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Sen. Gardner: Trump should hold Russia accountable

Author: Conrad Swanson - July 13, 2018 - Updated: July 26, 2018

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U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner speaks at the El Paso County Republican Party Headquarters in Colorado Springs on July 13. (Photo by Kelsey Brunner, The Gazette)

COLORADO SPRINGS — When President Donald Trump meets Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday in Finland, he should hold the foreign leader accountable for his country’s destructive and illegal behavior, U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner said Friday.

The Colorado Republican was in Colorado Springs with GOP gubernatorial candidate Walker Stapleton, one of several stops they made across the state. Gardner endorsed Stapleton, and both avoided a protest along Tejon and East Kiowa streets by taking a side entrance into El Paso County Republican Party headquarters downtown.

Russia’s invasion and occupation of Crimea and continuing cyber aggression against the U.S., among other things, should land the country on a list of state sponsors of terror, said Gardner, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

“The president needs to be very firm,” Gardner said. “If he’s going to meet with (Putin) at all, it’s got to be about our objections to his malign activities.”

Gardner’s complaints were bolstered Friday by Justice Department indictments of 12 Russian military officers for allegedly swaying the U.S. presidential election of 2016.

Catherine Grandorff, president of the Colorado Springs Feminists, leads a chant alongside other pro-choice ralliers in Colorado Springs on July 13. (Photo by Kelsey Brunner, The Gazette)

U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and other lawmakers called on Trump to cancel his meeting with Putin.

In Colorado Springs, most of the Republican crowd came to see Stapleton, who assured them that as governor, he would ensure prosperity for the entire state, not only Denver and Boulder.

Stapleton decried the prospective renewable energy standards espoused by his Democratic opponent, U.S. Rep. Jared Polis.

“The air that all of us want to breathe in Colorado, the streams that we want to fish, the mountains that we want to hike in summer and ski in winter … are not mutually exclusive from a responsible regulated energy industry in the state of Colorado,” Stapleton said.

If Polis becomes governor, Gardner said, Republicans likely will have to wait another 20 years for a shot at the governor’s office.

The 75 or so protesters, meanwhile, expressed vehement opposition to Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination by Trump to fill the U.S. Supreme Court seat being vacated by Justice Anthony Kennedy.

Kavanaugh’s appointment would be disastrous for women’s rights, said Janet Gray.

“Thinking of my daughter not growing up with the same rights I have… it’s terrifying,” she said, holding back tears.

At stake is Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion, said Catherine Grandorff, president of Colorado Springs Feminists.

Gardner said he has yet to meet Kavanaugh, though the nominee appears qualified for the position.

“I look forward to being able to support him,” the senator said.

Asked about a potential overturn of Roe v. Wade, Gardner said he wants to ensure that Kavanaugh will follow the law rather than make the law.

Afterward, local Republican leaders told the protesters outside that Gardner and Stapleton had left. That drew the ire of the protesters, who angrily chanted and called the men cowards.

But inside, Republicans were smiling. Virginia Dellinger said she appreciated seeing Stapleton and Gardner and agrees with their vow to keep jobs in Colorado as a way to ensure a bright future for the state’s children.

Andrea Guzman contributed to this report.

Conrad Swanson

Conrad Swanson