Craig Silverman Show, Ken Buck, January 12, 2019

Station:     KNUS, 710 am

Show:       Craig Silverman Show

Guests:    Buck, Ken


Date:       January 12, 2019

Topics:            Mueller Investigation, District Attorney, Weld County, US Attorney’s Office, Inactive Law License, House Minority, Toxic Trump, Jason Crow, Mike Coffman, Republican Brand, Democrat Light, The Swamp, Trump Cabinet, Ryan Zinke, Scott Pruitt, Colorado GOP chairman, Susan Beckman, Border, Drugs, Illegal Immigrants, The Wall, Joe Neguse, Cory Gardner, Ray of Sunshine, Tulsi Gabbard, Eric Salwell, Jared Polis, Oil Industry, Green Energy, Opioid Crisis, Opioid Epidemic, National Emergency, New York Times, Russia, China, Trade

Click Here for Audio

 HOST CRAIG SILVERMAN:  We have the Congressman on the phone, right now.  Ken Buck, welcome back to 710 KNUS


SILVERMAN:  You’re not only on 710 KNUS, you are in a very special place:  [plays intro for “Craig’s Lawyers’ Lounge].  Ken Buck was quite the attorney – the trial attorney. I knew him when he was a frontline prosecutor, back in the day when I was the same. He went on to great things – to be the DA of Weld County [in] Greeley, Colorado.  He also worked for the US Attorney’s office.  Ken Buck, welcome back to the Lounge.  And are you still proud of being a lawyer?

BUCK:  I’m proud of being a prosecutor, Craig

SILVERMAN:  Do you still keep you law license active?

BUCK:  [laughs] No, it’s actually inactive right now.

SILVERMAN:  Are you!?!? Well, do you still know your bar number, so you can come in the Lounge?

BUCK:  [laughs] I wouldn’t give it on the air!

SILVERMAN:  All right. Well, people can look it up. We’re a publicly regulated thing. But I know you’re a lawyer. Do you ever miss the days of being in court? Is – what’s the challenge difference between being a frontline prosecutor and the job you have now?

BUCK:  Well, I’ve got to tell you, Craig, [in] the job I did as a prosecutor, I saw results immediately.  There was a scoreboard – called a ‘verdict’.  And you could see the score immediately, and resulted in a lot more good plea agreements and other things. And the DA’s job was even better, because I worked with the sheriff and police chiefs and others to reduce crime in the community and you could see that scoreboard.  This job, there is no scoreboard. It is such a 30,000-foot kind of job that it is very difficult.  There are some occasions where you could see that you’ve done some good for some individuals.  I go to town hall meetings. People raise issues. We’re able to solve those issues. But for the most part, we keep increasing debt, we keep increasing the size and scope of government.  It’s wrong. We’re going in the wrong direction. And it’s just hard to turn this ship around right now.

SILVERMAN:  But when it does come to politics, there is a scoreboard called ‘Election Day.’  What happened to the Republicans this midterm election?

BUCK:  Well, I think that historically the party in power does poorly. And Republicans did poorly across the nation.  We lost the majority in the U.S. House. We lost several state legislatures, several governorships.  And I think that we have got to pick ourselves up and do a better job.

SILVERMAN:  Is Donald Trump toxic in Colorado?

BUCK:  No, Donald Trump isn’t toxic in Colorado. Donald Trump’s policies are – I believe—popular. I think that you can look at an individual  in isolation, and try to pick apart his statements or long-term effects of policy.  You can speculate about that.  But I think the bottom line is that the Democrats are moving further and further to the left. And you always – in an election, you have a choice between ‘a’ and ‘b’.  And until we find out who ‘b’ is, it’s going to be very difficult for Democrats to make the case that their candidate is better than Donald Trump. I don’t believe that they will find a better candidate than Donald Trump

SILVERMAN:  Well, let’s talk about what happened in Colorado. Your colleague, Mike Coffman, lost after many terms, representing part of the metro area in Congress.  Why did Mike Coffman lose? And did Donald Trump affect that at all?

BUCK:  No, I don’t think Donald Trump affected that. I think the bottom line was that Jason Crow is an outstanding candidate. I think that what he is going to find out – and what Republicans and Democrats and unaffiliated voters of Colorado are going to find out – is that when he goes back to D.C., that Nancy Pelosi sets the agenda. And what Jason Crow and other moderate Democrats who won will find out is that they are going to be forced to vote for—or at least watch as their colleagues pass – legislation that is going to grow the size of government, that is not affordable, that is not sustainable, and we’re going to regret not having an opposition to that in Congress.

SILVERMAN:  But when it comes to spending money, with the Republicans in control, it seemed like you guys were spending like drunken sailors, as well. Are you proud of that? Did you resist that? Or how do you account for that?

BUCK:  Well, Craig, let me say one thing first: I think it is an insult to sailors to compare them – even the most drunk of sailors – to compare them to Congress. I think that –. And, [it is] unfair, frankly.  I think that Congress absolutely overspent in the years where the Republicans were in charge, particularly the last two years where the House, the Senate, and the White House were controlled by Republicans. And it is absolutely shameful. And the Republican Party loses its brand when it tries to act like Democrat-lite, and tries to have a government that is unaffordable but does a little bit for a lot of people. We have got to pick and choose what it is that the federal government should do, and how much money we want to spend to get that done.

SILVERMAN:  Ken Buck, Congressman from Colorado. He wrote a book about the “swamp.” As you talk about disappointments with the spending, what about the swamp-like behavior of various cabinet members– Tom Price, Scott Pruitt, Ryan Zinke. Isn’t that disappointing for Republicans to have three guys out of the cabinet on corruption charges?

BUCK:  Well, come on, Craig!  [chuckling] Nobody was convicted of a corruption charge! They were issues that were raised.

SILVERMAN:  But they were kicked out of their job because of it.

BUCK:  Well, they resigned their position as a result. And, you know, I knew Tom Price for two years before he got into that position. I have no idea what was going on there, whether he was, uh, you know, –. It’s not–. I don’t understand it. I don’t know enough about the details. I know Tom Price is a great person. I know Tom Price had a very comfortable life as a doctor in Georgia, chose to enter public life, and sacrificed a lot to do that. I don’t know the details of any of those – of why they were caught doing what they were doing. But we hold government officials to a higher standard. We should hold government officials to a higher standard because it’s not their money.  It’s the government’s money. It’s the people’s money. And I’m happy that there was a system in place that we were able to hold people accountable.  But, I have to tell you, I think that when you look at people that go into government like that, and take –.  Those three people – and their agencies – took very controversial positions and put themselves under the microscope much more than others. And I think that’s part of the problem we have now, is we are trying to hold people to a perfect standard.  And again, I don’t know, but if there was corruption there, if they converted government money to their own use, then they should be out of government and there should be prosecution, [or] at least someone examining them. But I don’t know what happened. I keep my focus on what I’m doing in Congress. And it doesn’t involve the oversight of those agencies.

SILVERMAN:  There are so many prominent Congressman. I have never met Jason Crow.  I take it you have met him. He is part of your Colorado delegation. And from what it sounds like, you’re impressed by him – that he is a good candidate.  What can you tell us about Jason Crow? He is a lawyer. I’d like to get him in Craig’s Lawyers’ Lounge. Do you know the guy well?

BUCK:  I don’t know him well. I met him during a candidate forum. And then I – yesterday evening I saw him again at – on the plane coming back to Colorado. I look forward to getting to know him well. The one candidate – or the one Congressman – who I’ve gotten to know a little bit better – a freshman Congressman – is Joe Neguse, who took Jared Polis’ position. And I am thoroughly impressed with Joe. Joe is a – just a – he is a ‘Cory Gardner.’ He is a ray of sunshine. He just has this bubbly personality. He is really friendly and a nice person. And I think, while we disagree politically and we disagree on policy, he’s exactly the kind of person that you want to see in politics.

SILVERMAN:  I have talked to Joe on the radio before. I think he is destined for super-stardom. He’s got that winning smile, like Cory Gardner.  And I watched him on Hardball [with Chris Matthews on MSNBC] and Chris Matthews seemed to like him, so I expect him to become a staple on MSNBC. It seems like the House of Representatives is a launching pad for a lot of people.  Tulsi Gabbard, one of your colleagues, just threw in to be President. – after his appearance in Hardball.  What about House members running for President. Eric Swalwell, another of your colleagues on the Democrat side, wants to be president. Are there other members of the House that you anticipate are going to run for President?

BUCK:  I don’t know. I—very few Democrats talk to me about their ambitions for higher office. I can tell you that I’ve gotten to know Tulsi. And she is just a super, super lady. She would be a very good candidate for the Democrats, and someone that I think the Democrats would never choose.  She is an Army officer. She is an Iraq War veteran.  She has a lot of common sense, and just a really kind heart. And I can see that she would be a really balanced and moderating force in the Democrat Party. That is not where the Democrat Party is going right now. It is becoming more and more radical. And I think that Tulsi is going to be left behind in that process.

SILVERMAN:  So, you think she is one of the more conservative Democrats and therefore can’t win?

BUCK:  That is correct.

SILVERMAN:  Before we leave the House of Representatives and members moving on to other jobs, what about Jared Polis? What is your relationship like with him? And what do you anticipate of him as Governor of Colorado?

BUCK:  Well, I have a good relationship with Jared. We served on the Rules Committee together, and flew back and forth. We cosponsored a number of pieces of legislation. We did what we could for the state of Colorado and overcame partisan issues that we had.  But the reality is, that while Jared Polis has a certain libertarian leaning on many issues — and energy, in particular – Jared Polis is out of step with Colorado. He is the kind of governor who will do harm to schools in Colorado. While I believe he has a heart for education, when you start talking about doing away with oil and gas production in some parts of Colorado – particularly in my Congressional district – that is a big part of the tax base for education. And there is no way to replace that in the budget that they’re looking at. So, he has proposed a number of large programs. There is no way to pay for those, other than tax increases. Tax increases are going to hurt those who can afford them the least.  And that is unfortunate.

SILVERMAN:  I haven’t been up to Weld County for a little bit, but is it now a requirement that everybody has an oil rig in their backyard?

BUCK:  Not just an oil rig, but you’ve got to have a big, ol’ pick up truck, too, Craig. So, if you come up here –. [laughs]

SILVERMAN:  Nice.  How big is the oil industry in Weld County and the area you represent?

BUCK:  Well, in northern Colorado and eastern Colorado it is a very large part of the economy. And they are great corporate citizens. I remember when we had flooding in northern Colorado a few years ago, the oil and gas companies responded immediately with fresh water and gift cards to store so that people could replace clothing that had been lost. And that kind of corporate behavior, that kind of community relationship, isn’t forgotten. And I think while the left wants to attack the production of fossil fuels, there has to be a better plan on how to move from the traditional forms of energy to the greener forms of energy.

SILVERMAN:  Congressman Ken Buck, our special guest.  He made big news this week when he said he wants to be the chair of the Colorado GOP. What’s that all about, Ken Buck?

BUCK:  Well, you know Craig, we’ve talked in the past – and I’ve certainly written about my disappointment in the Republican Party. And I have two choices: I can either leave the
Republican Party, or I can try to reform the Republican Party.  And I am going to focus on doing my very best to making sure we have an alternative to the Democrat policies that we are going to see coming out of this legislature and governor’s mansion. And so I am going to work hard to bring the Republican party back to a grassroots party, back to a party that is vibrant and offering answers, and promoting good candidates for office.

SILVERMAN:  When is the election for Republican state party Chair?

BUCK:  March 30th.

SILVERMAN:  And do you have a campaign going? Who do you anticipate to be your major competition? Susan Beckman was on with Randy Corporon this morning and she said, “No way should the Colorado GOP be led by a guy who lives in Washington D.C.  What are your thoughts about all that?

BUCK:  Well, I’m in Colorado right now, Craig. And I spend most of my time – probably about 2/3 of my time – in Colorado. And I understand that Susan Beckman wants this job. It pays a lot of money. And I understand that she is concerned about competition for this job. But the bottom line is that Susan Beckman cannot get return calls from a lot of the donors that are friends of mine, who have donated to my campaigns in the past, and who are a staple of this Party.  Susan Beckman has never run a statewide race, or a race outside of a small jurisdiction in Arapahoe County. And I look forward to offering a contrast with her for the State Chair position.

SILVERMAN:  How much does the State Chair job pay?

BUCK:  I don’t even know. I’m not taking a salary, and so it is irrelevant to me. But it is well over $100,000.

SILVERMAN:  Will you have somebody who works for you who would take care of the nuts and bolts? Or do you think you’ll have time to do it all?

BUCK:  Well, there is, uh – the model that existed several years ago was a Bruce Benson/Bob Beuaprez model, where they ran their businesses – in Bruce’s case he had an oil and gas business, in Bob’s case he ran a bank.  They ran their businesses and in addition, they did the fundraising and the messaging for the Colorado Republican Party.  The model changed so you didn’t just have a Chairman of the Board, and then a CEO and COO in the organization. The model changed where the Chairman of the Board became the CEO and the COO. There is no checks and balances in that system. I want to return to the days when we have a Chairman who is primarily focused on raising money, primarily focused on the messaging, the contrast between the other party.
And then hire professionals who are – and we are going to do a nationwide search to hire those professionals – put them in place, and make sure that we have the very best people spending the money in the most efficient way possible.

SILVERMAN:  Ken Buck, as we speak, we have the longest governmental shut down in American history. Are you happy about that?

BUCK:  No, I’m not happy about that. I’m very sad about that. I think that the Democrats are absolutely irresponsible when it comes to border security.  We have not only illegal immigrants coming across our border in violation of our laws, but we also have heroin and other dangerous drugs coming across our border and through our ports. And we have to do something about that. We have an opioid epidemic in this country. It is one of the most serious challenges that we have faced. And the Republican leadership in the last two years came up with a lot of funding and a lot of strategies to try to deal with the effects of the heroin epidemic we have here. But one of the challenges – one of the strategies has to be to secure our border so that we don’t have heroin and cocaine – which aren’t produced in this country – heroin and cocaine coming across that border.  And the idea that you’re going to shut down government because you disagree with the President over 1/1000th – 1/1000th, Craig– of the budget is being dedicated to trying to help secure this border – for, forever, frankly. This wall is not something that is a one-time – you know, it’s only going to last one election cycle or one budget cycle. This is a wall that is going to be there for decades. We should look at that very seriously.

SILVERMAN:  Right, but the Trump administration put forth their budget. They budgeted $1.3 [billion] in the documents they submitted to the Congress.  Everybody thought it was a done deal, the Continuing Resolution in the Senate. And then it really did seem to be that Donald Trump read the comments of Ann Coulter, heard what Rush Limbaugh had to say, and reversed it while legislators were flying back for the Christmas break to their home district. Is that any way to run a country? Why wasn’t this resolved when the Republicans were in charge for 2 years?

BUCK:  Well, Craig, it wasn’t resolved when the Republicans were in charge for 2 years because, in the Senate, you need 60 votes.  And you have to have some Democrats – if you don’t have 60 Republicans – you have to have some Democrats to be able to move forward on this issue.  This bill passed the House with the $5 billion of funding, and moved to the Senate.  The Senate failed to take the bill up because they didn’t have the 60 votes.So the Democrats in the Senate – just like they did last time – shut down government with the failure to compromise. They didn’t say, “Okay, we’ll give you $4 billion,” or, “we don’t want all five [billion dollars] to go to a physical structure – we want to do these things with more personnel or satellite technology, or whatever.”  There was no attempt to move forward, and now we’re faced with a Democrat House and an obstructionist Democrat Party in the Senate. And that’s why you can’t move this bill forward.

SILVERMAN:  Do you support the President declaring a National Emergency?

BUCK:  I don’t know. I have to look at–. I think it is a crisis, at this point. But I have to look at the law to see whether he has the authority to declare a national emergency and where he would get the funds from.  I think one of the most important functions that Article I of the Constitution gives to Congress is the power of the purse. And to have a President that tries to move money around in violation of the authority that Congress has given him concerns me. To have the President act in accordance with the authority that Congress has given him, I think is okay. I’ve got to look at that law and see whether he has got that authority or not.

SILVERMAN:  Big news overnight:  the New York Times has a headlined article, “FBI Inquiry Open Inquiry into Whether Trump was Secretly Working on Behalf of Russia.” And Mueller is looking into this. What is your reaction to that – the suggestion that Donald Trump is Russian asset or a Russian agent?

BUCK:  It is absolutely total nonsense. And I – I haven’t read the article, but it doesn’t surprise me that it comes out of something like the New York Times, if that in fact is what they said.  Donald Trump has placed sanctions on Russia. Donald Trump has made it absolutely clear to Russia that they will not more in any direction in Europe beyond where the borders are right now.

SILVERMAN:  Well, isn’t it the Congress that put the sanctions on Russia?  And isn’t it Donald Trump’s administration who just unilaterally decided to lift the sanctions on Oleg Deripaska who is pretty clearly implicated in the GRU hacking and social media work in the last election? Does that bother you that Deripaska’a sanction was lifted?

BUCK:  First of all, Craig, sanctions aren’t something that one branch of government does. Both branches of government are involved in sanctions. The President and his administration signed off on the sanctions that Congress passed.

SILVERMAN:  Right, but it was a veto-proof margin. It was overwhelming in both the House and the Senate.

BUCK:  So, you’re saying he wouldn’t have signed off on it, otherwise?  You had a conversation with President Trump where he told you –?

SILVERMAN:  He seemed to advocate against it.

BUCK:  Look, I think the issue of Russia and China – and China particularly in trade, but both countries in terms of their rising military power – is something that needs to be handled delicately.  This President has done a very good job of drawing a line with Russia. If you look at the Obama administration, and you look at Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State, and you look at President Obama and his foreign policy, it was incredibly weak. It was indecisive, and it opened the door for Russia to move into Ukraine.  This President has not given Russia any of those openings. And to suggest that this President is weak on Russia, is absolutely unfair. The investigation – the Mueller investigation—is going on almost 2 years, now, Craig. And they have found nothing on this President. They have certainly prosecuted crimes which should have been prosecuted–.

SILVERMAN:  How do you know that?

BUCK:  Well, where is the charging document? Where is the due process?  You’re a prosecutor! You and I–.

SILVERMAN:  Well, I think it’s probably coming within a month.

BUCK:  You and I both know that the first role of a prosecutor is to be fair to the defendant. The idea that a prosecutor is going into court and promoting some kind of lie, or going out and leaking things in the press to get an advantage in court, is absolutely something that you and I would never stand for.  And I don’t believe that this President – they haven’t presented any evidence in court – or any evidence to the American public – that this President has colluded with Russia in the election in 2016, or in any other way. So, the fact his polic—  you can pick out a couple of his policies and say that, yes, that they are weak or inconsistent with America’s interest, I think is absolutely unfair.

SILVERMAN:  Do you want to read the Mueller report, or do you think it should be shut down before it gets to that stage?

BUCK:  I think that if it involves national security information, it should not – I think it should be redacted. But I absolutely think that the American people know how they spent their money in the last couple of years with that investigation.

SILVERMAN:  There is some talk – and now you may be the GOP Chair for Colorado – that the national GOP will make it impossible for anybody to run a Republican primary against Donald Trump. Would you support that kind of rule change?

BUCK:  I have to tell you, it is very rare that a sitting president has a primary. President Obama did not have a primary as sitting President.  Bush 41 did have a primary from Pat Buchanan and it was part of the reason that he was not successful against Bill Clinton. But I think I will look at whatever rule change is proposed, and I will vote – if I am elected as Party Chair – I will vote in the central committee – the Republican National Committee – accordingly.  But I – without seeing the rule now, it is hard for me to say if it is a fair rule or not.

SILVERMAN:  Let me talk about one other Congress member of the House of Represenatives:  Steve King from Iowa. Did you see his quote in the New York Times saying, “I don’t know why it became a bad expression – Western civilization, White Nationalism, White Supremacy.” Do you approve of those remarks?  I’ve never met Steve King. Is he a good guy? A bad guy? What should happen?  A lot of fellow Republicans are taking him to task.

BUCK:  Yeah, I didn’t read the remarks. But I can tell you that I don’t think that White supremacy is a good thing. I think it is evil. And I think it is something that we should try to stamp out in this country.  Just like I think that any  group that promotes itself as superior based on race or religion or ethnicity or any other basis is repugnant.  And I think that we should — as Americans – come together, celebrate what unites us in our diverse culture. But I think it is wrong to suggest that anybody that advocates violence in particular, but anybody that advocates supremacy based on race is just disgusting.

SILVERMAN:  I’ve noticed a pattern in our conversation:  I bring up a New York Times article, you say you haven’t read it. Do you boycott the New York Times? Can somebody give you a subscription?  Or is this a conscious effort on your part?

BUCK:  Well, I don’t place a lot of faith in news that comes from sources that I think are unreliable. And I think that the New York Times is unreliable.

SILVERMAN:  Where is the best plact to get our news?

BUCK:  I think the best place to get our news is to actually go and watch what goes on.  If you’re interested what goes on in Congress, watch C-SPAN.  If you’re interested in what goes on in, you know, the Denver Broncos game, go watch the Denver Broncos game.  I don’t think that having people who claim to be journalists, who are actually editorial writers and write in ways that are misleading — I think — is positive .

SILVERMAN:  Ken, you’ve been very generous with your time on a Saturday morning. Welcome back to a snowy Colorado.  Any last words for your potential voters out there in the Republican party?  What can they do to help you to become the GOP Chair?

BUCK:  Well, it is — I hope that people get more involved. I hope that what we see now is that the Democrats, with the Blueprint that they put in place more than a decade ago have been very successful in their approach to politics in Colorado. But the policies that they are promoting are not going to be successful, and have not been successful.  When they attack our 2nd Amendment rights, when they attack our infrastructure in this state, when they attack education and underfund higher education, we have got serious problems.  And we need to make sure that we are offering a strong alternative and  messaging in a way that voters can understand and appreciate.

SILVERMAN:  Well, thank you, Congressman! Safe travels, okay?

BUCK:  Thank you very much, Craig