in an interview at the Aspen Security Forum. He said that while it was Trump’s prerogative to decide how to conduct the meeting, he would have advised the president otherwise.

“If he had asked me how that ought to be conducted, I would have suggested a different way,” Coats said. “But that’s not my role; that’s not my job. So, it is what it is.”

Coats, who on Monday issued a statement standing by the U.S. intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia interfered in the 2016 election, also said that he would have liked to have seen Trump strike a different tone in his extraordinary 46-minute news conference with Putin.

Meanwhile, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders announced today that President Trump has formally invited Russian President Vladimir Putin to visit the White House in the coming months. Check out this clip of Mitchell informing Coats about the news that Trump wants to have a sleep-over with his best buddy Vlad (h/t to Pols user Pseudonymous for the video):

Here’s the exchange:

MITCHELL: We have some breaking news. The White House has announced on Twitter that Vladimir Putin is coming to the White House in the fall.

COATS: [after a brief pause] Say that again?

[laughter erupts in the audience, and Coats can’t help but chuckle].

COATS: Did I hear you…[sighs]…okay…That’s going to be special.

Trump is bringing Putin INTO THE WHITE HOUSE this fall, just as the mid-term elections are reaching their peak. Also today, the Justice Department announced plans to alert the public about ongoing Russian attempts to influence the 2018 election, which should make Putin’s U.S. visit even more uncomfortable than we thought possible.

For every Republican candidate in America, we have just four words: Sucks to be you.

Report: BLM HQ Will Move West

As Erin Prater writes for the Colorado Springs Gazette:

U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is prepared to move ahead on moving the Bureau of Land Management headquarters to the West, according to reports.

Grand Junction is expected to be a prime possibility for the new national headquarters, partly because of the work of Colorado’s two U.S. senators, Republican Cory Gardner of Yuma and Michael Bennet of Denver…

…Rep. Scott Tipton’s office said Thursday that the department will conduct an analysis to help choose a location in the next six to eight months, Interior Department senior adviser Susan Combs told the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, according to the release Thursday. “Ninety-nine percent of the land that the BLM manages is located in the West, and the decisions made by the Bureau have daily impacts on those who live there, so it only makes sense to move the headquarters to a Western state. This would ensure that decisions would be made by those who understand the land best, resulting in more effective land management programs and policies.

Moving the headquarters of the BLM to the American West has been a long-running project that has the support of Colorado’s entire Congressional delegation, as well as the backing of local officials and Gov. John Hickenlooper. Colorado isn’t guaranteed to be the new home of the BLM, but Grand Junction is at least among the frontrunners.

It’s too soon to tell if this pending move will have a significant effect on BLM policies in the West or is more of a publicity stunt, though a new HQ would almost certainly create some new jobs in Colorado.

An Early Look at the Democratic Field for President in 2020

Do YOU want to run against me in 2020?

The 2018 election hasn’t even really started to reach a boiling point yet, but with President Trump making an historic ass of himself (and America), it’s never too early to look ahead to the next Presidential election.

Writing for CNN, Chris Cillizza and Harry Enten toss out their top 10 early favorites for the Democratic Presidential nomination in 2020. Here’s their list:

10. Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown
9. New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu
8. New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker
7. Montana Gov. Steve Bullock
6. Former Attorney General Eric Holder
5. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders
4. New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand
3. California Sen. Kamala Harris
2. Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren
1. Former Vice President Joe Biden

With that list in mind, this seems like a good time to ask Colorado Pols readers about the 2020 Democratic field. Pols readers are generally pretty good about predicting Colorado outcomes, so let’s see if you can keep it going in a national election.

As always, we want to know what you think will happen — not what you want to happen or who you personally might support. If you had to make a choice today, which is what we’re asking you to do, who would you predict will be the Democratic nominee for President in 2020?

Who Will Be the Democratic Nominee for President in 2020?
Joe Biden
Elizabeth Warren
Kamala Harris
Kirsten Gillibrand
Bernie Sanders
Eric Holder
Steve Bullock
Cory Booker
Mitch Landrieu
Sherrod Brown
Someone Else
View Result


Walker Stapleton Doesn’t Do His Job, Capital Construction Edition

Walker Stapleton.

A press release from Colorado House Democrats calls out Treasurer Walker Stapleton for delays in funding approved construction projects, with potential negative consequences both economic and on the health and safety of Colorado residents:

Today, the Democratic members of the Capital Development Committee (CDC) sent a letter to Colorado Treasurer Walker Stapleton expressing serious concerns about his office’s delay in launching funding for capital construction needs under SB 17-267 and the impact that the delays would have on health and safety across the state.

At a meeting of the CDC last month, nonpartisan staff notified the committee that the Certificates of Participation (COPs) that will launch hundreds of millions of dollars in funding for capital construction and transportation would not to be issued at the start of the fiscal year as originally planned, but would be delayed until a date uncertain.

The letter highlights the impact of these delays on pressing needs around the state, including likely safety risks and significant escalation in costs to the taxpayers, and reiterates a call on Treasurer Stapleton to come before the CDC at the next meeting to respond to questions in person. The full committee had previously sent a letter requesting Treasurer Stapleton’s presence, but the committee agenda released yesterday showed that he did not plan to attend himself and would instead be represented by the Deputy Treasurer.

Here’s the full letter from Democrats on the Capital Development Committee to Stapleton. There’s been no real explanation for this delay offered that we’ve seen, but the most obvious explanation is that Stapleton is too busy running for governor to address these tasks related his current job as Treasurer. It’s the same assumption one could reasonably make for Stapleton’s mismanagement of the Great Colorado Payback program or his absentee oversight of the Public Employees Retirement Association (PERA).

Which leads to the next logical question–why Stapleton would deserve a promotion when his current job is, you know, such a hardship.

So Long, Bruce Ben$on

CU President Bruce Ben$on.

We would be remiss if we failed to note yesterday’s announcement that University of Colorado President Bruce Benson, a former Republican candidate for governor and top-tier GOP financier/kingmaker for many years, will retire at the end of the 2018-19 academic year. Denver7 reports:

Benson, 80, has served as president of the university system since March 2008. A CU graduate himself, Benson’s tenure as president was the longest at the university in decades. He is the former chairman of the state Republican party and unsuccessfully ran for governor in 1994…

In a statement Wednesday, Benson said he made the announcement this week so the board of regents can have enough time to find his successor.

“It has been my honor and privilege to serve as president of the University of Colorado for the past decade,” Benson said in a statement.

In the statement, he said the university has a “bright future” ahead of it and praised the CU system’s four campuses, students, alumni, employees and his wife, Marcy. He also touted the system’s contributions to the state economy and health care systems, and its work with state lawmakers to pass higher education changes.

Appointed under Democratic Gov. Bill Ritter on a party-line vote of the Board of Regents, Benson earned credit from lawmakers and administration of the state’s flagship university for stabilizing the school’s shaky finances–a considerable feat of both philanthropy and statecraft given Colorado’s notoriously stingy budgeting that frequently left higher education to fend for itself over the past two decades.

In terms of the university’s reputation for academic leadership, however, that has suffered considerably under Benson’s political agenda to impose greater “ideological diversity” on campus. Benson and the conservative members of the CU Board of Regents have made “conservative affirmative action” a central plank in their agenda, and the results haven’t been pretty–from the “visiting scholar in conservative thought” who insulted LGBTQ people and to the PR debacle of a Republican presidential debate in October 2016 before a mostly empty stadium while protests raged outside. And today, the conservative majority on the Board of Regents remains as focused as ever on this highly questionable objective:

During their annual summer retreat in Tabernash, several of the Republican regents gave impassioned speeches about the need to prioritize encouraging diversity of political thought and measuring how each campus does so. Some said increased support for conservative perspective programs was a critical issue that would also help the university raise money.

As much as the shiny new buildings on the University of Colorado’s four campuses, Benson’s political quest to shoehorn more “conservative thought” into the academic programs of the university is a major and controversial part of Benson’s legacy. If you believe, as Benson and the GOP majority on the Board of Regents does, that conservatives need affirmative action to be better represented among university faculty, you’ll love what he’s done. If you believe that scholarship should not be tainted by political trends at all, in either direction, ever, you’re in agreement with the overwhelming majority of actual scholars–as opposed to politician university presidents of elected board members.

The reality is, Benson’s campaign for “ideological diversity” on the CU campuses, backed by the Republican majority on the Board of Regents has become a grave threat to the integrity of the University of Colorado’s scholarship. While it’s maybe not as important as choosing a Supreme Court Justice, Benson’s successor next summer needs to be part of the debate over who will be Colorado’s next governor–not to mention the three Regent seats up for election in 2018.

Thursday Open Thread

“Honesty is the fastest way to prevent a mistake from turning into a failure.”

–James Altucher

White House Scrambles to Explain Trump on Russia

President Trump on Wednesday responded to questions from reporters about his disastrous Helsinki summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin — a response that has the White House scrambling to explain what the Big Orange Guy really meant to say.

As the Washington Post reports:

At a White House press briefing, Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that President Trump was saying “no” earlier Wednesday to whether he would take further questions from reporters.

“The president said, ‘Thank you very much,’ and was saying ‘no’ to answering questions,” Sanders said. “The president and his administration are working very hard to make sure that Russia is unable to meddle as they have done in the past.”

Earlier Wednesday, Trump said, “Thank you very much, no,” in response to a question from a reporter about whether Russia is still targeting the United States. He also asserted no president has been tougher on Russia than him.

At least you’re not the White House Press Secretary.

Rep. Tim Leonard Compares Women’s Rights Marchers to Nazis

Rep. Tim Leonard (R-Evergreen) shown here wearing jailhouse orange.

As Marianne Goodland reports for the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman, State Rep. Tim Leonard (R-Evergreen) is again making an ass of himself:

Republican state Rep. Tim Leonard of Evergreen is under fire for a Facebook post in which he compared women marchers to Hitler’s brownshirts, the Nazi militia members who began the campaigns of violence against Jews in pre-World War II Germany.

Leonard has two Facebook pages, one for his personal life and another for his political office and campaign. The Facebook page generating controversy is on the page that he uses to communicate with House constituents and supporters.

The post refers to a Washington Times article that poked fun at the Women’s March, which sent out a press release after President Donald Trump announced his pick for the latest U.S. Supreme Court vacancy. The press release said “Women’s March opposes XX,” leaving out the name of Judge Brett Kavanaugh.

Screenshot from Tim Leonard’s Facebook page.

Here’s what Leonard wrote, word-for-word:

I usually like to avoid national politics, but the insanity and incoherency of the “Women’s March” radicals has to be pitied. They are so angry, they cannot even think straight. They could care less who the Supreme Court nominee is, they resist everything everywhere all the time from this President. Who can even take them seriously? They have nothing to offer to any logical discussion of ideas. They are in the political arena just to cause chaos — like Hitler’s Brownshirts. [Pols emphasis]

Of course, the guy comparing women’s rights activists to Hitler’s Brownshirts is notorious for wearing his own unique colors. Leonard holds the distinction of being the only sitting lawmaker in at least 40 years in Colorado to serve time in jail while holding elected office.

Democrat Lisa Cutter is running against Leonard in HD-25.

Sorry Not Sorry: Trump Praises Trump for Helsinki

UPDATE: Speaking at a Cabinet meeting today, President Trump says “there has never been a President as tough on Russia as I have been.”

Yes, this really happened.

On Monday, President Trump orchestrated one of the biggest international relations disasters in the history of the United States. On Tuesday, Trump returned to the White House and offered a half-assed explanation for his relentless public defense of Russian President Vladimir Putin that was based on the premise that he mistakenly forgot to use an apostrophe in one of his comments.

Today Trump completed the circle by “walking back his walk-back,” as Politico aptly explained:

President Donald Trump on Wednesday returned to a defiant posture, insisting his deeply controversial meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin will prove to be a great success “in the long run” and complaining that his critics are suffering from “Trump Derangement Syndrome.”

One day after issuing a rare mea culpa — in which Trump claimed he meant to say there’s no reason to believe it “wouldn’t” have been Russia that meddled in the U.S. election — Trump appeared to be walking back his walk-back…

…Those who have been critical of him, the president said, are “haters” upset that he has a warm relationship with Putin, a former KGB agent who the U.S. intelligence community has concluded with “high confidence” ordered the 2016 cyberattacks targeting the U.S. election process…

…Trump’s tweets capped a whirlwind few days in which Trump found himself perplexed by the severe blowback to his remarks in Helsinki.

If none of this makes sense to you, according to Trump, it may be that you just aren’t smart enough to understand:

Also, smart people spell “Colusion” with only one ‘L.’