Governor speaks on Trump’s first days in office. He isn’t impressed.

Gov. John Hickenlooper today strongly criticized President Donald Trump’s cabinet picks, saying it appears as though the president is simply trying to “create a destructive atmosphere.

“It seems the president and his senior staff are just trying to stir things up and create commotion,” the governor told Capitol reporters today, saying that Trump’s “unorthodox” cabinet appointments of people who have no experience in the areas they will govern makes it hard to understand the point the president is trying to make. 

But Hickenlooper was complimentary, more or less, of Trump’s nomination of Coloradan and 10th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Neil Gorsuch of Boulder to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Gorsuch’s appointment dwarfs all the other appointments made by the president, Hickenlooper said. “There’s pride in that he’s a Coloradan,” but he wouldn’t speculate on whether Democrats would support Gorsuch’s nomination, given the decision by Senate Republicans to block President Obama’s nomination of Judge Merrick Garland for nearly a year.

The governor said that Trump’s way of doing things in his first two weeks isn’t exactly the way he would have advised. In Colorado, Hickenlooper said, one-third of the state is conservative, another third is liberal and the last third is somewhere in the middle. “My sense is to take the group in the middle, build on both sides and find areas for compromise” and, in the end, there will be more people who support the policies, he said.

Earlier this week, Hickenlooper criticized the Trump administration executive orders on immigration, urging the president to rescind them immediately.

“The vast majority of refugees admitted to the United States are families, mainly comprised of women and children, and all refugees are admitted only after they make it through the world’s toughest vetting program. Many of the refugees helped U.S. forces, often in violent and chaotic circumstances, risking their lives in the process,” the governor said in a statement.

“Religious tests and blanket bans diminish [American] values and injure our international reputation,” the statement went on to say, adding that Trump’s executive order on immigration will serve only as a powerful recruiting tool for the nation’s enemies.


In other news at the Capitol this week, House Democrats missed an opportunity to put their Republican colleagues on the record on Trump’s executive order.

By a voice vote, the House Tuesday approved a resolution asking the president to rescind his Jan. 27 executive order barring visa holders from seven mostly-Muslim countries from entering the United States and temporarily blocking any refugee from entering this country.

First-year lawmakers and Democrats Reps. Chris Hansen of Denver and Dafna Michaelson Jenet of Commerce City sponsored the resolution, which now heads to the Republican-majority Senate and an uncertain future.

The resolution states that admission of any refugee should be reviewed on a case-by-case basis — as is already done — but the United States should not impose a blanket ban on all refugees or immigrants from particular countries or religions. The resolution called such a blanket ban contrary to American values and potentially illegal.

Hansen, citing Mark Twain, said “patriotism is supporting your country all of the time and your government when it deserves it.”

“The government doesn’t deserve it today,” Hansen added.

House Minority Leader Rep. Patrick Neville of Castle Rock, who served in the Army in Iraq, pointed out his life was protected by Muslim friends. The executive order is only a “pause” to give the FBI and immigration agencies time to develop policies. “Most Americans see this as wise,” Neville said, and asked for a “no” vote on the resolution.

As time went on, Democrats’ remarks got more heated. Rep. Joe Salazar of Commerce City chided Trump, the son of immigrants, and Trump’s  supporters as hypocrites. “The greatest hypocrisy in America is that those who decry the immigrant are here by virtue of immigration,” Salazar said. “Remember the hypocrisy,” he added, several times.

But there was agreement on at least one issue between the two sides. Republican Rep. Yeulin Willett of Grand Junction pleaded with his colleagues to not demonize each other, as did Rep. Jonathan Singer of Longmont, a Democrat. “I don’t judge your motives, whether Republican or Democrat,” Singer said. “I judge you by your words and actions outside of this building.”

Speaker of the House Crisanta Duran of Denver called for a voice vote rather than a recorded vote that would have identified who supported the resolution and who supported the executive order.

Duran did not respond to a request for comment on her decision.

But there was one indication of what Republicans in the House thought about the resolution, aside from the “no” voice votes. Not one Republican out of the 28 in the House signed up to be a co-sponsor of the resolution.


File photo of Gov. Hickenlooper by Corey Hutchins.

has been a political journalist since 1998. She covered the state capitol for the Silver & Gold Record from 1998 to 2009 and for The Colorado Statesman in 2010-11 and 2013-14. Since 2010 she also has covered the General Assembly for newspapers in northeastern Colorado. She was recognized with awards from the Colorado Press Association for feature writing and informational graphics for her work with the Statesman in 2012.