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Silverman: Cory Gardner, no one should make you lie and cover for Trump’s wrongdoing

An open letter to Sen. Gardner: Distance yourself from Moscow Mitch and observe your oath during the impeachment trial

Dear Cory,

Picking up my holiday letter where I left off

I have confidence in America, the Rule of Law and our Constitution. And in you … Cory Gardner, to honor your sworn commitments. I watched your 2015 Senate oath taking. That was awkward. Creepy Joe deserved his nickname that day.

Regardless of oath giver, it’s the oath taken that matters. As a Colorado lawyer, legislator and congressman, you’ve many times sworn to support, defend and protect the Constitution. Soon, you’ll be asked to swear this far different oath:  

Craig Silverman

“I solemnly swear that in all things appertaining to the trial of the impeachment of President Donald John Trump, now pending, I will do impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws: So help me God.”

Those last four words sure are thought provoking. Think about the promise you will be making to the Almighty, and how it must be fulfilled.  

The House isn’t doing all I recommended, but regardless, the trial in the Senate is imminent. You and your fellow jurors should answer these legitimate questions. Did this president betray his oath and abuse his constitutional power, necessitating removal? Do all roads lead to Vladimir Putin? 

You’ve boldly called out Putin as an autocratic mobster who aspires to impose Putinism on Ukraine and elsewhere. It was Colorado Day, 2018, when you proudly introduced the toughest anti-Putin bill, S.3336; Defending American Security from Kremlin Aggression Act (DASKA).  

Fellow GOP sponsors were John McCain and a person who used to be Lindsey Graham. Co-sponsoring were three Dems, Ben Cardin, Jeanne Shaheen and Bob Menendez. That’s beautiful bipartisanship!

The goals of DASKA were excellent. No withdrawal from NATO treaty without Senate approval (We sense who worried you). Your bill also cracked down on Russian money laundering (same worry?) and election interference (again!). DASKA demanded harsh further sanctions to punish Putin and his kleptocrats (Putin must hate you!).

READ: Colorado Sun opinion columnists.

Your 2018 DASKA bill died on the desk of the Grim Reaper (Putin must love Mitch!). You were undeterred, reintroducing DASKA this year, proclaiming:  

“Putin’s Russia is an outlaw regime that is hell-bent on undermining international law and destroying the U.S.-led liberal global order. From the invasion of Ukraine, carrying out chemical attacks on NATO soil, support for the heinous Assad regime, violations of arms control treaties, and meddling in U.S. elections, Russia’s actions necessitate the strongest possible response from the United States.”

You are quite correct about Putin, Russia and Ukraine. This Ukrainian Shakedown matter is right in your wheelhouse. Follow the rubles. You grasp the gravity of Putin’s shooting wars. Over 13,000 Ukrainians have been killed since Russia’s 2014 invasion.  

Syrian Kurds have suffered a similar number of casualties, fighting ISIS on our behalf. On Oct. 7, 2019, you spoke truth to power, ripping President Trump for unilaterally abandoning the Kurds. Once again, Putin benefited big time from Trump’s betrayal of our allies.

Three days later, as reporters surrounded you, hard questions were deflected as you criticized the incipient House impeachment inquiry for being too rushed and partisan. You proclaimed you wanted a non-partisan, serious Senate determination of what happened between Trump and Ukraine. This Senate trial is that opportunity!

Just in case the words aren’t flowing now, I’ve taken the liberty of authoring a short statement I suggest you issue: “The Senate trial of President Trump must be an impartial search for truth. Let’s have testimony from all relevant witnesses, not just those produced by the House. In this fair Senate proceeding, the full cooperation of the White House is expected along with its disclosure of all pertinent documents. We will welcome and compel the testimony of Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Energy Secretary Rick Perry. Let’s also hear what Rudy Giuliani, John Bolton, Mick Mulvaney and President Trump have to say under oath. This Colorado senator demands a fair trial.”

Please tell the Leader you learned Constitutional Law in Boulder, not Lexington, and that impeachment is in the Constitution, as is the concept of a fair trial. Show him the juror oath you are about to take. Selling books is one thing, but selling out our founding document is another. It was grotesque to hear Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Hannity, hawking his book and promising a kangaroo court run by Trump’s lawyers. Come on, man!

That’s not going to fly in Colorado. Jesse Paul wrote an outstanding Colorado Sun article about the choices you face in 2020. To me, it’s simple. Honor your oaths. Do what’s right. Do justice. Be fair to both sides. Study all the evidence. Find truth. 

You are in a tough Senate race that you will lose to John Hickenlooper unless you follow my advice. Trump is toxic in Colorado. This president is an anchor tied to your ankles, disabling your run for reelection. POTUS just claimed he’ll be spending lots of time in Colorado, but couldn’t even remember your name. 

President Trump’s cluelessness about our state was made plain when he boasted how America’s building a beautiful wall in Colorado. The next day, Trump lied on Twitter, claiming he had been kidding. 

This weak “Trump was kidding” defense has been making the rounds. Trump sycophant Rep. Jim Jordan used it on ABC when asked, “Do you think it’s appropriate for President Trump to ask China and Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden?” You know the correct answer to that question, Cory. It is: no. Coloradans want you to say it out loud. 

Be a great juror. Insist on a fair trial. Stand for truth and impartial justice. Sit near Mitt Romney and Susan Collins. 

Hang out with fellow jurors and DASKA co-sponsors Shaheen, Menendez and Cardin. All roads do lead to Putin. John Bolton could confirm Pelosi’s accusation. As can others. Make them testify. Under oath. Sworn oaths matter to the Cory Gardner I respect. So does the Constitution.

Distance yourself from Moscow Mitch, and especially Lindsey Graham. These southern senators are making a mockery of their oaths and the Constitution. As true Trumpsters, they refuse to engage on the substantive facts of the Ukrainian Shakedown, preferring instead to call it a hoax or a sham. 

Please honor your oaths and do you job. Don’t surrender the power and prestige of the U.S. Senate as the world’s greatest deliberative body. If you do, the impeachment trial will be a sham and our Constitution a hoax. Acquittal would be acceptable, but only after a fair trial.

The holidays are a good time to remember we’re all more the same than we are different. No one should make you lie and cover for wrongdoing.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Craig Silverman is a former Denver Chief Deputy DA who also has worked in the media for decades. Craig is columnist at large for The Colorado Sun. He practices law at the Denver law firm of Springer & Steinberg, P.C.

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