Rep. Joe Neguse Gets The Goods From Mueller–On Purpose


Rep. Joe Neguse (D).

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.

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D’Oh! Ken Buck Totally Screws President Trump

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 really thinks today was a big victory?

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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.”

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UPDATE #2: Dammmmmnnnnnnnnn!!!!

Rolling Stone, 7/24/19

Paul Waldman of the Washington Post uses similar language:

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.

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UPDATE: This is really, really, really bad for Buck.

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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).

Oddly enough, it was Buck — the man who is also the newest Chairman of the Colorado Republican Party — who ended up creating one of the biggest moments of the morning:

 

Ken Buck’s “oh, shit” face.

The Hill has more on this back-and-forth:

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:

There’s really no way to spin this for Congressman/Party Chairman Ken Buck. This was a YUGE mistake.

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Let’s Talk About the U.S. Senate Race!

Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) is among the most endangered Republican incumbents in the country. We know this because hardly a week goes by without some news outlet mentioning his vulnerability in 2020. While the 2020 election is still 607 days away (as of today), we’re less than a year out from the party caucuses in Colorado, which means the clock is ticking as potential candidates jockey for position in 2019.

Gardner officially kicked off his Senate re-election campaign last month with a high-dollar fundraiser in Washington D.C., but he has yet to announce any sort of campaign launch in Colorado. We’re still not convinced that Gardner will ultimately be on the ballot in November 2020; sharing a slate with Donald Trump is going to be rough for any Republican, particularly in a state like Colorado where Democrats ran roughshod over Republicans in 2018.

Gardner is not the kind of politician who joins a fight he isn’t confident about winning, and his polling numbers have been in the toilet for several years now. His increasingly-close embrace of Trump – Gardner was one of the first big Republican names to endorse Trump’s re-election — won’t help him in a state carried by Hillary Clintonin 2016. His strange waffling on Trump’s “emergency declaration” for border wall money suggests that he’s also worried about a potential Republican Primary.

But enough speculation about Gardner for now. He’s still the incumbent and he says he’s running for re-election, so let’s focus instead on the Democratic side of the aisle, where the likely 2020 nominee isn’t even a candidate yet…

 

(more…)

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