Please Don't Let Him Wind Up On MSNBC
There are 21 counties in the eastern Colorado district— CO-04— represented by Ken Buck. It’s the reddest district in the state. The PVI is R+13. Trump won it by 18.6 points (with 58% of the vote). Last year, Ken Buck won it with an even bigger margin than Trump— 60.9%. He won every single one of those 21 counties, 3 of them (Kiowa, Cheyenne and Washington) with over 80%.
Buck, a Princeton grad, was a University of Denver law school professor before being elected to Congress in 2014. He’s a far right Member who was one of only two in the House to vote against the original 2020 $8.3 billion emergency aid package meant to help the United States respond to the COVID pandemic. He also voted against the Coronavirus Relief Bill which passed 363-40. His book, Drain the Swamp: How Washington Corruption is Worse Than You Think, was published in 2017 and he’s a longtime member of the House “Freedom” Caucus. Now Marjorie Traitor Greene is calling for a primary against him. (Neo-fascist state Rep. Richard Holtorf has started raising money for a run.) After she tweeted against him for opposing impeachment, this started circulating: “Everyone on Capitol Hill knows that Ken Buck has given up on his work with the Freedom Caucus, the Foreign Affairs Committee and the Judiciary Committee so that he can try-out for jobs with TV networks or the Biden administration. He’s totally abandoned all principles to try and make a name for himself. It’s sad that such a formerly great member would do so.”
So who could have been surprised Friday night when the Washington Post published an OpEd by Buck attacking Trump’s pet project: impeaching Biden? He criticized congressional dysfunction, an implicit attack on McCarthy’s inability to run the House (and on his colleagues in the House Freedom Caucus who are holding the government hostage). “We are barreling toward a government shutdown without making progress on cutting our out-of-control spending,” he wrote. “Yet Republican leadership has decided to divert attention to an impeachment inquiry into President Biden.” But Buck isn’t the only conservative Republican in Congress thinking this— and worrying about it:
The GOP’s charge against Biden is that he personally benefited from his son’s deplorable business exploits around the globe. Without doubt, Hunter Biden’s shady business deals undermined America’s image and our anti-corruption goals, and his conduct was thoroughly reprehensible. What’s missing, despite years of investigation, is the smoking gun that connects Joe Biden to his ne’er-do-well son’s corruption.
My fellow Republicans leading the House inquiry believe the connection comes through the 2016 firing of Ukrainian prosecutor Viktor Shokin, which then-Vice President Biden helped facilitate.
The dominant narrative in right-wing media is that Shokin was an anti-corruption zealot with an active investigation into Burisma, the company where Hunter Biden held a seat on the board of directors, and from which he reportedly received large monthly payments.
The truth about Shokin is much more complicated and runs counter to the GOP’s “gotcha” narrative. In reality, Shokin was deeply enmeshed in Ukraine’s culture of corruption and, far from being a beacon of transparency, was viewed by many in the West— including some conservative Republican senators— as an obstacle to anti-corruption reforms. There is, in fact, no evidence that Shokin was engaged in an investigation of Burisma, or that Joe Biden’s role in his firing was in any way connected to Burisma.
Much attention has been focused on a speech Biden delivered in December 2015 before Ukraine’s parliament, in which he explicitly called for change at the prosecutor general’s office. Far from being out of line with U.S. policy, Biden’s remarks were entirely within the U.S. government’s paradigm of helping Ukraine break free from its lawless Soviet past. Other senior officials, including U.S. Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt, made the case during the same period for firing Shokin.
The European Union, which necessarily pays a great deal of attention to the politics and policies of neighboring Ukraine, was also of the opinion that Shokin should be sacked. Shokin had been the biggest barrier to the E.U.’s years-long efforts to encourage rule-of-law reforms in Ukraine.
These facts— like all facts— are stubborn things.
Republicans in the House who are itching for an impeachment are relying on an imagined history. Their inquiry, formally announced by Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) on Tuesday, rests heavily on a fictitious version of Shokin’s career, with the alleged investigation of Burisma at the center. It’s a neat story, and one that performs well in certain media circles. But impeachment is a serious matter and should have a foundation of rock-solid facts.
Buck has been as awful a Member of Congress as you’re going to find— an anti-Choice, anti-vax, pro-gun, homophobic Climate Change denier who wants to abolish the Department of Education and privatize the Veteran’s Administration and Medicare. That said, the lunatic Marjorie Traitor Greene is encouraging to run against him is best known for his animus against… foster youth. Over a third of young adults leaving Colorado’s Forster care system ended up homeless within 3 years. A bill be ameliorate that passed with wide bipartisan support— 32-3 in the Senate and 48-17 in the House. All the opponents were Republicans and Rep. Richard Holtorf was one of their leaders. “Colorado needs to grow up. It's time to grow up and be an adult. And that includes the foster kids... Young people need to know, in this life and this country, you need to get after it. You need to go along and figure it out.” What a perfect congressional Republican he’d make!