You’ll laugh! You’ll cheer! You’ll engage in all sorts of inappropriate behavior!
We’ve written about the #Beetlebert scandal as it has unfolded this week, including the latest video evidence that Rep. Lauren Boebert’sspokespeople were flat-out lying when they denied allegations that Boebert was vaping in the theater during a performance in Denver of the popular Beetlejuice musical. It’s important now to take a step back from the coverage of Boebert’s latest scandal – and there has been a LOT of coverage worldwide – to consider exactly how and why this incident might be more harmful to Boebert’s political future than any of her antics that have come before.
We know from polling data that Boebert’s constituents in the third congressional district largely view her as a politician in the “performative obstruction” mold who is more concerned about social media and the approval of MAGA Republicans (and small donors) than she is with the voters in CO-03. It is remarkable that Boebert nearly lost her seat in 2022 despite representing a district that statistically should give her a roughly 9-point advantage over a Democrat. Yet for all her faults, Boebert is still a Republican incumbent in a Republican-leaning district.
For example, calling for the impeachment of President Biden for reasons she can’t really explain may seem absurd to a sizable percentage of the population, but there are plenty of MAGA nuts – local and national – who eat this stuff up. Boebert doesn’t try to be an effective lawmaker; she exists to “own the libs,” which is a role she embraces wholeheartedly that provides her with a fairly loyal base of supporters and campaign cash.
So why is #Beetlebert different? The lies are very much a problem, as we discussed earlier, but anyone who follows Boebert is familiar with her penchant for taking credit for things she opposed or just making up stories about migrants receiving thousands of dollars in handouts from the federal government. Boebert has plenty of supporters who share her opinions on certain issues and don’t care a whit that she lies about the details.
No, #Beetlebert might well mark the beginning of the end of Lauren Boebert’s career in Congress precisely because it has nothing to do with politics…
Before launching into his speech criticizing America’s higher education system as overly woke, Zywicki listed two universities for which his critiques did not apply, both of which pay him. The first is George Mason University’s Antonin Scalia Law School where he typically teaches. The other, CU Boulder, is where he is currently employed by the Benson Center as its Visiting Professor of Conservative Thought & Policy, a position best known for previously being held by indicted Trump attorney John Eastman, aka “co-conspirator #2.”
“I only can talk about for 20 minutes and in that time I’m going to diagnose and solve all the problems of higher education,” said Zywicki. “So I’m going to oversimplify and paint with a broad brush to point out the general trajectories. I want to specifically make two exceptions: first my home institution: the Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason. I’ve dedicated my career to them because they don’t fit a lot of the trends that I’m going to talk about here.
“I also want to talk about the reception up at CU, how gracious that has been, in particular the support that the chancellor of the university has shown for the Benson Center, and his enthusiasm for when I met with him.”
On July 11, just a month after taking the Benson Center job, Zywicki defended Eastman’s “alternate elector” plan for Georgia as “reasonable, proper and lawful” in an “expert declaration” that lawyers presented to prosecutor Fani Willis on behalf of one such Georgia “elector” and co-conspirator, David Shafer.
The day after the Jan. 6 insurrection, which began in part with Eastman’s speech to the crowd, CU Chancellor Phil DiStefano decried Eastman’s involvement and values, but declined to fire him.
“[Eastman’s] continued advocacy of conspiracy theories is repugnant, and he will bear the shame of his role in undermining confidence in the rule of law,” DiStefano wrote. “He has embarrassed our institution. CU Boulder is committed to the free exchange of ideas and the pursuit of knowledge, and Professor Eastman has contributed nothing of value to support the ideals of either the Benson Center or CU Boulder.”
The story of far-right GOP Rep. Lauren Boebert’sejection from Denver’s Buell Theater Sunday night after causing a disturbance during the performance of the new Beetlejuice musical took a damaging turn yesterday, after new video surfaced conclusively disproving Boebert’s contention that she was not vaping during the performance before she was booted out. NBC News:
Surveillance video captured during the “Beetlejuice” musical in Denver on Sunday appears to show Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., vaping inside the theater, which contradicts her aide’s claim that the smoke was emitted from fog machines.
The video, obtained by NBC’s Denver affiliate, shows Boebert sitting in the theater next to a man she was with as people around her were still getting seated. It then shows her raise one of her hands to her face, and then a puff of smoke comes out of her mouth toward the person in front of her.
The lights seem to be lowered in the theater, and the woman sitting behind Boebert leaned in to speak to her. The Denver Post said the woman was pregnant and asked that Boebert stop vaping, which the congresswoman refused to do.
New security footage released by 9NEWS yesterday appears to fully corroborate the account of Boebert’s behavior reported by Denver Post opinion editor Megan Schrader, including Boebert obviously making use of a vaping device while seated in the theater, exhaling in the direction of other attendees, being confronted by at least one other patron, and Boebert continuing to engage in disruptive behavior right up to the moment she and her companion were escorted out of the theater.
This latest video totally undercuts Boebert’s spox Drew Sexton, whose denials were reported by the Pueblo Chieftain and everybody else in the country, and Sexton can’t take back now:
Boebert’s campaign manager, Drew Sexton, told the Chieftain Boebert was not vaping during the performance. [Pols emphasis]
Sexton said in a written statement that Boebert “appreciates” the “strict enforcement” of the ban on photography “and only wishes the Biden Administration could uphold our border laws as thoroughly and vigorously.”
As for the vaping accusations, Sexton told POLITICO that it was a “misunderstanding,” as the venue’s site said heavy fog machines and electronic cigarettes were used during the play. [Pols emphasis]
Proof that Boebert was indeed vaping during the performance, in addition to the new footage of Boebert interacting with neighbors and obviously acting out in comparison to those seated around her, should eliminate any last vestige of sympathy. Boebert’s spokesman is in a terrible position now, having straight-up lied to every news outlet in the country covering this story. Boebert’s arrogant indifference when confronted with her obviously inappropriate behavior by a pregnant neighbor, her castigation of theater staff as they escorted Boebert out of the theater–all of this looks immeasurably worse now that Boebert’s original infractions justifying her removal from the theater have been confirmed.
It doesn’t matter what your politics are. This is about character, integrity, and honesty at a level that transcends political divides. Boebert’s proven willingness to tell lies on matters large and small makes it impossible to believe anything she says–and that’s among the segment of voters who ever trusted her to begin with. For everyone else, it’s just further confirmation of what they already have come to believe about Boebert.
Arrogant, entitled, deceitful, and unfit for any office.
Mitt Romney, seen here kissing the ring of Donald Trump in 2016 in a failed bid to become Secretary of State.
As the Washington Postreported yesterday, Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah, who came to be loved more by Democrats than his own party after turning vociferously against Donald Trump’s supervillain presidency, will not run for re-election in 2024:
Romney, elected to the Senate in 2018 with 63 percent of the vote, said he will serve out the duration of his term, which ends in January 2025. His decision not to seek reelection next year is likely to mark the end of a political career that has been notable, especially in the Trump era, for independence and a willingness to stand up against the base of his party that has shifted dramatically in Trump’s direction in the decade since Romney was its standard-bearer.
From the time Trump first became a candidate until today, Romney has been among his most outspoken critics, and nothing about his departure is expected to change that. In the weeks before Trump’s 2017 inauguration, Romney publicly acquiesced, expressing hope for the president-elect’s leadership while he was under consideration to be secretary of state. But his turnabout was short-lived…
Democrats who learned to revile Mitt Romney during his meanspirited run for president in 2012 against Barack Obama were forced to re-evaluate their blanket disdain as Romney became one of Trump’s most intractable and effective Republican critics. Romney’s vote to convict Trump during Trump’s first impeachment trial in 2020 was an incredibly gutsy move that helped affirm the legitimacy of the whole effort. In 2021, Romney was joined by six other Republicans voting to convict Trump for inciting the January 6th insurrection.
On a policy level, however, there’s much less praise to shower on Romney’s legacy. Romney was no help to Democrats in passing major priorities like the Inflation Reduction Act, and Romney voted for Amy Coney Barrett to solidify the new right-wing U.S. Supreme Court majority today wreaking havoc on decades of civil rights progress. Romney will always be remembered as the presidential candidate who in 2012 wrote off 47% of Americans “who are dependent on government,” flat-out saying “my job is not to worry about those people.”
Like former Rep. Liz Cheney, Mitt Romney’s sole redemption before the judgment of history is that he would not join Donald Trump’s cult of personality. This increasingly set Romney at odds with the prevalent direction of his party, and it’s likely that in Romney would have faced a spirited MAGA primary challenger–and based on that, Trump will of course claim victory. It’s ironic that Romney’s better angels only made themselves apparent after an even worse rich Republican ran for President.
For helping hold the line against Trump’s assault on American democracy, Mitt Romney gets his share of credit.
And whoever the voters of Utah elect next will probably make us miss Romney more.
The expanded Child Tax Credit was an enormous success.
It didn’t need to be this way.
As NPR reports, childhood poverty rates have skyrocketed over the last year:
The poverty rate in the U.S. has risen dramatically in the year since pandemic benefits ran out — and the child poverty rate has more than doubled, according to U.S. Census Bureau’s annual data on poverty, income and health insurance released Tuesday.
Just a year ago, child poverty hit a historic low of 5.2%. The latest figures put it at 12.4%, the same as the overall poverty rate. The surge happened as record inflation was rising and a lot of pandemic relief was running out, but Census officials and other experts say a key was the child tax credit…
…Parents overwhelmingly used that extra tax credit money on household essentials like rent and food, according to surveys. [Pols emphasis]
Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio has floated his own idea of tying work requirements to a smaller CTC, which also misses the point of this program in a very obvious manner: People who have good-paying jobs wouldn’t have the same need for the expanded CTC. The point is to help children, who aren’t working full-time jobs and have no control of the employment of their parents.
Before Biden came into office, the credit maxed out at $2,000 per child ($1,400 for kids in families too poor to owe income tax), was bundled with tax refunds, and specifically left out families with little or no earnings. About one-third of children were excluded from the full credit, including over half of Black and Hispanic children, as well as 70 percent of kids raised by single moms. That’s precisely the population in most need of financial help.
The Biden changes dramatically increased the credit to $3,000 per kid aged 6 and over, and $3,600 per kid under 6; paid it out monthly; and made the full credit available to all poor children, eliminating the previous “phase-in” rule that capped the credit at 15 percent of a family’s income.
President Biden publicly called for a renewal of the expanded CTC earlier this week. On Wednesday, Senator Bennet made another plea for support at a press conference:
We know without a shadow of a doubt that the expanded #ChildTaxCredit worked. But Congress turned its back on America’s kids by letting it expire. As a result, child poverty more than doubled last year.
This week, the Durango Herald’sReuben Schafirhad the honor of reporting on a protest by the La Plata County Republican Party against his own employer the Herald, and by extension himself. It’s an interesting journalistic predicament:
Approximately 20 protesters, including leaders of the La Plata County Republican Central Committee, convened outside The Durango Herald office Tuesday morning holding signs asking passersby to “boycott biased Herald.”
Party chairwoman Shelli Shaw, past chairman Dave Peters and secretary Hope Scheppelman were all present. Signs held by attendees called out staff of The Herald by name.
“Put the information out there and let people decide for themselves,” Shaw said. “It doesn’t need to be censored or decided by The Durango Herald or any other media outlet. It needs to be presented and let people have the ability to think for themselves.”
Reps. Matt Gaetz, Lauren Boebert, featured guests at the La Plata County GOP Lincoln Day Dinner.
As can be expected, Tuesday’s Republican protest against the Durango Herald was long on pseudo-patriotic incendiary rhetoric but terribly short on concrete allegations, citing a minor typographical error in one photo in a story about a recent visit to the area by Monument-based far-right whacktivistDarcy Shoening and an overall unsubstantiated sense of “bias” against conservatives in the Herald’s reporting. La Plata County GOP chairwoman Shelli Shaw is herself a well-known source of far-right verbal diarrhea, but from what we can see the Herald has actually been kinder to her than other outlets who have reported her immoderate views in much greater detail. Apparently the Herald also enforces minimal standards for their letters to the editor section:
Opinion Editor Ann Marie Swan was not available for comment before deadline, but a recent editorial calling for letter submissions said that some letters “won’t see the light of day in our pages because they’re inappropriate or don’t meet basic criteria,” and highlighted that “the most common reason being letter writers’ opinions must be based in fact.” [Pols emphasis]
Rather than meet the exceedingly low bar that submissions be based in reality, La Plata County Republicans served notice to the Herald that they are no longer welcome at party events.
The GOP executive committee also delivered a letter to The Herald stating that its members would only communicate with the newspaper “via digital means.” The letter also said The Herald’s journalists were no longer welcome at the party’s events, including the upcoming Lincoln Day Dinner.
Banishing the Herald from the La Plata GOP’s upcoming Lincoln Day Dinner is particularly notable due to the headline speakers slated to attend, Reps. Matt “Giggity” Gaetz of Florabama and Gaetz’s regular traveling companion Lauren Boebert. The event, scheduled for a week from Saturday, lands right in the thick of what’s expected to be Gaetz and Boebert’s drive to either impeach Joe Biden or remove Speaker Kevin McCarthy. There’s a good chance that their remarks will have news value well beyond the confines of La Plata County, so hopefully the party’s exclusion of the Herald will motivate other outlets to make the trip to Durango to cover the event (we recommend staying at the Strater Hotel).
It’s the age-old story: all criticism of the media is not created equal. Democrats get upset when the media doesn’t report the facts, and Republicans get upset when the media does report the facts. Journalists should be receptive to critique of the former, but proud of the howling from Republicans over the latter.
Hapless date comforting an usher being verbally abused by Rep. Lauren Boebert.
UPDATE #2: The Denver Post’sMegan Schradertracked down one of the theatergoers affected by Rep. Lauren Boebert’s bad behavior leading to Boebert getting escorted out of the Buell Theater in Denver Sunday night. You’ve got to read this to believe it:
“These people in front of us were outrageous. I’ve never seen anyone act like that before,” the woman, who lives in Denver and is in her 30s, said. It wasn’t until later during the play that someone informed her that the misbehaving theatergoer was, in fact, Boebert, a member of Congress.
The woman says Boebert took multiple long videos during the first half of the performance. When she asked Boebert to stop vaping, the congresswoman simply said “no,” the woman said. [Pols emphasis] Boebert was also kissing the man she was with, and singing along loudly with her hands in the air, the woman said.
“At intermission, I asked, ‘Are there any other seats available? Can we sit somewhere else?’” the woman said. “The usher said, ‘You’re not the first complaint we had.’ ”
When the woman returned with her husband to their seats, she said Boebert called her a “sad and miserable person.”
At 2:33 in the surveillance video posted by 9NEWS below, you can see Rep. Boebert’s date attempting to comfort one of the ushers escorting Boebert out while Boebert berates them. The account of the woman interviewed by Megan Schrader also appears to feature this gentleman clumsily trying to make amends for Boebert’s rudeness just before they were booted from the venue:
“The guy she was with offered to buy me and my husband cocktails. I’m pregnant!” she said. [Pols emphasis]
We were closing in on something like pity for Boebert’s companion before we read this, though there’s an argument that after this date from hell the man has been punished enough. This story also corroborates initial reports about vaping in the theater, and who was doing it. Now that #BeetleBert is a global sensation, other witnesses are going to come forward to tell their stories.
UPDATE: When even indicted Trump attorney Jenna Ellis is dunking on you, you’re having a bad day:
Local news headlines this morning are dominated by coverage of an incident Sunday at Denver’s Buell Theater, in which a reportedly combative Rep. Lauren Boebert was escorted out of a performance of the new Beetlejuice musical adaptation by security after causing repeated “disturbances”–the details of which remain in dispute as of this writing. The Denver Post’sJohn Aguilarreported first yesterday afternoon:
U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert was escorted out of a Sunday night performance of the “Beetlejuice” musical in downtown Denver, accused by venue officials of vaping, singing, recording and “causing a disturbance” during the performance.
In an incident report shared with The Denver Post on Tuesday afternoon, officials with Denver Arts & Venues wrote that two patrons were asked to leave the city-owned Buell Theatre during the performance of the touring Broadway show. They previously were issued a warning during the intermission regarding behavior that prompted three complaints from other theatergoers, the report says.
Rep. Lauren Boebert berates security at the Buell Theater Sunday.
Ernest Luning of the Colorado Springs Gazette’s political blog recaps the incident report:
According to a Buell incident report, theater staff received three complaints that the two patrons had been “vaping, singing, causing a disturbance.” The two “were argumentative” and insisted they were responding to the performance the same as surrounding audience members after ushers told them that they “need to be respectful to their neighbors” and that they would be asked to leave if there were more complaints.
About five minutes into the second act, following the intermission, Buell staff received another complaint about Boebert and her companion, this time alleging they were “being loud” and using a recording device. When an usher asked to speak with them outside the theater, they refused to leave and repeated their refusal after being told they would be trespassing.
“I told them I would (be) going to get Denver Police. They said go get them,” the Buell staffer wrote in the incident report. [Pols emphasis]
As our readers know very well, Lauren Boebert is no stranger to being, as they say in the nightlife business, “86ed” from an establishment for bad behavior. In 2015, Boebert was handcuffed and detained at the Country Jam concert in Mesa County after Boebert confronted officers and allegedly “encouraged people arrested for underage drinking to break free.” Boebert then informed officers that she has “friends at Fox News” who would take journalistic revenge if they learned how Boebert was being treated. And of course, there was the incident involving Jayson Boebert whipping out his unnaturally large “thumb” in 2004 that got him banned from a local bowling alley.
Well folks, it appears that Boebert hasn’t gotten any better at handling these situations:
The report said after the two patrons were escorted out and reached the building’s vestibule, they resisted leaving and said “stuff like ‘do you know who I am,’ ‘I am on the board’ (and) ‘I will be contacting the mayor.’ ” [Pols emphasis]
Rep. Lauren Boebert twirls outside the Buell Theater after bring kicked out Sunday.
So first of all, the idea that Lauren Boebert has some kind of influence over Democratic Denver Mayor Mike Johnston with which to exact revenge on ushers at the Buell Theater is ludicrous. Like the Wicked Witch of the West in Munchkinland, Boebert has no power in the Mile High City. But her empty threats to use her position as a member of Congress to retaliate against employees who are just trying to do their jobs and ensure that everyone who buys a ridiculously overpriced ticket to see Beetlejuice has a good time are totally unacceptable. It’s not okay to “pull rank” in this situation any more than it is for a lawmaker stopped for a DUI.
Boebert’s staff reportedly denied the allegation that either she or her date were vaping in the theater, and claimed that they were not being any more disruptive than their neighbors. The only possible explanation in that event would be that Boebert was somehow singled out for mistreatment, and we don’t believe that for a minute. It’s much more believable, given Boebert’s long history of exactly this kind of bad behavior, that Boebert not only richly earned her early exit from the theater but also threatened to retaliate afterward against security invoking her status as a member of Congress.
As for the allegations of “vaping” or being otherwise intoxicated? One has to wonder how much inebriant it takes to twirl away carefree (above right) after being booted from a theater for making a scene. With that said, we weren’t there with a breathalyzer.
But from the State of the Union to Beetlejuice, the moral of the story sems to be that you can’t take Lauren Boebert anywhere. We’ve all known someone like Boebert in our lives, and (hopefully) you learned not to party with them without criminal charges of your own.
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► Utah Senator Mitt Romney announced that he will not seek re-election in 2024. As The Washington Post reports:
Sen. Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential nominee in 2012 and the only member of his party to twice vote to convict former president Donald Trump in politically charged impeachment trials, announced Wednesday that he will not seek a second term in the Senate representing Utah, saying in an interview that it is time for a new generation to “step up” and “shape the world they’re going to live in.”
Romney, 76, said his decision not to run again was heavily influenced by his belief that a second term, which would take him into his 80s, probably would be less productive and less satisfying than the current term has been. He blamed that both on the disarray he sees among House Republicans and on his own lack of confidence in the leadership of President Biden and Trump.
Romney is one of the few rational Republican voices left in Congress. While it is a surprise that he is not seeking re-election, it’s hard to blame him; trying to work with this current generation of MAGA Republicans would be a nightmare.
Coincidentally, this news is all coming out on the same day that POLITICO published an in-depth story from “reporter” Olivia Beavers about how Boebert is trying to turn over a new leaf, or something. It’s possible that she smoked that new leaf at the Buell Theater in Denver on Sunday.
► House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has given Republicans the go-ahead to pursue impeachment investigations into President Biden…as soon as they figure out what to investigate. Colorado Public Radio tracked down some of Colorado’s notable elected officials for comment:
Rep. Lauren Boebert said the Oversight Committee has already produced evidence of impeachable conduct.
Still, none of the documents or transcripts released thus far have shown evidence of any concrete instances of corruption by Biden. [Pols emphasis]
That’s what many Colorado Democrats focused on in response to McCarthy’s announcement.
“There is no concrete evidence of any wrongdoing by President Biden. Even Congressional Republicans are questioning the merits of this nakedly partisan investigation,” said Democratic Rep. Diana DeGette…
…Democratic Rep. Jason Crow, who was an impeachment manager for Trump’s first impeachment, also criticized the move, especially the choice to open an inquiry without first allowing the House to vote on it.
“Democrats held a vote on both impeachment inquiries into President Trump because they were based on facts and evidence. House Republicans know their inquiry is a scam, so they won’t even hold a vote on it,” he said via X, formerly known as Twitter. “What a disgrace. Americans deserve better.” [Pols emphasis]
► While “impeachment” grabbed headlines early in the week, the bigger story in Congress is a looming government shutdown at the end of the month. A shutdown seems likely given the rhetoric from right-wing Republicans intent on proving some sort of point that would ignore the historical reality of the political consequences of such a move. As Colorado Newsline explains:
The most conservative Republicans in the U.S. House announced Tuesday they won’t support the short-term spending bill that’s needed to stop a partial government shutdown from beginning on Oct. 1.
Freedom Caucus Chair Scott Perry, a Pennsylvania Republican, said the group is not interested in a stopgap spending bill that “continues the policies and the spending of the Biden-Schumer-Pelosi era and we’re not going to vote for it.”…
…The GOP-controlled House passed one of its dozen annual government funding bills before going on a six-week break throughout August. The Senate began debate on a three-bill package Tuesday.
Senate Majority Leader Robert Rodriguez and Assistant Majority Leader Faith Winter.
Colorado Senate Democrats elected new leadership last week, elevating Sen. Robert Rodriguez to the role of Senate Majority Leader to replace Dominick Moreno, who resigned from the Senate to take a job with Denver Mayor Mike Johnston’s administration.
Rodriguez defeated Sen. Rachel Zenzinger for the role of Senate Majority Leader, which has apparently led to Zenzinger making some confounding accusations about the new Majority Leader and Senator Faith Winter, who was elected to serve as assistant majority leader. As The Colorado Sun reports today in its “Unaffiliated” newsletter:
Rodriguez was nominated for majority leader by Sen. Faith Winter, D-Westminster, who initially planned to run for the job. In turn, Rodriguez nominated Winter for assistant majority leader.
It sure looked like a deal had been reached between the two to make that happen. Sen. Rhonda Fields, D-Aurora, basically said as much during her remarks at Friday’s leadership election. And other members of the Senate Democratic caucus said the Rodriguez-Winter leadership team was the product of political maneuvering. [Pols emphasis]
Rodriguez, responding to a question from The Sun, denied that there was a deal in which Winter’s supporters agreed to back Rodriguez in exchange for Rodriguez backing Winter. But The Colorado Sun obtained a voicemail from Winter to Sen. Rachel Zenzinger, an Arvada Democrat who was also running for majority leader, in which Winter said she and Rodriguez were “aligning.”
“I didn’t want you to find out from other folks, but Robert and I are aligning,” Winter said in the voicemail. “We’re going to support him for majority leader. He’s going to support me for assistant majority leader.”
First off, we’re not sure why Rodriguez bothered to deny that he and Winter had a deal in place to support each other for leadership positions. Not only is there nothing wrong with this, but it happens all the time. People in every profession engage in some sort of “political maneuvering” in their jobs, but politicking happens to be particularly prevalent in, well, politics.
Zenzinger apparently has some sour grapes related to the Rodriguez/Winter alliance and not being elected Senate Majority Leader herself, but what did she expect would happen? Did she think Senate Democrats would show up at their caucus meeting on Friday completely unprepared for the election?
Normally you don’t rise to a top political position unless you are skilled at politics, and it seems that Rodriguez and Winter created a savvy alliance that worked to the advantage of both members. That’s how this works. That’s how this has always worked.
Ken Buck, a member of the House Freedom Caucus who was previously skeptical of an impeachment inquiry, seems to have changed his mind after Speaker Kevin McCarthy moved to open the inquiry without a vote.
“I think it’s a good move. We have to focus on spending, we have to make sure the government doesn’t shut down. We have to get our job done. And I think taking this off the table and not having a distraction is a good move,” he said Tuesday.
It’s quite a climb-down for Ken Buck, who seems to have just proven that he too can be bullied back in line when it matters most. We think he’s trying to say that bypassing a vote and proceeding directly to a dead-ender impeachment inquiry is a win for keeping Congress on track, but nobody is going to appreciate the nuance.
In recent weeks, the growing breach between Colorado’s arch-conservative GOP Rep. Ken Buck and his contemporaries in the Freedom Caucus has become impossible for either side to ignore. After years of generally loyal if occasionally bumbling service to Republican leadership, Rep. Buck first broke from his hard-line colleagues back in December of 2020 when he belatedly accepted that Joe Biden was the legitimately-elected President of the United States. As the new House GOP majority in 2023 driven by Freedom Caucus demands turned toward vengeance on behalf of twice-impeached Donald Trump, Buck has refused to play along, blasting Speaker Kevin McCarthy’sappeasement of impeachment-demanding hardliners as “theater.” Buck even committed the cardinal sin of agreeing that the criminal charges in the Mar-a-Lago classified documents case in particular are very serious.
CNN’s political team is reporting today that in the wake of Buck’s vitriolic exchange of fire last week with Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene over January 6th “political prisoners,” the up-to-now private dissatisfaction with his far-right colleagues has gone fully public:
Conservative Rep. Ken Buck is just one of several House Republicans standing in the way of the right’s push to impeach President Joe Biden.
But his high-profile seat on the key House Judiciary Committee, recent outspoken interviews railing against the House GOP’s investigative efforts, and long track record of bucking his own party have put a target on his back in conservative circles.
Now, there is a serious effort underway to find a candidate to mount a primary challenge against Buck in his solidly red district in eastern Colorado, three GOP sources told CNN – the latest sign of tension as the House GOP grapples with internal divisions over everything from its agenda to former President Donald Trump…
“This is the same guy that wrote a book called ‘Drain the Swamp’, who is now arguing against an impeachment inquiry,” Greene told CNN. “I really don’t see how we can have a member on Judiciary that is flat out refusing to impeach. … It seems like, can he even be trusted to do his job at this point?”
Before we get to the topic of a potential primary challenge, there are a number of complicating factors that could make MTG’s threats against Buck toothless. For one thing, Rep. Greene was herself booted from the Freedom Caucus earlier this year after calling Colorado’s other conservative hard-liner Rep. Lauren Boebert a “little bitch” on the House floor, which sent MTG fleeing into the arms of Speaker McCarthy. Although McCarthy appears to have given in to the Freedom Caucus on a dead-ender impeachment inquiry, we don’t see any incentive for McCarthy to punish Buck for disagreeing. When this latest bout of tit-for-tat impeachment fever has run its course, Buck will be the moral victor–which as we’ll discuss in a moment may be all that matters.
As for a primary challenge against Buck in 2024?
Among the names of people being floated to potentially challenge Buck in a primary, according to several sources familiar: state Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg, who sources said thought about challenging Buck last cycle but ultimately did not, and state Rep. Richard Holtorf, a pro-Trump Republican who is currently minority whip in the Colorado general assembly.
It’s no secret that GOP state legislative lifer Jerry Sonnenberg has aspirations to run for Congress someday, but Sonnenberg simply does not have the clout or the infrastructure in place to mount a serious challenge to Buck on Buck’s home turf. Colorado has never been a MAGA stronghold where disloyalty to Trump is some kind of career-ending sin. Sonnenberg may well be waiting for the perennial rumors of Buck’s retirement to come true, but he’d be a fool to try to take Buck’s seat perforce. Rep. Richard Holtorf is nutty enough to be less predictable than Sonnenberg, but likewise would pose no real threat to Buck in a primary.
One of the biggest unanswered questions about Buck’s now-sustained pushback against the retributive agenda of his far-right colleagues is why Buck has focused almost all of his attention on blasting Rep. Greene, when every bit of the criticism Buck is leveling at Greene applies equally to Buck’s Colorado colleague Rep. Lauren Boebert if not more so. Boebert is at the tip of the spear with her bestie Rep. Matt Gaetz in demanding either impeachment or Speaker McCarthy’s head, in stark contrast to McCarthy’s fast friend MTG. Buck tearing into MTG while leaving Boebert untouched–or at least unnamed–could be interpreted as fear that bashing Boebert might rouse image-tarnishing resistance to Buck in CD-4.
Overall, the best assessment we can offer is that Buck is positioning himself for life after the House as a cable news talking head. Over the past few months, Buck has been a regular guest on CNN and more recently MSNBC, giving him a mouthpiece for many of these contrary positions that have enraged his conservative colleagues. Rumors of Buck’s imminent retirement have circulated in basically every election cycle since he was elected to Congress in 2014, and at some point Buck is going to oblige them.
If Buck sticks to upbraiding his fellow Republicans as a TV news talking head, he’ll do fine. If the on-air conversation progresses to any other issue, Buck might find his career on cable news–at least outlets on the reality-based side of Newsmax–to be rather short.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has given in to the crazies in the Republican caucus and agreed to move forward with an impeachment investigation into President Biden.
This impeachment effort will be much different than either of the impeachment investigations into former President Donald Trump in large part because it’s not actually clear what Biden might have done wrong to warrant such a significant undertaking. There were multiple credible whistleblowers and mounds of evidence against Trump in both of his impeachment trials; this impeachment effort seems to be more of an investigation in search of a problem.
McCarthy said Tuesday he is directing House committees to open an impeachment inquiry into President Biden, amid pressure from some hard-right members of the Republican caucus to do so.
The inquiry would center on whether Biden benefited from his son Hunter Biden’s business dealings, among other issues, McCarthy said.
“These are allegations of abuse of power, obstruction and corruption and warrant further investigation by the House of Representatives,” McCarthy told reporters Tuesday morning. “That’s why today I am directing our House committee to open a formal impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden.” [Pols emphasis]
McCarthy spoke for three minutes, did not take any questions and left the lectern shortly after making his remarks. McCarthy has previously said he would not launch an inquiry without a vote by the full house.
If you’re wondering how serious McCarthy is taking this impeachment effort, look no further than his brief comments this morning: “Allegations of abuse of power, obstruction and corruption” is such a nebulous statement that it could apply to just about anyone in Washington D.C.
Why, then, is McCarthy doing this? It’s simple, really: There are enough right-wing MAGA lunatics in his caucus that are demanding impeachment hearings — including (not)BFFs Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert — that McCarthy risks a challenge to his speakership if he doesn’t at least go through the motions of an investigation. As POLITICO explains:
It’s a huge win for conservatives, who have pressured the California Republican for months to move existing investigations into the Democratic president into a formal impeachment inquiry. Some members of McCarthy’s right flank have openly threatened to try to strip him of the House gavel if their demands weren’t met
Remember, back when McCarthy was waiting longer than anyone since before the Civil War to get enough votes to become House Speaker, one of the concessions he made was to change the rules so that any one Member of the House could call for a vote for a new Speaker. McCarthy apparently feels like he’ll lose his gavel if he doesn’t play along with a Biden impeachment investigation.
Side Note: This is the difference between being the Republican leader in the House of Representatives and directing the GOP caucus in the Senate. In order to keep his job as House Speaker, McCarthy had little choice but to give in to the lunatics demanding an impeachment hearing for President Biden — even if nobody is really sure why Biden should be impeached. In the Senate, Mitch McConnell only needed to prove that he was still a relatively-functional human being in order to maintain his job as Senate Minority Leader.
Can you impeach a laptop computer?
It is also unclear just how plausible an impeachment inquiry might be for McCarthy. Let’s go back to POLITICO:
So far, McCarthy doesn’t have 218 GOP votes needed to launch an impeachment inquiry. He and other top Republicans have tried to characterize such a step as strengthening their investigative power, rather than a concrete move toward attempting to boot the president from office — semantics that matter to centrist Republicans.
So this is just a “kinda impeachment”?
Colorado Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley) has been speaking out quite a bit lately on his opposition to an impeachment of President Biden. Nebraska Republican Rep. Don Bacon is also not on board, telling POLITICO:
“As of now I don’t support [an impeachment inquiry]. I think an inquiry should be based on evidence of a crime that points directly to President Biden, or if the President doesn’t cooperate by not providing documents. There’s clearly corruption with Hunter using his Dad’s name to earn tens of millions of dollars. But impeachment needs to be about the dad, not the son.” [Pols emphasis]
McCarthy can only afford to lose four Republican votes in his thin majority; Buck and Bacon drop that number to two. There are 18 other vulnerable “centrist” Republicans who are definitely nervous about this given that they represent districts that Biden won in 2020.
The other problem with McCarthy’s announcement is that it removes impeachment as a potential bargaining chip with the White House over a looming government shutdown. The impeachment stuff is making news today, but it won’t be the top story for long once it becomes obvious that McCarthy doesn’t have a way to convince House Republicans — particularly those in the “Freedom Caucus” — to avert a shutdown at the end of the month.