Biden Closes “AR Pistol” Loophole After Boulder

President Joe Biden.

The Denver Post’s Justin Wingerter previewed a series of executive orders from President Joe Biden announced a short while ago this morning in response to recent mass shootings including the killing of ten people at a King Soopers supermarket in Boulder last month:

President Joe Biden’s administration will announce Thursday that it will further regulate a gun accessory allegedly used in the March 22 mass shooting in Boulder.

A senior administration official with knowledge of the coming executive orders said Wednesday that by early June, the U.S. Justice Department “will issue a proposed rule to make clear that when a device marketed as a stabilizing brace effectively turns a pistol into a short-barreled rifle, that firearm is subject to the requirements of the National Firearms Act.”

“As we know, the shooter in the Boulder tragedy last month used a pistol with an arm brace, which makes the firearm more stable and accurate,” added the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

In addition to this order to limit access to the specific configuration of AR-15 assault weapon used in the Boulder shooting, the Biden administration will also crack down on so-called “ghost guns,” guns fabricated at home using “finishing kits” and 3D printed parts to evade background checks. And in another nod to Colorado’s leadership on gun safety, the Department of Justice is being asked to draw up a “model” red-flag law to allow family members and law enforcement to temporarily take away guns from at-risk people like Colorado already has on the books.

In short, these are appropriate but limited actions that may nonetheless not satisfy the majority of the public in favor of stronger gun laws–but as NBC News reports they’re being characterized as just the beginning of a broader effort:

In a call with reporters Wednesday night, administration officials stressed that Thursday’s actions were just the first step and that Biden would still pursue legislative solutions to gun violence.

“This is an initial set of actions to make progress on President Biden’s gun violence reduction agenda,” one official said. “The administration will be pursuing legislative and executive actions at the same time. You will continue to hear the president call for Congress to pass legislation to reduce gun violence.”

As surely as we can predict another mass shooting tragedy, the debate over gun safety is far from over.

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Get More Smarter on Friday (March 26)

It might actually start to FEEL like Spring later this weekend. Let’s 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 an audio learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

CORONAVIRUS INFO…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

*Daily Coronavirus numbers in Colorado:
http://covid19.colorado.gov

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

*Locate a COVID-19 testing site in Colorado:
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment 

 

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed into law new voting rules that significantly restrict voter access and prohibit allowing people to bring water to someone standing in line to vote. This is part of a broad effort around the country by Republicans to make it harder for non-Republican voters to cast a ballot. As The Washington Post reports:

The measure is one of the first major voting bills to pass as dozens of state legislatures consider restrictions on how ballots are cast and counted in the aftermath of the 2020 presidential election, when President Donald Trump attacked without evidence the integrity of election results in six states he lost, including Georgia.

The new law imposes new identification requirements for those casting ballots by mail; curtails the use of drop boxes for absentee ballots; allows electors to challenge the eligibility of an unlimited number of voters and requires counties to hold hearings on such challenges within 10 days; makes it a crime for third-party groups to hand out food and water to voters standing in line; blocks the use of mobile voting vans, as Fulton County did last year after purchasing two vehicles at a cost of more than $700,000; and prevents local governments from directly accepting grants from the private sector.

The 95-page law also strips authority from the secretary of state, making him a nonvoting member of the State Election Board, and allows lawmakers to initiate takeovers of local election boards — measures that critics said could allow partisan appointees to slow down or block election certification or target heavily Democratic jurisdictions, many of which are in the Atlanta area and are home to the state’s highest concentrations of Black and Brown voters.

The measure, backed by Republicans, sailed out of the state House and Senate on party-line votes in a single afternoon.

As Greg Sargent writes for The Washington Post, Republicans seeking to roll back voting rights are relying on a false narrative that they created themselves:

Republicans are deeply concerned about voter fraud because their voters believe the 2020 election was stolen from them, we are told, and Republicans merely want to restore their confidence in future elections.

This claim is absolutely central to the massive new wave of GOP voter suppression efforts — and utterly, insultingly preposterous to its core. Yet because we hear it constantly, it regularly skates past without even being remarked upon.

But it’s nonsense, and it should be called out as such every single time.

The Republican assault on voting rights is getting even more absurd in Missouri, where state lawmakers are trying to pretend that a ballot measure approved in 2020 with 53% of the vote didn’t win by enough votes for them to proceed with funding the measure.

Elsewhere, Vox.com wonders if Republicans understand that they are cutting off their own nose to spite Democrats.

 

The Denver Post has more on efforts led by Congressman Joe Neguse (D-Boulderish) to convince President Biden to sign an executive order banning the importation of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. Neguse’s efforts are spurred by Monday’s shooting at a King Soopers in Boulder.

Meanwhile, 9News reports that the suspected Boulder shooter did pass a background check when he purchased the weapon allegedly used to kill 10 people. The gun safety advocacy group Moms Demand Action held a vigil for victims on Thursday.

 

► As The New York Times reports, some far-right extremists who promoted the false “stop the steal” Presidential election narrative have found a new battle:

Although negative reactions have been relatively rare, the numbers are used by many extremist groups to try to bolster a rash of false and alarmist disinformation in articles and videos with titles like “Covid-19 Vaccines Are Weapons of Mass Destruction — and Could Wipe out the Human Race” or “Doctors and Nurses Giving the Covid-19 Vaccine Will be Tried as War Criminals.”

If the so-called Stop the Steal movement appeared to be chasing a lost cause once President Biden was inaugurated, its supporters among extremist organizations are now adopting a new agenda from the anti-vaccination campaign to try to undermine the government.

Bashing of the safety and efficacy of vaccines is occurring in chat rooms frequented by all manner of right-wing groups including the Proud Boys; the Boogaloo movement, a loose affiliation known for wanting to spark a second Civil War; and various paramilitary organizations.

 

More political (and coronavirus) news is available right after the jump…

 

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Get More Smarter on Tuesday (March 23)

We don’t know what to say anymore, either, but this is a good start. Let’s 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 an audio learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

CORONAVIRUS INFO…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

*Daily Coronavirus numbers in Colorado:
http://covid19.colorado.gov

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

*Locate a COVID-19 testing site in Colorado:
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment 

 

As The Denver Post reports, authorities have identified the names of 10 people killed during a shooting rampage at a King Soopers in Boulder on Monday. President Biden ordered flags at the White House to fly at half-staff in honor of the victims of Monday’s shootings. Biden plans to speak about the Boulder shooting this afternoon.

Police have also identified the suspect in Monday’s shooting as 21-year-old Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa. As Yahoo! News reports, Alissa apparently suffered from severe mental problems:

Ali Aliwi Alissa, the suspect’s 34-year-old brother, told The Daily Beast that authorities searched his house all night after the shooting.

Alissa described his brother as “very anti-social” and paranoid, adding that, in high school, he would describe “being chased, someone is behind him, someone is looking for him.”

“When he was having lunch with my sister in a restaurant, he said, ‘People are in the parking lot, they are looking for me.’ She went out, and there was no one. We didn’t know what was going on in his head,” Alissa said, admitting that he believes his brother is mentally ill.

 

► As Alex Burness reports for The Denver Post, the Metro area has dealt with a disproportionate number of mass shootings in recent years:

Colorado has a disproportionate share of survivors of gun violence and of people like (State Rep. Tom) Sullivan, whose loved ones were killed. A 2019 analysis by The Denver Post found Colorado had more mass shootings per capita than all but four states. The Census-designated Denver metropolitan statistical area had more school shootings per capita since 1999 than any of the country’s 24 other largest metro areas.

 

► State lawmakers are speaking out about Monday’ shooting in Boulder. Meghan Lopez of Denver7 is following along with a running Twitter thread:

 

► Congressperson Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert (R-ifle) sent out a fundraising email TWO HOURS AFTER the Boulder shootings asking for donations to her campaign as she fights against any form of gun control. On Tuesday morning, Boebert issued a statement saying that she “refuses” to use the Boulder shootings as a springboard for advancing political issues.

 

► Let’s catch up on more news from the Colorado legislature:

Lawmakers and Gov. Jared Polis are planning a statewide listening tour to discuss how Colorado can best spend billions of dollars in federal relief money from the American Recovery Plan.

Colorado Republicans seem to be having some sort of competition about who can introduce the worst legislation.

A media literacy bill passed out of the State House on Monday and now heads to the State Senate.

Legislation intended to create more accountability on the use of ketamine by first responders is moving along at the State Capitol.

Lawmakers are considering a proposal that would require ski resorts to be more transparent about injuries suffered on the slopes.

A proposal to privatize Pinnacol Assurance is kaput.

 

More political (and coronavirus) news is available right after the jump…

 

(more…)

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Impeachment Deux’s Biggest Winner? Rep. Joe Neguse

Rep. Joe Neguse (D).

As the Denver Post’s Justin Wingerter reports, although the second impeachment trial of now ex-President Donald Trump ended in the same predictable acquittal as Trump’s first trial year ago, the compelling performance of Colorado’s two impeachment managers, Joe Neguse and Diana DeGette, has set them up for political dividends even as the immediate battle was lost:

Thirty-six people have been a presidential impeachment manager in American history and none younger than 36-year-old Rep. Joe Neguse. The Lafayette Democrat played a prominent role this week, often speaking just after lead manager Maryland Rep. Jamie Raskin.

“Neguse is really making a national name for himself through this impeachment trial,” said Michael Berry, a professor of political science at the University of Colorado – Denver…

Neguse’s trial remarks have given him a national spotlight — as last year’s trial did for [Rep. Jason] Crow — and bipartisan hat tips. Benjamin Wittes at the think tank Brookings Institution said Neguse’s opening remarks Tuesday were the best in any modern impeachment trial. Republican consultant Tim Miller said Neguse “absolutely eviscerated” the Trump defense’s arguments that day. E.J. Dionne at the Washington Post called him “part Columbo, part Perry Mason, part Harry Bosch and part Jerry Edgar.”

Politico reports similarly effusive praise from all sides:

Rep. Madeleine Dean is being talked about as a potential candidate for the open Senate seat in Pennsylvania in 2022, a top priority for the party. Democratic strategists are speculating that Rep. Joaquin Castro, relatively well-known before the impeachment trial, further distinguished himself as an impeachment manager, advancing talk of a statewide bid in Texas. And an ex-Jeb Bush aide went so far as to say that Colorado Rep. Joe Neguse gave his “2004 convention speech” — a nod to former President Barack Obama’s breakout moment in politics… [Pols emphasis]

For some of the managers, their presentations were shared widely on social media. Neguse, who is an attorney and the youngest impeachment manager, won acclaim for his compelling and high-minded arguments.

As the dean of Colorado’s congressional delegation and a member of Congress for over 25 years, Rep. DeGette already benefits from good name recognition. For Rep. Neguse, last week’s impeachment trial was more of an introduction to a nationwide audience–and Neguse did not miss the chance to make a great first impression. A preview of what was to come in this second trial was provided during the House Judiciary Committee hearings leading up to Trump’s first impeachment trial in late 2019, in which Neguse distinguished himself similarly.

As for upward mobility supercharged by last week’s high-profile exposure, Neguse of course must wait until the Democrats who occupy every statewide office he would consider trading up to themselves move up or out. For example, had Sen. Michael Bennet been appointed to a Cabinet position in Joe Biden’s administration, Neguse would have been by far the likeliest candidate to replace him.

Whatever comes next, there’s not a single office we can think of for which Joe Neguse would not be a stellar candidate. We talk a lot about Colorado’s deep bench of Democrats ready to move up to be the next governor or U.S. Senator or even beyond–and whether we mention him by name or not, Neguse is almost always who we’re thinking of first and foremost.

Now the whole country knows why.

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Senate Republicans Acquit Trump for Second Time

UPDATE: Statement from impeachment manager Rep. Diana DeGette on today’s decision:

“Our case was strong, the facts were clear and the evidence we presented was overwhelming. This was the largest bipartisan vote to impeach a president ever, and even Mitch McConnell agreed that we proved our case. It’s shameful that so many Senate Republicans chose to hide behind a faulty technicality instead of considering the facts as we had laid them out.

“President Trump incited a violent insurrection against our government. He used his platform as the president of the United States to launch a deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol building to try to stop Congress from certifying the election for his opponent. It was the highest of high crimes. It was the greatest betrayal of office. And it was the most brazen attack on our own government by a sitting U.S. president that our nation has ever seen.

“Our goal in pursuing a conviction against Donald Trump for his conduct was not to punish him, but to prevent the type of violence that took place that day from ever happening again. While we didn’t get the conviction we ultimately sought, I believe we made our case to the American people. And that’s just as important because, at the end of the day, they are now the ones who will ultimately decide whether Donald Trump is ever allowed to hold public office again.”

—–

Twice impeached, twice acquitted by Senate Republicans

As The Washington Post reports:

Senate Republicans voted against convicting Donald Trump Saturday for inciting his supporters to storm the Capitol Jan. 6, bringing a swift end to the former president’s second impeachment trial after Democrats abandoned plans to call witnesses in the face of GOP opposition.

Seven Republicans joined Democrats in a 57-43 vote in favor of conviction, falling short of the two-thirds majority needed to convict Trump in the Senate. Sens. Richard Burr (N.C.), Bill Cassidy (La.), Susan Collins (Maine), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Mitt Romney (Utah), Ben Sasse (Neb.) and Patrick Toomey (Pa.) were the Republicans who voted with Democrats.

There was never much of a question about whether Senate Republicans would vote to acquit former President Trump on impeachment charges for inciting an insurrection. There were enough Trump lackeys in the Senate who had made up their minds on impeachment well before the trial even began; that includes Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, who advised Trump’s legal team on strategy and said on his podcast Friday that he told Trump’s team that they had “already won.”

As the Post reports, the vote to acquit Trump came after the Senate voted to allow witness testimony to take place in the impeachment trial:

The drama earlier Saturday began when lead House impeachment manager Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) opened the day’s proceedings with an unexpected request to call Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Wash.) as a witness following reports of her account that Trump had refused the entreaties of House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) to call off the rioters.

Herrera Beutler described an expletive-laden phone call in which Trump falsely claimed that the rioters were members of antifa, the loose-knit movement of sometimes violent liberal activists. He also accused McCarthy of caring less about Trump’s efforts to overturn Biden’s victory than the rioters did.

Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) had told Democrats earlier Saturday that the decision about witnesses would be left to the House managers. So after Raskin’s request, the chamber voted 55-45 to allow witnesses, with five Republicans joining Democrats and with the chamber sliding into uncertainty as groups of senators huddled for hours to figure out what would come next.

Despite the vote, Senate Democrats remained cool to the idea of calling witnesses and extending the impeachment trial, believing that no amount of evidence was going to dissuade Trump backers from sticking with the former President. House impeachment managers ultimately agreed and allowed the proceedings to come to a close with a final vote.

McConnell can talk himself blue in the face, but that won’t excuse another acquittal.

Senate Republicans will now try to explain their decision to let Trump skate while many also acknowledge the damage caused by The Big Orange Guy. As The Washington Post reports in a separate story, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell rushed to the microphone to make an ass out of himself soon after casting a vote to acquit Trump:

McConnell said Saturday that the former president is “practically and morally responsible” for provoking the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol — but that the Senate was upholding the Constitution by acquitting him.

“The Senate’s decision today does not condone anything that happened on or before that terrible day,” McConnell said. “It simply shows that senators did what the former president failed to do: We put our constitutional duty first.”…

…McConnell spent much of his remarks condemning Trump’s actions and directly linking them to the Jan. 6 insurrection. The former president’s supporters, he argued, launched their violent attack “because they had been fed wild falsehoods by the most powerful man on Earth, because he was angry he lost an election.”

That’s some pretty remarkable cowardice right there.

On a more positive note, Colorado Rep. Joe Neguse (D-Boulderish) put an exclamation point on a week that saw his national profile increase considerably. Neguse’s final speech urging the Senate to convict Trump on inciting an insurrection featured a number of powerful lines that will be repeated for a long time:

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Get More Smarter on Friday (February 12)

Midday Tuesday: That’s when temperatures in the Denver Metro area are expected to get back ABOVE freezing. Let’s get even more smarterer before our brains get all icy. 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 an audio learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

CORONAVIRUS INFO…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

*Daily Coronavirus numbers in Colorado:
http://covid19.colorado.gov

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

*Locate a COVID-19 testing site in Colorado:
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment 

 

► House impeachment managers wrapped up their case against President Trump on Thursday, with Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Denver) and Rep. Joe Neguse (D-Boulderish) again taking key roles. As The Denver Post reports:

As she made her case Thursday that former President Donald Trump must be convicted by the U.S. Senate for inciting an insurrection, Colorado U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette replayed and read aloud the words of Trump supporters who rioted at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

“Their own statements before, during and after the attack make clear: the attack was done for Donald Trump, at his instructions and to fulfill his wishes,” said the Denver Democrat, a prosecutor in Trump’s second impeachment trial. “Donald Trump had sent them there. They truly believed that the whole intrusion was at the president’s orders and we know that because they said so.”…

…Neguse, a Lafayette Democrat, gave a nine-minute speech late Wednesday afternoon. He attempted to pre-emptively cut down arguments from Trump’s lawyers that the former president’s remarks on Jan. 6 were free speech protected by the 1st Amendment.

“No president, no matter their politics or the politics of their followers — conservative, liberal or anything else — no president can do what President Trump did,” Neguse said. “Because this isn’t about politics, it’s about his refusal to accept the outcome of the election and his decision to incite an insurrection. There’s no serious argument that the 1st Amendment protects that.”

Colorado Public Radio has more on Thursday’s performances from DeGette and Neguse.

Impeachment 2.0 now shifts to the defense of former President Trump from his bumbling batch of lawyers. The front page of CNN summarizes the defense team’s approach pretty simply:

CNN.com (2/11/21)

 

Senate Republicans appear to be largely unswayed by compelling arguments made by the House impeachment team — including evidence that former President Trump knew full well that Vice President Mike Pence was under siege when he sent a threatening Tweet. Many of the GOP Senators are not even bothering to pretend that they are paying attention anymore.

 

As The New York Times reports, federal prosecutors charging members of the Oath Keepers militia movement say that the members themselves claim to have stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6 at then-President Trump’s behest:

The new accounts about the Oath Keepers’ role in the Capitol assault came on the third day of former President Donald J. Trump’s impeachment trial and included allegations that a member of the militia group was “awaiting direction” from Mr. Trump about how to handle the results of the vote in the days that followed the election. “POTUS has the right to activate units too,” the Oath Keepers member, Jessica M. Watkins, wrote in a text message to an associate on Nov. 9, according to court papers. “If Trump asks me to come, I will.”

This seems like a relevant point for Republican Senators to consider as they ponder impeachment questions. But if you are the betting type, it would still be hard to put money on the GOP doing anything other than looking the other way.

 

It’s amazing what you can get done when you have a President who actually knows what he’s doing. As The Washington Post reports:

President Biden said Thursday that his administration had finalized deals for another 200 million doses of the two coronavirus vaccines authorized in the United States, giving the country enough vaccine by the end of July to cover every American adult.

In remarks capping an afternoon tour of the National Institutes of Health, Biden said the federal government had purchased 100 million more doses from Pfizer and German company BioNTech, as well as 100 million more from Moderna, using options built into existing contracts with those companies.

The announcement was the centerpiece of an emotional address from Biden, who made a point of speaking through his mask as he called it a “patriotic responsibility” to wear one.

The United States will now have about 600 million vaccine doses by the summer, which is enough to vaccinate every American with the recommended two doses.

 

Congresswoman Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert (R-ifle) loves to talk about “law and order”…just as long as the conversation isn’t about her or her COVID hotspot eatery, “Shooters Grill.”

Meanwhile, The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel picks up the thread of Boebert paying off $20k worth of liens at around the same time she wrote herself a $21k mileage reimbursement check from her campaign.

 

Nearly 10% of Denver residents have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Major retailers such as Wal-Mart and King Soopers will soon be offering the vaccine to customers.

 

More political (and coronavirus) news is available right after the jump…

 

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Get More Smarter on Thursday (February 11)

Happy “National White T-Shirt Day” (it’s not what you might think). Let’s get even more smarterer; 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 an audio learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

CORONAVIRUS INFO…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

*Daily Coronavirus numbers in Colorado:
http://covid19.colorado.gov

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

*Locate a COVID-19 testing site in Colorado:
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment 

 

Day three of Impeachment 2.0 is well underway, kicking off with the first appearance of Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Denver) in her role as a House impeachment manager (another Colorado Member of Congress, Rep. Joe Neguse (D-Boulderish), has been perhaps the breakout star of the hearings thus far). The Washington Post explains more about what to expect from today:

The House managers opened the second day of their presentation Thursday by trying to strengthen the case that former president Donald Trump incited the violent Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol. The Democratic managers are initially focusing on what the insurrectionists said about their motivations.

On Wednesday, the managers used surveillance footage from the Capitol, along with Trump’s own words and tweets, to try to build a case against him. Trump’s attorneys are scheduled to begin their presentation on Friday. A verdict could come as early as the weekend.

The New York Times summarizes the action from Wednesday, which included more new video clips from January 6:

Filling the Senate chamber with the profane screams of the attackers, images of police officers being brutalized, and near-miss moments in which Vice President Mike Pence and lawmakers came steps away from confronting a mob hunting them down, the prosecutors made an emotional case that Mr. Trump’s election lies had directly endangered the heart of American democracy.

They played frantic police radio calls warning that “we’ve lost the line,” body camera footage showing an officer pummeled with poles and fists on the West Front of the Capitol, and silent security tape from inside showing Mr. Pence, his family and members of the House and Senate racing to evacuate as the mob closed in, chanting: “Hang Mike Pence! Hang Mike Pence!”

All of it, the nine Democratic managers said, was the foreseeable and intended outcome of Mr. Trump’s desperate attempts to cling to the presidency. Reaching back as far as last summer, they traced how he spent months cultivating not only the “big lie” that the election was “rigged” against him, but stoking the rage of a throng of supporters who made it clear that they would do anything — including resorting to violence — to help him.

Chris Cillizza of CNN provides his 5 key takeaways from Wednesday. Here’s the key video footage from Wednesday provided by House impeachment managers:

 

► Justin Wingerter of The Denver Post has more on Rep. Joe Neguse’s performance Wednesday:

Neguse’s role in the impeachment trial has given the talented orator a national audience and drawn applause from pundits and politicians across the political spectrum. He’s a sophomore in the House and a rising star within the Democratic Party who has climbed the leadership ranks since his election in 2018.

On Wednesday, Neguse’s job was to “provide a roadmap” of the prosecutors’ evidentiary case, in the words of lead impeachment manager Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland. Neguse explained the case in broad terms, before six other managers went into greater detail.

“As you’ll see during the course of this trial, that mob was summoned, assembled and incited by the former president of the United States, Donald Trump,” Neguse alleged. “And he did that because he wanted to stop the transfer of power, so that he could retain power, even though he had lost the election.”

 

Congresswoman Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert (R-ifle) offers up a new explanation for $22k in mileage reimbursement claims from her 2020 campaign that includes something about having to buy new tires. This is not going well for Boebert, who is dealing with a complaint to the Office of Congressional Ethics for questionable campaign spending.

 

State officials say that half of Coloradans age 70 and older have received a COVID-19 vaccine. Less clear is the number of first responders to have received a vaccine in Colorado.

As 9News reports, there are 57 confirmed cases of a COVID variant in Colorado believed to have originated in the U.K.. Officials say there are no confirmed variants from Brazil or South Africa in our state.

You may want to avoid Winter Park for awhile; the ski resort area has seen a huge outbreak of COVID-19 cases.

 

More political (and coronavirus) news is available right after the jump…

 

(more…)

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Impeachment 2.0, Day 3

UPDATE: Rep. Joe Neguse once again brings it home:

—–

 

Congresswoman Diana DeGette (D-Denver) is making her first appearance today as one of the House impeachment managers.

The New York Times has more on what to expect in today’s (likely) final remarks from House impeachment managers prosecuting the case against former President Trump:

A day after delivering the Senate a harrowing account of the deadly violence, replete with chilling new video footage, the impeachment managers planned to pivot on the trial’s third day to argue why Mr. Trump must be the first impeached president ever convicted, and the first ex-president disqualified from holding future office.

Their task is a daunting one, aimed at persuading Republican senators who have shown no appetite for breaking with Mr. Trump, and building a historical record of his role in the worst attack on the Capitol since the War of 1812. Led by Representative Jamie Raskin of Maryland, they planned to assert that Mr. Trump’s actions badly damaged the nation’s standing around the world and warn that if left unpunished, the former president would be free to return to power and endanger democracy.

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Get More Smarter on Wednesday (February 10)

On this day in 1967, the 25th Amendment to the Constitution was formally ratified. Let’s get even more smarterer; 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 an audio learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

CORONAVIRUS INFO…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

*Daily Coronavirus numbers in Colorado:
http://covid19.colorado.gov

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

*Locate a COVID-19 testing site in Colorado:
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment 

 

► The historic second impeachment trial against former President Trump began on Tuesday with some impressive arguments from House impeachment managers and a bunch of meandering nonsense from Trump’s lawyers. As The Washington Post reports:

Several Republican senators on Tuesday criticized the performance of lawyers representing former president Donald Trump at his impeachment trial, with at least one saying that the “disorganized, random” arguments by Trump’s attorneys were what motivated him to change his mind and vote with Democrats.

After listening to opening statements, the Senate voted 56 to 44 to move forward with the impeachment trial, rejecting Trump’s legal team’s arguments that it was unconstitutional to do so. The vote mostly split along party lines and was almost identical to a similar one that was held last month.

Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), the only Republican senator to switch his vote to support moving forward with Trump’s impeachment trial, blasted the meandering opening statements by Trump’s attorneys as incoherent and ineffective.

Chris Cillizza of CNN breaks down some of the more puzzling comments from Trump attorney Bruce Castor. This headline from The Philadelphia Inquirer sums things up nicely:

 

As The Washington Post reports in a separate story, Trump was apparently very upset with the performance of his legal team on Tuesday…but at least it gave him something to talk about:

He has recently gloated about falling ratings at Fox News, the conservative-leaning news channel that he abandoned in recent months in favor of rivals Newsmax and One America News. One person who spoke with the former president described him as sounding “bored out of his mind” and pressing for gossip: “What are you hearing? What are they saying?” Trump queried. [Pols emphasis]

“He’s still licking his wounds to some extent, and he’s also waiting for this to be behind him,” said one Republican in Trump’s orbit, adding dryly, “and then he’ll relaunch himself as the savior of the Republican Party.”

POLITICO has more on Trump’s reaction to Tuesday’s opening day of impeachment discussions.

 

The second impeachment trial against Trump is making a star out of Colorado Rep. Joe Neguse (D-Boulderish), who took a lead role on Tuesday and again today. Late Tuesday, Chris Cillizza of CNN echoed what many national outlets and pundits were saying about the performance of Neguse:

Neguse has the makings of a future face of the national Democratic Party — and he showed why on Tuesday.

Justin Wingerter of The Denver Post has more on Neguse.

 

Democrat Kerry Donovan raised more than $100,000 in less than five days after announcing that she will run against Republican Rep. Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert in 2022.

 

Colorado Public Radio examines how Democrats plan to push for a “public option” health care reform plan when the state legislature reconvenes next week:

Democratic lawmakers have a new message for the health care industry: bring down patient costs by 2024, or face competition from a government-controlled plan.

That’s the gist of a “public option” bill some lawmakers plan to introduce in this year’s legislative session.

“I think it’s important to bring back the public option this year, and to continue to work on lowering the cost of health care, no matter how we can do that, because it’s still one of the top issues I hear from the people that I represent,” said state Sen. Kerry Donovan, who will sponsor the bill alongside Rep. Dylan Roberts.

The proposal was set to be a top priority for Democrats last year, only to be derailed by the pandemic. This year, a new version will include some changes intended to ease opposition from the health care industry.

The 2021 Colorado legislative session begins in earnest on Feb. 16.

 

 Colorado is expected to see an increase in the number of COVID-19 vaccines made available to the state.

 

More political (and coronavirus) news is available right after the jump…

 

(more…)

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The GMS Podcast: Impeachment 2, Trumplectic Trumpaloo

This week on The Get More Smarter Podcast, hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii talk Impeachment 2.0; keep apologizing to the rest of the country for Rep. Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert as the first serious contender to challenge for CO-3 announces; and discuss the Republican “Civil War,” to the extent that it really exists.

Later, we travel back to 2009 and consider whether or not Democrats have learned any lessons about governing on the federal level; we preview the 2021 legislative session; and delve into another update about the 2022 election.

Catch up on previous episodes of The Get More Smarter Podcast at GetMoreSmarter.com.

Questions? Comments? Complaints? Hit us up at AngryRants@getmoresmarter.com.

Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts | Spotify | Stitcher | TuneIn

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Get More Smarter on Friday (January 8)

Happy “Typing Day.” Please celebrate responsibly. 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 an audio learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

CORONAVIRUS INFO…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

*Daily Coronavirus numbers in Colorado:
http://covid19.colorado.gov

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

*Locate a COVID-19 testing site in Colorado:
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment 

 

► As POLITICO reports, momentum continues to build for impeaching President Trump:

House Democrats are moving quickly toward impeaching President Donald Trump as early next week, a reflection of the seething outrage that remains over his incitement of deadly riots inside the U.S. Capitol.

Timing remains in flux and Speaker Nancy Pelosi has yet to make a decision on exactly how to proceed, including whether to pursue a constitutional process that could remove Trump without impeachment. Top Democrats are still in talks with all their members and will hold a caucus-wide call at noon. But they are expected to decide today on their next steps, according to several lawmakers and aides.

Whether or not Trump could officially be impeached before his time in office expires at noon on January 20 is less important than holding Trump accountable for this week’s assault on the U.S. Capitol:

If Democrats pass articles early next week — and Pelosi immediately sent them to the Senate — the Senate would be required to begin a trial immediately under congressional rules. Trump’s first impeachment trial, on charges he abused his power and obstructed a congressional investigation, ultimately lasted four weeks before the Senate delivered its verdict.

That timetable suggests the goal of any impeachment is unlikely to be Trump’s removal and is much more focused on the option to prevent him from holding federal office in the future. Some Democrats believe that possibility could woo Senate Republicans, some of whom are eyeing a 2024 bid themselves.

 

CNN reports on another tragic loss resulting from the Trump mob’s attack on the Capitol building:

Prosecutors in the US Attorney’s office plan to open a federal murder investigation into the death of Brian D. Sicknick, a US Capitol Police officer who died Thursday night, a law enforcement official tells CNN.

Sicknick was injured Wednesday when a mob of President Donald Trump’s supporters stormed the US Capitol. He died at approximately 9:30 p.m. ET Thursday “due to injuries sustained while on-duty,” Capitol Police officials said in a statement.
The death is being investigated by the DC Metropolitan Police Department’s homicide branch, the US Capitol Police and their federal partners.

Sicknick was many Capitol Police officers who were attacked with lead pipes and other blunt instruments.

 

 As Marianne Goodland reports for the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman, there is a growing list of high-profile names and organizations calling on the resignation of Rep. Lauren Boebert and Rep. Doug Lamborn for taking part in trying to overturn the results of the 2020 election:

The letter said the two lawmakers “have betrayed the trust of Colorado voters by helping incite violence against the body you were elected to, a body designed to serve us. By endorsing the president’s unsubstantiated and repeatedly debunked, discredited, and false claims of voter fraud, you encouraged and tacitly endorsed the actions of these terrorists and threatened the basic foundation of our democracy.”…

…Signatories to the letter include seven Democratic members of the Colorado General Assembly, city council members in Aurora, Broomfield, Denver and Edgewater; former Democratic U.S. Senate candidates Trish Zornio and Lorena Garcia, and two dozen progressive organizations, including unions, Planned Parenthood and ProgressNow Colorado.

Meanwhile, Boebert appears to have no concept of the harm she and fellow Trumpians have caused. In a video released today, Boebert sounds absolutely looney:

Boebert says that she wants people to view her floor speech on Wednesday. We agree. Here it is.

#ResignBoebert.

 

More political (and coronavirus) news is available right after the jump…

 

(more…)

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Neguse Takes Leading Role Opposing GOP Election Challenge

Rep. Joe Neguse (D-Boulderish)

A group of Republican Members of Congress on Wednesday will object to efforts to finalize the 2020 election of Democrat Joe Biden as the next President of the United States. These efforts are widely expected to fail, as POLITICO explains:

The Senate Republicans opposed to certifying President-elect Joe Biden’s win are heading toward a hefty defeat on Wednesday. The only remaining question is this: how badly do they lose?

Just 11 GOP senators have joined the effort led by Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) to object to Congress’ routine approval of Biden’s Electoral College win. That makes 13 supporters — and many more have come out swinging against it…

…At least 21 GOP senators will vote to certify Biden’s election win, according to a series of interviews and statements. As of midday Tuesday, 17 Republican senators had not said what they would do publicly. With every Senate Democrat also sure to reject the challenge to Biden’s victory, President Donald Trump’s pressure campaign will easily fail even as it succeeds in splitting the GOP.

Wednesday’s last-ditch effort by Trump supporters to somehow keep The Big Orange Guy in the White House won’t be without involvement from Colorado’s Congressional delegation. Freshman Rep. Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert and longtime Colorado Springs Republican Rep. Doug Lamborn will both oppose certifying Biden’s Electoral College victory. Colorado’s third Republican Member of Congress, Rep. Ken Buck of Greeley, has announced that he will NOT participate in efforts to block Biden’s victory.

On the Democratic side of the aisle, Rep. Joe Neguse (D-Boulderish) is among four members of the House of Representatives who will be responsible for arguing against nonsense claims against decertification. As Kyle Cheney of POLITICO reports:

Neguse and three other Democratic House Members will lead the debate on Republican objections to certifying Biden’s victory. This is another big moment for a Colorado Democrat; last year Rep. Jason Crow (D-Aurora) was among seven House Members given the task of serving as “impeachment managers” in President Trump’s Senate impeachment trial. Crow earned rave reviews for his steady performance, despite the fact that the Republican-controlled Senate ultimately let Trump off the hook.

We don’t expect to hear much from Lamborn on Wednesday, but Republicans may allow Boebert to be among the GOP House Members who will attempt to make some sort of argument in favor of overturning the will of American voters.

In this debate — or any other, for that matter — we’d gladly put our chips behind Neguse over Boebert.

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LIVE: Colorado Election Night 2020

UPDATE: Colorado called for Joe Biden and John Hickenlooper by national outlets at 7:01pm.

Welcome to blue statehood.

—–

Wondering where to watch tonight’s election returns? Well, wonder no more!

Your friends from “The Get More Smarter Podcast” will be LIVE tonight for an Election Night Extravaganza. Special guests will be dropping by throughout the evening to discuss 2020 election results in real time. We’ll kick things off at 6:30 pm on Facebook and Periscope. Check us out on YouTube or CLICK HERE FOR THE FACEBOOK LINK.

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Who Wears it Better (Theoretically)?

The U.S. Senate campaign of Democrat John Hickenlooper is out with a new Spanish-language television ad featuring former Senator and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. As you can see yourself, there’s something…different about Salazar:

Apparently, Ken Salazar is rocking a mustache these days. Since we could all use a little lighthearted humor with the election cycle finishing up its final three weeks, we wondered how other Colorado politicians might look if they decided to change up their style by adding the ol’ face caterpillar.

Clockwise from top left: John Hickenlooper, Cory Gardner, Joe Neguse, Ken Buck, Jared Polis, Doug Lamborn

Now, we’ve long been of the opinion that politicians who want to be re-elected should avoid a mustache at all costs, but what say you, Polsters?

Click after the jump to vote on which one of these imaginary facial decorations works best…

 

(more…)

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Senate Republicans Fail Americans

The U.S. House of Representatives is in session today. The U.S. Senate…is not.

The House passed a massive coronavirus relief package in May called the “Heroes Act.” The Senate has not taken up this legislation and has instead tried — and failed — to craft something of its own. Extended unemployment benefits passed by Congress in March will expire at the end of this month, but Senate Republicans were unable to come up with a plan to help the 20-25 million unemployed Americans who desperately need this assistance. So they went home for a 3-day weekend, saying they’ll try again next week.

Quite the conundrum, eh?

One of the major holdups is that Senate Republicans can’t agree on how much to reduce the $600 weekly benefits that some worry are a “disincentive” to seek employment (nevermind that such employment may not exist at the moment). As The Washington Post explains:

In practice, the jobless benefit lapse means that millions of workers are seeing their last enhanced benefit payment this week.

You may not be able to pay your rent at the end of next week, but that’s apparently not a huge concern for Senate Republicans, who have been screwing around with this proposal for two months and were in no hurry to move things along while they gathered for lunch on Thursday:

CNN’s Manu Raju (top) and Rep. Joe Neguse (D-Boulderish)

Oh, and if you’re wondering: Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) rushed back to Colorado today for a photo op in Greenwood Village with First Daughter Ivanka Trump.

This Sunday will mark 100 days to go until the November 3 election.

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The Get More Smarter Podcast: Rep. Joe Neguse

Rep. Joe Neguse (D-Boulderish)

This week on the Get More Smarter Podcast…the coronavirus is still a thing; election laws are merely suggestions; and Colorado Republicans are shooting first and aiming later.

We also have a long discussion with Congressman Joe Neguse (D-Boulderish) who tells us what it’s like in Congress with everyone wearing masks and social distancing, and how we’re moving forward with the next few rounds of coronavirus legislation (including a bill sponsored by Neguse to help out smaller municipal governments).

If you missed last week’s episode, check it out when you’re done here.

Questions? Comments? Complaints? Hit us up at AngryRants@getmoresmarter.com.

Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts | Spotify | Stitcher | TuneIn

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The Get More Smarter Podcast: Bold Predictions for 2020

This is it: The final episode of 2019 for The Get More Smarter Podcast. To close out the year, hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii discuss the most important Colorado political stories of 2019 and look ahead to 2020 with some bold predictions. Will Democrats take control of the U.S. Senate in 2020? Can Sen. Cory Gardner win re-election? Which one of Colorado’s seven Congressional seats could flip next year? 

And for the first time, Jason plays America’s worst favorite game, “Duke or Donald.” Ian is the current record-holder in the game that nobody really wins, but can Jason take the title in the last episode of 2019?

The Get More Smarter Podcast is available on Apple Podcasts, Buzzcloud, Spotify, and Overcast. You can also follow the Podcast on Twitter @MoreSmarterShow. If you have a question or comment, hit us up at AngryRants@GetMoreSmarter.com.

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Republicans Flummoxed on Prescription Drug Pricing

Image via AARP

While you were reading about impeachment news last week, you may have missed a significant vote in the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives addressing an issue that is of utmost concern to American voters in 2020: Reducing the outrageous costs of prescription drugs.

The “Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act” (HR-3) passed out of the House on Thursday on a largely party line vote (Colorado’s four Democratic House Members voted “YES,” while all three Republicans voted “NO”) and will now head to the place where all good pieces of legislation go to die: The desk of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. As CBS News explains:

Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s bill would cap Medicare recipients’ out-of-pocket costs for medicines at $2,000 a year. It would use about $360 billion of its projected 10-year savings from lower drug costs to establish Medicare coverage for dental care, hearing, and vision, filling major gaps for seniors.

But the legislation has no chance of passing the Republican-controlled Senate, and the White House has issued a veto threat. Still, Democrats saw a victory in the message their bill sends to voters…[Pols emphasis]

…Pelosi is claiming bragging rights because her bill would deliver on the promise that President Trump made as a candidate in 2016, when he said he would “negotiate like crazy” to lower prescription drug prices for Medicare recipients. It’s a pledge that Mr. Trump has backed away from as president.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Sen. Cory Gardner don’t know where to go from here.

Polling data continually shows that health care and prescription drugs top the list of voter concerns in 2020…much like they did in the Democratic wave year of 2018. A recent survey from Healthier Colorado found that 82% of Colorado voters believe that prescription drugs are too costly; nearly half of voters say that health care in general is unaffordable. The bill passed last week in the House of Representatives has the support of groups such as AARP, but McConnell won’t touch it in part because it is fiercely opposed by the pharmaceutical industry. As Politico reports today, the issue has put Republicans in a bind:

Yet with an election year cresting and massive divisions among his members, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is staying put. Associates say the Kentucky Republican is not eager to make a move that splits his caucus and could incur the wrath of the well-financed pharmaceutical industry.

A final decision will wait until after the Senate’s impeachment trial. Many Senate Republicans, however, know they need to do something to satisfy Trump and avoid the awful optics of doing nothing at all.

Senate Finance Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) this summer advanced a bill that would fine drugmakers that hike prices above inflation rates, but from the start it had more Democratic support than Republican backing. Even though a significant number of GOP members say it’s a bold stroke with crucial presidential support, many Republicans liken the move to price controls that would kill innovation.

This quote from Louisiana Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy sums up the absurdity of the GOP’s position: “Thank goodness Republicans control the Senate. That said, we still need something to make medicines affordable.” Ya think?

Republicans have lambasted impeachment investigations against President Trump as a distraction from the key issues facing average Americans, but Democrats snatched that stool right out from under them last week by multitasking on important topics. As The Hill explains:

Vulnerable Democrats in swing districts can point to the legislation as keeping a long-held promise to let Medicare negotiate drug prices. Members can show they are focused on kitchen table issues despite the chaos over impeachment.

The bill also gives moderate Democrats in Congress a chance to tout a health care issue that’s separate from the “Medicare for All” debate consuming the Democratic presidential primary.

“If a Democrat wins the White House and the party takes control of the Senate, a bill to allow the government to negotiate drug prices seems much more likely to pass than Medicare for All or even a public option,” said Larry Levitt, executive vice president for health care policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Congressional Republicans are now in the unenviable position of arguing against the substance of legislation that would reduce health care costs for millions of Americans. Republican leaders can shake their fists at the idea of “price controls” for prescription drugs, but that language only makes a dent with pharmaceutical lobbyists; controlling prices is exactly what average voters want to see from Congress on the issue of prescription drug costs.

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Neguse and Buck: Colorado’s Best And Worst Take Center Stage

UPDATE: Rep. Ken Buck continues to put the GOP’s worst foot forward, as the Washington Post reports:

Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) argued that impeaching Trump for obstruction of Congress doesn’t make sense because Republican lawmakers were “sent here to obstruct this Congress.”

…Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) pushed back on Buck, calling it “terrible ignorance” to suggest that obstruction is a good thing. [Pols emphasis]

“Whether you think Congress is behaving well or badly, whether it’s popular or unpopular, if you want a dictator, then you subvert the ability of Congress to hold the executive in check,” Nadler said. “What is central here is do we want a dictator? No matter how popular he may be, no matter how good or bad the results of his policies may be. No president is supposed to be a dictator in the United States.”

“When I hear colleagues of mine arguing that the Congress is unpopular and therefore obstruction of Congress is a good thing, this shows terrible ignorance or lack of care for our institutions, for our democracy, for our form of government, for our liberties,” Nadler added.

—–

Rep. Joe Neguse (D).

Reporter Robin Bravender from Washington via the Colorado Independent:

A Colorado Democrat on Wednesday night delivered a forceful plea for the U.S. House to impeach President Donald Trump, while his Republican colleague helped lead the president’s defense.

Rep. Joe Neguse, a freshman Democrat, spoke of his immigrant parents, refugees from Eritrea. “They wanted their children to grow up in a place that is free, a country where leaders respect the rule of law and where they don’t use the power of government to target political opponents — a country with fair elections where everyone has the right to vote,” he said…

Neguse accused Trump of soliciting the interference of a foreign government in the 2020 U.S. presidential election for his own political advantage. “Every American deserves to know that their president will not endanger our national security, that he or she won’t seek to use their power to undermine our free and fair elections and that they won’t tap a foreign government to help tip the scales in their favor,” he said.

Rep. Joe Neguse’s powerful opening statement in favor of impeachment against Donald Trump (video above) is getting a lot of attention today as House Democrats move forward with the markup of the articles of impeachment and Republicans continue to cry foul as loudly and distractingly as they can. Neguse eloquently got to the heart of the matter:

I’d like to begin tonight by speaking directly to the Americans listening and watching who may disagree with the steps this Committee is taking. I hope you’ll understand we are proceeding on this path truly out of love for our country. We are your neighbors, we are your colleagues, your fellow worshipers, and we are all citizens of the greatest nation on earth. We are blessed to live in a country where our similarities far outweigh our differences…

In 2016, Russia interfered in our elections in “sweeping and systematic” fashion. And as we now know, the Trump campaign welcomed at that time that interference, and now, the President of the United States has solicited the interference of a foreign government in the 2020 presidential election for his own advantage. President Trump abused his power, and then, engaged in a wholesale obstruction of Congress to cover it up.

The fact remains that in the history of our republic, no president has ever ordered such a complete defiance of an impeachment inquiry, until now.

If anything is clear, it is this: every American deserves to know that their President will not endanger our national security, that he or she won’t seek to use their power to undermine our free and fair elections, and that they won’t tap a foreign government to help tip the scales in their favor.

Colorado GOP chairman Rep. Ken Buck (R).

Comparing the thoughtful approach of Colorado’s freshman lawmaker on the House Judiciary Committee to the bad faith of Neguse’s Colorado Republican counterpart on the committee Rep. Ken Buck, makes for a remarkable contrast:

Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) told his colleagues to “go ahead” and vote for impeachment. “Say goodbye to your majority status and please join us in January 2021 when President Trump is inaugurated again.”

Throughout the impeachment proceedings now coming to a head in the U.S. House, the contrast between Neguse’s incisive questioning of witnesses versus Buck’s descent into silly-season obstruction tactics and even promoting the wildest diversionary conspiracy theories injected into the debate by Trump’s defenders has been a useful exemplar for both sides. Yesterday, though, Buck appears to have dispensed with debating the case against Trump on the merits, reverting to shopworn political threats instead.

Because public opinion of the impeachment process largely divides by party affiliation, the opinion of Colorado’s principal figures in the process will hew pretty closely to the observers’ partisan leanings. For voters in neither tent, however–who make up a decisive plurality in Colorado–Neguse’s diligence comes across immeasurably better than Buck’s contempt.

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The Sky is Still Blue; Up Is Not Down

Yep, still blue

Rex Huppke of the Chicago Tribune has a great column today that is worth your time. The premise of Huppke’s column is about fighting to preserve important things like truth and facts at a time when they are constantly under attack by right-wing sources:

It can feel, especially lately, as if reality has been bent sideways and backward, like facts are meaningless and, quite frankly, like many of us are losing our minds…

…First, the good: Facts still matter, and truth still exists.

Second, the bad: You can’t feel exhausted. You have to cling to the truth, tighter than ever before, because an entire political party, a massive news network and the leader of the free world are trying to pull it away.

Huppke could point to any number of recent examples in making his point, though this case he uses the release this week of a watchdog report which found that the FBI was justified in opening an investigation into President Trump’s 2016 campaign (and its ties to foreign governments) and was not influenced by political bias one way or the other. As Huppke summarizes:

Even a cursory review of the report reveals a thorough debunking of many of the president’s favorite conspiracy theories. It clearly states there is no “documentary or testimonial evidence that political bias or improper motivation influenced” the decision to launch an investigation into contacts between Russians and Trump campaign members.

The report shows the FBI had an “authorized purpose” for starting the investigation, meaning it was not, as Trump claims ceaselessly, a “witch hunt.” The report even shows that while screams of bias have been leveled ad nauseam at certain investigators who were texting anti-Trump comments, there were also investigators texting pro-Trump comments. There was no evidence either form of bias had bearing on the investigation.

I speak THIS MUCH truth.

Alas, President Trump and his apologists sought their own sort of “facts.” Trump curiously called the report “far worse than I would’ve ever thought possible.” Fox News talking monkey Sean Hannity breathlessly declared it “the biggest abuse of power corruption scandal in the history of the country.”

As Huppke writes:

Up is down. Dogs are cats. The world is flat as a pancake.

Trump, members of his party and propagandists like Hannity failed to note anything debunked by the report. They didn’t just overlook a few things. They flat-out lied.

And they did it as easy as they breathe.

Like most things in life, you can have a different opinion of these developments…but you cannot claim a different set of facts. As The Washington Post reported today, Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz told lawmakers that a senior prosecutor — appointed directly by Attorney General William Barr — failed to convince him that the FBI’s 2016 investigation was improper.

Trump and Hannity are free to say that they disagree with the report’s findings; what they shouldn’t be able to get away with is declaring that the report reached an entirely different set of conclusions. But it happens because Trumpians are incessant about driving false narratives, and because news outlets often let them get away with it.

Take, for example, this Monday story in The Denver Post recapping a day of impeachment hearings in front of the House Judiciary Committee.

The Denver Post (12/9/19)

The Post headline makes it look like this discussion is a difference of opinion, when in reality it is more about a difference in accepted truth. There is zero evidence that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 U.S. elections, yet the headline treats the discussion as though the facts are still to be determined. As the Post’s Justin Wingerter writes later:

“Isn’t it true that President Trump had a legitimate reason to request help from the Ukraine about the 2016 election?” Rep. Ken Buck, a Windsor Republican, asked a House Judiciary Committee lawyer, who was testifying during the impeachment hearing. “And I’m not suggesting for a minute that Russia didn’t interfere. Of course they interfered! But the Ukraine officials tried to influence the election.”

It’s a view asserted by an increasing number of Republicans in recent days despite the intelligence community and even Trump administration officials saying there was no evidence to support it. Democrats reiterated that on several occasions Monday. [Pols emphasis]

Again, Buck is entitled to his opinion. But media outlets should not allow him to present that opinion as fact.

Even media institutions like the New York Times are guilty of permitting this false factual equivalency. New York University journalism professor Jay Rosen was critical of a Times story that reported little more than what different sides had to say about the subject:

9News in Denver reported on different statements from Members of Colorado’s Congressional delegation, offering little in the way of context until reporter/anchor Kyle Clark Tweeted this separately:

Clark’s comments should have been included in the original 9News story, which went on to quote Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley) saying this:

“The Democrats don’t have the evidence to support their case.”

This is not true. Not even a little. 9News should have reported that it is Buck’s “opinion” that Democrats don’t have the evidence to support their case. As Huppke of the Chicago Tribune reminds us, Trump supporters are muddying the waters for a very specific purpose:

Disinformation is intended to wear critics down, to make them feel that resistance is futile, that combating nonsense with facts is a waste of time.

You can’t let that happen. You need to keep your mind right.

News outlets seem to be growing increasingly worried about being viewed as presenting “both sides of the story” at a time when what the public really needs is for the media to present “the accurate side of the story.”

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The Get More Smarter Podcast: Buck, Buck, Neguse!

This week on the Get More Smarter Podcast, President Trump is an anti-Semitic piece of garbage (more or less) who should absolutely be impeached; we find Sen. Cory Gardner at the bottom of the gutter in a new poll; Colorado Congressman Scott Tipton catches a primary challenge from a heavily armed West Slope barkeep; and Colorado Reps. Joe Neguse and Ken Buck take different roads on impeachment. Tune in now and get prepared for a special bonus podcast episode later this week.

The Get More Smarter Podcast is available on Apple Podcasts, Buzzcloud, Spotify, and Overcast. You can also follow the Podcast on Twitter @MoreSmarterShow. If you have a question or comment, hit us up at AngryRants@GetMoreSmarter.com.

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Trump Spin Team Targets Neguse on Impeachment

President Trump’s handwritten impeachment defense.

As we’ve noted in this space before, Republicans continue to have a hard time finding credible angles for defending President Trump against impeachment efforts in Congress. They’ve tried the “Sideshow Bob Defense” and the “Chewbacca Defense.” They’ve tried whatever it was that Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley) attempted last Wednesday in arguing that every President has committed impeachable offenses.

Oftentimes Republican impeachment defenses get exploded by President Trump himself. Some in the GOP had been arguing that the impeachment process was moving along too fast and did not afford Trump the opportunity to defend himself, but as Dana Milbank explains for The Washington Post, both of those defenses are now moot:

White House counsel Pat Cipollone, in his letter to House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) on Friday, undermined both complaints: The letter served as a formal answer from Trump refusing the Democrats’ invitation for him to defend himself in the House proceedings, and it instructed Democrats to hurry up.

“House Democrats have wasted enough of America’s time with this charade. You should end this inquiry now and not waste even more time with additional hearings,” it said, adding: “As the president has recently stated: ‘If you are going to impeach me, do it now, fast, so we can have a fair trial in the Senate, and so that our Country can get back to business.’”

The Trump anti-impeachment “War Room” is now trying to focus its defense on allegations that Democrats are pursuing a pre-determined partisan strategy of ousting Trump without considering any evidence. As Justin Wingerter writes for The Denver Post, Team Trump made it a point to go after freshman Democratic Rep. Joe Neguse (D-Lafayette) on Sunday with a heavily-edited version of history for support:

“Democrat Congressman Joe Neguse LIES about his support for impeachment years ago — but we have the tape!” the Trump campaign said on social media Sunday afternoon, along with an edited clip of a Neguse appearance on cable news.

Neguse, a Lafayette Democrat, was a guest on CNN’s “State of the Union,” where he verbally sparred with David Urban, a member of the Trump 2020 advisory committee.

“Congressman, you were for impeachment before you were even sworn in. You said there was enough evidence before you heard one shred, did you not?” Urban asked Neguse.

“I’ll tell you this: There are a number of us who have ultimately long believed that this president has engaged in conduct that could be impeachable,” Neguse answered, before being interrupted by Urban, who again accused him of supporting impeachment before hearing a shred of evidence.

“That is not true, that is not true,” the congressman responded, speaking over Urban in a testy exchange. “The effort of so many Republican colleagues of mine to obfuscate away from the president’s egregious conduct and abuse of power is something that has shocked the conscience of many of my colleagues in the Democratic House. I honestly was taken aback by it.”

Rep. Joe Neguse (D-Lafayette)

Team Trump is trying to prove its claim of bias by pointing to an MSNBC interview that Neguse conducted in November 2018. As you can see yourself, this interview does not do what Trumpians claim it does:

MSNBC HOST: Based on what you know now, do you think that there is evidence that would support impeaching President Trump?

NEGUSE: I do. I think that there is sufficient evidence in the public square to indicate that this President has violated the Constitution and ultimately has committed high crimes and misdemeanors that would warrant impeachment. There was a vote on the House floor over a year ago, in which Representative Green from Texas, I believe, essentially initiated the process by which a full investigation into whether the President has ultimately committed impeachable offenses could take place. I supported that then, and I support it now.

MSNBC HOST: Do you call on leaders of the House of Representatives to begin impeachment proceedings?

NEGUSE: Well, look, I think it’s an important conversation that obviously our caucus is going to be having over the course of the next many weeks and obviously many months as the 116th Congress takes effect. I have not yet been sworn-in. I’m still a Congressman-elect, so I’m looking forward to having those conversations with my colleagues.

MSNBC HOST: Fair enough.

At no point does Neguse say that he supports the impeachment of President Trump. Neguse says that he believes there is enough evidence to warrant an impeachment investigation, which is a very different thing than saying that he thinks Trump should be impeached. Later, Neguse specifically avoids answering a question about whether he thinks House Democrats should move forward with impeachment proceedings. This video by Team Trump is edited to make Neguse’s remarks look much more sinister than they really were.

At this point, the only way to defend Trump against impeachment is to make things up out of whole cloth. We’re probably not far from the point where Trump apologists will claim that the first words Neguse spoke as an infant were, “Impeach Trump.”

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Impeachment Logic with Ken Buck

Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley)

Congressional Republicans are scrambling to figure out how to proceed with their full-throated support of President Trump in the wake of Wednesday’s public impeachment hearings, in which Ambassador William B. Taylor, Jr. and George Kent, a deputy assistant secretary at the State Department, testified for hours in front of members of the House Intelligence Committee. Taylor’s testimony was particularly damning, and not just because it included new revelations about a phone call between Trump and EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland that makes it appear that Trump was really only interested in investigating political rival Joe Biden.

While we have yet to hear from Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) on his opinion of Wednesday’s hearings, Congressman/State Republican Party Chairman Ken Buck (R-Greeley) talked to Justin Wingerter of The Denver Post and gave his thoughts on what took place yesterday. We’ll get to Buck’s incredible nonsense in a moment, but first we should present some background information.

Buck had previously been a fan of what has come to be called “The Sideshow Bob Defense,” owing to the nefarious character from the long running TV show “The Simpsons.” In essence, this theory is based on the idea that Trump did not actually commit a crime because his extortion attempt with Ukraine was unsuccessful. This is, of course, completely absurd; attempting to commit a crime is still a crime. Ineptitude is not a defense.

“Convicted of a crime I didn’t even commit. Hah! Attempted murder? Now honestly, what is that? Do they give a Nobel Prize for attempted chemistry? Do they?”

As we wrote last month, Buck’s usage of “The Sideshow Bob Defense” was patently ridiculous:

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.

You’ll never catch me, logic!

Buck never misses a chance to remind a reporter that he is a “former prosecutor,” though it appears that the former Weld County District Attorney either didn’t really know what he was doing at the time or forgot everything he once knew about the law…which leads us back to his comments to The Denver Post today:

“Whether it’s appropriate or not, the voters can decide. It’s not impeachable,” the congressman said in a phone interview Thursday morning, a day after public hearings in the impeachment inquiry began…

…Buck compared the allegations against Trump — that he withheld nearly $400 million in military aid to Ukraine because the Eastern European ally would not investigate the son of Joe Biden, a possible Trump opponent — to conditions the U.S. government routinely places on foreign aid, while reiterating that he does not believe Trump withhold the money in order to force an investigation into the Bidens.

“For example, we put tariffs on Mexico and say to Mexico, ‘Help us stop the flow of illegal immigrants into the United States’ and Mexico agreed to do that and has been doing that and the president withdrew the tariffs. That’s a quid pro quo. It’s not illegal. In and of itself, a quid pro quo does not violate the law,” Buck said. Over the summer, Trump threatened to place tariffs on all Mexican goods, but backed off after an agreement was reached on immigration enforcement.

This is objectively wrong. Period.

It is irrelevant whether or not Buck thinks President Trump’s request of Ukraine is illegal. We don’t need Buck’s opinion here because the law itself is clear.

Now take a gander at how the Greeley Congressman would raise the bar on Presidential misconduct:

The congressman declined to say whether he believes it’s appropriate for a president to ask such a favor, calling that a hypothetical scenario. A quid pro quo, as Democrats allege Trump engaged in, would only be an impeachable offense if it rises to the level of a crime, said Buck, a former prosecutor.

“In other words, if I’m the president of the United States and I say to (Russian President) Vladimir Putin, ‘If you go and kill these three political opponents of mine, I will give you aid, or I will stop giving Ukraine aid,’ yes, that’s a crime,” the congressman said.

It’s getting hot in herre

It’s noteworthy in itself that Buck declines to say whether he believes President Trump’s actions to be appropriate, but the real problem here is Buck’s faulty response to Trump’s actions as a “hypothetical scenario.” Trump did talk to the President of Ukraine and he did ask him to “do us a favor, though” and start an investigation into the Bidens. There’s nothing hypothetical about any of this.

Furthermore, according to “Buck logic,” Trump would have to ask another country TO MURDER SOMEONE for this sort of request to rise to an impeachable offense.

WUT?

Most adults understand that this scenario would still include separate crimes — for murder and for bribery. Then again, most adults also don’t believe that people are purchasing AR-15 rifles in order to obliterate raccoons.

You might remember that Buck damn near sunk President Trump during the testimony of former special prosecutor Robert Mueller when he repeatedly asked if Trump could be charged with a crime and kept getting the same affirmative answer. Buck later attempted to defend his blunder by saying that “only very soft people” are worried about Trump’s actions. In other words, it’s not necessarily a good thing for Trump that Ken Buck is trying to publicly defend him.

Buck tells The Denver Post that he will “will go where the evidence takes me in this case.” If Buck was making an honest attempt to understand the evidence, this might be reassuring.

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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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