Get More Smarter on Wednesday (February 19)

Today is the 50th day of 2020; please celebrate responsibly. It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► We really can’t be far away from Donald Trump declaring himself King of America. As The Washington Post reports:

On Tuesday, Trump granted clemency to a clutch of political allies, circumventing the usual Justice Department process. The pardons and commutations followed Trump’s moves to punish witnesses in his impeachment trial, publicly intervene in a pending legal case to urge leniency for a friend, attack a federal judge, accuse a juror of bias and threaten to sue his own government for investigating him.

Trump defended his actions, saying he has the right to shape the country’s legal systems as he sees fit. [Pols emphasis]

“I’m allowed to be totally involved,” he told reporters as he left Washington on Tuesday for a trip to California, Nevada and Arizona. “I’m actually, I guess, the chief law enforcement officer of the country. But I’ve chosen not to be involved.”

Of course, this is NOT true. The Attorney General is the chief law enforcement officer in the United States, but when the AG just does whatever the President wants…

The president’s post-impeachment behavior has alarmed Attorney General William P. Barr, who has told people close to the president that he is willing to quit unless Trump stops publicly commenting on ongoing criminal matters, according to two administration officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations. It also has appalled several legal experts and former officials, who have said his direct intervention in legal matters risks further politicizing law enforcement at a time of fraying confidence in the Justice Department.

As The Washington Post reports in a separate story, Trump is almost daring Attorney General William Barr to quit his job:

Against the wishes of Attorney General William P. Barr, President Trump continued to tweet Wednesday about the Justice Department, relaying the sentiments of conservative allies that Barr should “clean house” and target those involved in the Russia investigation.

Former Colorado U.S. Attorney Bob Troyer is among many current and former Justice Department officials who think Barr should resign

You can thank Senate Republicans for fully unlocking Trump’s dictator mode. Here in Colorado, voters are well aware that Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) voted for Trump’s impeachment acquittal purely as political protection.

 

The Democratic candidates for President will debate tonight in Nevada, which will also mark the first on-stage appearance of former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Here’s more on how candidates are courting Coloradans leading up to Super Tuesday on March 3:

♦ Jon Murray of The Denver Post breaks down how Bloomberg has been courting politicos in Colorado for decades.

♦ Elizabeth Warren has launched a new ad campaign in Colorado.

 Amy Klobuchar will be in Denver on Thursday. Tulsi Gabbard will be in Colorado Springs and Boulder. Joe Biden will not be appearing anywhere.

♦ President Trump is in Colorado Springs on Thursday with Sen. Cory Gardner. As The Colorado Springs Independent reports, Trump’s expensive visit will be paid for…by local taxpayers.

 

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Get More Smarter on Thursday (February 13)

Happy “World Radio Day.” Please celebrate responsibly. It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

►As Jennifer Rubin writes for The Washington Post, President Trump is turning the Justice Department into his own political hit squad — with little sign that Senate Republicans will do anything to rein him in:

President Trump, empowered by acquittal in his impeachment trial and allowed free rein by his Republican Senate allies, has waged a war of vengeance and retribution against those who declined to enable his impeachable conduct. Now he has taken a club to the Justice Department.

The Post reports on the four prosecutors who refused to go along with their boss’s directive to reduce the sentencing recommendation for Roger Stone following Trump’s tweet criticizing the seven- to nine-year sentence recommendation…

…Aside from the Saturday night massacre, we have never seen multiple Justice Department lawyers resign to protest a presidential abuse of power.

Just as Trump tried to engage a foreign government to announce an investigation into former vice president Joe Biden and ordered up a probe of Hillary Clinton (which came to nothing), this is an egregious perversion of the rule of law. The president, like a tin-pot dictator, now uses the Justice Department to shield his criminal cronies, putting his finger on the scale in a way no other president has done in the modern era.

Politico has more on the shockwaves of Trump’s Justice Department meddling, while Vox.com takes a deeper dive into overall problems under Attorney General William Barr.

Meanwhile, CNN Congressional reporter Manu Raju approached Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) for comment on Wednesday. This was Gardner’s response:

“I’m sorry…miss my vote.”

As such, Rubin finishes her Washington Post column with an appropriate hammer:

Coming on the evening of the New Hampshire primary, the latest crisis should remind us of the stakes in 2020 and the necessity that Democrats nominate someone who can beat Trump and stop our slide into authoritarianism. It should also remind us that without the cowardice of Republican senators including Susan Collins of Maine, Cory Gardner of Colorado, Thom Tillis of North Carolina and others, Trump would not be lighting a fire to the Justice Department and the Constitution. Voters must remember this come November. [Pols emphasis]

 

► Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders will visit Denver this weekend as he campaigns for the Democratic Presidential nomination, but he won’t be the only top candidate coming through our state. From Jon Murray at The Denver Post:

Sanders, the progressive U.S. senator from Vermont who won the New Hampshire primary Tuesday, has set a rally for 6 p.m. Sunday in Denver, inside the Colorado Convention Center’s Exhibition Halls C and D. Doors open at 4 p.m., the campaign says, and the event is open to the public but an RSVP is encouraged via Sanders’ website. (The location was changed to a larger venue from the convention center’s Bellco Theatre, which has a seating capacity of 5,000, due to high demand.)

Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, placed a close second Tuesday and narrowly beat Sanders in Iowa last week. He will have a town hall in Aurora at 7 p.m. Feb. 22, according to a campaign event page. The location will be revealed closer to that date, but supporters are encouraged to RSVP on his website…

…Sanders has had a small staff in Colorado for months, and Buttigieg’s campaign, hoping to capitalize on its all-volunteer effort here so far, is expected to announce the hiring of its first three staffers in Colorado on Thursday. Buttigieg’s lead staffer here will be Ken Gonzalez, who has shifted from organizing duties in Iowa, a campaign spokesperson said.

Biden, the former vice president, is scheduled to visit Denver on Monday for a private fundraiser hosted by former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. He is alone among the major candidates in not having had a large public event in Colorado so far this campaign, though he has been sending surrogates.

 

► It’s “Hate Week” at the State Capitol. House Majority Leader Alec Garnett explains how that moniker applies to what GOP lawmakers are attempting in the latest episode of The Get More Smarter Podcast:

 

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The GMS Podcast: You’ve Got Questions; These Aren’t Answers

This week on The Get More Smarter Podcast, hosts Jason Bane and Alan Franklin preview the New Hampshire Democratic Primary; discuss a wacky vacancy committee for Republicans that doesn’t bode well for their hopes in 2020; and delve into Sen. Cory Gardner’s impeachment debacle. House Majority Leader Alec Garnett joins us once more in our regular “Smart Alec” crossover, talking about kill committees; confusing abortion bills; and how Republican lawmakers are rolling out “Hate Week” under the Gold Dome.

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

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Get More Smarter on Monday (February 10)

Valentine’s Day is on Friday; you’re welcome. It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

President Trump is making his swamp…swampier. Still basking in the orange glow of a Republican Senate cover-up for his impeachment crimes, Trump is taking out his anger on administration officials and staffers who dared speak the truth. As The Atlantic explains in a story titled, “The Crime of Doing the Right Thing“:

Trump managed to wait two days after his Senate acquittal before taking care of family business, as Michael Corleone would put it, with respect to those who had upset him in the Ukraine affair.

[On Friday] he removed from the National Security Council staff Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman—along with Vindman’s twin brother, who served as an NSC attorney, for good measure. Lieutenant Colonel Vindman had had the temerity to object to Trump’s “perfect” phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and then committed the unforgivable sin of telling the truth about the matter when the House impeachment investigation sought his testimony. The brothers were, according to reports, escorted out of the White House complex…

…Trump also fired Gordon Sondland, the ambassador to the European Union, who had tried to play both sides—testifying in a fashion that upset Trump while being cagey at first and thus raising questions to House members about his candor. Sondland had managed to please nobody, and his presence on the scene at all was, in any event, a function of his large donation to the presidential inaugural committee. He had bought his way into service at the pleasure of the president and, having done so, proceeded to displease the president.

 

► After spending the end of last week bumbling and fumbling for a coherent message on why he voted to acquit President Trump in the Senate impeachment trial, Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) threw some red meat around in an interview with “Fox & Friends.” Gardner needs these softball interviews, because he keeps bombing with local news reporters asking relevant questions.

 

► Voters in New Hampshire cast their ballots in Presidential Primary race on Tuesday; on the Democratic side of the ledger, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders looks like the frontrunner.

Meanwhile, we finally found out who won the Iowa caucuses and associated delegates — well, mostly. South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg won the most delegates, while Sanders appears to have won the popular vote. The Sanders campaign is indicating that it will ask for a remcanvass of votes in at least some districts; the current results would assign 14 delegates to Buttigieg and 12 delegates to Sanders. The New York Times breaks down how the Iowa caucuses went so awry for Democrats.

Here in Colorado, mail ballots for the Presidential Primary races will start going out this week; Jesse Paul of The Colorado Sun has more on what to expect in your mailbox.

 

► The Trump administration budget is rolling out its new budget proposal, which seeks to cut domestic spending on the backs of Americans relying on Medicaid and food stamps, while also slashing foreign aid by a considerable amount. Via Politico:

As with his previous budget proposals, Trump is once again seeking deep and unrealistic cuts to most federal agency budgets, according to the budget summary tables. The cuts are unlikely to be embraced by Congress.

For example, the administration is seeking an 8 percent cut to USDA’s budget over current funding levels. Trump’s plan would cut the Commerce Department by 37 percent, the Education Department by 8 percent, the Energy Department by 8 percent, the Department of Housing and Urban Development by 15 percent, and the Department of Health and Human Services by 9 percent.

The administration is also seeking a 13 percent cut to the Interior Department, a 2 percent cut to the Justice Department, an 11 percent cut to the Labor Department, a nearly 21 percent cut to the State Department and a 13 percent cut to the Department of Transportation. The EPA’s budget would see a nearly 27 percent chop, the Army Corps of Engineers would see a 22 percent reduction and the Small Business Administration would see an 11 percent decrease.

As Greg Sargent writes for The Washington Post, this seems like an odd election-year strategy for Trump:

This new budget is being widely described as a blueprint for Trump’s argument for a second term. It’s actually a very good argument against a second term.

 

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Get More Smarter on Friday (February 7)

Remember that old joke about how your (grand)parents had to walk 10 miles a day to school in the snow, and it was uphill both ways? Yeah, well, your kids won’t be able to use that one. It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► The 2020 “Thanks for Covering Up for Me on Impeachment” tour is coming to Colorado. President Trump will stump for himself (mostly) and Sen. Cory Gardner in Colorado Springs on February 20. If you’ve always wanted to see the Big Orange Guy bloviate in person, this could be your last chance; Colorado isn’t what you’d call a “winnable state” for Trump in 2020, so he may not be back.

Gardner could use all the help he can get for his re-election bid; he’s getting absolutely hammered in Colorado for his inept explanations about why he supported Trump’s acquittal. As the editorial board of The Denver Post writes: “Coloradans deserve better than Cory Gardner.”

 

President Trump held court in front of a microphone at the White House on Thursday for an airing of grievances related to his impeachment acquittal. As Chris Cillizza of CNN explains, everyone who was in attendance should be ashamed of themselves:

Less than 24 hours after formally being acquitted by the Senate, President Donald Trump riffed for over an hour from inside the White House — a vengeful, angry, fact-challenged spew of score-settling that even for this most unorthodox of presidents was eye-opening in its tone and jaw-dropping in its boundary busting…

…It felt like watching a bully beat up a helpless kid. Sure, the bully is to blame. But the crowd of people surrounding the beating and either cheering or doing nothing at all are far worse.

Trump is Trump. While he stepped beyond where has gone before in many respects during Thursday’s “celebration,” it hard to say that no one saw this coming.

But the complicity of those in attendance — the most powerful people within the Republican Party — is what was truly astounding. Yes, the Republican Party threw in its lot with Trump (and his forced takeover of it) long ago. But to sit by or even celebrate while Trump used the White House as a combination of a campaign venue, or a bathroom wall on which to write his darkest thoughts about those who oppose him, was beyond unforgivable. [Pols emphasis]

Interestingly, Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner did not warrant a special shout-out from President Trump:

Meanwhile, President Trump is working on ousting all dissidents — the honest people on payroll — from his administration, as The Washington Post reports.

 

Surrogates for Democratic Presidential candidates are scheduled to tool around in Colorado this weekend. Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro is stumping for Elizabeth Warren today and tomorrow. Former “Law & Order” actor Sam Waterston will help open new field offices this weekend for Mike Bloomberg.

Elsewhere in Democratic Presidential candidate news, the campaign for Bernie Sanders is hiring more staff in Colorado and increasing its advertising budget; and State Sen. Julie Gonzales is endorsing Elizabeth Warren.

 

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The Get More Smarter Podcast: Impeach the Caucuses!

This week on The Get More Smarter Podcast, hosts Jason Bane and Alan Franklin discuss the disastrous Iowa caucuses; the final day of the Senate impeachment trial; and what we learned from a couple of big last-minute campaign finance reports. We also chat again with House Majority Leader Alec Garnett in our regular “Smart Alec” crossover, covering topics including the death of a puppy mill bill; the latest on efforts to repeal the death penalty; legislation that would allow college athletes to get paid; and how Colorado decided to ditch its Presidential caucus system in favor of holding a straightforward vote. It would be impossible to not Get More Smarter this week!

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

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Get More Smarter on Monday (February 3)

It’s cold, wet, and icy today — please be careful out there, and don’t put stock in weather forecasts from rodents. It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

Closing arguments are being made today in the Senate impeachment trial of President Trump, though acquittal appears to be a foregone conclusion — nevermind a new NBC News/Wall St. Journal poll showing that most Americans believe Trump abused his power and obstructed Congress. On Friday, Republican Senators blocked efforts to add new witnesses or documents to the impeachment inquiry, effectively ending any hope of a real trial in the Senate.

House impeachment managers are nevertheless making their final case today in the Senate. “Your duty demands you convict President Trump,” said Congressman Jason Crow (D-Aurora) today on the Senate floor. As The Denver Post reports:

The Aurora Democrat spoke first Monday morning as the seven impeachment managers made their final case to the Senate and the American people. He quoted from the nation’s Founding Fathers and former giants of the Senate, such as Daniel Webster, as he urged senators to do what they almost certainly will not do: convict the president and remove him from office. [Pols emphasis]

“I submit to you, on behalf of the House of Representatives, that your duty demands you convict President Trump,” Crow said. “I don’t pretend this is an easy process. It’s not designed to be easy. It shouldn’t be easy to impeach or convict a president. Impeachment is an extraordinary remedy, a tool only to be used in rare instances of grave misconduct, but it is in the Constitution for a reason.

“In America, no one is above the law, even those elected president of the United States, and I would say, especially those elected president of the United States.”

You can watch Rep. Crow’s entire closing argument below:

 

 

► Meanwhile, Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) is still getting a lot of impeachment-related attention…but not in a good way. #CoverUpCory has become a national trend.

The editorial board of The Aurora Sentinel calls out Gardner and his fellow Republicans for their cowardice on impeachment:

America can add Jan. 31, 2020 to the list of the nation’s most appalling blunders.

Defying their sworn duty, overwhelming public opinion and decency, the Republican Party on that day succumbed to fear and corruption in the impeachment case against President Donald Trump.

Friday became historical as the day Senate Republicans refused to seek the truth about just how far the president had gone in blackmailing Ukranian officials, forcing them to undermine Trump’s political opponent…

…Republicans, and the entire nation know full well that a tsunami of truth and facts will eventually wash away Trump’s deceptions and obfuscations. Cowardly members of Trump’s own party, however,  prevented those revelations now.

Instead, Jan. 31, 2020 was the day Senate Republicans like Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner shrank in fear and colluded in the scheme to hide Trump’s crimes from the American public. [Pols emphasis]

 

► It’s caucus day in Iowa. Readers of Colorado Pols will tell you who is going to win tonight. The Washington Post takes a look at how the ghost of Hillary Clinton still haunts Democrats in Iowa. Here’s a primer on the Iowa caucuses and how they will be different than they were in 2016.

 

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Get More Smarter on Friday (January 31)

Happy Nauru Independence Day; please celebrate responsibly. It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► It appears that we are nearing the inevitable conclusion of President Trump’s acquittal at the hands of Senate Republicans who refuse to see anything wrong with anything wrong. On Thursday evening, Tennessee Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander — who is not seeking re-election — was nevertheless unable to summon the courage to support a call for more witnesses in the Senate trial. Maine Sen. Susan Collins announced that she WOULD support a call for witness testimony, but without Alexander’s support there probably aren’t enough Republicans to make that happen. CNN’s Chris Cillizza breaks down how Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell kept his caucus together on avoiding new witnesses.

As The Washington Post reports, the end is near — though it may be drawn out a bit longer still:

While many Republicans have expressed hopes that the expected failure of a vote to call new witnesses would mean a rapid end to Trump’s impeachment trial, officials are warning that might not be the case.

A longer schedule could mean the trial stretches beyond Monday’s Iowa caucuses, further complicating the campaign schedules of the four senators seeking the Democratic nomination who are sitting as jurors.

A senior administration official and two congressional officials said Friday it was unlikely that senators would rush immediately to a verdict after the witness vote fails. They requested anonymity to speak candidly about internal discussions.

The administration official and a congressional official raised the possibility that the Senate could take up a new procedural resolution laying out rules for the trial’s endgame — which could include time for closing arguments, private deliberations and public speeches by senators.

The Senate passed such a supplemental resolution in the middle of the 1999 impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton.

Perhaps no Senate Republican is more emblematic of the GOP’s blind loyalty to Trump than Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner. As Greg Sargent of The Washington Post revealed on Thursday, there is significant evidence that Gardner has known for years that former Vice President Joe Biden did nothing unethical in relation to his dealings with Ukraine, which invalidates a key Trump argument about why $391 million in foreign aid was withheld from the country.

You’ll be seeing a lot of the hashtag #CoverUpCory over the next year.

 

► Jason Salzman of the Colorado Times-Recorder takes an impeachment-related comparison of two of the most endangered Republican Senators in 2020: Gardner and Susan Collins of Maine. You can probably guess who ends up looking better.

 

► Monday is the deadline to change your voter affiliation in Colorado if you want to cast a vote in the March 3 Democratic Presidential Primary. There will probably not be chaos.

 

► As Jim Anderson writes for the Associated Press, legislation to repeal the death penalty in Colorado moved a step closer to passage with a vote in the State Senate.

 

► We’re still waiting for end-of-year fundraising reports from several federal campaigns, most notably those of Sen. Cory Gardner and Democratic Senate challenger Andrew Romanoff. If both campaigns wait as long as possible to file their reports, you probably won’t hear anything about the numbers until Saturday.

 

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Get More Smarter on Thursday (January 30)

On this day in 1933, Adolf Hitler was sworn-in as Chancellor of Germany. It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Why was #CoverUpCory trending nationally on Twitter on Wednesday? Because Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) announced — after months of dodging the issue — that he opposes calling witnesses in the Senate impeachment trial of President Trump.

Earlier this week, Gardner said that he had “approached every aspect of this grave constitutional duty with the respect and attention required by law, and with the seriousness our oath requires.” He apparently forgot to add the part, “but only for two weeks.” Gardner really just wants this all to go away.

Meanwhile, the Senate impeachment trial continues today, with Republicans looking to wrap things up in the next couple of days as long as they can prevent four elephants in their ranks from voting to hear from new witnesses.

 

President Trump’s attorneys presented a brazen new strategy on Wednesday in the Senate impeachment trial. As Aaron Blake writes for The Washington Post:

A decade after being acquitted of murder, Alan Dershowitz’s former client O.J. Simpson questionably planned a book and a TV special titled, “If I Did It, Here’s How It Happened.”

On Wednesday, Dershowitz assisted in a novel defense for his current client, President Trump: If he did it, it’s still okay. [Pols emphasis]

As The Post’s Erica Werner, Karoun Demirjian and Elise Viebeck write, Trump’s legal team advanced an exceptionally broad defense of Trump’s actions at Wednesday’s Q&A session of the impeachment trial. The most striking parts of that defense came when they entertained the idea that Trump was indeed out for personal political gain when he asked Ukraine to investigate former vice president Joe Biden, a political rival, and his son Hunter Biden — despite long-standing denials that he was — and suggested even that that would be aboveboard.

It was almost as if they are girding for what might come from former national security adviser John Bolton.

In a separate story, The Washington Post points out that Trump’s attorneys notably refused to answer two very important questions.

As NBC News reports, legal experts are aghast at Dershowitz’s logic:

Dershowitz argued Wednesday that if a president engaged in a quid pro quo arrangement for their own political benefit, it is not impeachable because all politicians believe that their elections are in the public interest…

…Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of the University of California, Berkeley, law school, said he thought Dershowitz’s argument was “absurd and outrageous.”

“It means that a president could break any law or abuse any power and say that it was for the public interest because the public interest would be served by his or her election,” he said.

And Sanford Levinson, a University of Texas law professor, said Dershowitz’s argument was “on its face, preposterous.”

And yet…Senate Republicans are eating it up.
► Fundraising reports for federal campaigns are due to be filed before the end of the day on Friday, January 31. While many candidates for federal office in Colorado have already made their end-of-year and Q4 2019 fundraising numbers public, we’re still waiting to find out results from the campaigns of Sen. Cory Gardner and Democratic Senate challenger Andrew Romanoff. If both campaigns wait as long as possible to file their reports, you probably won’t hear anything about the numbers until Saturday.

 

► The Colorado State Senate is again debating legislation that would end the death penalty in Colorado. House Majority Leader Alec Garnett discusses this bill and other hot items under the Gold Dome in this week’s episode of The Get More Smarter Podcast.

 

 

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The Get More Smarter Podcast: #CoverUpCory

This week on The Get More Smarter Podcast, your regular (relatively) host Jason Bane is joined by Alan Franklin and producer extraordinaire Ethan Black to discuss the latest impeachment news — we had to come back and record twice just to keep up — as well as #CoverUpCory Gardner, John Bolton, and next week’s Iowa caucuses. Later, House Majority Leader Alec Garnett joins us to update the latest news on the Colorado legislative session and to provide his “lock of the week” for those of you laying down bets on the Super Bowl “Big Game” this weekend.

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

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The Get More Smarter Podcast: Colorado’s Critical Role on Choice

This week on The Get More Smarter Podcast, Ian Silverii has a baby (well, not on the podcast), so Alan Franklin joins Jason Bane to talk about Sen. Cory Gardner getting hammered by national reporters; how Jon Caldara getting canned from The Denver Post epitomizes a larger problem for Colorado Republicans; and how Big Potato picked up a smashing victory. Later, journalist Madeleine Schmidt joins Alan and Jason to discuss her reporting for Jezebel about Colorado’s important role as a safe-haven for women facing difficult decisions about abortions later in pregnancy.

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

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Get More Smarter on Thursday (January 16)

Happy “National Nothing Day.” We’re not sure if you are supposed to celebrate or not. It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► And so it begins. From The Washington Post:

The historic impeachment trial of President Trump got underway Thursday with the arrival in the Senate of the seven House managers to formally present the two charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

John G. Roberts Jr., chief justice of the United States, is headed to the Senate later Thursday, where he is expected to be sworn in to preside over the trial focused on the president’s conduct toward Ukraine. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has said the trial will get underway “in earnest” next week.

Fallout also continued Thursday from new allegations by Lev Parnas, a former associate of Trump’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani, that Trump knew of his efforts to dig up dirt in Ukraine that could benefit Trump politically. The impeachment charges — abuse of power and obstruction of Congress — center on the allegation that Trump withheld military aid and a White House meeting to pressure Ukraine to investigate his political rivals, including former vice president Joe Biden.

The Washington Post has more on the latest allegations from Lev Parnas that do not look good for President Trump.

 

► The Government Accountability Office says the Trump administration broke the law in attempting to restrict foreign aid to Ukraine. From the New York Times:

The Trump administration violated the law in withholding security assistance aid to Ukraine, a nonpartisan federal watchdog agency said on Thursday, weighing in on a decision by President Trump that is at the heart of the impeachment case against him.

The Government Accountability Office said the White House’s Office of Management and Budget violated the Impoundment Control Act when it withheld nearly $400 million for “a policy reason,” even though the funds had been allocated by Congress. The decision was directed by the president himself, and during the House impeachment inquiry, administration officials testified that they had raised concerns about its legality to no avail.

“Faithful execution of the law does not permit the president to substitute his own policy priorities for those that Congress has enacted into law,” the G.A.O. wrote. “The withholding was not a programmatic delay.”

“Trump did nothing wrong” was never a sustainable argument, but it has become downright silly now.

 

► Ahead of the Senate impeachment trial, all 100 U.S. Senators will take an “oath of impartiality” given by Chief Justice John Roberts that will go something like this:

Getty Images

 

Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) continues to run in terror from reporter questions about impeachment and President Trump, though late Wednesday he veered away from pretending to have not seen the articles of impeachment so that he could pay lip service to the idea of being “an impartial juror.” Meanwhile, it seems even some of the more unflappable Republican Senators are starting to snap under the pressure of trying to support a corrupt President:

 

► Congressman Jason Crow (D-Aurora) is getting lots of attention as one of the seven House impeachment “managers” appointed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday. You can read more from The Denver Post, The Colorado Sun/CBS4, Denver7, and Colorado Public Radio.

Elsewhere, Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Denver) played a part in the historic decision to transmit articles of impeachment to the U.S. Senate.

 

 

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Get More Smarter on Wednesday (January 15)

Happy “Korean Alphabet Day.” Please celebrate responsibly, or whatever. It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► The House of Representatives will vote today to send articles of impeachment to the U.S. Senate. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi made the announcement today and introduced the seven House Members who will serve as “impeachment managers.” One of them is Colorado’s own Rep. Jason Crow (D-Aurora).

The Washington Post breaks down how Crow ended up being among Pelosi’s chosen few:

The Democrat from Colorado is in his first term as Congress. Before Congress, he served as an Army Ranger, leading combat units in Iraq and Afghanistan. He was also partner in a law firm in Colorado. According to the Almanac of American Politics, he wasn’t a prosecutor, but he “conducted internal investigations nationwide, responded to emergency events and handled a wide-range of government inquiries.” He also represents the kind of district — a suburban one in a swing state — that Democrats will need to hold onto in November to keep their majorities.

He is the only manager who does not sit on any of the impeachment inquiry committees, but he had a role in swaying Pelosi to authorize the impeachment inquiry. He was one of seven House freshmen with national security backgrounds who co-authored a Washington Post op-ed calling Trump’s actions on Ukraine impeachable, a move that signaled a significant momentum shift within the Democratic caucus. Pelosi announced the impeachment inquiry a day after that published.

Crow’s selection provides a stark contrast to the impeachment involvement of another key Colorado elected official: Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma). As Justin Wingerter writes for The Denver Post, Gardner just keeps ducking questions about President Trump:

Gardner’s office declined again Tuesday to answer questions from The Denver Post about whether he would support a motion to dismiss the two charges against Trump or vote to allow witnesses in a Senate trial that’s expected to begin next week. Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Mitt Romney of Utah have said they want to keep open the option of hearing from witnesses after opening arguments.

CBS reported Monday that the White House expects at least four Republicans will vote to call witnesses in the Senate trial. That “possibly” includes Gardner, according to the report, though he has said nothing to indicate that he will. There are 53 Senate Republicans, and a simple majority of 51 votes will be needed to pass trial rules.

Silence has become the norm for Gardner on the topic of impeachment. His office previously declined to say whether witnesses should be called and whether he agrees with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s “total coordination” with the White House.

The New York Times apparently wasn’t able to corner the squirrelly Senator, either:

In the Capitol on Tuesday, Mr. Gardner was making himself scarce. When Republicans wrapped up a luncheon featuring a discussion of trial procedure, he zipped out a back door and headed for a little-used elevator, avoiding a throng of waiting reporters.

“I’m sorry, he’s got to get going,” an aide to Mr. Gardner told a reporter who followed him, as the elevator doors opened and the senator slipped inside. Then Mr. Gardner jumped in, begging off any discussion of whether he could be the elusive fourth vote who could upend hopes of a quick acquittal of Mr. Trump.

 

► Evidence continues to mount against President Trump ahead of a Senate impeachment trial. As Jennifer Rubin writes for The Washington Post:

One can only imagine what evidence we have yet to see during the impeachment proceedings against President Trump. With each new tranche of evidence — including emails regarding the hold on military aid to Ukraine and now documents from Lev Parnas, an associate of Trump lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani’s — the conclusion that Trump abused power and obstructed the investigation becomes incontrovertible…

…Constitutional scholar Laurence Tribe tells me the new evidence is ” jaw-dropping” and “highly incriminating of both Giuliani and Trump.”

 

► Candidates for the Democratic Presidential nomination met for another debate on Tuesday in Des Moines, Iowa — just three weeks ahead of the Iowa caucuses. Who won and who lost the big debate? Here are a few takes from The Washington Post, CNN, Politico, The New York Times, and The Des Moines Register.

 

► Today is the deadline for open enrollment for health care coverage through Connect for Health Colorado.

 

 

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Get More Smarter on Tuesday (January 14)

Happy “Feast of the Ass” day. Please celebrate responsibly, or whatever. It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► The House of Representatives will vote on Wednesday on the issue of sending articles of impeachment to the U.S. Senate in advance of a Senate trial on President Trump’s misconduct. Senate Majority Leader “Moscow” Mitch McConnell, meanwhile, says he still opposes the idea of calling witnesses in a trial — yeah, read that sentence again — as word leaks that some Republican Senators might support such an idea. From The Hill newspaper:

McConnell on Tuesday knocked talk of calling additional impeachment witnesses, arguing that Democrats want the Senate to go “fishing” during the soon-to-start impeachment trial.

“If the existing case is strong, there’s no need for the judge and the jury to reopen the investigation. If the existing case is weak, House Democrats should not have impeached in the first place,” McConnell said from the Senate floor…

…A small number have suggested they are open to calling witnesses midtrial, but they’re getting public pushback from their conservative colleagues, who warn that if Republicans support calling former national security adviser John Boltonthey also have to support calling witnesses Trump might want such as Hunter Biden or the whistleblower at the center of the House impeachment inquiry.

Democrats are planning to force votes on calling four witnesses, including Bolton and acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney. They need four GOP senators to successfully call a witness.

CBS News reported late Monday that Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) might be among those Republican Senators who are supportive of calling witnesses in a Senate trial — though the odds are long that Gardner will do anything other than whatever McConnell tells him to do. A recent poll from Quinnipiac University found that 66% of Americans support the idea of witness testimony from former National Security Adviser John Bolton.

Elsewhere, James Hohmann of The Washington Post ponders 10 questions now that the House is poised to send impeachment articles to the Senate.

 

► A Republican group called “The Lincoln Project” absolutely blasted Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) with a new advertisement on Monday. A subsequent “Truth Test” from 9News was equally brutal.

Says 9News anchor/reporter Kyle Clark: “Calling Senator Gardner a weak, impotent, small man? Let’s assume they’re speaking figuratively, and label that opinion.”


► Candidates for the Democratic Presidential nomination (most of them, anyway) will debate once again tonight in Des Moines, Iowa — just three weeks ahead of the Iowa caucuses.

 

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The Get More Smarter Podcast: Weak, Frightened, and Impotent

The Get More Smarter Podcast drops its 25th episode with a look at a killer new (Republican-led) advertisement against Sen. Cory Gardner; the Trump administration makes Iran foreign policy more problematic for Colorado Republicans; and we preview the first full week of the Colorado legislative session with another discussion featuring House Majority Leader Alec Garnett.

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

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Get More Smarter on Friday (January 10)

The First Son-in-Law is 38 years old today. It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► The House of Representatives voted on Thursday to limit President Trump’s ability to take unilateral military action without Congressional approval. As CNN reports:

The vote was 224-194. Republican Reps. Matt Gaetz of Florida, Thomas Massie of Kentucky and Francis Rooney of Florida crossed party lines to vote in favor while Democratic Reps. Max Rose of New York, Ben McAdams of Utah, Anthony Brindisi of New York, Joe Cunningham of South Carolina, Elaine Luria of Virginia, Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey, Kendra Horn of Oklahoma and Stephanie Murphy of Florida voted against the resolution.

Now that the resolution has passed the House it will next go to the Senate.

Freshman Democratic Rep. Elissa Slotkin of Michigan, a former CIA analyst and senior Defense Department official, is the sponsor of the resolution, which calls on the President “to terminate the use of United States Armed Forces to engage in hostilities in or against Iran” unless Congress declares war or enacts “specific statutory authorization” for the use of armed forces.

You read that correctly — Florida Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz voted IN FAVOR of the resolution.

Of course, the Senate is where all good things go to die; it is unlikely that Senate Majority Leader “Moscow” Mitch McConnell will even entertain a vote on the matter if he can avoid it. Some Republican Senators have expressed support for a “War Powers Resolution” after a disastrous White House briefing on Iran earlier this week.

Meanwhile, President Trump may have decided to kill Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani to perhaps appease Republican Senators whose support he needs in a coming impeachment trial.

 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says her chamber may send impeachment documents over to the U.S. Senate as soon as next week. From the New York Times:

In a letter to colleagues Friday morning, the speaker moved to end a weekslong impasse over the impeachment process that had left the president’s fate in limbo. She did not announce the members of the team she will ask to manage the case, but said the House should be ready to vote to appoint them sometime next week.

“I have asked Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler to be prepared to bring to the floor next week a resolution to appoint managers and transmit articles of impeachment to the Senate,” Ms. Pelosi wrote after lawmakers departed the Capitol for the weekend. “I will be consulting with you at our Tuesday House Democratic Caucus meeting on how we proceed further.”

Once the House votes and the articles are transmitted, the Senate’s proceeding, only the third impeachment trial of a sitting president in American history, will begin promptly — as soon as Wednesday based on Ms. Pelosi’s timeline.

 

► If you thought that Republican lawmakers in Colorado might be more reluctant to embrace their lunatic right-wing base after last year’s string of recall failures…well, we know you probably didn’t think that. The GOP still loves itself some lunatics.

Meanwhile, Colorado Republicans made it very clear during Thursday’s “State of the State” address that they have zero fucks to give about immigrants or refugees in Colorado.

For more on Gov. Polis’ “State of the State” speech, check this recap from The Denver Post or this annotated version of the entire speech via The Colorado Sun.

 

► Don’t miss the first 2020 episode of The Get More Smarter Podcast, featuring an in-depth interview with House Majority Leader Alec Garnett.

 

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The Get More Smarter Podcast: More Smarter Legislating


In the first 2020 episode of The Get More Smarter Podcast, we kick off the Colorado legislative session from the State Capitol with House Majority Leader Alec Garnett. We also discuss Iran and impeachment (and how Sen. Cory Gardner is screwed on both), and Rep. Garnett faces off against Ian Silverii in the world’s best worst game, “Duke or Donald.” 

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

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Get More Smarter on Tuesday (January 7)

Merry Christmas, Russia! Please celebrate responsibly. It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► The Colorado legislature kicks off its 2020 session on Wednesday. Right-wing nutcases are descending on the State Capitol in preparation.

State Sen. Lois Court (D-Denver) will not be joining her colleagues in the Senate chambers. Court announced on Monday that she was resigning her seat after being diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disease known as Guillain-Barré syndrome. From The Denver Post:

Court will step down Jan. 16, and her job will be filled by a Senate District 31 vacancy committee, the caucus said. Court’s seat is up for election this year, and she previously said she would not seek another term.

State Rep. Chris Hansen, D-Denver, declared in October that he’d run for the seat, but he says now that he’ll seek appointment to the seat via the vacancy committee. Another announced candidate for Court’s seat, Maria Orms, also plans to seek appointment via the committee. If Hansen is tabbed to replace Court in the Senate, another committee would have to meet to fill his House seat.

Elsewhere in pre-session preparation news, House Democrats announced new committee assignments and Republicans say they want to focus on transportation funding legislation. The Colorado Sun previews the session with a Top 10 list.

 

As CNBC reports, there is still much confusion about whether or not the United States has agreed to withdraw military forces from Iraq:

Iraq’s Prime Minister said that the U.S. military sent a letter regarding American troop withdrawal from the country, Reuters reported on Tuesday, further deepening confusion over plans for troops in the region.

It’s the latest in a messy string of events sparked by a U.S. airstrike that killed Iran’s top general.

Iraq’s Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi said that his country received an English and Arabic version of the letter but that they were not identical. Therefore, Iraq requested clarifications on U.S. plans.

The news comes on the heels of the Pentagon’s admission that the letter informing Iraq’s Defense Ministry that U.S.-led coalition troops would leave Iraq “was a mistake.”

This headline from New York Magazine sums up the entire mess nicely:

► Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) continues to avoid talking about pretty much anything. We recapped the last three months in the world of #NoCommentCory. As Megan Verlee of Colorado Public Radio notes, reporters have caught on to Gardner’s persistent obfuscation.

Meanwhile, Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo says that Gardner’s silence on impeachment is precisely the reason journalists should keep asking him questions:

Take Cory Gardner. Is he going to come out for a real trial? Probably not. But he’s hiding in the background now because he wants to be able to present himself as independent-minded and moderate next November. It’s folly to give him that chance. Democrats should be focusing on him nonstop, making clear in Colorado and nationally that it really is all up to him. It’s not about some vague thing called Republicans or the Senate GOP caucus. It’s about him. He could change the equation himself, very quickly.

As Politico reports, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is preparing to move ahead on setting rules for an impeachment trial without the input of Senate Democrats.

 

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Get More Smarter on Monday (January 6)

Welcome back to your desk. There’s a lot happening with the holiday season in our rear-view mirrors, so 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/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Former National Security Adviser John Bolton announced today that he would agree to testify in front of the U.S. Senate on matters of impeachment if called as a witness. Aaron Blake of The Washington Post explains why this is such a big development:

Bolton is among the most potentially significant witnesses who have yet to testify about the Ukraine scandal. He was perhaps the highest-profile voice of dissent internally, objecting to the “drug deal” that he said Rudolph W. Giuliani was cooking up, according to testimony from Fiona Hill, the White House’s former top Russia adviser. Bolton’s attorney has also said that, as of early November, Bolton knew about “many relevant meetings” that hadn’t been testified to. Sources tell The Washington Post that the testimony would be damaging to Trump. [Pols emphasis]

It is not clear if the Senate will actually move forward with a true impeachment trial of President Trump that includes high-profile witnesses, but Bolton’s signal that he is open to testifying could open the door for him to be called as a witness in the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives. Chris Cillizza of CNN says that Bolton’s statement today puts new pressure on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

 

The U.S. Senate is reconvening today after a couple weeks off, and the topic of an impeachment trial is still at the top of the to-do list. As Justin Wingerter reports for The Denver Post, Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) remains as tight-lipped as ever:

Gardner’s every move is being closely watched as calendars flip to 2020, a year that will decide his political future. And in the Senate, where impeachment rules will require a simple majority vote, he can play the role of decider within the narrow Senate Republican majority. But he and his office have not answered questions about his impeachment preferences.

Gardner’s silence dates back months. His public appearances, never numerous in 2019, were rarer still this fall. He has avoided conservative talk radio, once a political safe space, along with most news media. His office agreed to arrange an interview with The Denver Post in Washington, D.C., during the House impeachment process, but later said he was unavailable and instead emailed a statement criticizing that process.

 

 President Trump is reiterating threats to attack Iranian sites of cultural significance amid growing concerns about a potential war with Iran. As NBC News reports:

President Donald Trump dug in Sunday night on his threat to attack Iranian cultural sites if Tehran retaliates for the killing of Gen. Qassem Soleimani, one of Iran’s top military and intelligence officials.

Speaking aboard Air Force One on his return to Washington on Sunday from a holiday at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, Trump said: “They’re allowed to kill our people. They’re allowed to torture and maim our people. They’re allowed to use roadside bombs and blow up our people. And we’re not allowed to touch their cultural sites. It doesn’t work that way.”

Trump was responding to backlash over the threat he made via Twitter on Saturday to attack 52 targets if Iran retaliates and his claim in a tweet that those targets would be “at a very high level & important to Iran & the Iranian culture,” according to a pool report.

Asked about fears Iran might retaliate, the president told reporters: “If it happens, it happens. If they do anything, there will be major retaliation.”

Meanwhile, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi plans to introduce a war powers resolution in Congress intended to make sure that President Trump does not increase military hostilities with Iran without Congressional approval.

Colorado Public Radio queries Colorado’s Congressional delegation on the killing of Gen. Qassem Soleimani.

 

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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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Get More Smarter on Thursday (December 19)

If you’re counting today, there are six shopping days left until Christmas. It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► “Trump Impeached.” If you picked up a newspaper anywhere in the United States today, there is a good chance this was the headline at the top of the page.

Collage via The Guardian newspaper

As The Washington Post explains, the impeachment spotlight now turns to the U.S. Senate:

The day after Trump was impeached by the House for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, questions continued to swirl about the timing and scope of an anticipated Senate trial regarding his conduct toward Ukraine.

House leaders suggested a possible delay until they can get a guarantee of a fair trial in the Senate. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), meanwhile, in a floor speech, sharply criticized the House process as rushed and unfair and suggested that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is “too afraid” to transmit “their shoddy work product.”

Meanwhile, Trump, who is just the third president in U.S. history to be impeached, praised Republican unity Thursday in opposing the move, claiming that is “what people are talking about.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is apparently waiting to send articles of impeachment to the U.S. Senate until she has some assurances that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has agreed to some basic parameters about how a Senate trial might proceed.

Colorado’s Congressional delegation split along party lines on both impeachment questions. Via The Denver Post:

“Unfortunately, President Trump has left us no choice,” Rep. Joe Neguse, a Lafayette Democrat, said on the House floor Wednesday. “The fact of the matter is, the president abused the power of his office and invited a foreign country to interfere in our elections. In so doing, he undermined the sanctity of the free and fair elections upon which our republic rests.”

Meanwhile, Greeley Republican Rep. Ken Buck — who also serves as the State Republican Party Chairman — continues to promote his strange argument that virtually every other President in American history could have been impeached based on the same standards as those used in allegations against President Trump.

 

► President Trump spent Wednesday evening at a campaign rally in Michigan, where he inexplicably suggested that the late Rep. John Dingell of Detroit was “looking up” from Hell.

 

 Late in the day on Wednesday, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a long-awaited ruling on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act. Politico explains the court’s decision to punt on the broader question of whether the ACA can remain in place:

…the appeals court ruling largely ducked the central question of whether the rest of the Affordable Care Act remained valid after Congress removed the penalty for not having health insurance. The three-judge panel instead sent the case back to a Texas federal judge, who previously threw out the entire law, to reconsider how much of Obamacare could survive.

The high-stakes ruling keeps the legal threat to Obamacare alive while reducing the likelihood the Supreme Court could render a final verdict on the law before the next elections. Still, the appeals court’s decision could renew pressure on President Donald Trump and Republicans to explain how they will preserve insurance protections for preexisting conditions after failing to agree on an Obamacare replacement for years.

 

Don’t miss this week’s episode of The Get More Smarter Podcast, featuring an exclusive interview with Governor Jared Polis.

 

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The Get More Smarter Podcast: Governor Jared Polis

Jason Bane (left) and Gov. Jared Polis

This week on the Get More Smarter Podcast, hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii sit down with Gov. Jared Polis to talk about how state government can be more nimble than its federal counterpart; the upcoming legislative battle over a health care public option; and why Colorado can win the great green chile battle. 

Later in the show, Jason and Ian discuss next steps on impeachment; Rep. Ken Buck’s congressional truancy; and President Trump’s claim that he’ll be visiting Colorado “a lot” in the near future.

The Get More Smarter Podcast is available on Apple Podcasts, Buzzcloud, Spotify,
and Overcast. You can also follow the Podcast on Twitter (@MoreSmarterShow) and Facebook. For questions or comments, hit us up at AngryRants@GetMoreSmarter.com.

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Get More Smarter on Wednesday (December 11)

Happy “Indiana Day.” Please celebrate responsibly. It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

Jesse Paul of The Colorado Sun examines a question we have long pondered here at Colorado Pols: Does Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) have a breaking point when it comes to his fealty to President Trump?

Gardner made an early endorsement of Trump’s 2020 reelection campaign. He has a direct line of communication to the president — they speak on the phone fairly regularly. And he has refused to answer questions about whether Trump’s interactions with Ukraine’s president — which are now the subject of impeachment proceedings — were wrong…

…In a recent interview, Gardner declined to answer questions about his views on Trump and instead attacked Democrats. He has said, when explaining his support of the president, that he could never support someone who backs policies he said are socialist, including government-run health care or the Green New Deal.

Asked whether there is a red line that Trump could cross that would lead him to abandon his support of the president, Gardner didn’t directly answer.

There is a LOT of information to absorb about Gardner in this story — make sure to read the entire thing yourself — including some very unflattering comments from Colorado voters:

Alan Schwartz, another unaffiliated voter who said he leans left but has backed Republicans in the past, made a thumbs-down motion when asked about Gardner. “I feel he is a butt-kisser,” said Schwartz, adding that he was upset about Gardner’s support of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation. “He says he’ll do one thing and then flip over and go with Trump. I don’t trust him at all.” [Pols emphasis]

 

The House Judiciary Committee today begins the process of “marking up” articles of impeachment against President Trump.

9News runs down how Colorado elected officials feel about impeachment, none of which will surprise you. Congressman Scott Tipton (R-Cortez) announced via Twitter that he has already made up his mind on an impeachment vote:

President Trump, meanwhile, says that abuse of power “is not even a crime.”

 

 Attorney General Bill Barr has been trying to help President Trump come up with evidence that the FBI was illegally targeting his 2016 campaign by investigating contacts with foreign officials. But as The Washington Post explains, the facts keep winning out:

Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz said Wednesday that a senior prosecutor failed to convince him that the FBI’s 2016 investigation of President Trump’s campaign was improperly opened, revealing new details about internal tension among senior officials over the politically explosive case.

At a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Horowitz was asked by the panel’s senior Democrat, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (Calif.), if Attorney General William P. Barr or his hand-picked prosecutor on the issue, Connecticut U.S. Attorney John Durham, offered anything to change the inspector general’s view that the FBI had a valid reason to open the probe in July 2016.

“No, we stand by our finding,” said Horowitz, who said he met in November with Durham to discuss the findings in the inspector general’s 434-page report released Monday…

…Horowitz’s testimony marked his first public pushback to Barr and Durham, and further revealed the depths of the disagreement among senior law enforcement officials about Horowitz’s findings. Before the report was released publicly, The Washington Post reported that Barr disputed Horowitz’s conclusion that the FBI had sufficient grounds to open the investigation.

 

► Editorial pages across the country are coming to the same conclusion: President Trump must be impeached.

 

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Get More Smarter on Friday (December 6)

Saturday is Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day; Gov. Jared Polis has ordered flags to be lowered to half staff from sunrise to sunset tomorrow. It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Will President Trump and/or his attorneys participate in impeachment hearings in front of the House Judiciary Committee? As The Washington Post reports, Trump has until 5:00 today to make that decision…but might choose to wait until the issue reaches the U.S. Senate:

A White House spokesman said Friday that Trump “welcomes” a trial in the Republican-led Senate and plans to bring forward “serious witnesses,” including the anonymous whistleblower who sparked the impeachment inquiry, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), and Joe and Hunter Biden.

“If it goes there, he wants a trial,” White House spokesman Hogan Gidley said during an appearance on Fox News. “He welcomes it. He wants the American people to see the truth. . . . He absolutely wants to bring forward serious witnesses, like the whistleblower, like Adam Schiff, like Hunter and Joe Biden. It they’re going to do this, if the Democrats want this fight, it’s something the president is willing to have.”

“He welcomes it.” That seems like a bit of a stretch.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced on Thursday that she had instructed her Democratic colleagues to begin preparing articles of impeachment. Justin Wingerter of The Denver Post wrote up one of those “here’s what officials on each side have to say” stories that doesn’t tell you anything you didn’t already know.

 

 Former New York City Mayor and newly-minted Democratic Presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg was in Aurora on Thursday to discuss his plans for addressing gun violence in the United States. As the Associated Press reports, Bloomberg is “calling for a ban on all assault weapons, mandatory permits for gun purchasers and a new position in the White House to coordinate gun violence prevention.”

 

► At least four people are dead after a shooting at a naval base in Pensacola, Florida.

 

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Get More Smarter on Wednesday (December 4)

Today is “National Cookie Day.” Please celebrate responsibly. Now, 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/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► The House Judiciary Committee today began its role in impeachment hearings by hearing testimony from prominent legal experts as to whether evidence unearthed thus far constitutes impeachable conduct by President Trump. Today’s hearings come one day after the House Intelligence Committee released a thorough report on findings from weeks of impeachment hearings and investigations. From The Washington Post:

“Ultimately the reason the Constitution provided for impeachment was to anticipate a situation like the one that is before you today,” Harvard Law School professor Noah Feldman testified. “If we cannot impeach a president who uses his power for personal advantage, we no longer live in a democracy, we live in a monarchy or a dictatorship.”

The questioning had the air of an introductory constitutional law class focused on impeachment – including a featured chart listing the A, the B, and the C of high crimes and misdemeanors: Abuse of Power, Betrayal of National Interest, and Corruption of Elections.

House Democrats’ committee counsel Norm Eisen asked the law professors to explain whether it was necessary for Trump to have committed a statutory crime to be impeached. University of North Carolina law professor Michael Gerhardt said no. The scale of Trump’s obstruction was an abuse, he stressed, because it “torpedoes” the separation of powers in the Constitution.

“If what we’re talking about is not impeachable, then nothing is impeachable,” he said.

One of the more dramatic moments in early testimony came after Republican Rep. Doug Collins questioned the knowledge and preparation of the legal experts testifying today. Stanford Law Professor Pamela Karlan was incensed at the suggestion:

“That everything I know about our Constitution and its values and my review of the evidentiary record and here, Mr. Collins, I would like to say to you, sir, that I read transcripts of every one of the witnesses who appeared in the live hearing because I would not speak about these things without reviewing the facts, so I’m insulted by the suggestion that as a law professor I don’t care about those facts.”

Colorado Rep. Joe Neguse (D-Lafayette) and Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley) are both members of the House Judiciary Committee and were in attendance this morning…though Buck must have had something more important to do later:

It was revealed last week that Buck, who also serves as the Chairman of the Colorado Republican Party, blew off most of the prior impeachment hearings that he was invited to attend as a member of the House Judiciary Committee.

 

President Trump is making a fool of himself and the United States at the NATO summit in London, and foreign leaders are having a hard time ignoring the circus. As CNN explains:

After President Donald Trump called him “two-faced,” Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, admitted Wednesday that he and other world leaders were talking about the US President when they were caught on camera at a Buckingham Palace event the night before.

The video, which has gone viral, shows British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, French President Emmanuel Macron, Trudeau and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte appearing to have a laugh about Trump’s behavior during the summit. But none of the leaders explicitly named Trump.

“Last night I made reference to the fact that there was an unscheduled press conference before my meeting with President Trump. I was happy to be part of it but it was certainly notable,” Trudeau said during a Wednesday press conference.

As The Washington Post adds, Trump was clearly stung by the reaction of his counterparts:

Trump was later caught on an audio recording bragging to an unidentified summit attendee, “That was funny when I said that guy was two-faced.”

CLICK HERE to watch the video of foreign leaders expressing exasperation with Trump during a conversation at Buckingham Palace.

 

► North Korea is making vague threats toward the United States about expecting a “Christmas Gift” in the upcoming weeks. From CNN:

The ominous comments, which some have interpreted as a sign that North Korea could resume long-distance missile tests, comes as the clock ticks closer to the country’s self-imposed end-of-year deadline for nuclear negotiations with the Trump administration.
Talks between the two sides have appeared to be in a rut in recent months, with North Korea conducting several shorter-range missile tests.

In a statement translated on the state news agency, Ri Thae Song, a first vice minister at the North Korean Foreign Ministry working on US affairs, accused US policy makers of leveraging talks with Kim Jong Un for domestic political gain.

“The dialogue touted by the US is, in essence, nothing but a foolish trick hatched to keep the DPRK bound to dialogue and use it in favor of the political situation and election in the US,” Ri said, using the acronym for North Korea’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

“It is entirely up to the US what Christmas gift it will select to get,” added Ri.

Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma), the self-professed “leader in the Senate” on North Korea, STILL hasn’t said a public word about this or anything related to strained U.S. relations with South Korea.

Gardner also won’t comment on Trump’s claims of election interference by Ukraine, but he will still say that Russia should be labeled a “state sponsor of terror.”

 

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