Littwin: The bad news for Cory Gardner is that the Trump questions will get only harder

It is very easy to mock Cory Gardner’s unwillingness to give a straight answer to a straight question or, in many cases, to give any answer to any question.

But let’s agree, Gardner is in a bind.

He’s got a buffoon for president — the same one the rest of us have, by the way, but not all of us are in the U.S. Senate and in the same party as the president and on record as having called that president a buffoon. This is not the best place to be when you are an ambitious politician whose go-to move is to suck up to those who hold more power than you do. And it’s also a bad place to be if you’re in charge, as Gardner is, of getting fellow Republican senators re-elected in 2018.

The problem for Gardner is that every so often, you’re faced with a basic yes-or-no question and your usual choice of going with “maybe” just gets you into further trouble.

We watched it happen with the Jeff Sessions recusal story. It became obvious where this story was headed. The dishonest press — in this case, the Washington Post — had broken the story that the now-attorney general had met twice with the Russian ambassador during the campaign. This would not be a big thing except, of course, that during Sessions’s confirmation hearing, he said he hadn’t met with any Russians.

So, you’ve got either a misunderstanding (that’s Sessions’s take) or you’ve got something not unlike perjury.

The facts were plain. They were plain before the Post story. Sessions was a key figure in the Trump campaign, the first senator to support him and, for a long while, the only senator to support him. How could Sessions, regardless of which Russian he had or hadn’t met, impartially lead an investigation as to Russian influence in a campaign in which he was a key player?

While many of Gardner’s GOP colleagues were quickly jumping off the Sessions bandwagon — see: Coffman, Mike — Gardner didn’t know where to jump. Or, for that matter, how high.

This was a no-brainer, but still too much of a brainer for Gardner, who went on NPR that morning to, well, not answer the question.

NPR’s question began with Sean Spicer’s not exactly surprising assessment that there was nothing to see here and that it was all just a sad case of Democrats and dishonest media trying to create a scandal from nothing. And then Gardner was asked if he agreed with that assessment.

The very Coryish response: “Well, again, I think the investigation will show us that. So if that’s the direction that the investigation concludes with, then we’ll know that Sean Spicer was right. If there’s different information or a different conclusion from the FBI or the intel committee, then clearly he was wrong.”

So, there you have it. Gardner’s answer was that we needed more time to see the obvious.

I wonder if on Tuesday night, when Trump was being praised for briefly acting like a grown-up,  Gardner had allowed himself to dream that, although this had been a nightmare so far, maybe things would get better.

The next day, remember, Gardner did his tele-town-hall excuse for a real town hall and escaped pretty much unscathed. He left early to do a photo-op luncheon at the White House. If you saw the photo, he was seated three chairs down from the president and was shamelessly smiling, of course, at what looked like a bit of photo-op Trumpian humor.

It was all going so well, until it wasn’t. That’s when the dishonest media did its nightly dump of bad Trump news, except this time the news was really bad. It wasn’t just the Post story. The New York Times reported that Obama aides had desperately tried to preserve evidence of a Russian connection that they feared the Trump administration might want to destroy.

And it was especially bad for Gardner, who is a well-known Russian hawk who has tried to say some tough things about Russian interference in the election — if you watched Sessions on Fox Thursday night, he said he had no idea whether the Russians had favored Trump  — without directly criticizing Trump. (My favorite campaign take about Trump and Putin came from Gardner when Trump was complaining that the Colorado GOP convention was rigged. Gardner asked in a tweet how Trump was going to handle Putin if the convention directions were too confusing for him. We now have a better idea of the answer.)

The Russian story isn’t going away. If you missed the Carter Page story — one of the stranger ones in this saga — he was an unpaid foreign policy adviser who also met with the now famous and ubiquitous Russian ambassador, Sergey Kislyak, during the GOP convention in Cleveland, just days before the story of the DNC hacking broke. Again, that wouldn’t be much of a story if Page hadn’t also denied that he’d met with Russians.

So, we have Paul Manafort who had to quit the Trump campaign after revelations of his support for pro-Russian forces in Ukraine. We have Mike Flynn who had to quit as national security adviser for lying to Mike Pence about whether he had discussions with Kislyak. The list goes on. And now we have Sessions having to recuse himself after lying — and failing to correct the record — about his conversations with Kislyak.

In his news conference, Sessions went with the I-can’t-recall line about what was talked about during his meeting with Kislyak, but it couldn’t have been the campaign because, well, it just couldn’t have been. I mean, why would the Russian ambassador want to know inside news on the campaign and Trump’s views on Russia when, as Sessions did recall, they could talk about religion instead?

I don’t know where this story ends, or how damaging the Trumpist-Russian connection might be. At this point, no one does, unless it’s James Comey. But what I do know from having watched a million other scandals unfold is that we’re at the point where the questions will only get tougher from here. If you don’t believe me, just ask Cory Gardner at his next live town hall.


Photo of Cory Gardner (with John McCain) by Gage Skidmore via Flickr



  1. So, here’s the question that I have not see addressed: what was the Russian ambassador doing at the Republican Convention in the first place?

  2. In response to Bill…the russian ambassador was there recruiting operatives…it seems the gop if full of russian sympathizers, russian wanna-be’s…and plain old traitors to the American Constitution…

  3. In response to Bill…

    The Russian ambassador was there, along with a variety of other ambassadors, as part of a State Dept. program to show off American political process. And while there, he went to the Heritage Foundation’s party because … Heritage invited him. And he just happened to meet with Sessions and talked about … something.

    Must be great to be an ambassador and have enough spare time to randomly do things like that.

  4. Clown car gets TV reality show.

    “Hiding news that doesn’t fit an ideological or a partisan agenda is perhaps the worst form of media bias. And it’s one more reason the public holds the press is such low esteem.” – Investor’s Business Daily

    “Look, everyone knows there will never be a President Trump.” – Mike Littwin, July 2015


    At the same time as Mr. Littwin struggles to regain his mojo (“I’ve always had a pretty good handle on politics”) he appears to be losing his mind, bigly.

    He has set up permanent camp in the political hinterlands (read: Colorado Independent) as he attempts to find a path leading back to relevance. But that’s very difficult when you’re fighting Father Time and you’ve already publicly admitted “I still have no idea how or why Trump was elected”. And by “publicly admitted” I mean to those who read his column. To the public at large he remains, “Mike who?”.

    And he again demonstrates that reading his column from the bottom-up saves so much time. Hidden in the last paragraph is this bit of uncharacteristic candor: “I don’t know where this story ends, or how damaging the Trumpist-Russian connection might be”

    Well, duh!.

    Of course, that admission didn’t stop him from writing this column in the first place. A column based entirely on nothing more than raw political ( what’s a nice way to say hypocrisy?) wishful thinking.

    Mr. Littwin has criticized US Senator Gardner for holding phone-in town hall meetings but remains silent on Democrats who are doing…the…very…same…thing. This from the Associated Press:

    “From Montana to West Virginia, the nation’s most vulnerable Senate Democrats are avoiding town hall meetings as their Republican counterparts get pummeled by an energized electorate frustrated with President Donald Trump’s early agenda.

    Some Democrats prefer to connect with constituents over the telephone or using social media. Others are meeting voters in controlled environments with limited opportunities to ask questions.

    But few of the 10 Democratic senators facing re-election next year in states carried by Trump have scheduled in-person town hall meetings during this week’s congressional recess.”

    But Mr. Littwin did concede this “For an hour or so, Donald Trump acted like a normal adult.”

    That sentence begs the question: How would Mr. Littwin recognize an adult if he saw one? He certainly doesn’t see one in the mirror. He still childishly refuses to use the term “President Trump” apparently laboring under the impression that if he doesn’t refer to Donald Trump as President Trump that “there will never be a President Trump”. If that approach fails he can always try this “the president formerly known as Donald Trump”.

    Mr. Littwin was correct when he said President Trump’s claim that “94 million Americans are out of the labor force” was “bogus” . The actual number is higher. This from “Here’s the real deal on that stat: Some 95.1 million people are not in the labor force”

    You’re welcome.

    “So, there you have it. ( US Senator) Gardner’s answer was that we needed more time to see the obvious” Obvious to whom? Mr. Littwin?. Was it as “obvious” to Mr. Littwin as this gem he wrote just two weeks (that’s right, two(2) weeks) before the election?

    “If the polls are right — and, while they’ve been wrong before, they’ve never been quite this wrong — the only remaining question in the presidential race is how badly (or, if you will, how bigly) Donald Trump will lose.”

    Or as obvious as this pre-election advise from Mr. Littwin:
    “Of course, the more certain path for any Democrat is to embrace the gift that is the Donald.”

    There were, of course, things far more obvious that Mr. Littwin missed entirely (surprise! surprise!), like the connection between President Trump’s speech to Congress and the rise in the stock market. This from

    “The Dow Jones industrial average zoomed past the 21,000 mark for the first time on Wednesday as stocks resumed their record-setting rally.
    Stocks gained as a more measured tone in President Donald Trump’s speech reassured investors, while bank stocks gained on higher chances of an interest rate hike this month.”

    I’m sure Mr. Littwin will correct that glaring oversight in his next column.

    Or not.

    But at the end of the day two things remain obvious:

    – President Trump is still in the White House

    – Somewhere, Tom Tancredo is smiling, bigly.

    November 08, 2016

    “’Cause I don’t have no use
    For what you loosely call the truth” – Tina Turner

    Greenlight a Vet
    Folds of Honor
    Special Operations Warriors Foundation

    Veterans Day – November 10, 2017


    “Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) called for Attorney General Jeff Sessions to resign Thursday morning over allegations that he met with Russia’s ambassador twice last year then made a statement indicating otherwise during his confirmation hearings.

    McCaskill has joined the dog pile of Democrats calling for Sessions’s resignation over the debacle. She threw some additional shade in the Attorney General’s direction Thursday morning by tweeting that she’s never met with Russia’s ambassador in the 10 years she’s served on the U.S. Senate Committee on Armed Services.

    But in 2013 and 2015, McCaskill tweeted about meeting with Russia’s ambassador.” –

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