Gardner, NRA Tied Up in Campaign Finance Fiasco

And that’s how you make Cory Gardner’s famous “loophole sausage”

Last week Politico Magazine outlined the strange case of a “mystery” organization that received millions of dollars from the National Rifle Association (NRA) to produce a plethora of advertisements promoting Republican candidates for U.S. Senate in 2014. Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) was one of the primary beneficiaries of this spending, though his campaign’s involvement with the entire process reeks of illegal coordination.

From Politico Magazine:

To get its message out, the NRA turned to an unknown consulting firm, Starboard Strategic, paying it $19 million. More than a third of that money was invested in must-win Senate seats in Colorado, North Carolina and Arkansas — three of the most expensive in the country — paying for a host of television, radio and internet ads…

…Acquiring business of this magnitude would be an incredible feat for a firm with no reputation. The question is whether it was really accomplished by Starboard, or another outfit called OnMessage.

Well-established and well-connected, OnMessage is as transparent as Starboard is opaque. What the Federal Election Commission and the public do not know is that the two entities appear to be functionally one and the same. [Pols emphasis]

Friday’s story from Politico Magazine prompted an official complaint today from the Campaign Legal Center “alleging that the National Rifle Association (NRA) violated federal law by using a common vendor to coordinate illegally with four U.S. Senate campaigns.”

“There is substantial evidence that the NRA funneled millions through a shell corporation to unlawfully coordinate with candidates it was backing,” said Brendan Fischer, director, federal reform at CLC. “The NRA using inside information about a candidate’s strategy to create ‘independent’ ads supporting him creates an unfair advantage, and it violates the law. According to the Supreme Court, groups like the NRA can only make unlimited expenditures if they are independent of the candidates they support, and it falls to the FEC to enforce the laws that preserve that independence and prevent corruption.”

As you can see from the graphic at right, OnMessage and Starboard Strategic are essentially the same company, which is a problem when you finish connect the dots on this sordid affair. Let’s go back to Politico Magazine:

In 2014, among OnMessage’s most prominent clients were three Republican challengers vying for Senate seats in the same races where the NRA would pay Starboard some of its biggest outlays of the cycle: Thom Tillis, in North Carolina; Cory Gardner, in Colorado; and Tom Cotton, in Arkansas. All of these candidates would defeat Democratic incumbents, cementing the result for which GOP leaders and the NRA had mobilized: a Republican majority in the upper chamber to match the one in the House. Each challenger paid OnMessage $5 million to $8 million, far more than they paid any other vendors.

Campaign-finance rules prohibit coordination between official campaigns and outside groups, such as the NRA, who support the same candidate. Those restrictions, in turn, give force to a fundamental law governing political spending. Outside groups can independently disburse unlimited sums to influence elections. But they can give no more than $5,000 when giving directly to a candidate…

…Two former FEC chairs, one Republican and the other Democrat, reviewed the findings of Politico Magazine and The Trace, and said they found them troubling. “This evidence raises substantial questions about whether OnMessage and Starboard Strategic were used as conduits for coordination between the NRA and the candidates it was supporting,” Trevor Potter, the Republican, said. “It’s pretty serious,” added Ann Ravel, the Democrat. “It doesn’t seem right.” Both former chairs independently came to the same conclusion: “The FEC should investigate.“

The NRA was apparently funneling millions of dollars to Starboard Strategic at the same time that Gardner’s 2014 campaign was also spending millions of dollars with OnMessage for campaign consulting work. This is about as obvious a case of illegal coordination as we’ve ever seen.

Trump/Putin Summit: As Bad As You Thought. No, It’s Worse.

UPDATE #5: Traitor.

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UPDATE #4: As James Fallows writes for The Atlantic, the moment of truth is at hand for Congressional Republicans:

There are exactly two possible explanations for the shameful performance the world witnessed on Monday, from a serving American president.

Either Donald Trump is flat-out an agent of Russian interests—maybe witting, maybe unwitting, from fear of blackmail, in hope of future deals, out of manly respect for Vladimir Putin, out of gratitude for Russia’s help during the election, out of pathetic inability to see beyond his 306 electoral votes. Whatever the exact mixture of motives might be, it doesn’t really matter.

Or he is so profoundly ignorant, insecure, and narcissistic that he did not  realize that, at every step, he was advancing the line that Putin hoped he would advance, and the line that the American intelligence, defense, and law-enforcement agencies most dreaded…

…with every hour that elapses after this shocking performance in Helsinki without Republicans doing anything, the more deeply they are stained by this dark moment in American leadership.

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UPDATE #3: Arizona Sen. John McCain with harsh words for President Trump:


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UPDATE #2: From the editorial board of the Washington Post:

In Helsinki, Mr. Trump again insisted “there was no collusion” with Russia. Yet in refusing to acknowledge the plain facts about Russia’s behavior, while trashing his own country’s justice system, Mr. Trump in fact was openly colluding with the criminal leader of a hostile power.

—–

UPDATE: Sen. Cory Gardner breaks his silence, and, well, just wow:

We had to verify this isn’t a parody account. It’s not. Donald Trump made a mockery of Sen. Cory Gardner’s advice on dealing with Russia (below) today, and Cory Gardner responded by attacking Barack Obama.

It would be funny, just gut-busting comedy, if this was not such a serious matter.

—–

Politico reports as everyone with even a passing interest in the continued sovereignty of the United States–that’s every American, we sincerely hope–picks their jaws up off the floor:

President Donald Trump on Monday publicly sided with Russian President Vladimir Putin over his own intelligence agencies, refusing to condemn the Kremlin for interference in the 2016 election and saying that “I don’t see any reason” to believe that Russia was behind the hacking of Democratic computer servers.

Trump’s remarkable statement, during a joint news conference in Helsinki, Finland, after holding a two-hour one-on-one meeting with Putin, came after special counsel Robert Mueller indicted 12 Russians on Friday over allegations of involvement in the state-ordered election-interference operation…

Trump was directly asked at one point whether he believed the U.S. intelligence agencies, which concluded Russia carried out the hacking of Democratic servers, or Putin, who has said it did not. Trump acknowledged that his own intelligence chiefs “think it’s Russia.”

“I have President Putin, he just said it’s not Russia,” Trump went on. “I will say this: I don’t see any reason why it would be. But I really do want to see the server. But I have confidence in both parties.”

The aghast reaction to this astounding statement from President Donald Trump, defying the mountain of evidence to the contrary and even the indictments last Friday of numerous Russian intelligence agents for their role in subverting the 2016 elections to assist Trump, is at least somewhat bipartisan:

As of this writing, though, there’s no public reaction from Sen. Cory Gardner, but Gardner’s lip service to accountability at a campaign event last Friday left little in the way of wiggle room even for Colorado’s most infamously wiggly Senator:

When President Donald Trump meets Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday in Finland, he should hold the foreign leader accountable for his country’s destructive and illegal behavior, U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner said Friday…

Russia’s invasion and occupation of Crimea and continuing cyber aggression against the U.S., among other things, should land the country on a list of state sponsors of terror, said Gardner, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

“The president needs to be very firm,” Gardner said. “If he’s going to meet with (Putin) at all, it’s got to be about our objections to his malign activities.”

Today’s summit, to put it mildly, does not appear to have passed Gardner’s firmness test.

Trump’s shocking rejection in Vladimir Putin’s presence of the conclusion of the entire U.S. intelligence community, whose findings were backed up by the GOP-controlled Senate Intelligence Committee, is the clearest sign yet that Trump has no intention of doing anything to address a foreign government’s successful campaign to subvert an American election–an absolutely unprecedented situation that former CIA director John Brennan calls “nothing short of treasonous.”

Though unprecedented, this cannot be considered unexpected, even by devoted sycophants like Cory Gardner, given that Trump has denied the facts of Russian meddling in the 2016 elections at every step. The real problem for Republicans, the part they can’t acknowledge, is that they too were beneficiaries of the Russians’ operation to boost Trump, and to acknowledge this fact would inevitably weaken Trump’s legitimacy as President–and by extension, the Republican Party’s unchallenged control of the federal government.

Make no mistake, folks. Something very bad is happening to our country. For Republicans, at least the ones with any conscience or even patriotism left, the surprise victory of 2016 is now the worst-case scenario for their party.

Putin’s victory is now total.

Gardner’s Trump Apologetics Are Now Just Plain Ridiculous

Donald Trump, Cory Gardner.

ThinkProgress–you knew this would happen eventually:

During a Fox News interview on Tuesday, Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) was asked to respond to controversial comments President Trump made earlier in the day about his upcoming meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Gardner responded by flatly denying Trump actually meant what he said.

Just before boarding Air Force One, Trump, who repeatedly attacked the NATO alliance on Twitter on Tuesday, told reporters that his meeting with Putin “may be the easiest” he has during his trip to Europe.

“So I have NATO; I have the UK, which is in somewhat turmoil; and I have Putin,” Trump said, referring to meetings he has during his trip to Europe. “Frankly, Putin may be the easiest of them all. Who would think? Who would think?” [Pols emphasis]

President Donald Trump’s repeated statements that he prefers to meet with adversaries as opposed to allies of the United States helps feed the perception that his foreign policy is entirely capricious and personality-driven, with no respect for the long-term relationships with close Western allies that have given American power the consensus needed for global leadership. Obviously, when the President is doing better cultivating relationships with with the nation’s enemies than our allies, something is amiss.

Also, the Russians helped him become President. So this is all, fair to say, very troubling.

Into this latest morass steps Sen. Cory Gardner, Republican member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee–with the unenviable task of making Trump’s brashness comport with the grownup world:

After being played a video clip of Trump’s remarks and being asked whether what he said is “true,” Gardner uttered an uncomfortable chuckle and said, “No. I think the president knows that’s not true as well.” [Pols emphasis]

“I think he’s simply trying to say to our great NATO allies and friends, ‘let’s make sure that we’re all rowing in the same direction, so to speak. Let’s make sure that we’re living up to our expectations and obligations,’” Gardner said. “I think the president knows the challenges he has with Vladimir Putin, we all know that, and I hope that when he meets with our NATO allies he will talk about the violations of international law that Russia has created, and indeed, it sounds like he may have an opportunity at some point to even address that very same concern with Vladimir Putin himself.”

So we are now at the point of hearing the verbatim words of the President of the United States, and Cory Gardner is reduced to simply denying the President meant what he plainly said. Gardner has sometimes been able to redirect the President’s outlandish pronouncements back into a coherent framework that doesn’t do huge damage to the nation’s stated policy objectives, but there’s just nothing to work with here.

Even Con Man Cory can’t spin it anymore. It’s as bad as it looks.

There’s No Denver Post Editorial Board To Say Sorry

Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado’s statement on the nomination of conservative judge Brett Kavanaugh to serve on the Supreme Court, Donald Trump’s second such pick after Republicans (including Gardner) prevented a vote on President Barack Obama’s nominee Merrick Garland in 2016 setting in motion an ideological shift on the court that will be felt for decades to come:

“I look forward to meeting soon with Judge Kavanaugh,” said Senator Gardner. “Over the coming weeks I will review his judicial record while also ensuring that Judge Kavanaugh will approach each case on its merits and follow the law as it is written. I hope my colleagues on both sides of the aisle will thoughtfully and thoroughly review this individual during the confirmation process and carefully consider him rather than making a knee-jerk decision based on politics and nothing else.”

There’s little need for Gardner to hold on to the pretense of being undecided on Kavanaugh, since Gardner’s support along with all but a handful of Republican Senators is a foregone conclusion. Democrats are preparing to put up a major fight over Kavanaugh’s nomination, but at this point the administration and Republicans backing Kavanaugh have the upper hand and the smart money suggests Kavanaugh will be confirmed.

Although Kavanaugh has not publicly declared his intention to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade decision upholding abortion rights, his record and political affiliations strongly indicate that he will do so if given the opportunity–in keeping with Trump’s campaign-trail vows to appoint justices who would overturn Roe. Court cases intended as direct challenges to Roe are already moving, and the solid conservative majority Kavanaugh provides supplies the means.

As of now, it’s very likely that Roe v. Wade will be overturned, and abortion swiftly recriminalized in many states. In Colorado, where voters have soundly rejected abortion bans in repeated statewide votes, we expect this will energize pro-choice voters–and result in further political losses for Colorado Republicans along with reaffirmed abortion rights protections in Colorado law.

Kavanaugh’s nomination and the expected rightward shift of the Supreme Court is also a short-term realization of Sen. Cory Gardner’s long-sought political goals, but with long-term peril that could jeopardize his re-election in 2020. Gardner won his election in 2014 largely by convincing a pro-choice Colorado electorate that abortion wasn’t an issue that mattered. As the Denver Post’s editorial board said in 2014, “contrary to [Mark] Udall’s tedious refrain, Gardner’s election would pose no threat to abortion rights.” Republicans saddled the derisive nickname “Mark Uterus” on Udall in mockery of his insistence that Gardner would endanger abortion rights–and local reporters were happy to join in the mocking, content in Gardner’s assurances that the issue was being overblown and abortion rights were safe no matter what Gardner did.

Today, anyone who says that is a fool. And anyone who said it in 2014 owes every woman in Colorado an apology.

As for Cory Gardner, 2020 is going to be very different than 2014.

Because the game will be up.

Cory Gardner Joins Silicon Valley Conspiracy Theory

Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

As Politico’s Ashley Gold reports, Republicans are pushing a not-really-new conspiracy theory among their more persuadable base members that major social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook are systemically biased against conservatives:

Republicans are turning their grievances about biased tech companies into a rallying message for a difficult election year.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel are among the GOP leaders vocally complaining about a host of Silicon Valley slights against conservatives, ranging from Facebook’s stripping of ad revenue from the video-blogging duo Diamond and Silk to a Google search result that paired the California GOP with “Nazism.”

…Conservative complaints about Silicon Valley have sprouted in the past year, echoing the frequent GOP accusations that a liberal news media and a pervasive bureaucratic “deep state” are conspiring against Trump’s agenda. But the anti-tech message appears to be accelerating as Republicans fight to fire up their base and counter a feared Democratic “blue wave” in November.

Meanwhile, tech executives are scrambling to prove they don’t harbor anti-conservative prejudice. Facebook has held at least two previously unreported meetings with conservative groups and digital experts since April, and it launched an audit of potential bias with the assistance of former Arizona Republican Sen. Jon Kyl and the law firm Covington & Burling.

Ever since social media networks were exploited by actors foreign and domestic to spread disinformation intended to disrupt the 2016 elections and support Donald Trump’s scorched-earth bid for the presidency, the big social media players have taken steps to crack down on both blatantly false content circulating on their platforms and foreign nationals using social media advertising to post election messages. It’s important to note that both sides in politics at least nominally support this kind of action.

But of course, the other side of this coin is inevitably going to be distrust in the “Silicon Valley liberals” who run these companies, not coincidentally by the same low-information social media users who were most susceptible to “fake news” to begin with. That the flavor of disinformation being targeted is almost all conservative-leaning disinformation doesn’t sit well with conservatives who never stopped believing.

The problem is, those are the same voters Republicans desperately need at the polls in November! So every Republican, even the “smart” ones who “know better,” is obliged to pander to the conspiracy theories:

Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), chairman of the National Republican Senate Committee, said conservatives are concerned about any “Silicon Valley organization that’s using people in Silicon Valley to filter speech.” [Pols emphasis]

Sorry, did you really think Cory Gardner was above this? Recall how in Gardner’s 2014 campaign for the U.S. Senate, Gardner shamelessly exploited baseless fears of an Ebola outbreak in the United States, a lie later singled out by Politifact as 2014’s Lie of the Year. Despite Gardner’s carefully crafted image as a grownup Republican, he manages to subsidize the worst misinformation of any given election cycle–and somehow gets away with it.

Let us be the ones to assure Sen. Gardner and anyone else reading: Facebook is not out to get conservatives. Also, some of the stuff you believe is crazy stupid Russian propaganda and that is not Facebook’s fault.

We don’t expect to convince anybody, but for the record.

Surprise! Gardner Flip Flops on SCOTUS Nomination

Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma)

This is what Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) said on March 16, 2016 when President Obama nominated Merrick Garland to fill a vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court:

“We stand at a pivotal point in our nation’s history. The Obama Administration continues to use the judicial and regulatory systems to push through its legislative agenda, shifting the balance of power that our Founders established…Our next election is too soon and the stakes are too high; the American people deserve a role in this process as the next Supreme Court Justice will influence the direction of this country for years to come.”

Now, this is what Gardner said THIS MORNING on KOA radio in response to a question about approving a new Supreme Court nominee before the November 2018 election:

I think it’s absolutely critical for this court. This is an opportunity to have a full court going into the new session — the start of the session. There’s plenty of time to do this. And so I hope that we can have a process that gets back to what it used to look like in the Senate, where you have Republicans and Democrats working together to find somebody who’s right for the country.

You can probably guess where this is headed. In a follow-up question, KOA radio host Marty Lentz asked Gardner why this SCOTUS nomination should be quickly advanced when Gardner absolutely refused to allow Garland’s nomination to go forward two years ago:

I think if you look at that situation, a completely different situation than what we have now where, you know, according to the Biden rule and others. This is not a presidential election year. This is not months away from the American people determining a new president that could influence the direction of the court. We’re not even halfway through the president’s first first term, so I think we’re talking a totally different situation, there, and an opportunity for us to put somebody on the court like Neil Gorsuch. Neil Gorsuch as a great Coloradan and [I am] looking forward to somebody like him — or her — and go onto the court.

Of course Gardner says that this is a “completely different” situation, because…well…mostly because there is now a Republican in the White House. Gardner has the moral leadership of a turnip.

Is This What “Maximum Pressure” Looks Like?

In the words of Sen. Cory Gardner, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific, and International Cybersecurity Policy:

“The Trump Administration, under Congressional direction, deserves praise for abandoning the failed policy of strategic patience and pursuing a maximum pressure campaign that has resulted in unprecedented sanctions against this heinous regime,” said Senator Gardner.

In this case, “maximum pressure” is a firm handshake! We don’t know the details about the North Korean general President Donald Trump bobbled his salute to–but hopefully he hasn’t killed too many of his own people, you know, personally. Because that wouldn’t be the kind of man our President should be saluting.

And sure, we could invoke the times Republicans came unglued on President Barack Obama for saluting American soldiers too “casually.” But that would be stupid, because this is so much worse.

Isn’t it? Or does nothing matter anymore?

“Media Is Afraid” GOP Will Retain Control of U.S. Senate, And They “Want Us to Fail,” Says Gardner

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Senator Cory Gardner (R).

U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) said last week that he’s not planning to run again for his current U.S. Senate leadership position, in which he’s charged with electing Republicans to the U.S. Senate.

His reason for stepping away: “I am going to be focused on 2020,” he told The Hill, a Washington DC publication.

Translation: He’s going to work on his own re-election campaign in Colorado, where he’s even more unpopular than Trump–and that’s in a state that voted for Hillary Clinton by five points.

Gardner, who doesn’t return my calls, likely sees the obstacles to his own re-election in 2020 as similar to those facing Republicans this year.

A big problem is the media, according to Gardner. The media is making the November election look really lousy for Republicans.

Telling fellow conservatives at the Western Conservative Summit in Denver Friday that Republicans will be able to confirm scores of judges if they can retain control of the U.S. Senate in November, Gardner said the “media is afraid of this,” and they “want us to fail.”

Gardner (at 57 min 45 secs here): There is only one body that confirms judges and that is the United States Senate. We have the potential to confirm scores more of these constitutional judges, but we have to keep the senate.

The media knows this. The media is afraid of this. And that is why they want us to fail. They are already writing their stories. You can see it in the news. They don’t want us to think we are just going to lose the house and the senate, but sometimes I get the feeling they are cheering it on. This past election was a rebuke of their narrative that our movement is on the outs.

This is not the first time Gardner has claimed the media is aligned against Republicans. Back in 2012, Gardner blamed Mitt Romney’s loss in part on the media.

He once told a right-wing talk radio host that the media is biased against “people like us.”

In focusing on the media as a big Republican problem in November, Gardner is skirting discussion of the GOP legislative collapses on healthcare, immigration, and trade, or the mood swings of President Trump, or the tax bill’s failure to deliver promised wage increases for middle-class voters.

Cory Gardner Screws Up on North Korea

UPDATE #3: A spokesperson for Vice President Mike Pence calls out Gardner directly:


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UPDATE #2: Vice President Mike Pence continues to refute Gardner’s claims. Welcome to Thunderdome!

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UPDATE: A spokesperson for Vice President Mike Pence adamantly denies the story that Gardner is peddling:

Pence’s press secretary, Alyssa Farah, said otherwise, and that the vice president said no such thing during the policy lunch.

Ruh-roh!

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North Korea policy experts Dennis Rodman (left) and Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma).

Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) has worked hard in recent years to position himself next to former professional basketball player Dennis Rodman as one of this country’s foremost experts on North Korea. It’s never been clear that President Trump actually listens to Gardner on this topic, but that hasn’t stopped Colorado’s junior Senator from backtracking on prior statements on North Korea in order to attempt to fit into Trump’s inner circle.

Gardner is spending much of today cheerleading for President Trump’s “summit” with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore, and he seems to be getting carried away with his Trump translations. Gardner was a guest on the “Business for Breakfast” show on KNUS radio this morning, where he tried (and failed) to parse Trump’s words on ending military exercises between the U.S. and South Korea. Here’s what Gardner told host Jimmy Sengenberger just this morning:

I’ve talked to the President numerous times, including just a few days ago before he left for Singapore. [I] spoke this morning with a staffer who is in Singapore from the National Security Council to make sure I get an accurate — receive an accurate readout of both the meeting — internal meeting — as well as the press stand up after the summit. So, I feel like I have a good — a good grasp on what took place there, but certainly need more information as the days come forward.

You know, look, there is going to be a lot of people talking about — and analyzing — whether this is a good move or a bad move. Bottom line is this he talked about war games. That probably means bomber overflights. Does that mean all exercises? Doubtful. Does it mean that we stop working with South Korea? No. And does that mean — and did the President qualify it with good faith efforts and progress toward denuclearization? Yes he did. So, you know, I think there’s room to move on this, as long as we have those good faith efforts and progress being made toward denuclearization. The President didn’t say we’re going to stop the exercises or joint training. He didn’t say that. [Pols emphasis]

Um, yes, he did. As CNN and every other media outlet on earth has reported, Trump was very explicit in this declaration. While Gardner tries to intimate that Trump meant something other than what he actually said, U.S. military leaders are under no such illusion. As the Military Times explains:

The Pentagon is now working to implement President Donald Trump’s direction that it cancel joint exercises with the Republic of Korea following Trump’s historic summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. [Pols emphasis]

“Under the circumstances, we are negotiating a comprehensive and complete deal [on denuclearization]. It is inappropriate to have war games,” Trump said in a press conference following the summit in Singapore. “Number one, we save money. A lot. Number two, it is really something they very much appreciated.”

In that press conference in Singapore, Trump also said that he would like to withdraw the thousands of U.S. forces stationed on the Korean peninsula, but would start with cancellation of military exercises.

Gardner appears to be getting some flak for “mansplaining” Trump’s comments, so he reacted this afternoon by throwing Vice President Mike Pence under the bus:

But…but…that’s not what mom said!

We’re not really going out on much of a limb when we say that President Trump’s decisions probably supersede whatever Vice President Mike Pence tells Gardner separately. Have fun explaining this one, Cory!

Cory Gardner Said a Proposed Abortion Ban Was Just Symbolic, but He Has Yet to Co-Sponsor It Again

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

It’s been almost four years since U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) was running around Colorado saying that federal personhood legislation, which aimed to ban all abortion, even for rape, and which Gardner co-sponsored as a member of the U.S. House, was “simply a statement that I support life.”

Reporters repeatedly objected, reading the text of the anti-abortion bill directly to Gardner, but the words of the bill, and the fact checkers views of it, slid off Gardner, as did all those political advertisements warning everyone about Gardner’s extreme anti-choice views. Gardner said his Democratic opponent was just “trying to distract voters.

If the personhood legislation was indeed the symbol Gardner said it was in 2014, you’d think Colorado’s Republican senator would have co-sponsored the senate version of the bill once he was seated in the senate.

But Gardner’s name doesn’t appear on the Life at Conception Act, the Senate’s personhood legislation, sponsored by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY). Eleven other U.S. senators have co-sponsored the bill but not Gardner.

I called Gardner’s office to find out why he’s not on board with the bill, which is pretty much identical to the one he co-sponsored as a Congressman from northern Colorado in 2913. No response.

It doesn’t appear that Gardner’s anti-abortion position has changed since Colorado voters installed him in the senate.

You’d expect him to take action to restrict a women’s right to choose, and he has.

Since he was elected senator in 2014, Gardner has voted seven times to de-fund Planned Parenthood (e.g., Four Obamacare repeal measures, backed by Gardner, contained provisions that would have rescinded funds from the women’s health organization.)

Gardner hasn’t objected to Trump’s orders to gag some federally funded clinics from even talking about the option of abortion, a rule which will cause Planned Parenthood to lose millions of federal dollars.

And before that, Gardner didn’t object to Trump’s order imposing the same rule on U.S. funded clinics internationally.

Gardner continues his anti-abortion fight. So why hasn’t he co-sponsored the personhood bill again? It’s just a statement of his support for life, he said before about the bill, which came to define the 2014 campaign.

Trump on North Korea: “It’s About Attitude!”

CBS4 reported yesterday in a genuflection-heavy story titled “Sen. Gardner Has Clear Vision Of Summit With North Korea” on a very serious meeting of the Senate Foreign Relations East Asia subcommittee, in which a very serious Sen. Cory Gardner outlined his list of very serious priorities he wants to see addressed at the upcoming summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un:

“So far, although it has suspended missile tests, North Korea has not taken concrete or verifiable steps towards denuclearization, so it is my hope that during the summit it will be made clear to the regime that the only goal of our negotiations is denuclearization,” said Gardner.

Gardner says he believes the Trump Administration’s policy of isolating North Korea is working. [Pols emphasis]

Sen. Gardner was highly critical of President Barack Obama’s overtures to North Korea during his administration, calling it “extremely disappointing” that Obama “would talk with North Korea without tough preconditions.” That demand for specific concessions from North Korea before Obama held talks was a natural segue into the right’s boilerplate bluster about Obama’s supposed “weakness” on foreign policy, since after all, “he’s just not an American…”

Oh sorry, that was Mike Coffman. But you get the idea.

Back in the present, Gardner admits that North Korea “has not taken concrete or verifiable steps towards denuclearization,” but supports the upcoming summit–despite the complete absence of the “tough preconditions” he demanded from President Obama.

In fact, as The Hill reports today:

President Trump on Thursday said he does not have to prepare “very much” for his high-stakes summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un because he believes “it’s about attitude.”

“I think I’m very well prepared,” Trump told reporters during a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. “I don’t think I have to prepare very much. It’s about attitude. [Pols emphasis] It’s about willingness to get things done.”

It seems…unlikely that Trump is reviewing CSPAN footage to hear Gardner’s priorities.

Look, we understand that Trump’s chaotic overtures to North Korea have as much a chance of bearing fruit as anything else that’s been tried and failed in recent years. If this summit results in an agreement that reduces tensions on the Korean peninsula in any way, it will be recorded by history a good thing. With that said, it’s absurd to suggest that Gardner is being in any way consistent in his position on diplomacy with North Korea between his support for Trump today and his bitter denunciations of President Obama.

If Obama had ever once said “I don’t have to prepare very much” for a summit with North Korea, which Obama would never have said because it is ridiculous, Cory Gardner would be calling for resignation or impeachment.

Today, it’s just another turd Gardner has to shine.

No Recess for You, Senate!

Sen. Cory Gardner (left) and Sen. Mitch McConnell (Associated Press)

As Politico reports, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is doing Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) — who heads up the NRSC — a big favor by cancelling much of the August recess.

Mitch McConnell is canceling all but a week of the Senate’s traditional August recess, hoping to keep vulnerable Democrats off the campaign trail and confirm as many of President Donald Trump’s judicial and executive branch nominees as possible.

The Senate majority leader said Tuesday that the Senate will only take a break for the first week of August because of “historic obstruction” by Senate Democrats and will stay in session the rest of the month. McConnell was under enormous pressure from his own caucus as well as the president to cancel as much of the recess as possible, but the majority leader also saw an opportunity to unite Republicans and annoy incumbent Democrats…

…By keeping the Senate in session, McConnell will significantly cut down on the time that Democratic senators have to campaign back home, particularly for senators like Jon Tester (D-Mont.) who have lengthy commutes back to their states. In 2016, when McConnell’s own caucus was facing a number of difficult reelection campaigns, the Senate was not in session in August.

There are 26 Democratic Senators up for re-election in 2018, compared to just 9 Republicans.

Can Gardner Answer This Question in Less Than 18 Seconds?

Can President Trump pardon himself?

That’s the question being asked of many Members of Congress this week. Blair Miller of Denver7 recently posed the query to every member of Colorado’s Congressional delegation and only received a response from one Republican:

“I don’t believe the President can pardon himself. It’s an absurd idea,” Coffman said in a statement to Denver7. “The rule of law applies to everyone—no matter their position or office.”

Denver7 sent two emails each to the spokespersons for Republican Reps. Ken Buck, Scott Tipton and Doug Lamborn, respectively, on Monday but none of them returned those emails. Buck sits on the House Judiciary Committee, which would have to start any impeachment proceedings against a sitting president.

Spokespeople for Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., said the senator was on a plane and was not available for comment.

If someone can track down Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma), we’d love to see if he can respond more quickly than Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who paused for an incredible 18 seconds before answering a similar question on Monday:

Party’s Back On In Singapore, Cory Gardner!

USA TODAY’s David Jackson reports via affiliate 9NEWS and it’s so damn exciting:

After a rare meeting with a high-ranking North Korean official, President Trump said Friday he has rescheduled a June 12 summit in Singapore with Kim Jong Un as part of a long-term effort to try and end the latter’s nuclear weapons programs.

In a moment for every red-blooded patriotic American to celebrate, Glorious Leader Donald Trump will meet with North Korea’s Dear Leader Kim Jong Un on the 12th of this month after all! Whatever is what that led Trump to suddenly cancel the meeting a week and a half ago–it’s water under the bridge!

While hailing the promise of an unprecedented summit, Trump also sought to tamp down expectations by saying that “we’re not going to go sign something” at the Singapore meeting. [Pols emphasis] Instead, he said, “the process will begin” on an agreement to have Kim eliminate the nuclear weapons that have generated global tensions for years.

“I think it’s a getting-to-know-you meeting, plus,” Trump told reporters at the White House. [Pols emphasis]

It’s very difficult to contain our enthusiasm–hey, wait a minute. Weren’t there some kind of, you know, benchmarks that the North Koreans were supposed to meet before earning the right to sit down mano y mano with the President of the United States? Didn’t we actually just hear about this recently?

Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO), Chairman of the Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific, and International Cybersecurity Policy, today released the below statement following President Trump’s decision to cancel the summit with Kim Jong Un.

“President Trump has made the right decision to cancel the summit with Kim Jong Un until North Korea is ready to act in good faith to fully denuclearize,” said Gardner. “We must double down on our strategy of maximum pressure and engagement. It’s time to pass my bipartisan legislation, the LEED Act, because it will increase the pressure on Kim Jong Un by implementing a full economic embargo and targeting his regime’s enablers. Our goal of any discussions with North Korea should remain the complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”

After all, when Barack Obama was President, Sen. Cory Gardner was really super specific and nasty about not having any chit-chat sessions with North Korea without some firm concessions in hand:

“It is extremely disappointing, yet unsurprising, that the Obama Administration would talk with North Korea without tough preconditions, including ending its nuclear and ballistic missile programs, human rights abuses, or cyber attacks. It was dangerously naïve for the Obama Administration to offer concessions to Pyongyang’s Forgotten Maniac, Kim Jong-un, especially when we’ve seen the Iranian nuclear deal fail to change the behavior of that regime,” said Gardner.

Now, we’re going to go out on a limb here and suggest that Sen. Gardner would have been most displeased by an announcement that President Obama was meeting with Kim Jong Un for a “getting-to-know-you meeting.” Even with a little “plus.”

Right? Or are we just Pollyannish to think that anything including hypocrisy of the first order on something as important as nuclear foreign policy…matters anymore?

As of this writing, we haven’t seen Gardner try to put this all back together. For whatever reason the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee On East Asia, The Pacific, And International Cybersecurity Policy hasn’t jumped back on the North Korea roller-coaster publicly since he backed Trump’s decision to cancel the summit.

But at this point, it doesn’t matter. Gardner’s only job now is apparently to shine whatever turd Trump lays.

Caption This Photo: Cory and the General of Siam

Sen. Cory Gardner is in Thailand this week, and here’s photographic proof:

We hadn’t seen any announcement of a foreign junket by Sen. Gardner, but his duties on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee frequently send him to Asia–like last year, when he paid a visit to controversial Filipino strongman Rodrigo Duterte and caught flak for helping legitimize Duterte’s violent crackdowns.

In this case, Gardner was meeting with Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to discuss “non-traditional security threats” facing the two nations. But in terms of supporting, you know, the good guys, meeting with Prayut Chan-o-cha is more than a little problematic–since Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha’s previous title was General Prayut Chan-o-cha, Commander in Chief of the Royal Thai Army. Prayut seized power in a 2014 coup d’etat, overthrowing the democratically-elected first female PM of Thailand Yingluck Shinawatra. Thailand is now ruled by the National Council for Peace and Order, otherwise known as a military junta:

Thailand endures a human rights crisis four years after the 2014 coup. The military junta under Prime Minister Gen. Prayut Chan-ocha has banned political activity and public assembly, enforced media censorship, arbitrarily arrested dissidents, and detained civilians in military facilities. Authorities have used lese majeste (insulting the monarchy), sedition, and computer crime charges to suppress free speech. In the Thailand southern border provinces, rights abuses persist in the conflict between separatist groups and the government. Over three million migrant workers face systematic abuse and exploitation, including in the fishing industry, despite government promises for reform. Refugees and asylum seekers are subject to arrest and deportation.

On the upside, the food is really tasty.