Gardner Talks in Circles About Mueller Investigation

Sen. Cory Gardner’s loyalties are not difficult to understand.

We’re still waiting for more information today from filings related to special investigator Robert Mueller’s examination of Donald Trump’s “relationships” with Russia. Legal experts are very excited to view two expected filings related to former Trump Campaign Manager Paul Manafort and former personal attorney Michael Cohen as everyone outside of Mueller’s team looks for new tea leaves to read.

President Trump has relentlessly accused the Mueller investigation of being a “witch hunt,” but the majority of American people do not agree with him and continue to support the investigation moving forward. According to a new poll, 67% of American adults believe that Mueller’s investigation should be allowed to continue; a whopping 76% want the results of the investigation to ultimately be made public.

Arizona Republican Senator Jeff Flake is pushing his colleagues to vote on legislation that would explicitly protect Mueller’s investigation from Trump (who has tried to fire Mueller more than once). Said Flake on Thursday, “The message that needs to be sent to the White House is that we do not have the president’s back if he fires the special counsel.”

Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) does not support Flake’s cause and is insisting that the Senate is actually sending a stronger message to President Trump by not discussing such legislation (no, this makes no logical sense whatsoever). Gardner talked with Colorado Public Radio’s Ryan Warner this week and performed a plainly-ridiculous dance on the topic — part of Gardner’s ongoing effort to avoid directly answering questions on protecting Mueller’s investigation. We transcribed the relevant part of the interview below:

WARNER: Let’s turn to the Mueller-Russia probe. A key, but short-lived, member of the Trump administration has given Mueller, quote, “substantial assistance.” The special counsel therefore is recommending no jailtime for former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. What, exactly, Flynn offered up was unclear, but it’s an important element, apparently, in an investigation that the President could seek to derail. Outgoing Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake has called for a Mueller protection bill. The Senate Majority Leader says that would be a futile gesture. Do you agree that such legislation is futile, or do you think it would send an important signal to the White House?

GARDNER: Well, I think what sends an important signal to the White House is our support, in the Senate, for the Mueller investigation. That transcends any legislation. I haven’t heard a Senator yet who is opposed to the Mueller investigation. This is critically important [that] this investigation be completed. It needs to be completed. I’ve said that many times and will continue to support the investigation. I think it’s in the best interests of the President, if the President believes that he did nothing wrong, then the Mueller investigation will find that. If there is something wrong, the American people need to know that. And that’s why I think this is so important.

WARNER: Why not put the weight behind it with some sort of legislation?

GARDNER: Well, I think the weight behind it is the fact that we’re not playing politics here. And I’m concerned that others want to play politics. I want to see this investigation carried through. Look, if the President wants to disband the Mueller investigation – if he wants to find out what it feels like to touch the sun – he can disband the Mueller investigation. It’s not a good thing.

Here we have Gardner ostensibly warning President Trump that interfering in the Mueller investigation would be tantamount to “touching the sun.” Undeterred, Warner rightfully presses Gardner on why he wouldn’t just support Flake’s proposal for a pre-emptive legislative protection.

WARNER: So you don’t support any legislative action in that regard. If President Trump moved to fire Bob Mueller, do you think the President should face some sort of consequence? What would that be?

GARDNER: Again, I think if you want to find out what it feels like to touch the sun, [then] take that direction and take that action. The President has not done this, he will not do this, and he should not do this.

WARNER: I wonder why you wouldn’t want a Mueller protection bill…

GARDNER: Well, I think I’ve been very clear. Some people want to play politics. This investigation needs to continue, and it’s in the best interests of this country for this. I’m not about playing politics, I’m about getting results.

WARNER: You think that a Mueller protection bill is playing politics, then?

GARDNER: I’ve answered the question about my support for this Mueller investigation. It must continue.

“I think I’ve been very clear,” says Gardner.

Yes, indeed.

Gardner avoided five separate questions about supporting legislation to protect the Mueller investigation. It’s easy to see through Gardner’s word salad to understand that the critical words are the ones he won’t say.

Get More Smarter on Friday (December 7)

“A date which will live in infamy.” It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

 

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

President Trump confirmed on Friday that he has chosen nominees for two high-profile jobs in his administration. From the Washington Post:

President Trump confirmed he will nominate former attorney general William P. Barr to lead the Justice Department again, telling reporters Friday that Barr was “my first choice since day one.”

He also said he would nominate Heather Nauert as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, saying the State Department spokeswoman, a relative novice on foreign policy, is “very talented, very smart, very quick.”…

…The Washington Post reported a day earlier that Barr, 68, a well-respected Republican lawyer who served as attorney general from 1991 to 1993 under President George H.W. Bush, had emerged as the leading contender, and Trump told associates he planned to nominate him as attorney general.

Barr and Nauert are interesting juxtapositions in terms of qualifications for each respective position. While Barr has previously served as Attorney General, it’s hard to argue that Nauert is at all qualified to be the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations (as Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut has noted).

But as CNN reports, Nauert may have gotten the nod because the Trump administration wants to downgrade the role:

Nauert, a former Fox News host who arrived at the State Department in 2017, would be a relatively inexperienced newcomer in one of the most high-profile positions in US diplomacy. Her nomination sets the stage for a potentially tough Senate confirmation hearing, where Democrats will likely grill Nauert on her qualifications for the position.

In an administration rife with internal conflict and deeply distrustful of the UN, Nauert’s nomination would place a less senior person at the international agency than Haley, who reportedly sparred with other administration officials…

…Nauert’s appointment would realign power dynamics within the President’s national security team. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has told aides he wants the UN position downgraded from the Cabinet-level job Haley had insisted on, an official familiar with his remark has told CNN. Elevating Haley to a Cabinet-level post broke with the tradition of previous Republican administrations.

National security adviser John Bolton has been said to want the role downgraded as well, according to people familiar with his thinking. A former UN ambassador himself, Bolton has taken an interest in some UN matters, such as the International Criminal Court.

Elsewhere in Trumpland, Politico reports that White House Chief of Staff John Kelly is expected to leave his job within the next week.

 

► The New York Times previews a potentially-huge day in the advancement of special investigator Robert Mueller’s probe into the Trump campaign:

The special counsel’s office is expected to reveal more details on Friday about separate investigations that have ensnared President Trump’s personal lawyer and his former campaign chairman.

Federal prosecutors working for the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, will submit a sentencing memorandum in Manhattan federal court outlining how much time Mr. Trump’s former lawyer Michael D. Cohen should spend in prison for admitting he lied to Congress. Mr. Cohen is scheduled to be sentenced next week and has agreed to cooperate with Mr. Mueller’s team as well as prosecutors in Manhattan investigating the president’s inner circle.

In the case of Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign chairman who was convicted of financial fraud and who agreed to cooperate with the special counsel rather than face a second trial, Mr. Mueller’s team has accused him of repeatedly lying to investigators. Prosecutors pulled out of their plea deal with him because, they said, he was repeatedly untruthful. They were expected to disclose details about his falsehoods on Friday.

 

► Be sure to check out the latest episode of The Get More Smarter Show, where we look deeper into the numbers from the 2018 election with Ian Silverii of ProgressNow Colorado.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

(more…)

The Get More Smarter Show: December 7, 2018

Today on the 30th episode of the Get More Smarter Show: Jason Bane and special guest Ian Silverii of ProgressNow Colorado break down the 2018 election results, debunk the spin, and look ahead to Colorado’s increasingly blue political future.

Catch up on previous episodes of the Get More Smarter Show here. Thanks for watching!

Friday Open Thread

“Real firmness is good for anything; strut is good for nothing.”

–Alexander Hamilton

Cory Gardner Does a Saudi One-Eighty

UPDATE: The plot thickens as Sen. Cory Gardner explains his vote against the recent resolution meant to rebuke President Donald Trump and Saudi Arabia to Colorado Public Radio in an interview today:

What we can’t do is weaken our efforts against terrorism. Al-Qaeda, ISIS, the Iranian-back Houthis, and others, who wish to destabilize not only the Middle East but the United States. We cannot confuse the actions [Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman] took with actions that would embolden terrorists. [Pols emphasis] And I think that’s a very, very big concern and should be a concern of every single one of my colleagues.

Call us out if we’re wrong, but it sure seems based on the sum of these latest statements like Cory Gardner has already made up his mind. And Jamal Khashoggi’s life isn’t worth, you know, a big fuss.

—–

President Trump (left) and Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma).

We’ve been closely following the reaction of Sen. Cory Gardner, Colorado’s member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, to continuing developments in the controversy over the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul in early October. President Donald Trump’s refusal to acknowledge the essentially universal consensus, including that of the Central Intelligence Agency, that Khashoggi was brutally murdered on direct orders from Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, has provoked international condemnation and left U.S. Senators angrily working through their next steps.

Back on November 29th, Gardner appeared on obscure local AM radio host Jimmy Sengenberger’s morning program to answer questions, and Sengenberger brought up the Khashoggi murder. Let’s revisit briefly what Gardner said then:

GARDNER: Again, I think Saudi Arabia needs to be held accountable for — and we need to find out and get to the truth of what happened with Jamal Khashoggi. And that is something that I am committed to doing. I’ve signed a global Magnitsky Investigation on Human Rights and making sure that we punish those responsible, including the royal family that may or may not have been involved in this. And of course, yesterday, you saw the public comments made by Secretary of State Mattis and Secretary — [correcting himself] or excuse me, Secretary of State Pompeo and Secretary of Defense Mattis — that there is “no smoking gun,” I think were the words that they used at the briefing. [Pos emphasis] And so, what I am committed to, is making sure we get the bottom of that. But what I’m also committed to is making sure that Iran doesn’t gain a further stronghold in the Middle East, that terrorists like ISIS or al Qaeda-Arabian Peninsula don’t gain an advantage in Saudi Arabia and destabilize the region, which would devastate our great ally Israel. And so, I think it’s important that we continue to find out who is responsible, [and] hold them accountable, but also not allow Iran, ISIS, and AQ- AP a foothold in Saudi Arabia to destabilize the region which could then spread out to hurt our allies.

SENGENBERGER: One of my concerns though, about the direction things may have to head — at least, in the minds of some — when it comes to Saudi Arabia and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the heir to the throne, next in line. And he’s being accused — and reports are suggesting that the CIA thinks that he may be the one who gave the order for Khashoggi’s murder. And that would be something–.

GARDNER: [interrupting] Well, I would be careful of what the CIA is being accused of saying. And I think that was clear in a briefing yesterday. I can’t get into the details of it, but I would just be very careful about what the CIA does and doesn’t believe. [Pols emphasis]

SENGENBERGER: Thank you. I appreciate that. But if it were to be found out true that he gave the order, one thing that I’ve been understanding — especially speaking with the gentleman I know you know as well. I’ve interviewed him a few times and talked with the former Ambassador Sam Zakhem about this, and that is in the Middle East, in the vast majority of countries except for Israel and to some extent Lebanon, it seems like you’ve got two situations in most of the countries in the Middle East: bad or worse. And there are a lot of reforms that Mohamed bin Salman has been taking leadership on, and it’s difficult to think of who would be any better than him, with some of the calls for his ouster by many of your colleagues in the Senate.

GARDNER: Well, this is the challenge we face. And that’s the challenge we face across the Middle East.

Jamal Khashoggi.

Here we have Sen. Gardner, while allowing for the possibility that the Saudi royal family was involved, closely echoing the Trump administration’s position that there was “no smoking gun” connecting the royal family to Khashoggi’s murder. Gardner went even further to suggest he knew the CIA’s position was not as clear-cut as reported based on some kind of non-public information he possessed based on his briefings.

Well folks, something happened between last week’s interview and today’s quote from Gardner via Voice of America:

“All evidence is pointing to MBS [Mohammed bin Salman] in this horrific murder, and there is no exculpatory evidence that’s been provided by anyone [Pols emphasis] — it’s not there, there’s a reason for that,” Colorado Republican Cory Gardner told VOA. “Holding MBS accountable for these actions ought to take place in the weeks and months to come.”

Wait a minute–all evidence is pointing? No exculpatory evidence “provided by anyone?” If that’s true, then what was Gardner talking about just a few days prior when he claimed he knew something we all didn’t that raised doubt about this very conclusion? There’s a major discrepancy here that needs to be explained, and right away. Gardner has a well-earned reputation for playing both sides of a hot-button issue, and landing wherever he needs at the last moment to save face.

This time, however, Gardner seems to have contradicted himself too much to walk it back.

Sen. Daniel Kagan Rises Above Senate GOP Hypocrisy

Sen. Daniel Kagan (D).

Colorado Public Radio’s Bente Birkeland reports on the announcement late yesterday that Sen. Daniel Kagan of Cherry Hills Village will resign just after the start of next year’s legislative session, kicking off an energetic competition among Democrats to replace him and marking another sharp contrast in the now year-long controversy over misconduct by lawmakers in the General Assembly:

After nine years in the legislature, Democratic state Sen. Daniel Kagan announced Wednesday evening that he plans to step down Jan. 11, 2019. Kagan, who would have been up for re-election in 2020, told CPR News he wants to ease up on his work schedule and that his decision had nothing to do with what he dubbed “toiletgate.”

During the 2018 legislative session, a workplace harassment investigation found it likely that Kagan used a women’s restroom inside the state capitol three times in 2017. Kagan maintains he used the unmarked facility, which is reserved for staff and senators, only once and by accident.

“I would never make an important decision like this,” Kagan said of his resignation, “based on a tempest in a teapot like that.”

Marianne Goodland at the Colorado Springs Gazette writes further:

Last March, Kagan was accused of using an unmarked bathroom intended for women senators and staff during the 2017 session by Republican Sen. Beth Martinez Humenik of Thornton, who also filed a formal complaint. The unmarked bathroom reportedly had a unisex code but one that didn’t work all the time.

Martinez Humenik did not allege Kagan did anything improper in the bathroom, which was finally marked as a women’s restroom in March 2018. [Pols emphasis]

The complaint filed against Kagan by Sen. Beth Humenik last spring occurred in the context of increasing pressure on Senate GOP leadership to take action after multiple allegations of sexual harassment on the part of two Republican Senators, Randy Baumgardner and Jack Tate, were found credible. The timing of the complaints against Republican Senators and Sen. Kagan was immediately suspect, being obvious in its effect of deflecting from much more serious accusations against Baumgardner and Tate.

Sen. Humenik’s complaint against Kagan did not allege any form of harassment or other sexual misconduct of any kind, though she misused the procedure for sexual harassment complaints to take this action against Kagan. At the same time, Republican Senate leadership was taking every step possible to forestall release of damning investigations into Sen. Baumgardner in particular to prevent him from being expelled from the Senate. Once you understand all of these facts, the diversionary complaint against Kagan is more than just laughable hypocrisy–it’s an admission of guilt.

We take Sen. Kagan at his word when he says that his decision to resign is not related to this episode. Kagan is independently wealthy, hails from an illustrious English family, and will have no trouble staying busy wherever he chooses to go next. Kagan’s reputation as a thoughtful lawmaker makes his resignation a loss to the institution of the General Assembly more than himself personally–compared to which this ridiculous complaint means less than nothing.

But every day without Sen. Kagan that Randy Baumgardner remains in office is a true disgrace.

Thursday Open Thread

“It is by attempting to reach the top in a single leap that so much misery is produced in the world.”

–William Cobbett

We’re Killing the Earth…And It’s Killing Us Back

Humans are not going to win a fight against the rest of the planet.

As the Washington Post explains, ignoring Climate Change won’t make it go away:

Global emissions of carbon dioxide have reached the highest levels on record, scientists projected Wednesday, in the latest evidence of the chasm between international goals for combating climate change and what countries are doing…

…The expected increase, which would bring fossil fuel and industrial emissions to a record high of 37.1 billion tons of carbon dioxide per year, is being driven by nearly 5 percent emissions growth in China and more than 6 percent in India, researchers estimated, along with growth in many other nations throughout the world. Emissions by the United States grew 2.5 percent, while emissions by the European Union declined by just under 1 percent.

As nations are gathered for climate talks in Poland, the message of Wednesday’s report was unambiguous: When it comes to promises to begin cutting the greenhouse gas emissions that fuel climate change, the world remains well off target.

“We are in trouble. We are in deep trouble with climate change,” [Pols emphasis] United Nations Secretary General António Guterres said this week at the opening of the 24th annual U.N. climate conference, where countries will wrestle with the ambitious goals they need to meet to sharply reduce carbon emissions in coming years.

As the World Health Organization explains, the damage we are doing to our planet is being reflected back upon us in turn:

A WHO report launched today at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP24) in Katowice, Poland highlights why health considerations are critical to the advancement of climate action and outlines key recommendations for policy makers.

Exposure to air pollution causes 7 million deaths worldwide every year and costs an estimated US$ 5.11 trillion in welfare losses globally. [Pols emphasis] In the 15 countries that emit the most greenhouse gas emissions, the health impacts of air pollution are estimated to cost more than 4% of their GDP. Actions to meet the Paris goals would cost around 1% of global GDP…

…“The true cost of climate change is felt in our hospitals and in our lungs. The health burden of polluting energy sources is now so high, that moving to cleaner and more sustainable choices for energy supply, transport and food systems effectively pays for itself,” says Dr Maria Neira, WHO Director of Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health. “When health is taken into account, climate change mitigation is an opportunity, not a cost.”

President Trump has made it abundantly clear that he doesn’t believe in Climate Change (or, really, in science in general), so the United States is probably going to need a new President if it hopes to see action to mitigate the problem. Climate Change as a political issue has not generally driven people to the polls in large margins, but as more information like the above studies become widely available, that may shift.

Perhaps it is time we stop talking about “Climate Change” as something that is being done to the earth and start framing it according to the harm we are doing to each other. What we’re experiencing now is “Human Change.”

Democrats Can Finally Say It: To Hell With Cheri Jahn

Outgoing Sen. Cheri Jahn (U).

As the Denver Business Journal’s Ed Sealover reports, after losing millions in a failed bid to retain GOP control of the Colorado Senate this year, there’s a new attempt by “business community” moguls to drive a wedge into the newly Democratic chamber just wide enough to stop disfavored bills–and it’s headed by one of the figureheads of 2018’s biggest flop in Colorado politics, the so-called “Centrist Project.”

LIFT Colorado, a new organization that will seek to recruit candidates with business backgrounds to run for public office and will help train local business leaders as well on how to advocate for policies to their local governments or to the Legislature. The group is the brainchild of term-limited state Sen. Cheri Jahn — a Wheat Ridge business owner who left the Democratic Party one year ago to become unaffiliated because she was tired of politics trumping policy among elected leaders — but its rollout at the law offices of Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck LLP demonstrated that it will have significant backing among both business leaders and politicos.

Jahn, who received $200,000 in seed money from Anadarko Petroleum to launch the organization, [Pols emphasis] said the non-partisan organization will identify people to run for office beginning with the municipal elections of next fall, will provide training and support for them and will ensure that business leaders can have a connection to local policy-makers. The five-woman executive board for LIFT (Leaders Innovating for Tomorrow) consists of executives from the banking and real estate fields as well as a voting-rights expert and will lead the initial efforts with an eye beyond 2019 to the 2020 legislative races as well.

Outgoing Sen. Cheri Jahn was always a poor fit in the Democratic Senate caucus, and served as the go-to “Democrat” for pro-business lobbyists looking to scuttle all kinds of Democratic legislation they didn’t like from paid family leave to small business discrimination protections. Jahn’s disaffiliation from the Democratic Party to join the so-called “Centrist Project,” which evolved into the Unite Colorado slate of nominally unaffiliated candidates, was a strategic blunder that helped make Jahn the face of one of the least successful political experiments in recent Colorado political history.

Sealover reports on several telling usual suspects who were in attendance for the launch of Jahn’s new organization, including former GOP Senate President Bill Cadman and Lynn Granger of Colorado Concern. Both Anadarko Petroleum and Colorado Concern were directly involved in the failed defense of the GOP Senate Majority through via the Colorado Economic Leadership Fund and the Business Opportunity Fund. Cadman, of course, was the mastermind (and major vendor) for Republican Senate campaigns before he went to work for Whiting Petroleum.

In summary, LIFT Colorado is a collection of Colorado political losers and bad actors, including the same people who just lost the GOP Senate majority in 2018–repackaged behind one of the state’s least influential outgoing lawmakers. Because Sen. Jahn caucused with Democrats in the Colorado Senate after she disaffiliated from the party to join the Centrist Project, there was a residual obligation on the part of Democrats to handle Jahn with deference even while she publicly disparaged them in return.

As of Election Day, Democrats no longer have to be nice to Cheri Jahn.

And that’s a good thing for everybody.

Democrats To Dominate State House Committees

Incoming Speaker of the Colorado House KC Becker.

As the Denver Post’s Nic Garcia reports, Republicans in the Colorado House of Representatives are set to be less influential than they have been in decades, with the 2019 lopsided Democratic majority resulting in big Democratic majorities on every House committee:

The consequences for Colorado conservatives following stinging losses in November are coming into sharper focus at the statehouse.

Democrats will have a three-vote majority on state House legislative committees, which vet, debate and amend potential bills before the full body deliberates them, leadership in the lower chamber announced Sunday.

The increase in power means Republicans and the right-leaning interest groups that rely on the GOP to advance their agendas will be at a significant disadvantage in January.

A three-vote majority on committees for Democrats effectively mutes House Republicans, but also gives House Democratic leadership a comfortable margin within their own caucus to ensure that one or two holdouts are not able to stall priority legislation on behalf of special interests. As Garcia reports, this is the largest majority that Democrats have enjoyed in the Colorado House since 1959–which we shouldn’t have to remind readers was a very different Democratic Party than today’s.

Blame for the heavy losses in the Colorado House primarily falls on Republican House Minority Leader Patrick Neville, although the caucus chose not to take their defeat out on him by ousting him from his leadership role. But that didn’t stop the last Republican to serve as Speaker of the Colorado House, Frank McNulty, from throwing some shade at “Boy” Neville:

“House Republicans have put themselves in this position,” [McNulty] said. [Pols emphasis]

Frank McNulty, who presided over the loss of the House in the last “blue wave” of 2012 after grandstanding against LGBT rights to scandalously end that year’s legislative session, would be the one to know about self-sabotage! Unless McNulty is willing to admit to his own prodigious errors, though, we can’t say he has much room to talk.

To the victor goes the spoils–and when you win this big, there are plenty of spoils to go around.

Get More Smarter on Tuesday (December 4)

Did you know that today is Colorado Gives Day? If you have an email account or an electronic device of any kind, you might have noticed already. It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

 

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

As CNN reports, Robert Mueller’s investigation into potential collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign could take a YUGE step forward this week:

America may get its most intimate look yet inside Robert Mueller’s secretive Russia investigation in the next four days, with a series of disclosures that have the potential to be greatly damaging for President Donald Trump.

Court filings focusing on Trump’s first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, on Tuesday and his ex-campaign chairman Paul Manafort on Friday could offer tantalizing new details of Mueller’s deep dive into the 2016 campaign.

If the special counsel lives up to his reputation, his filings will feature surprising revelations and rich texture to color the picture he has already painted in indictments and witness testimony of a culture of endemic dishonesty in Trump’s orbit about multiple, so far unexplainable, ties with Russians…

…Stepping up the pace of his probe since the midterm elections, Mueller has moved in a direction that appears increasingly threatening to the President, including his crossing of Trump’s red line by showing interest in his family real estate empire.

 

President Trump’s Twitter habit may be crossing new lines in relation to Mueller’s special investigation. From the Washington Post:

Norman Eisen, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, said that the most striking thing about Monday was that there were two statements in proximity.

“It comes very close to the statutory definition of witness tampering,” he said. “It’s a mirror image of the first tweet, only he’s praising a witness for not cooperating with the implication of reward,” he said, adding that Trump has pardon power over Stone.

“We’re so used to President Trump transgressing norms in his public declarations,” Eisen said, “but he may have crossed the legal line.”

This begs the question: Which social media platform is the most effective for witness tampering?

 

► Nic Garcia of the Denver Post manages to write an entire story about a Democratic majority in the state legislature without actually quoting any, you know, Democrats.

 

► Republicans are challenging election results in HD-47 (Pueblo), where Democrat Brianna Buentello defeated Republican candidate “Deadbeat” Don Bendell by a margin of a few hundred votes.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

(more…)

Tuesday Open Thread

“A true and worthy ideal frees and uplifts a people; a false ideal imprisons and lowers.”

–W. E. B. Du Bois

Cory Gardner: Same Dog, Same Tricks

Sen. Cory Gardner (right) has been fully onboard with President Trump.

Over at FiveThirtyEight, Perry Bacon Jr. is looking ahead to the next Congress and wondering which Senators will be the new “swing votes.” Bacon thinks that Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) may fit the mold:

We can stop obsessing so much about how Sens. Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski are going to vote. Long the crucial swing votes in the U.S. Senate, they will still be crucial to the GOP’s majority, but for the next two years, when the Senate considers legislation that Democrats unanimously oppose, the real deciders are likely to be Cory Gardner and Mitt Romney.

Bacon’s premise is based on a logical course of action for Gardner, making the assumption that Gardner both should and will attempt to moderate his image as he prepares to run for re-election in 2020:

Colorado’s Gardner has a more obvious reason to potentially vote against controversial Trump appointees and judges: political survival. It’s hard to see Trump winning Colorado in 2020 — he lost there by 5 percentage points in 2016. When Gardner is up for re-election in 2020, he will likely need some Democrats or independents to back him even as they vote against Trump. And at least right now, it would be hard for Gardner to separate himself from the president: He backs the Trump position 91 percent of the time. And, among the 100 current senators, he is tops in voting with Trump more often than the political ideology of his state would predict. [Pols emphasis]

Being a Republican in a blue state who almost always backs Trump and GOP initiatives is politically dangerous. Nevada’s Dean Heller, who was the last Congress’s second-most pro-Trump senator compared to his state’s politics, can attest to that — he just lost his re-election race.

It’s not difficult to argue that Gardner should try to move more to the middle if he hopes to earn another term in the Senate, particularly given that he will appear on the same ballot as President Trump in a state that just saw massive Democratic gains. It’s also not entirely clear that Gardner intends to make such a strategic shift even if he should. Gardner sounded very Trumpish following the 2018 election; he claimed that Colorado did not witness a “Blue Wave” despite the fact that everyone in the state is sopping wet, and he fed wild conspiracy theories to explain Republican troubles in states such as Arizona.

Gardner’s longtime right-hand man, Chris Hansen, recently made it clear that Republicans are running with President Trump “no matter what,” which presumably includes Colorado in 2020. Gardner’s increasingly-public appearances with the President make any obfuscation all the more difficult.

The more important question, then, is whether Gardner can make a meaningful move to the middle after how he has so clearly fallen in behind Donald Trump (and even though it often backfires on him). As you can see from the chart below, Gardner has voted with Trump to a degree that absolutely does not reflect the will of Coloradans:

Via FiveThirtyEight

 

That Gardner has a natural tendency to say one thing and do the opposite has not been lost on Coloradans. Gardner’s approval ratings have been consistently terrible since the 2016 election, and he’s not just unpopular with Democrats and Unaffiliated voters — his Republican base isn’t particularly fond of him, either. President Trump is not viewed favorably in Colorado, but the Big Orange Guy isn’t nearly as disliked as Gardner. In fact, Gardner could be dealing with a Primary challenge before he even gets a chance to worry about a General Election. In that case, he’ll face more pressure to move ever rightward in order to preserve his hold on the GOP nomination.

In the 2014 election, Gardner famously said that he wanted to “shake up the Senate.” Perhaps he’ll actually try to do that in 2019 and become something like the “swing vote” that FiveThirtyEight envisions.

Or maybe Cory Gardner just is who he is.

Hickenlooper, Bennet Maybe Both Want To Be President

Colorado Public Radio’s Bente Birkeland:

It turns out Gov. John Hickenlooper isn’t the only Colorado Democrat with his eye on the White House.

U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet is considering a presidential bid, according to three people who confirmed to CPR News that they talked with him about it earlier this fall. The individuals declined to use their names because they were not authorized to speak about the matter. One of them discussed it with Bennet in the last 30 days.

“What he said to me is he is seriously thinking about running,” said another individual. “He has not made up his mind yet but he is seriously thinking about running.”

Who wouldn’t want to run against Donald Trump, asks anyone with the wherewithal?

Our highly unscientific but sure to provoke a lively debate poll asks the question:

Would Bennet or Hickenlooper be the better Democratic nominee for President?
Sen. Michael Bennet
Gov. John Hickenlooper
No preference/unsure
See irate comment below
View Result