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Appearing Sept. 25 on a Denver podcast, George Brauchler, who’s seen as a potential GOP candidate for statewide office in Colorado and who once said the U.S. is “in pretty damn good hands” with Trump, sharply criticized Trump Nation’s misdeeds and mistakes, including the former president’s baseless accusation that the election was stolen.
Craig Silverman, as host of his eponymous podcast, led Brauchler through a line of questions addressing issues that pose political liabilities for the GOP in Colorado, where Trump is decidedly unpopular. Silverman believes these issues also threaten the democratic foundations of our constitutional republic.
In his interview with Silverman, Brauchler, who finished his term as prosecutor of Colorado’s 18th Judicial District in January, disparaged the ongoing invalid claims of election fraud in the 2020 election which conspiracists and Trump supporters believe resulted in Trump’s second presidential term being “stolen.” Brauchler believes that conspiracy theories and immaterial suppositions drive this false narrative, one that he personally rejects.
When asked by Silverman if he believes that the attack on elections is dangerous, Brauchler’s answer was affirmative.
“I do think it’s dangerous for our democracy,” replied Brauchler, who’s a weekend talk radio host on KNUS, a conservative radio station in metro Denver. “If there’s an upside to this, it’s that I want us to be hyper-vigilant about the security of our voting systems. I think that attention is completely warranted and anybody that pushes back and says, ‘No, this is good enough,’ I think they’re wrong, too. But to take it to that next level and call into question the validity of the outcome — and I’ve even had people, Craig, tell me, ‘I really think you won the 2018 election, but voter fraud kept you–.’ And I’m like, ‘Come on!’ Listen, man, I mean nobody wants to believe that more than the guy who lost. But I don’t believe that. I believe I lost a fair election to a guy that fought hard for it.”
He said he would consider any real evidence that is entered in support of the claims of a stolen election, but there is none.
Silverman observed that the tragic attack on the U.S. Capitol was partially prompted earlier that day by Trump’s speech to attendees at the Stop the Steal rally, for which Trump was awarded a second round of impeachment hearings by the U.S. House and a trial in the Senate. He continues to perpetuate disinformation around the 2020 election.
Brauchler called out apologists for the Jan. 6 insurrectionists who attacked the nation’s Capitol in Washington D.C. in a failed attempt to pressure government representatives to decertify the results of the 2020 presidential election.
Brauchler believes that these apologists are undermining the rule of law, which would require very public prosecutions of the charged insurrectionists, and incarcerating those found to be guilty. He does not believe that the relatively small number of participants directly involved in the U.S. Capitol attack should be framed as political prisoners but instead are accurately labeled insurrectionists.
Trump, however, has stated that his “heart is with those standing for rioters,” he has claimed the insurrectionists are being persecuted, and he has praised Ashli Babbit, a protestor insurrectionist who was killed by law enforcement while trying to gain entry to the House chambers at the Capitol. These positions objectively put the former president in the camp of Jan. 6 insurrection apologists.
Brauchler also chastised the use of divisive, inaccurate, and volatile rhetoric in support of a political agenda, especially on social media platforms where posters enjoy some degree of anonymity and impunity. He specifically identified Nazi comparisons and misappropriating patriotism as two of the more problematic rhetorical devices employed by Trump supporters to bolster support for their party and its leader.
“One of the worst developments I think to befall American society is the ability to comment on social media and social media with animosity and impunity,” Brauchler told Silverman. “When you don’t have to stand behind the words that you say and be accountable for them, it makes people who are otherwise inclined to think horrible thoughts huge megaphones for those horrible, incendiary, poisonous thoughts. And the fact that you can do it with impunity, maybe you can be blocked. Maybe you can report Twitter. That does nothing — not in my opinion, not a single thing to advance our democracy, our pursuit of liberty or nothing. It is one of the worst things to befall this country in the last 20 years.”
Trump was banned from social media platforms Twitter in Facebook for failing to comply with user guidelines, and he is regularly referenced for his “mean tweets.”
Brauchler also complained of the compromised position in which he and other Republicans found themselves as they were forced to defend the indefensible in their support of Trump when, just a few weeks before the 2016 election, The Washington Post released an audio recording of Trump bragging to entertainment reporter Billy Bush on the Access Hollywood bus about leveraging his fame and wealth to commit sexual assault on women.
On Silverman’s podcast, Brauchler told how his daughter Amanda had asked him at the time whether what Trump had said was okay. Brauchler assured Amanda that it was most certainly not okay. Her next question was ominous when Brauchler understood the implications of his answer to his 14-year old daughter: “Are you going to vote for him?”
“And that will stick with me forever,” Brauchler said, “not because she won’t be a Republican, but because that awkward moment between a father and a daughter where I got stuck in this position, having to explain something I should have never, ever been asked to explain to my daughter. And that is, how can someone who says such horrible, ugly things about women still be worthy of being president of the United States? But there it was! And it’s in my head, and it will be there till I go to my grave.”
The conversation with his daughter didn’t stop Brauchler, about four months later, from boasting to fellow Republicans that he voted for Trump and that “we’re all in pretty damn good hands right now in terms of the United States of America.”
“And I’m here to tell you I voted for Donald Trump,” said Brauchler in a speech marking Trump’s first 100 days in office. “…If you listen to the news, you think we’re on the verge of some sort of Constitutional crisis. This tells me we’re all in pretty damn good hands right now in terms of the United States of America.”
Silverman also challenged Brauchler on Trump embracing white nationalist groups such as the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys, and conspiracy groups such as QAnon.
Trump has publicly articulated his support for the Proud Boys.
Brauchler replied, “I don’t want any part with any person who bears animus toward someone because of their faith, or their ethnicity or the color of their skin. But if there’s groups out there for which that’s a part of their platform, I’ve got no interest in having their support.”
These and other fiascos from the Trump era prompted Brauchler to say he believes the party, “in many ways, has lost a generation of would-be Republicans,” including his daughter who “will never put on the Republican jersey.”
When Brauchler discussed Trump’s record directly, he said he was conflicted about criticizing Trump. Brauchler doesn’t regularly talk about Trump on his program, saying it feels awkward to criticize his former commander-in-chief, as a veteran of the armed forces and a Lt. Col in the U.S. Army Reserve.
Some “Want to Cling to the Cult of Personality Aspect that Trump Presents”
But Brauchler now wonders whether Trump’s oversized role in the Republican party is “positive,” and he implicitly criticized Trump, and his ardent supporters, by saying there are “certain folks in the party who want to cling to the cult of personality aspect that Trump presents.”
“I think [Trump] is going to continue to play an oversize role in our party at the national, maybe even the local level for a couple more election cycles,” said Brauchler. “I just don’t know if that’s positive. I mean, he brought a whole lot of people to the party that hadn’t voted Republican, but that’s undeniable. But at what expense? … It’s obviously precarious with certain folks in the party who want to cling to the cult of personality aspect that Trump presents, but you know, I think if we just lose sight of the fact that the party is bigger than any one individual, it’s got to be more about the principles and values. I think we’re a little bit doomed. Maybe a lot doomed.”
With regard to some of the Colorado players who share responsibility for creating these challenging issues facing the GOP, Brauchler was much kinder.
U.S. Representative Lauren Boebert (R-CO), who raised suspicions of conspiring with rioters by tweeting, “It’s 1776!” on the morning of Jan. 6 and tweeting the location of U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, has also met with criticisms of trolling constituents on social media and misrepresenting facts.
Brauchler was skeptical about a House investigation into any involvement by Boebert in the Jan. 6 insurrection.
“This is what I would need to know, I would need to know that there is something that can come out of the most partisan political body on the planet Earth — their investigation — that hasn’t already been revealed through a number of other investigations, rather than turn this into a political dog and pony show, which is what I fear it would become,” Brauchler said on air. “Despite the best interests of Kinzinger and Cheney, I think that’s what it is geared to be. There can’t be limitations on what can be looked into. I worry about that, that this is really just a focus on Trump’s role and some hand-picked people in Congress. I worry about that. … I don’t think that she was trying to stir the pot in the way that it ultimately boiled over. … She really just says what she thinks and I really do think it comes from a place of patriotism. And I think what she was trying to do was to egg on what I believe – or inspire – what I think she thought was going to be a tremendous rally and this great argument. I don’t think in her wildest dreams – I don’t think – she thought the Capitol would be overrun. And if I’m wrong on that, man, I’ll be disappointed.”
Regarding Joe Oltmann, formerly a sponsor of Brauchler’s radio show on KNUS when he was CEO of PIN Business Network, Brauchler said he’s a friend, although they don’t agree on election conspiracy topics.
“Joe is a friend,” Brauchler said, “someone who I’ve gotten to know since I ran for office. He reached out to me, I don’t know, however many years ago, to have a conversation and say, ‘Hey, look, I really like what you talk about. I like the way that you handle yourself your office. I’d love to get together and talk about the future and all that.’ And so he’s been — you know, he’s just been really good to me of toured places before, even before he was ever a sponsor. And I like Joe, he’s an entrepreneur, and he’s done a lot of things that I think are positives. We disagree on the election stuff, and he knows that. We just disagree on so the direction he’s taken on this and the things that he’s done. That’s him. That’s on him. And I support his right to pursue his passions as long as they don’t run afoul of the law. You know, so I’m not running away from Joe. I still am friendly with Joe, and his business is all data, proprietary data stuff which has been largely effective. … So, you know, I know the Joe Oltmann as the entrepreneur, as the giant taxpayer, and as the person who’s created a bunch of jobs and opportunities. The part of Joe that pursues the stolen election thing, that’s just a place where we just part company.”
Silverman informed Brauchler of alleged connections between Oltmann and the insurrection on Jan. 6, including being in on the planning and being present at the Willard Hotel in Washington D.C. the day before the insurrection.
As reported in the Colorado Times Recorder, Oltmann is also a founder and closely tied to the operations of FEC United, a political education and action organization. He also collaborated with Benghazi veteran Tig Tiegen to establish the United American Defense Force (UADF) as a militia arm of FEC United. Oltmann’s pursuits in investigating election fraud have led to multiple lawsuits filed against him for defamation.
Of more immediate relevance to the state GOP, Bruachler’s public airing of his criticisms may exacerbate the rift among Colorado Republicans, between moderate establishment and grassroots activist factions.
Three weeks ago, after a protracted debate on talk radio, social media commentary, and published op-eds, party leaders from the establishment faction, which includes Brauchler, helped to defeat a measure allowing the GOP to opt out of open primaries.
In their proposal for opting out of primaries, leaders of the grassroots faction of the GOP had contended that including unaffiliated voters in primary elections for Republican nominees restricts far-right conservative candidates from winning the nomination and invites dark money Democratic donors to play in Republican elections.
Brauchler told Silverman that his stance on these controversial issues has garnered him some pushback from members of his own party. If Brauchler’s critiques align with voter perceptions, it could spell additional trouble for Republicans’ electoral prospects.
Silverman previously had a Saturday morning conservative talk radio show on KNUS, where he regularly criticized Trump’s Democratic opponent in the presidential race. But a year before the 2020 election and following the first House impeachment hearings for Trump, Silverman had a change of heart and his criticism turned to Trump. He was fired from KNUS for criticizing Trump on-air and soliciting regular guest spots to appear with his former on-air partner Dan Caplis on a competing station.
Silverman said he is “personally ashamed” that he voted for Donald Trump over Hilary Clinton.
During his tenure as a prosecutor, Brauchler represented the state in high-profile criminal cases, such as the Aurora Theater shooting and the STEM School shooting. He has also run for Colorado governor and attorney general for the state.
Editor’s note: This story first appeared on the Colorado Times Recorder website.