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?

—–

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.”

—–

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.

—–

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

—–

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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