Shutdown Moves Inevitably Closer as Boebert Flops Like Fish

This is Boebert’s United States of Whatever

Members of the House of Representatives return to Capitol Hill on Tuesday and may get down to the business of casting votes as soon as tomorrow evening (but probably not, given House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s “Freedom Caucus” problem).

Not much has changed on the looming government shutdown question since McCarthy adjourned early last Thursday. McCarthy is in the same no-win situation. The Speaker can push a hard-right proposal favored by the House “Freedom Caucus” and rocket surgeons such as Rep. Matt Gaetz, but that idea is certainly DOA in the Senate. Alternatively, McCarthy could push for a bipartisan continuing resolution to keep the government open past Sept. 30, but going that route would likely doom his speakership and lead to hard-right Republicans calling for an election to select a new Speaker.

As POLITICO explains, McCarthy seems likely to try door number one:

Over the weekend, McCarthy rolled out his latest bid to pivot away from an embarrassing stretch where members of his own party left plan after plan in tatters, taking down two procedural votes and otherwise making a mockery of his ability to lead the House GOP.

McCarthy may attempt to package several full-year appropriations bills together for a vote in the House, much to the delight of Gaetz, but this appeasement of the far right is a non-starter for the rest of his caucus–not to mention DOA in a Democratic-controlled Senate:

There’s no guarantee McCarthy will be able to muster the votes to move forward — in fact, you’d have to bet against it, particularly after a top ally, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), announced Sunday that she remains a “hard no.”

And even if Republicans move forward with the full-year bills, that does nothing to avert a government shutdown next weekend. Gaetz and a handful of like-minded hardliners insist that they won’t vote for any continuing resolution to keep the government open temporarily — even one that reportedly includes a 27 percent cut to non-defense spending.

McCarthy, meanwhile, has shown no sign he’s ready to move forward with a CR that could pass with Democratic votes, lest the hard-right rebellion turn into an outright mutiny.

On the topic of Gaetz, he and Rep. Lauren Boebert were supposed to have been the featured guests at a La Plata County Republican Party fundraiser on Saturday. Instead of returning to Colorado, however, Boebert stayed in Washington D.C. We’ll get to that in a moment, but her absence at the La Plata County Lincoln Dinner led to a rough story from the Durango Herald:

Boebert and U.S. Rep Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), who was slated to make a guest appearance at the Lincoln Day Dinner, decided to skip the major fundraiser, [Durango activist Harrison] Wendt said.

“Boebert and Gaetz stayed in DC. They’re not even in La Plata County right now. She put out a video today on some news organization where she said, ‘I’m here to serve my constituents and not perform political theater,’” he said. “But unfortunately, the GOPers spent hundreds, hundreds of dollars to see Matt Gaetz and Boebert. And now they won’t be there.”

Here’s a resulting headline that will surely bake Boebert’s noodle:

The UK Independent (via Yahoo)

But this headline, as strange as it seems, is an indicator of Boebert’s hopelessly contradictory message as the shutdown rapidly approaches. Don’t take our word for it: on Friday evening, Boebert was on Newsmax telling host Eric Bolling that she was staying in Washington “working to avoid a government shutdown.”

This is basically the 180-degree opposite of what Boebert told Steve Bannon the next day:


BOEBERT: It is very well possible that we will see a one week, ten day, twelve day, maybe a fifteen day–hopefully not–shutdown of the federal government to get this right. [Pols emphasis]

With House Republicans set to vote on bills with no chance of survival in the Senate, hence doing nothing to prevent a shutdown growing more inevitable by the hour, welcoming the shutdown is probably Boebert’s first honest admission about a disaster that she and her Freedom Caucus colleagues are not only doing nothing to prevent but are the prime movers in instigating. The harm that will rapidly ensue from a federal government shutdown in Boebert’s district is the last thing America’s most vulnerable Republican incumbent needs, and that’s why she’s pretending she doesn’t want a shutdown with some audiences while welcoming it in the presence of America’s Greasiest Traitor™ Steve Bannon.

Only one of these expresses how Boebert really feels. She is lying to one or the other audience. We suspect she gave her real opinion to Steve Bannon and lied to Eric Bolling, but it really doesn’t matter. Because nobody trusts liars.

When the time comes to end the posturing and do the work, Boebert will not be part of the solution.

Biden to Announce New Office of Gun Violence Prevention

President Biden is naming Vice President Harris to oversee a new office of gun violence prevention.

While Congressional Republicans are busy fighting amongst themselves over basic governing functions like funding the damn government, President Biden continues to chalk up new accomplishments. During an event this afternoon at the White House Rose Garden, Biden will announce a new office of gun violence prevention.

As POLITICO reports, Biden will task Vice President Kamala Harris with overseeing the new office:

Harris, who has played a leading role in gun safety policy, will oversee the office, according to a White House statement. Longtime Biden aide Stefanie Feldman, who has worked on gun policy for more than a decade, will serve as its director…

…Greg Jackson, executive director of the Community Justice Action Fund, and Rob Wilcox, the senior director for federal government affairs at Everytown for Gun Safety, will report to Feldman as deputy directors of the new office.

For years, gun groups have pleaded with Biden to take this action, which advocates see as a concrete step forward as gun safety legislation remains stalled in Congress. Activists have argued that such an office will help the administration coordinate on gun policy issues across the federal government, while also allowing the White House to show leadership on the issue.

Colorado Rep. Joe Neguse (D-Boulderish), who serves as Vice Chair of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, helped lead an effort in early 2022 to push the White House to create an office of gun violence prevention.

“In 2023, there have been more mass shootings than days in the year. It’s long past time we confront this crisis with the urgency it requires.”

— Rep. Joe Neguse (D-Boulderish)

Neguse issued a statement on Thursday praising the news:

“In 2023, there have been more mass shootings than days in the year. It’s long past time we confront this crisis with the urgency it requires, ensuring that we are investing in every solution at our disposal to reduce incidents of gun violence, protecting our kids and our families, and building safer communities. I applaud President Biden for heeding the calls of lawmakers across Congress and working to establish an Office of Gun Violence Prevention.”

“Communities in my home state of Colorado are far too familiar with traumatic incidents of gun violence. It’s imperative that we continue to take action to create a country free from the scourge of gun violence. Our work is not over, but this news makes historic progress toward saving lives.”

The Washington Post adds more detail:

Since Biden was elected, gun violence prevention groups have pressed the White House to create such an office, arguing that it would help coordinate efforts across the federal government to reduce gun violence. Activists say this type of office would also allow the White House to exert more leadership on the issue.

“If this announcement is, in fact, the creation of a single point of leadership on gun violence in the administration, it’s a very big deal for the movement,” Shannon Watts, the founder emerita of Moms Demand Action.

Obviously this new office isn’t going to solve the issue of gun violence in America, but it is important to have people close to the President who are working on only this issue. If devoting time and resources specifically to gun violence prevention wasn’t significant, Republicans and gun groups like the National Rifle Association wouldn’t expend so much effort trying to stop it from happening. In 2019, Congress authorized — for the first time — funding dedicated specifically for gun violence research, which opened up a new front of opposition.

As The Los Angeles Times reported in late July:

California is the epicenter of American gun violence research, largely because it maintains an extensive repository of firearms data and, unlike other states, has historically made much of the data available to scientists studying the root causes of gun deaths.

A lawsuit brought by gun-rights activists now threatens that longstanding data infrastructure. And although the federal government began funding gun-violence research again in 2019, following a two-decades-long drought, that funding is under threat from House Republicans, who have vowed to kill it…

…Firearm industry interests, who consistently oppose efforts to provide academics with data on gun violence, know that their political efforts hinder potentially useful research. Laws that block data access “prevent researchers from conducting accurate studies with the number and distribution of firearms as a variable,” Josh Savani, the National Rifle Assn.’s director of research and information, wrote in a 2021 internal report.

As the late author Tom Clancy once said: “The control of information is something the elite always does, particularly in a despotic form of government. Information, knowledge, is power. If you can control information, you can control people.”

Today’s announcement is an important step toward changing that dynamic around guns in America.

Pick a Lane, Ken Buck

Congressman Ken Buck is definitely a Republican. Beyond that, it’s impossible to tell what Buck believes about anything at any given time. Few politicians twist themselves into pretzel shapes as often as the five-term representative from congressional district four, which is how he earned the term “Buckpedaling” (HERE, HERE, and HERE for just a few examples).

As we noted last week, Buck has again been all over the road on the issue of (attempting) to impeach President Biden for crimes that Republicans have yet to figure out. Buck spent most of the August recess appearing as a guest on every national news outlet that would take his calls, where he regularly discussed his belief that it was a terrible idea for Republicans to be trying to impeach Biden when a) Republicans haven’t found any proof of anything despite more than three years of looking, and b) There are much more pressing issues facing Congress (like a looming government shutdown).

True to his namesake phrase, he Buckpedaled as soon as he returned to Washington D.C., telling POLITICO that he was totally on board with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s decision to instruct House Republicans to more forward with their Biden impeachment investigations.

“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.”

— Rep. Ken Buck on impeachment investigations into President Biden (Sept. 12, 2023)


That same day, Buck showed up for an interview on MSNBC, in which he explained to Andrea Mitchell that he had changed his mind but maybe hadn’t changed his mind:

MITCHELL: You have said as recently — to my colleague, Jen Psaki — I think on Sunday, that you did not think this was a good idea, that you did not think it was warranted. What do you think today?

BUCK: What I wanted to do was look at the evidence. I said I’ll go where the evidence takes me. And I still want to look at the evidence. I’m going to get a briefing later in the week on what evidence links [Joe Biden] to Hunter Biden’s activities. I haven’t seen that link yet, and so I’m reluctant to agree with Speaker McCarthy.



Beetlebert! Beetlebert! Beetlebert! (feat. Micah Parkin)

Micah Parkin of

This week on the Get More Smarter Podcast, our 8th favorite member of Congress from Colorado is once again making headlines for all the wrong reasons — this time getting kicked out of a production of the musical version of the seminal 90’s movie, Beetlejuice; the madness continues in Congress under weak loser House Speaker Kevin McCarthy as the MAGA caucus continues to demand things, move the goalposts, investigate Joe Biden and try to shut down the government (hey didn’t they all campaign on crime and inflation? What the hell happened to that?); and our seventh favorite member of Congress from Colorado does a head spinning reversal after doing a Sunday show audition tour pretending to have integrity.

But that’s not all! Our guest this week is Micah Parkin, executive director of, who sits down to talk about a potential 2024 ballot initiative to fight climate change in Colorado.

Listen to previous episodes of The Get More Smarter Podcast at

Questions? Comments? Complaints? Let us have it at Or send emails to or

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Ken Buck Tellingly Spares Boebert As The Knives Come Out

UPDATE: One Buck forward, Two Bucks back as Politico reports this afternoon:

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.

And the last we heard, Buck isn’t doing a damn thing to keep the government from shutting down.


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’s appeasement 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.

McCarthy Caves on Impeachment…Sort Of

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy

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.

As The Washington Post reports:

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.

Scott Gessler: The Lawyer Trump Hasn’t Stiffed (Yet)

Scott Gessler, who was telling the “Big Lie” years before Trump made it cool.

As the legal campaign seeking accountability over the attempt by ex-President Donald Trump to overturn the 2020 presidential election has advanced to the criminal justice phase in the last few months, we’ve spent most of our time in this space discussing two lawyers with local ties involved in the plot who are now facing felony criminal charges in the state of Georgia–former University of Colorado Benson Center “conservative scholar” John Eastman, and Colorado Christian University’s Jenna Ellis. Eastman and Ellis were both involved in the development of an admitted illegal strategy to delay the certification of Joe Biden’s victory in order to supplant the lawful electors with Trump cronies.

But as Colorado Newsline’s Chase Woodruff reports today, another Colorado Republican attorney, infamous for his false claims about stolen elections years before Trump adopted casting doubt on elections as his strategy for holding on to power, is still on the payroll (and as far as we know, not in legal trouble himself) despite his own disastrous performance in 2020 trying to press Trump’s baseless claims of election fraud. Longtime readers know him as the “Honey Badger,” but after false claims of election fraud nearly tore apart American democracy, we no longer find him deserving of any term of endearment:

Republican attorney Scott Gessler, who is representing Trump in the suit brought last week by the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington on behalf of six Colorado voters, served one term as Colorado’s secretary of state from 2011 to 2015…

In an unsuccessful bid for chair of the Colorado Republican Party in 2021, Gessler echoed Trump’s false claims that the 2020 presidential election was stolen — claims that congressional and criminal investigations have described as part of a sweeping plot to overturn the election that culminated in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob.

During his term in office, Gessler was a vocal promoter of allegations of voter fraud, which elections experts and law enforcement agencies have consistently found is extremely rare, and which advocates criticize as a pretext for efforts to suppress legitimate votes. In the aftermath of the 2012 election, Gessler announced that he had referred 155 suspected cases of voter fraud to local prosecutors across Colorado. Only four people were charged, and prosecutors ultimately only secured a single conviction.

Former Secretary of State Scott Gessler’s thoroughly discredited campaign to prove that Colorado elections were being swung by tens of thousands of “illegal voters” went on for years in his office’s official capacity until finally collapsing in a heap after it became painfully obvious that nothing anywhere near what Gessler claimed was taking place. At the same time, Gessler’s brazen partisanship when it came to enforcing campaign finance laws weaponized the supposedly impartial Secretary of State’s office beyond the wildest aspirations of predecessors or successors.

By 2014, when Gessler decided to run for governor, his by-then discredited quest for “illegal voters” made him a pariah even in the Republican Party at that time. After several years in the wilderness fleecing half-baked recall campaigns, school board races, and other low-level shenanigans, in November of 2020 Gessler got the call to go to work for Trump. Representing the Trump campaign’s attempt to overturn the results in Nevada, the Nevada Independent reported how Gessler fared:

The much-touted evidence…failed to persuade Judge James Russell, who ultimately issued an order dismissing the case with prejudice, meaning the parties could not re-file a similar suit using the same claims…

A third expert provided by the campaign, Scott Gessler, was…questioned by Russell as he provided no exhibits or citations for his conclusions, and “based nearly all his opinions on a handful of affidavits that he took no steps to corroborate through independent investigation.”

The Nevada Supreme Court opinion tossing Trump’s suit in that state singled Gessler out for ridicule:

Contestants offered Mr. Gessler to opine on the transition to and administration of mail voting. Mr. Gessler’s report lacked citations to facts and evidence that he used to come to his conclusions and did not include a single exhibit to support of any of his conclusions.

Indeed, at one point in Gessler testimony he appears to have blown the whole case with a single admission:

Contestants’ own expert witness, Mr. Gessler…testified that he has no personal knowledge that any voting fraud occurred in Nevada’s 2020 General Election. [Pols emphasis]

After failing so dismally to assert Trump’s claims of fraud in 2020, it’s anybody’s guess why Trump is still willing to employ Gessler in 2023 to defend him in the lawsuit seeking to bar Trump from the 2024 primary ballot in Colorado. We assume it must be because in Trump’s view even failure is less consequential than disloyalty, and unlike Jenna Ellis no one has forced Gessler to take back his false statements in defense of Trump. Though not on the same national stage, Gessler certainly has made many of the same false claims about the 2020 that got Jenna Ellis censured by Colorado’s attorney regulators.

If there’s one thing Gessler is an expert at, though, it’s getting paid. Despite Trump’s notoriously poor treatment of his lawyers, if anyone has an ironclad contract to make sure the checks arrive in a timely manner it’s Scott Gessler.

We hope so, anyway, because as Ellis and Eastman can attest, the cost of representing Trump is steeper than anyone imagined in 2020.

Ken Buck’s Mavericky Misgivings Set Off MTG X-Bomb

Earlier this week, GOP Rep. Ken Buck set off a political firestorm when he responded in smackdown-laying detail to a falsehood-ridden letter sent from the Colorado Republican Party urging lawmakers to make the plight of January 6th, 2021 insurrection “political prisoners” a “top priority.” The Denver Post’s Nick Coltrain:

Buck, a former chair of the state Republican Party, shot down the petition’s claims in a four-page letter that included footnotes. His letter is dated Friday but was distributed on the same Republican Party email list Tuesday.

“It is irresponsible to allege without evidence, as your letter does, that Americans are being systematically denied their most basic Constitutional rights based on their political beliefs,” Buck wrote…

Buck rebutted the accusations point-by-point: That those still in custody ahead of their trials are facing felony charges and that most of those people are accused of assaulting a law enforcement officer; that people being held without bond are charged with felonies and most defendants were released on their own recognizance; that the Washington, D.C., jail — while “a miserable place, rife with abuse and dangerous for even the most hardened criminal” — is not especially worse for Jan. 6 defendants; and that courts have been making accommodation for detainees to ensure they have enough time to meet with their lawyers ahead of trial.

You can read the full original letter and Buck’s response here as originally reported by Erik Maulbetsch of the Colorado Times Recorder, but since picked up by news outlets nationwide as a notable intraparty challenge to the campaign to reinvent the January 6th rioters as heroic political prisoners. Buck didn’t mention Rep. Lauren Boebert by name, but she too has made sympathetic visits to January 6th defendants while attempting to recast the violence of that day as “an escorted tour into the Capitol.”

And although this isn’t the first time Rep. Buck has thrown cold water on the latest red-hot far-right cause célèbre, on this occasion Buck drew a furious response from Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, one of the prime movers in the campaign to rehabilitate January 6th rioters:

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (Q-GA).

MTG follows with a lengthy Twitter/X thread bitterly denouncing Buck for his lack of enthusiasm to impeach Joe Biden, “supporting Joe Biden’s election” (meaning not reciting the lie that the 2020 presidential election was stolen), never visiting the January 6th defendants in jail, and “apologizing for communists abusing their power to persecute their political enemies.” Were it not for the fact that MTG was kicked out of the Freedom Caucus and Ken Buck was publicly cool with it, we would call this a friendship-ending j’accuse. As it is, there’s no friendship left to spoil.

If there was any doubt, Rep. Buck put it to rest this morning on fellow prosecutor-turned talk radio blowhard George Brauchler’s radio show. Here’s what Buck said when asked about why he hasn’t visited the January 6th defendants in custody:

BUCK: I’ll tell you, Marjorie did do it and she did have access to [the J6 defendants] and she did talk to them.

And frankly, I have a lot of things to do and I’m not gonna go to the DC jail and talk to a bunch of people who assaulted police officers. My sympathy is not with people who beat up cops. [Pols emphasis] My sympathy is not with people that destroy a building that I consider sacred, the US Capitol. My sympathies are not with people who want to stop a Congressional function which is counting the votes in an election. That’s not where my sympathies lie and I’m not gonna spend time going there…

When when I was teaching law school, I learned and and taught certain constitutional principles. When Marjorie Taylor Greene was teaching CrossFit, she learned a whole different set of values then. [Pols emphasis] Because my idea of what this country should be like is based on the Constitution, and she sees the world differently. She’s criticized me for, you know, voting to certify the election in 2020. The Constitution says Congress shall count the votes. Some say Congress may overturn an election result. It doesn’t say Congress can do whatever the heck it wants with. This election shall count the votes. That’s what the Constitution says in her CrossFit class. Maybe they didn’t cover that.

As averse as we are to offering praise for Ken Buck, who will right after this moment of clarity happily launch into a tirade about the myth of climate change or how nobody in Congress wants to punish Working America like he does, this is one of the most powerful repudiations of the whitewashing of January 6th we’ve seen from any Republican. Again, it shouldn’t be difficult for Republicans to disown violence against police officers and smashing up the hallowed seat of American democracy. That so few Republicans are able to make these basic admissions is not so much a testament to the few like Buck who manage the bare minimum, but an indictment of the overwhelming majority who won’t.

But the curve today is historically low, and credit where due.

Lawsuit Filed To Keep Traitor Trump Off Colorado’s Ballot

The ex-President.

National legal watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington today announced a lawsuit seeking to compel Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold to remove Donald Trump from the list of eligible candidates for President in our state “based on his disqualification from public office under Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.”

Having disqualified himself from public office by violating Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, Donald Trump must be removed from the ballot, according to a lawsuit filed today by six Republican and unaffiliated Colorado voters including former state, federal and local officials, represented by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington and the firms Tierney Lawrence Stiles LLC, KBN Law, LLC and Olson Grimsley Kawanabe Hinchcliff & Murray LLC.

Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, also known as the Disqualification Clause, bars any person from holding federal or state office who took an “oath…to support the Constitution of the United States” and then has “engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.” On January 20, 2017, Donald Trump stood before the nation and took an oath to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” After losing the 2020 presidential election, Donald Trump violated that oath by recruiting, inciting and encouraging a violent mob that attacked the Capitol on January 6, 2021 in a futile attempt to remain in office…

“As a longtime Republican who voted for him, I believe Donald Trump disqualified himself from running in 2024 by spreading lies, vilifying election workers, and fomenting an attack on the Capitol,” said conservative columnist for the Denver Post and Republican activist Krista Kafer. “Those who by force and by falsehood subvert democracy are unfit to participate in it. That’s why I am part of this lawsuit to prevent an insurrectionist from appearing on Colorado’s ballot.”

The case is laid out in a 100-page petition filing you can read here. The summary argument is that Trump, having engaged in insurrection on January 6th, 2021, is constitutionally disqualified from running for office, and Colorado’s Secretary of State therefore has the “power and duty” to remove Trump from state’s presidential primary ballot. Secretary of State Griswold is the respondent in the case along with Trump, which may be the first and last time you’ll ever see them even nominally on the same side.

This isn’t the only case where the 14th Amendment has been invoked since January 6th, 2021 in an attempt to judicially end political careers, and though cases against higher profile figures haven’t fared as well a New Mexico county commissioner was successfully thrown off the ballot last year for his role in the insurrection. With the Colorado Republican Party controlled by MAGA-diehard election deniers, the Republicans who signed up to front this lawsuit like Denver Post columnist Krista Kafer are taking a commendably brave stand against their own.

The political opposing argument to this lawsuit is that Colorado is in absolutely no danger of flipping to Trump in 2024 after having been trounced here in the last two presidential elections, and indeed Colorado voters will be highly motivated to turn out in 2024 to reject Trump in the event he wins the Republican nomination. Whether they realize it or not–those in charge generally speaking do not–Republicans in Colorado would benefit greatly from not having to share the ballot with Trump next year. A court ruling disqualifying Trump, as satisfying and even legally justified idea as that may be, lacks the unquestionable finality of a landslide at the polls.

Then again, who are we kidding? Trump doesn’t respect election outcomes either.

For that reason alone, maybe a courtroom is where Trump’s fate belongs.

Proud Boys Ringleader Gets 22 Years For January 6th

As the Washington Post reports, the longest sentence yet handed out to anyone involved in the conspiracy to overturn the 2020 presidential election by swindle or thuggery came today against former Proud Boys Oberfuhrer Enrique Tarrio, who will have 22 years to cool his neofascist jets in federal prison and contemplate how things went so terribly wrong in life:

Tarrio, of Miami, was arrested and convicted even though he wasn’t in D.C. on Jan. 6. He had been arrested in December 2020 after he burned a “Black Lives Matter” flag torn down from a D.C. church during a protest in the city following President Donald Trump’s defeat. He was banned from the city as a result.

But prosecutors said he recruited people to join in a violent assault on the Capitol on Jan. 6 to keep Trump in power and messaged them “Don’t f—ing leave” as they led the storming of the building, causing the electoral vote count to stop for about six hours. Kelly cited that message Tuesday in ruling that Tarrio still had a leadership role on Jan. 6, even if he wasn’t in D.C. Tarrio denied planning an incursion into the Capitol and gave interviews after the riot saying he did not endorse that move by multiple Proud Boys, some of whom were among the first to enter the building.

Tarrio was defiant just prior to his conviction in May, claiming that he was being prosecuted by sinister forces “trying to manipulate the 2024 election.” But in court today for sentencing, the once-proud leader of the militia group President Donald Trump told to “stand back and stand by” could not have been more sorry:

Tarrio apologized for his actions and those of the Proud Boys, saying the police who defended the Capitol, some of whom were in the audience Tuesday, “deserve nothing but praise, respect and to be honored as the heroes they are. I am extremely ashamed and disappointed they were caused grief and suffering.” He also said he had early doubts about whether the election was stolen, but kept them to himself. “Every medium I turned to told me my anger was justified,” Tarrio said. “It wasn’t…I do not think what happened that day was acceptable.”

On that last point, all we can say is more of Tarrio’s fellow MAGA conservatives should agree than do–and we can only hope this sentence gets their attention, since no amount of factual evidence has proven able to. Tarrio’s remorse probably did knock a few years off his sentence, but the message his case sends ending with this harsh sentence is (we hope) resounding and unmistakable. Attempts to overthrow the United States government by force will not end well for the perpetrators.

Tarrio’s remorse is even more important now that we know the accountability is not going to end with the leader of the Proud Boys. His case is a sentencing frame of reference for the much bigger fish yet to fry. And it should make Trump’s jilted co-conspirators think very carefully about their next move.

Laura Ingraham Pops John Eastman’s Vote Fraud Bubble

John Eastman, photo courtesy Fulton County Sheriff.

Last night, indicted attorney and former University of Colorado conservative scholar John Eastman appeared on Fox News’ Ingraham Angle, the coziest confines this side of Newsmax for the embattled accused mastermind conspirator in the plot to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election on behalf of Donald Trump.

But as HuffPo’s Josephine Harvey reports, infamous Fox News prime-time misinformation maven Laura Ingraham left Eastman to twist in the wind on a central point of both his and Trump’s defense in their upcoming criminal trials: any actual evidence of election fraud to back up Eastman (and Trump’s) continuing insistence that the 2020 presidential election was in fact stolen:

Eastman was one of 18 Trump allies indicted alongside the former president by the Fulton County District Attorney’s office in Georgia earlier this month. According to the indictment, Eastman and others tried to establish a slate of fake electors to falsely certify that Trump won the 2020 election in order to change the outcome.

In Tuesday’s Fox News interview, Eastman continued to double down on lies about the election, and insisted he “had lots of evidence of fraud.”

“I haven’t seen that evidence, and I’m always wanting to see everything,” Ingraham said. “I’d love to see that evidence.” [Pols emphasis]

Nearly three years after the 2020 elections, and the exhaustive investigations into the Trump campaign’s allegations of outcome-determinative voter fraud that all found no evidence to support them, Laura Ingraham doesn’t expect to see the evidence that Eastman claims to possess. The reason is simple: Ingraham knows that evidence does not exist. Ingraham as we know now after the disclosure of her desperate attempts on January 6th to persuade Trump to tell the rioters to leave the Capitol, flat-out telling Mark Meadows that the attack was “destroying his legacy,” is much more lucid about what happened in 2020 than she can ever admit to her Trump-adoring audience. And while Ingraham was quick to shovel misinformation about “Antifa” responsibility after the insurrection, subsidizing the “Big Lie” that Eastman and Trump are now relying on to prop up their criminal defense appears to be something she is not willing to do.

And as the Daily Beast reports, the damage for Eastman in this supposedly friendly interview wasn’t over:

On The Ingraham Angle, Eastman was asked by anchor Laura Ingraham about whether the prosecutors can prove the case, which Ingraham said revolved around Eastman and the other defendants “all basically agreeing—implicitly, explicitly—that you all knew this was phony and that your decision amongst yourselves was to advance the plan to overturn the election.”

Eastman responded that the prosecution has “all the evidence” and “all my emails.”

“My phone was seized over a year ago. They have got all that stuff as well. I challenge them to find a single email or communication that supports that implausible theory,” he claimed.

Yet emails show that after the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection, Eastman persisted in trying to get Vice President Mike Pence to not certify the electoral votes, begging his counsel to break the law. [Pols emphasis]

Which is 100% accurate: back in March of 2022, the January 6th Select Committee released emails from Eastman to Vice President Mike Pence’s lawyers acknowledging that they would be breaking the law to implement his strategy, even asking for “one more relatively minor violation” to delay the certification of Joe Biden’s victory for ten days beyond January 6th. Ingraham of course didn’t challenge Eastman on this point, but everyone following this story knows that Eastman’s conscious and deliberate legal advice to break the law was exposed long ago. For Eastman to not remember this raises the most basic questions about his credibility and judgment.

Or, maybe the guy just makes stuff up, and the problem is how far you can get in the field of law by doing so.

Trump Buttering Up Colorado MAGA Loyalists

UPDATE: As Erik Maulbetsch reports for the Colorado Times Recorder, the Colorado Republican Party is pushing its people to sign a pledge in support of the “January 6 prisoners.” Trump’s message has definitely been received.


“These are incredible Colorado patriots, that’s for sure.”

Donald Trump in a video naming El Paso County GOP leaders

The frontrunner for the 2024 Republican Presidential nomination isn’t getting indicted again this week (well, probably not), so Donald Trump has time to send out videos to his minions across the land.

Earlier this month, Trump greased up State Republican Party Chair Dave Williams, calling him “a fantastic man and a great friend of mine” in a video played for those in attendance at the Republican Central Committee meeting in Castle Rock.

Yesterday it was the El Paso County Republicans’ turn to get sweet talked by Trump. In this grainy video reposted to Facebook on Tuesday by an El Paso County Republican, Trump thanks the El Paso GOP for supporting “our cause,” calling Chairperson Vickie Tonkins “fantastic” (remember: the previous State GOP administration tried to oust Tonkins on several occasions, most recently in February). Trump also mentions Vice Chair Todd Watkins and Secretary Adriana Cuva before giving another shout out to Williams. The Big Orange Guy does not have many redeeming qualities, but you gotta hand it to him (or his campaign team) for being smart enough to call out prominent supporters by name — even if he probably doesn’t know Todd Watkins from Todd Helton.

Trump goes on to rail against “Crooked Joe Biden,” saying that “you could combine the five worst Presidents in American history” and they didn’t do as much damage to the United States as Biden has done in less than 3 years. Most historians consider Trump to be at the top of the “worst Presidents” list, but, whatever. The rest of the video is just Trump taking credit for everything and reciting his standard list of grand promises for 2024.

There’s no chance that Trump carries Colorado next November after falling here to Biden by 13 points in 2020 (Democrat Hillary Clinton also captured Colorado in 2016 by 5 points). However, Trump will likely play a role in the outcome of several other Colorado contests in 2024 if (and when) local Republican leaders parrot his talking points about election fraud in the 2020 Presidential election, These talking points, of course, are more about Trump trying to stay out of prison than they are about 2024, but logic and reason are not core tenets of the modern Colorado Republican Party.

Trump’s actions may be finally starting to concern some Colorado Republicans, including the gelatin-backboned Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley). Other Colorado Republicans could also start speaking out against Trump, but that won’t happen because none of them want to risk the wrath of the MAGA base.

But hey, it’s all worth it if a former President says your name in a video.

Ken Buck May Actually Be Getting Worried

Rep. Ken Buck (R).

As former President Donald Trump and his 18 alleged co-conspirators in the plot to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election in Georgia turned themselves in for booking last week at Atlanta’s Fulton County Jail, Colorado’s arch-conservative Freedom Caucus member Rep. Ken Buck appeared Thursday on MSNBC with Andrea Mitchell to…it’s not a misprint, Buck implored Trump to intercede with his supporters to avoid violence and let the judicial system work. Fox News:

“I think he absolutely needs to tell all Americans to stand down and allow the judicial system to take its course,” [Pols emphasis] Buck said in an interview on MSNBC. “We trust judges, we trust juries, we trust appellate courts. This isn’t over until it’s over.”

The lawmaker’s warning against violence comes after Trump surrendered to authorities Tuesday in Fulton County, Georgia. He was booked in Fulton County Jail on felony charges brought by District Attorney Fani Willis related to his alleged attempt to overturn the 2020 election results in Georgia. The former president – the first to be indicted in U.S. history – also faces criminal charges in New York and federal charges in Washington, D.C., and the Southern District of Florida…

“I think that setting a very clear message and also having surrogates send a very clear message that violence will not be tolerated is appropriate,” Buck said.

Buck’s latest talking point that he “trusts” judges and juries is a major reversal from Buck’s ill-advised bashing of the grand jury process earlier this year in response to Trump’s indictment in New York over “hush money” payments to porn star Stormy Daniels. Buck’s newfound concern over Trump supporters engaging in violence instead of trusting the judicial system is not an act of principle so much as a slow-dawning recognition that Trump could actually incite additional violence in response to his criminal prosecution, a well-founded concern after Trump incited the January 6th, 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

However one feels about the prosecutions underway against Trump, it shouldn’t be a big lift to expressly disavow violence and call for the judicial system to do its work. Buck doesn’t address what might come after a guilty verdict, only that the judicial system should be trusted to provide a just result. But with Buck’s Freedom Caucus colleagues ramping up the bellicose rhetoric instead of calling for faith in the system, not to mention the impotent cowardice of Trump’s primary opponents, Buck’s bare minimum of statesmanship still manages to stand out.

The next test will come when it’s clear that Trump doesn’t listen to Ken Buck. Trump told the Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by,” not to “stand down.” After January 6th, these orders can never be conflated again.

GOP Veep Debate: A Sad Spectacle of MAGA Meh

Republican master debaters in Milwaukee last night.

Last night, a group of would-be Republican presidential candidates held a debate in  Milwaukee, an event most notable for the absence of the far-and-away frontrunner for the 2024 Republican nomination ex-President Donald Trump. The eight candidates who appeared are all mired in a single-digit pack after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ failure to thrive, with at least a few making obvious plays to emerge as Trump’s vice presidential pick.

So as the Washington Post’s Aaron Blake surmises, the night’s big winner was…Donald Trump:

It could scarcely have turned out better for the absentee front-runner. He decided to skip the debate because it wasn’t worth his time — what with his nearly 40-point lead in the polls. And the candidates who want to beat him spent much of the debate pretending he wasn’t even in the race…

The risk for Trump in not showing up was that he wouldn’t be able to defend himself. He didn’t have to. [Pols emphasis]

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis attempting to smile.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis by most accounts had a terrible night of barely concealing his inner twitching monster, made even worse by the fact that DeSantis has fallen so far in the polls that he was not the top target on stage he needed to be to retain his status as the principal Trump alternative. NBC News:

DeSantis still regularly polls in second place behind Trump, but it’s a distant second. These days he’s much closer to mid-tier candidates like Vivek Ramaswamy, a 38-year-old businessman from Ohio whom most GOP voters knew little to nothing about at the beginning of the year.

And it was Ramaswamy, not DeSantis, who found himself the night’s biggest target, taking the arrows normally reserved for the front-runner — or, in this case, the biggest target onstage, with Trump having decided to skip the debate. The two-hour showdown was punctuated by one-on-one fights between Ramaswamy and former Vice President Mike Pence, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley.

Vivek Ramaswamy is not a serious candidate for President, and was rightly flayed by his on-stage opponents for his gratingly enthusiastic demeanor and lack of understanding of basic subjects. The two things that Ramaswamy did accomplish, though, were to please former President Trump by sucking up to him at every opportunity, and also effectively sidelining DeSantis by becoming the principal target of his on-stage opponents.

At the same time, dunking on Ramaswamy didn’t do much to elevate former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, and we’re not sure that Haley’s bickering with Ramaswamy will matter to Republican primary voters who want to be entertained as much as educated. All of these much more experienced elected officials sparring with an ignorant if quick-witted nobody was a clear lesson in the folly of pig-wrestling: they looked worse for the experience, while Ramaswamy soaked up the screen time.

The most important question of the night was the one that, had it come earlier in the debate, could have saved viewers a lot of time:

Later, they asked whether the candidates would support Trump in the general election if he is convicted. Only Christie and Hutchinson declined, [Pols emphasis] but both DeSantis and Pence were slow to raise their hands. And for some reason, there was no follow-up with them.

When given a wide-open opportunity to take a material stand against Donald Trump, and commit to the modest pledge to no longer support Trump if he is convicted of any of the dozens of felony counts Trump faces in four criminal cases, only Chris Christie and Asa Hutchison, neither of whom have a hope in hell of factoring in the presidential primary, were able to do it. That is an expression of outright contempt for the American criminal justice system that we’re not sure has any parallel in American history. And it’s a moral capitulation by all of those candidates to Trump that calls into question their presence in this race. Why are they running for President at all?

Contrary to a popular misconception among Republicans who don’t support Trump, most Democrats take no pleasure in seeing the Republican Party still in the thrall of a man who cares more about personal power than the democratic institutions Trump attempted to overthrow just a few years ago. A credible conservative alternative to Trump, who could restore trust with voters that the Republican Party is not a clear and present danger to American democracy, would help liberals sleep at night as much as conservatives who still have a conscience.

Last night, Republicans proved again they have no such candidate. It’s not enough to say the GOP is still Trump’s party, despite all the damage he has inflicted on the country to no one’s benefit but himself.

It never wasn’t Trump’s party.

Jenna Ellis’ Disloyalty Has a Price After All

Jenna Ellis, the Colorado licensed attorney who now stands indicted along with 18 others including ex-President Donald Trump for her role in the attempted subversion of the 2020 presidential election results in the state of Georgia, has been publicly complaining for days about the lack of financial support not just she but allegedly all of Trump’s co-conspirators are suffering:

Under fire from Trump supporters, Ellis reiterated yesterday that it wasn’t just her own legal defense she was worried about, but everyone facing indictment in Georgia:

As readers know, there’s a very important difference between Jenna Ellis and the rest of the indicted Georgia co-conspirators. Ellis has formally admitted to numerous false statements about the 2020 presidential election as part of her censure agreement with Colorado attorney regulators. That sets Ellis apart from fellow Trump attorney John Eastman, who yesterday once again stated without reservation that he believes the “Big Lie” that the 2020 election was stolen. Likewise, Trump’s lead coup-torney Rudy Giuliani has refused to admit he was wrong even as he faces disbarment.

This crucial difference between Ellis and her indicted co-conspirators is why we must now be the bearer of bad tidings:

Contrary to Ellis’ belief that Trump isn’t helping any of his co-conspirators, Trump will be hosting a $100,000 per person fundraiser for Rudy Giuliani next month, at no less of a sacred space than the gravesite of Ivana Trump–otherwise known as Trump’s Bedminster, New Jersey golf club. Giuliani’s legal and financial problems stemming from his loyal service to Trump are more extensive than just the indictment in Georgia, but a clutch of $100,000 checks will help Giuliani bigly.

Jenna Ellis, on the other hand, is not getting a $100,000-a-head fundraiser at Bedminster. Ellis coming out in support of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is certainly a factor working against Ellis with Trump, but more important at this point is that Ellis is a hindrance to Trump’s legal defense after having disavowed the “Big Lie.” With Trump’s legal defense depending on the illusion of the “Big Lie” as justification for their criminal actions, it would arguably be counterproductive for Trump to fund Ellis’ legal defense when she has already discredited that defense with her own admissions.

That logic holds up until the moment Ellis decides to turn against Trump. Ellis is one of a small number of people who could have clarifying insight about whether Trump knew he had lost the election as he executed the coup plot.

And Ellis has less reason not to turn on Trump with each passing day.

Election Deniers Are Top Donors to Jenna Ellis After She Says Trump Isn’t Paying Her Legal Bills

(Throwing crazy money after bad — Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Ex-Trump attorney turned far-right radio host Jenna Ellis has raised over $100,000 for her legal defense. Her top donors include fellow election-denying talk show hosts as well as other MAGA Republicans.

Charged with two counts of criminal conspiracy related to attempting to overturn the 2020 election, Ellis is facing a hefty legal bill. She’s publicly lamenting the fact that former President Trump won’t cover her defense costs. From Mar-A-Lago’s perspective, however, Ellis committed two other transgressions that justify cutting her off: she formally admitted to lying about election fraud, and she endorsed Ron DeSantis.

Without access to Trump’s cash, Ellis, who still serves as an advisory fellow at Colorado Christian University’s Centennial Institute despite moving to Florida earlier this year, has turned to GiveSendGo, a far-right Christian crowdfunding site favored by white nationalists and violent extremists. She needs the money to pay her own attorney, Michael Melito, a former organized crime prosecutor who touts his experience with “racketeering and the criminal law,” which should come in handy. Dinesh D’Souza tops Ellis’ list with a $10,000 gift to his fellow election denier earlier today. Best known for producing the debunked election fraud conspiracy film 2000 Mules, D’Souza served eight months in a halfway house and spent five years on probation following his felony conviction for campaign finance fraud. He was later pardoned by Trump. D’Souza also produced conservative history cartoons on the founding fathers for Prager U, which were funded in part by another Colorado figure, former state senate candidate Tim Walsh.

Another Prager U figure donated today as well, Jeremy Boreing who also co-founded the Daily Wire with Ben Shapiro, gave $1,000 while praising Ellis on Twitter. Boreing prefers to parse his election skepticism, while nevertheless casting doubt on the legitimacy of the American electoral process. He doesn’t say it was stolen, but rather “rigged by the legacy media for Democrats,” via “absentee ballots, vote-by-mail criteria, third-party vote harvesting, vote technology” and other potentially underhanded but perhaps legal means. Following the 2020 election, fact-checkers debunked Daily Wire election fraud stories that similarly cast doubt on the results.


Colorado’s Couptastic Lawyer John Eastman Booked In Georgia

John Eastman, photo courtesy Fulton County Sheriff.

As the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports, former University of Colorado visiting conservative scholar and current attorney representing the Colorado Republican Party John Eastman reported to Fulton County Jail today for booking on his range of Georgia felony charges related to the strategy allegedly masterminded by Eastman to overturn Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential election:

Trump campaign attorney John Eastman has been released from the Fulton County Jail after being booked and spending a couple of hours inside…

Eastman was granted a $100,000 bond on Monday. He testified remotely before Georgia lawmakers alongside co-defendant Rudy Giuliani in late 2020, contending there was evidence of widespread fraud in Georgia’s 2020 election and was also involved in pressuring Vice President Mike Pence into rejecting the official Democratic electors in Georgia and other swing states in favor of “alternate” Former President Donald Trump electors.

NBC News reports that when popped the big question underlying Eastman and his alleged co-conspirators’ felony indictments, Eastman responded with what we expect to be the boilerplate defense for (almost) all of them from Donald Trump down the lineup–unblinking, unshakeable professed belief in the “Big Lie.”

After reading his written statement outside of the Fulton County Jail, Eastman took questions, despite his attorney attempting to steer him away from the press several times.

Asked by NBC News if he still believes the 2020 election was stolen, Eastman said: “Absolutely, no question in my mind.” [Pols emphasis]

With the possible exception of Colorado attorney Jenna Ellis who has already formally disavowed the “Big Lie” that the 2020 presidential election was stolen in order to keep her license to practice law, the indefatigable conviction that the 2020 presidential election was stolen is now critical to Trump’s legal defense, rebutting the important factor that Trump knew he had lost and continued to press his unlawful strategy to remain in power anyway. This defense is contradicted by evidence that Trump knew very well that he had lost and admitted as much privately on a number of occasions. VOA explains:

While the state and federal cases are different in scope, they both alleged election fraud and require that prosecutors prove “mens rea” or criminal intent on the part of Trump, according to legal experts.

“In both jurisdictions, general principles of criminal law in the U.S. probably are quite relevant,” said Morgan Cloud, a professor of law at Emory University in Atlanta. “Not all, but most crimes, including felonies like the ones charged in these current federal and state indictments… require proof of… mens rea.”

Trump has long claimed that he lost the 2020 election fraudulently, despite no evidence of that assertion, and his lawyers are now challenging prosecutors to disprove his sincerity. [Pols emphasis]

It won’t just be Trump’s “sincerity” in believing what a majority of Americans knew was false in December of 2020 on trial in Georgia, but also that of Eastman, Ellis, Rudy Giuliani, and the rest of the co-conspirators. Did any of them realize that Trump had lost the election? For most of us, of course, the lawful process of certifying an election result answers the question–like it did for Rep. Ken Buck. The absence of any evidence to support the claim that the election was stolen after almost three years should answer the question even for those who had their initial doubts.

With the exception of Ellis who can’t take back the admissions she made about the 2020 election in her censure agreement, these defendants will be forced to rely on their unflinching belief in Trump’s baseless claims of a stolen election to beat the rap for their criminal actions. That’s especially true if they ever hope to see Trump help out with their legal defense costs, which Ellis has already kissed goodbye.

We keep hearing about Republicans who say they want to “move on” from 2020, particularly from supporters of Trump’s single-digit primary opponents. With the “Big Lie” now a key factor in keeping Team Trump out of jail, that’s less likely than ever. What’s more, Eastman’s continued representation of the Colorado Republican Party under Dave “Let’s Go Brandon” Williams means Eastman will stay in local news headlines as his disbarment and now criminal cases grind on.

There is no “moving on.” The polls all say this is what Republicans want.

Jenna Ellis’ Desperation Begins To Show

Colorado-licensed attorney Jenna Ellis, indicted last week on felony charges as part of the sweeping indictment in Fulton County, Georgia against ex-President Donald Trump and his alleged conspirators in the plot to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election, has been raising money for her legal defense without help from Trump. As USA TODAY reported this morning, Ellis on Friday night took a break from her pathological self-righteousness to make it clear that the lack of support from Trump while Ellis faces felony charges for her role in Trump’s coup plot is weighing on her:

At least one of Donald Trump’s co-defendants in his Georgia case over alleged attempts to steal the 2020 election is wondering why his legal defense fund isn’t helping her and others ensnared in his indictment.

“I was reliably informed Trump isn’t funding any of us who are indicted,” said former Trump attorney Jenna Ellis on the social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter. “Would this change if he becomes the nominee? Why then, not now?”

Rep. Lauren Boebert with reality-based friends MyPillow Guy, Rudy Giuliani, and Trump coup attorney Jenna Ellis (right).

As readers know, Ellis is unique among the Trump coup attempt legal team in that she has already admitted to numerous false statements about the 2020 elections as part of the agreement to keep her Colorado law license. That combined with Ellis’ public defection to support Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis against Trump in the GOP primary has left Ellis with little support on either side of the Republican Party’s identity crisis. As of this morning, Ellis has raised about $88,000 for her legal defense via “crowdfunding,” an estimated small fraction of the total cost of a legal defense for this high-profile trial.

And although Ellis herself hasn’t given any indication of how she intends to resolve this looming problem, everyone else is waiting for the next logical development:

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis is reportedly trying to get other defendants to testify against Trump. But there is no sign that Ellis is prepared to flip. She has criticized the Trump indictments as political in nature…

MSNBC’s Hayes Brown puts a finer point on it:

With Monday’s sprawling indictment in Fulton County, Georgia…the number of allies who could cooperate with the government has grown. And based on recent reports, it seems like the famously stingy Trump isn’t helping several of his best-known co-defendants with their own legal bills. That decision may save Trump cash in the short term, but it could very well come back to bite him in the long run. [Pols emphasis]

An important purpose of the racketeering law Ellis is charged with breaking is to motivate lesser players in a criminal conspiracy to set their loyalty aside and turn on their highers-up. In this case, Trump may be helping prosecutors immensely by weakening the bonds of that loyalty through his own small-minded treatment of his former conspirators.

Because Ellis has already admitted that Trump’s claims to have won the 2020 presidential election were false, Ellis is useless to Trump’s expected dogmatic defense of the “Big Lie” to convince jurors that Trump truly believed it–in fact, she’s a huge problem standing in the way of that defense. The trouble for Trump, whether he perceives it or not, is that by cutting her off financially Trump may be giving Ellis no choice but to testify against Trump in order to save herself. And as the only Trump attorney so far to have publicly retracted the “Big Lie” in whole or part, Ellis is the most likely to do so.

It’s up to Ellis now to realize that being Trump’s patsy has no value.

DO NOT Give Tina Peters Her Passport Back

MONDAY UPDATE: As Nick Riccardi and David Klepper report for The Associated Press, Peters embodies a problem that the entire Republican Party will be dealing with in 2024:

During his conference, Lindell prefaced the video by saying “it isn’t about evidence” and meant to evoke the atmosphere of December 2020, as Trump was challenging the election results and trying to find avenues to remain in power. The anonymously produced video, full of fevered reports of other ”anomalies” in the election, opens with the words “this video is pure data.”

“I never forgot this video,” Lindell said…

By repeating the lie over and over, even when it has been repeatedly exposed as baseless, Trump is not only ensuring that his loyal followers remain energized, but also dominating the discussion and forcing others to relitigate the 2020 election on his terms. [Pols emphasis]

As we’ve said before, if Republicans are still talking about 2020 in 2024, then they’re already in serious trouble.


As 9NEWS’ Kyle Clark took note of this week, former Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters, who has been indicted on multiple felony charges stemming from a breach of election security in her half-baked attempt to prove Donald Trump won the 2020 presidential election, appeared in Missouri for Mike “MyPillow Guy” Lindell’s annual “Keep The Big Lie Alive” summit:

Tina Peters on the red carpet at Mar-a-Lago.

As readers know, Peters is subject to a host of bond conditions that at one point nearly resulted in her being remanded to custody, when Peters’ lawyers allegedly forgot to inform the court that Peters was headed to Nevada for another election denier conference. Since that time, after some further stumbles, Peters has resumed traveling the country for speaking engagements by following the court pre-approval process.

But as the Grand Junction Sentinel’s Charles Ashby reports, even the remarkable lenience being shown to this accused felon in being able to travel the country promoting her discredited conspiracy theories, which also constitute in large part her legal defense strategy, has its limits:

Indicted former Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters is traveling out of state without objection from her prosecutors, but there is something they are objecting to — giving back her passport.

In a motion filed earlier this week by Peters’ new attorney, Douglas Richards, the embattled former clerk wants to have her passport given back to her so she can enroll in the TSA PreCheck program, which allows frequent fliers to get through airport security faster…

Peters is already receiving far more privileges than are afforded to most pre-trial accused felons by being able to travel the country to attend election-denier events. Now she wants TSA PreCheck clearance to evade long airport security lines? It should be noted that at least one of the crimes Peters is accused of, identity theft, specifically excludes her from qualifying for TSA PreCheck upon conviction.

But the real problem, as prosecuting attorney Dan Rubinstein explains in his response to Peters’ request for temporary return of her passport, is giving Peters her passport back even for the few hours she says it would take to show it to the TSA would exacerbate a growing flight risk:

Rubinstein, who is the lead prosecutor in criminal charges against Peters over election tampering and other alleged crimes, said his reasoning behind requesting District Judge Matthew Barrett to reject the request is because recent indictments against former President Donald Trump, his onetime private attorney Rudy Guiliani and 17 others in Georgia have altered the landscape… [Pols emphasis]

“The defendant’s flight risk has increased as she appears to be increasingly associated with a group who has recently been indicted in Georgia for very similar conduct,” Rubinstein wrote in his motion to deny her request. “Attached Exhibit 2 is a flier for a conference that Ms. Peters is claiming to be attending today, along with now indicted Rudy Guiliani and others who are now recently indicted for crimes associated with tampering with election equipment.”

Not to mention:

According to the TSA, a passport can be used to enroll in the program, but so can a valid Colorado drivers license. The required documents are a photo ID and proof of citizenship.

Not only would returning Peters’ passport increase the risk that she might flee the country to escape prosecution, she doesn’t even need it to sign up for TSA PreCheck. If that doesn’t raise suspicions of an ulterior motive for getting her passport, we don’t know what would. No one can forget that when the story of Peters’ role in the theft and subsequent leak of election system data first broke, Peters disappeared for weeks with the assistance of Mike Lindell, only returning after fellow Mesa County elected officials begged her to. All of which happened before the felony charges against Peters were formalized.

Before this week’s indictment in Georgia of ex-President Donald Trump and a bevy of co-conspirators for their attempt to subvert the 2020 elections, Peters was a leading martyr of the election denial movement. Now she’s just a wannabe bit player who could easily find herself jettisoned as Trump’s legal defense focuses on the crimes of the big players. At some level despite the adulation Peters receives on the far-right speaking circuit, which has emotionally sustained Peters as her legal woes compounded, she must be aware of this.

If Peters does get her passport back, there’s too great a risk that MyPillow One lands in Moscow 12 hours later.

Lonely Jenna Ellis Faces Trial Without Trump’s Help

Jeff Hunt of the Centennial Institute promotes CCU Fellow Jenna Ellis’ legal defense fund.

Jenna Ellis, the former member of ex-President Donald Trump’s legal team who plotted along with alleged co-conspirators John Eastman and Rudy Giuliani to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election, faces felony counts in the indictment brought by the district attorney of Fulton County, Georgia over the effort to flip the result in that state.

Ellis, who is still listed as a fellow at Lakewood’s Colorado Christian University after she was censured this past March by Colorado attorney regulators for her many false statements about the 2020 election in her role as counsel for Trump, has since had a major falling out with Trumpworld at least in part over the admissions she made to avoid being disbarred. And as Newsweek reports, that’s about to be a very expensive complication for Ellis’ criminal defense:

Jenna Ellis, a former member of Donald Trump’s legal team who was one of 19 indicted on Monday over an alleged plot to overturn Georgia’s 2020 presidential election result, has raised more than $10,000 in an online crowdfunding campaign for her legal fees…

Ellis has made no mention of being financially cut off by Trump due to her support for DeSantis. However, John Cardillo, a DeSantis-supporting conservative influencer, claimed she had.

…Laura Loomer, a pro-Trump commentator with more than 493,000 followers on X, also suggested “professional liar and Trump backstabber” Ellis was not receiving financial support due to her refusal to back the former president in the 2024 race.

Addressing Ellis, she wrote: “You didn’t stay loyal to President Trump, and now you’re going to learn the hard way by having to pay for your own legal fees. Next time try being loyal to the people who brought you to the dance, and you won’t have such big problems.” [Pols emphasis]

Rudy Giuliani, Jenna Ellis during the December 2020 campaign to overturn the presidential election.

Up until Ellis’ censure in March in which she admitted to a range of false statements about the 2020 election in order to keep her Colorado law license, Ellis had reportedly tried to ride the fence between Trump and DeSantis. But as the Daily Beast reported in April, the admissions Ellis made about the 2020 election marked a definitive break with Trumpworld:

This past March, Ellis admitted in Colorado court documents that she made “misrepresentations” related to baseless claims of voter fraud in the 2020 election, including her claim that Trump “won in a landslide” and that there was a “coordinated effort” to “manipulate the ballots, to count them in secret.” She was later censured.

Seemingly from that point on, Ellis has become more vocal in speaking out against moves made by her former boss.

Especially with Ron DeSantis cratering in the polls despite Trump’s escalating legal troubles, Ellis’ real sin against Trump was popping the bubble of the “Big Lie” in order to keep her law license. Trump may not be pleased with the outcome delivered by Giuliani and Eastman, but both of them have chosen to go down fighting disbarment cases rather than make the humiliating admissions of recklessly lying on Trump’s behalf that Ellis was forced to make.

With all of this in mind, one thing we can say for sure is that Ellis’ legal defense is going to cost a lot more than the $10,000 she had raised by yesterday afternoon. Though obviously a big short-term problem for Ellis, this is where Trump’s well-known habit of screwing over his former friends and allies could come back to bite the former President–since if Ellis can’t afford to defend herself, she is that much more likely to accept a plea deal and testify against Trump and his indicted loyal attorneys.

History has already paid more attention to this failed traffic court lawyer than she deserves. But Jenna Ellis, friendless and alone, jilted by the politician who gifted Ellis her fifteen minutes of fame, also appears to have little left to lose.

Trump, on the other hand, has everything to lose. So perhaps history isn’t quite done with Ellis yet.

“Bidenomics” Keeps On Defying GOP Doom, Gloom

ABC News joined every business outlet in the land, even most of the Fox News family of partisan political news spin doctors, in reporting today on unassailably strong economic numbers for the first half of 2023:

U.S. economic growth accelerated over three months ending in June, blowing past economist expectations and tamping down concerns about a possible recession.

The U.S. gross domestic product grew by a 2.4% annualized rate to finish the first half of 2023, according to government data released Thursday.

The results mark an advance from the 2% annualized GDP growth recorded over the previous quarter. That growth showed a cooling from the 2.6% growth displayed in the quarter before that.

The finding of 2.4% annualized growth over the three months ending in June demonstrates that economic growth has accelerated over that period, dispelling concern among some about a fast-approaching recession.

It’s one thing of course to weaponize bad economic news for political advantage, which both sides are prone to when in the minority punching upward. But since the economy rebounded from the COVID-19 pandemic, Republicans have insisted counterfactually that the economy was either headed inevitably for or already in the depths of a recession. During the 2022 U.S. Senate race in Colorado, GOP nominee Joe O’Dea railed on the campaign trail against “raising taxes in a recession,” just as the brief downturn at the beginning of 2022 was turning back toward strong growth that summer and undercutting O’Dea’s gloomy appeals to economic angst.

With nothing but growth from then until the present day, it would be beneficial for the country’s collective mental health if all sides could just be happy about the good economic news. If we can’t do that in July of an off-year, when can we? All that’s necessary is to tune out Donald Trump screeching that Bidenomics “have brought America to its knees.”

Because they haven’t.

The gap between vibes and reality may never have been greater, but Joe Biden’s economy keeps delivering.

Indictment #3? Trump Says Investigators Closing in Again

He’s gonna need another thumb.

As The Washington Post reports:

Former president Donald Trump said Tuesday morning that he received a letter from the Justice Department saying that he is the target of the long-running investigation into efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election.

Trump wrote on social media that special counsel Jack Smith — the prosecutor leading the federal investigation — sent a letter on Sunday.

A spokesman for Smith declined to comment.

The target letter and potential indictment further ensnares Trump in unprecedented legal peril as he campaigns as the front-runner to be the 2024 Republican nominee for president.

Trump has already been indicted on federal charges in a separate case alleging that he mishandled classified documents. And in March, a Manhattan grand jury indicted Trump on state charges, alleging that he falsified records related to hush money payments to adult-film actress Stormy Daniels during the 2016 presidential campaign. The district attorney in Fulton County, Ga., is leading an ongoing state investigation related to the 2020 election and has said she will make a charging decision in the case next month.

You can read Trump’s full bonkers statement issued via “Truth Social” after the jump. The former President seems to enjoy breaking even bad news about himself; remember, Trump announced to the world that he was being indicted for hiding classified documents all over Mar-a-Lago.

As the Post notes, “a target letter from prosecutors means investigators have gathered substantial evidence linking the recipient to a crime — but it does not necessarily mean charges will ultimately be brought.” Trump claims that he was asked in the letter if he wishes to testify in front of a grand jury this week (a Trump spokesperson says he will not appear).

Two former Qanon buddies and now frenemies — Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Colorado’s own Rep. Lauren Boebert — wasted no time issuing their own silly statements. The tone is very similar to their complaints a month ago:



However, it appears that even semi-serious Republicans such as House Speaker Kevin McCarthy have decided to back Trump with their own ridiculous rhetoric:

Yeah, THAT’S what’s happening. It’s interesting to note, however, that McCarthy’s quick defense of Trump might reflect that Republicans are increasingly resigned to the fact that Trump is likely going to be the Republican Presidential nominee in 2024.

We’ll update as more information becomes available.



Republicans Stall Defense Funding Over Pet Issues

This creepy bastard is Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL), the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.

Democratic members of Colorado’s congressional delegation have joined Sen. John Hickenlooper (D-Denver) in blasting a decision by the Republican chairman of the House Armed Services Committee to block critical defense and military spending over a dispute about the location of Space Command Headquarters.

Here’s the press release, via the office of Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Denver):

Today, Colorado U.S. Senators Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper alongside Colorado U.S. Representatives Joe Neguse, Diana DeGette, Brittany Pettersen, Yadira Caraveo, and Jason Crow released the following statement regarding House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mike Rogers’ (R-Ala.) decision to not approve Department of Defense (DoD) reprogramming requests, which would support military personnel pay and high-priority defense operations.

“Congressman Mike Rogers has decided to not approve hundreds of millions of dollars for our servicemembers and our nation’s most vital defense programs. This is outrageous.

“This legislative hostage-taking is unconscionable and must stop. [Pols emphasis]

“We urge the Biden Administration to make a final Space Command basing decision and believe that any assessment rooted in national security will keep Space Command in Colorado.”

Chairman Rogers has not approved pending DoD reprogramming requests, which DoD routinely sends to Congress to allow the Department to move funds to key programs within its budget. Rogers’ hold appears to be an effort to pressure the U.S. Air Force to release its basing decision for U.S. Space Command’s headquarters.

Sens. John Hickenlooper and Michael Bennet are not amused by Republicans holding military funding hostage.

One of former President Donald Trump’s final official acts in the White House was to begin the process of moving Space Command HQ from its temporary home in Colorado Springs to Huntsville, Alabama — a move that Trump has regularly explained to have been a political favor for the likes of Alabama Sen. Tommy Tuberville (more on Tuberville in a moment). There has been a lot of talk about President Biden perhaps pushing to maintain Space Command HQ in Colorado Springs, which has made Republicans representing Alabama pretty salty.

As Caitlyn Kim reports for Colorado Public Radio, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mike Rogers apparently has no problem squeezing the entire Air Force budget in order to get his way:

The Air Force is facing a funding shortfall that could prevent some of the summer moves for personnel, known as a permanent change of station, as well as delay some reenlistment bonuses. [Pols emphasis]

Any airman who doesn’t have PCS orders by Aug. 1 may see their moves delayed. The Air Force is also suspending the elective reenlistment bonus program for the time being.

As of 2021, there were just over 9,300 active duty Air Force personnel in Colorado…

…Usually when a service faces funding issues, they can submit a request to Congress, asking for approval from the appropriations subcommittees dealing with Defense, as well as the armed service committees, to move funds around. It is usually approved.

But according to a source familiar with the situation, DOD requests to move money around are still pending action by Congress. [Pols emphasis]

Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL)

As we noted on Tuesday, Sen. Tuberville has been holding up military promotions for months because he thinks the U.S. armed forces should be nicer to white supremacists.

Seriously, that’s a real sentence.

Just this week, Tuberville took more national criticism for his ongoing refusal to condemn white supremacists in general.

Things have gotten so out of hand now that House Republicans may even hold up the entire National Defense Authorization Act over complaints about service members being allowed to travel out of state for abortion care. Via POLITICO:

In the latest twist on the must-pass Pentagon legislation drama, the House will vote later Thursday on a major provision relating to President Joe Biden’s policy on reimbursing costs of travel for service members’ abortions. That vote is expected to be so tight that even House GOP leaders aren’t predicting the outcome.

If that provision passes, McCarthy will lose virtually all Democratic support, forcing his leadership team to lean solely on the GOP conference to pass the bill through the House. And with just a five-vote margin, McCarthy is already working intensely to avoid possible conservative defections, spending Thursday morning trying to smooth over ongoing internal spats…

…Abortion isn’t the only tough debate Republicans will wade into on the sweeping Pentagon bill. The House will also take up issues related to race, climate change and transgender troops in the latest round of votes coming. If any of those amendments make it onto the bill, it would likely alienate most if not all Democratic support.

The latest push for votes on conservative proposals reflects the challenges McCarthy faces after striking a deal with his right-wing detractors over how to address their priorities that, if adopted, could chase away Democratic votes needed to pass the National Defense Authorization Act. [Pols emphasis]

This is what a narrow Republican majority in the House of Representatives has wrought: Unnecessary military spending delays, the potential loss of Space Command HQ in Colorado Springs, and imperiling the National Defense Authorization Act because of issues of race, abortion, climate change, and LGBTQ rights.

We say it all the time, folks: Elections matter.

“House Crazies” Threaten Buck’s Commitment To Law, Order

Rep. Ken Buck (R).

As Politico’s Jordain Carney reports:

House Republicans are taking their fight with the FBI and Justice Department to a new level — weighing punitive steps against both agencies that would have been unfathomable a decade ago.

Half a year into their majority, and with an increasingly restless right flank, the House GOP is ready for a confrontation after a spate of recent decisions it sees as either anti-Trump or pro-Biden. At the top of the list: Hunter Biden’s plea deal with federal investigators and Donald Trump’s indictment over his handling of classified documents…

Whether they prevail in the form of budget cuts, impeachment, or other measures remains to be seen. Conservative efforts could backfire, instead exposing tension with centrist and more establishment Republicans who embrace the party’s pro-law enforcement roots [Pols emphasis] — the prevailing sentiment inside the GOP before Trump came along.

Among the “centrists” (though in this case far from the political center) questioning the assault by MAGA Republicans on the Justice Department driven by loyalty to Donald Trump is former Weld County DA-turned Congressman Ken Buck–who despite his embarrassing attempts to cover for Trump by slamming the grand jury process that led to one of Trump’s indictments does not appear interested in materially damaging federal law enforcement institutions for political vengeance:

The fault lines emerged during closed-door House GOP spending meetings in recent weeks, as some lawmakers warned others to think twice about how they use spending bills to target specific agencies. In one session, conservative Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) said he privately urged his colleagues to “be careful” about how they talk about Justice Department funding, adding: “I’m not in favor of cutting DOJ.” [Pols emphasis]

Buck’s reluctance to go along with the punitive action desired by the MAGA faction drew a rebuke yesterday from none other than Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, taking a break from her ongoing foul-mouthed feud with Rep. Lauren Boebert to clap back at another fellow Republican:

That’s an unveiled shot at Buck’s authorship of a book literally titled Drain The Swamp, in which Buck decries corruption pretty unsparingly on his own side of the aisle. The “Holman Rule,” to very briefly explain, is a constitutionally dubious rule adopted by Republicans allowing Congress to fire individual federal employees, most famously attempted during the McCarthy era where it failed in court in the case of United States v. Lovett.

Within the caucus, the whole conflict boils down to whether you respect the Justice Department as an institution or are personally loyal to Donald Trump. Buck, who is no friend of Speaker Kevin McCarthy but also has no real loyalty to Trump, has little incentive to participate in a campaign against the Justice Department he used to work for, albeit not without scandal, as an assistant U.S. Attorney.

As Trump’s legal troubles continue to pile up, More Republicans will probably wish they had sided with Buck.

Don’t Be Fooled: ‘No Labels’ Has No Clothes

The ‘No Labels’ group does, in fact, have a label.

We’re 18 months away from the next big election, which means it’s time again for partisan groups pretending to represent a “third option” for voters to crawl back out of the sewers.

The ‘No Labels’ group has been getting a lot of press lately as it works to get a “Unity Ticket” candidate for President on the ballot in key states – including Colorado. ‘No Labels’ is pretending to be representing voters who don’t like either President Biden or former President Donald Trump. Critics charge that it is merely the latest effort to siphon votes away from President Biden and Democrats in 2024. 

It’s impossible to look at the evidence and come to any other conclusion aside from the charge that ‘No Labels’ is a right-wing front group. As POLITICO reported earlier this month, ‘No Labels’ says it would back off from running a ‘Unity Ticket’ if Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis becomes the Republican nominee for President. That’s…weird, to say the least. 

As Erik Maulbetsch of the Colorado Times Recorder recently reported, even State Republican Party Chair Dave Williams believes that a ‘No Labels’ candidate in Colorado is an advantage for Republicans. “I think if it does occur, that’s what would happen: It would hurt them more than us,” said Williams in an appearance on the ‘Chuck & Julie Show.’

No Labels’ won’t say where its funding comes from, but others have figured it out. Mother Jones magazine recently published a detailed look at the backers of ‘No Labels, most of whom have collectively contributed millions of dollars to Republican election efforts over the last several years. Some of the ‘No Labels’ donors have also contributed to Democratic causes, but this list is largely made up of people who clearly support Republicans when push comes to shove – including former President Donald Trump. For example:

Notable within this group is Michael Smith, the billionaire founder of natural gas behemoth Freeport LNG. He has donated more than $5.5 million to the Senate Leadership Fund, a super-PAC tied to Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell. Smith also backed Virginia GOP governor Glenn Youngkin and a slew of Republican senators. He has donated—albeit smaller amounts—to several moderate Democrats, such as Montana’s Jon Tester and West Virginia’s Joe Manchin…

…A stalwart Republican donor on the list is Tom McInerney, a private-equity investor, who has regularly donated to the Republican National Committee and GOP-linked super-PACs. This year, he has contributed nearly $100,000 to the RNC and over $200,000 to the National Republican Congressional Committee. He has sent six-figure contributions to fundraising committees organized by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy ($250,000 in 2021) and by former speaker Paul Ryan ($244,000 in 2017). He has been a financial backer of McCain, Mitt Romney, and Jeb Bush. He recently donated to Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), who is running for the GOP presidential nomination.  

Jennifer Rubin of The Washington Post followed up today:

…one of the biggest cons in 2024 presidential jockeying is the innocuously named No Labels organization. It was founded in 2010 to counter political polarization but now has started raising a boatload of money — at least $70 million so far — to field a third-party presidential candidate if the “unacceptable” President Biden and Donald Trump are their parties’ nominees.

What’s the group really after, given the utterly dismal record of third-party candidates in U.S. presidential elections?

As an analysis by the moderate Democratic think tank Third Way has shown, No Labels doesn’t get close to the necessary 270 electoral votes in any remotely rational scenario. But the group has drawn up a fantasy map showing 40 states it supposedly could win. Members of the Democratic coalition are alarmed; three of their leaders wrote in a recent Post op-ed that No Labels is “obviously targeting blue states and Democratic voters” because on the map “two-thirds of its electoral votes would come from Biden states.”

‘No Labels’ uses Anedot for online fundraising, a company that processes money for some of the most prominent right-wing organizations and political candidates in the country. ‘No Labels’ also regularly pays out large sums of money to consulting firms operated by Republican operatives. 

As Erik Maulbetsch writes for the Colorado Times Recorder, that includes prominent Colorado GOP consultant Josh Penry, despite his long track record of not winning things:  

More evidence of the party’s rightward lean emerged last week when Mother Jones’ David Corn reported that a No Labels-funded dark money group, Insurance Policy for America, paid the Colorado GOP’s preferred field firm, Blitz Canvassing, $107,000 to gather the signatures required to secure ballot access. Blitz, owned by former GOP state senator turned longtime GOP operative Josh Penry, has handled field operations for nearly every major Republican candidate in Colorado for the past decade. The firm is also working to elect Ron Desantis; it’s currently hiring canvassers in Iowa and South Carolina on behalf of the pro-Desantis Never Back Down PAC.

But wait, there’s more (about why this is less than they claim)…