Oof! Grinning Gardner the Butt of National Jokes

Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) has had a rough couple of weeks months thanks to his transparent inability to even pretend that he’s anything more than a rubber stamp for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and President Trump on the topic of impeachment.

Gardner’s obsequiousness has made him a national punchline; on Tuesday David Leonhardt of The New York Times wrote a column referring to Gardner as “(R-Invisible),” calling him “a Trump loyalist who doesn’t want to admit it.” And last night, Gardner was the punchline in a skit on “The Tonight Show” about Republican Senators resorting to an “excuse generator” to explain their opposition to calling witnesses in a Senate impeachment trial. Take a look:

“Tonight Show” host Jimmy Fallon poked fun at Republican Senators Rand Paul, Tom Cotton, and James Lankford before setting up the kicker:

FALLON: Next, when they asked Ben Sasse, he said, “Sorry but…I signed up for…smile lessons.”

Next, when they asked Cory Gardner, he said, “Sorry but…I’m teaching…smile lessons.” [Pols emphasis]

This is particularly brutal for Gardner because his smile is the one thing that he and his supporters have promoted above all else. He’s a nice guy! Look how much he smiles!

Before Gardner made inaccessibility his brand, the “smile” was his secret weapon. It was always disingenuous, but it wasn’t always so obviously fake in that used-car salesman kind of way. Gardner’s smile is pasted on his face in order to distract you from whatever double-cross he’s working on at the moment, and his ridiculous posturing around Trump’s dealings with Ukraine have laid that bare. Try saying “We have a trial” over and over again without cracking a smile — it’s impossible.

Even casual observers are seeing Gardner and his smile for what it really is, making him easy fodder for national columnists and late night television. When what was once your greatest political weapon becomes an open joke, your political career is in big trouble.

Via “The Tonight Show” (1/28/20)

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Cory Gardner Just Double-Crossed Somebody

UPDATE (7:15 pm): The Washington Post confirms earlier reporting from the Wall Street Journal:

Several Republican senators up for reelection this November and facing tough campaigns — including Sens. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) — indicated during the meeting that they were ready to vote against witnesses and proceed to the final vote, according to two people familiar with the discussion who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe a private meeting.

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UPDATE #3 (5:45 pm): That sound you hear is Gardner’s office campaign spokesperson FRANTICALLY trying to claw back Gardner’s two-faced “opinions” on calling impeachment witnesses.


Wait, what? Gardner’s CAMPAIGN is “clarifying” something he supposedly said in a private caucus meeting? How does that work?
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Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma)

UPDATE #2: We changed the headline of this post to reflect the bigger story here. Our original post follows below.

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UPDATE: Numerous news outlets are reporting that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told his caucus today that Republicans do NOT have the votes to block calls for witnesses. And as The Wall Street Journal reports:

…at a meeting of all Republican senators late Tuesday, GOP leaders told their conference that they don’t currently have the votes to prevent witnesses from being called, people familiar with the matter said. Republicans had hoped to wrap up the trial with an acquittal of the president by this week, but Democrats have said he should appear under oath to offer a firsthand account of the president’s motivations for freezing aid to Ukraine—a matter at the heart of the impeachment case…

Sens. Cory Gardner of Colorado, Martha McSally of Arizona and Thom Tillis of North Carolina, who face competitive races in the fall, warned colleagues in the meeting against backing more witnesses, people familiar with the matter said. The senators said a drawn-out trial could lead to more Democratic attacks and hurt their re-election chances, the people said. None of the three senators’ offices immediately responded to requests for comment. [Pols emphasis]

But…that can’t be true, right? Gardner was just telling The Denver Post that he has “approached every aspect of this grave constitutional duty with the respect and attention required by law, and with the seriousness our oath requires.”

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John Bolton, still popping up everywhere.

White House attorneys today rested their arguments in the “defense” portion of the Senate impeachment trial against President Trump. The big question now is pretty much the same as the big question a week ago: Will the Senate approve testimony from new witnesses regarding Trump’s alleged demand to withhold foreign aid money from Ukraine until it agreed to investigate a political rival of the President?

Senate Republicans are still divided on this question, though there are new signs of movement. Maine Sen. Susan Collins now says that she is “very likely” to support calls for witness testimony, which would likely include that of former National Security Adviser John Bolton. New polling released today from Quinnipiac University finds that 75% of Americans want to hear from witnesses in the impeachment trial, including 49% of Republicans.

 

(more…)

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“Yosemite Samantha” Lands Coveted Tom Tancredo Endorsement

Lauren Boebert.

Ernest Luning at the Colorado Springs Gazette reports, the CD-3 Republican primary heats up with the announcement that former Republican congressman, presidential candidate, and fringe-right gadfly extraordinaire Tom Tancredo is throwing his weight behind upstart primary challenger Lauren Boebert:

Calling her a “principled, no-nonsense patriot,” former U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo on Monday endorsed fellow Republican Lauren Boebert, who is challenging U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton in a primary.

The immigration hardliner who served five terms in Congress said in a radio ad obtained by Colorado Politics that Boebert, the pistol-packing owner of Shooters Grill in Rifle, “has the same fight in her that I brought to Washington.”

…The ad also touts Boebert’s well-publicized confrontation with Beto O’Rourke when the Texas Democrat brought his soon-to-be-concluded presidential campaign to Aurora to talk about gun violence in September.

Tancredo, one of the legendary pillars of Colorado’s special breed of “kamikaze conservatives” who helped relieve the GOP of most of its power in this state in the last fifteen years (see: The Blueprint by Adam Schrager and Rob Witwer), nonetheless wields a built-in base of support that remains quite influential within the party. Tancredo is also blissfully untethered by any loyalty to the Republican elites in Colorado, who generally remain supportive of incumbent Rep. Scott Tipton.

Does Tancredo’s support win Boebert the primary? Of course not. But we can’t see how it hurts.

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Gardner Finally Sees Doors Closing on His Career

(GULP!)

As you may have heard, Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) doesn’t want to talk about the impeachment of President Trump.

For more than six months now, Gardner has gone to ridiculous lengths to avoid reporter questions on the subject, fleeing from questions on foot, moving walkways, or via his favorite escape method: Capitol Hill elevators. On the rare occasion that he finds himself cornered by a reporter, Gardner vomits out nonsense answers like, “We have a trial” before he scurries away.

We’ve taken note on numerous occasions of Gardner’s proclivity for diving into little-used elevators instead of answering pretty standard questions from local and national journalists alike. Gardner’s most recent elevator escape led to this fantastic GIF on Monday that perfectly encapsulates the last few months for Colorado’s junior Senator.

It would appear, however, that Gardner has finally come to understand just how bad this all looks for him.

Politico’s Burgess Everett elaborates on this Tweet in an “impeachment update” report today:

10:25 A.M.
Cory Gardner avoids elevator moment

Sen. Cory Gardner, who is up for reelection this fall in Colorado, made sure to avoid any ridicule on social media on Tuesday morning.

Asked a question on witnesses, the GOP senator noted the last time he answered he was mocked for allowing the Senate elevator doors to close before he gave a complete answer.

“Last time I got in elevator, one of you guys filmed me and really made fun of. So I’m going to stand here and answer that question. And just ask that you don’t film me!” Gardner said with a laugh. [POLS EMPHASIS]

As to whether he will vote to hear from new witnesses, Gardner was noncommittal: “We’re in the middle of the trial. I’ll continue to listen to the arguments put forward.”

This sounds a lot like a guy who realizes that he has really screwed up here. Gardner wanted to get through the Trump impeachment trial without becoming part of the story, but his painfully obvious attempts at ducking the subject have had the exact opposite effect.

Via The New York Times (1/28/20)

Gardner’s revelation today comes on the same day that David Leonhardt of The New York Times singled out Colorado’s Junior Senator for his invisibility:

Gardner has not expressed skepticism about the obvious lies Trump’s lawyers are telling. Gardner doesn’t seem concerned about Trump perverting foreign policy for his own personal interests. And Gardner has shown no interest in hearing all the relevant evidence by calling witnesses to testify…

…Gardner is making a bet. Even though many of his constituents — most, perhaps — believe that Trump has violated his oath of office, Gardner has evidently decided that he can safely ignore them.

In November, Colorado’s voters will get a chance to prove him wrong.

We’ve said for a long time that inaccessibility is the Gardner brand. The Yuma Republican appears to now understand that he made a huge marketing mistake.

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Tuesday Open Thread

“The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is.”

–Winston Churchill

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ICYMI: Hospitals Making Big Bucks at Your Expense

Hospital executives

We’ve noted at length in this space that creating a “public option” for health care in Colorado will be perhaps the biggest fight of the 2020 legislative session. Governor Jared Polis has made a “public option” a priority for his administration (check out this interview with Polis for more detail), and the health care industry is already spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on television ads and direct mail complaints in an effort to get ahead of the debate and sway public opinion.

The health care industry and “Big Hospital” (also known as the Colorado Hospital Association) have a tough task ahead of them; recent polling shows strong support for a “public option” in Colorado, and a new study released last week examines just how much Coloradans are getting gouged by the health care industry. As The Denver Post reported on Thursday:

Despite money from the state to make up for funding shortfalls and increases in Medicaid payment rates, hospitals — not the providers — are making billions in profits while forcing patients to pay more, according to a report released Thursday by the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing

…The report argues that hospitals are facing less of a shortfall than they did a decade ago because fewer people are uninsured and the state has increased Medicaid reimbursement rates and created other mechanisms to fund shortfalls. Lt. Gov. Dianne Primavera said the state expected hospitals to stop shifting so much of their costs onto people with private insurance as their shortfall went down, but instead they’ve increased spending on executives and middle men.

The shiniest numbers in the state report show that hospital profits nearly tripled in the last decade, rising from an average of $538 per patient in 2009 to $1,518 in 2018. The Colorado Hospital Association responded to these figures with some carefully-ordered but generally meaningless words:

The hospital association said the profits the state cited don’t into account some of their costs, like taxes and the value of time spent training medical residents. It also attributed much of the increase in profitability to a strong economy and to improvements in vulnerable hospitals’ finances.

“(Profit) margin improvement is also due to hospitals working to control their costs as they work to address affordability and operate during a time of great uncertainty,” the statement said.

The health care industry doesn’t have a lot to say here in part because other studies have come to similar conclusions; a separate report from the Health Care Cost Institute showed prices for inpatient hospital services in Denver and Colorado Springs far outpacing nationwide increases.

If the Colorado Hospital Association plans to keep on yammering about “profit margin improvement” while regular Coloradans are discussing the fact that they can’t afford health care, the “public option” debate may be more one-sided than anyone could have predicted.

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John Bolton: Cory Gardner’s (Latest) Moment of Truth

The tipping point?

The Hill’s Alexander Bolton (no relation we assume) reports on the latest bombshell to explode in the faces of Republican Senators hoping to put the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump to bed without witnesses or evidence which has emerged since the House passed the articles of impeachment last month:

The Senate was headed into the second week of the trial facing a pivotal vote on the subject, and it looked like Democrats would almost certainly not win the four GOP votes needed to subpoena new witnesses.

But that was before a report Sunday night in The New York Times.

The report, based on an unpublished manuscript by Trump’s former national security adviser John Bolton, said Bolton in his forthcoming book claims the president tied $391 million in aid to Ukraine to his requests for that country to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter.

Democrats immediately pounced on the news, with the Democratic impeachment managers saying there was no excuse for GOP senators not to vote for witnesses.

Ex-National Security Adviser John Bolton’s frank disclosure that Trump deliberately and personally linked the release of aid to Ukraine with the investigation of Trump’s political opponents is consistent with the testimony of so many other witnesses during the House investigation. But to have the heart of the first article of impeachment against Trump validated by a former member of Trump’s Cabinet is, or at least would be at any other time in history, game-changing–the equivalent of the “smoking gun” Watergate tape that surfaced in early August of 1974 and sank Richard Nixon’s presidency in a matter of days.

Senate Republicans today are reportedly in chaos as they try to get a handle on this latest damning news. A press conference by a number of GOP Senators firmly in Trump’s camp was cancelled this morning, and we’re waiting for statements about Bolton to start trickling out. For Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado, for whom every jot and tittle of this impeachment trial is a perilous choice of evils, what to do about Bolton is even more difficult a question. Gardner is one of a small group of GOP Senators singled out by Bolton’s political action committee for supporting a “a strong, clear, and dependable U.S. national security policy.” Back in 2014 when Gardner was running for his Senate seat, he welcomed Bolton’s endorsement with words that are now back to haunt him:

I’m excited that Ambassador Bolton has endorsed my campaign and appreciate his confidence in my message to Coloradans. We share a commitment to freedom and a desire to ensure America is respected throughout the world. As crises in the Middle East and Ukraine deepen, [Pols emphasis] we need strong leadership at home to prepare us for the further global challenges that lie ahead.

Well folks, it does appear that the crisis in Ukraine has deepened. And John Bolton is ready to talk.

How can Cory Gardner possibly vote to not allow him?

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Crow Steals The Show; Trial of Cory Gardner’s Life Begins


Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Sen. Cory Gardner.

This morning, impeachment manager Rep. Jason Crow of Aurora appeared on CBS’ Face The Nation, where he was questioned about whining complaints from supposedly “swing” Republican Senators–incensed over fellow manager Rep. Adam Schiff reading a CBS News report stating that GOP Senators were warned their heads would (metaphorically we hope) wind up “on a pike” if they voted against the President. Vox covered this latest round of faux outrage yesterday:

After lawmakers left the trial, several continued to voice their concerns. “I thought he was doing fine with moral courage until he got to the head on a pike. That’s where he lost me,” said Sen. Lisa Murkowski. “Nothing like going through three days of frustration and then cap it off with an insult,” said Sen. James Lankford. “He has basically offended every Republican senator in there tonight,” added Sen. John Barrasso.

Even though Rep. Schiff said that he hoped the allegation in the CBS story was not true, apparently the mere suggestion that the Trump administration would have made such a statement–which of course would not have been at all out of character–was enough to make Republican Senators howl with indignation. But as Crow picks up the story on Face The Nation today, do hurt feelings matter more than Senator’s constitutional obligations?

Seriously?

“This isn’t about how people are feeling about this issue,” Crow told “Face the Nation.” “Everybody sitting in that chamber has taken an oath to be an impartial juror.” [Pols emphasis]

Senators Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski, who are considered critical votes in the debate over calling witnesses, have criticized impeachment managers Adam Schiff and Jerry Nadler for portions of their presentations…

However, Crow said he didn’t believe the impeachment managers had “overplayed” their hand. While he “can’t read people’s minds,” he said he hoped Republicans would vote to call allow deliberations over witnesses.

“The president deserves a fair trial. The American people deserve a fair trial. And the senators who are going to have to make a really important decision here in the coming days need to have all the evidence and the full picture in front of them,” Crow said.

Over the last few days, House impeachment managers have rained historic fire on the Trump administration, making a compelling case that the President should be removed from office for manipulating foreign policy for domestic political benefit–and then obstructing Congress’ investigation into his actions. The GOP’s interim response has been that the presentation was “boring” old evidence they’ve already seen from the House proceedings–but after Sen. Cory Gardner and Senate Republicans voted repeatedly to block new evidence from being introduced that argument is ludicrous. There doesn’t even appear to be much desire to refute the facts of the case against Trump at this point, let alone justify the GOP’s contradictory position of complaining about “boring old evidence” while voting against considering new evidence.

The powerful indictment of Trump delivered by Schiff, Crow, and the rest of the impeachment managers last week isn’t going to be derailed by lame Republican complaints about a news report that few if anyone even find implausible. For Sen. Gardner, there’s just nothing to work with in this latest weak sauce of a defense, and that’s exactly what Rep. Crow drove home today on Face The Nation. If Gardner, who voted to exclude the new evidence Republicans disingenuously now complain isn’t being presented continues to stick to this untenably contradictory party line, he will pay dearly in November when Colorado voters render their own verdict.

At some level, we believe Gardner is aware of this. Gardner is seeing the same poll numbers that Democrats see. His actions in the coming week could tell an important story: whether Gardner still has the will to fight the most uphill U.S. Senate battle of 2020, or whether he is already resigned to the fate the polls forecast.

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Steven Mnuchin: Why The Kids Hate Politics

SUNDAY UPDATE: A little awkward around the Mnuchin dinner table today, as Politico reports:

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin’s wife on Saturday appeared to publicly break with her husband over support for Greta Thunberg’s climate change activism.

“I stand with Greta on this issue. (I don’t have a degree in economics either),” actress Louise Linton wrote in a now-deleted Instagram post after Mnuchin chided the 17-year-old’s call for governments to end their support of fossil fuels at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, saying she should attend college and study economics…

“We need to drastically reduce our use of fossil fuels,” she wrote. “Keep up the fight @gretathunberg.”

Steven Mnuchin says “very helpful dear, thank you.”

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Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin (right).

ABC News reporting from Davos Switzerland, where U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is hard at work setting the Republican Party’s reputation with the kids back to the stone age:

As an executive producer of the last Mad Max movie, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin might have been interested in the apocalyptic climate warnings of Greta Thunberg.

Instead, he took a personal swipe at the 17-year-old, saying she was in no position to give advice on climate change because she hasn’t been to college yet…

“Is she the chief economist? Who is she? I’m confused,” he said. Then following a brief pause, he said it was “a joke.”

“After she goes and studies economics in college, she can come back and explain that to us,” he concluded.

Climate activist Greta Thunberg, who has been driving white dudes over 5o like Steve Mnuchin to an unusual degree of distraction with her impertinence on the matter of human-caused climate change since coming on the scene in 2018 with a high school protest against climate change that went viral, responded with rightful impertinence:

Which makes sense, since climate science is properly the domain of climate scientists, not economists! In fact this telling mistake helps explain why the will to take action on the issue is nonexistent in the Trump administration. We need scientists informing environmental policy, and instead we have guys like Steve Mnuchin.

In short, Mnuchin just proved Greta Thunberg’s point.

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Tipton, Gardner Celebrate “Dirty Water Act”

Ricardo Lopez Jr. of the Pueblo Chieftain reports:

On Thursday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of the Army finalized the Navigable Waters Protection Rule, which replaces the Waters of the United States Act approved by the Obama administration in 2015.

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis immediately denounced the move, calling it a plan “to gut federal clean water protections.”

The revised definition identifies four clear categories of waters that are federally regulated under the Clean Water Act: the territorial seas and traditional navigable waters; perennial and intermittent tributaries; certain lakes, ponds, and impoundments; and wetlands that are adjacent to jurisdictional waters…

“In Colorado, we value our clean water. Our rivers, streams, and lakes serve as the lifeblood of our communities and help support our thriving outdoor and agriculture industries,” Polis said Thursday. “Our administration will continue to reject attempts by the Trump administration to gut proven ways to protect our health and environment.”

The Grand Junction Sentinel’s Dennis Webb:

Federal agencies on Thursday finalized a new clean-water rule that supporters including U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton say provides much-needed regulatory certainty.

But opponents, including the administration of Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, say it will result in the weakest protections since the passage of the Clean Water Act nearly a half a century ago…

Last April, the Polis administration and Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser submitted joint comments on the rule proposal that was finalized this week. Their letter said that as with many western states, the large majority of Colorado’s stream miles are intermittent or ephemeral. [Pols emphasis] The state said the proposal would shrink federal jurisdiction far below guidance issued in 2008 by the George W. Bush administration “to a smaller number of Colorado waters” than what presidential administrations have required since the Clean Water Act’s passage. While many ephemeral waters aren’t jurisdictional under the 2008 guidance, the new rule categorically excludes them from jurisdiction, “regardless of their connection to downstream waters,” the state wrote.

Although the new rule is intended to resolve “uncertainty” over the extent of the Clean Water Act’s jurisdiction, meaning continued special-interest grumbling and court challenges since the Obama administration passed the 2015 “Waters of the United States” rule, this rollback is particularly bad for arid Western states. The seasonality of precipitation and overall scarcity of water here compared to states east of the “20 inch isohyet” means many ephemeral waterways which most certainly can contribute to water pollution in “navigable” bodies of water covered by the Act will lose their federal protection.

It’s a classic case of choosing economic interests over environmental protection, and it works against both Rep. Scott Tipton’s and Sen. Cory Gardner’s claims to be different from other Republicans on conservation–or at least attuned to how these issues differ in the state they represent from other regions of the country. The only people this new rule should make happy are those who benefit financially from being able to pollute small bodies of water with impunity.

And it’s hard to imagine that being a majority of Colorado voters.

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Another Painful Elevator Escape For Cory Gardner

CNN’s Manu Raju is the latest reporter in Washington to make a run at the nation’s most elusive U.S. Senator, Cory Gardner of Colorado–and in the few literal seconds they had together, Gardner actually revealed quite a bit about where he stands in the ongoing impeachment trial against President Donald Trump.

That is, with Trump:

The key thing to note here that Gardner is committing only to consider the testimony from “witnesses that we’ve heard from in the House”–not any of the damning new evidence that emerged since the House passed the articles of impeachment, and not even the testimony being freely offered by potentially explosive witnesses like ex-National Security Adviser and alleged friend of Cory John Bolton. For anyone trying to do the math to get Democrats to a majority needed to introduce new witnesses and evidence now or later in the trial, this is a strong signal that Gardner will not be breaking ranks with the President.

And it’s not surprising anyone in the know:

Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

At the same time, Gardner’s continuing refusal to take a concrete position even as he votes with the President is politically self-destructive in its own right. Although this time Gardner had the mercy of a closing elevator door, he’s already become a nationwide metaphor for the total inability of Republican Senators to conduct effective oversight of their own President–or even answer the most basic questions about the case against him.

Yesterday, GOP Senators were told bluntly: “vote against the President and your head will be on a pike.” For Cory Gardner, on trial for his future as much as Trump himself, the doublespeak that served him so well winning statewide office has run head-first into the reality of who he truly serves–and it is hurting him now worse than saying nothing at all.

It’s just too easy to read between the lines.

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Mike Coffman, Ironic Impeachment Tourist


Politico reporter Connor O’Brien caught sight of a familiar face at the U.S. Capitol in Washington today:

We’re not sure if this is ex-Rep. now Aurora Mayor Mike Coffman’s first trip back to D.C. since his double-digit loss to Rep. Jason Crow in the 2018 elections–it probably isn’t–but this year’s U.S. Conference of Mayors Winter Meeting couldn’t have come at a more ironic moment for Coffman as Crow basks in the national limelight serving as an impeachment manager in the trial of President Donald Trump. Coffman, who campaigned in both 2016 and 2018 on a platform of strained ambivalence toward Trump to triangulate off his own party’s brand, enjoys lifetime access to the floor of the U.S. House as a former member.

But it’s not surprising to spot him on the Senate side where there’s still a GOP majority to hobnob with, and of course that’s where all the action is this week anyway! If Coffman wants to make more of this trip than a bittersweet nostalgia tour, one way to do that would be to join his successor in calling for Trump’s removal from office. It would also help demonstrate, at least in hindsight, that Coffman’s affected disdain for Trump while trying to keep his seat was authentic.

Fat chance, we know.

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Former Rep. Judy Reyher is Now Out of the Race in HD-47

Ex-Rep. Judy Reyher, who famously told The Denver Post that she “hated the black half of Obama as much as” she “hated the white half.”

Republican Judy Reyher, the unabashed racist who was briefly a state legislator in HD-47 until voters decided, “no, thanks,” has removed herself from consideration for a State House seat in 2020.

We noted last November that Reyher and her technicolor dreamcoat were hoping to make a comeback in the state legislature, but that campaign was short-lived. Today, Reyher announced via Facebook that she was dropping her bid for HD-47 and throwing her support behind Republican Ron Parker for the Pueblo-area seat currently held by Democratic Rep. Bri Buentello.

“After a great deal of thought and discussion with people who matter to me, I have decided that I am dropping out of the race for Colorado House District 47 for the 2020 election,” wrote Reyher on Facebook. “I stepped in because I firmly believe we must send our current Representative home, and we must put this seat back into the hands of a Republican. We now have Ron Parker from Pueblo as a candidate. I believe he will do a good job, and I will do all I can to help elect him.”

Reyher served in the State Legislature for one full session in 2018 after winning a vacancy committee appointment, and then proceeded to lose a GOP Primary to an equally-problematic General Election candidate in Don Bendell. A few months later, Buentello defeated “Deadbeat Dad” Bendell to flip a Republican-held seat to the side of Democrats.

We have now learned two things from Reyher: 1) You can’t be a racist if you went to a wedding in China, and 2) It’s hard to make a comeback in a legislative district when your own party has already rejected you once before.

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Who’s Afraid Of The “Public Option?” Not Colorado

As the Denver Post’s Saja Hindi reports:

More than half of Colorado voters are in favor of the state creating a public insurance health option and nearly three-quarters support setting limits on prescription drug costs, according to a new survey by a progressive political group.

Strategies 360, a political consulting firm, surveyed 600 registered voters in Colorado earlier this month by phone, and the results, first reported by The Denver Post, show widespread support for health care reforms in the state. The survey was paid for by the State Innovative Exchange, known as SiX, a national group that works to advance progressive changes. About 4 in 10 survey participants were unaffiliated voters with the rest split almost evenly between Republicans and Democrats. The margin of error was 4%.

The possibility of a public option in Colorado has garnered significant attention since last year. Proponents say they are working to reduce costs for the consumer, while opponents insist that it will have unintended costs for hospitals and quality of care, with money pouring in from special interest groups opposing the model. Still, results from the survey showed a majority of Coloradans — 58 percent — favor a public option, with 82% of liberals, 63% of moderates and 41% of conservatives supporting it. The survey showed particularly strong support — 55% — on the Western Slope, where residents have struggled with some of the highest health care costs in the country.

Set to be one of the biggest ideological battles in this year’s session of the Colorado legislature, a “public option” to compete against traditional for-profit insurance plans to bring costs down was at one point a central plank of the 2010 Affordable Care Act–jettisoned from the bill late in the process in order to win over a few recalcitrant Democratic Senators. The proposal coming together for Colorado in 2020 is for coverage plans that would still be sold by private insurers, but follow tighter cost control rules primarily on the provider payment side to deliver a lower-priced product, with the same essential coverage and less deductible expense to consumers.

Which means, of course, that it’s about to be absolutely vilified by Republican opponents and the for-profit health care lobby as the second coming of [insert 20th Century communist despot here]! But after a decade of pitched partisan political warfare over healthcare reform, much of which has had little if any tethering to reality, this poll says pretty clearly that Colorado voters are ready to take some of the next logical steps on the issue–reforms that were on the table a decade ago, and would still have merit today.

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Trump: You’re Goddamn Right I Ordered The Code Red

Oops, he said shortly afterward.

Rolling Stone’s Peter Wade reports while anyone paying attention picks their jaw up off the floor:

President Trump said he’s happy with the way the impeachment trial is going thus far because his administration has not released “materials” that would hurt his cause.

“When we released that conversation all hell broke out with the Democrats,” Trump said. “Because they said, ‘Wait a minute, this is much different than [what Adam Schiff] told us.’”

The president continued, “So, we’re doing very well. I got to watch [the impeachment trial] enough. I thought our team did a very good job. But honestly, we have all the material. They don’t have the material.” [Pols emphasis]

President Donald Trump’s gleeful apparent admission that the White House did not provide materials requested by investigators would seem to validate the second of the two articles of impeachment currently before the U.S. Senate–obstruction of Congress:

The House of Representatives has engaged in an impeachment inquiry focused on President Trump’s corrupt solicitation of the Government of Ukraine to interfere in the 2020 United States Presidential election. As part of this impeachment inquiry, the Committees undertaking the investigation served subpoenas seeking documents and testimony deemed vital to the inquiry from various Executive Branch agencies and offices, and current and former officials.

In response, without lawful cause or excuse, President Trump directed Executive Branch agencies, offices, and officials not to comply with those subpoenas. President Trump thus interposed the powers of the Presidency against the lawful subpoenas of the House of Representatives, and assumed to himself functions and judgments necessary to the exercise of the “sole Power of Impeachment” vested by the Constitution in the House of Representatives.

In other words, exactly what Trump appears to have just admitted to! Will it make a difference to Republicans like Sen. Cory Gardner that Trump just yucked it up about stonewalling Congress from the information they needed to investigate allegedly impeachable offenses? We’d say it takes a certain amount of contempt for one’s own authority as a lawmaker to simply ignore this brazen disregard for Congress’ subpoena power.

Then again, it would hardly be the first time Gardner has had to debase himself for Trump’s benefit.

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Crow Impresses on First Day of Impeachment Trial

Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma), who sits dutifully behind President Trump’s legal team on the floor of the U.S. Senate, has been getting hammered in national news outlets for his blind obedience to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Team Trump despite an oath to be an “impartial juror” in the President’s impeachment trial.

Colorado Rep. Jason Crow (D-Aurora), meanwhile, is earning rave reviews for his performance as one of seven House “impeachment managers” prosecuting the case against Trump. Here’s NBC News Capitol Hill Correspondent Kasie Hunt on Tuesday:

In Gardner and Crow, Colorado has two high-profile connections to the Senate impeachment trial of President Trump. The contrast couldn’t be more stark.

From The Daily Caller:

Tuesday’s session lasted almost 13 hours, according to CNBC. Crow, a former Army Ranger, spoke late into the evening and noted that despite the late hour, it was morning in Ukraine, where soldiers were fighting Russia and depending on U.S. aid. He previously served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“The American people deserve answers,” Crow said Tuesday. “I remember what it feels like to not have the equipment you need when you need it. Real people’s lives are at stake. That’s why this matters. We need this information so we can ensure that this never happens again. Eventually, this will all come out.”

“We will have answers to these questions. The question now is whether we will have them in time, and who here will be on the right side of history.”

— Rep. Jason Crow (D-Aurora)

Justin Wingerter of The Denver Post has more on Crow’s performance from Tuesday:

Crow took to the Senate floor in the evening to argue for a subpoena of documents from OMB, where testimony and media reports suggest officials were concerned by Trump’s withholding of military aid to Ukraine.

“We know these documents exist and we know the only reason we do not have them is because the president directed OMB not to release them,” Crow said, referring to what he claims are key documents that reveal how the president’s controversial order was enacted. “Because he knows what they would show.”

Crow went through a timeline of events related to the withholding of aid to Ukraine in the summer of 2019, punctuating his remarks on several occasions by saying, “The American people deserve answers.” Crow talked about his own combat service in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the importance of military aid to soldiers in wartime.

“Who knew what, and when? OMB documents would shed light on OMB’s actions as the president’s scheme unraveled,” the congressman said.

Crow’s background as an Army Ranger who served in both Iraq and Afghanistan allows him to frame the withholding of military aid from Ukraine in a very personal manner; there aren’t many Members of Congress who could have the same impact, as you can see from this CNN clip below:

One member of Colorado’s Congressional delegation is standing up for what he believes and making a passionate case for his colleagues to follow. The other is Cory Gardner.

Kudos to Jason Crow.

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The Get More Smarter Podcast: Colorado’s Critical Role on Choice

This week on The Get More Smarter Podcast, Ian Silverii has a baby (well, not on the podcast), so Alan Franklin joins Jason Bane to talk about Sen. Cory Gardner getting hammered by national reporters; how Jon Caldara getting canned from The Denver Post epitomizes a larger problem for Colorado Republicans; and how Big Potato picked up a smashing victory. Later, journalist Madeleine Schmidt joins Alan and Jason to discuss her reporting for Jezebel about Colorado’s important role as a safe-haven for women facing difficult decisions about abortions later in pregnancy.

Questions? Comments? Complaints? Hit us up at AngryRants@getmoresmarter.com.

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Wednesday Open Thread

“There is a higher court than courts of justice and that is the court of conscience. It supercedes all other courts.”

–Mahatma Gandhi

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