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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Get More Smarter on Tuesday (December 3)

There are 21 shopping days left until Christmas; you may officially begin to panic. In the meantime, 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…

President Trump was talking to reporters in London today alongside French President Emmanuel Macron when he announced that there is no end in sight to his trade war with China. You could literally watch the Dow Jones tick downward as Trump was speaking. From CNBC:

U.S. equities sank on Tuesday after President Donald Trump suggested he may want to delay a trade deal with China until after the 2020 presidential election.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell more than 400 points in morning trading, led lower by trade-vulnerable Apple, Caterpillar and Boeing. The S&P 500 slid 1% amid losses in chip stocks like Nvidia, Micron and Advanced Micro Devices. The Nasdaq Composite lost more than 1%…

…“In some ways, I like the idea of waiting until after the election for the China deal, but they want to make a deal now and we will see whether or not the deal is going to be right,” Trump told reporters earlier on Tuesday.

When asked if he had a deal deadline, he added: “I have no deadline, no … In some ways, I think it is better to wait until after the election if you want to know the truth.”

When informed about the damage inflicted by his comments, Trump later told reporters that he “doesn’t watch the stock market,” which is pretty silly.

► As The Washington Post reports, President Trump made sure to hurt American diplomacy as much as he was harming the stock market today:

President Trump on Tuesday slammed as “very, very nasty” and “very disrespectful” recent comments by his French counterpart about the diminished state of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization alliance.

Referring to comments President Emmanuel Macron made last month in an interview with the Economist magazine — in which Macron described the “brain death” of NATO resulting from America’s failure to consult with its allies — Trump attacked Macron on the first day of the NATO 70th anniversary summit in London, calling the comments “very insulting.”

“You just can’t go around making statements like that about NATO,” Trump said, sitting next to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at a one-on-one meeting between the two leaders Tuesday morning. Though Trump himself has long been a vocal critic of NATO — a combative stance that has alarmed Western allies and seemed to prompt Macron’s comments — Trump took umbrage at the French assessment of the alliance, and he depicted France as the beneficiary of American largesse.

Macron, for his part, was fact-checking Trump in real time as the discussion unfolded in front of reporters.

 

► The House Intelligence Committee will likely vote today to move its impeachment inquiry report to the House Judiciary Committee as the latter prepares to begin drawing up articles of impeachment.

 

► “Nuh-uh!” That’s essentially what House Republicans are saying in their latest defense of President Trump. As Politico reports:

According to a draft copy of the GOP’s formal rebuttal, Republicans will assert that Democrats failed to unearth evidence that Trump committed impeachable offenses when he asked Ukraine’s president to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden.

The Republicans’ 123-page report largely reiterates their previous defenses of the president and blasts House Democrats for pursuing impeachment, painting the effort as an attempt to reverse the results of the 2016 presidential election. The report forms the basis of their response to allegations that Trump abused his power to solicit foreign assistance in the 2020 election…

…House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) dismissed the GOP report’s conclusions as “intended for an audience of one,” and said it “ignores the voluminous evidence” against the president.

In response to Schiff’s comments, House Republicans declared, “I know you are, but what am I?”

The Denver Post, meanwhile, has more on how two Colorado Congressmen are about to take a center stage in the impeachment inquiry.

 

► Check out this week’s episode of The Get More Smarter Podcast, with Alan Franklin filling in for Ian Silverii and Jason Bane filling in for dead air.

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The Get More Smarter Podcast: No Defense? Just Make Stuff Up!

This week on The Get More Smarter Podcast, ProgressNow Colorado Political Director Alan Franklin joins Jason Bane to talk about a new phase in impeachment proceedings that includes a Colorado connection; legislative plans to push forward on gun safety measures; and how Sen. Cory Gardner’s big BLM deal just keeps looking worse. Later, Alan performs well in “Duke or Donald,” the game that nobody can really win.

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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The Get More Smarter Podcast: Jim Jordan’s Jibber Jabber

This week on The Get More Smarter Podcast, Republicans turn to “The Chewbacca Defense” on behalf of President Trump; Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley) doesn’t bother to show up to impeachment hearings; Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) still hasn’t said anything about either Korea; Andrew Romanoff weaves a complicated narrative in the U.S. Senate race; and Indivisible leader Katie Farnan plays America’s worst favorite game, “Duke or Donald.”

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 Tuesday (November 26)

Happy Snowmageddon; 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…

►  A federal judge ruled late Monday that former White House counsel Don McGahn cannot be shielded from Congressional testimony by the Trump administration. As The Washington Post explains, Monday’s ruling touches on a broader subject of executive power in the United States:

In her ruling that Don McGahn must comply with a congressional subpoena, U.S. District Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson of Washington goes to great lengths to illustrate how far out on a constitutional limb President Trump and Attorney General Bill Barr have crawled with their absolutist claims of executive power.

Jackson invokes “Animal Farm” as she dismisses the Justice Department’s position that the president alone has the authority to make unilateral determinations regarding whether he and his senior aides, current and former, will respond to, or defy, subpoenas from House committees during investigations of potential wrongdoing by his own administration.

“For a similar vantagepoint, see the circumstances described by George Orwell,” the judge writes in her 118-page decision. “All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others.”

House Democrats want the former White House counsel, who left his position in October 2018, to testify about the episodes of possible obstruction of justice that former special counsel Bob Mueller outlined in his report. They are debating whether to proceed with articles of impeachment related to the president’s alleged efforts to undermine that investigation. Jackson said McGahn can assert executive privilege when asked specific questions, but Trump cannot issue a blanket order to stop his former aide from showing up to testify.

“Compulsory appearance by dint of a subpoena is a legal construct, not a political one, and per the Constitution, no one is above the law,” she concludes. [Pols emphasis]

The Justice Department plans to appeal the ruling, because Trump minions clearly do believe that some people are “above the law.”

Chris Cillizza of CNN has more on the significance on Monday’s ruling:

Obviously, if you are McGahn, you have to now prepare yourself for at least the possibility that you will be asked — under oath — about your role in the potential obstruction of justice by Trump in Robert Mueller’s special counsel probe into Russian obstruction in the 2016 election. (McGahn is requesting a week-long stay so he can appeal the ruling.)

But if you are, say Guiliani or Mulvaney, this ruling has to give you pause. Yes, McGahn is a former White House employee while Mulvaney and Giuliani currently work for Trump. (Former national security adviser John Bolton, it’s worth noting, is also a former administration official who has not been subpoenaed, but who House investigators *really* want to talk to.)

Giuliani and Mulvaney could possibly hang their hats on the idea that Trump’s broad claim of executive privilege could well apply to them as active employees in a way that courts have ruled it doesn’t apply to McGahn. Maybe! But that line of reasoning took a hit on Monday — and will force anyone with an outstanding subpoena from Congress to reconsider their position at least somewhat in the coming days.

Predictably, President Trump took to his Twitter machine on Tuesday morning to declare that he actually wants more people to testify. Riiigghht.

 

A majority of Americans believe that President Trump should not only be impeached but removed from office by the U.S. Senate. Compare these numbers to public support for the impeachment and removal of Bill Clinton in 1998, which never even reached 30%.

 

Slade Gorton, a former Republican Senator from Washington, argues in a New York Times Op-Ed that there is more than enough information for the GOP to act on the impeachment of President Trump:

To my fellow Republicans, I give this grave and genuine warning: It’s not enough merely to dismiss the Ukraine investigation as a partisan witch hunt or to hide behind attacks against the “deep state,” or to try to find some reason to denounce every witness who steps forward, from decorated veterans to Trump megadonors.

History demands that we all wrestle with the facts at hand. They are unavoidable. Fifty years from now, history will not accept the position that impeachment was a referendum on the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi. It must be a verdict reached on the facts…

…Here’s what I know: Neither the country nor the Constitution is served by a partisan shouting match divorced from the facts, a process boycotted by one side refusing to engage on the merits. John Adams is still right 250 years later: Facts are stubborn things. Facts are what should determine whether a stubborn president stays in office. Republicans, don’t fight the process, follow the facts wherever they lead, and put country above party.

 

► The Denver City Council has approved a minimum wage increase, as Conrad Swanson reports for The Denver Post:

The new law requires employers to bump hourly employees to at least $12.85 on Jan. 1, with a second raise to $14.77 following at the start of 2021, and a third to $15.87 in 2022. After that, the new law mandates that it will then be adjusted annually for inflation using the Consumer Price Index.

Public comment was overwhelmingly, if not entirely, in favor of the law, which places Denver as the first Colorado city to raise the local minimum wage. Ultimately, the council voted 11-0…

…Initially, the ordinance proposed to mandate the raises in two tiers, reaching $15.87 by 2021, though that plan was mellowed after some criticized it as too aggressive or quick. Mayor Michael Hancock’s office later announced the three-tiered approach and the bill was introduced by Councilwoman Robin Kniech, who called it history in the making Monday night.

 

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The Get More Smarter Podcast: The Sideshow Bob Defense

This week on The Get More Smarter Podcast, Congressmen Ken Buck (R-Greeley) and Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs) test out some odd impeachment defense strategies; Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) celebrates two years without a town hall event; Colorado Republicans promote a pointless new ballot measure; and the “fairy godmother” of the #resistance, Jessica Zender, plays America’s worst favorite game show, “Duke or Donald.”

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 Tuesday (November 19)

Happy World Toilet 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 Washington Post catches us up on the latest news on today’s public impeachment hearings:

Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a National Security Council official, testified Tuesday that he spoke to an intelligence community official, whom he declined to name, about President Trump’s July call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Vindman also testified in the impeachment proceedings that he was concerned about Trump’s statements about domestic politics on the call, which he characterized as “improper.”

Vindman is one of four key witnesses testifying at the House Intelligence Committee hearing Tuesday. The others are: Jennifer Williams, an adviser to Vice President Pence, Tim Morrison, another senior NSC official, and Kurt Volker, a former envoy to Ukraine.

President Trump is claiming that he doesn’t know any of the witnesses testifying in impeachment proceedings, which would probably be irrelevant even if it were true; this strategy is about as effective as claiming that everyone involved is a “Never Trumper.

Meanwhile, Trump says that he would consider testifying on impeachment matters “in writing,” a claim the President made as news was breaking that House Democrats may also be looking into allegations that Trump lied to special prosecutor Robert Mueller.

Chris Cillizza of CNN has more on Tuesday’s impeachment hearings.

 

► Today’s revelations could be just the appetizer to Wednesday’s main course, when EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland sits down in front of the House Intelligence Committee. Will Sondland have trouble “remembering” his July 26th telephone conversation with President Trump regarding efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden?

 

► Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) is the Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Asia and calls himself the “leader in the Senate” on issues relating to North Korea. Yet Gardner still hasn’t said a public word about President Trump’s recent decisions to weaken U.S. alliances with South Korea and Japan.

 

► Check out this week’s episode of The Get More Smarter Podcast for more on how Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley) tries using the “Sideshow Bob” defense on impeachment.

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Get More Smarter on Thursday (November 14)

There are 40 shopping days remaining until Christmas. 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…

► Unless you’ve been living inside an old Budweiser box, you’re probably aware that Wednesday was the first day of public impeachment hearings on Capitol Hill. 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 and the eyes of the world.

Taylor dropped a bombshell in his opening statement, telling a story about a phone call between President Trump and EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland that apparently laid bare that Trump cares only about Ukraine insofar as they might investigate former Vice President Joe Biden for invented transgressions. The rest of the hearing went downhill from there for Republicans.

For more on Wednesday’s proceedings, here’s a quick list of links:

Trump Exposed: A Brutal Day for the President (Politico)

In the big moment, Republicans go small (Washington Post)

♦ New revelations from first public hearings paint damning portrait of Trump (CNN)

♦ How Adam Schiff Avoided a Circus (Washington Post)

♦ Republicans’ Best Defense is a Bad Offense (New York Times)

♦ Impeachment hearing testimony further connects President to Ukraine pressure (CNN)

♦ Pelosi says Trump has admitted to “bribery” with Ukraine (Axios)

Of course, as Philip Bump notes for The Washington Post, your takeaway from Wednesday’s hearings might be quite a bit different if you get your information from the likes of Fox News.

 

► At least one person is dead and several others injured in a school shooting in Santa Clarita, California. This is the 30th school shooting of 2019.

 

► As the Associated Press reports, Gov. Jared Polis (D-Boulder) unveiled a new state budget with a heavy focus on education spending:

Polis proposed a $34.5 billion state budget Wednesday for the next fiscal year, once again emphasizing early and higher education investments and seeking to increase rainy-day reserves.

Polis presented his request to the Joint Budget Committee, which will craft a balanced budget during the 2020 legislative session.

Polis noted that the requested funding increase of 2.9% kept with the inflation rate, Colorado Politics reported.

“There’s not a lot of free money” available, he said.

The Denver Post has more on the upcoming budget battle.

 

► Rocky Mountain Gun Owners (RMGO) is trying to overturn a magazine ban in Colorado as gun stores openly flaunt laws designed to prohibit high-capacity gun magazines.

 

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Get More Smarter on Wednesday (November 13)

Happy first day of public impeachment hearings…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 headline and subhead in every media outlet in the country is all about public impeachment hearings beginning today on Capitol Hill. William B. Taylor Jr., acting ambassador to Ukraine, dropped a bombshell piece of news in his testimony this morning when he revealed that an aide overheard a damning phone call between President Trump and EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland that took place on July 26, one day after Trump’s infamous “perfect” phone call with the Ukrainian President.

You can get live updates of today’s impeachment hearings via The Washington Post, CNN, The New York Times, and just about anywhere else on the Internet. Heck, you could probably find live updates on PornHub, but we’re not going to check that one for ourselves. For more information, go to The Washington Post for initial reactions to today’s testimony and for fact-checking on the spin machine.

We’ll end this section with some advice for Republicans from the editorial board at The Washington Post:

 

► Congressman Jason Crow (D-Aurora) writes an Op-Ed for The Hill newspaper about honoring the service of those who are testifying on impeachment hearings:

The American people will soon hear the testimony of veterans, career foreign service officers, and dedicated public servants. As both a combat veteran and member of Congress, I have one request of my colleagues: do not question the patriotism of these decorated veterans and public servants.

We can and will debate the merits of the testimony, but baseless smears against those who have dedicated their lives to our country are beneath our nation’s dignity. Unfortunately, we have seen these attacks before.

► It’s been one week since the polls closed on the 2019 Election, and Aurora still doesn’t know who will be the city’s mayor. As The Denver Post reports:

The votes cast in the five-way race, which appeared to be in former U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman’s favor Nov. 5, ended up being too close to call when the three counties involved finished their main ballot counts Thursday.

Coffman was leading Omar Montgomery, the NAACP chapter president, by fewer than 300 votes.

And there were still about 2,300 votes out in Arapahoe, Adams and Douglas counties combined — all counties that can claim part of Aurora — that needed signature and identification verification before they could be counted. There were also additional military and overseas ballots that needed to be counted as well as ballots that were transferred from various county offices. However, many of the uncounted ballots are probably not from Aurora.

So Montgomery volunteers started knocking on doors again, trying to cure, or correct, signature and identification discrepancies, on hundreds of ballots that weren’t counted.

 

DACA recipients in Denver are anxiously awaiting a ruling from the Supreme Court as to whether or not President Trump can lawfully cancel the Obama-era program. As NBC News reports, observers expect the court to side with Trump on ending DACA, but as the New York Times explains, a ruling favorable to President Trump might actually be the worse outcome for the White House.

 

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The Get More Smarter Podcast: What Happened on Tuesday?

This week on The Get More Smarter Podcast, the latest effort to save the state from TABOR’s claws goes down, the 2019 election gets messy in a top swing county, washed up old politicians trying to be relevant get smacked down by the Denver Post Editorial Board, Impeachment-a-lago gets; and our Producer Ethan Black goes head to head with Ian Silverii in America’s best/worst game show, Duke or Donald.

The Get More Smarter Podcast is available on Apple Podcasts, Buzzcloud, Spotify, and Overcast. You can also follow the Podcast on Twitter @MoreSmarterShow.

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Get More Smarter on Tuesday (November 12)

Happy World Pneumonia 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 U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments today about whether or not President Trump can legally end the Obama-era DACA program. From The New York Times:

The Supreme Court’s conservative majority on Tuesday appeared ready to side with the Trump administration in its efforts to shut down a program protecting about 700,000 young immigrants known as “Dreamers.”

The court’s liberal justices probed the administration’s justifications for ending the program, expressing skepticism about its rationales for doing so. But other justices indicated that they would not second-guess the administration’s reasoning and, in any event, considered its explanations sufficient.

Still, there was agreement among the justices that the young people who signed up for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, were sympathetic and that they and their families, schools and employers had relied on it in good faith.

The arguments in the case, one of the most important of the term, addressed presidential power over immigration, a signature issue for President Trump and a divisive one, especially as it has played out in the debate over DACA, a program that has broad, bipartisan support.

Coloradans who back DREAMERs are rallying in Washington D.C. today, as CBS4 Denver reports. Closer to home, Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser is leading a DACA rally on the campus of Metro State University.

 

Colorado gun shops are using a loophole in state law to continue selling equipment that is supposed to be banned. As Marshall Zelinger reports for 9News:

A state law banning the sale and transfer of large-capacity gun magazines has not stopped the sale and transfer of magazines that hold more than 15 rounds of ammunition.

An undercover investigation by 9Wants to Know found examples of gun stores in Colorado either ignoring the law altogether or finding a loophole to get around the law…

…Our undercover investigation found gun stores selling these “parts kits” in Arapahoe, Douglas, El Paso and Larimer counties. The kits are large-capacity magazines sold in pieces, ready to be assembled after they are purchased.

“This is a 30-round mag; we have to sell it as parts,” said the employee at Iron Horse Armory. “That’s one of Colorado’s retarded laws.”

 

Public impeachment hearings begin Wednesday on Capitol Hill. As Politico explains:

The hearings alone are a historic moment; only three presidents have been subject to an impeachment inquiry before. And though the probe was launched by Speaker Nancy Pelosi in September, this is the week when it all becomes real…

…Democrats plan to hold two weeks of hearings in the House Intelligence Committee and will later hold hearings in the Judiciary Committee, which will draft any articles of impeachment.

Three key witnesses will testify before the committee this week. On Wednesday, William Taylor and George Kent are expected to appear; on Friday, it’s Marie Yovanovitch.

As the Colorado Independent notes, two Colorado Congressmen — Rep. Joe Neguse (D-Lafayette) and Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley) — will play an important role in upcoming impeachment hearings. 

 

Axios got hold of the plan Congressional Republicans have put together for defending President Trump against impeachment. If you were hoping the GOP had prepared a bold new strategy…you’re going to be disappointed. The big problem of this approach, as Greg Sargent writes for The Washington Post, is that President Trump himself keeps kicking sand into the gears.

 

► Check out this week’s episode of The Get More Smarter Podcast for more post-election analysis and other political jabberings:

 

 

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Get More Smarter on Thursday (November 7)

Happy Hungarian Opera 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…

► Attorney General William Barr may be a Trump lackey, but he’s not a complete fool. As The Washington Post reports:

President Trump wanted Attorney General William P. Barr to hold a news conference declaring that the commander in chief had broken no laws during a phone call in which he pressed his Ukrainian counterpart to investigate a political rival, though Barr ultimately declined to do so, people familiar with the matter said.

The request from Trump traveled from the president to other White House officials and eventually to the Justice Department. The president has mentioned Barr’s demurral to associates in recent weeks, saying he wished Barr would have held the news conference, Trump advisers say.

In recent weeks, the Justice Department has sought some distance from the White House, particularly on matters relating to the burgeoning controversy over Trump’s dealings on Ukraine and the impeachment inquiry they sparked…

…The request for the news conference came sometime around Sept. 25, when the administration released a rough transcript of the president’s July phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Can you guess what President Trump is saying in his defense? If you selected “Fake News,” then you can move your piece ahead three spaces on the board.

 

Jennifer Williams, an aide to Vice President Mike Pence who was listening in on the infamous July 25 call between President Trump and Ukraine’s President, is testifying behind closed doors today as part of the House impeachment investigation. The White House had attempted to block Williams from testifying despite a Congressional subpoena. Former National Security Adviser John Bolton was requested to testify today but is not expected to appear.

 

Public impeachment hearings will begin next week in the House of Representatives, and nobody in Trumpland is looking forward to what happens next. As Politico notes, this week’s release of transcripts from recent closed-door testimonies have one thing in common: They’re all BRUTAL for President Trump.

Rudy Giuliani was President Donald Trump’s enforcer, circumventing official channels and bewildering professional diplomats as he pressured Ukraine to target Trump’s political opponents.

Along the way, career foreign service officers became collateral damage — and questions of a Trump-authorized quid pro quo emerged, blowing up into a scandal that now imperils the Trump presidency.

Those are the unchallenged details revealed so far in five transcripts of depositions released this week as part of the House impeachment inquiry. And as Democrats prepare for public hearings next week, they are underscoring the common thread running through the witnesses’ accounts.

“I think you will see throughout the course of the testimony — not only their testimony but many others — the most important facts are largely not contested,” House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff said Wednesday.

Dana Milbank of The Washington Post wonders if the meticulous note-taking habits of diplomat Bill Taylor might be Trump’s equivalent of the “Nixon tapes.”

 

► There are still a number of races in Aurora waiting to be called, as the Aurora Sentinel reports — including the question of whether or not former Congressman Mike Coffman has been elected Mayor:

As of 5 p.m. Nov. 6 about 15,000 ballots remain un-tabulated, according to Arapahoe County clerk spokesperson Winna MacLaren. Counting will resume Thursday…

…Though pressed by reporters to claim victory Tuesday night, Coffman agreed that thousands of outstanding ballots could still sway the vote. The candidate currently in second-place in the race for Aurora mayor, Omar Montgomery, had not conceded as of Wednesday evening.

In the at-large contest, councilwoman Angela Lawson and challenger Curtis Gardner led the race for the two posts up for grabs. For Ward 4, incumbent Charlie Richardson was edging challenger Juan Marcano. In Ward 5, incumbent Rob Roth held a narrow lead over Allison Coombs, and in Ward 6, incumbent Francoise Bergan was comfortably ahead of Bryan Lindstrom.

 

► Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) is taking part — along with President Trump — in a “save the Senate” retreat/fundraiser today and tomorrow at the Trump International Hotel in Washington D.C. Gardner had better make sure he has his campaign credit card handy.

 

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The Get More Smarter Podcast: Impeachment, Bribes, and Election Day

This week on The Get More Smarter Podcast, hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii try to figure out how Republicans will defend President Trump now that more impeachment information is becoming public; consider what amounts to a bribe for Sen. Cory Gardner; and play another round of “Duke or Donald,” this time with guest contestant Geof Cahoon, a longtime labor union activist and MoveOn organizer.

The Get More Smarter Podcast is available on Apple Podcasts, Buzzcloud, Spotify, and Overcast. You can also follow the Podcast on Twitter @MoreSmarterShow. Thanks for listening!

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Get More Smarter on Tuesday (November 5)

Friends don’t let friends mail their ballots when it is too late for them to be received in order to be counted. Visit GoVoteColorado.com to find out where to drop off your ballot before 7:00 pm tonight. 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…

► It’s Election Day today! Here are the latest ballot return figures analyzed by GOP polling outfit Magellan Strategies. For you last-minute voters, here’s a handy voting guide from The Denver Post. The Colorado National Guard will be assisting the Secretary of State’s office with cybersecurity matters.

For more of a national perspective, check out NPR’s Election Day guide. The biggest races are in Kentucky and Mississippi, where Democrats have a chance to win their respective battles for Governor in traditionally red states. The gubernatorial race in Kentucky could also be a significant moment for the issue of Medicaid work requirements.

 

► According to a new Washington Post/ABC News poll, President Trump’s approval ratings remain stagnant and he’s not looking good compared to potential Democratic rivals:

The new poll highlights the degree to which most of the country already has made a judgment about the president’s performance and their voting preferences next year. Among the 39 percent of registered voters who approve of Trump’s job performance, Trump is winning at least 95 percent support against each of five possible Democratic opponents. But among the 58 percent of voters who disapprove of Trump, he receives no more than 7 percent support.

Former vice president Joe Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) run strongest against the president nationally, with Biden leading by 17 points (56 percent to 39 percent), Warren by 15 points (55 percent to 40 percent) and Sanders by 14 points (55 percent to 41 percent).

South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.), the other two Democrats tested against Trump, also lead the president among registered voters, with Buttigieg up by 52 percent to 41 percent, and Harris ahead by 51 percent to 42 percent.

This data is all wrong, argues President Trump, who says “I have the real polls.” As CNN’s Chris Cillizza explains:

Faced with a slew of national polls that show roughly half the country supports not only his impeachment but also his removal from office, President Donald Trump did what he always does: Just say stuff.

Regardless of whether Trump’s super-secret polls really do exist, there are other numbers that murky the picture for 2020. As Nate Cohn notes for the New York Times, Trump opponents still have that pesky Electoral College thing to worry about:

Despite low national approval ratings and the specter of impeachment, President Trump remains highly competitive in the battleground states likeliest to decide his re-election, according to a set of new surveys from The New York Times Upshot and Siena College.

Across the six closest states that went Republican in 2016, he trails Joe Biden by an average of two points among registered voters but stays within the margin of error.

Mr. Trump leads Elizabeth Warren by two points among registered voters, the same margin as his win over Hillary Clinton in these states three years ago.

The poll showed Bernie Sanders deadlocked with the president among registered voters, but trailing among likely voters.

As we wrote in this space in September, there’s a very obvious and straightforward reason for why Republicans don’t want to move away from the Electoral College and toward a popular vote system of choosing our Commander in Chief.

 

► The Trump administration has formally notified the United Nations of its intent to remove the United States from the Paris Climate Accords. Not one Republican member of Colorado’s Congressional delegation is commenting on the decision. Not. A. Single. One.

 

► House Democrats released a second round of transcripts from recent impeachment hearings; today’s batch includes testimony from US Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland and former US Special Envoy for Ukraine Kurt Volker.

On Monday, the House Intelligence Committee released transcripts from the testimony of former US ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch and former State Department adviser Michael McKinley. CNN takes a look at some of the key lines in each transcript, as does The Washington Post. It appears that at least one section of McKinley’s testimony contradicts comments made by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Sondland, meanwhile, must be taking a lot of Ginko Biloba or something; he apparently now remembers that Trump was seeking a “Quid Pro Quo” type of deal with Ukraine.

 

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Get More Smarter on Halloween (October 31)

Nothing’s scarier than not voting. Visit GoVoteColorado.com to find out where to drop off your ballot before next Tuesday. 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 Facebook and Twitter.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► The House of Representatives is voting today on impeachment hearing procedures. As The Washington Post reports:

A divided House approved a resolution Thursday formally authorizing and articulating guidelines for the next phase of its impeachment inquiry, a move that signaled Democrats are on course to bring charges against President Trump later this year.

The 232-to-196 vote, which hewed closely to party lines, was expected to fuel the partisan fighting that has accompanied every stage of the impeachment probe and much of the Trump presidency. Nearly all Democrats backed the resolution, and House Republicans, who spent weeks clamoring for such a vote, opposed it…

…The House’s resolution clears the way for nationally televised hearings as Democrats look to make their case to the American people that Trump should be impeached.

In other words, Republicans are going to need some new talking points.

Colorado Public Radio explains how each member of Colorado’s Congressional delegation has responded to impeachment investigations thus far; you can probably guess who lines up where.

As Joshua C. Huder writes for the New York Times, today’s vote puts the House on a path that will almost certainly end in Trump’s impeachment.

 

► Another witness, another round of damning testimony. As Politico reports:

President Donald Trump’s top Russia aide corroborated aspects of a key U.S. diplomat’s testimony connecting the president to a quid pro quo with Ukraine, according to people familiar with the aide’s testimony to House impeachment investigators.

Tim Morrison, the Europe and Russia chief for the National Security Council, was cited more than a dozen times in William Taylor’s opening statement to investigators last week. Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, said he was told that Trump sought to withhold military aid to Ukraine and refuse a White House meeting with the country’s president until it launched investigations into Trump’s political rivals…

…Morrison was set to resign his post imminently, people familiar with the matter said on Wednesday. He became the second current White House official to testify to impeachment investigators, two days after Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a Ukraine and Russia expert on the NSC, testified he believed Trump’s overtures to Ukraine undermined U.S. national security.

 

Quid Pro Cory: Say it three times fast. Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) can’t abandon President Trump because he needs the campaign cash that the Big Orange Guy can provide.

 

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Get More Smarter on Tuesday (October 29)

Haven’t voted yet? Visit GoVoteColorado.com to find out where to drop off your ballot before next Tuesday. 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 Facebook and Twitter.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► National Security Council Ukraine expert Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman is testifying today in impeachment investigations into President Trump. As The Washington Post reports, Vindman’s appearance on Capitol Hill is making for a lot of nervous Republicans:

Vindman is the first witness in the House’s impeachment probe to have not only listened in on the July 25 call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in which Trump said he wanted a “favor” after Zelensky brought up the topic of promised American military aid. Vindman was listening in from the Situation Room, he said, along with other NSC officials and members of Vice President Pence’s office, and was so “concerned by the call” — and that the president’s request could be seen as “a partisan play” that could “undermine U.S. national security” — that he reported it to the NSC’s lead counsel.

Vindman’s prepared testimony touched a nerve with Trump, who took to Twitter on Tuesday to deride the Iraq War veteran, who appeared for his testimony in uniform, as a “Never Trumper,” questioning his recollection of events.

Trump and his allies spent Monday evening viciously attacking Vindman and questioning his patriotism as part of a smear campaign that has even upset some Republican lawmakers. Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney derided the attacks on Vindman as “shameful.”

Meanwhile, as The Hill reports, Vindman’s testimony could mean big trouble for EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland:

Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas), a member of the House Intelligence Committee, said late Monday that he believes U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland committed perjury in his congressional testimony to investigators in their impeachment inquiry.

“Based on all the testimony so far, I believe that Ambassador Gordon Sondland committed perjury,” Castro tweeted.

 

► Congressional Republicans privately admit that they are very worried about continuing to defend President Trump from an endless list of misdeeds. Putting their own butts on the line has many in the GOP biting their fingernails; as Axios reports, there are growing fears of a complete electoral wipeout in 2020.

National Journal outlines the big red flags for Senate Republicans. The State of Oregon is losing its one Republican Member of Congress; Rep. Greg Walden announced that he will not seek re-election in 2020, making him the 19th GOP member of the House of Representatives to walk away from his seat.

 

► As The Washington Post reports, new polling numbers explain why Republicans are loathe to discuss President Trump’s requests for foreign governments to get involved in American elections:

“Is it okay with you or not okay for political candidates in the U.S. to ask for assistance from a foreign government to help them win an election?” In response to that question, only 7 percent of U.S. adults say it’s okay. Eighty-one percent say it is not okay…

…The numbers of people who say it’s wrong to seek assistance from a foreign government are remarkably consistent across ages, demographic groups, education levels, income and even party lines. More than 80 percent of self-identified Republicans, evangelicals and rural dwellers say it’s not okay for a president to ask for assistance from a foreign government to help win an election.

 

► This week’s episode of The Get More Smarter Podcast is now available:

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The Get More Smarter Podcast: Colorado’s Big Border Wall

This week on The Get More Smarter Podcast, hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii ponder attempts by Republican Party Chairman Ken Buck to distance the GOP from their recall failures; discuss GOP troubles with continuing to defend President Trump; break down another harsh editorial calling on Sen. Cory Gardner to resign from office; and consider where to start building a wall in Colorado. Later in the show, Ian plays “Duke or Donald” with guest contestant Fawn Bolack, co-founder of “Keep Abortion Safe.”

The Get More Smarter Podcast is available on Apple Podcasts, Buzzcloud, Spotify, and Overcast. You can also follow the Podcast on Twitter @MoreSmarterShow. Thanks for listening!

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Get More Smarter on Friday (October 25)

Enjoy your Friday afternoon commute; things might really suck on Monday. 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 Facebook and Twitter.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Senate Republicans are listening to President Trump and “toughening up” in opposition to impeachment investigations. We’re skeptical that Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) will ever extricate himself from Trump’s derriere, but it’s worth noting that Gardner has not yet signed on to Sen. Lindsey Graham’s resolution of opposition to impeachment. As Steve Benen writes for MSNBC:

As of this morning, 44 Senate Republicans have signed on as original co-sponsors of Graham’s non-binding resolution denouncing the House’s impeachment process. There are currently 53 Senate Republicans in total, which means all but eight of the GOP members in the chamber have linked arms with Graham in support of this misguided measure.

(The eight, in case you’re curious, are Cory Gardner, Susan Collins, Mitt Romney, Lamar Alexander, Johnny Isakson, Rob Portman, Lisa Murkowski, and Mike Enzi.) [Pols emphasis]

Graham has said he actually has 46 co-sponsors lined up, though it’s not yet clear who the other two supporters are.

Of course, it would surprise nobody if Gardner is among those two other unknown supporters, but the New York Times lists the Yuma Senator among the Senate Republicans who are getting nervous about supporting Trump:

Senate Republicans facing steep re-election races next year know the impeachment inquiry coursing steadily ahead on the other side of the Capitol will determine President Trump’s political fate. Their growing fear is that it will also determine their own….

…Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado, known as a talented campaigner, abruptly walked away from a filmed interview last weekend to avoid answering a question about the military assistance Mr. Trump withheld from Ukraine, a central issue in the inquiry into whether the president enlisted a foreign government to smear his political opponents. In brisk dashes back to their offices, Senators Martha McSally of Arizona and Joni Ernst of Iowa, quickly pivoted to other issues such as rising health care costs, border security and the trade deal with Mexico and Canada. And Senator Susan Collins of Maine has rebuffed any effort to get her to weigh in on impeachment, saying that doing so could jeopardize her impartiality as a juror in an increasingly inevitable trial of the president.

The Washington Post has more updates on impeachment proceedings, including House Democrats’ request to hear from two top officials at the Office of Management and Budget.

 

As CNN explains, Tuesday’s testimony from Bill Taylor, a top U.S. diplomat, could be moving some Republicans toward support for impeachment:

A senior Republican source on Capitol Hill told CNN that Taylor’s statement was so detailed, so specific and that he is so respected that it is having an impact.

“It points to quid pro quo,” the GOP source told CNN.

There is an ongoing conversation among GOP members on Capitol Hill about the impact of Taylor’s testimony, but it remains a question whether it will move Republicans closer to considering impeachment…

…While most Republicans have sided publicly with the President, they’ve been privately grumbling that they’re “fed up and tired” of being asked to defend him in the impeachment investigation.

Republican sources on Capitol Hill told CNN there’s a “growing unease that there is no defense” of the President’s actions.

“How do you defend the indefensible?” one source told CNN. “We can’t defend the substance, all we can do is talk about process.”

How do you defend the indefensible? If you’re Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley), you call it “taking the high road.”
 
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Get More Smarter on Wednesday (October 23)

The Denver Nuggets open the 2019-20 NBA season tonight in Portland. 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 Facebook and Twitter.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

 Congressional Republicans understand that they don’t have much of a substance argument in opposition to impeachment proceedings against President Trump, so they’ve increasingly been focusing their attacks on the “process” aspect of the investigations. On Wednesday, House Republicans — led by members of the so-called “Freedom Caucus” — stormed into a secure committee room and temporarily delayed testimony from Pentagon official Laura Cooper.

These Republicans, led by Trump attack dog and Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz, are not allowed in the committee hearings BECAUSE THEY ARE NOT MEMBERS OF THE COMMITTEE. As the New York Times explains:

The lawmakers — most of whom do not sit on the committees conducting the inquiry and are therefore not entitled to attend its hearings — said they were protesting the closed-door nature of the proceedings, which have been open to members of both parties who sit on the committees. The private question-and-answer sessions have produced a stream of compelling testimony from government witnesses, much of it confirming and expanding on the intelligence whistle-blower complaint that touched off the impeachment inquiry.

Republicans are hammering Democrats for limiting attendance at the hearings to members of the Intelligence, Judiciary and Foreign Affairs Committees. It is common practice for sensitive congressional investigations to be conducted behind closed doors, at least in their preliminary stages. House Republicans did just that when they controlled the chamber and opened an inquiry into the 2012 attack on the United States embassy in Benghazi, Libya. [Pols emphasis]

Democrats have said they plan to hold open hearings after the committees finish deposing witnesses, and that they intend to make public complete transcripts of witness testimony after they have been reviewed to determine whether they contain any classified material. Democrats argue that, lacking any defense of the substance of Mr. Trump’s actions, Republicans are attacking them over process.

The facts do not seem to support the argument of Congressional Republicans, including Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley).

 

► As The Washington Post reports, Republicans may be taking extreme measures in attacking the impeachment “process” because recent testimony looks very ominous for President Trump:

The impeachment inquiry into President Trump took an ominous turn for the president yesterday with the explosive testimony on Capitol Hill of a career civil servant.

William B. Taylor Jr. — a lifelong diplomat under both Republican and Democratic administrations who came out of retirement to take the acting chief diplomatic role in Ukraine — appears to have inflicted grave wounds to Trump’s claims there was no quid pro quo in holding back U.S. military assistance from Ukraine in exchange for help from that government in investigating the president’s political rivals.

“It is no longer a question of whether this happened. It is now a question of how the president explains it and how lawmakers — especially Republicans — choose to respond to it,” as my colleague Dan Balz put it. “Taylor’s prepared testimony documents with precision and clarity what he heard, saw, wrote and was asked to respond to over a period of weeks. In his telling, the squeeze on Ukraine, and Trump’s role in it, goes well beyond a single phone call July 25 between the U.S. president and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Trump’s long-standing characterization that there was no quid pro quo runs smack into evidence to the contrary.”

Politico has more on the Republican realization that they don’t have much left to stand on in the battle against impeachment.

 

► As Colorado Public Radio reports, lawmakers agree that Colorado needs to change how it funds public schools…but they don’t agree on how to get there. 

 

 As the New York Times reports, more than a million lower-income children have been dropped from the rolls of Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) in the last 18 months.

 

 

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Get More Smarter on Tuesday (October 22)

The NBA is back, baby! 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 Facebook and Twitter.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

 The senior U.S. diplomat in Ukraine sat before a Congressional committee on Tuesday and apparently provided “damning” testimony as part of an impeachment investigation into President Trump. From the Associated Press:

Former U.S. Ambassador William Taylor, a diplomat who has sharply questioned President Donald Trump’s policy on Ukraine, has provided lawmakers with a “disturbing” account of events at the center of the impeachment probe , Democrats said Tuesday.

Lawmakers emerging after the early hours of the private deposition said Taylor had given a lengthy opening statement, with a recall of events that filled in gaps from the testimony of other witnesses. They said Taylor kept records at the time of conversations and documents.

“The testimony is very disturbing,” said New York Rep. Carolyn Maloney. Rep. Dean Phillips, D-Minn., used the same word. Asked why, he said, “Because it’s becoming more distinct.”

Taylor’s appearance is among the most watched because of a text message, released by House investigators earlier in the probe, in which he called Trump’s attempt to leverage military aid to Ukraine in return for a political investigation “crazy.”

Meanwhile, President Trump is now comparing impeachment proceedings to a “lynching,” and Republican elected officials such as Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina are even defending the statement. Trump’s history of racist remarks leaves little doubt that he knew exactly what he was doing in using the word “lynching” today. 

As Aaron Blake writes for The Washington Post, it’s now “every man for himself” in terms of Republicans and their continued support for President Trump.

 

► Some Democrats think that impeachment proceedings might take longer than initially expected — in large part because witness testimony continues to reveal new concerns. From CNN:

“Every time we have a deposition, it leads us in a slightly different direction,” Rep. Gerry Connolly, a Virginia Democrat who sits on the House Foreign Affairs and Oversight committees, two of the three panels leading the investigation, said Monday. “We don’t know how many additional pieces of testimony we may need. We just don’t know.”

The challenge facing Democrats: They want to conduct a thorough investigation, but prolonging the probe will continue to consume Washington — and risks bumping into the presidential election season if proceedings drag into the new year.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, a California Democrat who is leading the probe, both have refused to put a specific timeframe on the investigation.

 

► The editorial board of the Pueblo Chieftain smashed a failed effort to recall Senate President Leroy Garcia:

Dave DeCenzo, a volunteer for the recall effort, said more signatures were collected, but the group didn’t want to reveal them for fear the signers might be “doxxed” — that is, have their private information revealed on the internet.

To butcher Shakespeare, wethinks he dox protest too much. If the group had produced enough signatures to qualify a recall for the ballot, then those names would have become a matter of public record, anyway. So this alleged concern for the privacy of the petitioners sounds suspiciously like a convenient cover story to mask the group’s failure.

And we’re glad the group’s efforts not only failed, but failed so spectacularly. We can laugh about this now that it’s over, but what the anti-Garcia group was attempting to do was no joke.

Garcia was elected to a new term in office just last year with a commanding three-fourths of the total votes cast. Between the time he was re-elected and the recall campaign was launched, he did nothing that was inconsistent with his stated beliefs or campaign promises.

An editorial in the Colorado Springs Gazette on Monday opened with a familiar lede: “No money could buy for Colorado Democrats the gift Republicans handed them in 2019.”

As Jason Salzman writes for the Colorado Times-Recorder, media outlets should take a lesson from recall mania and act more skeptical of unsubstantiated claims in the future.

 

► Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) has always said that he would not take positions on state issues because of his status as a federal elected official. So, naturally, Gardner wrote an Op-Ed opposing Proposition CC that ran in the Colorado Springs Gazette.

 

► Don’t miss the latest episode of The Get More Smarter Podcast and find out if you can do better at “Duke or Donald” than our guest contestant.

 

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The Get More Smarter Podcast: Recall-a-Lago

This week on The Get More Smarter Podcast, hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii tie a bow on the season of failed recall attempts; discuss the idea that any Democrat could defeat Sen. Cory Gardner in 2020; and Ian plays “Duke or Donald” with guest contestant Manny Lopez Del Rio, Director of Campaigns at ProgressNow Colorado.

The Get More Smarter Podcast is available on Apple Podcasts, Buzzcloud, Spotify, and Overcast. You can also follow the Podcast on Twitter @MoreSmarterShow. Thanks for listening!

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Get More Smarter on Thursday (October 17)

You have 75 days left to fulfill your 2019 New Year’s resolutions. 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 Facebook and Twitter.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

 It’s CYA time in the investigation into President Trump and his dealings with Ukraine. As the Washington Post reports:

The U.S. ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, told House impeachment investigators Thursday that President Trump outsourced the job of handling U.S. policy on Ukraine to his personal attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani, a decision that made Sondland uncomfortable but one he still carried out.

“I would not have recommended that Mr. Giuliani or any private citizen be involved in these foreign policy matters,” Sondland said, according to his prepared remarks obtained by The Washington Post.

Sondland, a major Trump donor who has became a focus of the impeachment inquiry due to his outsized role in U.S.-Ukraine policy, said in his remarks that he criticized the president’s handling of Ukraine policy, including the temporary hold on nearly $400 million in aid to the country and the recall of the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch. Sondland called her an “excellent diplomat” and said he “regretted” her departure, which followed a campaign by Giuliani to paint her as disloyal to the president.

Meanwhile, acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney CONFIRMED to reporters that military aid was withheld from Ukraine on the orders of President Trump. From Politico:

Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney acknowledged Thursday that U.S. military funds to Ukraine were previously withheld at least in part because of a desire to have the Eastern European nation investigate unfounded allegations that foreign countries may have aided Democrats in the 2016 election.

“Did he also mention to me in [the] past the corruption related to the DNC server? Absolutely,” Mulvaney said of a conversation he had with President Donald Trump. “No question about that. But that’s it, and that’s why we held up the money.”

As CNN’s Manu Raju reports, this ain’t good for Team Trump:

 

► What was that thing that President Trump was saying about corruption and nepotism? Anyway, here’s Eli Stokols of the Los Angeles Times:

President Trump intends to host next year’s G7 conference at his Doral International Resort in Miami in June, the White House confirmed Thursday, a controversial decision certain to raise conflict of interest questions given the financial benefit to Trump’s business.

Trump first floated the idea of the Doral in August at the G7 meeting in Biarritz, France, telling reporters that his property was far better than others his administration had considered, given its proximity to a major airport and the abundance of accommodations and meeting space on site.

“Each country can have their own villa, or their own bungalow,” he said.

The idea immediately generated controversy. Trump is already fighting two lawsuits suggesting that he is violating the Constitution’s emoluments clause, which prohibits U.S. office-holders from personally profiting from foreign governments.

But White House acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney told reporters that the decision would not represent a conflict.

“The president has pretty much made it clear that he doesn’t profit,” Mulvaney said. The resort would host the foreign delegations for the G-7 conference “at cost,” he said, adding that the Doral was “far and away the best physical facility for this meeting.”

Don’t worry, though. White House acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney told reporters that President Trump has “pretty much made it clear that he doesn’t profit” from this decision.

 

► Don’t miss the latest episode of The Get More Smarter Podcast, featuring an interview with Congressman Jason Crow (D-Aurora):

 

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The Get More Smarter Podcast: Congressman Jason Crow

This week on The Get More Smarter Podcast, Congressman Jason Crow sits down with hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii to talk about a recent trip to Afghanistan and Turkey, advancing impeachment proceedings, and the best place to find his roommate, Rep. Joe Neguse, on a weekday evening. Your hosts also discuss Sen. Cory Gardner’s career implosion and play another round of American’s favorite game, “Duke or Donald?” 

Click after the jump below for a brief transcript of a great story Crow tells about an unforgettable moment when he took the oath of office in January.

The Get More Smarter Podcast is available on Apple Podcasts, Buzzcloud, Spotify, and Overcast. You can also follow the Podcast on Twitter @MoreSmarterShow. Thanks for listening!

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Get More Smarter on Tuesday (October 15)

Happy “Global Handwashing 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 Facebook and Twitter.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

Oh, this is rich. As the Washington Post reports:

President Trump complained Tuesday about a lack of “transparency” in the accelerating Democrats-led impeachment inquiry as House investigators heard from another key State Department official behind closed doors at the Capitol. [Pols emphasis]

George Kent, the deputy assistant secretary of state responsible for Ukraine, has been summoned to testify about a campaign by Rudolph W. Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer, to pressure Ukraine into investigating the president’s political rival, former vice president and 2020 Democratic candidate Joe Biden, and his son Hunter…

…House Democrats are scheduled to huddle behind closed doors later Tuesday about the status of the inquiry.

The New York Times has more on the latest updates regarding impeachment depositions. The fact that regular updates about impeachment depositions even exist would seem to refute Trump’s “lack of transparency” complaints.

As Politico reports, Trump’s attempts to bar the doors to impeachment testimony is failing bigly:

Donald Trump’s impeachment blockade has collapsed.

The president’s former top Russia adviser, Fiona Hill — the first White House official to cooperate in Democrats’ investigation of the Ukraine scandal — has sketched for lawmakers a trail of alleged corruption that extends from Kiev to the West Wing. In dramatic testimony on Monday, she roped in some of Trump’s top advisers as witnesses to the unfolding controversy.

And on Tuesday, a senior State Department official, George Kent, appeared on Capitol Hill to testify about his knowledge of the episode despite an attempt by administration lawyers to block him, according to a source working on the impeachment inquiry. The House Intelligence Committee issued a subpoena for his testimony Tuesday morning, and Kent complied.

It’s the latest evidence that the White House’s stonewalling against congressional requests for documents and testimony is crumbling — and Democrats are feeling a new sense of momentum.

 

► Democratic Presidential candidates hit the stage in Columbus, Ohio tonight for the next big debate. Readers of Colorado Pols seem to think that Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren is in the driver’s seat at the moment. Over at CNN, you can read their list of seven things to watch for in tonight’s debate, including the performance of Sen. Bernie Sanders, who had heart surgery just a few weeks ago.

 

► As the New York Times reports, Russia is plenty pleased with President Trump’s decision last week to remove American troops from Syria:

As the Middle East reels from President Trump’s erratic foreign policy, Russia is savoring a fresh chance to build its status as a resurgent world power and cast itself as a force for stability. The withdrawal of United States troops from northeastern Syria, coupled with Turkey’s incursion, is allowing Russia to play the part of responsible peacemaker and to present a contrast to what many in the region see as unstable leadership from Washington.

It’s too soon to tell whether Russia will be able to manage the new volatility in Syria, just as it’s not clear if the impeachment furor over Ukraine will help the Kremlin’s interests in Eastern Europe. But as Russian President Vladimir V. Putin landed in Saudi Arabia Monday for a state visit to one of America’s most important allies, it appeared clear that Mr. Trump’s moves in recent months were helping him make the case that Moscow, not Washington, was the more dependable actor on the world stage. [Pols emphasis]

Here in Colorado, residents with Kurdish ties are asking Americans to speak out against Turkey’s aggression in Northern Syria.

 

► Colorado Republicans are going to have to cast a ballot for President Trump in a GOP Primary, as 9News reports:

Trump will face a Republican primary in Colorado, unlike five other states where party leaders canceled contests in favor of automatically assigning delegate votes.

The Colorado Republican Party cannot cancel a primary if a second person is on the ballot. In Colorado, Trump will compete with Robert Ardini, of New York, for the 2020 nomination.

Ardini 2020, or something!

 

Get even more smarter after the jump… (more…)

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