Congressman Ken Buck is definitely a Republican. Beyond that, it’s impossible to tell what Buck believes about anything at any given time. Few politicians twist themselves into pretzel shapes as often as the five-term representative from congressional district four, which is how he earned the term “Buckpedaling” (HERE, HERE, and HERE for just a few examples).
As we noted last week, Buck has again been all over the road on the issue of (attempting) to impeach President Biden for crimes that Republicans have yet to figure out. Buck spent most of the August recess appearing as a guest on every national news outlet that would take his calls, where he regularly discussed his belief that it was a terrible idea for Republicans to be trying to impeach Biden when a) Republicans haven’t found any proof of anything despite more than three years of looking, and b) There are much more pressing issues facing Congress (like a looming government shutdown).
True to his namesake phrase, he Buckpedaled as soon as he returned to Washington D.C., telling POLITICO that he was totally on board with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s decision to instruct House Republicans to more forward with their Biden impeachment investigations.
“I think it’s a good move. We have to focus on spending, we have to make sure the government doesn’t shut down. We have to get our job done. And I think taking this off the table and not having a distraction is a good move.”
— Rep. Ken Buck on impeachment investigations into President Biden (Sept. 12, 2023)
That same day, Buck showed up for an interview on MSNBC, in which he explained to Andrea Mitchell that he had changed his mind but maybe hadn’t changed his mind:
MITCHELL: You have said as recently — to my colleague, Jen Psaki — I think on Sunday, that you did not think this was a good idea, that you did not think it was warranted. What do you think today?
BUCK: What I wanted to do was look at the evidence. I said I’ll go where the evidence takes me. And I still want to look at the evidence. I’m going to get a briefing later in the week on what evidence links [Joe Biden] to Hunter Biden’s activities. I haven’t seen that link yet, and so I’m reluctant to agree with Speaker McCarthy.
State Republican Party Chairman Dave Williams contemplating some other terrible idea.
Over the last couple of months, we have probably spent more time in this space discussing the Colorado Libertarian Party (LPCO) than we have over the course of the entire previous decade. Third parties in Colorado rarely take on much relevance because of their fairly small memberships and overall lack of organization; in fact, most of our discussions about third parties in Colorado are because of some relation to the Colorado Republican Party.
We’re discussing a third party again today because of the bizarre “alliance” that State Republican Party Chairman Dave Williams made with the LPCO earlier in the summer. The stated goal of this alliance was to prevent a Libertarian candidate from running in battleground districts because of the concern that a 2022 Libertarian challenger might have siphoned enough votes away from the Republican to ensure a CO-08 victory for Democrat Yadira Caraveo. The LPCO agreed to withhold support for a Libertarian candidate in 2024 should Republicans sign a wacky pledge promising to endorse a bunch of bizarre Libertarian positions. To the great joy of the LPCO, Williams began sending the Libertarian pledge — from a Colorado GOP email address — to all announced Republican candidates.
As far as we can tell, no Republican candidate has agreed to sign the LPCO pledge — including the GOP candidates running in the two biggest races of 2024 (CO-03 and CO-08). The pledge made even less sense in CO-03, given that there was already a Libertarian candidate in the race (Mark Ellworth, Jr); nevertheless, incumbent Rep. Lauren Boebert’s (R-ifle) refusal to sign the pledge has drawn the ire of the LPCO and added a second Libertarian candidate to the field of candidates.
A Libertarian challenger, James Wiley (@Redddevil89), has emerged and will seek the Party’s nomination for Congressional District 3 following @laurenboebert‘s failure to sign The Libertarian Party of Colorado’s (LPCO) Liberty Candidate Pledge.
Artist rendering of James Wiley, the new Libertarian challenger in CO-03.
There is a whole thread attached to that Tweet/X above detailing the decision to run (another) Libertarian candidate against Boebert, whose name is also regularly misspelled by the LPCO:
The Pledge, which simply commits the COGOP candidates to abide by the US Constitution and the principles of limited government, was a bridge too far for the Congresswoman. Considering Congresswoman Boebart won reelection by a razor thin margin, a Libertarian challenger…surely ends Boebart’s hopes for reelection.
And who is this brave challenger? Some dude named James Wiley, whose website is called — we couldn’t have possibly made this up — “Wiley4Vengeance.com“.
We don’t know much about Wiley — including what he looks like — because there is very little information about him online. There isn’t a photo or a bio on his website, but the LPCO does link to this amazeballs letter from Wiley:
The Libertarian Party of Colorado entered a Pact with the Colorado Republicans to not challenge their candidates so long as they would pledge to abide by Libertarian Principles. Since then, Lauren Boebert, aka Beetlejuice, has publicly denounced our pledge and defamed the principles we cherish as unworthy. This insult to who I am as a Libertarian compels me to eagerly fulfill the duties invoked by the Libertarian Pact and challenge her in her district which she so nearly lost by only 542 votes. 542 votes are not enough to stop me from being the cause of her defeat. [Pols emphasis]
In truth, I will be elected by the voters of CD-3 as their Libertarian representative to Congress because the land of our district is filled with Sovereign American People whose rights have suffered immeasurable damage by state actors. CD-3 needs activist leaders prepared and willing to demolish the federal government. These damages began to accumulate 247 years ago in the year 1776 and have now reached an abhorrent scale of violation too grand for a free People to submissively bear. An entire generation of elected officials will be replaced by radical American idealists prepared to reset and restore our federal governance to its most primitive and most powerless state of origin.
[Pols note: Boebert won re-election in 2022 by 546 votes, but fact-checking is for people who hate liberty.]
In short, Wiley is running for Congress because Boebert wouldn’t sign the LPCO pledge and because he wants to completely dismantle the federal government. We’re not sure that a Libertarian candidate would actually make the difference between victory and defeat for Boebert in 2024, but we’re very comfortable in predicting that James Wiley has no chance whatsoever at winning this race.
Regardless, that “alliance” concocted by GOP Chair Dave Williams seems to be backfiring. The “pledge” has succeeded mainly in handing the LPCO a specific reason to challenge a Republican incumbent such as Boebert — and it has made Libertarian candidate announcements more newsworthy than they have ever been in Colorado.
This wouldn’t be the first time that a Republican Party dalliance with a third party went awry. In 2010, the American Constitution Party (ACP) became a big topic when former Republican Tom Tancredoran for Governor under the ACP banner. Colorado Republicans pushed Tancredo to run as the ACP candidate because they were worried that little-known Dan Maes — the actual Republican Party nominee for Governor — would have no chance against Democrat John Hickenlooper. Then-Republican Party Chairman Dick Wadhams even announced that Maes would not be supported by the Colorado GOP. Hickenlooper won that election easily, but playing footsie with the ACP nearly cost the Colorado Republican Party its “major party status” when Maes came dangerously close to dropping below 10% of the statewide vote (Maes finished with 11%).
On Friday evening, Colorado’s perpetually embattled GOP Rep. Lauren Boebertissued an apology for getting caught vaping inside Denver’s Buell Theater after days of denials, along with other unspecified ways in which Boebert said she “fell short” of her values a week ago resulting in Boebert and her companion being kicked out of the performance of the new Beetlejuice musical. Security camera footage released Thursday via 9NEWS not only proved Boebert was lying about vaping, but also revealed the full shocking extent of Boebert’s behavior both during the performance and while being escorted out–none of which was directly addressed in Boebert’s apology.
As The Hill reports via Denver’s FOX 31, yesterday Boebert appeared on the right-wing pseudonews channel One America News, where she not only didn’t restate her apology but appeared to in large part take it back:
Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) pushed back on media accounts of her being kicked out of a Denver theater production of “Beetlejuice” last week over bad behavior, saying that some accounts were exaggerated and untrue. [Pols emphasis]
“I was a little too eccentric. I’m very known for having an animated personality, maybe overtly animated personality. I was laughing, I was singing, having a fantastic time,” Boebert said in an OAN interview Sunday. “Was told to kinda settle it down a little bit, which I did, but then my next flip up was taking a picture.”
Rep. Lauren Boebert berates security at the Buell Theater.
Boebert told OAN that she is “on the edge of a lot of things,” which is a statement we’ll let readers analyze for themselves. More importantly, when it comes to Boebert’s threats to staff and general hostility while being escorted out of the theater, Boebert is back to full denial after trying to garner sympathy all weekend for her supposed contrition:
Boebert vehemently denied those claims.
“There’s reports saying I was arguing, threatening to call the Denver mayor — I don’t know why I would ever call the Denver mayor, I think he would have tried to lock me up,” she said Sunday.
While we agree it’s ridiculous to expect Denver’s Democratic mayor to retaliate on Boebert’s behalf against Denver Center for the Performing Arts employees doing their jobs, we also have no reason to doubt those employees’ truthfulness–especially compared to Boebert, who got caught red-handed lying and was forced to make a strained apology that absolutely no one believes (or for that matter, believes she even herself wrote). The video of Boebert’s inappropriate behavior of all kinds, from vaping to flash photography to what could be argued was criminal public indecency, is damning beyond the scope of anything Boebert apologized for–and that’s before she reverted to denial.
Rep. Lauren Boebert in promotional materials for the Texas Youth Summit.
Unfortunately for Boebert, it appears that other conservatives are making their own judgments. Last week as the #BeetleBert story was developing, the Texas Youth Summit announced Boebert as a late addition to their roster of speakers. In the last 24 hours, as MTN reports, Boebert got scrubbed:
The Texas Youth Summit has scrubbed spunky Republican Representative Lauren Boebert from their youth oriented event.
The group, founded by failed Republican House candidate Christian Collins, announced the addition of Boebert after the Colorado congresswoman was kicked out Buell Theatre in Denver for disruptive behavior which including vaping, flash photography, and exchanges of fondling between her and her date.
The latest roster of speakers no longer includes Rep. Boebert:
Though not related to Boebert’s official duties, this scandal has penetrated well beyond the confines of political news audiences, morphing into a pop culture story carried by nonpolitical outlets like TMZ where it’s been the most popular story for two days. The huge reach of this story beyond the political news silo makes it far more damaging to Boebert than the usual Politico scuttlebutt. In many cases it could be the first time casual observers have heard of Boebert, or maybe they dimly recall the parodies they saw on SNL.
Either way, #BeetleBert has a life of its own now. It may not be the way some wanted Lauren Boebert to go down, but it’s a public image catastrophe that Boebert could only have brought upon herself. Boebert is in absolutely no respect the victim here, having compounded an already bad situation by lying until the video came out. The precise method of self-destruction for politicians in a political death spiral is often unpredictable.
This week on the Get More Smarter Podcast, our 8th favorite member of Congress from Colorado is once again making headlines for all the wrong reasons — this time getting kicked out of a production of the musical version of the seminal 90’s movie, Beetlejuice; the madness continues in Congress under weak loser House Speaker Kevin McCarthy as the MAGA caucus continues to demand things, move the goalposts, investigate Joe Biden and try to shut down the government (hey didn’t they all campaign on crime and inflation? What the hell happened to that?); and our seventh favorite member of Congress from Colorado does a head spinning reversal after doing a Sunday show audition tour pretending to have integrity.
But that’s not all! Our guest this week is Micah Parkin, executive director of 350.org, who sits down to talk about a potential 2024 ballot initiative to fight climate change in Colorado.
Boebert and companion at the Buell Theater on September 10th.
Yesterday evening, as the Colorado Sun’sJesse Paulreports, Colorado’s most consistently controversial Rep. Lauren Boebert issued a rare apology for some of her behavior last Sunday at Denver’s Buell Theater, from which Boebert and her companion were ejected after repeatedly causing “disturbances” to other theatergoers.
“Whether it was the excitement of seeing a much-anticipated production or the natural anxiety of being in a new environment, I genuinely did not recall vaping that evening when I discussed the night’s events with my campaign team while confirming my enthusiasm for the musical,” [Pols emphasis] Boebert’s statement on Friday night said. “Regardless of my belief, it’s clear now that was not accurate. It was not my or my campaign’s intention to mislead, but we do understand the nature of how this looks. We know we will have to work to earn your trust back and it may not happen overnight, but we will do it.”
It’s an apology reminiscent of Ronald Reagan’s sort-of-sorry speech during the Iran-Contra Affair, which has been studied and mimicked by Republican comms folks ever since–‘in my heart I’m not a liar, but I can no longer deny that lies were told by me.’ The only possible legitimate explanation for Boebert not remembering repeatedly pulling a vape pen out of her purse and smoking it would be that she was far too inebriated to be out in public, and that of course raises its own set of problematic questions.
Here’s a Tweet that’s about to age very, very poorly.
So, there’s that. But while Boebert was drafting and issuing this apology yesterday afternoon focused solely on the indoor vaping, a whole new dimension of the scandal was coming into view–and reported today by multiple national news outlets. Rather than put our own spin on it up front, let’s get right to the roundup with the New York Daily News:
Colorado Congresswoman Lauren Boebert did a bit more than just vape before she was booted from a performance of “Beetlejuice the Musical” in Denver last weekend.
A new surveillance clip obtained by TMZ appears to show the Republican representative getting aggressively handsy with her date during the family-friendly performance, recommended for children ages 10 and up by the The Broadway League.
Security cameras caught Boebert’s male plus-one overtly fondling her breast, prompting her to dip her hand between his legs. The groping continues on for several minutes, with Boebert at one point grinning and squirming about in her seat before she places another hand below her partner’s belt.
Footage from the venue was released after the incident took place and showed Boebert vaping and blowing vapor into the air. Other footage shared across social media appeared to show Boebert and the male patron touching each other inappropriately during the show.
Boebert, a Republican representative for Colorado, and a male guest accompanying her were ejected from the musical on 10 September for vaping, recording video and disturbing other patrons during the Sunday performance. Video also showed them eagerly groping each other while in their seats…
The CCTV video also shows Boebert’s guest fondling her breasts after they had taken their seats for the musical performance. Boebert is also seen petting her guest’s crotch in the venue whose patrons often include children and their families. [Pols emphasis]
Another video appears to show Boebert and her male companion fondling each other sexually during the show.
Boebert did not directly address the second video in her Friday apology. She did mention her vaping but claimed that she had previously denied it only because she “did not recall” having done so.
It’s even harder to believe that Boebert doesn’t remember the…interactions with her date during the performance than it is to believe she doesn’t remember repeatedly using her vape pen. The timing of Boebert’s apology Friday evening suggests that Boebert may have been trying to forestall the blowback from this new development by issuing an apology focused solely on the vaping.
Legally, what we saw in this latest video (which you can watch here having been appropriately warned, or after the jump) is at least as troubling as violating Colorado’s Indoor Clean Air Act by vaping in a public theater. Colorado’s public indecency statute states clearly that “lewd fondling or caress of the body of another person” in a public place is a crime. It does not require prudish sensibilities to watch this video and reasonably conclude that their behavior is totally inappropriate in a public theater where children are present.
This is not a moral judgment. These are matters of law, and unless Republicans want to change Colorado’s public indecency statute, the behavior that Boebert engaged in last Sunday has no lawful defense that we can see. Is it ironic that a politician who grandstands about “protecting kids” from supposedly immoral influences like drag shows engaged in a little public indecency of her own?
Yes. But it’s entirely consistent with the story of Boebert’s consummately hypocritical American life.
When House Speaker Kevin McCarthy says, “Say hello to my little friend,” he’s not talking about Lauren Boebert.
House Republicans left town on Thursday after a week filled with talk of impeachment investigations into President Biden; battles over budget deals; and increasing chatter about a challenge for the gavel of House Speaker Kevin McCarthy.
House lawmakers left town Thursday after a dramatic three-day workweek that saw them launch a divisive impeachment inquiry and calls for the removal of Speaker Kevin McCarthy from his position, as they made little movement toward averting a government shutdown.
Republicans also weren’t able to move forward a traditionally noncontroversial defense spending bill, stymied by deep divisions in the party despite a shared goal of approving 12 individual appropriations bills.
The chaotic week brought into sharp focus the deepening divide in McCarthy’s fractious conference. With a dwindling timeline to keep the government open beyond Sept. 30, McCarthy (R-Calif.) had hoped to gather support for a short-term funding solution that would allow Republicans more time to pass long-term funding bills. But hard-right lawmakers, angry over what they say is a lack of information on top-line budget numbers, blocked a procedural vote that halted any movement on appropriations bills.
Earlier in the week, the House “Freedom Caucus” held a press conference in which they demanded significant spending cuts — beyond what a bipartisan group of lawmakers agreed to in May in order to raise the debt ceiling and avoid a catastrophic government debt default. Hardliners in the GOP caucus are putting McCarthy in an impossible position, threatening to withhold their support for a continuing resolution to fund the government unless McCarthy makes good on some vague promises that the “Freedom Caucus” claims he made back in January.
There have been increasing threats over a potential “motion to vacate the chair,” in which Republicans might try to oust McCarthy as Speaker if he doesn’t do what the hardliners demand. On Thursday, the rumormongering and backbiting finally caused McCarthy to snap:
Frustrations came to head in an explosive Thursday morning meeting, where McCarthy challenged his detractors to move or file “a f—ing motion” to remove him from his seat, according to several lawmakers and aides.
“You guys think I’m scared of a motion to vacate. Go f—ing ahead and do it. I’m not scared,” McCarthy told the House GOP conference in the closed-door meeting, according to a lawmaker in attendance who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the private remarks. A motion to vacate would kick off the process that could remove McCarthy from the speakership. [Pols emphasis]
As CNN reports, Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz — who will be in Colorado next Saturday for the La Plata County Republican Party’s “Lincoln Dinner” — has been one of the loudest voices threatening an attempt to oust McCarthy and fired back on Thursday with his own expletives.
“How about just move the f***ing spending bills?”
— Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz in response to House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (CNN, 9/14/23)
Um, excuse me…I think you’re all being unreasonable…
While Gaetz is obviously not one of the GOP voices calling for compromise, you’ll probably be surprised to find out who is on that list. Apparently Colorado Springs Republican Rep. Doug Lamborn is awake and speaking out.
While it’s unclear if anybody actually listens to Lamborn, the longtime Republican from CO-05 provided his perspective in an interview with Fox 31 News:
Congress has until the end of September to pass a funding measure in order to avoid a government shutdown. U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn called it “a 50-50 proposition.”
“Those that think they’re going to get something out of it (a shutdown), they’re going to be sadly mistaken,” the Republican said this week on “Colorado Point of View.”..
…Lamborn is Colorado’s only Republican lawmaker on Capitol Hill who is not a part of the House Freedom Caucus. He said it’s been difficult to negotiate, though, because “people keep moving the goalpost on you as you try to march down the field.”
Lamborn said despite the House Freedom Caucus saying they don’t want a government shutdown, the group will “achieve the things they say they don’t want because they’re not being very reasonable.” [Pols emphasis]
It would be bad for the country and the economy as a whole if there were a federal government shutdown. History also makes it clear that the party in power in the House — in this case Republicans — will take the blame for any disruption in government funding of services. Speaking to MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell earlier this week, Colorado Republican Rep. Ken Buck didn’t mince words in preparing for political disaster:
“They clearly hurt Republicans more than Democrats,” said Buck. “We will be blamed . We are in charge in the House, so if there is blame, it’s going to come our way, and it’s going to come our way right before a Presidential Election year.”
The House “Freedom Caucus” isn’t backing down from their demands and may escalate things if one of the group’s members calls for a motion to vacate the chair and replace McCarthy. It’s a no-win situation that Republicans have forced upon themselves — a situation that is only going to get worse as both sides dig in deeper.
You’ll laugh! You’ll cheer! You’ll engage in all sorts of inappropriate behavior!
We’ve written about the #Beetlebert scandal as it has unfolded this week, including the latest video evidence that Rep. Lauren Boebert’sspokespeople were flat-out lying when they denied allegations that Boebert was vaping in the theater during a performance in Denver of the popular Beetlejuice musical. It’s important now to take a step back from the coverage of Boebert’s latest scandal – and there has been a LOT of coverage worldwide – to consider exactly how and why this incident might be more harmful to Boebert’s political future than any of her antics that have come before.
We know from polling data that Boebert’s constituents in the third congressional district largely view her as a politician in the “performative obstruction” mold who is more concerned about social media and the approval of MAGA Republicans (and small donors) than she is with the voters in CO-03. It is remarkable that Boebert nearly lost her seat in 2022 despite representing a district that statistically should give her a roughly 9-point advantage over a Democrat. Yet for all her faults, Boebert is still a Republican incumbent in a Republican-leaning district.
For example, calling for the impeachment of President Biden for reasons she can’t really explain may seem absurd to a sizable percentage of the population, but there are plenty of MAGA nuts – local and national – who eat this stuff up. Boebert doesn’t try to be an effective lawmaker; she exists to “own the libs,” which is a role she embraces wholeheartedly that provides her with a fairly loyal base of supporters and campaign cash.
So why is #Beetlebert different? The lies are very much a problem, as we discussed earlier, but anyone who follows Boebert is familiar with her penchant for taking credit for things she opposed or just making up stories about migrants receiving thousands of dollars in handouts from the federal government. Boebert has plenty of supporters who share her opinions on certain issues and don’t care a whit that she lies about the details.
No, #Beetlebert might well mark the beginning of the end of Lauren Boebert’s career in Congress precisely because it has nothing to do with politics…
The story of far-right GOP Rep. Lauren Boebert’sejection from Denver’s Buell Theater Sunday night after causing a disturbance during the performance of the new Beetlejuice musical took a damaging turn yesterday, after new video surfaced conclusively disproving Boebert’s contention that she was not vaping during the performance before she was booted out. NBC News:
Surveillance video captured during the “Beetlejuice” musical in Denver on Sunday appears to show Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., vaping inside the theater, which contradicts her aide’s claim that the smoke was emitted from fog machines.
The video, obtained by NBC’s Denver affiliate, shows Boebert sitting in the theater next to a man she was with as people around her were still getting seated. It then shows her raise one of her hands to her face, and then a puff of smoke comes out of her mouth toward the person in front of her.
The lights seem to be lowered in the theater, and the woman sitting behind Boebert leaned in to speak to her. The Denver Post said the woman was pregnant and asked that Boebert stop vaping, which the congresswoman refused to do.
New security footage released by 9NEWS yesterday appears to fully corroborate the account of Boebert’s behavior reported by Denver Post opinion editor Megan Schrader, including Boebert obviously making use of a vaping device while seated in the theater, exhaling in the direction of other attendees, being confronted by at least one other patron, and Boebert continuing to engage in disruptive behavior right up to the moment she and her companion were escorted out of the theater.
This latest video totally undercuts Boebert’s spox Drew Sexton, whose denials were reported by the Pueblo Chieftain and everybody else in the country, and Sexton can’t take back now:
Boebert’s campaign manager, Drew Sexton, told the Chieftain Boebert was not vaping during the performance. [Pols emphasis]
Sexton said in a written statement that Boebert “appreciates” the “strict enforcement” of the ban on photography “and only wishes the Biden Administration could uphold our border laws as thoroughly and vigorously.”
As for the vaping accusations, Sexton told POLITICO that it was a “misunderstanding,” as the venue’s site said heavy fog machines and electronic cigarettes were used during the play. [Pols emphasis]
Proof that Boebert was indeed vaping during the performance, in addition to the new footage of Boebert interacting with neighbors and obviously acting out in comparison to those seated around her, should eliminate any last vestige of sympathy. Boebert’s spokesman is in a terrible position now, having straight-up lied to every news outlet in the country covering this story. Boebert’s arrogant indifference when confronted with her obviously inappropriate behavior by a pregnant neighbor, her castigation of theater staff as they escorted Boebert out of the theater–all of this looks immeasurably worse now that Boebert’s original infractions justifying her removal from the theater have been confirmed.
It doesn’t matter what your politics are. This is about character, integrity, and honesty at a level that transcends political divides. Boebert’s proven willingness to tell lies on matters large and small makes it impossible to believe anything she says–and that’s among the segment of voters who ever trusted her to begin with. For everyone else, it’s just further confirmation of what they already have come to believe about Boebert.
Arrogant, entitled, deceitful, and unfit for any office.
Mitt Romney, seen here kissing the ring of Donald Trump in 2016 in a failed bid to become Secretary of State.
As the Washington Postreported yesterday, Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah, who came to be loved more by Democrats than his own party after turning vociferously against Donald Trump’s supervillain presidency, will not run for re-election in 2024:
Romney, elected to the Senate in 2018 with 63 percent of the vote, said he will serve out the duration of his term, which ends in January 2025. His decision not to seek reelection next year is likely to mark the end of a political career that has been notable, especially in the Trump era, for independence and a willingness to stand up against the base of his party that has shifted dramatically in Trump’s direction in the decade since Romney was its standard-bearer.
From the time Trump first became a candidate until today, Romney has been among his most outspoken critics, and nothing about his departure is expected to change that. In the weeks before Trump’s 2017 inauguration, Romney publicly acquiesced, expressing hope for the president-elect’s leadership while he was under consideration to be secretary of state. But his turnabout was short-lived…
Democrats who learned to revile Mitt Romney during his meanspirited run for president in 2012 against Barack Obama were forced to re-evaluate their blanket disdain as Romney became one of Trump’s most intractable and effective Republican critics. Romney’s vote to convict Trump during Trump’s first impeachment trial in 2020 was an incredibly gutsy move that helped affirm the legitimacy of the whole effort. In 2021, Romney was joined by six other Republicans voting to convict Trump for inciting the January 6th insurrection.
On a policy level, however, there’s much less praise to shower on Romney’s legacy. Romney was no help to Democrats in passing major priorities like the Inflation Reduction Act, and Romney voted for Amy Coney Barrett to solidify the new right-wing U.S. Supreme Court majority today wreaking havoc on decades of civil rights progress. Romney will always be remembered as the presidential candidate who in 2012 wrote off 47% of Americans “who are dependent on government,” flat-out saying “my job is not to worry about those people.”
Like former Rep. Liz Cheney, Mitt Romney’s sole redemption before the judgment of history is that he would not join Donald Trump’s cult of personality. This increasingly set Romney at odds with the prevalent direction of his party, and it’s likely that in Romney would have faced a spirited MAGA primary challenger–and based on that, Trump will of course claim victory. It’s ironic that Romney’s better angels only made themselves apparent after an even worse rich Republican ran for President.
For helping hold the line against Trump’s assault on American democracy, Mitt Romney gets his share of credit.
And whoever the voters of Utah elect next will probably make us miss Romney more.
The expanded Child Tax Credit was an enormous success.
It didn’t need to be this way.
As NPR reports, childhood poverty rates have skyrocketed over the last year:
The poverty rate in the U.S. has risen dramatically in the year since pandemic benefits ran out — and the child poverty rate has more than doubled, according to U.S. Census Bureau’s annual data on poverty, income and health insurance released Tuesday.
Just a year ago, child poverty hit a historic low of 5.2%. The latest figures put it at 12.4%, the same as the overall poverty rate. The surge happened as record inflation was rising and a lot of pandemic relief was running out, but Census officials and other experts say a key was the child tax credit…
…Parents overwhelmingly used that extra tax credit money on household essentials like rent and food, according to surveys. [Pols emphasis]
Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio has floated his own idea of tying work requirements to a smaller CTC, which also misses the point of this program in a very obvious manner: People who have good-paying jobs wouldn’t have the same need for the expanded CTC. The point is to help children, who aren’t working full-time jobs and have no control of the employment of their parents.
Before Biden came into office, the credit maxed out at $2,000 per child ($1,400 for kids in families too poor to owe income tax), was bundled with tax refunds, and specifically left out families with little or no earnings. About one-third of children were excluded from the full credit, including over half of Black and Hispanic children, as well as 70 percent of kids raised by single moms. That’s precisely the population in most need of financial help.
The Biden changes dramatically increased the credit to $3,000 per kid aged 6 and over, and $3,600 per kid under 6; paid it out monthly; and made the full credit available to all poor children, eliminating the previous “phase-in” rule that capped the credit at 15 percent of a family’s income.
President Biden publicly called for a renewal of the expanded CTC earlier this week. On Wednesday, Senator Bennet made another plea for support at a press conference:
We know without a shadow of a doubt that the expanded #ChildTaxCredit worked. But Congress turned its back on America’s kids by letting it expire. As a result, child poverty more than doubled last year.
This week, the Durango Herald’sReuben Schafirhad the honor of reporting on a protest by the La Plata County Republican Party against his own employer the Herald, and by extension himself. It’s an interesting journalistic predicament:
Approximately 20 protesters, including leaders of the La Plata County Republican Central Committee, convened outside The Durango Herald office Tuesday morning holding signs asking passersby to “boycott biased Herald.”
Party chairwoman Shelli Shaw, past chairman Dave Peters and secretary Hope Scheppelman were all present. Signs held by attendees called out staff of The Herald by name.
“Put the information out there and let people decide for themselves,” Shaw said. “It doesn’t need to be censored or decided by The Durango Herald or any other media outlet. It needs to be presented and let people have the ability to think for themselves.”
Reps. Matt Gaetz, Lauren Boebert, featured guests at the La Plata County GOP Lincoln Day Dinner.
As can be expected, Tuesday’s Republican protest against the Durango Herald was long on pseudo-patriotic incendiary rhetoric but terribly short on concrete allegations, citing a minor typographical error in one photo in a story about a recent visit to the area by Monument-based far-right whacktivistDarcy Shoening and an overall unsubstantiated sense of “bias” against conservatives in the Herald’s reporting. La Plata County GOP chairwoman Shelli Shaw is herself a well-known source of far-right verbal diarrhea, but from what we can see the Herald has actually been kinder to her than other outlets who have reported her immoderate views in much greater detail. Apparently the Herald also enforces minimal standards for their letters to the editor section:
Opinion Editor Ann Marie Swan was not available for comment before deadline, but a recent editorial calling for letter submissions said that some letters “won’t see the light of day in our pages because they’re inappropriate or don’t meet basic criteria,” and highlighted that “the most common reason being letter writers’ opinions must be based in fact.” [Pols emphasis]
Rather than meet the exceedingly low bar that submissions be based in reality, La Plata County Republicans served notice to the Herald that they are no longer welcome at party events.
The GOP executive committee also delivered a letter to The Herald stating that its members would only communicate with the newspaper “via digital means.” The letter also said The Herald’s journalists were no longer welcome at the party’s events, including the upcoming Lincoln Day Dinner.
Banishing the Herald from the La Plata GOP’s upcoming Lincoln Day Dinner is particularly notable due to the headline speakers slated to attend, Reps. Matt “Giggity” Gaetz of Florabama and Gaetz’s regular traveling companion Lauren Boebert. The event, scheduled for a week from Saturday, lands right in the thick of what’s expected to be Gaetz and Boebert’s drive to either impeach Joe Biden or remove Speaker Kevin McCarthy. There’s a good chance that their remarks will have news value well beyond the confines of La Plata County, so hopefully the party’s exclusion of the Herald will motivate other outlets to make the trip to Durango to cover the event (we recommend staying at the Strater Hotel).
It’s the age-old story: all criticism of the media is not created equal. Democrats get upset when the media doesn’t report the facts, and Republicans get upset when the media does report the facts. Journalists should be receptive to critique of the former, but proud of the howling from Republicans over the latter.
Hapless date comforting an usher being verbally abused by Rep. Lauren Boebert.
UPDATE #2: The Denver Post’sMegan Schradertracked down one of the theatergoers affected by Rep. Lauren Boebert’s bad behavior leading to Boebert getting escorted out of the Buell Theater in Denver Sunday night. You’ve got to read this to believe it:
“These people in front of us were outrageous. I’ve never seen anyone act like that before,” the woman, who lives in Denver and is in her 30s, said. It wasn’t until later during the play that someone informed her that the misbehaving theatergoer was, in fact, Boebert, a member of Congress.
The woman says Boebert took multiple long videos during the first half of the performance. When she asked Boebert to stop vaping, the congresswoman simply said “no,” the woman said. [Pols emphasis] Boebert was also kissing the man she was with, and singing along loudly with her hands in the air, the woman said.
“At intermission, I asked, ‘Are there any other seats available? Can we sit somewhere else?’” the woman said. “The usher said, ‘You’re not the first complaint we had.’ ”
When the woman returned with her husband to their seats, she said Boebert called her a “sad and miserable person.”
At 2:33 in the surveillance video posted by 9NEWS below, you can see Rep. Boebert’s date attempting to comfort one of the ushers escorting Boebert out while Boebert berates them. The account of the woman interviewed by Megan Schrader also appears to feature this gentleman clumsily trying to make amends for Boebert’s rudeness just before they were booted from the venue:
“The guy she was with offered to buy me and my husband cocktails. I’m pregnant!” she said. [Pols emphasis]
We were closing in on something like pity for Boebert’s companion before we read this, though there’s an argument that after this date from hell the man has been punished enough. This story also corroborates initial reports about vaping in the theater, and who was doing it. Now that #BeetleBert is a global sensation, other witnesses are going to come forward to tell their stories.
UPDATE: When even indicted Trump attorney Jenna Ellis is dunking on you, you’re having a bad day:
Local news headlines this morning are dominated by coverage of an incident Sunday at Denver’s Buell Theater, in which a reportedly combative Rep. Lauren Boebert was escorted out of a performance of the new Beetlejuice musical adaptation by security after causing repeated “disturbances”–the details of which remain in dispute as of this writing. The Denver Post’sJohn Aguilarreported first yesterday afternoon:
U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert was escorted out of a Sunday night performance of the “Beetlejuice” musical in downtown Denver, accused by venue officials of vaping, singing, recording and “causing a disturbance” during the performance.
In an incident report shared with The Denver Post on Tuesday afternoon, officials with Denver Arts & Venues wrote that two patrons were asked to leave the city-owned Buell Theatre during the performance of the touring Broadway show. They previously were issued a warning during the intermission regarding behavior that prompted three complaints from other theatergoers, the report says.
Rep. Lauren Boebert berates security at the Buell Theater Sunday.
Ernest Luning of the Colorado Springs Gazette’s political blog recaps the incident report:
According to a Buell incident report, theater staff received three complaints that the two patrons had been “vaping, singing, causing a disturbance.” The two “were argumentative” and insisted they were responding to the performance the same as surrounding audience members after ushers told them that they “need to be respectful to their neighbors” and that they would be asked to leave if there were more complaints.
About five minutes into the second act, following the intermission, Buell staff received another complaint about Boebert and her companion, this time alleging they were “being loud” and using a recording device. When an usher asked to speak with them outside the theater, they refused to leave and repeated their refusal after being told they would be trespassing.
“I told them I would (be) going to get Denver Police. They said go get them,” the Buell staffer wrote in the incident report. [Pols emphasis]
As our readers know very well, Lauren Boebert is no stranger to being, as they say in the nightlife business, “86ed” from an establishment for bad behavior. In 2015, Boebert was handcuffed and detained at the Country Jam concert in Mesa County after Boebert confronted officers and allegedly “encouraged people arrested for underage drinking to break free.” Boebert then informed officers that she has “friends at Fox News” who would take journalistic revenge if they learned how Boebert was being treated. And of course, there was the incident involving Jayson Boebert whipping out his unnaturally large “thumb” in 2004 that got him banned from a local bowling alley.
Well folks, it appears that Boebert hasn’t gotten any better at handling these situations:
The report said after the two patrons were escorted out and reached the building’s vestibule, they resisted leaving and said “stuff like ‘do you know who I am,’ ‘I am on the board’ (and) ‘I will be contacting the mayor.’ ” [Pols emphasis]
Rep. Lauren Boebert twirls outside the Buell Theater after bring kicked out Sunday.
So first of all, the idea that Lauren Boebert has some kind of influence over Democratic Denver Mayor Mike Johnston with which to exact revenge on ushers at the Buell Theater is ludicrous. Like the Wicked Witch of the West in Munchkinland, Boebert has no power in the Mile High City. But her empty threats to use her position as a member of Congress to retaliate against employees who are just trying to do their jobs and ensure that everyone who buys a ridiculously overpriced ticket to see Beetlejuice has a good time are totally unacceptable. It’s not okay to “pull rank” in this situation any more than it is for a lawmaker stopped for a DUI.
Boebert’s staff reportedly denied the allegation that either she or her date were vaping in the theater, and claimed that they were not being any more disruptive than their neighbors. The only possible explanation in that event would be that Boebert was somehow singled out for mistreatment, and we don’t believe that for a minute. It’s much more believable, given Boebert’s long history of exactly this kind of bad behavior, that Boebert not only richly earned her early exit from the theater but also threatened to retaliate afterward against security invoking her status as a member of Congress.
As for the allegations of “vaping” or being otherwise intoxicated? One has to wonder how much inebriant it takes to twirl away carefree (above right) after being booted from a theater for making a scene. With that said, we weren’t there with a breathalyzer.
But from the State of the Union to Beetlejuice, the moral of the story sems to be that you can’t take Lauren Boebert anywhere. We’ve all known someone like Boebert in our lives, and (hopefully) you learned not to party with them without criminal charges of your own.
On this day in 1985, Super Mario Bros. was first released on the Nintendo Entertainment System in Japan. Let’s GetMore 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 an audio learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.
► Utah Senator Mitt Romney announced that he will not seek re-election in 2024. As The Washington Post reports:
Sen. Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential nominee in 2012 and the only member of his party to twice vote to convict former president Donald Trump in politically charged impeachment trials, announced Wednesday that he will not seek a second term in the Senate representing Utah, saying in an interview that it is time for a new generation to “step up” and “shape the world they’re going to live in.”
Romney, 76, said his decision not to run again was heavily influenced by his belief that a second term, which would take him into his 80s, probably would be less productive and less satisfying than the current term has been. He blamed that both on the disarray he sees among House Republicans and on his own lack of confidence in the leadership of President Biden and Trump.
Romney is one of the few rational Republican voices left in Congress. While it is a surprise that he is not seeking re-election, it’s hard to blame him; trying to work with this current generation of MAGA Republicans would be a nightmare.
Coincidentally, this news is all coming out on the same day that POLITICO published an in-depth story from “reporter” Olivia Beavers about how Boebert is trying to turn over a new leaf, or something. It’s possible that she smoked that new leaf at the Buell Theater in Denver on Sunday.
► House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has given Republicans the go-ahead to pursue impeachment investigations into President Biden…as soon as they figure out what to investigate. Colorado Public Radio tracked down some of Colorado’s notable elected officials for comment:
Rep. Lauren Boebert said the Oversight Committee has already produced evidence of impeachable conduct.
Still, none of the documents or transcripts released thus far have shown evidence of any concrete instances of corruption by Biden. [Pols emphasis]
That’s what many Colorado Democrats focused on in response to McCarthy’s announcement.
“There is no concrete evidence of any wrongdoing by President Biden. Even Congressional Republicans are questioning the merits of this nakedly partisan investigation,” said Democratic Rep. Diana DeGette…
…Democratic Rep. Jason Crow, who was an impeachment manager for Trump’s first impeachment, also criticized the move, especially the choice to open an inquiry without first allowing the House to vote on it.
“Democrats held a vote on both impeachment inquiries into President Trump because they were based on facts and evidence. House Republicans know their inquiry is a scam, so they won’t even hold a vote on it,” he said via X, formerly known as Twitter. “What a disgrace. Americans deserve better.” [Pols emphasis]
► While “impeachment” grabbed headlines early in the week, the bigger story in Congress is a looming government shutdown at the end of the month. A shutdown seems likely given the rhetoric from right-wing Republicans intent on proving some sort of point that would ignore the historical reality of the political consequences of such a move. As Colorado Newsline explains:
The most conservative Republicans in the U.S. House announced Tuesday they won’t support the short-term spending bill that’s needed to stop a partial government shutdown from beginning on Oct. 1.
Freedom Caucus Chair Scott Perry, a Pennsylvania Republican, said the group is not interested in a stopgap spending bill that “continues the policies and the spending of the Biden-Schumer-Pelosi era and we’re not going to vote for it.”…
…The GOP-controlled House passed one of its dozen annual government funding bills before going on a six-week break throughout August. The Senate began debate on a three-bill package Tuesday.
Senate Majority Leader Robert Rodriguez and Assistant Majority Leader Faith Winter.
Colorado Senate Democrats elected new leadership last week, elevating Sen. Robert Rodriguez to the role of Senate Majority Leader to replace Dominick Moreno, who resigned from the Senate to take a job with Denver Mayor Mike Johnston’s administration.
Rodriguez defeated Sen. Rachel Zenzinger for the role of Senate Majority Leader, which has apparently led to Zenzinger making some confounding accusations about the new Majority Leader and Senator Faith Winter, who was elected to serve as assistant majority leader. As The Colorado Sun reports today in its “Unaffiliated” newsletter:
Rodriguez was nominated for majority leader by Sen. Faith Winter, D-Westminster, who initially planned to run for the job. In turn, Rodriguez nominated Winter for assistant majority leader.
It sure looked like a deal had been reached between the two to make that happen. Sen. Rhonda Fields, D-Aurora, basically said as much during her remarks at Friday’s leadership election. And other members of the Senate Democratic caucus said the Rodriguez-Winter leadership team was the product of political maneuvering. [Pols emphasis]
Rodriguez, responding to a question from The Sun, denied that there was a deal in which Winter’s supporters agreed to back Rodriguez in exchange for Rodriguez backing Winter. But The Colorado Sun obtained a voicemail from Winter to Sen. Rachel Zenzinger, an Arvada Democrat who was also running for majority leader, in which Winter said she and Rodriguez were “aligning.”
“I didn’t want you to find out from other folks, but Robert and I are aligning,” Winter said in the voicemail. “We’re going to support him for majority leader. He’s going to support me for assistant majority leader.”
First off, we’re not sure why Rodriguez bothered to deny that he and Winter had a deal in place to support each other for leadership positions. Not only is there nothing wrong with this, but it happens all the time. People in every profession engage in some sort of “political maneuvering” in their jobs, but politicking happens to be particularly prevalent in, well, politics.
Zenzinger apparently has some sour grapes related to the Rodriguez/Winter alliance and not being elected Senate Majority Leader herself, but what did she expect would happen? Did she think Senate Democrats would show up at their caucus meeting on Friday completely unprepared for the election?
Normally you don’t rise to a top political position unless you are skilled at politics, and it seems that Rodriguez and Winter created a savvy alliance that worked to the advantage of both members. That’s how this works. That’s how this has always worked.
Ken Buck, a member of the House Freedom Caucus who was previously skeptical of an impeachment inquiry, seems to have changed his mind after Speaker Kevin McCarthy moved to open the inquiry without a vote.
“I think it’s a good move. We have to focus on spending, we have to make sure the government doesn’t shut down. We have to get our job done. And I think taking this off the table and not having a distraction is a good move,” he said Tuesday.
It’s quite a climb-down for Ken Buck, who seems to have just proven that he too can be bullied back in line when it matters most. We think he’s trying to say that bypassing a vote and proceeding directly to a dead-ender impeachment inquiry is a win for keeping Congress on track, but nobody is going to appreciate the nuance.
In recent weeks, the growing breach between Colorado’s arch-conservative GOP Rep. Ken Buck and his contemporaries in the Freedom Caucus has become impossible for either side to ignore. After years of generally loyal if occasionally bumbling service to Republican leadership, Rep. Buck first broke from his hard-line colleagues back in December of 2020 when he belatedly accepted that Joe Biden was the legitimately-elected President of the United States. As the new House GOP majority in 2023 driven by Freedom Caucus demands turned toward vengeance on behalf of twice-impeached Donald Trump, Buck has refused to play along, blasting Speaker Kevin McCarthy’sappeasement of impeachment-demanding hardliners as “theater.” Buck even committed the cardinal sin of agreeing that the criminal charges in the Mar-a-Lago classified documents case in particular are very serious.
CNN’s political team is reporting today that in the wake of Buck’s vitriolic exchange of fire last week with Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene over January 6th “political prisoners,” the up-to-now private dissatisfaction with his far-right colleagues has gone fully public:
Conservative Rep. Ken Buck is just one of several House Republicans standing in the way of the right’s push to impeach President Joe Biden.
But his high-profile seat on the key House Judiciary Committee, recent outspoken interviews railing against the House GOP’s investigative efforts, and long track record of bucking his own party have put a target on his back in conservative circles.
Now, there is a serious effort underway to find a candidate to mount a primary challenge against Buck in his solidly red district in eastern Colorado, three GOP sources told CNN – the latest sign of tension as the House GOP grapples with internal divisions over everything from its agenda to former President Donald Trump…
“This is the same guy that wrote a book called ‘Drain the Swamp’, who is now arguing against an impeachment inquiry,” Greene told CNN. “I really don’t see how we can have a member on Judiciary that is flat out refusing to impeach. … It seems like, can he even be trusted to do his job at this point?”
Before we get to the topic of a potential primary challenge, there are a number of complicating factors that could make MTG’s threats against Buck toothless. For one thing, Rep. Greene was herself booted from the Freedom Caucus earlier this year after calling Colorado’s other conservative hard-liner Rep. Lauren Boebert a “little bitch” on the House floor, which sent MTG fleeing into the arms of Speaker McCarthy. Although McCarthy appears to have given in to the Freedom Caucus on a dead-ender impeachment inquiry, we don’t see any incentive for McCarthy to punish Buck for disagreeing. When this latest bout of tit-for-tat impeachment fever has run its course, Buck will be the moral victor–which as we’ll discuss in a moment may be all that matters.
As for a primary challenge against Buck in 2024?
Among the names of people being floated to potentially challenge Buck in a primary, according to several sources familiar: state Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg, who sources said thought about challenging Buck last cycle but ultimately did not, and state Rep. Richard Holtorf, a pro-Trump Republican who is currently minority whip in the Colorado general assembly.
It’s no secret that GOP state legislative lifer Jerry Sonnenberg has aspirations to run for Congress someday, but Sonnenberg simply does not have the clout or the infrastructure in place to mount a serious challenge to Buck on Buck’s home turf. Colorado has never been a MAGA stronghold where disloyalty to Trump is some kind of career-ending sin. Sonnenberg may well be waiting for the perennial rumors of Buck’s retirement to come true, but he’d be a fool to try to take Buck’s seat perforce. Rep. Richard Holtorf is nutty enough to be less predictable than Sonnenberg, but likewise would pose no real threat to Buck in a primary.
One of the biggest unanswered questions about Buck’s now-sustained pushback against the retributive agenda of his far-right colleagues is why Buck has focused almost all of his attention on blasting Rep. Greene, when every bit of the criticism Buck is leveling at Greene applies equally to Buck’s Colorado colleague Rep. Lauren Boebert if not more so. Boebert is at the tip of the spear with her bestie Rep. Matt Gaetz in demanding either impeachment or Speaker McCarthy’s head, in stark contrast to McCarthy’s fast friend MTG. Buck tearing into MTG while leaving Boebert untouched–or at least unnamed–could be interpreted as fear that bashing Boebert might rouse image-tarnishing resistance to Buck in CD-4.
Overall, the best assessment we can offer is that Buck is positioning himself for life after the House as a cable news talking head. Over the past few months, Buck has been a regular guest on CNN and more recently MSNBC, giving him a mouthpiece for many of these contrary positions that have enraged his conservative colleagues. Rumors of Buck’s imminent retirement have circulated in basically every election cycle since he was elected to Congress in 2014, and at some point Buck is going to oblige them.
If Buck sticks to upbraiding his fellow Republicans as a TV news talking head, he’ll do fine. If the on-air conversation progresses to any other issue, Buck might find his career on cable news–at least outlets on the reality-based side of Newsmax–to be rather short.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has given in to the crazies in the Republican caucus and agreed to move forward with an impeachment investigation into President Biden.
This impeachment effort will be much different than either of the impeachment investigations into former President Donald Trump in large part because it’s not actually clear what Biden might have done wrong to warrant such a significant undertaking. There were multiple credible whistleblowers and mounds of evidence against Trump in both of his impeachment trials; this impeachment effort seems to be more of an investigation in search of a problem.
McCarthy said Tuesday he is directing House committees to open an impeachment inquiry into President Biden, amid pressure from some hard-right members of the Republican caucus to do so.
The inquiry would center on whether Biden benefited from his son Hunter Biden’s business dealings, among other issues, McCarthy said.
“These are allegations of abuse of power, obstruction and corruption and warrant further investigation by the House of Representatives,” McCarthy told reporters Tuesday morning. “That’s why today I am directing our House committee to open a formal impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden.” [Pols emphasis]
McCarthy spoke for three minutes, did not take any questions and left the lectern shortly after making his remarks. McCarthy has previously said he would not launch an inquiry without a vote by the full house.
If you’re wondering how serious McCarthy is taking this impeachment effort, look no further than his brief comments this morning: “Allegations of abuse of power, obstruction and corruption” is such a nebulous statement that it could apply to just about anyone in Washington D.C.
Why, then, is McCarthy doing this? It’s simple, really: There are enough right-wing MAGA lunatics in his caucus that are demanding impeachment hearings — including (not)BFFs Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert — that McCarthy risks a challenge to his speakership if he doesn’t at least go through the motions of an investigation. As POLITICO explains:
It’s a huge win for conservatives, who have pressured the California Republican for months to move existing investigations into the Democratic president into a formal impeachment inquiry. Some members of McCarthy’s right flank have openly threatened to try to strip him of the House gavel if their demands weren’t met
Remember, back when McCarthy was waiting longer than anyone since before the Civil War to get enough votes to become House Speaker, one of the concessions he made was to change the rules so that any one Member of the House could call for a vote for a new Speaker. McCarthy apparently feels like he’ll lose his gavel if he doesn’t play along with a Biden impeachment investigation.
Side Note: This is the difference between being the Republican leader in the House of Representatives and directing the GOP caucus in the Senate. In order to keep his job as House Speaker, McCarthy had little choice but to give in to the lunatics demanding an impeachment hearing for President Biden — even if nobody is really sure why Biden should be impeached. In the Senate, Mitch McConnell only needed to prove that he was still a relatively-functional human being in order to maintain his job as Senate Minority Leader.
Can you impeach a laptop computer?
It is also unclear just how plausible an impeachment inquiry might be for McCarthy. Let’s go back to POLITICO:
So far, McCarthy doesn’t have 218 GOP votes needed to launch an impeachment inquiry. He and other top Republicans have tried to characterize such a step as strengthening their investigative power, rather than a concrete move toward attempting to boot the president from office — semantics that matter to centrist Republicans.
So this is just a “kinda impeachment”?
Colorado Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley) has been speaking out quite a bit lately on his opposition to an impeachment of President Biden. Nebraska Republican Rep. Don Bacon is also not on board, telling POLITICO:
“As of now I don’t support [an impeachment inquiry]. I think an inquiry should be based on evidence of a crime that points directly to President Biden, or if the President doesn’t cooperate by not providing documents. There’s clearly corruption with Hunter using his Dad’s name to earn tens of millions of dollars. But impeachment needs to be about the dad, not the son.” [Pols emphasis]
McCarthy can only afford to lose four Republican votes in his thin majority; Buck and Bacon drop that number to two. There are 18 other vulnerable “centrist” Republicans who are definitely nervous about this given that they represent districts that Biden won in 2020.
The other problem with McCarthy’s announcement is that it removes impeachment as a potential bargaining chip with the White House over a looming government shutdown. The impeachment stuff is making news today, but it won’t be the top story for long once it becomes obvious that McCarthy doesn’t have a way to convince House Republicans — particularly those in the “Freedom Caucus” — to avert a shutdown at the end of the month.
Scott Gessler, who was telling the “Big Lie” years before Trump made it cool.
As the legal campaign seeking accountability over the attempt by ex-President Donald Trump to overturn the 2020 presidential election has advanced to the criminal justice phase in the last few months, we’ve spent most of our time in this space discussing two lawyers with local ties involved in the plot who are now facing felony criminal charges in the state of Georgia–former University of Colorado Benson Center“conservative scholar” John Eastman, and Colorado Christian University’sJenna Ellis. Eastman and Ellis were both involved in the development of an admitted illegal strategy to delay the certification of Joe Biden’s victory in order to supplant the lawful electors with Trump cronies.
But as Colorado Newsline’sChase Woodruffreports today, another Colorado Republican attorney, infamous for his false claims about stolen elections years before Trump adopted casting doubt on elections as his strategy for holding on to power, is still on the payroll (and as far as we know, not in legal trouble himself) despite his own disastrous performance in 2020 trying to press Trump’s baseless claims of election fraud. Longtime readers know him as the “Honey Badger,” but after false claims of election fraud nearly tore apart American democracy, we no longer find him deserving of any term of endearment:
Republican attorney Scott Gessler, who is representing Trump in the suit brought last week by the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington on behalf of six Colorado voters, served one term as Colorado’s secretary of state from 2011 to 2015…
In an unsuccessful bid for chair of the Colorado Republican Party in 2021, Gessler echoed Trump’s false claims that the 2020 presidential election was stolen — claims that congressional and criminal investigations have described as part of a sweeping plot to overturn the election that culminated in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob.
During his term in office, Gessler was a vocal promoter of allegations of voter fraud, which elections experts and law enforcement agencies have consistently found is extremely rare, and which advocates criticize as a pretext for efforts to suppress legitimate votes. In the aftermath of the 2012 election, Gessler announced that he had referred 155 suspected cases of voter fraud to local prosecutors across Colorado. Only four people were charged, and prosecutors ultimately only secured a single conviction.
Former Secretary of State Scott Gessler’s thoroughly discredited campaign to prove that Colorado elections were being swung by tens of thousands of “illegal voters” went on for years in his office’s official capacity until finally collapsing in a heap after it became painfully obvious that nothing anywhere near what Gessler claimed was taking place. At the same time, Gessler’s brazen partisanship when it came to enforcing campaign finance laws weaponized the supposedly impartial Secretary of State’s office beyond the wildest aspirations of predecessors or successors.
By 2014, when Gessler decided to run for governor, his by-then discredited quest for “illegal voters” made him a pariah even in the Republican Party at that time. After several years in the wilderness fleecing half-baked recall campaigns, school board races, and other low-level shenanigans, in November of 2020 Gessler got the call to go to work for Trump. Representing the Trump campaign’s attempt to overturn the results in Nevada, the Nevada Independent reported how Gessler fared:
The much-touted evidence…failed to persuade Judge James Russell, who ultimately issued an order dismissing the case with prejudice, meaning the parties could not re-file a similar suit using the same claims…
A third expert provided by the campaign, Scott Gessler, was…questioned by Russell as he provided no exhibits or citations for his conclusions, and “based nearly all his opinions on a handful of affidavits that he took no steps to corroborate through independent investigation.”
The Nevada Supreme Court opinion tossing Trump’s suit in that state singled Gessler out for ridicule:
Contestants offered Mr. Gessler to opine on the transition to and administration of mail voting. Mr. Gessler’s report lacked citations to facts and evidence that he used to come to his conclusions and did not include a single exhibit to support of any of his conclusions.
Indeed, at one point in Gessler testimony he appears to have blown the whole case with a single admission:
Contestants’ own expert witness, Mr. Gessler…testified that he has no personal knowledge that any voting fraud occurred in Nevada’s 2020 General Election. [Pols emphasis]
After failing so dismally to assert Trump’s claims of fraud in 2020, it’s anybody’s guess why Trump is still willing to employ Gessler in 2023 to defend him in the lawsuit seeking to bar Trump from the 2024 primary ballot in Colorado. We assume it must be because in Trump’s view even failure is less consequential than disloyalty, and unlike Jenna Ellis no one has forced Gessler to take back his false statements in defense of Trump. Though not on the same national stage, Gessler certainly has made many of the same false claims about the 2020 that got Jenna Ellis censured by Colorado’s attorney regulators.
If there’s one thing Gessler is an expert at, though, it’s getting paid. Despite Trump’s notoriously poor treatment of his lawyers, if anyone has an ironclad contract to make sure the checks arrive in a timely manner it’s Scott Gessler.
We hope so, anyway, because as Ellis and Eastman can attest, the cost of representing Trump is steeper than anyone imagined in 2020.