Get More Smarter on Friday (October 12)

One week from today, you might have already voted. For now, 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…

► According to a new Washington Post/ABC News poll, most Americans do not think Brett Kavanaugh should have been confirmed to the Supreme Court:

More Americans disapprove of Brett M. Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court than approve, and a narrow majority says congressional investigation of the new justice should not end with his elevation to the court, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll

…It also suggests the tumultuous battle over his nomination could harm the court’s reputation as the nonpartisan branch of government.

The survey, conducted during Kavanaugh’s first week on the bench, shows that 43 percent of Americans believe the court’s rulings will be more politically motivated with President Trump’s second nominee on the court, compared to 10 percent who said they will be less political. To 39 percent of the public, Kavanaugh’s presence will make no difference in the degree of partisanship.

 

► The stock market is falling. As the New York Times reports, President Trump is pointing fingers at everybody else.

President Trump responded to falling stock prices on Thursday by continuing to throw rocks at the Federal Reserve, which he has described as “crazy,” “loco,” “going wild” and “out of control” for slowly raising interest rates against the backdrop of a booming economy.

No other modern president has publicly attacked the Fed with such venom or frequency. Indeed, some scholars said the only close historical parallel was with President Andrew Jackson, who campaigned successfully in the 1830s to close the Fed’s predecessor, the Second Bank of the United States.

Mr. Trump’s pointed remarks reflect the high political stakes less than a month before midterm elections that have been cast by his political opponents as a referendum on his presidency. Mr. Trump has been riding the economy hard, bragging about job creation, tax cuts and reduced federal regulation, and claiming credit for the rise of the stock market. Now that the market has lost 5 percent of its value in the last week, Mr. Trump is insisting someone else is to blame.

 

► The Trump administration claims that changing the next U.S. Census is not a political maneuver designed to help Republicans. As Philip Bump reports for the Washington Post, this argument doesn’t hold much water:

What the Kobach email reveals, though, is that the political effects of asking the question on immigration were part of the calculus on deciding whether to include it — in case there was any question in that regard. There’s an existing problem in counting noncitizen immigrants in the census, and experts argue that including the question will itself drive down response rates to the survey.

Including the question, in other words, will itself help meet Kobach’s goal of getting undocumented immigrants out of population totals (to whatever extent they’re already included) even without anyone actually answering it.

Oh, you mean those conversations about citizenship questions.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

(more…)

Gardner Says U.S. Senate Isn’t Broken. “It’s Working”

(Cool story, Cory – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

Asked yesterday if he thinks the U.S. Senate is “broken,” U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) replied, “It’s working.”

Gardner’s comments came as leaders of both political parties have said the confirmation of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh was one of the lowest moments for the senate in decades.

“I think what’s broken is the filter that people used to have that would actually restrain them from thinking that violence is okay, and pushing the edge too far on civility,” Gardner told KFKA’s Gail Fallon.

Gardner also told Fallon it would be “devastating” if Democrats win the mid-term elections, saying the Democrats have “already talked about” increasing taxes and undoing “regulatory rollbacks.”

Gardner didn’t say what rollbacks that Democrats want to re-instate. But Democratic leaders have been critical of numerous protections and regulations Trump has rescinded, including environmental rules (limiting climate-change pollution from cars) and immigration regulations (DACA and zero-tolerance immigration policy) and more. With regard to taxes, Democrats have objected to Trump’s new tax law, which increases the national debt while lavishing tax breaks on the wealthy compared to what was given to low-income groups.

Gardner’s belief that the U.S. Senate isn’t broken may stem from his promise when he ran for his seat in 2016 to go to Washington and be a fixer.

“When something is broken, I’ll fix it,” he said in an ad attacking then U.S. Sen. Mark Udall, a Democrat.

Gardner ticked off the “accomplishments” of the senate to show it’s working.

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Cory Gardner Does Another Cory Gardner Thing on Healthcare

FRIDAY UPDATE: As the Washington Post reports, Congressional Republicans are very aware of the political problem they have in not protecting pre-existing conditions:

With less than a month before the midterm elections, endangered Republican lawmakers are mounting a defense against attacks they’re trying to dismantle a core element of the health-care law they fought to eliminate.

Democratic candidates on the campaign trail now regularly accuse Republicans of wanting to take away health-care protections for people with preexisting conditions. They’ve pointed to a lawsuit brought by 20 attorneys general in Republican-led states aiming to overturn the Affordable Care Act as proof the GOP wants to let such protections go down with the health-care law. That’s after Republicans whiffed in their effort to repeal and replace the ACA  last summer.

Vulnerable Republican contenders are responding to the slams by airing campaign ads saying they embrace this portion of the ACA. They’re also introducing a wave of bills in Congress they say would protect those with prior illnesses from losing access to affordable health care. But experts question the efficacy of those measures, saying they seem more designed as protection against Democratic attacks than significant policy solutions, as I helped report in a story with Colby Itkowitz this week. [Pols emphasis]

—–

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

Healthcare has consistently emerged as the single most important issue for American voters in 2018. When you dig deeper into the numbers, you find that protections for pre-existing conditions — a key component of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) — are extremely popular across all political spectrums. As the Kaiser Family Foundation reported last month:

Large majorities of Americans say it is “very important” to retain the ACA provisions that prevent insurance companies from denying coverage based on a person’s medical history (75%) and from charging sick people more (72%). This includes majorities of Democrats, independents and Republicans, as well as majorities of those with and without people with pre-existing conditions in their households.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Senate took a vote on a measure that sought to get rid of Trump administration efforts to expand short-term health insurance plans (which are often called “junk insurance”) that are intended to kill the ACA, and thus, protections for pre-existing conditions. Senator Michael Bennet (D-Denver) voted “YES,” and Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) was a big fat “NO.” Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine voted along with Democrats, but that wasn’t enough to change a 50-50 tie in the Senate. In political terms, this means that you can call Gardner a deciding vote.

As The Journal Times in Wisconsin reports (yeah, that’s right, The Journal Times):

In August, Treasury Sec. Steve Mnuchin, Labor Sec. Alexander Acosta and Health and Human Services Sec. Eric Hagan issued a rule expanding the duration of these insurance plans that do not comply with Affordable Care Act requirements.

The 2010 ACA law allowed the sale of short-term insurance plans to serve as a stop-gap between long-term plans. The Trump Administration’s rule allows those plans to be extended as long as three years.

The plans are cheaper than long-term plans but do not offer the same level of coverage as plans that comply with the ACA; prescription drugs, pre-existing conditions, pregnancy and mental health coverage are not required to be covered in these short-term plans.

You didn’t seriously believe me, did you?

Anyhoo, let’s get back to Gardner. Colorado’s Republican Senator talks a good amount of gibberish when it comes to healthcare policy (we’ll never forget you, “glide path“), but he generally speaks favorably when it comes to protections for pre-existing conditions. Here’s Gardner in May 2017, via The Denver Post:

“We need to make sure the people with pre-existing conditions continue to have coverage and continue to have access to affordable coverage,” Gardner said.

Here’s Gardner a few months earlier, via Fox 31 Denver:

Gardner was also asked about what he would do about those people who are worried about losing health care coverage with pre-existing conditions if the Affordable Care Act is repealed and replaced.

“Over the past couple of years, my mom survived breast cancer,” Gardner said. “Over the past several weeks, my father has been in and out of the hospital. I haven’t heard anyone say we’re going to get rid of pre-existing conditions coverage.” [Pols emphasis]

Gardner said he is pushing for affordability to make sure insurance is accessible to people with pre-existing conditions.

It was just last April, in fact, when Gardner declared that the Senate “can’t just walk away on healthcare.” Yesterday, Gardner voted along with most Republicans to go ahead and walk away on healthcare.

Cory Gardner is up for re-election in 2020.

Get More Smarter on Tuesday (October 9)

Nevermind Columbus [ducks]. Happy Leif Erikson 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…

► United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley abruptly resigned today. Haley and President Trump broke the news after a meeting at the White House, as the Washington Post reports:

Trump praised the work of the former governor of South Carolina, who was confirmed as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations shortly after Trump’s inauguration last year.

“She’s done a fantastic job, and we’ve done a fantastic job together,” Trump said, adding that Haley has been “very special to me.”

Trump said Haley first told him about six months ago that she would like to “take a little time off” at the end of this year. Nevertheless, the announcement surprised many in the Trump administration.

Trump said he is hopeful that Haley will return to the administration at some point, perhaps in a different capacity.

As the Associated Press reports, Haley’s departure came as a surprise to key U.S. allies, as well as many Congressional Republicans active in foreign policy areas.

 

► Republican gubernatorial candidate Walker Stapleton might actually be getting worse as we get closer to Election Day. Over the weekend, Stapleton had a bizarre debate moment where he struggled for 14 seconds to repeat two numbers intended to support whatever argument he was trying to make. On Monday during a debate in Pueblo, Stapleton was booed by the crowd for making an awful joke suggesting that Democrat Jared Polis encourages his young children to smoke marijuana.


► As Politico reports, the Republican House Majority is crumbling in front of our eyes:

With a month to go until Election Day, there are now 209 seats either firmly or leaning in the Democratic column — only nine shy of the 218 the party needs to wrest away control of the chamber — according to the latest update of POLITICO’s race ratings.

The ratings, which reflect extensive reporting on the state of the 23-seat GOP majority, evaluations of both parties’ strategies, historical trends and polling data, reveal Democratic candidates have grabbed the lead in a number of House districts — including some with longtime GOP incumbents. Republican outside groups have already started cutting off funding to some races in which prospects had dimmed.

The GOP still has a path to keep the House, but it would require either a near-sweep of the toss-up races or a significant change in the political environment in the final four weeks of the campaign.

According to a new poll from CNN, Democrats have widened their lead in the “Generic Congressional Ballot” to 13 points.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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A Few Words On Threatening Cory Gardner (Or Anyone Else)

Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

9NEWS’ Jacob Rodriguez reports:

Colorado GOP Sen. Cory Gardner’s wife received a text message with a video attachment showing a beheading, a spokesperson for the senator confirmed to 9NEWS.

Gardner’s spokesperson said someone also released the names and home addresses of Gardner’s family members. U.S. Capitol Police are aware and involved, according to Gardner’s office.

The story was originally reported by Fox News and Gardner’s spokesperson would not elaborate beyond confirming the accuracy of Fox News’ reporting. [Pols emphasis]

From the original Fox News story:

In the wake of his vote to confirm Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh on Saturday, Republican Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., revealed to Fox News on Sunday that his wife had received a graphic text message with a video depicting a beheading, and that someone has publicly posted the names and addresses of his family members.

Without exception, it is totally unacceptable to make any kind of violent threat to either a politician or their family members. Anyone who engages in such behavior should be prosecuted to the limit of the law, and it’s very important that the rhetoric employed by all sides in our fractious political debates not incite violence against the other side.

Period. There’s no “whataboutism” to engage in, no mitigating counterpoints to justify violent threats.

With that said…

Sen. Cory Gardner has a long track record of dishonesty that necessarily impacts his credibility when he makes claims without supporting evidence. This is a man who has lied brazenly about his own policies like the “federal personhood bill,” the impact of the Affordable Care Act on his and hundreds of thousands of Colorado families, the “paid protesters” allegedly dogging his every step, and most recently caught straight-up lying to constituents calling to inquire about his “undecided” vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh.

As of this writing, Sen. Cory Gardner has not released the details of either of these two alleged threats. We’re not “dark web” users and we certainly don’t track every message that’s posted to every political message board, but we’ve not seen any personal information on either Sen. Gardner or his family publicly posted–and we wouldn’t link to it if we did.

Assuming this is all on the level, forthcoming details about a criminal investigation into these alleged threats will render questions about Gardner’s truthfulness in this case moot. After all, that’s the standard Republicans want to apply everywhere, isn’t it? If that confirmation never emerges, we’ll have no choice but to add this to the long list of stuff Cory Gardner says that may or may not be true.

Sorry to have to revisit this uncomfortable reality, but somebody’s got to.

Manchin Defects, Collins Gives GOP The Votes Kavanaugh Needs

Judge Brett Kavanaugh (R-apey).

NBC News reports, it appears to be over:

Sen. Susan Collins, who had been the last undecided Republican vote on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, announced Friday she will vote in favor of President Donald Trump’s pick, virtually ensuring his confirmation when the full Senate holds its final vote on Saturday.

In a speech on the Senate floor that lasted more than 40 minutes, Collins, a Maine Republican, forcefully outlined her belief that Kavanaugh was well-qualified, that the Senate confirmation process “is not a trial” and that she “cannot abandon” the “presumption of innocence.”

It now appears that there will be 51 votes in favor of Kavanaugh, because Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia came out minutes after her speech in favor of the nominee, the only Democrat to back Trump’s pick.

Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin’s expected vote for Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation offsets the announced no vote from Alaska GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski, and barring any other last-minute swings that will allow Kavanaugh to be confirmed in a vote this weekend with the need for a tie-breaker by Vice President Mike Pence. The question now turns to what effect this battle will have on the upcoming midterm elections, which have been trending heavily against majority Republicans. The conventional wisdom among Republicans is that this battle has energized the Republican base, while Democrats look to outraged women voters to turn out against the GOP in droves.

And of course, in 2020 the bad faith shown here will be part of the discussion about Sen. Cory Gardner’s future.

But for now, what matters is that a man who has demonstrated frightful ill temperament and a partisan grudge-match mentality, in addition to the multiple ugly allegations of sexual misconduct against him, is about to receive a lifetime appointment to the highest court in the land. At age 53. The short-term political consequences will be history decades before the full impact of Kavanaugh’s confirmation is understood.

If you ever lacked an object lesson for why elections matter, you don’t anymore.

Cory’s Last-Minute Kavanaugh Con Job Crumbles

UPDATE: Via the Denver Posts’s Anna Staver, the BS goes on:

It takes a special kind of contempt for the truth to be Cory Gardner, folks.

—–

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh (left) meeting with Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) in late July.

Yesterday, as protests raged in Washington, D.C. against the confirmation of U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh that before day’s end had resulted in hundreds of arrests, a group of Colorado women in town to peacefully lobby against Kavanaugh scored what could be considered a major coup: a 30 minute face-to-face meeting with Sen. Cory Gardner to make the case that Kavanaugh is unfit for this lifetime appointment.

But as Denverite’s Esteban Hernandez reports, Gardner had no intention of being honest in return:

“The majority of us that were part of the delegation today are survivors of sexual violence,” [Fawn] Bolak said in a phone interview from Washington on Thursday. “So we came out to talk to our senator and share our stories in an effort to sway their vote or encourage deeper action against Kavanaugh.”

Bolak said their visit was organized primarily by the ACLU of Colorado. She works at the liberal advocacy organization ProgressNow Colorado, which held a demonstration outside Sen. Gardner’s offices last week calling on the senator to speak out against Kavanaugh…

“He repeated, over and over again, from his perspective, he heard two people speaking their truth and that he wanted to wait for the FBI report that he would be reading later this evening,” Bolak said. [Pols emphasis]

“Honestly, it felt like a cop-out,” Bolak added. “I think he was probably uncomfortable with a lot of us being in his office, with us sharing violent, intimate details of what happened to us.”

And apparently, it wasn’t just this group of sexual assault survivors who Gardner wanted to imagine he was undecided on supporting Kavanaugh’s confirmation. Gardner’s spokesman said the same thing to the Denver Post for a story late yesterday:

Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colorado, hasn’t decided how he’ll vote on Judge Brett Kavanaugh, President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee who has faced sexual assault allegations, Gardner’s office said Thursday evening.

The senator wants to finish reading the FBI report before making a decision, spokesman Casey Contres said. Gardner said he’d vote yes on Kavanaugh’s confirmation after meeting with the judge in July. However, that was before several women accused him of sexual misconduct…

After these two reports appeared yesterday afternoon, local reporters were incredulous that Gardner had claimed to be undecided, and swiftly vented their flabbergast:

But by the end of the day, it didn’t matter as Gardner issued an updated statement claiming his support for Kavanaugh had never wavered.

“Senator Gardner has been supportive of Judge Kavanaugh throughout the nomination. He had the opportunity to review the FBI report tonight. Nothing in the report changed his mind and he remains supportive of Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination.”

Colorado survivors grill Cory Gardner yesterday.

That is of course the answer that everyone expected. There seems to be some desire to criticize the Denver Post for their report, which fails to note that Gardner was not really considered on the fence by anyone–but they didn’t put these words into the mouth of Gardner’s spokesman, or the sexual assault survivors who met with Gardner earlier yesterday.

So what really happened here? It’s simple: classic Cory Gardner subterfuge is what happened. Since his election to the U.S. Senate in 2014 and especially since the inauguration of President Donald Trump, Gardner has played key issues with ambiguity giving over to outright deception–telling different groups of people what they want to hear, and only attempting to reconcile contradictions when forced to.

And when that happens, it’s often not pretty.

In this case, Gardner was too much of a coward to tell this group of sexual assault survivors that he is going to vote to confirm a man accused by multiple women of sexual misconduct to the U.S. Supreme Court. So he didn’t. But because it would plunge Kavanaugh’s nomination into chaos if a leadership-level GOP Senator like Cory Gardner was truly undecided, the news cycle couldn’t end without Gardner copping to the truth.

In short Cory Gardner lied to his own constituents, threw up some deceptive chaff to a local reporter that fell utterly flat under scrutiny, then came home before sundown. It fits well with the larger narrative of Republicans rushing to confirm Kavanaugh in seeming defiance of the allegations against him instead of taking them seriously, but it’s also exactly the kind of deception Gardner’s critics have complained about for years.

It’s one of the clearest examples we’ve seen yet of Gardner’s free-wheeling dishonesty, and we can’t see how it can be spun any other way. But it’s hardly the first, and that’s a lesson everyone who deals with Gardner from voters to reporters need to learn.

Is Trump Coming For Colorado’s Weed Or Not, Cory Gardner?

Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

AP reports via the Colorado Sun–after almost two years of uncertainty over what the Trump administration might do about legalized marijuana in Colorado and elsewhere, featuring disturbing threats against the industry from Attorney General Jeff Sessions and repeated reassurances by GOP Sen. Cory Gardner that such threats shouldn’t be taken seriously, real signs are emerging just weeks before the midterm elections that Trump and Sessions may crack down on legal weed after all:

Colorado’s system for regulating marijuana has too many loopholes that disguise illegal activity and jeopardize public safety, a federal prosecutor said Wednesday, detailing his motivation for boosting scrutiny in the first state to broadly allow cannabis sales.

U.S. Attorney Bob Troyer said he is particularly concerned with how companies that grow marijuana account for damaged product and the state’s system allowing people to grow a certain number of plants at home for medical use. He said both situations create an opportunity for marijuana to be sold on the black market and require federal prosecutors to take a closer look at Colorado’s regulated marijuana industry.

“If somebody is licensed by this state, should they feel at increased risk of federal prosecution now?” Troyer said in an interview with The Associated Press. “Yes. They should. We do a public safety analysis, not an analysis of whether someone has a piece of paper from the state.” [Pols emphasis]

In 180-degree contrast to Gardner’s assurances, supposedly after talking to the President himself about the situation, that Colorado’s marijuana industry was not in danger of federal prosecution, this flat-out statement from U.S. Attorney Bob Troyer that marijuana businesses in compliance with state law are at “increased risk of federal prosecution” is deeply chilling–and not in the pleasant sense that follows a nice indica bong hit.

So what happens next? The industry isn’t reacting with public alarm, at least not yet. Cory Gardner has been silent so far on Troyer’s comments, with the high drama over Brett Kavanaugh’s embattled Supreme Court nomination hogging the spotlight. If the federal government’s interest here is merely to prevent black market diversion and not shut down the legal marijuana industry entirely, that would be one thing. But who can say that with confidence knowing how Jeff Sessions feels about the devil weed?

As it stands now, everyone from individual tokers to investors with millions committed to this business should be worried–and Gardner’s assurances are looking awfully hollow.

Oh Yes Colorado, They Blew Off Deborah Ramirez

Judge Brett Kavanaugh (R-apey).

Colorado Public Radio’s Nathaniel Minor confirms what attorneys for Boulder domestic violence counselor Deborah Ramirez have been warning for days, that the FBI investigation into Ramirez’s allegations against U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh was very far from thorough:

An attorney for Deborah Ramirez, a Boulder woman who accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct while they attended Yale more than three decades ago, says the Federal Bureau of Investigation did not allow its agents to fully investigate her claims.

William Pittard, a Washington D.C.-based lawyer representing Ramirez, wrote a scathing three-page letter to FBI director Chris Ray Thursday. In it, Pittard write that agents interviewed Ramirez last Sunday in Boulder. She answered a “host of detailed questions,” them provided agents with a list of more than 20 additional witnesses that could have corroborated her claims.

But the FBI never permitted its agents to contact those witnesses, Pittard wrote.

“We are deeply disappointed by this failure,” he wrote. “We can only conclude that the FBI—or those controlling its investigation—did not want to learn the truth behind Ms. Ramirez’s allegations.” [Pols emphasis]

The apparent lack of due diligence by the FBI in following up with witnesses identified by Ramirez is similar to complaints from attorneys representing Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, who accused Kavanaugh of attempted forcible sexual assault. Because Dr. Ford testified last week before the Senate Judiciary Committee, the FBI reportedly hasn’t even followed up with either her or with Judge Kavanaugh. In Ramirez’s case, we have numerous corroborating witnesses who were never contacted at all. And yet:

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said Thursday there’s no corroboration of sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh in a supplementary FBI report submitted to the Senate.

This seems like a ridiculously obvious question, but how can anyone assert there is “no corroboration” when the witnesses the alleged victim identified who can corroborate the accusation weren’t even contacted? How can anyone with basic critical thinking skills accept this as a satisfactory answer? This is the same Charles Grassley who dismissed compelling evidence that emerged this week indicating Kavanaugh lied under oath about his foreknowledge of the allegations from Deborah Ramirez.

With all of this in mind, it does appear that this investigation, though carried out by career law enforcement whose motives are above reproach, was designed to fail. You don’t demand corroboration, then prevent investigators from obtaining that corroboration, unless you never wanted it to begin with.

Gardner Backs Into Corner on Kavanaugh Confirmation

UPDATE: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is promising a Kavanaugh confirmation vote this week.

—–

As Kyle Clark of 9News reports this afternoon via Twitter:


This is potentially a very significant statement from the office of Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma). Gardner has already given lip service to supporting an investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct made by another woman, Boulder resident Deborah Ramirez.

It’s certainly more than possible that Gardner could go ahead and vote YES on confirming Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court (assuming such a vote is eventually taken), but in doing so he’d essentially be acknowledging that he is waving Kavanaugh through despite credible testimony of sexual assault and misconduct. This would be a particularly dangerous vote for someone who is up for re-election in 2020.

Republican Senate Blowing Off Deborah Ramirez

UPDATE: USA TODAY:

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley disputed accusations from Democrats that he and his staff have tried to brush away allegations against Brett Kavanaugh from a second accuser, Deborah Ramirez.

During Friday’s committee meeting, the Iowa Republican said he “acted immediately” to investigate her charges and that his staff “repeatedly” tried to accommodate Ramirez as long as she provided evidence to back up her claim…

“It seems the Republican strategy is no longer attack the victim. It is ignore the victim,” [Sen. Dianne] Feinstein said at Friday’s hearing. [Pols emphasis] “It is, in fact, a real test for the United States Senate and for our country to see how we treat women – especially women who are survivors of sexual assault. I believe we can do better.”

You know what would help right now, a lot? A strongly worded statement from Deborah Ramirez’s Republican Senator.

—–

Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

After yesterday’s riveting all-day hearing featuring the testimony of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and her allegation of attempted violent sexual assault by U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, observers in Colorado might expect the next logical step in the process to be to hear from the other women who have come forward with their own stories of sexual misconduct. The second woman to go public with her story about Kavanaugh was Deborah Ramirez of Boulder, who attended Yale University in the 1980s where the alleged incident took place.

Recall that in the immediate aftermath of Ramirez’s story being published last weekend, Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado was seemingly unequivocal that his constituent should be heard and her claims properly investigated:

“Senator Gardner was first made aware of these allegations when the New Yorker story was published Sunday evening,” Gardner spokesman Casey Contres said in an email Monday morning. “Investigators from Chairman Grassley’s staff immediately contacted Ms. Ramirez’s attorney to gather more information about what allegedly occurred.

“Senator Gardner absolutely supports efforts by the Senate Judiciary Committee to gather more information and investigate these claims.” [Pols emphasis]

But as 9NEWS’ Kevin Vaughan reported last night, communications between Ramirez’s attorney and the Senate Republicans who are supposed to be taking her allegations seriously have broken down:

The attorney for a Boulder woman who has accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct released a series of e-mails Thursday morning detailing his attempts to open a discussion with the Senate Judiciary Committee over her assertions.

Repeatedly, the e-mails show a member of the committee’s Republican staff requested that Deborah Ramirez provide “evidence” supporting her allegation “before we discuss a phone call or any other next steps.” [Pols emphasis]

As readers know, the Senate Judiciary Committee has scheduled a vote for today to advance Kavanaugh’s nomination to the full Senate. With Senate Republicans now stalling Ramirez instead of working out the logistics of a swift hearing to receive the testimony she is by all accounts willing to provide, it is a safe assumption that GOP leadership does not intend to allow a fair hearing for Ramirez as was given to Dr. Ford.

With Senate leaders having backtracked on their previous lip service to giving Ramirez’s allegation proper consideration, the onus now falls squarely on Sen. Gardner to intervene in this situation on behalf of his own constituent. We realize this suggestion will be received cynically by many of our readers, and Gardner’s actions may well bear out that cynicism. But if Gardner were to call for a pause in the headlong rush to vote on Kavanaugh following yesterday’s hearing so he can keep his promise to Ramirez, it would be a very smart political move for him in the long term.

If the vote goes forward without Ramirez’s testimony it’s a political disaster for Republicans generally, but Cory Gardner personally. This is Gardner’s constituent–our neighbor–to whom Gardner made a promise. And this is a terrible promise to break.

Get More Smarter on Wednesday (September 26)

The news is 30-40% Kavanaugh today. 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…

► And then there were three.

A third woman has accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct on the eve of Thursday’s hearing in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee. From the Washington Post:

A third woman came forward Wednesday to accuse Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct, saying he was physically abusive toward girls in high school and present at a house party in 1982 where she says she was the victim of a “gang” rape.

The woman, Julie Swetnick, a Washington resident, is represented by lawyer Michael Avenatti, who revealed her identity on Twitter and posted her photograph.

Meanwhile, the Senate Judiciary Committee released a copy of the testimony that Kavanaugh is expected to deliver on Thursday.

 

What do 11 Republican Senators do when they are worried about saying something awful when a woman testifies about sexual assault? They hire a woman to do their work for them. As Chris Cillizza writes for CNN:

Senator Chuck Grassley, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee…confirmed what had been rumored for days — that Rachel Mitchell, a deputy county attorney in Maricopa (Arizona) County, was coming on as outside counsel and would handle the bulk of questioning of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, the woman accusing Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when they were both teenagers…

…Every one of the 11 Republican senators on the current Judiciary Committee are deathly afraid of becoming the next Specter or Heflin — a man who looks either condescending, clueless or both when talking to a woman about her own story of experiencing sexual misconduct. The party, writ large, has massive concerns that even a single moment in which one of their senators looks to be out of touch or bullying could trigger even larger problems for Republicans at the ballot box in 41 days time. Less than 3 in 10 women said they approved of the job President Donald Trump was doing in the latest CNN-SSRS poll, and the party is looking at a major gender gap on the generic congressional ballot…

…Desperate times call for desperate measures. And that’s exactly what this move by Grassley is.

As James Hohmann writes for the Washington PostPresident Trump’s comments about Kavanaugh’s second accuser likely played a role in this decision by Grassley.

 

► Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) on Monday appeared to support the idea of investigating claims of sexual misconduct levied at Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. On Tuesday, Gardner stood next to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in a press conference in which Senate Republicans all but guaranteed that Kavanaugh would be confirmed to the highest court in the land.

What will Gardner say today?

 

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Gardner’s Hollow Words on Kavanaugh Accusers Exposed

Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) said on Monday that he “absolutely supports” a Senate investigation into claims from a Boulder woman who has levied sexual misconduct charges at Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

But that was Monday. Today Gardner appeared at a press conference with Senate Republican leadership in which Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell essentially promised to ram through Kavanaugh’s SCOTUS confirmation regardless of any claims of sexual misconduct or assault.

Senator Cory Gardner (left) can’t separate himself from Senate Republican leadership on hearing out Kavanaugh accusers.

As Talking Points Memo reports:

“I believe he’ll be confirmed, yes,” McConnell said at a press conference at the Capitol,  when asked if he had the votes.

Earlier in the press availability, McConnell said he was “confident we’re going to win.”

Okay…but what about that not-so-insignificant matter of Thursday’s planned testimony from Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault when they were in high school together? Back to TPM we go:

Asked if his language made it seem like he would not approach Blasey Ford’s testimony seriously, McConnell noted that few people were willing to testify under oath about the matter.

Regardless, all signs point to Republicans moving quickly after the hearing, to confirm Kavanaugh as quickly as next week.

“It is our plan to move forward in the very near future,” McConnell said.

If you’re wondering how McConnell, Gardner and pals could possibly just plow ahead with Kavanaugh’s confirmation at this point in time…well, you’re certainly not alone.

President Trump and other Republicans across the country are inflicting very real political damage on themselves with their awful comments about Kavanaugh’s accusers, and actions like today’s press conference telegraph the fact that Senate Republican leaders don’t actually care about what any of these alleged victims are saying.

Gardner’s Man In North Dakota: “Even If It’s All True, Does It Disqualify Him?”

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

The Washington Post’s Sean Sullivan reports on a radio interview yesterday featuring Rep. Kevin Cramer of North Dakota, who is running for the U.S. Senate against incumbent Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp. Cramer drew fire over the weekend after he asserted that the allegation of sexual assault against Brett Kavanaugh leveled by former classmate Dr. Christine Blasey Ford was “absurd” irrespective of its truthfulness since the alleged assault was merely attempted as opposed to successful.

This did not go over well.

As the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) standard bearer in one of the nation’s hottest U.S. Senate races this year, this would have been a really good time to offer a meek clarification, maybe even concede that he might have offended…well, everybody, and found something else to talk about.

But apparently, that’s not Kevin Cramer’s style!

Rep. Kevin Cramer, the Republican nominee for Senate in North Dakota, questioned Monday whether a sexual assault accusation against Brett M. Kavanaugh should disqualify him from the Supreme Court, even if the allegation is true.

Cramer raised the question in a television interview on KX4, a North Dakota station. He also explained that when he said in a radio interview last week that “nothing evidently happened” between Kavanaugh and Ford, he meant that “there was no type of intercourse or anything like that.”

…In the interview with host Chris Berg televised Monday, Cramer said that if something like what California professor Christine Blasey Ford alleges about Kavanaugh is accurate, “it’s tragic, it’s unfortunate, it’s terrible.” But, he added of Kavanaugh, “even if it’s all true, does it disqualify him? It certainly means that he did something really bad 36 years ago, but does it disqualify him from the Supreme Court?” [Pols emphasis]

That’s right, readers. A Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate just suggested that a rapist might not be disqualified from serving on the highest court in the land. The answer to that question by what we believe to be the overwhelmingly majority of Americans would not just be that a rapist is disqualified from serving as a Supreme Court Justice–it should be followed up by a more pointed question about what kind of person would say something so impossibly disrespectful of sexual assault victims.

Who said it? The Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate in North Dakota said it. And while Sen. Cory Gardner, chairman of the NRSC tells local reporters that he “supports” the right of Kavanaugh’s alleged victims to be heard, his charges in the Senate battleground states are singing a very different tune.

In this case, offensive enough that Gardner needs to say something–or let his failure to do so speak volumes.

Kavanaugh Confirmation Process Upended

UPDATE #2: President Trump voices his support for another hearing. From the Washington Post:

“We want to go through a full process,” Trump told reporters at an event on workforce development. He added that the Senate will “go through a process and hear everybody out.”

—–

UPDATE: Chris Cillizza of CNN explains how everything changed this morning:

What happened here is simple: Ford called Republicans’ bluff. As an anonymous accuser, her allegations weren’t going to change Kavanaugh’s glide path to the Supreme Court. As a named accuser, she complicated that path. As a named accuser who has now expressed a willingness to tell her story — and in public — there is no longer a clear path to Kavanaugh’s confirmation. (That’s not to say he can’t make it. It is to say that there is no clear path by which he makes it.)

The reason Kavanaugh’s path is now so fraught is a unique combination of the moment in which we are currently living, the man in the White House and the onrushing midterm elections.

—–

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh (left) met with Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) in late July.

The confirmation process for President Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court was upended over the weekend when a woman came forward to accuse Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault when they were in high school.

Christine Blasey Ford confirmed via the Washington Post on Sunday that she is the person behind an accusation of sexual assault that was first revealed last week as a confidential letter to Democratic lawmakers. From the Post:

Speaking publicly for the first time, Ford said that one summer in the early 1980s, Kavanaugh and a friend — both “stumbling drunk,” Ford alleges — corralled her into a bedroom during a gathering of teenagers at a house in Montgomery County.

While his friend watched, she said, Kavanaugh pinned her to a bed on her back and groped her over her clothes, grinding his body against hers and clumsily attempting to pull off her one-piece bathing suit and the clothing she wore over it. When she tried to scream, she said, he put his hand over her mouth.

“I thought he might inadvertently kill me,” said Ford, now a 51-year-old research psychologist in northern California. “He was trying to attack me and remove my clothing.”

The Senate had been scheduled to vote on Kavanaugh’s appointment as soon as Thursday, but Ford’s allegations have cast new doubt on that process. As Denver7’s Blair Miller reports in a series of Tweets, Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Denver) is among the chorus of voices calling for the process to slow until “full investigation” can be conducted:

Colorado’s other U.S. Senator, Republican Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) won’t go that far…

What Gardner does not say here is more important; he still hasn’t said whether or not he supports delaying Kavanaugh’s confirmation vote. As Politico reports, there are enough Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee expressing public support for waiting on Ford’s testimony that a vote this week may not happen:

Less than 24 hours after Ford publicly came forward against Kavanaugh, her attorney said that she “will do whatever is necessary to make sure that the Senate Judiciary Committee has the full story,” including providing testimony. Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) already had begun seeking follow-up calls for senators on Ford’s charges, and said on Monday that he is “working on a way to hear her out in an appropriate, precedented and respectful manner” — which could further imperil a committee vote on Kavanaugh that’s still set for Thursday.

Hatch, a senior Judiciary member, declined to commit senators to a Thursday vote on Kavanaugh and said the timing would be “up to the chairman.” But for the six Republicans who’ve urged the committee to hear from Ford, winding up the process as scheduled this week wasn’t a primary concern.

“This woman is willing to come forward and tell her story and we should listen to her,” said Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) on Milwaukee radio station WTMJ. “I’m not really sure where this goes from here.”…

Johnson joins calls from GOP Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alasaka and Arizona’s Jeff Flake and Tennessee’s Bob Corker, who told POLITICO Sunday that the committee shouldn’t vote on Kavanaugh until Ford can be heard. And Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri, a member of Republican leadership, said that “These are serious allegations that need to be looked at closely by the committee before any other action is taken.” [Pols emphasis]

Gardner had expressed his support for Kavanaugh’s nomination before these new allegations were made public. But with so many high-profile Republican Senators already willing to pump the brakes on Kavanaugh, Gardner’s position here is tenuous at best. Gardner doesn’t want to be one of the last Senators to agree to delay a vote on Kavanaugh until after Ford has a chance to testify.