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Johnston blasts Gardner for backing Trump border wall ‘national emergency’

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March 15, 2019, 10:55 am

On Thursday, Colorado Republican U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner backed President Donald Trump’s declaration of a national emergency to divert funds already allocated by Congress for military and other purposes to the construction of a border wall Trump promised Mexico would pay for.

Sen. Cory Gardner
Sen. Cory Gardner

Gardner, who faces re-election next year, did not join 12 other Republicans and every Democrat in voting 59-41 to reject Trump’s constitutionally questionable use of a national emergency to obtain additional border walls funds – a measure already passed in the House and expected to be vetoed by Trump. The issue is now likely to be resolved in a long and costly legal battle.

Late Thursday, the Denver Post withdrew its 2014 endorsement of Gardner for his failure to reject Trump’s border wall ploy, and Vail’s Mike Johnston – one of several Democrats lining up to take on Gardner in 2020 – sent out a strong statement supporting the move by the Post.

Mike Johnston (youtube photo).
Mike Johnston (youtube photo).

“Yesterday, Cory Gardner did something so disappointing that it led the Denver Post to do something they hadn’t done in my lifetime: they published an editorial calling their 2014 endorsement of Senator Gardner a mistake,”Johnston wrote in an email statement Friday.

“I agree. Integrity means doing the right thing, even when it’s hard. There were plenty of reasons for Senators to do the right thing and vote against Trump’s emergency yesterday,” Johnston added. “It is unconstitutional. It violates the separation of powers between the President and Congress. It risks crucial funding for military projects, including here in Colorado. And it is meant to respond to a farce of an ‘emergency’ by building a wall that will do nothing to improve our immigration system.”

Gardner, obviously, disagrees. Here’s his statement about his vote that he issued on Thursday:

“There is a crisis at the border and Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer have prevented a solution. As a result, the President has declared a national immigration emergency, legal authority which he clearly has under the 1976 law, a law invoked 56 times by every previous President since Jimmy Carter. Between October and February, border patrol apprehensions were up nearly 100 percent and since 2012, border patrol methamphetamine seizures are up 280 percent. It should never have come to this, but in the absence of Congressional action, the President did what Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer refused to do.”

Republicans lost control of the House of Representatives in November’s midterm elections, with Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi assuming the reins of power again. Democrat Chuck Schumer is still the minority leader in the Senate, where Republicans maintain control.

For the first two years of Trump’s presidency, Republicans controlled both chambers and never fully funded Trump’s border wall requests – a proposal the president made early and often on the 2016 campaign trail, along with his caveat that Mexico would pay for it.

Trump partially shut down the government for the longest period every earlier this year in order to get wall funding and said in announcing his national emergency declaration that he didn’t need to do it but wanted the wall built faster.

“Cory Gardner, when asked to stand up for Coloradans, chose to lay down for the President,” said Johnston, a former state senator and son of a former Vail mayor. “When asked to be a leader, he instead chose to follow the President as Trump launched his latest narcissistic attack on our democracy.”

The Denver Post took its extraordinary step late Thursday.

“We endorsed Sen. Cory Gardner in 2014 because we believed he’d be a statesman. We knew he’d be a conservative voice in Congress, to be certain, but we thought his voice would bring “fresh leadership, energy and ideas.”  We see now that was a mistake – consider this our resolution of disapproval,” the editorial reads.

“Gardner has been too busy walking a political tight rope to be a leader. He has become precisely what we said in our endorsement he would not be: “a political time-server interested only in professional security.”

Denver’s only major metro paper went on to explain what’s at stake.

“… These are extraordinary times. This is a bogus emergency that takes executive over-reach to an extreme not seen even under President Barack Obama. Trump’s declaration is an abuse of his power, a direct overturning of Congress’ deliberate decision to pass a federal budget without funding for a wall. Put simply this is a constitutional crisis and one of Colorado’s two senators has failed the test.”

Democratic Colorado U.S. Michael Bennet voted in favor of the resolution rejecting Trump’s national emergency.

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David O. Williams

Managing Editor at RealVail
David O. Williams is an award-winning freelance reporter based in the Vail Valley of Colorado, writing on health care, immigration, politics, the environment, energy, public lands, outdoor recreation and sports. His work has appeared in 5280 Magazine, American Way Magazine (American Airlines), the Anchorage Daily News (Alaska), Aspen Daily News, the Aspen Times, Beaver Creek Magazine, the Chicago Tribune, the Colorado Independent, Colorado Politics (formerly the Colorado Statesman), Colorado Public News, the Colorado Springs Gazette, the Colorado Independent (formerly Colorado Confidential), the Colorado Springs Independent, the Colorado Statesman (now Colorado Politics), the Daily Trail (Vail), the Denver Daily News, the Denver Post, the Durango Herald, the Eagle Valley Enterprise, the Eastside Journal (Bellevue, Washington), ESPN.com, the Glenwood Springs Post-Independent, the Greeley Tribune, the Huffington Post, the King County Journal (Seattle, Washington), KUNC.org (northern Colorado), LA Weekly, the London Daily Mirror, the Montgomery Journal (Maryland), The New York Times, the Parent’s Handbook, Peaks Magazine (now Epic Life), People Magazine, Powder Magazine, the Pueblo Chieftain, PT Magazine, Rocky Mountain Golf Magazine, the Rocky Mountain News, Atlantic Media's RouteFifty.com (formerly Government Executive State and Local), SKI Magazine, Ski Area Management, SKIING Magazine, the Summit Daily News, United Hemispheres (United Airlines), Vail/Beaver Creek Magazine, Vail en Español, Vail Valley Magazine, the Vail Daily, the Vail Trail and Westword (Denver). Williams is also the founder, publisher and editor of RealVail.com and RockyMountainPost.com.

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