Mueller Report Open Thread #1

UPDATE #4: Rep. Diana DeGette’s statement is much more to the point:

“The report released today paints a very different picture than what the president and attorney general had hoped the American people would see. And it’s now more important than ever that Congress be granted access to the full unredacted report immediately.”

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UPDATE #3: Congressman Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs) might be the world’s fastest reader. From the Denver Post:

“I voted for the release of the Mueller report because I value transparency in government and all of my constituents should be able to read the document, firsthand,” said Rep. Doug Lamborn, a Colorado Springs Republican, on Twitter. “Now it’s been released and it’s very clear – absolutely no collusion.”

Lamborn’s conclusions came 45 minutes after release of the 448-page report. [Pols emphasis] The report states that investigators did not search for collusion, but rather coordination, between Trump’s former campaign and the Russian government as the latter interfered in the 2016 presidential election.

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UPDATE #2: This deserves its own post.

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UPDATE: A key portion of the report appears to acknowledge that President Donald Trump attempted to obstruct justice, but was prevented from doing so by subordinates who refused to break the law:

That’s pretty far from “exonerating.”

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Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Attorney General William Barr

The 400-page Mueller Report will be revealed today (in a redacted form) for the first time. This morning, President Trump’s personal attorney Attorney General William Barr held a press conference to discuss the report’s release but also to preemptively defend his client the President.

We don’t yet know what the Mueller Report says, and it will take awhile for everything to be read and digested by news outlets, but here’s Aaron Blake of the Washington Post after Barr’s press conference this morning:

When Attorney General William P. Barr announced he was going to hold a news conference before the release of the Mueller report Thursday, there was instant pushback. How can the media ask questions about a report it hasn’t seen? Would this just be a whole bunch of pre-spin from a man already accused of being too friendly to the president who appointed him?

Barr’s performance did nothing to argue against those allegations.

In a lengthy opening statement, Barr found just about every way possible to say that there was no coordination, cooperation or conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia. He also said Trump was right about “no collusion,” expanding the Mueller report’s clearing of Trump to a more nebulous term with little legal significance.

But perhaps more importantly, on obstruction of justice, he seemed to go to bat for Trump personally, offering a sympathetic take on the president’s state of mind and cooperation. [Pols emphasis]

There will no doubt be much more to discuss on this topic as the day progresses.

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CU Regent Heidi Ganahl Endorses Trump

(Colorado’s only OTHER statewide elected Republican official – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

The red meat was indeed raw and juicy at the Colorado Republican Central Committee meeting last month.

Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner shouted about needing “a fighter” at the top of his lungs. Congressman Ken Buck (R-CO) threatened recalls and dared Democrats to take his guns from his “cold dead hands.” District Attorney George Brauchler said “the front was bloody” and warned that soon Coloradans will have to call California “our overlords.”

Compared to violent language and imagery favored by Buck, Gardner, and Brauchler, University of Colorado Regent Heidi Ganahl’s speech was relatively tame.

“We’re on the right side of history. We have the right solutions for the problems our state faces, and Ken Buck has a track record of winning and winning big, as our president likes to say. “It’s time to get to work to re-elect President Trump, to re-elect Senator Gardner, and to win back the state legislature.” CU Regent Heidi Ganahl, Republican Central Committee meeting, 3/30/19

This straightforward endorsement wouldn’t be significant were it not for the fact that during her 2016 campaign for CU Regent, Ganahl refused to even utter the name of her party’s presidential candidate.

(more…)

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Gardner Down on Herman Cain–But Not Because He’s a Lech!

Herman Cain.

CNN reports on the latest Donald Trump-engineered minefield for Republicans up for election in 2020 to navigate, the forthcoming nomination of two controversial figures to serve on the board of the Federal Reserve: conservative columnist Stephen Moore formerly of the Wall Street Journal, and more controversially Herman Cain, the 2012 presidential candidate whose campaign collapsed under the dual revelations of Cain’s gross incompetence and extensive womanizing.

The concern over Cain in particular has grown so great that it appears Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is taking the rare step of allowing Republican Senators to publicly grouse:

During Tuesday afternoon’s Senate Republican lunch, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell advised senators concerned about Trump’s selection of former presidential candidate and pizza executive Herman Cain and conservative economic commentator Stephen Moore to share their views with the White House now, before Trump officially moves forward with the nominations, a source familiar with the remarks told CNN…

Aiming to avoid a public fight over the confirmation, some Republicans hope to persuade Trump to reconsider ahead of Cain’s official nomination.

The problem, as Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado discovered shortly afterward, is that the “fight” is already public:

“No,” Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado quickly responded when asked if he would support Cain.

But, says Sen. Gardner, and this is a key point:

“It’s not about his past. [Pols emphasis] It’s about who I think should be on the board,” the senator explained. “So that’s that.”

Unfortunately “that’s that” isn’t a satisfactory explanation in the least for why Sen. Gardner would oppose Cain’s nomination, yet specifically exclude Cain’s “past” from his reasoning. But there is an explanation for Gardner being cagey: in October of 2016, after the tape of now-President Trump bragging about his ability as a television star to sexually assault women surfaced to bipartisan condemnation, Sen. Gardner called on Trump to pull out of the race, saying “I cannot and will not support someone who brags about degrading and assaulting women.” In January, Gardner endorsed Trump’s re-election in 2020, saying he “likes” the President and thinks Colorado should get the chance to like him too. Gardner has yet to offer an explanation for this, uh change of heart that would reassure women voters who took him at his word the first time.

But once Gardner let Trump off the hook he can’t really condemn Herman Cain, can he? Or anybody else.

It’s kind of a problem.

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Get More Smarter on Tuesday (April 9)

Temperatures in Colorado could reach a high near 80 degrees; tomorrow it might snow as much as 7 inches. Please note that this does not give you the right to say things like, “That’s Colorado weather for ya!” It’s time “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…

► It seems clear that the Trump administration is in the midst of a calculated leadership purge within the Department of Homeland Security. As the Washington Post explains:

President Trump continued to dismantle the leadership of the nation’s top domestic security agency Monday, as the White House announced the imminent removal of U.S. Secret Service Director Randolph D. “Tex” Alles, the latest in a series of head-spinning departures from the Department of Homeland Security.

A day after Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen was forced to step aside following a White House meeting with Trump, senior DHS officials remained in a fog about the fate of their agency’s leaders, expecting more firings as part of a widening purge.

“They are decapitating the entire department,” said one DHS official, noting that the White House had given no cause for Alles’s removal.

As Politico reports, Congressional Republicans are at a loss for words in trying to understand what the White House is doing:

President Donald Trump’s congressional allies are alarmed by his purge at the Department of Homeland Security — urging him not to fire more top officials and warning him how hard it will be to solve twin crises at the border and the federal agencies overseeing immigration policy.

The president’s frantic four days of bloodletting at DHS and other agencies blindsided senior Republicans who are already fretting about difficult confirmation battles ahead. Some are worried about the rising influence of top White House aide Stephen Miller. And after November elections in which suburban voters rejected Trump’s hard-line immigration agenda, the president is once again making it the centerpiece of the GOP’s platform.

“It’s a mess,” Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) said, summing up the dynamic on the border and in Washington.

Chris Cillizza of CNN looks at the list of administration officials who said “No” to the big orange guy and subsequently lost their jobs.

 

► Attorney General William Barr said today that a redacted Mueller report will be delivered to Congress and the American public “within a week.” The New York Times has more details, including news that special counsel Robert Mueller did not review a four-page summary of the report that Barr announced last week. Elie Honig of CNN wonders how much of the report will end up blacked-out:

In the interest of transparency and public confidence in the Department of Justice, Barr should put away his redaction pen and disclose as much of Muller’s report as possible. Anything less will raise one big question: What is Barr trying to hide?

 

► These three sentences from Tyler Silvy of the Greeley Tribune tell you everything you need to know about the recall effort to oust Rep. Rochelle Galindo:

Former Weld County GOP Chairwoman Stacey Kjeldgaard, who is leading the recall effort, in a phone interview Sunday went further when it comes to oil and gas — and the potential negative economic impact of SB 181 — being the reason for the recall.

“That’s our big thing; that’s our only thing,” Kjeldgaard said.

But then there’s this: When asked whether she would be working to recall Galindo if she had voted “no” on SB 181, Kjeldgaard said, “Absolutely.” [Pols emphasis]

Recalling a freshman Democratic Representative is about a lot of things — Galindo’s sexuality, Republican anger at getting drubbed in the 2018 election, and the enormous grift opportunity it presents for numerous right-wing political operatives, to name a few — but it ain’t about how Galindo voted on SB-181.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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“America Is Full”–Where Have We Heard That Before?

Tom Tancredo.

AP via Time, in case you missed the considerable hubbub this weekend:

Declaring “our country is full,” President Donald Trump on Friday insisted the U.S. immigration system was overburdened and illegal crossings must be stopped as he inspected a refurbished section of fencing at the Mexican border.

Trump, making a renewed push for border security as a central campaign issue for his 2020 re-election, participated in a briefing on immigration and border security in Calexico before viewing a 2-mile (3.2-kilometer) see-through steel-slat barrier that was a long-planned replacement for an older barrier — and not new wall.

“There is indeed an emergency on our southern border,” Trump said at the briefing, adding that there has been a sharp uptick in illegal crossings. “It’s a colossal surge and it’s overwhelming our immigration system, and we can’t let that happen. … We can’t take you anymore. We can’t take you. Our country is full.”

Back in 2015, former Congressman Tom Tancredo was interviewed by the Denver Post for his thoughts about Donald Trump–at a time when Trump was still considered a sideshow instead of a credible campaign for the presidency and his thoughts about the ‘rapists and some good people’ coming into the country were freshly offending the nation’s sensibilities. Tancredo responded that he most certainly supported Trump’s sentiments on immigration, but suggested Trump be “a little more artful” about how he says things:

“He should take lessons from me on how to talk to the press. For a small fee — no, actually for a very large fee — I will help him out. You’ve got to learn how to talk about it, which takes years of practice, which God knows I’ve had,” Tancredo said, cracking himself up.

For most of his long career in politics, Tancredo’s hard line on immigration has been so politically toxic that even most fellow Republicans kept him at arm’s length. During the last Republican administration under George W. Bush, Tancredo’s headline-making invective against immigrants and Muslims, once suggesting the Islamic holy cities of Mecca and Medina be “taken out” and that Miami is a “third world country,” was harshly condemned by fellow conservatives who went to great lengths to marginalize Tancredo within the Republican coalition:

“What a nut,” [Florida Gov. Jeb] Bush told reporters. “I’m just disappointed. He’s from my own my party. He’s a Republican. He doesn’t represent my views.” [Pols emphasis]

Today the Republican President of the United States makes the kind of unhinged rhetoric that Tom Tancredo employed to infamy look tame by comparison on a daily basis. And when Donald Trump declares “our country is full,” he’s elevating the slogan of a man who was too far out on the fringe to be governor of Colorado barely a year ago. Because Tom Tancredo was around long before Trump legitimized Tancredo’s style of bitter anti-immigrant demagoguery, Tancredo serves as an excellent yardstick with which to measure how far the national discourse has fallen under Trump.

The answer: very, very far.

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“Total Exoneration” Looks Less Exonerating By The Day

TOTAL EXONERATION. Got it?

The New York Times reports that the celebration by Republicans following the release of a letter from Attorney General William Barr on the now-completed investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election may have been more than a little premature:

Some of Robert S. Mueller III’s investigators have told associates that Attorney General William P. Barr failed to adequately portray the findings of their inquiry and that they were more troubling for President Trump than Mr. Barr indicated, according to government officials and others familiar with their simmering frustrations.

At stake in the dispute — the first evidence of tension between Mr. Barr and the special counsel’s office — is who shapes the public’s initial understanding of one of the most consequential government investigations in American history. Some members of Mr. Mueller’s team are concerned that, because Mr. Barr created the first narrative of the special counsel’s findings, Americans’ views will have hardened before the investigation’s conclusions become public…

A debate over how the special counsel’s conclusions are represented has played out in public as well as in recent weeks, with Democrats in Congress accusing Mr. Barr of intervening to color the outcome of the investigation in the president’s favor.

In his letter to Congress outlining the report’s chief conclusions, Mr. Barr said that Mr. Mueller found no conspiracy between Mr. Trump’s campaign and Russia’s 2016 election interference. While Mr. Mueller made no decision on his other main question, whether the president illegally obstructed the inquiry, he explicitly stopped short of exonerating Mr. Trump.

As time passes since Mueller handed off his investigation’s finding to Attorney General Barr, a Trump ally widely believed to have been chosen for the job because of his expansive view of presidential powers and limited oversight of those powers, the initial jubilation on the part of Trump loyalists has given way to nervous deflection. Trump’s declaration that the outcome represents “total exoneration” was not even supported by the extremely limited content of Barr’s letter, which in one of its few verbatim citations of Mueller’s own words makes clear that Trump was not exonerated.

With that uncomfortable reality becoming clearer with each passing news cycle, if the plan was to allow enough time between Barr’s letter and the full report’s release to deflate public interest, at this point the delay is more likely to have the opposite effect. Especially if the sum of the full report’s conclusions make what’s been released so far look like a cover-up, which this latest story suggests may be the case, it’s only going to increase public outrage when the truth comes out.

And for all we know, something game-changing could well be in the offing.

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Does Cory Gardner Think “Windmills Cause Cancer” Too?

Sen. Cory Gardner (R), giving himself cancer in a 2014 campaign ad.

CNN reports on remarks from President Donald Trump at a Washington, D.C. fundraiser for the National Republican Congressional Committee yesterday–in which Trump goes off on a tangent about the horrors of wind power that we have to think would make our allegedly pro-wind power Sen. Cory Gardner blush:

“Hillary wanted to put up wind,” said President Donald Trump at a fundraiser for Republicans in Washington Tuesday, kicking off an extended riff about the evils of windmills — wind turbines, more accurately — and the inadequacy of wind energy. It’s worth looking at in full since it’s clearly becoming part of his stump speech and feeds into his larger distrust of renewable energy and his mocking of climate change…

Among Trump’s false claims yesterday about wind turbines was the baseless assertion that “if you have a windmill anywhere near your house, congratulations, your house just went down 75% in value.” Nobody knows where Trump got that figure, which is 10% higher than he gave in another setting–but it doesn’t matter because neither number has any basis in reality.

From there, it only gets worse:

Trump: “And they say the noise causes cancer. You told me that one, OK.” (Then he made circles with his hands and a noise with his mouth.) “You know the thing makes so…”

It’s not clear who it was who told this to Trump, but there’s no evidence to back it up. There are frustrations with noise from wind turbines and those have led to reports of things like insomnia and dizziness among some people who live near wind turbines. Scientific studies have not identified any human health risk.

And if “noise causes cancer” isn’t enough for you, next came a statement that will come as a big surprise to thousands of Coloradans who work in the wind power industry:

Trump: “No, wind’s not so good and you have no idea how expensive it is to make those things. They’re all made in China and Germany, by the way, just in case you, we don’t make them here, essentially.” [Pols emphasis]

The wind industry has been on a tear. The fastest-growing occupation in the US in 2017 was wind turbine technician, although it’s still a small part of the economy, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. More than 105,000 Americans are employed in the wind industry across all 50 states, according to the American Wind Energy Association, a trade group…

Here in Colorado, four production plants owned by Vestas Wind Systems employ some 3,500 people from Windsor to Pueblo. Not all wind turbines installed in the U.S. are made in the U.S., and parts from across the world go into turbines that are made here–but either way it’s absolute nonsense to claim that turbines don’t provide American jobs.

Of course, the fact that Donald Trump tells lies is not exactly breaking news. The Washington Post released an analysis Monday showing that Trump has made a practically inconceivable 9,451 false claims in the last 800 days. But in the particular case of savaging the wind power industry, there should be someone in the GOP willing to stand up and call Trump out: Cory Gardner of Colorado, who made such a big deal of his support for wind energy on the campaign trail in 2014. Gardner’s recent cozying up to Trump ahead of their mutual bid for re-election in 2020 has included no serious attempt at reconciling Trump’s immoderate words with Gardner’s allegedly more reasonable positions on a wide range of issues, including renewable energy.

With all of this in mind, it’s time to ask the question: does Cory Gardner think wind turbines–in particular the “noise they make”–cause cancer? And if the answer is no, and we assume it is, the next question is this: what would Trump have to lie about to lose Gardner’s support? Trump’s treatment of women wasn’t enough, the North Korean debacle wasn’t enough–not even the national emergency Gardner was certain he opposed before it was ordered.

There must be something Gardner cares about enough stand up to Trump, but this once again isn’t it.

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Get More Smarter on Tuesday (April 2)

At least you don’t have to worry about lame April Fool’s Day jokes for another year. 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…

► The Trump administration may or may not have an actual plan for health care reform, but the answer to that question won’t be settled anytime soon. President Trump is heeding Republican worries about picking another health care reform fight ahead of the 2020 election cycle, as CNN reports:

President Donald Trump on Monday night backed away from his push for a vote on an Obamacare replacement until after the 2020 elections, bowing to the political reality that major health care legislation cannot pass in the current Congress.

Trump’s statements come a week after his administration announced that it now agreed with a judge’s ruling that the entire Affordable Care Act should be scrapped. The opinion was a dramatic reversal from the administration’s previous stance that only portions of the act could not be defended…

…”The Republicans are developing a really great HealthCare Plan with far lower premiums (cost) & deductibles than ObamaCare. In other words it will be far less expensive & much more usable than ObamaCare. Vote will be taken right after the Election when Republicans hold the Senate & win back the House. It will be truly great HealthCare that will work for America,” Trump declared in a series of tweets. “Also, Republicans will always support Pre-Existing Conditions. The Republican Party will be known as the Party of Great HealtCare. Meantime, the USA is doing better than ever & is respected again!”

Trump’s decision comes at a good time for White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, who has been getting hammered by media outlets for nonsensical health care statements he made on the talk show circuit last weekend.

 

► Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) says that he opposes President Trump’s latest threats to close the U.S.-Mexico border. Of course, Gardner says a lot of stuff that he doesn’t mean, like his “opposition” to Trump’s “emergency declaration” for border wall money.

 

► The Associated Press reports on the advancement of some significant legislation at the State Capitol:

A House committee on Monday advanced a bill to ask Colorado voters if the state can retain excess tax revenue and a companion bill that would spend that revenue on roads and schools.

The House Finance Committee votes came after Democratic Speaker KC Becker argued the state should do all it can — especially at a time of sustained economic growth — to address Colorado’s chronically underfunded transportation and education needs…

…One bill would ask voters in November if the state can keep excess revenue that would otherwise be refunded under the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights. The other would allocate that excess revenue in equal parts to K-12 schools, higher education and transportation.

Even some of the most staunch defenders of TABOR are admitting that the spending restrictions need to be changed — and soon.

 

► So-called “red flag” gun safety legislation has officially made it through the state legislature and is now on its way to the desk of Gov. Jared Polis. From 9News:

The bill would allow the seizure of weapons from persons the court deems to pose a significant risk to themselves or others.

The 38-25 passing vote included two Democrats who voted against it: Rep. Bri Buentello (D-Pueblo) and Rep. Donald Valdez (D-La Jara)…

…Colorado Republicans defeated a similar bill last year, insisting it infringed on citizens’ Second Amendment rights. But Democrats won both statehouse chambers in November, and Polis called for a “red flag” law while campaigning last year.

It would allow family or law enforcement to seek a court order to have guns seized if they believe the owner is a threat. If approved, a subsequent court hearing would be held to determine whether to extend the seizure, up to 364 days.

Polis is expected to sign the legislation, which is overwhelmingly popular among most Colorado voters.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Trump Pulls Rug From Under Gardner on Health Care

President Trump and Sen. Cory Gardner.

After the report on the investigation into the 2016 elections by Special Counsel Robert Mueller was given to the Justice Department, leading to a terse memo from Attorney General William Barr that has at least for the moment alleviated the immediate threat of impeachment of President Donald Trump over the still-unreleased report’s conclusions, Trump immediately started pushing hard on a fresh effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act–a program that has hung on tenaciously despite numerous attempts to repeal and a number of successful attempts to weaken President Barack Obama’s signature legislation.

Well, as CNN reports today, the President is abandoning this latest campaign as quickly as it began:

President Donald Trump on Monday night backed away from his push for a vote on an Obamacare replacement until after the 2020 elections, bowing to the political reality that major health care legislation cannot pass in the current Congress.

Trump’s statements come a week after his administration announced that it now agreed with a judge’s ruling that the entire Affordable Care Act should be scrapped. The opinion was a dramatic reversal from the administration’s previous stance that only portions of the act could not be defended…

“The Republicans are developing a really great HealthCare Plan with far lower premiums (cost) & deductibles than ObamaCare. In other words it will be far less expensive & much more usable than ObamaCare. Vote will be taken right after the Election when Republicans hold the Senate & win back the House. It will be truly great HealthCare that will work for America,” Trump declared in a series of tweets. “Also, Republicans will always support Pre-Existing Conditions. The Republican Party will be known as the Party of Great HealtCare. Meantime, the USA is doing better than ever & is respected again!”

Between now and the 2020 elections, there is a more-than-zero chance that the Affordable Care Act will be overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court. In that event, it would be crucial for a replacement plan to be quickly passed into law to avoid the loss of health coverage for some 20 million Americans–including hundreds of thousands in Colorado–who depend on the ACA today. By punting the issue until after the election, any such disruption would be overwhelmingly blamed on Republicans who have been trying to tear the law down from its inception. Indeed, the vote by the GOP majority in Congress to zero out the tax penalty for not obtaining insurance is central to the latest legal challenge against the law, arguing that without the “mandate” the ACA isn’t functional.

If the ACA is upheld after this latest challenge, its severely compromised present state still threatens to collapse the whole system–damage done incrementally through both neglect and purposeful actions like zeroing out the mandate and cutting off key subsidies to insurance companies. Action needs to be taken in good faith to shore up the ACA now, not dismantling it by the legislative equivalent of throwing spitwads. Over two years into the Trump presidency, it’s simply not enough to blame the previous administration for these ongoing challenges. The voters stopped buying that in 2018 with clear results.

Next to Trump himself, the Republican perhaps most imperiled by this turn of events on health care in the whole nation is Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado. A combination of timing and deliberate strategy has left Gardner much more exposed on this issue than other Republican Senators up for re-election in 2020. In 2010, Gardner’s campaign for Congress was basically a single-issue assault on the Affordable Care Act. In Congress, Gardner repeatedly leveled misleading attacks about “hundreds of thousands of Coloradans losing their coverage” even as the ACA drove the rate of uninsured in Colorado to historic lows.

And back in 2015, Cory Gardner promised that if “Obamacare” was overturned, Republicans would be ready:

The Republicans will have plan in place if the ruling is for the plaintiffs. Our plan will be ready to go. And this president then will have to decide whether he wants to stand with our plan to make sure that we have an answer for the American people, or if the wants to try to inflict pain on the American people. [Pols emphasis]

Today those words would apply perfectly, wouldn’t they? But Gardner can never use them. Over and over since Trump’s election in 2016, Gardner has expressed support for Republican replacements for the Affordable Care Act–replacements that either never got past the drafting stage or were voted down because of the “pain” they would “inflict” on the American people in the form of millions of Americans losing their coverage.

You know, the one thing Gardner said he didn’t want to happen. But he voted yes anyway.

Cory Gardner didn’t have to make opposing the ACA the centerpiece of his career in federal office. He didn’t have to lie about Coloradans losing their coverage in 2013. He didn’t have to promise a Republican replacement that would protect Coloradans as well as the ACA has, then vote for legislation that would actually strip Coloradans of their coverage the way Gardner falsely claimed the ACA had done. All of these were deliberate political choices made by a politician who calculated that he could win elections this way.

As of now, Gardner has nothing to show for it. Only hard questions he can’t answer truthfully.

And eight wasted years.

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Redacted Mueller Report Available by Mid-April

Robert Mueller

As the Washington Post reports:

Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s report detailing his investigation of President Trump and Russia’s election interference will be delivered to Congress by mid-April, Attorney General William P. Barr said Friday in a letter to lawmakers offering important new details about how the document will be edited before its public release.

“Everyone will soon be able to read it on their own,” Barr wrote.

Barr’s new letter lays out a timeline for the next steps of the hotly-debated process by which Justice Department officials are sharing the nearly 400-page report.

The Mueller report will include redactions of sensitive grand jury information; material that could “adversely impact” ongoing investigations; information that could compromise intelligence sources or methods; and info that would “unduly infringe on the personal privacy and reputational interests of peripheral third parties.”

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Get More Smarter on Friday (March 29)

March is on its way out in a sorta lion-lamb hybrid style. 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…

► The Grand Junction Sentinel reports on the confirmation hearing for President Trump’s new Secretary of Interior: Rifle, Colorado native David Bernhardt.

Bernhardt on Thursday touted his experience and defended his ethics — denying one senator’s accusation he lied about his ethical integrity — during his Senate confirmation hearing on his nomination to become secretary of the Department of Interior.

U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., who strongly backs Bernhardt’s nomination, said in introducing him to the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee that he believes Bernhardt would become the seventh Interior secretary from Colorado if confirmed. Recent secretaries from the state include Ken Salazar during the Obama administration and Gale Norton during the George W. Bush administration…

…Bernhardt’s work as an attorney and lobbyist for oil and gas, water and other industries affected by Interior Department policies has caused him to come under intense scrutiny from critics over the policies he has espoused during the Trump administration and questions about possible conflicts of interest.

That scrutiny was laid bare during Thursday’s hearing when Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., told Bernhardt he’d read recently obtained department documents showing Bernhardt had blocked release of a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service report with new analysis of the dangerous effects of toxic chemicals.

As the Colorado Independent reports, Bernhardt says he will stop recusing himself from cases that might cause a conflict with his former lobbying clients. That’s some straightforward graft right there.

During Thursday’s confirmation hearing, Bernhardt also updated news about the Bureau of Land Management’s plan to move its headquarters to the Western U.S. — perhaps in Grand Junction.

 

► Lawmakers in the United Kingdom rejected a third proposal for managing England’s Brexit. As CNN explains:

The defeat of the Prime Minister’s withdrawal agreement by 344 votes to 286 came on the same day that Britain was originally supposed to leave the European Union, and left the path forward on Brexit unclear.

The rejection of May’s plan raises the chances of a lengthy delay to Brexit or Britain crashing out of Europe without a deal on the new deadline of April 12.

May had offered to resign if Parliament passed her deal, but ultimately she was unable to persuade enough MPs to back a plan they had resoundingly rejected in two previous votes.

It may now rest on British lawmakers to find a way out of the impasse when they run a second vote on alternatives to May’s deal on Monday.

 

► As Colorado Public Radio reports, a last-minute budget deal that includes new money for transportation funding may yet be held up before passage.

 

► So-called “red flag” gun safety legislation has passed out of the State Senate and now returns to the State House for consideration of amendments. House Bill 19-1177 is expected to win final approval in the House before making its way to the desk of Gov. Jared Polis.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Cory Gardner: “A Warrior For President Trump”

President Trump and Sen. Cory Gardner.

A fascinating story from the Colorado Sun’s John Frank today on the three candidates running to be the next chair of the Colorado Republican Party–a daunting position being vacated by outgoing chair Jeff Hays following the worst defeat for the GOP in this state since the Roosevelt era. One of the principal fault lines with the Republican Party remains loyalty to President Donald Trump, with the grassroots firmly backing the President versus a party elite who spurned Trump in 2016 and has spent the last two years trying to live that misjudgment down.

Today, you surely won’t find any candidates for GOP chair scumbagging the President:

“There is some element of anti-Trump in Colorado, but I think it is smaller than has been reflected in some of the surveys,” said state Rep. Susan Beckman of Littleton, one of the candidates seeking to lead the party.

“The reality is, in an off-year election like this, there is going to be a blue wave. … I don’t think it’s fair to blame Trump for what happened,” said U.S. Rep. Ken Buck, the most prominent name in the race.

“I do not blame Trump,” said Sherrie Gibson, the current party vice chairwoman and candidate. But she added, “I do think there is an element of unaffiliateds who were certainly unhappy with the messaging tone and tenor coming out of the White House, so they voted accordingly.”

From there, the conversation turned to embattled Sen. Cory Gardner, who is set (barring anything unexpected) to share the top of the GOP ticket in Colorado with Trump in 2020. Gardner of course publicly broke with the President in October of 2016 after Trump’s rapey remarks from an Access Hollywood shoot some years before became public, but now says that he “likes” the President and says that Coloradans should have the opportunity to like Trump too! To wary Republicans who worry Gardner hasn’t got the chops to represent the state’s stridently conservative GOP base, Rep. Susan Beckman has this to say:

“I know that there are some that are frustrated at Sen. Gardner, and they should voice their concern, but he has become a warrior for President Trump,” [Pols emphasis] said Beckman, referencing Gardner’s recent endorsement of the president.

And there it is, folks–what the Republican base wants to hear, and every other voter in Colorado doesn’t. It distills the truth of why Gardner has been forced in recent months to close ranks with Trump even as the majority of the state’s voters punished Republicans as a proxy for Trump last November. Within the Republican ideological bubble, what looks like madness to the majority is a matter of survival. It’s the same snare that caught Rep. Mike Coffman last year, and in 2020 it looks increasingly like Gardner is next.

No shaking the Etch-a-Sketch now. He’s a “warrior for President Trump” to the bitter end.

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What The Mueller Report Does And Doesn’t Mean

Just a one-way thing apparently.

Politico reports on the story set to dominate the week in Washington political news, the hotly-debated “summary” by Trump ally and Attorney General William Barr of the conclusions of a report by Special Counsel Robert Mueller on the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 elections to support President Donald Trump’s unlikely victory.

Though Republicans are tripping over themselves to declare Trump “exonerated” by Barr’s opinion of Mueller’s report, there’s little factual basis for that conclusion–and many essential questions left to be answered:

“The investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities,” the special counsel wrote in his findings, which Attorney General William Barr released on Sunday in four-page summary form.

Mueller’s long-awaited findings also do not take a clear position on whether Trump obstructed justice, a gray-area conclusion that leaves the door wide open for an already-heated debate in Congress over whether Democrats should even consider impeachment proceedings against the president.

“For each of the relevant actions investigated, the report sets out evidence on both sides of the question and leave unresolved what the special counsel views as ‘difficult issues’ of law and fact concerning whether the President’s actions and intent could be viewed as obstruction,” Barr wrote in a letter to the key House and Senate committees.

“The Special Counsel states that ‘while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him,’” Barr added. [Pols emphasis]

The phrase “does not exonerate” appears to have lost a key component in translation from the Special Counsel’s report, as eagerly disseminated by President Trump and Colorado Republicans–the “does not” part.

With a very large gap still evident between the reality of this investigation and Republican spin following the release of Barr’s summary, attention now is turning to the next logical Democratic priority: release of the unredacted full report provided by the Special Counsel to the Department of Justice. 9NEWS reports that two Colorado members of Congress will be closely involved with that effort on the House Judiciary Committee:

The Justice Department said Mueller delivered his final report to Attorney General William Barr, who will now review the report and relay the conclusions to the House and Senate Judiciary committees.

Rep. Joe Neguse (D-Colorado) and Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colorado) are both members of the House Judiciary Committee.

We’re going to go out on a limb and suggest that Rep. Joe Neguse will be substantially more persistent in the public disclosure of the Mueller report than Rep. Ken Buck–and the difference between Buck’s eagerness to investigate any number of supposed Democratic misdeeds versus slow-walking the Mueller report will be a useful contrast. A great deal depends on the evidence “on both sides of the question” set forth in the full report that Barr doesn’t address with any specifics. In addition, it’s likely that Mueller himself will be called to testify to clear up these ambiguities.

Democratic Speaker Nancy Pelosi has been clear for months now that the bar to commence an impeachment proceeding would be very difficult to clear–a revelation that not even the most hardened pro-Trump Republican could ignore. In the end Mueller’s investigation into the 2016 elections was always more likely to produce facts for voters to resolve electorally than an impeachment of Trump, which is why the Trump administration is trying desperately to control the release of those facts. It’s almost certain that more damaging disclosures are just around the corner.

What Americans do know now with no real partisan dispute is that the Russians wanted Donald Trump to be America’s President. If you accept as axiomatic that Russia does not have positive outcomes for America in mind when they meddle in our elections, which most observers do, the question of whether Trump actively colluded with the Russians or passively reaped the benefits of their election meddling becomes less significant.

The Russians helped Trump win, and it wasn’t to make America “great again.”

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BREAKING: Mueller Submits Completed Report to AG

UPDATE: So…now what? The Washington Post breaks down the next steps. The New York Times considers 6 key questions that need answers.

—–

Robert Mueller

As the Washington Post and every other news outlet on the planet is reporting:

Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III has submitted a confidential report to Attorney General William P. Barr, marking the end of his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible obstruction of justice by President Trump, a Justice Department spokeswoman said.

The Justice Department notified Congress late Friday that it had received Mueller’s report but did not describe its contents. Barr is expected to summarize the findings for lawmakers in coming days.

The submission of Mueller’s report marks the culmination of his closely held inquiry, a case that has engulfed the Trump administration since its inception and led to multiple guilty pleas from former advisers to the president. With the closing of his investigation, Congress and the newly empowered Democratic House majority will soon assess his findings – and determine what steps to take next.

We will update this post as more information becomes available.

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Gardner Once Called for Release of Mueller Report. What Will He Do Now?

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

President Trump and Sen. Cory Gardner.

UPDATE: Gardner’s statement on release of Mueller report: ““I have consistently said the Mueller investigation should be allowed to reach a conclusion, and I’m grateful the Special Counsel has finished the investigation and submitted a report today. The American people have a right to know the outcome of this investigation and the Department of Justice should release as much as possible to the public in accordance with the law.”

Trump Attorney General William Barr told reporters today that he will review Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report and determine how much could eventually be released to Congress and the public.

During his confirmation hearing earlier this year, Barr faced pointed questions from Democrats about whether he’d release the Mueller report, and he never committed to doing so.

It’s not clear what Democrats can do to force the release of the report now, but one Republican with close ties to the Trump White House is Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner, and he’s called for the release of the report.

Asked about Mueller’s investigation, Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner said earlier this year that the “American people need the information so that they can make up their own minds.”

“Look, the Mueller investigation needs to be completed as soon as possible,” Gardner told KHOW’s Krista Kafer, substituting for Ross Kaminsky Jan. 24. “The American people need the information so that they can make up their own minds. And I think transparency is in the best interests of the President. The President has said that. And, you know, we’ve heard his Attorney General nominee say the same thing. And so, I think getting this information out — this will be — this is something that is important. This can’t drag on for four years. It needs to be done. It needs to be done quickly.”

Listen to Gardner on KHOW 630-AM Jan. 24, 2019.

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Secretary of State Mike Pompeo: God Sent Trump

Politico proposes, God disposes:

“Could it be that President Trump right now has been sort of raised for such a time as this, just like Queen Esther, to help save the Jewish people from the Iranian menace?” [Christian Broadcasting Network reporter Chris] Mitchell asked Pompeo.

“As a Christian, I certainly believe that’s possible,” Pompeo, who was visiting Israel, replied.

“It was remarkable — so we were down in the tunnels where we could see 3,000 years ago, and 2,000 years ago — if I have the history just right — to see the remarkable history of the faith in this place and the work that our administration’s done to make sure that this democracy in the Middle East, that this Jewish state remains,” he said.

“I am confident that the Lord is at work here,” Pompeo concluded.

The short–very, very short–version of the backstory to this question is that many American evangelical Christians believe the foundation of the modern state of Israel in 1948 was the fulfillment of prophecy meant in the end to culminate in the cataclysmic events of the Biblical book of Revelations. Although this would seem to indicate a ready common interest between American Christians and the Jewish state, it should be noted that according to a strict reading of the book of Revelations, the Jews will either convert to Christianity or be sent to burn in Hell for all eternity. Not surprisingly, many Jews take a dimmer view of evangelical “support” once they understand this. Isn’t it great to ponder this being the “principle” guiding America’s chief diplomat?

So, there’s that. As for Donald Trump personally, it’s a bit of a roller coaster for American Jews–between being happy about an embassy in Jerusalem, versus horrified by the resurgence of hate in America that Trump rode to victory in 2016 and then defended as “very fine people” after he took office.

With all this in mind, we’d argue that God’s got nothing to do with Trump, unless Trump is punishment.

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Hickenlooper Introduces Himself to America

Former Gov. John Hickenlooper

On Thursday Wednesday, former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper took the spotlight in the race to become the Democratic nominee for President in 2020 when he held a live CNN “town hall” event. Hickenlooper performed very well overall, but most of the attention following the event was about one specific exchange that highlights Hick’s inexperience with “soundbite politics.”

We would encourage you to watch the full town hall event yourself in order to understand the proper context for some of Hick’s remarks (for the Cliff’s Notes version, here are some key takeaways via CNN). But CNN also devotes a separate story to the one exchange that generated the most buzz on Thursday Wednesday evening:

Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper said that he would consider putting a woman on his presidential ticket, and then asked why female Democratic presidential candidates are not being asked if they would select a man as their running mate.

The comment struck a number of Democrats as off base, especially considering that the nation has never had a female vice president.

“Governor,” CNN’s Dana Bash said at a presidential candidate town hall, “some of your male competitors have vowed to put a woman on the ticket. Yes or no, would you do the same?”

“Of course,” Hickenlooper said, before saying he wanted to ask Bash a question.

“How come we’re not asking more often the women, ‘Would you be willing to put a man on the ticket?’ ” he said with a shrug, to audible groans from the audience.

Gov. John Hickenlooper, left, with CNN’s Dana Bash on March 20, 2019

Obviously, this is not a good soundbite for Hickenlooper, but it’s much less cringeworthy when Hick gets a minute to explain:

Hickenlooper stood by the comment after the town hall, telling CNN that his point was “too often media discounts the chance of a woman winning” by asking questions like that.

What Hick was trying to do, in a nutshell, was to make the case that female candidates should be considered frontrunners on an equal plane with men and that asking a question about “would you put a woman on the ticket” is disrespectful to the women who are running for President. It’s a solid point that was inartfully articulated, and it would be a shame if it dogged Hick’s campaign for an extended period of time.

Hickenlooper also had a weird moment when telling a story about watching an adult movie with his mother — this is a yarn that he’s spun before that is also included in his memoir “The Opposite of Woe.” The story is entertaining, but the problem with telling it to a wider audience is that there is no real “moral” in conclusion; it’s not clear why Hickenlooper is talking about this, and in a Presidential race where soundbites can take on a life of their own, this probably isn’t a great clip for Hick.

Hickenlooper will certainly get better at this sort of thing the more he campaigns around the country, but “soundbite politics” are not his strong suit. This is partly because Hick just doesn’t have much experience in this regard; both of his campaigns for Governor featured massively-flawed opponents who didn’t have the ability to land solid punches. By the time Hick was running for re-election in 2014, the former Denver Mayor was a well-known character to voters along the Front Range who largely got the benefit of the doubt whenever he stumbled verbally. This is the same basic reason that Hick speaks out so often against “negative ads” — it’s easy to be critical of negative advertising when you have never had to worry about employing that strategy yourself.

Hickenlooper is not any more or less likely to win the 2020 Democratic nomination based on Thursday’s Wednesday’s performance. In fact, if he learns and grows from this experience as a candidate, this CNN “town hall” might even prove to be a landmark moment for his campaign.

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Trump’s Shameful McCain Obsession Continues

Sen. John McCain (left) and some other guy

As Politico reports, several prominent Republicans are (finally) coming to the defense of the late Sen. John McCain after President Trump started attacking McCain’s legacy as part of his Sunday Tweetstorm:

Senate Republicans are stepping up their defense of John McCain. And Donald Trump is ignoring them entirely.

In just his latest bid to tarnish McCain’s legacy and reshape the GOP in his own image, the president offered a new set of attacks on the dead Arizona senator even after Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) blasted Trump for “deplorable“ behavior on Wednesday and other Republicans issued statements defending their former colleague.

But Trump made clear at an appearance in Lima, Ohio, that he’s simply not going to adjust his public views of McCain just because it makes his own party uncomfortable.

Trump said on Wednesday of McCain that he “never liked him much … probably never will” and dinged him again for passing the Steele dossier, a mostly unverified report focusing on the president’s alleged ties to Russia, to the FBI. Trump said McCain’s vote against Obamacare repeal ended up “badly hurting our nation.” He also said McCain, who worked on expanding veterans’ health options with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), “didn’t get the job done for our great vets in the V.A., and they knew it.”

Isakson, the Georgia Republican who chairs the Senate Veteran Affairs Committee, went off on Trump’s criticism of McCain in an interview with “The Bulwark” and called on fellow Republicans to follow suit. As Politico notes, South Carolina Sen. Lindsay Graham has spoken out meekly about Trump’s comments; mostly, Republicans like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have praised McCain but generally avoided talking about Trump:

Such a brave statement. 🙄

If Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) says anything about Trump’s repeated attacks on McCain, we’ll be sure to update this page. Maybe he’ll feel more like talking after seeing this ridiculousness from Trump today. The explanation in the Tweet below is only a slight exaggeration, as you’ll see from watching the video:

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Get More Smarter on Tuesday (March 19)

For the first time in six years, the Denver Nuggets are heading to the playoffs. 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…

► Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) has plenty of explaining to do after his inexplicable vote last week to oppose a Senate measure condemning President Trump’s “emergency declaration” for wall building money. As the Colorado Springs Gazette reports, Gardner’s “promises” he claimed to have extracted from President Trump aren’t worth squat:

The Trump administration’s border wall project could raid $77 million in construction money from Fort Carson, according to a Pentagon list released to Congress on Monday.

The list, released to The Gazette by U.S. Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, puts more than $10 billion in military construction projects across the country and abroad on the chopping block since President Donald Trump declared a national emergency to build the barrier along the Mexican border. The emergency allows Trump to pull money from Pentagon accounts.

U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., exacted a promise from the Trump administration last week that Colorado military construction money wouldn’t be “repurposed” for the wall, a promise that spokesman Jerrod Dobkin emphasized Monday. But the Pentagon included the Fort Carson project on its list.

Fort Carson was to provide troops with a long-awaited, improved vehicle maintenance shop to repair the post’s aging fleet of trucks, tanks and Humvees.

Really great work, Sen. Gardner.

 

► Colorado Senate Republican leaders are in a Denver courtroom today in a case that could set new standards over judicial involvement with the legislative branch. As Marshall Zelinger reports for 9News:

The 2019 legislative session took on a new look when a sitting lawmaker took the witness stand in a lawsuit pitting Senate Republicans against Senate Democrats and the non-partisan Senate staff.

Sen. Bob Gardner (R-Colorado Springs) took the witness stand in a Denver District Courtroom on Tuesday morning.

Gardner, along with Senate Minority Leader Chris Holbert (R-Parker) and Sen. John Cooke (R-Greeley) were excused from the Senate on Tuesday morning to be at a Denver City and County Building courtroom.

The trio have sued Senate President Leroy Garcia (D-Pueblo) and Senate Secretary Cindi Markwell over the computerized reading of a 2,000-page bill on March 11.

 

► Senate Bill 181 — the oil and gas reform legislation — is moving along in the State House after another 12-hour marathon of testimony that featured plenty of ridiculous rhetoric from Republicans:

 

► As Jon Murray reports for the Denver Post, state lawmakers are looking at a host of different options for transportation infrastructure funding.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

(more…)

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Trump’s Sunday Twitter Bender Renews Health Concerns

President Trump spends a lot of time on Twitter, as we all know. But Trump’s Sunday Twitter bender, which included an astounding 29 Tweets and Re-Tweets on a dizzying array of subjects, was a bit concerning for a number of reasons.

As conservative political analyst Bill Kristol asked on Sunday:


While White House adviser Kellyanne Conway continues to defend President Trump at every turn, her husband, George Conway, doesn’t share that confidence. From CNN:

This weekend, as Trump was lobbing his own Twitter invective in all directions, George Conway responded with screengrabs showing the medical definitions of narcissistic personality disorder and antisocial personality disorder from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

“*All* Americans should be thinking seriously *now* about Trump’s mental condition and psychological state, including and especially the media, Congress—and the Vice President and Cabinet,” he wrote.

On Sunday, he stated simply: “His condition is getting worse.”

Before you try to argue against that point, make sure you have an explanation for…whatever this means:

CNN’s Chris Cillizza lists out the smorgasbord of topics that caught Trump’s fancy on St. Patrick’s Day and tries to find the proper perspective to understand these rants:

Twitter — I’ve long argued — is where the truest form of Trump comes out. It’s his Twitter feed — not official White House statements or signing ceremonies — where we find out what is on Trump’s mind and what he really thinks about his presidency and the world.

When you think of it that way, what we witnessed on Sunday is somewhere between concerning and absolutely terrifying. The most powerful man in the country — and maybe the world — spent his day touting unproven conspiracy theories about stolen elections, suggesting collusion between Democrats and comedians, attacking a military hero and Republican senator, and trying to program his favorite cable network’s broadcasts. And he did all of this while failing to send even a single tweet about the tragic mass shooting in New Zealand.

As conservative columnist Jennifer Rubin writes for the Washington Post, there’s no hope in sight that Republicans — like Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) — might actually push back a little:

There is no moral or intellectual reason that will persuade them. There is no respectful conversation to be had with people who argue in bad faith. The only solution is to defeat Trump and his party so thoroughly that Trumpism is permanently discredited. A party that continues to defend this president is simply beyond redemption.

We’ll leave you with this note from political scientist Brian Klaas:

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Get More Smarter on Friday (March 15)

Happy early St. Patrick’s Day. 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…

► Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) is in a very bad place, politically-speaking, after his inexplicable vote on Thursday to oppose a Senate measure (which passed anyway) condemning President Trump’s “emergency declaration” for wall building money. Gardner’s decision so incensed the Denver Post editorial board that the newspaper essentially retracted its 2014 endorsement of his Senate candidacy:

Yowza!

 

As the New York Times reports, President Trump made a number of calls to Republican Senators in hopes of persuading them to vote “NO” on the resolution. Was Gardner among those who received a personal call? As one Republican donor told Politico, “Beware the fury of Trump.”

 

► On Wednesday, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly voted on a resolution encouraging the full public release of the final report from special investigator Robert Mueller. Nationwide polling has consistently shown that Americans want to see the full report, and a new Colorado poll echoes that sentiment. From the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman:

Public Policy Polling — on behalf of left-leaners ProgressNow Colorado and Protect the Investigation —surveyed 543 registered Colorado voters between March 7 and March 8.

According to a press release about the poll, 77 percent of voters expect “a full, public report” on the investigation’s findings. The Justice Department, under President Trump, will determine how much of the report is submitted to Congress and, by association, the public.

The liberal groups said the poll indicated 57 percent “believe that the Special Counsel investigation has already uncovered crimes by associates close to Donald Trump.”

 

► So-called “red flag” legislation makes its way to the State Senate today after passing the House last week. Meanwhile, Governor Jared Polis and Attorney General Phil Weiser are speaking out against pressure from right-wing Republicans to encourage individual counties in Colorado to just refuse to enforce an Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO).

 

►  The Joint Budget Committee gets a new look at Colorado’s budget numbers today, which could play a significant role in how the legislature proceeds on one of Gov. Polis’ signature issues of offering free full-day Kindergarten in Colorado.

 

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

(more…)

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Denver Post Retracts Endorsement of Cory Gardner

Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

In October of 2014, the Denver Post delivered its much-anticipated endorsement in the red-hot U.S. Senate race between incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Udall and his Republican challenger Rep. Cory Gardner. The Post’s endorsement of Gardner in this race was delivered more or less on the assurance that Gardner would not represent a threat to the paper’s generally progressive editorial viewpoint, in particular abortion rights after Gardner had invested enormous time and effort living down his stridently anti-abortion record. After Gardner’s narrow win over Udall by less than two percentage points, many Democrats in Colorado took their frustration out on the Post by cancelling their subscriptions–contributing to the paper’s long and steady decline in circulation.

Today, in the wake of Gardner’s brazen about-face on support for President Donald Trump’s controversial national emergency declaration to obtain funds for a border wall without congressional approval, the Denver Post is taking the highly unusual if not unprecedented step of publicly repudiating their own 2014 endorsement of Gardner’s election. Even if you haven’t visited the Denver Post since October 14, 2014, stop what you’re doing and read this now:

We endorsed Sen. Cory Gardner in 2014 because we believed he’d be a statesman. We knew he’d be a conservative voice in Congress, to be certain, but we thought his voice would bring “fresh leadership, energy and ideas.”

We see now that was a mistake – consider this our resolution of disapproval…

Gardner was a never-Trumper in the primary who in recent months endorsed the president’s re-election campaign even as Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation continues to unveil the worst of this administrations web of lies and deceit. Tuesday’s vote was the last straw.

It’s not a perfect retraction–the Post called Gardner’s innumerable votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act “defensible,” which in the context of Gardner’s years-long caterwauling about Coloradans “losing their coverage” is simply ridiculous. There’s also an attempt to defend the paper’s endorsement last year of Rep. Mike Coffman, which tells us they’re still capable of being fooled in the exact same manner that Gardner fooled them in 2014. In the end the voters of CD-6 saw through Coffman’s deceptions where the Post didn’t.

But where Gardner is concerned, if there was any doubt that the shine has come off Colorado’s most ambitious and highest-ranking remaining Republican elected official, this un-endorsement puts it to rest. Gardner isn’t just vulnerable on paper in a state trending away from Gardner’s party. Gardner’s game is personally up.

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BREAKING: Gardner Backs Trump, Resolution Passes Anyway

UPDATE #3: TPM’s Josh Marshall:

Gardner’s decision illustrates a core principle of Trump Republicanism. Even in cases where a vote is clearly against public opinion at home (state or district) and even in cases where it is clearly politically damaging, they almost always come around to Trump.

Why? Simple. Because even if they’re on the wrong side of a majority of their constituents, Trump will go to war over the disloyalty and kill the member of Congress with Republican partisans. Without Republican partisans no Republican can win anywhere…

It’s a tough position to be in.

—–

UPDATE #2:

—–
UPDATE: Gardner votes “NO.”

The final vote tally is 59-41 in support of the resolution.

 

—–

Will Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) stand behind President Trump today?

As CNN reports, the Trump administration is preparing for an embarrassing vote from the U.S. Senate today on the President’s “emergency declaration” for border wall money:

Three Republican senators made a last-ditch effort Wednesday night to strike a bargain with President Donald Trump and help him avoid an embarrassing defeat in the Senate over his national emergency declaration.

South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham phoned Trump while he was in the car on Pennsylvania Avenue to inform him that he, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse were on the way.

Graham said the group “barged” into dinner last night and he made clear that if the President would support a proposal from Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah to limit the length of national emergency declarations, then it would minimize Republican defections “dramatically.”

The trio had made an unsuccessful attempt earlier in the afternoon to sit down with Trump, but White House aides said it was too late and didn’t see the point in bringing them over. Trump had already told staff he was resigned to issuing his first veto after it became clear that enough Republicans will support the measure to overturn the declaration.

According to CNN, the White House expects as many as 14 Republican Senators to support the bill (the House has already approved the measure), which President Trump has promised to veto. Republican Senators Mitt Romney of Utah and Lamar Alexander of Tennessee announced this morning that they would oppose Trump’s fake emergency.

We still don’t know what Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) plans to do today after weeks of cringeworthy waffling on the proposal. It was one month ago to the day that Gardner told Ryan Warner of Colorado Public Radio that he had personally advised Trump against the “emergency declaration”; Trump went ahead and signed the order that same afternoon, and Gardner quickly began backpedaling on his opposition.

Most Americans disagree with Trump’s “emergency,” but Gardner has shown an unusual (for him) level of loyalty to Trump in recent months (see: Wednesday’s weird vote to stand with Trump on American involvement in Yemen’s civil war). Gardner could support the measure to rebuke Trump on his emergency declaration, which would align with the thinking of Colorado voters in general, though that would make weeks of waffling seem especially pointless.

In the end, Gardner may be too terrified of Trump (and his rabid base) to do anything other than line up behind the big orange guy. One way or the other, it’s about time for Gardner to rip off this band-aid.

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INTERVIEW: The Artist Who’s Painting the Trump Portrait for the CO Capitol

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

After a successful fundraising drive last year led by local Republicans, Colorado Springs portrait artist Sarah Boardman was commissioned to paint a portrait of President Donald Trump for the Colorado Capitol. She’s putting the finishing touches on her work, which she says will done by the end of the month. Boardman also painted a portrait of President Barack Obama, which hangs at the Capitol. Read more about Boardman here.

Boardman took time over the weekend to answer questions, via email, from the Colorado Times Recorder.

Trump Image Selected For Capitol Portrait

The first set of queries is about her artistic process on the portrait and her work as an artist; the second set addresses the response to the Trump portrait in particular. Boardman’s sketch for the Trump portrait, as well as her selection of the photo underlying it, were first reported in a Colorado Times Recorder article last year.

Here’s the interview:

Hi Sarah –

Thank you again for taking time for this interview.

I’ve got questions about the art itself and the response to your sketch.

How’s the painting process going? Are you finding President Donald Trump harder or easier to paint than President Barack Obama?

Neither harder nor easier. I love painting portraits, and each one brings different challenges and highlights. I approach each one as an individual project and prefer to avoid comparing them as I go along.

Do your personal feelings about Trump affect your work on his portrait?

Not at all – when I start to paint a portrait, it is the portrait, likeness, and “essence” of the subject which I strive to portray.  Any personal feelings about any subject are not relevant and are left outside the studio per my training to “leave those emotions at the door”.

You told me that you’re painting by daylight only, as opposed to artificial light. Why?

Yes, I do paint portraits in natural daylight. Light from the north is indirect light and produces the most consistent, cool, environment with the fewest changes in shadows and values throughout the day. Natural, northern, daylight does not change in temperature during the day as sunlight does, so the atmosphere remains much more controlled and I do not have to continually readjust colors because the sun is moving and changing the light.

(more…)

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