DENVER – Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner has been among the most-scrutinized politicians in Washington in recent months.
Gardner is a Republican in a state won by Hillary Clinton, but which has strong Republican and independent factions as well. But he has drawn the ire of many Coloradans after voting in favor of President Donald Trump’s nominees and measures every chance he’s had so far, and caused a stir with a comment about protesters at his offices in Colorado being paid.
Gardner on Tuesday sat for an interview with Denver7 to explain his voting record with the new administration, his thoughts on the protests and the fallout from National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s resignation Monday night.
Watch the full interview in the player embedded below.
GARDNER ON FLYNN’S RESIGNATION
Gardner had not previously commented publicly on swirling allegations that Flynn had discussed sanctions on Russia with its ambassador to Washington, Sergey Kislyak.
But on Tuesday, in the wake of Flynn’s Monday resignation, Gardner said it was right for Flynn to step aside.
“The right thing happened with General Flynn stepping down. That’s the right decision he made and right for the country,” Gardner said. “But I also think it’s important to recognize that the intelligence committee, which is already carrying out an investigation into Russian hacking and other activities with Russia, is going to be looking into the matter of General Flynn.”
He said that he would wait for the FBI to determine the route of any possible further investigations into Flynn. That came as several other high-ranking Republican Senate members called for an investigation into ties between Trump and Russia and called for Flynn to testify.
“Every administration has the ability, the right, to choose their personnel – particularly their national security adviser,” Gardner told Denver7. “I disagreed with the [national security adviser] from time to time under the last administration. But I think what we have to do is find out the facts here, learn from the FBI what exactly happened, and make our decisions going forward.”
GARDNER ON HIS CONFIRMATION VOTES
Gardner maintains that Democrats on the Hill are causing much of the political divide by objecting to and delaying some of the new administration’s confirmations.
“This is unprecedented levels of political obstruction in the Senate,” Gardner told Denver7. “So far, all that we’ve been allowed to do, thanks to unprecedented levels of obstruction, is try to do the basic job of filling out a cabinet for this president.”
And though several Senate committees delayed committee votes on some of the cabinet picks and Democrats used Senate rules to hold the floor for nearly 24 hours in an effort to vote down Betsy DeVos as Education Secretary, the GOP line that there is “unprecedented obstruction,” which has also been used by many other Senate Republicans, does not completely hold water.
After Republicans won back the House and Senate, they in 2013 boycotted a committee vote on prospective EPA administrator Gina McCarthy and famously failed to meet with President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland.
But all of President Trump’s nominees have so far been confirmed, and that is likely to continue since Republicans hold majorities in both chambers of Congress.
Gardner says he has a positive outlook on the administration’s future.
“Regardless of what party people are, regardless of whether they voted for President Trump or voted for Hillary Clinton, we would always do our best to make sure our days ahead of us are better than the ones we just went through,” he said.
GARDNER ON OPPOSITION
Thousands of people displeased with Gardner’s votes and alignment with President Trump have flooded his phone lines and email inboxes voicing their lack of satisfaction. They have also taken to his offices in Colorado to protest.
“I want to hear from you. I continue to encourage my constituents to reach out to me to share their opinions - whether through meetings, phone calls, email, or social media,” Gardner said in a statement to Denver7 Monday.
On Tuesday, he addressed the insinuation he made last month that some people protesting him and calling his office were paid protesters. He clarified that he believes there are organizations that are working to connect politically-active people across the country with various lawmakers in Washington, citing a conversation his wife had with one organization.
“We have a number of Coloradans – a large percentage, if not a huge percentage of the people calling our office who are Coloradans. [They are] people who are concerned about nominations, people who are concerned about the price of their health care,” Gardner said.
“But we do have people from out of state calling the office. In fact, just the other day, my wife was contacted by an organized survey effort. She answered the survey and was immediately connected to my very own office.”
“She was not paid to do that, but somebody was paid to make that connection happen not knowing that was my wife,” Gardner said.
“I’ve always said we need more Colorado in Washington and less Washington in Colorado. When somebody reaches out to the office, I take every one of those concerns seriously,” Gardner said. “Somebody may want you to vote ‘yes;’ somebody may want you to vote ‘no;’ and obviously if you vote ‘yes’ when somebody wants you to vote ‘no,’ that means someone feels like their voice wasn’t heard. But the bottom line is every single one of their voices matter.”
Gardner will next be up for re-election in 2020.