It was two weeks ago that Republican Members of Congress stormed a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF) in the basement of the Capitol in order to highlight their protest that impeachment investigations were unjust because hearings were held behind closed doors (nevermind that Republican members of these particular House committees were always able to attend the hearings).
Two days later, Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) co-sponsored a resolution in the Senate criticizing the House for a lack of openness on impeachment matters. “I hope people will read the resolution and that everyone supports a fair and transparent process,” said Gardner. This was more than Gardner had said previously about President Trump’s actions; Gardner infamously bombed in front of a group of reporters when asked whether it was appropriate for the President of the United States to ask a foreign government to interfere in American elections.
Today, Gardner and his fellow Republicans learned once more that following Trump’s lead will only get you hopelessly lost:
Via CNN (11/8/19)
President Trump now says that Democrats should NOT hold public impeachment hearings after he and Republicans spent weeks bemoaning the fact that hearings were being done outside the public view. “They shouldn’t be having public hearings,” said Trump on Friday. “This is a hoax. This is just like the Russian witch hunt.”
None of this should be a surprise to anyone who has paid even a lick of attention to national news in the last couple of years. Republicans are continually sticking their necks out for a President who won’t even blink at doing something to contradict their every word. Congressman Ken Buck (R-Greeley), who moonlights as the State Republican Party Chair, ran into a similar problem just a few days after supporting the GOP’s SCIF Storming when it became clear that officials involved with Trump’s Ukraine dealings were confirming every bit of the whistleblower’s fears.
House Democrats had already effectively neutered the Republican’s “lack of transparency” strategy by agreeing to make everything public (on-camera testimony in House committees will begin next week). That hadn’t stopped the GOP from continuing with their attacks on the legitimacy of the “process” for impeachment discussions, but Democrats don’t really need to undermine the Republican strategy when President Trump will do it for them.
The only obvious step forward is to actually consider the case against President Trump and to vote accordingly. As the editorial board of the Aurora Sentinel wrote on Wednesday:
Credible, compelling, consistent and growing allegations against Trump extorting Ukraine for his own political gain have reached a tipping point…
…Trump himself has now offered honest Republicans a way out of having to defend an indefensible, lying, untrustworthy and incompetent president. Trump has admitted his “high crimes and misdemeanors.” Democrats are documenting them and making the unequivocal case for impeachment. Gardner and others can now finally step out from under the pressure to appease Trump’s misguided base of supporters. But to do that, they must commit to representing the voters in their district, not the delusional, fear-driven scheme of Republican Party leaders.
This is the way out for Gardner and other Republicans of becoming complicit with a duplicitous president. The nation is about to see Trump’s malevolent scandal exposed, and all voters will see which Republicans have the temerity to spurn or defend it.
The nation and history are watching what happens next.
Clockwise from top left: Cory Gardner, Ken Buck, Doug Lamborn, and Scott Tipton.
History does not yet appear to motivate Republican members of Colorado’s Congressional delegation. Instead, they appear more concerned about the present and how they will be perceived by Trump in 2020. Congressmen Scott Tipton (R-Cortez) and Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs) are the co-chairs of Trump’s re-election campaign in Colorado; even if you could figure out a simple way to explain this to Lamborn, there’s little chance that he would bother to listen to the arguments. Congressman Ken Buck (R-Greeley)? He moonlights as the Chairman of the State Republican Party (or vice-versa) and has been clear about his loyalty to Trump.
It seems clear that Colorado Republicans aren’t going to be moved by the present, but surely they can comprehend the impact impeachment proceedings may have on their own legacies. David Greenberg, a history professor at Rutgers University, examined this subject for The Washington Post:
Still, people return to this notion for a reason: It acknowledges the potentially high stakes of any political action — how a single vote or decision can loom large in someone’s legacy when the day of reckoning finally comes. It appeals to transcendent ideals that may be obscured by the fervor of the moment; sometimes these coalesce crisply over time, making right and wrong seem obvious and incontestable in retrospect. When, for example, a dying Sen. John McCain went to the well of the Senate to give his thumbs-down on the gutting of Obamacare, he knew this was an act he’d be remembered for…
…But the Watergate saga does tell us this much: Those loyalists who abandoned Nixon early, when it mattered — who stood up for principle over party, for integrity over professional advancement, before Nixon was politically doomed — are remembered and praised for their courage. [Pols emphasis]
And what of those who chose to stand with Nixon?
None of these men has been well remembered. All of their obituaries led with the fact that they defended Nixon. That decision became the headline of their entire lives. [Pols emphasis]
Wherever the impeachment inquiry leads, Tipton, Buck, Lamborn, and Gardner have shown no indication that they will do anything but march alongside Trump.
But there is never a wrong time to do the right thing.
As Politicoreports, yesterday was another day of damning testimony against President Donald Trump in the ongoing House impeachment inquiry, with a decorated veteran National Security Council staffer testifying that the transcript Trump dubiously relies on to proclaim his innocence has itself been compromised:
A senior White House official told House impeachment investigators on Tuesday that he believed President Donald Trump undermined national security when he appealed to Ukraine’s president to investigate his political rivals, according to a copy of his opening statement obtained by POLITICO…
“I did not think it was proper to demand that a foreign government investigate a U.S. citizen, and I was worried about the implications for the U.S. government’s support of Ukraine,” Vindman, a National Security Council official overseeing Ukraine policy, told investigators, referring to Trump’s efforts to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to announce probes into Joe Biden and his son.
Vindman, who became the first White House official to testify as part of the impeachment inquiry, also wrote that he reported Trump’s July 25 phone call with Zelensky to the NSC’s top lawyer after listening in on the conversation from the White House Situation Room alongside other national security officials.
The testimony of Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman was swiftly attacked by Trump’s congressional surrogates like ex-Rep. Sean Duffy, who openly questioned Vindman’s loyalty to the United States before walking his smears back a short while later. Other Republicans like Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming have been much more vocal in, if not explicitly endorsing Vindman’s damaging testimony against the President, at least defending the honor of a career military officer with no grounds for accusation of political bias.
Among Colorado’s Republicans in Congress, though, it’s just another day of blanket denial:
Rep. Buck says the quid pro quo theory fails because the Ukrainian president has said he didn’t know aid was being withheld when he reinstated the prosecutor.
But if there was a quid pro quo, Buck says he doesn’t believe it would be an impeachable offense. #copolitics
We’ve noted previously that Rep. Ken Buck, the former Weld County district attorney and assistant U.S. Attorney, seems to have lost all of his prosecutorial critical thinking skills upon election to Congress. The ongoing impeachment inquiry against Trump is causing Buck’s newfound willful ignorance to stand out in sharp relief. Despite the insistence of Trump and his Republican defenders that the phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky occurred in some kind of fictional isolation, it’s well known that the call was just one piece of a much broader pressure campaign involving numerous proxies including Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and members of Trump’s Cabinet.
As for whether or not Trump committed a crime even if the quid pro quo is universally acknowledged, that’s not up to Ken Buck to decide. Federal law says clearly that seeking assistance from a foreign government in an American election is a crime. Again, if anyone out there should be expected to know this without being told, it’s a former prosecutor. At the end of September, Buck even said “I don’t think this is necessarily even wrong” in reference to what federal law clearly defines as a criminal act. Today, Buck sidesteps the question by saying only that it’s not an “impeachable offense,” but his credibility to make that judgment is already spent after he argued that what is clearly a crime is in fact not.
This week on The Get More Smarter Podcast, hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii ponder attempts by Republican Party Chairman Ken Buck to distance the GOP from their recall failures; discuss GOP troubles with continuing to defend President Trump; break down another harsh editorial calling on Sen. Cory Gardner to resign from office; and consider where to start building a wall in Colorado. Later in the show, Ian plays “Duke or Donald” with guest contestant Fawn Bolack, co-founder of “Keep Abortion Safe.”
A week after the spectacular failure of the last of the recall campaigns from Colorado Republicans, launched against several individual Democratic legislators and Gov. Jared Polis over the summer, the Denver Post’sAlex Burnesscircled back with Republican leaders for a post-mortem look at what went wrong–Republicans who were willing to return his calls, that is, because evidently many were not.
It’s not easy to capture to full magnitude of the failure for Colorado Republicans without resorting to language that seems hyperbolic, but objectively is not an exaggeration of any kind. After the 2018 elections resulted in an historic bloodbath for the Colorado GOP–destroying their gubernatorial candidate, wiping out the GOP’s hold on the attorney general, secretary of state, and treasurer’s office ,and losing their only remaining legislative majority–Republicans in this state faced a hard choice: to learn the lessons dwindling moderates in their midst were begging them to learn and fundamentally change course, or embrace a future where all the elections look like 2018.
As we now know, Colorado Republicans chose the latter.
Sen. Cory Gardner (R).
This infamous clip of now-state GOP chairman Rep. Ken Buck promising to make Democrats “learn how to spell R-E-C-A-L-L,” cheered on by the state’s highest ranking Republican Sen. Cory Gardner, has become a major embarrassment for the party leadership now that the recalls have failed. The recalls did not fail narrowly, but failed calamitously with juicy attendant details like the conservative operative class in the state glomming on to the cash flow and “gifts” of thousands of dollars to individuals after the campaign had already failed. Any way you look at what happened–from building donor confidence to mobilizing the base to credibility with the media–this summer was another unprecedented disaster for Colorado Republicans on par with their electoral defeats last November.
So we can’t claim to be surprised to see, as the Post’s Alex Burness reports today, Colorado Republicans making absurd excuses to deflect responsibility. Defeat, as they say, is an orphan:
U.S. Rep. Ken Buck, the Colorado GOP chair, told The Denver Post on Friday that the recall failures don’t fall on him in any way. [Pols emphasis]
“I didn’t cast any net,” he said. “There’s a lot of people in the grassroots … who went after legislators. I didn’t direct any recall effort.”
When he was elected to lead the state party on the fourth ballot in March, Buck promised to teach Democrats “how to spell R-E-C-A-L-L.” Now, though, he claims he did not endorse the concept of mass recalls in Colorado.
House Minority Leader Patrick Neville (R-Castle Rock).
Buck’s cowardly denial of any responsibility for recalls he ran for the chair of the state party promising to support is an indicator of just how thoroughly weak and disorganized Republicans are as the last days of October 2019 come to a close. Practically from the moment Democrats visited historic destruction on Republicans in last November’s elections, Republicans had threatened retaliation via recalls. House Minority Leader Patrick Nevilleopenly threatened his Democratic colleagues with recalls during this year’s legislative session. Republican operatives criss-crossed the state spreading the gospel of recalls as a way to “reweight the electorate,” and score victories that are now out of reach in general elections.
History will likely record that the attempted recall of Rep. Tom Sullivan, a freshman Democrat whose advocacy for gun safety is rooted in his son’s tragic murder in the July 2012 Aurora theater shooting, is the moment where the GOP’s recall strategy went off the rails for good. Ironically, this is the recall attempt that Colorado Republicans are most obliged to take ownership of, since it was initiated by Colorado Republican Party vice-chair Kristi Burton Brown personally. Attempts to recast Brown’s action as “personal” after the Sullivan recall was clearly doing more harm than good simply have no credibility.
Cole Wist, a Republican who lost his house seat to Sullivan in 2018 — and who publicly bashed the Sullivan recall effort — said there is an important distinction to be made between staying out of recalls and actively condemning them.
“I didn’t see one elected Republican speak out against it,” he said. “The state party needs to own this failure.[Pols emphasis] They stirred the pot, and when they could see that the strategy wasn’t going to work, they didn’t speak up. They retreated and disappeared while rank-and-file members of the party floundered and were exploited by political consultants.”
When exactly high-ranking Republicans belatedly realized that the recalls were going to fail is irrelevant. The fact is that top Republicans kept up appearances of support for the recalls very late in the game, such as when Sen. Cory Gardner told recall organizers in Pueblo at the end of August that “I’ve never said I was against recalls” about sixty seconds after telling Senate President Leroy Garcia “I’m kind of sorry that this is happening.” For rank-and-file Republicans, any emotional (not to mention financial) investment made in these recalls has been a tremendously demoralizing experience.
And above all, while Democrats have been organizing like it’s an election year to oppose the recalls, the GOP spun its wheels throughout this whole critical off-year when they should have been preparing for the 2020 general election. When all is said and done this could be the most damning of the many indictments against Rep. Ken Buck’s absentee leadership of the party while still trying to serve in Congress, and with the greatest long-term impact. Here we are a year after the 2018 Democratic wave, and Colorado Republicans have totally squandered the backlash they hoped to foment as Democrats carried out the agenda they promised voters. There are many mistakes to point out, but there are no excuses. This was the strategy Republicans chose.
Cory Gardner, Ken Buck, House Minority Leader Pat Neville, the Colorado GOP as an organization.
For Colorado Republicans who really want this nightmare to end, the housecleaning starts there.
At a political moment when even the most somnolent people are wondering why more Republicans aren’t ripping Trump, Colorado Congressman Ken Buck was repeatedly attacked by KNUS host Randy Corporon yesterday for not supporting Trump sufficiently because, among other things, he didn’t cosponsor the resolution censoring Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) for his satirical comments about Trump.
Buck, a Republican, said the Schiff’s alleged lapse didn’t rise to the level required for censure.
The radio host sharply disagreed–and so did another KNUS host, Chuck Bonniwell, who called Buck’s response to Corporon “pathetic.”
But the strangest part of the Buck’s KNUS interview came later when, in an oh-my-god-crazy false equivalency, Buck told Corporon he’d use his “principled” stance on the Schiff censure to shame Democrats into joining him later in not voting for impeachment, which is based, among other things, on blackmailing a foreign power to investigate political opponents.
“I have gone to Democratic colleagues,” said Buck on air, “and I’ve said to those Democratic colleagues, ‘Listen, I didn’t co-sponsor this censure motion because this is not censurable conduct. The president, and you know it, has not engaged in impeachable conduct. And I hope you remember the principled people on our side of the aisle who did not support this censure motion when it comes time to vote on impeachment, because impeachment is something that is far greater — in significance — to the integrity of this country and the process and frankly, historically significant, that any censure motion.’
“And I will continue to take the high road. And I will continue to talk to my Democrat colleagues and appeal. Now, not all of them. There are some of them that are gone, and, you know, they talked about impeachment before this president ever signed a single bill into law. But many of them are having a lot of doubts about this process. And frankly, the American people are having a lot of doubts about the impeachment process, the way the Democrats are going about it, as well as the substance of what they’re bringing out.”
At the end of the interview, Corporon essentially told Buck to toss civility, rationality and principles out the window and back Trump, no matter what.
“What Republican leadership is doing is trying to change the president when in fact, the message that should be garnered from the president’s victory and the president’s success so far is that you can’t do politics as usual anymore,” advised Corporon. “You can’t try and play to the middle in order to win elections. Being polite and civil in these debates, when you’ve got an Alinsky-fueled left that is so crazed right now, because they just can’t believe that Hillary Clinton is not the president of the United States — neither can she. Are Republicans learning the message that Donald Trump is providing on what it takes to actually win in the 21st century?”
The dust has barely settled on yesterday’s bizarre stunt pulled by some two dozen House Republicans, in which members barged into a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF) in the basement of the Capitol and refused to leave–delaying the testimony of a Defense Department official in the continuing impeachment hearings against President Donald Trump for five hours and creating a media spectacle in hope of squelching explosive testimony the day before from the acting ambassador to Ukraine Bill Taylor.
There was some confusion yesterday about who among the Colorado Republican congressional delegation took part in the protest. Rep. Doug Lamborn of Colorado Springs was reportedly part of a “relief supply” operation, bringing pizza and Chick-fil-A sandwiches to keep the protesting congressmen fat and happy during their five-hour occupation. And after this Tweet from Rep. Ken Buck of Greeley, who moonlights as the chairman of the Colorado Republican Party, many assumed that Buck was inside the SCIF as well:
House Dems are conducting an impeachment inquiry in the basement of the Capitol behind closed doors & denying the GOP access to basic docs. If this was truly a ‘joint investigation’ then we would ALL have access to the same materials. #StoptheSchiffShowhttps://t.co/OsUxGEUVUw
A representative for Rep. Ken Buck, who’s on the Foreign Affairs Committee and was listed as a lawmaker who planned to attend, told BuzzFeed News that Buck did not attend but tweeted criticism of the closed testimony.
This confirmation that Rep. Buck was not part of the group who “stormed” the SCIF does settle some of the questions about consequences he might have faced for barging into a secure area of the Capitol, which many Republican members apparently did carrying their unsecured personal electronics with them in a big no-no violation of the rules. As a former assistant U.S. Attorney and county prosecutor, Buck better than most of his colleagues should know and be respectful of security protocols.
But there’s a more rudimentary problem with Buck’s blasting of the “behind closed doors” impeachment hearings going on in the secure basement of the Capitol. Because Rep. Buck currently sits on the House Foreign Affairs Committee–one of the three committees jointly holding the impeachment hearings–Buck is allowed to attend the hearings along with all of the other Republicans who serve on those committees.Every Republican member of the House Intelligence, Oversight, and Foreign Affairs committees is just as able to participate as the Democrats who serve on those committees. The letter from the committee Republicans Buck links to complains about lack of access to hearing transcripts after the fact, which Democrats say they will provide in due course–but that’s a red herring anyway because Buck is allowed to participate in the hearings.
The fact that Buck not just could have been there but should have been as part of his job, and instead chose to throw the digital equivalent of spitwads via Twitter, only proves that yesterday’s protest was a sham.
Ken Buck and the Colorado Republican Party are inviting supporters to a fundraising luncheon next Wednesday featuring Republican National Committee co-chair Tommy Hicks, Jr., who’s been linked to two Ukrainian men arrested last week for illegally funneling foreign money to U.S. candidates and political committees.
The son of a Dallas billionaire and hunting buddy of Donald Trump Jr., Hicks served as chair for America First Action, a pro-Trump super PAC, prior to being named co-chair of the Republican National Committee earlier this year.
The Washington Postreported that the Ukrainian associates of Rudy Giuliani, Lev Parnas and Igor Frumen, donated $325,000 to America First Action. According to the indictment, the money was falsely reported as coming from a fake liquified natural gas company set up to conceal its true donor.
Four days after making the illegal six-figure donation to Hicks’ group, Parnas posted this picture of he and Fruman enjoying a “power breakfast” with Hicks and Trump Jr. at the Beverly Hills Polo Lounge.
The leader of the Adams County Republican Party Independent Expenditure Committee says U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) isn’t really liked in Adams County.
He also believes Gardner feared a primary challenge from Congressman Ken Buck (R-CO4) so much that Gardner “stroked his ego,” convincing Buck to run for state party chair in order to take him “off the playing field.”
I believe that Cory Gardner played Ken Buck. I believe that he, somehow, stroked Ken’s ego, to a point saying “you’re the only person that can save the state party. And in doing so, when Ken agreed to run as the chairman, it took him off the playing field as a possible primary contender for his position. Ken Buck’s the only one who had the name recognition, really to challenge Cory Gardner. And Cory Gardner is not really liked in Adams County. Ben Nicholas, Adams County Republican Party District Captain & Founder, Adams GOP IEC
Nicholas’ statements came during a question and answer section following his speech, “Fundraising for Freedom.” In his lecture he explained the reasoning behind Adams County GOP’s decision to follow the lead of former state chair Ryan Call, who created an independent expenditure committee for the Colorado Republicans in order to raise money above the relatively low state limits. Call shared the impact of the GOP IEC with committee members at the same March 30 meeting at which they elected Buck chair.
U.S. Rep. Ken Buck will seek reelection to his congressional seat next year, the Windsor Republican said Wednesday, dispelling any speculation that he was planning to give up the seat.
“I have been running for this position and I will continue to,” Buck, who is in his third term, told The Colorado Sun.
The confirmation comes as several high-profile members of the Republican Party were considering campaigns for Buck’s 4th Congressional District seat if he decided not to run for another term. The potential contenders included 18th Judicial District Attorney George Brauchler, who fell short in his 2018 bid to become Colorado attorney general, state Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg of Sterling and state House GOP leader Patrick Neville of Castle Rock.
Speculation about Rep. Ken Buck’s next move exploded over the summer, as national conservative “news” sources like Newsmax confirmed rumors we had been hearing that Buck was moving toward retirement from his ultra-safe CD-4 congressional seat–and prospective successors jockeying for pre-position like repeat GOP loser George Brauchler and embattled House Minority Leader Patrick Neville.
Rep. Buck’s “moonlighting” as chairman of the Colorado Republican Party, a job he narrowly won last spring and then immediately raised eyebrows by appointing former party chair Steve House as “CEO” to run day-to-day while Buck continues to serve in Washington–a job House has now ditched to run for CD-6–is creating significant discord among the party’s involved membership and (more importantly) donor base. A petition campaign of state party central committee members is underway to oust Buck from his party position, and confirmation that Buck intends to continue splitting his attention between these two demanding jobs may only increase calls for him to pick one.
Since Buck took over the state party promising to teach Democrats “how to spell R-E-C-A-L-L,” all Republicans in Colorado have managed is a series of failed recall attempts that have devastated the morale of the rank-and-file. Buck’s failure to prevent the vice chair of the party Kristi Burton Brown from “personally” filing the ill-fated recall attempt against Rep. Tom Sullivan indelibly linked the official state party apparatus to the recalls.
With all of this in mind, if Buck decides that he wants another term as CD-4’s representative in Congress, there’s little we can see standing in his way as of this writing. As for the mess Buck has made of the Colorado Republican Party trying to do two jobs?
Surveying the responses from Colorado politicos to the rapidly-deepening impeachment crisis threatening to end Donald Trump’s presidency, we were struck in particular by Rep. Ken Buck of Greeley’s defense of Trump in an interview with the Denver Post’sJustin Wingerter. Buck as readers know was formerly the district attorney of Weld County, and never misses a chance to remind audiences of his steel-trap prosecutorial mind:
“The chief of law enforcement in the United States asked the chief of law enforcement in a foreign country to assist on an ongoing investigation,” Rep. Ken Buck, a Windsor Republican who sees no reason for an impeachment inquiry, told The Post in an interview. “He didn’t suggest what the outcome was. He asked for cooperation from the new government because of election interference in the 2016 election, as well as alleged crimes (involving) the former vice president in the country.”
Buck said Democrats and the press have attacked Trump constantly, fostering cynicism among the public that amplifies otherwise minor revelations, such as those unveiled this week.
“I don’t think this rises to an impeachable offense,” said the congressman, who is chair of the Colorado Republican Party. “I don’t think this is necessarily even wrong. [Pols emphasis] Could it have been handled better? Sure. But it is not something that, I think, is suggesting this president was trying to interfere in an ongoing criminal investigation or trying to affect the outcome of an election in 2020.
In order for Rep. Buck to suggest that this wasn’t “necessarily even wrong,” he has to ignore all of the context of this story in addition to the phone call in question–the freezing of hundreds of millions of dollars in foreign aid just before the call and un-freezing of the aid in its aftermath, Trump’s private attorney Rudy Giuliani who Trump told the Ukrainian president would “be in touch” along with Attorney General William Barr, the resignation of the special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker on Friday…the list goes on and on. It’s true that Republicans are being asked to swallow a lot here in order to stay loyal, but for Ken Buck apparently no encouragement is needed to put his own credibility on the line in defense of Trump. To the point of absurdity:
“Vice President Biden is not going to be the Democratic nominee,” Buck added. [Pols emphasis] “I think that is more than just conventional wisdom at this point. And what the president was doing involved a matter within the scope of the executive branch.”
Whether or not Democratic primary voters ultimately agree, it’s widely known that Trump considers Joe Biden to be his most dangerous potential Democratic adversary. Biden may be in a tight three-way race for the Democratic presidential nomination, but to assert flat-out that Biden is “not going to be the nominee” is a ridiculous attempt at clairvoyance. It’s a useful thing to say if the goal is to minimize Trump’s actions, but as a prediction it simply it has no factual basis.
In recent months Ken Buck’s reputation has been under heavy assault, as his early support for recalling Colorado Democrats collapsed in a heap along with those efforts and his absentee management of the Colorado Republican Party has allowed the conservative backlash coming out of the 2019 legislative session to dissipate in confusion. But it should be noted that Buck’s questionable judgment goes back to his days as a deputy U.S. Attorney where he was reprimanded for damaging the case against a politically-connected gun dealer and then as Weld County DA, when a sexual assault case Buck dismissed as “buyer’s remorse” helped seal his narrow defeat in the 2010 U.S. Senate race.
As rumors of Buck’s retirement continue to swirl, nobody’s quite sure what his next move will be.
But we sincerely hope he’ll never be asked to prosecute another case.
Here’s a clip of Rep. Ken Buck earlier this week in a House Judiciary Committee hearing, interacting with friendly witness Amy Swearer of the Heritage Foundation on the hot-button subject of the AR-15 assault rifle–a weapon whose availability to civilian Americans is once again in question as mass shootings utilizing the easily-obtainable and modifiable weapon continue to claim lives by the dozen.
In this exchange, however, Rep. Buck wants to talk about something else–innocuous, even routine use of AR-15s to kill varmints on ranches in his district:
BUCK: And, and are those individuals and and, let me just tell you from my experience and in my district in eastern Colorado an AR-15 is used to kill raccoons that are, or foxes or other animals that are predators and trying to disturb individuals. [inaudible off camera] Or trying to, you know, kill chickens or or are are disturbing agriculture in some way. Is that your understanding also of how some, not saying a majority of that 16 to 18 million, but some of those guns are used?
SWEARER: Uh yes, it’s actually not suitable for a a lot of higher-end hunting for larger game because it’s actually more suitable for, as you inferred more varmint hunting and small predator hunting.
Here’s the thing: Rep. Buck is not wrong that AR-15 are often used for varmint control, and the Heritage Foundation employee he’s talking with agrees that the small caliber of assault weapons makes them unsuitable for hunting larger game. There are of course plenty of other weapons that would be suitable for ranch varmint duty, but since you can buy AR-15s at any gun shop starting at surprisingly low prices, they’re no doubt very popular.
But folks, we’re going to go out on a limb and assert that Rep. Ken Buck does not keep an American flag-painted AR-15 in his office to celebrate its ability to kill raccoons. The AR-15 was not developed for ranches, it’s a weapon made for battlefields. The .223 ammunition used by these weapons is indeed too weak for big game–because it was designed to kill people, not elk. Incidentally, yes, it’s hell on raccoons.
The point here is simple: you can’t have it both ways. If you cherish assault weapons as a defense against tyranny based on their ability to kill people efficiently, you can’t minimize them as a mere ranch implement in the same breath. Everybody knows why Ken Buck wants AR-15s available to the masses like shovels and plows, and it has nothing to do with killing varmints.
We all benefit from honest debate, and here’s an issue for which honesty is long overdue.
With President Trump dominating the news cycle this week in extraordinary fashion, there have been a couple of important Colorado political stories that have flown under the ol’ radar. One story we wanted to be sure to rewind involves Colorado Republican Party Chairman Ken Buck, whose leadership seat is getting warmer despite the fact that he’s rarely ever sitting in the chair himself.
As the Colorado Sun reported via its newsletter “The Unaffiliated” earlier this week, there is a brewing discomfort with the GOP’s absentee chairman:
Headline from Colorado Sun political newsletter “The Unaffiliated” (9/24/19)
A Republican activist began collecting signatures Saturday at the Colorado Republican Party’s organizational meeting to oust new Chairman Ken Buck.
Peg Cage, the immediate past chairwoman of the Boulder County Republican Party, told The Sun that Buck is spending too much time in Washington as a congressman and not doing his job as chairman to fundraise, recruit candidates or serve as the GOP’s public voice.
“He’s demonstrated no leadership toward that objective goal of taking back the state,” she said. “He’s not doing the job.” [Pols emphasis]
At the party’s central committee meeting, Cage distributed forms seeking written consent from members of the governing body to force his removal. She needs to collect a majority of the roughly 450 members to force the issue. She declined to say how many she’s received, but added: “We have a long way to go, but it’s the right thing to do.”
Buck won the party’s leadership post in a close vote in April. Cage supported Buck’s opponent in the chairman’s race, state Rep. Susan Beckman. A party spokesman said he was not aware of any such effort and Buck did not return a call seeking comment. [Pols emphasis]
Ken Buck races to his side hustle.
Chairman Buck, you may recall, spends most of his week masquerading as the Congressman from CO-4. Buck’s plan to split his time in Congress with overseeing the State Republican Party from afar has not endeared him to GOP activists and doesn’t appear to be providing much benefit to Colorado Republicans.
When I reached out to @cologop for Party Chair Ken Buck’s response, I was told “Contact the official office.” Well, the Colorado GOP IS the official office. I’m asking state party chair Ken Buck, not @RepKenBuck. How does the head of Colorado’s Republican party feel? #copolitics
Congresschairman Buck’s “Jekyl and Hyde” routine is already wearing thin with reporters and GOP activists alike. When Buck was elected Party Chair in late March, the plan was that former State Party Chairman Steve House would serve as the “CEO” of the party when Buck was off playing Congressman in Washington D.C. Even though Buck was elected Chairman, this proposal was not particularly popular. As Ernest Luning reported in March:
Veteran Republican strategist Dick Wadhams, who served two terms as state chairman last decade, said he was stunned after reviewing Buck’s proposal, calling it “unworkable” and “absolutely nonsensical.”
“If Steve House wants to be state chairman, he ought to run for it, and if Ken Buck doesn’t want to be state chairman, he ought to get out of the race,” Wadhams said… [Pols emphasis]
…He also slammed Buck’s plans to run the party from Washington, D.C., saying he was “baffled” by the proposition.
Last month House stepped down as Republican Party “CEO” so that he could pursue the GOP nomination for Congress in CO-6. House was quickly replaced by former vice-chairman and congressional candidate Don Ytterberg, but as reporting from the Colorado Sun and 9News indicates, the case of the missing GOP Chairman continues to be a problem.
Congressman Buck will be running for re-election a year from now, where he is still favored to keep his seat because CO-4 is a heavily-Republican district. The odds of Buck holding onto his other title are considerably worse.
The Chairman of the Colorado Republican Party, who by day masquerades as Congressman Ken Buck (R-Greeley), tried to spin news of impeachment proceedings against President Trump today as Democrats “trying to overturn an election that didn’t go their way.”
Democrats spent 3 years trying to overturn an election that didn’t go their way. They wasted $40 million of taxpayer money to find no collusion & no obstruction. Now @SpeakerPelosi‘s call for a formal impeachment inquiry is based solely on rumors & hearsay. It’s time to move on.
Anyone familiar with Colorado politics instantly recognized the absurdity of Buck leading with his chin on this statement. This is, after all, the same Ken Buck who was elected GOP Chair earlier this year on the heels of a speech in which he cheered on a bunch of lame recall efforts by various Republican groups. Back in March, Buck stood on the stage at a Republican Central Committee Meeting and promised his audience that he would teach Democrats “how to spell R-E-C-A-L-L.” Multiple recall attempts have since failed in spectacular fashion, leaving the State Republican Party to choose between being labeled insincere or incompetent (or both).
Buck’s laughable attempts at accusing Democrats of trying to re-do an election were thus widely mocked by local political reporters, as you can see after the jump below…
Speaking to Fox News host Tucker Carlson last night, Congressman Ken Buck, who also serves as Chair of the Colorado Republican Party, claimed “[Democrats] certainly see urban America as a critical constituency, and there is much sympathy in urban America for some gang members.”
The statement was noted on Twitter by Media Matters’ Deputy Director of Rapid Response Andrew Lawrence:
Tucker Carlson guest says “there is much sympathy in urban America for some gang members”…Tucker Carlson responds with “I think that’s right” pic.twitter.com/0Rl5iZsgj9
Carlson and Buck were discussing gun violence and their shared beliefs in the inadequacies of Democratic policy positions. Buck began by sharing inaccurate crime statistics, claiming that “over 80 percent of the murders in America with guns are committed by gang members. Over 90 percent of the crime in America is committed by gang members.”
Buck did not cite a source for this figure, but it appeared in a pro-gun article by conservative activist Dustin Hawkins in 2013 and was repeated by Dana Loesch in 2014. Huffington Post authors debunked it later that year:
“The 80 percent of gang-related gun homicides figure purporting to support Loesch’s claim, then, is not only false, but off by nearly a factor of five. The direct opposite is necessarily true: more than 80 percent of gun homicides are non-gang related.
It is unclear where Buck came up with the claim that gang members commit 90% of all crimes in the United States. According to the National Gang Center, less than one-third of law enforcement agencies reported that they regularly record each of seven major categories of offenses as “gang-related.”
Nor did Buck provide a source for his statement that “there is much sympathy in urban America for some gang members.”
The Denver Post’sAnna Staver wrote an excellent post-mortem of the Colorado Republican Party’s failed summer of recalls this past weekend, and here’s how it starts:
When Congressman Ken Buck took the reins of the Colorado Republican Party in March, he stood on the stage in Englewood High School’s auditorium and told the party faithful they were going to teach Democrats “how to spell R-E-C-A-L-L.”
The room erupted in applause…
[I]n the nearly six months since that fiery speech in the high school auditorium, conservatives have tried to recall five Democratic lawmakers and the governor. Four of those campaigns failed to gather enough signatures to put a recall election on the ballot, one recall target resigned for unrelated reasons, and the attempt to remove Senate President Leroy Garcia, D-Pueblo, is ongoing. His opponents have until Oct. 18 to turn in their petitions.
“I think the recall process has done what it was supposed to do,” said former GOP chair Dick Wadhams. “It provided an outlet for Republicans. … Were they politically smart? I think it’s a resounding no.”
As the Republican recall threats that dominated the end of the 2019 session of the Colorado General Assembly have collapsed under their own weight in the last two weeks, Rep. Ken Buck’s speech in late March before the GOP state convention committing the party to support for recalls against Democratic lawmakers with dramatic flair has emerged as a symbol of the party’s incompetent reaction to massive defeat in the 2018 elections. Moderate GOP columnist Mario Nicolais writes in the Colorado Sun:
Rep. Ken Buck took the reins of the Colorado Republican Party promising to “teach [Democrats] how to spell r-e-c-a-l-l.” Vice Chair Kristi Burton Brown initiated the recall against state Sen. Tom Sullivan. Former state House candidate Nancy Pallozzi targeted her historical nemesis state Sen. Brittany Pettersen.
Heading into a critical 2020 election year, the Colorado Republicans spent the past six months demonstrating an ineffectual ground game and undermining their own credibility. That doesn’t bode well for President Trump’s reelection efforts or Sen. Cory Gardner’s slim hope of hanging onto the seat he narrowly won in 2014.
When the effort to recall state Rep. Tom Sullivan failed just as spectacularly as the recall-Polis movement, I asked whether the Colorado GOP knew enough to be embarrassed. I think we have now answered that question. The attempt to recall Polis may not have been an official GOP project, but it’s close enough. Marianne Goodland of Colorado Politics reports that groups aligned with House Minority Leader Patrick Neville donated $10,000 to the effort.
And remember Ken Buck’s speech when he was elected GOP state chair last March, promising Democrats would need to learn how to spell r-e-c-a-l-l in the coming months? We remember Sen. Cory Gardner standing on the stage in support of Buck.
The correct spelling is in the headline. Your dictionary (for those of a certain age) or spell-check (for those who don’t remember or never used that heavy old bound Webster’s) will confirm it. The alternative spelling, at least for disgruntled conservatives and Colorado Republicans, is F-A-I-L.
My GOP friends need to forward that alternative spelling to their state party chair. It was Ken Buck, whose day job is representing Colorado’s 4th congressional district, who pledged at the party’s last state convention that “we’re going to teach them (Democrats) how to spell R-E-C-A-L-L.” To applause, it’s worth noting, from the only two remaining Republicans officeholders elected statewide, Sen. Cory Gardner and University of Colorado Regent Heidi Ganahl.
Republican sources tell us that there is a fierce intraparty debate underway today on both sides of “recall season” as to how seriously Rep. Buck’s absentee leadership of the Colorado GOP contributed to the failures. On the one hand, Buck certainly could have (and in retrospect should have) intervened in the filing of the doomed recall petition against Rep. Tom Sullivan, the failure of which effectively stymied any momentum Republicans had coming out of the legislative session. On the other hand, Buck is widely rumored to have discouraged the Polis recall behind the scenes, helping further alienate the party’s radical wing after paying them lip service.
Perhaps most telling in all of this is that Staver reports Rep. Buck couldn’t be reached for comment on how the spelling lesson ended up! At this point, that’s probably Buck’s best option. Comparing the rhetoric to the outcome of the now-faceplanted “summer of recalls” is an embarrassment to more than Ken Buck, but there’s only one chairman.
Newsmax, a right-wing media outlet not generally known for high journalistic standards, nonetheless reports news our readers will be keen to discuss:
Should Reps. Paul Cook, R-Calif., and Ken Buck, R-Colo., make their exits official, they will bring the number of House Republicans resigning, retiring, or seeking another office to 14…
Stalwart conservative Buck, 60, has held Colorado’s strongly Republican 4th District since 2014. In recent weeks, discussion of his not running again or even resigning from office persist. Last week, Buck (who also is state Republican chairman) raised eyebrows by failing to attend a major party function at which he was billed as a speaker along with Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo.
Centennial State sources told Newsmax that Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler, who lost a tight race for state attorney general last year, and State House GOP Leader Patrick Neville, son of a popular former state senator, are considered certain candidates should Buck bow out. Both are conservative in the mold of Buck.
We reported back in May on word that Rep. Ken Buck may retire rather than run for re-election in 2020. At that time Buck’s office denied that report, saying “Congressman Buck has no official plans to retire anytime soon nor in the foreseeable future.” Something about that answer always seemed fishy, and now we may know why.
If Rep. Buck does decide to retire and focus on his newer job of chairman of the Colorado Republican Party, the prospect of a Republican primary to succeed him between Arapahoe County DA George Brauchler and House Minority Leader Patrick Neville would be, to say the least, very exciting–pitting two Republicans who have fiercely disagreed with each other on gun policy, with Brauchler having been targeted by Neville’s allies at Rocky Mountain Gun Owners with damaging ads blasting his (erstwhile) support for Colorado’s popular red flag law. There are some other potential candidates we wouldn’t rule out, but this would be a battle royale matchup with implications for the Colorado GOP’s long-term direction.
We’ve long known it’s a good idea to fact-check anything Ken Buck says.
The new rule appears to be, don’t accept the first round of denials either.
As Randy Corporon of KNUS radio discussed over the weekend, former Jefferson County GOP Chair and CO-7 candidate Don Ytterberg will take over for House as the new right-hand man of State Party Chairman Ken Buck, who can’t be a full-time Party Chairman on account of the fact that he’s still serving in Congress himself. House has not indicated publicly that he will run for Congress in CO-6, but that’s the reason for the change from what we hear.
Ernest Luningreported last month that House was considering running for the Republican nomination in CO-6, despite (or because of) the fact that Casper Stockham is already in the race (although Stockham has the support of former CO-6 Rep. Tom Tancredo). State GOP Party bylaws prevent House from remaining in a leadership role while also running for public office.
Democrat Jason Crowousted longtime Republican Rep. Mike Coffman in 2018 to take control of a seat that Republicans had never once relinquished in the history of the district. Crow has already raised more than $1 million for his re-election campaign.
The last 24 hours of Colorado political news have focused heavily on an exchange yesterday in the House Judiciary Committee between Republican Rep. Ken Buck, who also serves as chairman of the Colorado Republican Party, and retired Special Counsel Robert Mueller, in which Buck bafflingly invited Mueller to confirm that President Donald Trump could be charged with obstruction of justice once he leaves office.
That moment of unintentional help to Democrats is still making its waves, but we wanted to be sure the much more deliberate and focused questioning from freshman Democratic Rep. Joe Neguse of Boulder, also on the House Judiciary Committee, on the subject of Donald Trump, Jr.’s meeting with a Russian lawyer offering election dirt on Hillary Clinton in Trump Tower in 2016 received due credit–as Denver7 reports:
Neguse questioned Mueller…and stuck to the parts of Mueller’s report that focused on possible obstruction involving aides and family members of President Trump’s – specifically the Trump Tower meeting in which Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort met to obtain “dirt” on the Hillary Clinton campaign.
…Neguse went on to ask Mueller about portions of his report that discuss Hope Hicks and what she knew about the meeting, as well as the statement that President Trump allegedly dictated to her after the meeting in which they lied about the purpose of the meeting, saying it was about Russian adoptions when it was really about “dirt” on the Clinton campaign.
“According to Ms. Hicks, the president still directed her to say the meeting was only about Russian adoption, correct?” Neguse asked.
“Yes,” Mueller responded.
“Despite knowing that to be untrue,” Neguse finished. “Thank you, Director Mueller,” he said as he yielded back the rest of his five minutes.
Rep. Neguse only had a few minutes to interact directly with Special Counsel Mueller, but he used his time very effectively to elucidate one of the ten instances outlined in Mueller’s report that could amount to obstruction of justice committed by President Trump. Because Mueller proceeded from the assumption that Trump can’t be charged with a crime while in office, he isn’t conclusive on whether Trump committed a crime–leaving Congress to provide the answer via their oversight power. Neguse’s questions to Mueller confirmed the substance underlying the allegation against Trump in this particular instance, that the President instructed Hope Hicks to lie about the nature of the Trump Tower meeting.
Rep. Neguse, who supports impeachment hearings, did at least as much to damage Trump and help Democrats make their case as Rep. Buck did by restating for the cameras that President Trump can be charged with obstruction after he leaves office.
The difference is, that’s what Rep. Neguse wanted to do.
It has not been a good news cycle for Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley)
The big political news all week has been about former special counsel Robert Mueller’s congressional testimony, which took place on Wednesday in Washington D.C. As we noted yesterday, Colorado’s own Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley) made quite the fool of himself — and may have opened the door to an obstruction of justice charge — when it was his turn to ask Mueller questions during a hearing in front of the House Judiciary Committee.
Buck’s questions for Mueller made national headlines (including this gem from Rolling Stone) because of the implication of his questioning and Mueller’s straightforward response. As Joe St. George wrote for Fox 31 Denver, “Colorado Republican Party Chairman Ken Buck Didn’t Help Trump During Mueller Questioning.” Here’s how The Hill newspaper summarized the importance of Buck and Mueller’s exchange:
Former special counsel Robert Mueller on Wednesday said that he believes President Trump could be charged with obstruction of justice after he leaves office.
“Could you charge the president with a crime after he left office?” Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) asked Mueller during the former special counsel’s testimony.
“Yes,” Mueller replied.
Buck appeared to be taken aback, and asked the question again, but adding whether Mueller believed a president could be charged with obstruction of justice after leaving office. The former special counsel again said he believed that was the case.
Welp, Congressman Buck was in full damage-control mode on Wednesday afternoon, where he was a guest on KHOW radio’s “The Dan Caplis Show” and proceeded to blame Mueller for not understanding his questions. As Eli Stokols of the Los Angeles Times (and formerly Fox 31 Denver) notes:
That’s right, dear readers! Ken Buck says old man Mueller just couldn’t comprehend this ingenious line of questioning, which went exactly like this:
BUCK: Okay, but the … could you charge the president with a crime after he left office?
BUCK: You believe that he committed … you could charge the president of the United States with obstruction of justice after he left office?
Robert Mueller (left) and Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley) on Wednesday.
Um, sorry Ken. This is really not even sorta complicated.
Here’s more of Buck’s Wednesday interview with Jon Caldara, who was sitting in for the host on “The Dan Caplis Show“:
CALDARA: Hey, congratulations on asking what seems to be the…the only news of this Mueller…testifying. Give me your first impressions. It seemed cruel that anyone had to sit through this. How bad was it?
BUCK: Well, I tell ya, I felt bad for Mueller. He just didn’t look like he was well today, and I don’t know what was going on. But his tank of gas was on empty, because he just struggled with a lot of different questions. He misunderstood my question on two different occasions. He backtracked from it. And so, it was…it was tough to watch…
CALDARA: What made you want to ask the question about the indictment?
BUCK: Well…it’s fundamentally unfair to say that the President did not commit a crime, and nobody in his campaign committed a crime, concerning Russian conspiracy. And then to say, ‘There’s all these facts about obstruction, but I’m not going to offer an opinion.’ He knew he could not prosecute that case. And finally, in the Intelligence Committee, he said, ‘I will not opine on whether there is a case to be charged on obstruction or not.’ And that’s the only way that…that’s the answer that I wanted, and it’s the answer he gave ultimately but he didn’t give it early enough.
CALDARA: Let me be really clear with you, Congressman, because that’s important. You’re telling me that he never said that there was a case for obstruction of justice. So, you really tried to pin him on this. So, is there a case…he wouldn’t say there was. Am I understanding you correctly?
BUCK: Yes, that’s absolutely correct. What he said was that the President could be charged – or ‘A’ President could be charged after he left office. But he also said he would not opine on whether the facts presented in the report warranted a prosecution.
CALDARA: And that was THE big question of the whole morning – of the last 2 and a half years, hasn’t it been?
BUCK: Well, I think it is. And I was kind of stunned that nobody asked it. You know, I was, what, 14thor 15thin line to ask questions. And that’s why I just thought, ‘I’ve got to ask this question,’ because if they proceed with impeachment and the person who has been studying this issue for a long time has not…will not opine on that issue, [then] we have a problem.
A bit later in the interview, Buck says that he changed his approach with Mueller because some other Members of Congress took what he was going to say:
CALDARA: How much preparation do you put in for something like this, or the Republican team? Obviously the Democrats were hoping for a slam dunk. They put on a great A/V show and all the rest. It didn’t materialize. Is this something that you know is political theater and you kind of suffer through, or is there a lot of preparation to make sure you get the question you got off today…out?
BUCK: Sure, we prepared for weeks for this. And, frankly, the line of questioning that I wanted to use had been developed twice before me, and so that’s why I went to a different line of questioning and asked what I asked.
This is all nonsense.
The simple truth is that Buck made the cardinal prosecutorial sin of asking questions he didn’t already know the answer to. Mueller’s answers reflected poorly on Buck and poorly on President Trump, and all he said to say was, “Yes.”
UPDATE #4: President Trump goes absolutely bananas when asked about the Mueller comments that were precipitated by Rep. Buck’s questioning. Watch the video below and then tell us: Does this sound like a guy who reallythinks today was a big victory?
UPDATE #3: This statement from Colorado Democratic Party Chairwoman Morgan Carroll has to sting a bit:
“Mueller confirmed that the reason he did not indict Trump was because of a DOJ policy that a sitting President could not be indicted. But, I would like to personally thank Ken Buck for confirming with Robert Mueller that President Trump could indeed be indicted and criminally charged with obstruction of justice after he is out of office. Given that the investigation resulted in nearly 200 criminal charges already filed, it’s good for voters to know that Donald Trump soon could face legal consequences for his corruption after they vote him out of office in 2020.”
That is what soccer fans call an “own goal.” What Buck inadvertently argued, with Mueller’s help, was that while the evidence of Trump’s personal cooperation with Russia was insufficient to sustain a conspiracy charge, the evidence may well have been sufficient to sustain an obstruction charge, and it may have only been Trump’s current position that is saving him from an indictment.
UPDATE: This is really, really, really bad for Buck.
Tonight in Denver, the @cologop, of which @RepKenBuck is chair, hosts voter registration training as part of “Trump Victory National Week of Training.” #copolitics
Former special counsel Robert Mueller is testifying publicly before Congress about his investigation into President Trump’s office and potential Russian interference in the 2016 election. Two Members of Colorado’s Congressional delegation are part of the House Judiciary Committee, which got first crack at Mueller’s testimony: Rep. Joe Neguse (D-Lafayette) and Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley).
Buck appeared to be taken aback, and asked the question again, but adding whether Mueller believed a president could be charged with obstruction of justice after leaving office. The former special counsel again said he believed that was the case…
…Whether Trump would be charged with obstruction of justice were it not for the Justice Department guidance has been an area of focus for Democrats, some of whom are pushing to start impeachment proceedings against Trump in light of Mueller’s findings.
Hundreds of former federal prosecutors and DOJ officials have signed onto a letter saying that they believe Trump would have been charged with a crime were it not for the guidance.
Buck is a former Weld County District Attorney, so he should be well familiar with the old axiom to never ask a question of which you don’t already know the answer. Folks watching the Mueller hearings caught Buck’s mistake immediately:
Did Ken Buck just get Mueller to confirm that Trump can be charged with crimes for what he’s done after he leaves office?
UPDATE: Gardner was on KOA radio this morning to talk about the BLM move to Colorado, but he couldn’t get away without being asked about Trump’s racist remarks. His answer was pretty awful:
HOST: What’s your take on that, and is it defensible to say things like that?
GARDNER: Well, I disagree with the President. I wouldn’t have sent this Tweet. I think he shouldn’t have done it, and I think we oughta be focused on things that are bringing this country together and moving this country forward…I wouldn’t have sent that Tweet. I just disagree with it.
“I wouldn’t have sent that Tweet.” Unreal.
Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma)
The House of Representatives is preparing to hold a vote today to rebuke President Trump for his racist comments over the weekend about four Democratic Members of Congress. In the meantime, as the Washington Post reports, Trump is really digging in on his disgusting remarks:
Trump lashed out at the freshman Democrats again on Tuesday and questioned why Congress was not rebuking them instead.
“The Democrat Congresswomen have been spewing some of the most vile, hateful, and disgusting things ever said by a politician in the House or Senate, & yet they get a free pass and a big embrace from the Democrat Party,” Trump wrote on Twitter, listing several grievances about the lawmakers. “Why isn’t the House voting to rebuke the filthy and hate laced things they have said? Because they are the Radical Left, and the Democrats are afraid to take them on. Sad!”
His tweets marked the third day in a row of attacks on the lawmakers — a series that began Sunday with tweets in which the president said the four Democrats should “go back” to “the crime infested places from which they came.” Three of the lawmakers were born in the United States, and the fourth is a naturalized U.S. citizen who was born in Somalia.
As we wrote yesterday, Colorado Republicans have been reluctant to speak out about Trump’s remarks. The Washington Post has been keeping track of Republican responses (and non-responses) to Trump’s comments; as of this morning, Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley) is the only member of Colorado’s congressional delegation to offer an opinion, expressing (very) mild disagreement in an interview with Fox News.
Still silent on the matter are Rep. Scott Tipton (R-Cortez), Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs), and Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma). As Justin Wingerter of the Denver Post reports, Gardner has just been too darn busy to speak out about racism:
Sen. Gardner on KNUS:
Host: “Did you see the tweet over the weekend…from the president?”
Gardner: “We’ve been working on the BLM move and that’s basically everything we’ve been trying to get done”
H: “Short and succinct. I translate that into ‘I don’t want to talk about it'”
Gardner obviously does not want to talk about any of this, either because he doesn’t disagree with President Trump or because he doesn’t want Trump to think that he disagrees. Gardner’s excuse that he has been solely focused on “the BLM move” is as silly as Acting Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Ken Cuccinellirepeatedly insisting that he didn’t have a response to Trump’s remarks because he hadn’t logged onto Twitter recently.
Gardner’s silence on Trump’s racism nevertheless speaks volumes, particularly considering that other endangered Republican Senators up for re-election in 2020 have still managed to find their voice.
Here’s Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa):
“Yeah I do [find Trump’s comments racist]. They’re American citizens. I personally think the GOP has a stronger platform to talk about. That’s what we should be focusing on.”
And Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine):
“I disagree strongly with many of the views and comments of some of the far-left members of the House Democratic Caucus – especially when it comes to their views on socialism, their anti-Semitic rhetoric, and their negative comments about law enforcement – but the President’s tweet that some Members of Congress should go back to the ‘places from which they came’ was way over the line, and he should take that down.”
Gardner’s refusal to discuss Trump’s comments reminds us of something that then-House Speaker Paul Ryantold CBS News after he was elevated to the top job: “I think you can walk and chew gum at the same time. I think you can oppose the president on some issue that you fundamentally disagree with, but also work with the other party on issues you do agree with.”
Maybe now that the BLM’s move to Colorado has been announced, Gardner can manage to turn his attention to another issue…not that we’re holding our breath or anything.
U.S. Rep. Ken Buck said Wednesday that when it comes to immigration, the Trump Administration has done an “outstanding job of trying to clean up the mess of past administrations.”
“The mistreatment of children really tugs at the heartstrings,” Buck told KFTM radio’s John Waters Wednesday (Listen below). “But this administration really has done an outstanding job of trying to clean up the mess of past administrations.”
Buck is echoing false statements by Trump, who’s also said past administrations launched the policy of separating children from their parents at the border.
But fact multiple independent fact checkers concluded that Trump, in fact, instituted the blanket policy of prosecuting parents and separating them from children, as part of his “zero-tolerance” approach to the border. It was at least publicly rescinded by the president after a national outcry, but loopholes remained, causing further outcry.
“There is a lot of misinformation,” said Buck.
Some of it is coming from Trump himself, who told NBC Sunday that he “inherited separation from President Obama” and that “I was the one that ended it.”
“When I became president, President Obama had a separation policy. I didn’t have it. He had it. I brought the families together. I’m the one that put them together,” Trump told Telemundo Thursday.
Buck defended U.S. border control personnel, suggesting that they have no ill will toward immigrant children.
“I’ve met with the people that supervise the border,” Buck said on air. “They have children of their own. They have a heart for children. And they are just overwhelmed by the number of children that are being sent across the border.
We’re working to get more information about fresh reported infighting between organizers of a highly improbable recall effort against Gov. Jared Polis and Rep. Ken Buck, chairman of the Colorado Republican Party. The above message from leader “Official” Recall Polis organizer Shane Donnelley is from late last week, the day after we wrote about a third Polis recall organization starting up with the goal of supplanting the two previous troubled efforts.
But as you can see, Donnelley isn’t saying Buck is merely against his Polis recall campaign. If Donnelley is to be believed, Colorado GOP chairman Ken Buck doesn’t support recalling Gov. Polis at all. That distinction is important, since during Buck’s election campaign for GOP chairman he praised recalls against Democrats in general and promised the state party’s support.
What happened? First and foremost, it’s generally agreed that the state party was badly burned by the ill-fated recall campaign against Rep. Tom Sullivan, which despite a lame attempt to distance the effort from the state party vice chair who started it severely impacted both the Colorado GOP’s reputation as well as the overall enthusiasm for pushing recalls in retaliation for the 2019 legislative session. While Republicans spent a month unsuccessfully defending the Sullivan recall, the passage of time dissipated momentum the recall movement writ large may have had last May.
Again, we’re operating from limited and unconfirmed information–but if it’s true that Ken Buck is working behind the scenes to quash the recall of Gov. Polis, it’s a major development that needs to be reported. What this tells us is that the failure of the Sullivan recall was a much bigger loss than Sullivan’s HD-37 seat would have been worth to the GOP had it succeeded, having effectively tainted the whole idea of recalls in response to the 2019 session. As we said from the outset, making Sullivan the face of the GOP’s recall movement was a stupendous mistake.
So it seems that, after winning his chairmanship pushing recalls, Buck may be backing down.
Entering the second day of reaction to the failure of the Republican campaign to recall freshman Democratic Rep. Tom Sullivan of Centennial, the conversation is moving beyond initial shock into the important follow-up questions–how high up does the blame for this fiasco extend? And how exactly did this incredibly bad idea even get off the ground?
With the effort now officially dead, pointy fingers are converging on the Colorado Republican Party itself, and the central role of vice-chair Kristi Burton Brown in launching the campaign against Sullivan–9NEWS yesterday:
Kristi Burton Brown, Vice Chair of the Colorado Republican Party, posted on Facebook that the recall effort she initiated against the first-year lawmaker was ending.
“While we are pulling the recall today to focus on other essential efforts, Sullivan does not get a free pass. 2020 is the year to oust him, with the support of voters who now know how extreme he is,” wrote Brown.
The obvious first question–who is “we?” Wasn’t this done in her “personal capacity?”
That was of course farcical. After the recall petition against Rep. Sullivan was approved, Colorado Republican Party chairman Ken Buckinsisted that his vice chair was acting “in her personal capacity, not as part of her leadership role with the state party.” But Colorado GOP “CEO” Steve House had already eagerly explained how the Colorado GOP would support recalls for electoral advantage–not to mention Buck’s own speech before his election as state party chair promising to teach Democrats “how to spell R-E-C-A-L-L” (video above). Combine that with the vice chair’s “personal” leadership role in the Sullivan recall, and it’s simply absurd to not hold the Colorado Republican Party directly responsible for the outcome.
And that opens the door to more pressing questions that Republicans must reckon with. Is Ken Buck’s absentee leadership of the state party while he tries to serve in Congress at the same time creating a leadership vacuum? Did Buck simply not have time or the presence of mind to recognize that the vice chair leading the Sullivan recall would indelibly link the party to the recall? Who exactly is in charge over there?
As the saying goes, victory has a thousand fathers. But as much as many Republicans want to lay the blame for this massive defeat at the feet of Dudley Brown, the man everyone loves to hate and has little credibility to lose, this is the Colorado Republican Party’s in-house disaster. The party’s vice chair is centrally to blame–and the statements of the party’s chairman and the “CEO” who runs the day-to-day operations on behalf of the absentee chairman oblige them to take the blame as well.
It’s time for Chairman Buck to own up to this disaster and clean house.
Or make way for someone who, for whatever reason, can.