Who Will Be the Democratic Nominee for President in 2020?

Who fills this spot in 2020?

Since #SondlandSings is eating up most of the news coverage today, it’s easy to forget that there is another Democratic Presidential debate tonight in Atlanta, GA (or maybe it’s already over?)

You know what that means — it’s time again to ask the wise readers of Colorado Pols to predict the Democratic nominee for President in 2020. When we asked this question last month, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren dwarfed all other Democratic candidates.

As always, we want to know what you think will happen here — not what you want to happen or who you personally might support. If you had to place a bet — right now — on the outcome of the Democratic Primary, where would you put your money? Who do you predict will be the Democratic nominee for President in 2020?

Click after the jump to cast your completely un-scientific vote…

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But, But…Her Emails!?!

What is the password?

As The Daily Beast reports, former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley recently made it a lot harder for Republicans to continue harping on emails sent by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton:

North Korea had just tested an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of hitting Alaska, and the Trump administration was scrambling to react. But it seems Nikki Haley, Trump’s ambassador to the United Nations, had lost her password for classified communications.

That’s why on that fraught July 4, 2017, she was typing away on her BlackBerry 10 smartphone, sending “confidential” information over a system meant only for unclassified material.

Haley was in a rush as she headed to her office—“On my way in”—shooting emails back and forth with top aides who’d been with her since she was governor of South Carolina. She needed to make a statement, and they were drafting it for her. “Let’s clean this up,” she writes after looking at some of the copy. “Pretty this up for me,” she says.

The next day we discover what the problem is with her communications. “Can’t find my password for the high side,” she writes.

Haley was apparently sending classified information through an unsecured email system because she forgot her password to the secure account.

Let’s repeat that: Haley used an email system that was not secure because she couldn’t remember her password to the confidential account.

She might as well have just faxed someone a piece of paper with sharpie scribbles across the front.

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Sondland Explodes Trump Impeachment Defense

UPDATE #3: Amber Phillips of The Washington Post has the same takeaway from today’s hearing:

Gordon Sondland has been considered a figure who could crack the impeachment inquiry wide open. Not just because he was the witness directly talking to President Trump about Ukraine but also because of who he is: a Republican and Trump donor, a high-profile ambassador unanimously confirmed by the Republican Senate.

And despite his background as a Trump ally — the president last month called him “a very good guy and a great American” — in his opening statement Wednesday, Sondland stepped on nearly all of Republicans’ primary defenses for the president.

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UPDATE #2: President Trump delivers some (kinda) prepared remarks. Via CNN:

This is not a joke.

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UPDATE: Check out Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), the ranking Republican member on the House Intelligence Committee, sharing a concerned look with House Republican attorney Steve Castor:


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Ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland is testifying publicly today in the impeachment hearings against President Trump, and he’s slamming the door shut on Trump’s defense. Read all about it at The Washington Post, The New York Times, CNN, NBC News, Politico

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The Get More Smarter Podcast: The Sideshow Bob Defense

This week on The Get More Smarter Podcast, Congressmen Ken Buck (R-Greeley) and Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs) test out some odd impeachment defense strategies; Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) celebrates two years without a town hall event; Colorado Republicans promote a pointless new ballot measure; and the “fairy godmother” of the #resistance, Jessica Zender, plays America’s worst favorite game show, “Duke or Donald.”

The Get More Smarter Podcast is available on Apple Podcasts, Buzzcloud, Spotify, and Overcast. You can also follow the Podcast on Twitter @MoreSmarterShow. If you have a question or comment, hit us up at AngryRants@GetMoreSmarter.com.

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Dems Commemorate Two Years, Zero Cory Gardner Town Halls

It’s an anniversary Sen. Cory Gardner would be happy for Colorado voters to forget:

Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

Tomorrow, November 20th marks the second anniversary of Cory Gardner’s last public open forum town hall, held at the Pueblo Convention Center and attended by several hundred constituents. Weather permitting, there’s an event planned for outside Gardner’s downtown Denver office tomorrow afternoon to commemorate the occasion.

Like the other town halls Gardner belatedly consented to in the fall of 2017, after months of pummeling over his lack of accessibility while newly elected President Donald Trump plowed like a bull in a china shop through Washington, Gardner was booed and heckled in Pueblo robustly as he tried to defend Trump’s then-unpassed tax cuts and other controversial agenda items like repealing the Affordable Care Act.

Gardner has tried to spin the frosty reception he received at his 2017 town halls into a sympathy play, but his persistently lackluster approval ratings suggest strongly that a majority of voters just aren’t sympathetic. Aware of the self-inflicted harm these on-camera constituent floggings were causing, after the 2017 town halls Gardner switched to scripted appearances at friendly businesses and unannounced “walking tours” of main streets–the latter still exposing Gardner to considerable negative attention.

In recent weeks, the situation has deteriorated rapidly for Gardner as he has turned into a nationwide metaphor for Republican verbal paralysis in response to the impeachment inquiry consuming Trump’s presidency. It’s very difficult to see home-front reception improving for Gardner in the upcoming holiday recess, to say nothing of what’s going to happen when Gardner hits the campaign trail in Colorado next year.

One thing’s for sure: Gardner can’t run his whole re-election campaign from Trump fundraisers.

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Get More Smarter on Tuesday (November 19)

Happy World Toilet Day; please celebrate responsibly. Now, let’s Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

The Washington Post catches us up on the latest news on today’s public impeachment hearings:

Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a National Security Council official, testified Tuesday that he spoke to an intelligence community official, whom he declined to name, about President Trump’s July call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Vindman also testified in the impeachment proceedings that he was concerned about Trump’s statements about domestic politics on the call, which he characterized as “improper.”

Vindman is one of four key witnesses testifying at the House Intelligence Committee hearing Tuesday. The others are: Jennifer Williams, an adviser to Vice President Pence, Tim Morrison, another senior NSC official, and Kurt Volker, a former envoy to Ukraine.

President Trump is claiming that he doesn’t know any of the witnesses testifying in impeachment proceedings, which would probably be irrelevant even if it were true; this strategy is about as effective as claiming that everyone involved is a “Never Trumper.

Meanwhile, Trump says that he would consider testifying on impeachment matters “in writing,” a claim the President made as news was breaking that House Democrats may also be looking into allegations that Trump lied to special prosecutor Robert Mueller.

Chris Cillizza of CNN has more on Tuesday’s impeachment hearings.

 

► Today’s revelations could be just the appetizer to Wednesday’s main course, when EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland sits down in front of the House Intelligence Committee. Will Sondland have trouble “remembering” his July 26th telephone conversation with President Trump regarding efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden?

 

► Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) is the Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Asia and calls himself the “leader in the Senate” on issues relating to North Korea. Yet Gardner still hasn’t said a public word about President Trump’s recent decisions to weaken U.S. alliances with South Korea and Japan.

 

► Check out this week’s episode of The Get More Smarter Podcast for more on how Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley) tries using the “Sideshow Bob” defense on impeachment.

Get even more smarter after the jump… (more…)

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“Freep” Doug Lamborn’s Impeachment Poll

As delivered via Rep. Doug Lamborn’s official email address!

Gentle readers, it goes to a real live online poll! By real of course we don’t mean, you know, real, as in a poll containing any even slightly reliable information. But in case you wanted the chance to let Colorado’s least accomplished congressman know how you feel about impeaching Donald Trump, here it sort of is.

And yes, by encouraging our readers to “reweight” this poll we’ve probably given Lamborn all the reason he needs to ignore it. But we’re pretty confident that unless it tells Lamborn what he wants to hear…he was going to ignore it anyway.

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At Least It’s Not Your $450,000 Ad Campaign

TUESDAY UPDATE: Gov. Jared Polis responds:

Answer: something better.

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This ole boy is on meth.

As the Sioux Falls Argus Leader reports, this is really real:

Gov. Kristi Noem has a message for South Dakota: “Meth. We’re On It.”

Noem launched her new anti-meth campaign on Monday to bring awareness to the meth epidemic in South Dakota that will include a new TV ad, billboards, posters and website. The campaign’s motto features the phrase, “Meth. We’re on it,” over an outline of South Dakota, and the ad and posters feature people of differing in ages and races saying, “I’m on meth…”

“This is our problem and together, we need to get on it,” Noem said.

You bet Governor, that’s the first thing we thought too! It’s either the worst PR campaign in “War on Drugs” history, or in some kind of extremely well thought out game of eight-dimensional mnemonic chess we’ll never understand…one of the best?

It’s probably not one of the best.

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Trump Exerts Maximum Pressure…On SOUTH Korea

TUESDAY UPDATE (2:30PM): It’s been more than five days since President Trump decided to sideswipe American allies South Korea and Japan. Senator Cory Gardner, who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Asia and calls himself “the leader in the Senate” on North Korea policy, remains silent.

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MONDAY UPDATE (3:10PM): Oh, look, the White House just created another problem with a key ally of the United States in Asia. From the The New Republic:

Last week, Trump announced that he would seek a fivefold increase in the nearly $1 billion a year South Korea contributes to maintain 28,500 U.S. troops that have been stationed there since the dawn of the Cold War; two days later, the administration announced it would demand that Japan pay $8 billion—four times its usual contribution—toward the cost of quartering 54,000 American servicemembers on its territory. Two of the most enduring, and sensitive, American alliances of the past half-century have now devolved into haggling over “cost sharing,” New York mob-protection-style.

It was only last May that Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) was calling for measures to strengthen the alliance between Japan and the United States — an alliance Gardner once called “the backbone of security and stability in Asia.” We’d tell you what Gardner had to say about President Trump’s latest demands of another key foreign partner, but the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Asia still isn’t talking.

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MONDAY UPDATE (10:30AM): Not a peep, and even North Korea doesn’t want another useless photo-op.

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SUNDAY UPDATE (6:15 pm): The self-proclaimed “leader in the Senate” on North Korea remains silent about Trump’s “maximum pressure” campaign on South Korea.

Also this weekend, the White House cancelled military exercises with South Korea after complaints from North Korea. Not a peep from Gardner on this development, either.

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SATURDAY UPDATE (11:30 am): The sound of silence continues.

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UPDATE (3:21 pm): Still no comment from Gardner, but his official Twitter account did find the time to send out a Veterans Day message this afternoon.

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UPDATE (2:19 pm): Crickets.

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UPDATE (11:56 am): Senator Gardner’s press office is apparently still functioning. Today they issued a press release about Gardner meeting with Energy Secretary nominee Dan Brouillette. Neat!
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Anytime you’re ready, Sen. Gardner…

“Maximum pressure.”

This is the phrase that Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) regularly deploys in discussions about American foreign policy toward North Korea and its efforts to become a nuclear power. As part of his position on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Gardner serves as Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific, and International Cybersecurity Policy, where he fancies himself to be the Senate’s top dog on matters related to North Korea. In a press release from October 31, Gardner’s office states unequivocally: “Gardner has been the leader in the Senate in deterring North Korea’s heinous regime.”

Gardner is also a staunch defender of President Trump despite the fact that Trump regularly gives the Yuma Republican a North Korean wedgie. Given this background, we should all be anxious to hear what Gardner has to say about the latest news relating to U.S. foreign policy on the Korean Peninsula. As CNN reports:

 

(more…)

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Angela Williams May Have Gambled and Lost

State Sen. Angela Williams (D-Denver)

If you were the betting type, you wouldn’t likely put a lot of money on the likelihood that State Senator Angela Williams (D-Denver) will be the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate in June 2020. Williams entered the race for U.S. Senate in July with a sketchy announcement video and little fanfare; after four months as a candidate, she has less than $50,000 in the bank and no conceivable path toward the Democratic nomination.

When Williams entered the U.S. Senate race, she left the door open for a potential return to the state legislature (she actually filed paperwork for her 2020 re-election campaign to the State Senate shortly after winning election in 2016). But as political reporter Ernest Luning explained in a Tweet today, that door “appears to be swinging shut.”

Last week, state Rep. James Coleman (D-Denver) made it clear that he wasn’t waiting for Williams to re-focus her attention on her state senate district in announcing that he would be running for SD-33. Coleman quickly amassed a number of significant endorsements from Democratic lawmakers, including House Speaker K.C. Becker, Rep. Janet Buckner, and state Senators Jeff Bridges, Jessie Danielson, and Kerry Donovan.

Had Williams been focusing on running for re-election in 2020, it would have been difficult for Coleman to have gained much traction in a Democratic Primary challenge. In fact, Coleman probably wouldn’t have even made a State Senate bid in 2020. Coleman won a Democratic primary to succeed Williams in HD-7 in 2016, which means he could have sought re-election in the State House until Williams was term-limited in 2024.

Williams said last week that she thought she could wait until March 2020 to make a decision on staying in the U.S. Senate race or running for re-election in SD-33, but that seems like wishful thinking with Coleman gathering so much early support. If Williams is serious about winning a second term in the State Senate, she can’t spend the next 3-4 months flailing away at a U.S. Senate bid.

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Pay-To-Play Ambassador–Because GOP Needs Another Scandal

RNC chairwoman Ronna McDaniel.

CBS News reports on fresh scandal ensnaring the Republican National Committee, a problematic timeline of very large donation requests to a California billionaire hoping to become the next ambassador to the Bahamas:

A CBS News investigation has uncovered a possible pay-for-play scheme involving the Republican National Committee and President Donald Trump’s nominee for ambassador to the Bahamas. Emails obtained by CBS News show the nominee, San Diego billionaire Doug Manchester, was asked by the RNC to donate half a million dollars as his confirmation in the Senate hung in the balance, chief investigative correspondent Jim Axelrod reports…

To briefly summarize CBS’ reporting, San Diego billionaire Doug Manchester was nominated right after President Donald Trump took office to be the next ambassador to the Bahamas. No action taken by the Senate to confirm Manchester for over two years. After Manchester organized a relief flight to the Bahamas following Hurricane Dorian, Manchester received a favorable Tweet from Trump, followed three days later by a request from RNC chairwoman Ronna McDaniel for $500,000 “from your family”–in implicit acknowledgement that Manchester himself as an nominee awaiting confirmation by the Senate could not ethically do so.

Three days after the tweet, RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel hit up Manchester for a donation. It was no small sum. In an email, obtained exclusively by CBS News, she asked Manchester, “Would you consider putting together $500,000 worth of contributions from your family to ensure we hit our ambitious fundraising goal?”

This is a prime example of what’s known in the business of politics as “corruption.” And Manchester was ready to play ball:

The Senate confirmation process is exactly what Manchester quickly addressed. He wrote back to McDaniel’s request for $500,000, “As you know I am not supposed to do any, but my wife is sending a contribution for $100,000. Assuming I get voted out of the [Foreign Relations Committee] on Wednesday to the floor we need you to have the majority leader bring it to a majority vote … Once confirmed, I our [sic] family will respond!” [Pols emphasis]

In the wake of this email exchange, in which Manchester reportedly cc:ed a Republican Senator who then tipped off the White House, Manchester withdrew his nomination for “personal reasons.” But it shouldn’t end there: Ronna McDaniel’s request for Manchester to organize a $500,000 contribution from family members tacitly recognizes that the request was inappropriate. In any ordinary political environment, McDaniel would be clearing out her office immediately following publication of this story.

At the very least, we’re guessing Ronna’s uncle Mitt Romney is okay she dropped that maiden name.

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Welcome Back, Ex-Rep. Judy Reyher!

Filed earlier this month, and the word we’re hearing is it’s for real:

Ex-Rep. Judy Reyher (R).

Readers will remember former Rep. Judy Reyher of House District 47, who was appointed to replace Clarice Navarro following Navarro’s patronage Trump administration appointment in return for campaigning as hard for Donald Trump in 2016 as she did for her own re-election. Rep. Reyher’s appointment to HD-47 quickly became a major embarrassment for the Colorado Republican Party after her extensive social media history of nasty-trending-wacky racist and other objectionable content was reported by statewide media. Responding to the Denver Post, Reyher attempted to defend herself by saying she “hated the black half of Obama as much as” she “hated the white half”–which to Reyher’s surprise did not make things better.

Reyher’s unsavory introduction to public service and ongoing foibles in the House led to a successful primary challenge in 2018 by Don Bendell, whose candidacy for HD-47 itself imploded when Bendell’s estranged children publicly accused him of shirking his child support obligations. Democratic Rep. Bri Buentello was the end result of this ill-fated attempt at red-on-red political euthanasia, but Bendell’s self-destruction has reportedly given Reyher’s brief career a new lease on life among area Republicans.

We’d say Buentello should be fine with that. Like Napoleon said, never get in the way of your opponent’s mistake.

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Craig Silverman Canned For Criticizing Trump

SUNDAY UPDATE #3: The WhiteMaleVengers are combining their right-wing powers!

According to Chris Vanderveen of 9News, Team KNUS is holding a news conference tonight; all WhiteMaleVengers are expected to be in attendance.

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SUNDAY UPDATE #2: Here’s Craig Silverman on CNN’s Reliable Sources this morning:

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Craig Siverman.

SUNDAY UPDATE: As you can see, firing Craig Silverman on the air worked perfectly for keeping Silverman’s criticism of Donald Trump on the down low! Newsweek:

Craig Silverman told The Denver Post that he had been in the middle of a segment about Roy Cohn, Trump’s former personal attorney, on the conservative KNUS radio station when he was told by the station’s program director that he was “done.”

Silverman, who had hosted The Craig Silverman Show on Saturday mornings at the station for more than five years, told The Post that his last segment before he was taken off the air had been to “observe how toxic Trump is in Colorado.”

The Hill:

Silverman said program director Kelly Michaels entered the studio shortly afterward and simply told him “You’re done.”

“I cannot and will not toe strict Trump party line. I call things as I see them,” Silverman later tweeted. “I see corruption and blatant dishonesty by President and his cronies. I also see bullying/smearing of American heroes w/courage to take oath and tell truth. Their bravery inspires me.”

Daily Beast:

A Denver radio host says his conservative station booted him in the middle of his how because he played a clip that expressed criticism of President Trump. On his Saturday morning show, Craig Silverman, a former prosecutor, was sharing a 2015 interview with just-convicted Roger Stone in which Silverman said Trump’s relationship with the late lawyer Roy Cohn gave him pause…

The Wrap:

Silverman told the paper he was taken off the air for replaying a 2015 interview with Trump surrogate Roger Stone, who was found guilty on seven federal charges on Friday including witness tampering.

In the interview, Silverman told Stone that one of his biggest concerns with Trump was his connection to Roy Cohn, who assisted Joseph McCarthy in the House Committee on Un-American Activities in the 1950s and later served as Trump’s personal lawyer. The Colorado radio station promptly took Silverman off the air and removed the webpage for his show from their site.

The Denver Post’s Sam Tabachnik:

Representatives from KNUS did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The page for Silverman’s show appears to have been removed from the station’s website. A link to his show gives a “404 Error — Not Found” message.

Silverman’s last segment of the hour, before he was taken off the air, was to “observe how toxic Trump is in Colorado,” he said in a text. “And to continue my show theme today that Democrats are making a strong case at the House impeachment hearing.”

…Silverman voted for Trump in 2016 and initially supported the president. But recent comments on Twitter, his radio show and in opinion pieces show his stance on the commander-in-chief has soured.

We’ll update with Silverman’s appearance on CNN this morning once it’s available. Safe to say that whatever objective the management of 710 KNUS had in mind when they undertook this heavy-handed Pravda-style on-air act of brazen censorship has not been achieved. Rather than helping squelch criticism of Trump, they’ve made an unlikely martyr of a low-rated weekend talk radio host who dared to do just that.

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UPDATE: Fired 710 KNUS host Craig Silverman throws down:

Thanks to his former management, we expect more people will see this message than ever listened to Silverman’s Saturday AM radio show.

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UPDATE: We don’t have any word from Craig Silverman yet on what happened this morning, but yesterday on Facebook he asserted that today’s show “may be the greatest show I’ve ever presented.” It would appear that the management of 710 KNUS did not agree:

Former Ukraine Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch is an American hero. I have seen countless witnesses testify and she was one of the all-time finest. Her poise, courage and credibility inspire me. If you missed it, watch below.

Scott Robinson, legendary Colorado trial lawyer and media star, will help me break down the testimony and occurrences at the proceedings this week against President Donald Trump, Roger Stone, and Patrick Frazee. This may be one of the most special episodes of Craig’s Lawyers’ Lounge in its six-year history.

In fact, this show may be the greatest show I’ve ever presented. But so much depends on your willingness to listen and dialogue as we unravel some of this country’s most important events. History is happening. And happening is history.

Where else you gonna go on the radio for independent analysis of the most important events of our time? Be prepared to be challenged. I am. Join me on the AM radio dial.

The Craig Silverman Show, 9-noon Saturday mornings, or on line any time at 710KNUS.com.

…And then they fired him. Stay tuned.

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Via CBS4’s Brian Maass, we’re looking for more details but it appears that longtime local talk radio host Craig Silverman of 710 KNUS was fired suddenly this morning after criticizing President Donald Trump on the air:

We’ve had our our differences with Silverman over the years, but he has earned a reputation for (at least graded on the talk radio curve) a greater degree of objectivity and a willingness to put hard questions to both sides.

Looks like you can’t do that on Denver talk radio anymore.

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Lamborn Tosses Giuliani Under the Bus

Rep. Doug Lamborn (R) as a fictional character.

Congressman Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs) isn’t a member of the House Intelligence Committee (in any sense of the phrase) that is currently overseeing public impeachment hearings against President Trump, but that doesn’t mean he can’t try to advance his own ridiculous theory on the matter.

David Corn of Mother Jones and MSNBC apparently found Lamborn talking to reporters in Washington D.C. today on the second day of public impeachment hearings. Lamborn’s take on the Ukraine scandal is that Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani acted as some sort of rogue actor:

LAMBORN: I have some questions about what Mr. Giuliani was doing. But that’s a side issue. That…that’s got really nothing to do with the President.

Lamborn’s comment is justifiably met with credulity from Corn, who tries unsuccessfully to get the Colorado Springs Republican to explain how 2+2 = 5.

REPORTER: But doesn’t it have everything to do with the President when the President is telling officials, ‘Talk to Rudy. Talk to Rudy.’

LAMBORN: Unless he [Giuliani] was off on his own mission doing things that people didn’t know about, kind of like a loose cannon. Then, that’s a Rudy Giuliani problem, not a President Trump one.

REPORTER: But, this is what I don’t get: The President told [Ukrainian President] Zelinsky, ‘I want you to talk to Rudy.’ The President told top diplomats when they came in to see him, ‘Talk to Rudy. Talk to Rudy.’ So the President is empowering Rudy Giuliani, so isn’t he responsible for Rudy Giuliani’s involvement in all of this? If he’s telling people, ‘Rudy’s my man.’

LAMBORN: He may have been wrong to trust Rudy Giuliani if Giuliani was doing things on his own that were improper. So maybe he was trusting him too much.

The reporter tries once more to get Lamborn to explain his incongruent logic, but Lamborn begs off by saying that he has to go vote on something.

You can watch the entire exchange below:

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Witness Alleges Intimidation, So Trump Responds with Threats

If Trump believed in Climate Change, he’d have something else to blame for all of this heat.

The second day of public testimony on impeachment hearings against President Trump took a very Trumpian direction today. As the Associated Press reports:

Former U.S. Ukraine Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch provided chilling detail Friday in Trump impeachment hearings of being suddenly ousted from her post and feeling threatened upon learning President Donald Trump had denounced her in a July phone call with Ukraine’s president. In that call, Trump assailed her as “bad news” and said she was “going to go through some things.”

In an extraordinary moment, even in an administration filled with them, Trump himself went after her again as she spoke, tweeting from the White House that everywhere she served had “turned bad.” He emphasized that as president he had the “absolute right” to appoint his own ambassadors…[Pols emphasis]

…After Trump’s tweet on Friday, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee swiftly intervened, halting the questioning to read the president’s comments out loud to the witness — and Americans following the hearing — during a live broadcast across the country.

“Ambassador Yovanovitch, as we sit here testifying, the president is attacking you on Twitter,” said Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff of California. “What effect do you think that has on other witnesses’ willingness to come forward and expose wrongdoing?”

“Well, it’s very intimidating,” she said.

But don’t worry about any of this; the White House issued a statement saying that President Trump’s Tweets are “not witness intimidation.” Trump himself later defended his Tweets by saying, “I have freedom of speech, just like other people do.”

It’s hard to think that a person could be handling this any worse, but if anybody can find a way…

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Jurors: Trump Bestie Roger Stone is Guilty As Hell

Danny DeVito as The Penguin.

CNN reports, another worst-case scenario outcome for the Trump administration as longtime conservative political nuisance Roger Stone is found guilty of everything the Mueller investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 elections on behalf of Donald Trump accused him of:

Stone, a political provocateur, was found guilty of all seven counts brought by the Justice Department, a victory for special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. Stone was found guilty on five counts of lying to Congress, one of witness tampering, and one of obstructing a Congressional committee proceeding.

The verdict marks a stunning conclusion to one of the highest profile prosecutions to emerge from special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation — a case that began with one of Trump’s most vocal supporters arrested during a pre-dawn raid as the special counsel’s investigation wound down, and that since then has gradually revealed new information about the Trump campaign’s positive reception to foreign interference in the 2016 election.

According to prosecutors, Stone failed to turn over documents to Congress in 2017, showing he had sought to reach WikiLeaks the previous year, and lied about five facts, obscuring his attempt to use intermediaries to get information that could help then-candidate Trump in the election against Hillary Clinton.

Roger Stone’s attempt to contact the Wikileaks organization on behalf of the Trump campaign, who released the hacked emails supplied by Russian intelligence which served to significantly demoralize the Democratic left after the divisive primary between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton just as the 2016 Democratic National Convention was getting underway, is a belated but still important piece of the story of Trump’s original foreign policy sin. Though Republicans have declared the Mueller investigation to be in the rear view and it’s not the focus of the impeachment inquiry proceeding against Trump in the House over Trump’s politically-motivated extortion of Ukraine, it betrays the same willingness to utilize foreign assistance for personal gain.

And we’ll say it: Stone’s comic-book villain look is something no one in politics should be sad to see go out of style, assuming it ever was which is historically questionable.

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Impeachment Logic with Ken Buck

Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley)

Congressional Republicans are scrambling to figure out how to proceed with their full-throated support of President Trump in the wake of Wednesday’s public impeachment hearings, in which Ambassador William B. Taylor, Jr. and George Kent, a deputy assistant secretary at the State Department, testified for hours in front of members of the House Intelligence Committee. Taylor’s testimony was particularly damning, and not just because it included new revelations about a phone call between Trump and EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland that makes it appear that Trump was really only interested in investigating political rival Joe Biden.

While we have yet to hear from Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) on his opinion of Wednesday’s hearings, Congressman/State Republican Party Chairman Ken Buck (R-Greeley) talked to Justin Wingerter of The Denver Post and gave his thoughts on what took place yesterday. We’ll get to Buck’s incredible nonsense in a moment, but first we should present some background information.

Buck had previously been a fan of what has come to be called “The Sideshow Bob Defense,” owing to the nefarious character from the long running TV show “The Simpsons.” In essence, this theory is based on the idea that Trump did not actually commit a crime because his extortion attempt with Ukraine was unsuccessful. This is, of course, completely absurd; attempting to commit a crime is still a crime. Ineptitude is not a defense.

“Convicted of a crime I didn’t even commit. Hah! Attempted murder? Now honestly, what is that? Do they give a Nobel Prize for attempted chemistry? Do they?”

As we wrote last month, Buck’s usage of “The Sideshow Bob Defense” was patently ridiculous:

As for whether or not Trump committed a crime even if the quid pro quo is universally acknowledged, that’s not up to Ken Buck to decide. Federal law says clearly that seeking assistance from a foreign government in an American election is a crime. Again, if anyone out there should be expected to know this without being told, it’s a former prosecutor. At the end of September, Buck even said “I don’t think this is necessarily even wrong” in reference to what  federal law clearly defines as a criminal act. Today, Buck sidesteps the question by saying only that it’s not an “impeachable offense,” but his credibility to make that judgment is already spent after he argued that what is clearly a crime is in fact not.

You’ll never catch me, logic!

Buck never misses a chance to remind a reporter that he is a “former prosecutor,” though it appears that the former Weld County District Attorney either didn’t really know what he was doing at the time or forgot everything he once knew about the law…which leads us back to his comments to The Denver Post today:

“Whether it’s appropriate or not, the voters can decide. It’s not impeachable,” the congressman said in a phone interview Thursday morning, a day after public hearings in the impeachment inquiry began…

…Buck compared the allegations against Trump — that he withheld nearly $400 million in military aid to Ukraine because the Eastern European ally would not investigate the son of Joe Biden, a possible Trump opponent — to conditions the U.S. government routinely places on foreign aid, while reiterating that he does not believe Trump withhold the money in order to force an investigation into the Bidens.

“For example, we put tariffs on Mexico and say to Mexico, ‘Help us stop the flow of illegal immigrants into the United States’ and Mexico agreed to do that and has been doing that and the president withdrew the tariffs. That’s a quid pro quo. It’s not illegal. In and of itself, a quid pro quo does not violate the law,” Buck said. Over the summer, Trump threatened to place tariffs on all Mexican goods, but backed off after an agreement was reached on immigration enforcement.

This is objectively wrong. Period.

It is irrelevant whether or not Buck thinks President Trump’s request of Ukraine is illegal. We don’t need Buck’s opinion here because the law itself is clear.

Now take a gander at how the Greeley Congressman would raise the bar on Presidential misconduct:

The congressman declined to say whether he believes it’s appropriate for a president to ask such a favor, calling that a hypothetical scenario. A quid pro quo, as Democrats allege Trump engaged in, would only be an impeachable offense if it rises to the level of a crime, said Buck, a former prosecutor.

“In other words, if I’m the president of the United States and I say to (Russian President) Vladimir Putin, ‘If you go and kill these three political opponents of mine, I will give you aid, or I will stop giving Ukraine aid,’ yes, that’s a crime,” the congressman said.

It’s getting hot in herre

It’s noteworthy in itself that Buck declines to say whether he believes President Trump’s actions to be appropriate, but the real problem here is Buck’s faulty response to Trump’s actions as a “hypothetical scenario.” Trump did talk to the President of Ukraine and he did ask him to “do us a favor, though” and start an investigation into the Bidens. There’s nothing hypothetical about any of this.

Furthermore, according to “Buck logic,” Trump would have to ask another country TO MURDER SOMEONE for this sort of request to rise to an impeachable offense.

WUT?

Most adults understand that this scenario would still include separate crimes — for murder and for bribery. Then again, most adults also don’t believe that people are purchasing AR-15 rifles in order to obliterate raccoons.

You might remember that Buck damn near sunk President Trump during the testimony of former special prosecutor Robert Mueller when he repeatedly asked if Trump could be charged with a crime and kept getting the same affirmative answer. Buck later attempted to defend his blunder by saying that “only very soft people” are worried about Trump’s actions. In other words, it’s not necessarily a good thing for Trump that Ken Buck is trying to publicly defend him.

Buck tells The Denver Post that he will “will go where the evidence takes me in this case.” If Buck was making an honest attempt to understand the evidence, this might be reassuring.

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Get More Smarter on Thursday (November 14)

There are 40 shopping days remaining until Christmas. Now, let’s Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Unless you’ve been living inside an old Budweiser box, you’re probably aware that Wednesday was the first day of public impeachment hearings on Capitol Hill. Ambassador William B. Taylor, Jr. and George Kent, a deputy assistant secretary at the State Department, testified for hours in front of members of the House Intelligence Committee and the eyes of the world.

Taylor dropped a bombshell in his opening statement, telling a story about a phone call between President Trump and EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland that apparently laid bare that Trump cares only about Ukraine insofar as they might investigate former Vice President Joe Biden for invented transgressions. The rest of the hearing went downhill from there for Republicans.

For more on Wednesday’s proceedings, here’s a quick list of links:

Trump Exposed: A Brutal Day for the President (Politico)

In the big moment, Republicans go small (Washington Post)

♦ New revelations from first public hearings paint damning portrait of Trump (CNN)

♦ How Adam Schiff Avoided a Circus (Washington Post)

♦ Republicans’ Best Defense is a Bad Offense (New York Times)

♦ Impeachment hearing testimony further connects President to Ukraine pressure (CNN)

♦ Pelosi says Trump has admitted to “bribery” with Ukraine (Axios)

Of course, as Philip Bump notes for The Washington Post, your takeaway from Wednesday’s hearings might be quite a bit different if you get your information from the likes of Fox News.

 

► At least one person is dead and several others injured in a school shooting in Santa Clarita, California. This is the 30th school shooting of 2019.

 

► As the Associated Press reports, Gov. Jared Polis (D-Boulder) unveiled a new state budget with a heavy focus on education spending:

Polis proposed a $34.5 billion state budget Wednesday for the next fiscal year, once again emphasizing early and higher education investments and seeking to increase rainy-day reserves.

Polis presented his request to the Joint Budget Committee, which will craft a balanced budget during the 2020 legislative session.

Polis noted that the requested funding increase of 2.9% kept with the inflation rate, Colorado Politics reported.

“There’s not a lot of free money” available, he said.

The Denver Post has more on the upcoming budget battle.

 

► Rocky Mountain Gun Owners (RMGO) is trying to overturn a magazine ban in Colorado as gun stores openly flaunt laws designed to prohibit high-capacity gun magazines.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump… (more…)

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Never-Ending Squabble Over Gun Magazines Turns Sinister

It’s been a big week of political news on the subject of gun control in Colorado, with two related storylines converging into what we expect will be the next big flashpoint in the 2020 session of the Colorado General Assembly–a renewed battle over the state’s 15-round limit on firearm magazine capacity, passed in 2013 in response to mass shootings in Aurora and elsewhere utilizing high capacity magazines to dramatically increase the toll of dead and wounded. In the July 2012 Aurora theater shooting in particular, a 100-round ammunition drum attached to an AR-15 type assault rifle–which only jammed after most of its capacity had been expended–was responsible for the majority of deaths.

Despite this, as the Denver Post reports, yesterday the Colorado Supreme Court heard arguments in Rocky Mountain Gun Owners’ lawsuit to overturn the magazine limit:

In arguments before the state court Wednesday, the groups’ lawyer, Barry Arrington, said that since the U.S. Supreme Court has found that the right to bear arms is a fundamental right, the state has a heavier burden to prove that the magazine limit is needed. He said they cannot meet that standard.

The law was passed in 2013, a year after the Aurora theater shooting, in an effort to limit the number of deaths in mass shootings. While large capacity magazines were used in the Columbine and Aurora shootings, Arrington said that have also been widely used by gun owners, with millions of them in existence when the law was passed.

Aurora shooting memorial, July 2012.

9NEWS’ Marshall Zelinger captured a particularly compelling exchange from yesterday’s arguments:

“The odds of you hurting more people is significantly higher than if you had to stop and reload. What’s crazy about that?” [Justice Richard] Gabriel asked.

“The evidence at trial was that two had been abused. Two magazines. Not two million. Two magazines had been abused in the state of Colorado. So, it’s literally the fact that the government is saying if it’s a one-in-a-million chance that one of these firearm components can be abused by a homicidal maniac, we get to ban them all.” Arrington said.

“If you’re going to look at statistics and you’re going to say the odds are so low that no one has ever used this for a mass shooting, then the odds are also low that anyone needs 15 rounds to defend oneself,” Gabriel said. [Pols emphasis]

A ruling in this case from from the state supreme court isn’t expected this year, but legal experts we’ve talked to do not expect the magazine limit to be overturned in the courts. The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected numerous challenges to state and local gun laws in the last 10 years. The 2008 DC vs. Heller Supreme Court decision clearly dictates that reasonable regulations on guns are compatible with the Second Amendment.

So, that’s where the issue stands legally. But 9NEWS’ Zelinger also released this week and in-depth investigative report, Overloaded, which revealed a much more essential and troubling problem: Republicans in Colorado, from the General Assembly to the elected county sheriffs RMGO has helped put in power all over the state, have created a lawless environment where gun stores and gun owners are breaking the law with impunity.

(more…)

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Republicans Slink to Gutter on First Day of Public Hearings

Ambassador Bill Taylor (left) and House GOP counsel Steve Castor

If you read just one summary of Wednesday’s first day of public impeachment hearings on Capitol Hill, make it this piece from Dana Milbank of The Washington Post:

Of all the excuses, defenses, distractions and outright non sequiturs President Trump’s defenders deployed at Wednesday’s first public impeachment hearing — the whistleblower is biased! Hunter Biden is corrupt! Adam Schiff wanted nude photos of Trump! — the most telling came from Steve Castor, the Republicans’ chief counsel, as he questioned Bill Taylor, America’s man in Kyiv.

Describing the “irregular channel” Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani and his team of “amigos” used to coerce Ukraine’s president to announce investigations into Trump’s political opponents, Castor asked Taylor: “In fairness, this irregular channel of diplomacy, it’s not as outlandish as it could be — is that correct?”

Taylor seemed to think Castor was telling a joke. “It’s not as outlandish as it could be,” he said with a laugh. “I agree.”

True! Giuliani could have conducted the entire scheme in drag. Or they could have threatened the Ukrainian president with a Nerf gun instead of merely withholding military aid. But Castor wasn’t kidding. He defended his point at length, then asked again: “It may be irregular, but it’s certainly not outlandish?”

Taylor smiled, shook his head and nodded, as if to convey: Whatever you say.

As the website Law & Crime notes, Wednesday’s performance by Republican attorney Steve Castor was a “trainwreck” worthy of the intense derision it received on social media. As John Harris writes for Politico, the first day of public hearings was a “brutal day for the President.”

And this is only the beginning.

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