Former Colorado Republican Attorney Mike Davis Tweets Photo of Judge Merrick Garland’s Severed Head

(All class – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Former Colorado Special Assistant Attorney General Mike Davis was busted by national media last week for tweeting an inflammatory fake photo.

Davis shared the fake photo, originally created by the Onion, showing a bloody U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky holding up the severed head of Judge Merrick Garland, whose nomination for the U.S. Supreme Court by Obama was torpedoed by McConnell.

Davis deleted the tweet soon after, but not before Reuters reporter Lawrence Hurley grabbed a screenshot.

Davis is best known as the GOP point man for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court. He had briefly clerked for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch before going to work for Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley on the Senate Judiciary Committee as Chief Nominations Counsel, where he was responsible for shepherding President Trump’s judicial nominees through the vetting and approval process.



Abortion Apocalypse Staved Off, No Thanks To Cory Gardner

Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

The New York Times reports on the high-drama ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court yesterday temporarily blocking a highly restrictive anti-abortion law in Louisiana from going into effect, and revealing in this 5-4 decision the grave danger abortion rights are presently in–despite a persistent unwillingness by reporters locally and nationally to acknowledge this reality:

The Supreme Court on Thursday blocked a Louisiana law that its opponents say could have left the state with only one doctor in a single clinic authorized to provide abortions.

The vote was 5 to 4, with Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. joining the court’s four-member liberal wing to form a majority. That coalition underscored the pivotal position the chief justice has assumed after the departure last year of Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who used to hold the crucial vote in many closely divided cases, including ones concerning abortion…


Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel A. Alito Jr., Neil M. Gorsuch and Brett M. Kavanaugh said they would have denied the stay. Only Justice Kavanaugh published a dissent, taking a middle position that acknowledged the key precedent and said he would have preferred more information on the precise effect of the law.

The Louisiana law in question is what’s known in the reproductive rights community as a TRAP law–“targeted restrictions on abortion providers,” meaning regulations intended to reduce the availability of abortions with no clinically proven benefit. This particular law is a requirement that physicians who perform abortions have admitting privileges at a local hospital, which is medically unnecessary and would only serve to severely reduce the number of eligible abortion providers.

The narrow and temporary blocking of this bill from taking effect is thanks to a swing vote from Chief Justice John Roberts, who once again took surprising action to avert what could have kicked off the long-awaited final assault on the Roe v. Wade decision guaranteeing abortion rights throughout the United States. This apparently represents a swing from Roberts’ vote on a previous similar case, underscoring his self-appointed role as a moderator on a sharply divided court. With that said, the Court is still expected to hear this case in the fall, and numerous other state-level bills intended specifically to challenge Roe are in the judicial pipeline.

Despite this temporary win for pro-choice advocates, it’s clear that abortion rights are today in greater actual peril than at any point since the Roe decision in 1973. Especially if conservatives get another Justice before President Donald Trump leaves office but even with the Court as it sits today, the likelihood of Roe being thrown out is very high. Trump’s two appointed Justices, both of whom were confirmed with Sen. Cory Gardner’s support and one of which was stolen from Democrats in an unprecedented act of Senate treachery, showed in this trial balloon vote that they are ready to do it. Remember that next time anyone tells you that Gardner “would pose no threat to abortion rights.”

The moral of the story? Even here in Colorado where the voters have demonstrated their support for reproductive choice over and over at the polls, we’re only one election away from passing the same legislation that was blocked yesterday–legislation we see introduced in the Colorado legislature year after year. For reasons we’ve never really understood, local political reporters have been openly contemptuous about covering Republican anti-abortion bills in the Colorado General Assembly in recent years.

That complacency really, really needs to stop. “Token” GOP abortion bills in Colorado are not theater.

They are a warning.


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.


Boulder’s Deborah Ramirez Condemns Kavanaugh’s Confirmation

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

With the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court taking place today, Deborah Ramirez of Boulder, who accused Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct while the two were students at Yale University but whose allegations were swept under the rug during the FBI’s pro forma investigation, released this updated statement:

Thirty-five years ago, the other students in the room chose to laugh and look the other way as sexual violence was perpetrated on me by Brett Kavanaugh. As I watch many of the Senators speak and vote on the floor of the Senate I feel like I’m right back at Yale where half the room is laughing and looking the other way. Only this time, instead of drunk college kids, it is US Senators who are deliberately ignoring his behavior. [Pols emphasis] This is how victims are isolated and silenced.

But I do have corroborating witnesses speaking for me, although they were not allowed to speak to the FBI, and I feel extremely grateful for them and for the overwhelming amount of support that I have received and continue to receive during this extremely difficult and painful time. There may be people with power who are looking the other way, but there are millions more who are standing together, speaking up about personal experiences of sexual violence and taking action to support survivors. This is truly a collective moment of survivors and allies standing together.

Thank you for hearing me, seeing me and believing me. I am grateful for each and every one of you. We will not be silenced.

To the victor goes the spoils.

Personal views of this epic struggle and its end in victory for Kavanaugh will vary sharply, but predictably along partisan lines. An important but as-yet unmeasurable exception to that rule will be how independent women voters in particular respond to this outcome. Kavanaugh’s outlasting of the serious allegations against him places partisan team sports cheerleading in direct conflict with deeply-held apolitical values about respect for women–and about believing women who have been victims of sexual violence. The betrayal of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and Deborah Ramirez by a Republican-controlled Senate that never wanted to acknowledge their story is a lesson that millions of women who followed this battle can never forget.

For all the talk of this pitched confirmation battle energizing downtrodden Republican base voters ahead of the 2018 midterms, the voters expected to form into a Democratic wave this November should if anything find in Kavanaugh’s confirmation all the more reason to turn out. There’s certainly nothing that happened here to demotivate voters for whom the upcoming election is a referendum on Donald Trump.

In the end, Justice Brett Kavanaugh is just another inevitable consequence of the 2016 elections.

If that makes you angry, start by never letting what happened in 2016 happen again.


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.


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.


Trump Mocks Kavanaugh Accuser and Draws Ire of Many

President Trump in Mississippi on Tuesday (AP).

As the Washington Post reports, President Trump spoke at a rally in Mississippi on Tuesday evening and openly mocked California professor Christine Blasey Ford’s allegations of sexual assault against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh:

Trump, in a riff that has been dreaded by White House and Senate aides, attacked the story of Christine Blasey Ford at length — drawing laughs from the crowd. The remarks were his strongest attacks yet of her testimony.

“‘I don’t know. I don’t know.’ ‘Upstairs? Downstairs? Where was it?’ ‘I don’t know. But I had one beer. That’s the only thing I remember,’ ” Trump said of Ford, as he impersonated her on stage.

“I don’t remember,” he said repeatedly, apparently mocking her testimony.

Ford has said the incident happened in an upstairs room and that she is “100 percent” certain it was Kavanaugh who assaulted her, although she has acknowledged that her memories of other details of the evening remain unclear.

As CNN reports, two Republican Senators who could be key to Kavanaugh’s confirmation — Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake and Maine Sen. Susan Collins — were not at all pleased with Trump’s comments:

“There’s no time and no place for remarks like that. To discuss something this sensitive at a political rally is just not right. It’s just not right. I wish he hadn’t had done it,” Flake told NBC’s Savannah Guthrie on “Today,” adding, “It’s kind of appalling.”

Collins, a Republican from Maine, similarly condemned Trump’s comments, telling CNN’s Manu Raju they “were just plain wrong.” She would not say if the remarks would affect her vote.

Trump’s attack on Ford was so disgusting that even the Trump-loving hosts of “Fox and Friends” criticized the President for his remarks.

But not all Republican Senators stuck with a remorseful stance. South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham had this weird thing to say:

“President Trump went through a factual rendition, and I didn’t like it. I would tell him to knock it off — it’s not helpful,” Graham said at the “Atlantic Festival” in Washington. “But it can be worse, someone could be dead.”

It would be worse if someone…were dead…but…uh, what?

Meanwhile, Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley says that an FBI investigation into claims of sexual assault against Kavanaugh is getting close to being completed. From Politico:

Grassley said Wednesday the FBI report on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh is “very close,” but the Iowa Republican would not predict when the high court hopeful will get a vote.

“I think it’s very close,” Grassley said. “I have not talked to the FBI, and I don’t think I should talk to the FBI. People that seem to know said it’s getting close, but when, I haven’t heard.”

If the FBI report on Kavanaugh reaches the Senate by Wednesday, Grassley said a critical cloture vote on the nomination could come as early as Friday, although he said the final decision on timing is up to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

It also remains to be seen what Senators will do about Kavanaugh’s apparent lies to the Senate Judiciary Committee regarding when he heard about accusations from another woman, Boulder resident Deborah Ramirez. As Vanity Fair writes, Kavanaugh’s story on Ramirez is “unraveling.”


Will Boulder’s Deborah Ramirez Sink Brett Kavanaugh?

UPDATE: Jonathan Chait at the Daily Intelligencer:

Kavanaugh’s friends gathered testimony attempting to refute Ramirez’s allegations weeks before The New Yorker’s story was published. Some of the witnesses were contacted by people working on Kavanaugh’s behalf as early as July, according to text messages one witness has shared with the FBI.

This demonstrates to a near-certainty that Kavanaugh knew about the incident weeks before the story came to light. It is possible he had somehow heard about false charges being circulated in advance, worked to refute them, and then misled the Senate about when he heard about them. An alternative, more direct explanation would be that he worked to refute the charge because he knew about it from having actually done what he was accused of.

There is no doubt, however, that Kavanaugh intentionally misled the Senate. [Pols emphasis]


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

NBC News’ Chuck Todd and the political team at the network report on new developments in the investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct against U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh by Boulder Yale grad Deborah Ramirez–in particular, an assertion under oath from Kavanaugh about the allegations by Ramirez that may be demonstrably false:

SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: When did you first hear of Ms. Ramirez’s allegations against you?

KAVANAUGH: In the last — in the period since then, the New Yorker story [published on Sept. 23]. [Pols emphasis]

But NBC News’s Heidi Przbyla and Leigh Ann Caldwell write that Kavanaugh and his team were trying to refute Ramirez’s allegations BEFORE they became public.

“The texts between Berchem and Karen Yarasavage, both friends of Kavanaugh, suggest that the nominee was personally talking with former classmates about Ramirez’s story in advance of the New Yorker article that made her allegation public. In one message, Yarasavage said Kavanaugh asked her to go on the record in his defense. Two other messages show communication between Kavanaugh’s team and former classmates in advance of the story.”

More: “In a series of texts before the publication of the New Yorker story, Yarasavage wrote that she had been in contact with ‘Brett’s guy,’ and also with ‘Brett,’ who wanted her to go on the record to refute Ramirez. According to Berchem, Yarasavage also told her friend that she turned over a copy of the wedding party photo to Kavanaugh, writing in a text: ‘I had to send it to Brett’s team too.’”

If this timeline of events is correct, it directly contradicts the statement Kavanaugh made in committee that he hadn’t heard about the allegations from Ramirez before they were published in the New Yorker. Needless to say, evidence of foreknowledge of those allegations by the accused after denying such knowledge lends them substantial credibility.

But the real problem is that Brett Kavanaugh appears to have lied under oath. Why would Kavanaugh lie under oath about an allegation from Ramirez he insisted had no credibility? There’s no good answer to that question. Irrespective of the result of the investigation into those allegations, committing perjury in a Supreme Court confirmation hearing is a disqualifying event–as Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona says, and if he’s true to his word will decide his vote.

This is a lifetime appointment to a position of great power. We can’t have rapists or liars on the Supreme Court.


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.


Get More Smarter on Monday (October 1)

The Colorado Rockies play the Los Angeles Dodgers at 2:09 pm today for the NL West Division Title. 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.



► Two weeks.

Mail ballots start going out in Colorado two weeks from today. Go to for more on voter registration and other election-related information.


► The Washington Post has more on President Trump’s new trade agreement with our North American neighbors:

President Trump on Monday hailed the major revisions he was able to extract from Canada and Mexico to the 25-year-old North American trade agreement, as business executives, labor leaders, and lawmakers began poring over details.

Speaking at a Rose Garden news conference, Trump called the pact that would replace the North American Free Trade Agreement “the most important trade deal we’ve ever made by far.”

“We have succesfully completed negotiations on a brand new deal to terminate and replace NAFTA and the NAFTA trade agreements with an incredible new U.S.-Canada-Mexico agreement,” Trump said, pledging that “it will transform North America back into a manufacturing powerhouse.”

Since President Trump calls everything he does the greatest thing ever accomplished, it’s hard to tell from the rhetoric just how important this deal really becomes. Here’s more from the Washington Post on the details of the new NAFTA.

Also, we have no suggestion for how to pronounce “USMCA” instead of “NAFTA.” As Politico reports, this might be a moot point should Democrats retake the majority in the House of Representatives.


► President Trump claims that it will be up to the U.S. Senate to set parameters of an investigation into sexual assault and misconduct charges against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. From Politico:

Effectively the president is putting the onus of the investigation on three undecided GOP senators who requested the FBI investigation and will determine Kavanaugh’s fate in the Senate: Jeff Flake of Arizona, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.

“My White House will do whatever the senators want. I’m open to whatever they want,” Trump said. “I’m guided by the senators.”

The president denied limiting the breadth of the probe in a midday press conference on his new trade deal, though he acknowledged he has the power to define how broad the investigation is. Trump said he wants the FBI “to be comprehensive. I think it’s actually a good thing for Judge Kavanaugh.”

He added that “it wouldn’t bother” him if the FBI interviews the third Kavanaugh accuser, Julie Swetnick, who has alleged Kavanaugh was present during an alleged gang rape. He also said he’d be fine with the FBI interviewing Kavanaugh after he and Christine Blasey Ford testified last week about Ford’s allegation that Kavanaugh assaulted her in 1982.

There has been plenty of speculation that an FBI investigation into Kavanaugh might ultimately be handcuffed by the White House. Trump also made it clear — again — that he thought Kavanaugh was the real victim here.

Meanwhile, NBC News reports that at least one former Yale classmate will talk to the FBI today about Kavanaugh’s “violent drunken behavior” in college.


► It’s looking like it could be a rough couple of weeks for Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora), whose chances of winning re-election appear to be getting dimmer by the day. On Friday, news broke that House Speaker Paul Ryan’s Super PAC — Congressional Leadership Fund — was pulling out of CO-6 because of Coffman’s fading hopes.



Get even more smarter after the jump…



BREAKING: Kavanaugh Confirmation Vote Delayed

UPDATE (2:05 pm): Senate Republicans have agreed to a one-week delay on a vote to confirm Kavanaugh so that an investigation can be conducted into sexual assault allegations.


UPDATE (12:39 pm): We appear to have us a stalemate:


UPDATE (12:30 pm): Today the Senate Judiciary Committee voted along party lines (11-10) to advance the SCOTUS nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the floor of the Senate. But there’s a YUGE “however” in this story, as the Washington Post explains:

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted along partisan lines Friday to advance the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh after securing a key vote from Sen. Jeff Flake, who asked for a delay of up to a week before the full Senate votes.

Flake (R-Ariz.) said the delay would allow a limited FBI investigation of allegations of sexual assault while Kavanaugh was a teenager…

…Flake’s request cast doubt on whether the full Senate would take a procedural vote on Saturday, as previously announced, as other wavering lawmakers seem likely to join Flake.

CNN is reporting that Flake will vote NO on Kavanaugh’s confirmation if an FBI investigation into sexual assault claims is not authorized, though Flake has not directly said this himself. Flake has apparently made this clear, and as you can read from the 2:04 pm update, his maneuver worked.


Via The Washington Post (9/28/18)

Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake took another break from pretending to oppose President Trump when he announced today that he will vote YES for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh despite, well, everything.

As the Washington Post reports, a full floor vote on Kavanaugh’s SCOTUS confirmation could come as soon as Tuesday. The Post lists Democratic Senators Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Joe Manchin of West Virginia as unknown entities, along with Republican Senators Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.

Last night reports surfaced that Manchin, Collins, Murkowski and Indiana Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly would likely end up on the same side of the ledger eventually:

If this report is true, then Kavanaugh could be in trouble; Donnelly announced today that he is a NO vote on confirmation.


Republican Senate Blowing Off Deborah Ramirez


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.


Senate Republicans Make Ridiculous Late Effort to Muddy the Waters for Kavanaugh Confirmation

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

The news today will be dominated by two things: Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s planned meeting with President Trump at the White House, which may end with Rosenstein out of a job (postponed), and the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

The Kavanaugh hearings got underway at 8:00 this morning, with Dr. Christine Blasey Ford testifying about her accusations of sexual assault against Kavanaugh when both were in high school. Kavanaugh will give his testimony on these accusations once Ford’s hearing has concluded. As the Washington Post reports today, Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee unveiled some ridiculous surprises on the eve of the hearings:

Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee disclosed late Wednesday that they had questioned two men who say they, not Kavanaugh, had the encounter with Christine Blasey Ford that led to her sexual assault allegations, but offered no evidence to back up either claim…[Pols emphasis]

…The disclosure of potentially exculpatory material was included in a larger timeline of the committee staff’s investigative work released by Judiciary Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa).

Neither man claiming responsibility is identified by name, and there is no indication that either intends to come forward publicly.

The committee declined to comment further than what was outlined in the news release when asked why Grassley’s staff interviewed the two men who separately say they might have had the alleged encounter with Ford, how they found the men and whether the committee found them credible.


If you believe Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee, at least two different men have come forward to declare that they — and not Brett Kavanaugh — were responsible for sexually assaulting Ford. On the same date. At the same time.


TIME magazine has more details on these ridiculous claims:

According to the timeline, committee staff interviewed the first man who said he believes he attacked Ford on Sept. 24. They spoke to him again on Sept. 25 and said in the timeline that he “described his recollection of their interaction in some detail.”

The man on Sept. 26 sent a “more in-depth written statement” to the committee. That same day, the committee’s investigative staff spoke on the phone with another man who said he had attacked Ford in 1982.

This is patently and transparently absurd. The implication is that Kavanaugh could not have committed the assault on Ford because two anonymous men separately claim that they were in fact responsible for the attack in question.

Kavanaugh supporters will jump in here and say that these anonymous accounts should be treated with the same seriousness as accusations against Kavanaugh have been portrayed, but that’s a stupid argument that ignores basic common sense. It would be hard enough to believe that one man would suddenly admit to a sexual assault for which he had not been implicated, but two separate men? Did both men commit the same assault at the same time? They can’t both be telling the truth. 

As far as we know, Ford has never wavered in her account of the allegations that two men — Kavanaugh and a friend (identified as Mark Judge) — were present at the time of the alleged assault. That doesn’t mean that Ford’s recollection must be accurate, but it is incredibly insulting to Ford to even speculate that she might be misremembering that it was in fact two other people who assaulted her at the same time.

The obvious point of including these other two anonymous men is for Senate Republicans to be able to say, Oh, this is all too complicated and mysterious, so we’re voting for Kavanaugh’s confirmation. All this really shows is that Senate Republicans aren’t in the least bit serious about listening to allegations of sexual assault if it means that they might have to consider voting against a Supreme Court nominee put forward by a Republican President.