Dan Caplis Show, George Brauchler, March 4, 2014

Station:   KNUS, 710 AM

Show:      Dan Caplis Show

Guests:    Brauchler

Link:        http://dancaplis.podbean.com/

Date:       March 4, 2014

Topics:    Bob Beauprez, Scott Gessler, Nathan Dunlap, Death Penalty, Capital Punishment, Clemency, Reprieve, Death Warrant, Sir Mario Owens, Robert Wray, Aurora, Arapahoe County, Douglas County, Elbert County, Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrisey, John Suthers, Iraq, Afghanistan, Negotiations with Iran, Chuck Hagel, American Exceptionalism, Military, Troop Reduction, Ukraine, Putin,

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[Brauchler filled in as host on the Caplis and Silverman show, at KHOW in the old days.  Craig Silverman and Brauchler were recently reunited at Jim Peters (DA) funeral last Friday — who wrestled with Capital punishment issue. Craig asserts that the death penalty is like the abortion issue.  Craig talks about his experience in wrestling with the capital punishment issue as an attorney in the DAs office, while also discussing the history of capital punishment prosecutions in Arapahoe County, CO.]

GUEST HOST CRAIG SILVERMAN:  But the guy in the eye of the storm when it comes to capital punishment, a leading Republican star, and my friend, George Brauchler.  Welcome to 710KNUS.


SILVERMAN:  We’re talking about the late Jim Peters, and I’m wondering about your thoughts.  […]  I couldn’t help but think that with all of the accomplishments of Jim Peters, his obituary talked about Nathan Dunlap and that that was the case that was right at the top of the list.  What do you know about Jim Peters — how he felt about capital punishment, and how he felt when John Hickenlooper decided that Nathan Dunlap’s verdict should be reprieved, I guess is the term?

BRAUCHLER:  A couple  things.  You know, Jim was a very good man.  He was a good District Attorney, not just because he had skills in the courtroom, and he had the ability to discern strong cases from weak, but he had the ability to discern right from wrong, because of who he was.   And I think you saw that the outpouring of support and honor at that service last Friday, it was an indication of how many people really appreciated who Jim Peters was, not just as a person or a friend or a father or a brother or even a son, but as a neighbor, as a member of this community.  I never had any conversations with Jim about the process of making the decision.  I did have conversations with him and with Eva Wilson, who was the other prosecutor on that case, about what to do in preparation for the Governor’s decision regarding clemency.  And I know that they were both so invested for the reasons you have identified, as to why this case needed to continue to move forward, or towards the just result.  And not a just result because they said so, or because some judges said so, but because twelve members of the community that Nathan Dunlap’s own expert attorneys helped pick, said so.  And one small correction: you’ll remember, this case got sent down to El Paso County, and so it was even twelve people who were farther removed from the horror of this event that made this decision.

SILVERMAN:  Oh, I forgot that.

BRAUCHLER:  And even they said he deserved to have death.  You know, Jim was Catholic, as you pointed out.  Pretty sure Attorney General Suthers is.  And I know that I am. And you know, I had to make this decision recently and it is not a small decision.  I think it is easy for the other side of this issue to vilify prosecutors as just some knee-jerk reactionaries who want to kill everyone.  And that’s not true.  I take seriously the idea that I’m the only person on the planet Earth who can set in motion the attempt  to have the machinery of government to take another citizen’s life.  That’s a big deal for me.  It’s why we have elected District Attorney’s, it’s —because they’re answerable to the community. And so I, you know, I met with the priest from our church and I talked with him about it, because I had serious concerns about, “Does this impact my soul in some way?  Does this, you know — is this a blemish on me for going down this road?”  And the conversation we had is one i’m sure, you know, Attorney General Suthers and Jim dealt with too, and it was, “No.”  I mean, for reasons that General Suthers referenced, like the issue of self defense, the Church has not always been opposed to the idea of something called lex atilianus,  which is the state can defend itself, and that a person acting in their capacity as a servant of the government doesn’t act in their own personal capacity.  I’m not choosing to go into someone’s cell and kill them. It’s different. It’s the government, and I’m just merely a representative of that.  But even those things don’t make for a completely restful night’s sleep, and as you think about, “What am I going to do?”  You know, we’re coming up on the one year anniversary of that decision.  Oddly, Judge Sylvester, at the time, said that we had to make this election by April 1st.   Well, I don’t know why he chose April Fool’s Day, but there it is.  And so, we’re coming up on that, and we’re about eleven month’s removed from it, and again, it’s not a small decision.

SILVERMAN:  No, it’s not.  And speaking of committed Catholics, Bob Beauprez who announced for Governor, he and I have talked about capital punishment, and he’s no — nobody is thrilled about the prospect of putting somebody to death.  I think it’s said that the state, with all its awesome power, would have to be involved in such a thing.  But in certain rare cases, — and the cases are small enough in Colorado that I have not seen abuses by Colorado prosecutors.  And you can contemplate, “Well, maybe it’s a political thing. Maybe a DA wants to rise through the ranks and this is the way to do it.”   I think Jim Peters is a good example.  He was just a committed prosecutor.  He didn’t do it for political gain.  He did it because he felt it was the right thing to do, under that circumstance.  And I know Bob Beauprez would sign that death warrant for Nathan Dunlap, because, for people who weren’t around over 20 years ago for that heinous crime — and I believe Nathan Dunlap had also robbed a Burger King on Mississippi in Aurora, it wasn’t his first crime.  It was a terrible, premeditated mass murder.  And what about Jim —last year, Jim Peters was alive.  You know, Jim Peters came down with cancer and it took him way too fast, but when John Hickenlooper made his reprieve decision, did you get to talk with Jim Peters about it.

BRAUCHLER:  No.  I know he was disappointed from talking with Eva Wilson on it, as well.  And Eva is still a Senior Chief Deputy out in the First Judicial [District] so I see her far more frequently. You know, Jim got sick shortly after that. He was diagnosed in the summer, and this had just happened in May.  But I can only imagine how crushing it must feel to have invested that much effort and emotion into something like this — even from the jurors’ standpoint, and to have someone two decades removed get week in the knees about the political ramifications of this and punt on it. I mean, look, I would have been outraged on it had the Governor made a decision on it to grant clemency, and convert the decision to life.  And by the way, I think that’s going to happen, no matter what.  I don’t think John Hickenlooper leaves office without sparing the life of Nathan Dunlap.  And I’ll make that prediction right here.  But had he made that decision, it at least would have been 1) been a decision, and 2) brought closure to these many victims who for two decades have tried to develop some psychic scab over this sucking chest wound of horror and emotion. And he pulls it off — twice! — one to have them come in and tell him, “Please, don’t grant a clemency” and then a second time to call them in and say, “Hey, this is a tough one! I just can’t seem to make a decision, so I’m going to let someone — not me—make a decision, down the road.  That’s not an act of courage.  It’s not an act of leadership.  It is as political a decision as you can make.

SILVERMAN:  And I think many people started looking at Hickenlooper in a different way. Bob Crowell was the father of the late Silvia Crowell, one of the victims of Nathan Dunlap. He said this: “The judicial system as far as defense is concerned, is broken.  And that makes Colorado a chicken state.  We have a chicken Governor.”  That’s Bob Crowell, and while the pain that the victims had to experience as a result of the Governor’s decision, as I understand it, John Hickenlooper met with the victims and the victims just told them their feelings.  Imagine waiting the better part of 20 years for justice to come through.  You sit through the trial. You await all the appeals.  It just seems cruel and unusual for these victims to have to go through this. Do you stay in touch with the victims now, George?

BRAUCHLER:  We have, in this way.  And again, I want to respect — I want to respect them and the ability to deal with this.  I mean, I think constant contact with us — even though we do it in the most positive and, I think, benevolent way, is still a reminder of this crime, and this case, and the injustice that the Governor has visited upon them through his inability to make a decision.  So, we contact them on different things.  You know, there was a bill that offered by Representative Szabo that would have somehow curtailed — or attempted to curtail — the Governor’s reprieve power.  And I’m happy to talk about how —.  Let me just say this.  This reprieve— this is how ridiculous this is.  There is a reprieve power in our Constitution.  No doubt about it.  There’s an ability to grant clemency, an ability to pardon, and an ability to grant a reprieve. This reprieve power, we cannot find a published use of this since 1895. And when it was used, it was used in another capital case for like a 60 day reprieve to allow them to research an issue that prior to that hadn’t been brought up, through the court or any other means. That makes sense, right?  That’s what the reprieve power is for.  But if you read this executive order by the Governor, it goes out of its way to say, “I’m not granting this because of Nathan Dunlap. I’m doing this because I don’t like our death penalty law.  And that is an abuse of his authority.  And it’s — frankly, it should cause Coloradans to have concerns about what role the rule of law plays in this case. But, back to the victims.  We have talked to them about any issues they would have with a bill like that, any support they want to provide, but by and large, I just don’t want to keep re-opening this wound for them.  And we’re here for them, if they ever have questions or they want to do something, we’ll definitely be a resource for them. But we try and keep a little bit of distance, especially after what happened less than a year ago, out there at the Gold Dome

SILVERMAN:  I expect that you agree with me that reasonable people can disagree about capital punishment.

BRAUCHLER:  No doubt!  I mean, I think that there are people who are pro-life, start to stop. I have huge respect for those people.  I completely understand that.

SILVERMAN:  The problem with the other side — the committed opponents of capital punishment— they disagree.  They don’t think reasonable people can disagree about capital punishment.  They think that you are engaged in an act of premeditated murder, and that anything and everything is fair to stop you from killing somebody.  So, when you get involved in capital punishment, the attacks come.  They come at George Brauchler through The Denver Post.  And then John Hickenlooper apparently is one of those people who now says, “You know, if you really think about capital punishment, you’re against it.”  [Hickenlooper audio is played on air.  “We can’t find a study — every study we have seen demonstrates that there is no deference by having a death penalty in your state.”]  See?  He wanted to have a conversation.  He claimed he wanted to have a discussion about the death penalty.  I’ve invited him on the times that I’ve hosted, because I think it is a good thing to discuss.  But I don’t think he really does want to discuss it.  Do you?

BRAUCHLER:  No, I don’t.  But listen — if you listen to just those few sentences, there is so much worth reviewing in there.  One, it’s that same liberal hubris of, “You know what? If you just knew what I knew, you’d think like me.”  There’s no room for what you described as an honest disagreement about something.  But you heard that in there when he says, “Well, a lot of people didn’t have the facts.” And what he means is, “You didn’t hear what I heard.  And if you did, you’d think like me.”  The other part of that is when he says, “You know, Colorado is in the middle of a discussion.  We’re divided on this.”  It was days after that comment that the Quinnipiac poll came out and said we were somewhere between 2-1 to 7-3 in favor of keeping the death penalty.  There are bills that he has championed and signed into law that have far less support, than he would have just had to have looked to our support for the death penalty to make it happen.

SILVERMAN:  See, I know one person he discussed it with.  [Plays audio of Hickenlooper] “George Brauchler came in and talked to me and was, um, — certainly had a great deal of clarity on how deeply he had thought about it and how much he had examined these same issues.  He doesn’t need me to come in and opine — provide an opinion on whether —on what he is doing.” Well, you’re one guy he talked to about it.  But, you brought up an interesting thing, George, and after the break I want to 1) invite callers, 303-696-1971.  George Brauchler will take your calls.  If you think capital punishment figures into this gubernatorial race — George brought it up — the rule of law.  Do you think John Hickenlooper respected it, here? Do you think Barack Obama respects the rule of law?  Is the rule of law an important issue in politics right now?  It is for me.  Craig in for Dan, 710KNUS.

[commercial break]

SILVERMAN:  […] The DA for the 18th Judicial District, George Brauchler.  You know, so many people refer to you as the Arapahoe County DA, which you surely are, but you’re the DA of three other counties, too.  Does that always strike you as odd, especially now that Douglas County has gotten so big?

BRAUCHLER:  It does, in the way that when I go to those other counties, they always bring it up to me.  They’re like, “Why do they keep calling you the Arapahoe County DA?”  I think in part it’s a function of the fact that — I mean, just statistically, three out of every four felony cases we file in the jurisdiction come out of Aurora — not even Arapahoe County —out of Aurora.  So most of the stuff that we’re on TV for and the news for — that people are talking about — takes place in Arapahoe.  And I think the other thing is, people just don’t know what the 18th Judicial District means.  Arapahoe, they can picture. But, you know,  Douglas, Elbert, and Lincoln are three very important counties.  They’re very diverse counties.  The state demographer says that by 2016, Douglas County is going to be bigger than Boulder, in terms of population, with a population of 320,000.  It is the most significant jurisdiction from the standpoint of population.  Maybe size-wise we’d be bigger than the state of Connecticut, by square mileage.  Population-wise, we’d be, I think, the 47th largest state in the country, with about 930,000 people.  That’s 47% bigger than Denver. I know that Denver is the epicenter.  Frankly, this will be another issue with the gubernatorial campaign, is that everything right now that people are feeling feels like  it starts and stops with an analysis of Denver.  Whether it’s about rural electric, whether it’s about gun laws, it’s all about, “How does Denver get affected by this?”  And I get it.  It’s a big, important city. It’s the capitol.  It’s the center of, you know, big business.  I understand all that.  But I think you’re going to start to hear people talk about why it’s important we actually think of Colorado as a state, and not just the area surrounding Denver.  And that’s where you get guys like Cory Gardner from Yuma, who’s running.  Bob Beauprez — no Denver-ite himself, also running.  In fact, most of the candidates for Governor, with the exception of maybe Secretary Gessler are from outside of Denver.

SILVERMAN:  Interesting stuff.  And I did not realize the huge percentage of felony cases coming out of Aurora that you guys prosecute.  And you don’t have all of Aurora.   You only have—.

BRAUCHLER:  No, we have about 88% of the population of Aurora.

SILVERMAN:  What about that proposal for a City and County of Aurora.  How would that impact jurisdiction when it comes to judicial districts and prosecution?

BRAUCHLER:  You know, there’s three different possibilities.  One is, Aurora could decide, “If we’re going to become our own city and county, we’d like to be our own judicial district.”  I think that’s the least likely of the three options.  The second option might be to say, “We’d like to affiliate with the 17th Judicial District, which is Dave Young up in Adams County.”  I don’t think they’d do that either, for the obvious reason that the vast majority of their city falls in Arapahoe County. I think what is most likely to happen, and I think it makes good economic sense too, is that a City and County of Aurora would likely affiliate with the 18th Judicial District, which I think makes a lot of sense.  We do most of their work, anyway.

SILVERMAN:  We’ve been talking a lot about Bob Beauprez and you brought up the Governor’s race, which is on everybody’s mind.  Bob Beauprez was in studio, talking about his candidacy.  There are other candidates, and they weighed in over the weekend on a debate that was hosted by Fox31—Eli Stokols was one of the moderators— and the Colorado Springs Gazette.  And there are a lot of good people running for Colorado Governor and each one of theme wants to make capital punishment an issue.  Here’s a good guy, Greg Brophy, state Senator, talking about that.  [plays audio of Eli Stokols posing this question in the debate:] “Now when he made those remarks at the Capitol, he was basically saying it’s been fifteen years since the state held an execution, and that the three men on death row perpetrated crimes similar to those of other folks who have been sentenced to life in prison, not to death.  Why should Nathan Dunlap, Sir Mario Owens, and Robert Wray die for their crimes?  Greg?”  [Greg Brophy’s response]  “Because they committed heinous murders.  And Governor Hickenlooper failed his leadership test when he wouldn’t take a stand with regard to the death penalty.  I mean, and he told us that he was in favor of the death penalty, and then he takes this kind of an action?  Just have the courage of your convictions and do the right thing.  Nathan Dunlap is a heinous mass murderer and he killed four people in cold blood.  If I had been Governor, we would have had an execution about six months ago.”  [Host Craig Silverman continues is questions and commentary with Brauchler, live in the radio studio] Greg Brophy talking about Nathan Dunlap.  He also brought up Robert Wray and Sir Mario Owens.  Those were convictions obtained out of Arapahoe County. And now we have the James Holmes case and you have another death penalty case — the Montor case.  I know you can’t talk about pending cases, but capital punishment opponents always bring that up.  Why so many in your jurisdiction, and not others?  What’s your response?

BRAUCHLER:  Well, look, I’m not the one who picks the scene where these crimes are committed. I can’t help that these individuals decided to pick Aurora, or Arapahoe County, or, in one case, the Limon Correctional Facility to commit their murders.  All we can do is respond to them.  Look, we’re the only metro area judicial district that has a prison in it.  So, that’s why we  would get the cases where there are prisoner-on-prisoner or prisoner-on-guard murders.  That’s one thing no other jurisdiction in the metro area has to deal with. Frankly, north or south of I-25, you’d struggle to find that.  Um, you know, the other issue too is, you find some of these outlying jurisdictions where it is possible that heinous crimes would occur — mass murders, serial murders — and you find offices that are at a significant fiscal disadvantage from the public defenders’ who show up against them.  Now, state public defenders are financed by the state.  And if you look at it over the last ten years, despite the fact that the number of felony cases filed in this state has gone up by maybe 2 or 3 percent, their budget has more than doubled.  Their full-time employees have more than doubled.  And these rural District Attorneys are struggling with the realities of the economies in which they live, instead of having a Denver-based tax structure funnel money out there to defend these killers and these murderers.  I think you would see more death penalty prosecutions, certainly in the rural and surrounding areas, if there wasn’t such a disparity in the funding and the ability to answer these charges.  Just to give you a quick dollar amount, this year alone, the state of Colorado is poised to spend on public defenders and alternate defense council [both tax-funded] […] — we’re going to spend more that $100 million this year just on those groups, on criminal defense. What you and I don’t know — what we can’t know, because I don’t think an audit has ever been revealed to the public, is how much money the alternate defense council has thrown at the death penalty cases that they defend.  We don’t know how much they spend.  But I’ll tell you this, I feel that, as someone who is answerable to the county commissioners and to the public with a fixed budget, I don’t have some bank account where I can say, “You know what? We’re going to seek death in this case and I need another million bucks.”  I have to do it within the confines of my budget.

SILVERMAN:   That’s a big part of the capital punishment debate that gets thrown at you.  Look down in Texas.  You have lawyers who are making $40 an hour, they’re sleeping through the trials. And I always respond, “I’m not here to defend Texas.”  I’ve been a Colorado prosecutor for sixteen years and even since I left, I’ve — there’s so few Colorado death penalty cases that I follow them, and I’m sensitive to abuses.  But I’m well aware that the defense in Colorado is super well-funded.  And the public defenders [are] highly skilled, highly committed to saving their clients’ lives.  And so that’s what it’s about.  And they get that finding from the legislature.  And I’d hate to see it where all Democrats are against the death penalty. And we know that they are not.  Rhonda Fields, whose beautiful son Javad along with his fiancé Vivian were the victims of Robert Wray and Sir Mario Owens, she’s somebody who has wrestled with capital punishment and come to the conclusion that it’s appropriate.  Mitch Morrissey, the Democratic Denver District Attorney, he’s seeking capital punishment against the main bad guy in a quadruple homicide at Fero’s bar, which is on Colorado Boulevard not far from Alameda.  So, it’s not all Democrats, but it certainly is John Hickenlooper.  To be fair to the other candidates who are running, Scott Gessler is a good man.  I always enjoyed having him on our old radio show.  He was asked whether he as governor would sign a death warrant for Nathan Dunlap.  [plays Gessler audio from the aforementioned debate:  “The people of Colorado support the death penalty. And we support our juries, and we support our judges to make the right decisions. And the Governor did promise that he was going to support the death penalty, and when push came to shove, he waffled.  Um, and he wouldn’t even make a decision, and he just kicked the can down the road.  And that’s not justice.  And that’s not fair to the families and the victims here. The fact of the matter is, we shouldn’t have a governor that picks and and choses which laws he wants to enforce.  We need to respect our laws and let that process go forward.”]  I think the Republicans are going to be united on this, and Scott Gessler brings up the point that I know you wanted to touch on, and it bothers the heck out of me with this President.  The rule of law:  it’s got to mean something.  Even a liberal like Jonathan Turley, a law professor, has said, “What’s going on?  We have Constitutional checks and balances.”  There’s another delay in Obamacare, this executive order situation.  And bringing it back to something more local, John Hickenlooper and the rule of law, and his decision on Nathan Dunlap.  It’s bothersome, especially when he said that he could support capital punishment.  And the people of Colorado overwhelmingly do.  Speak about the rule of law, George.

BRAUCHLER:  Well, look, I agree with what you said.  The bottom line is this:  Either the words on the paper that we fight to get there, through the legislature, or through these Constitutional amendments, have power and limit what an executive can do, or they’re just guidelines and a governor or a president can do whatever they want to do.  I think we are far less free than we should be if you have people, like the Governor in this case or the President, exercising powers and in a way that they haven’t been intended to be used, and they don’t abide by the law.  Let me say this, though, about what Greg and Scott said.  I do think that the Governor had an ‘out’ here.  A man of courage, a person of principle, could have stood up at that podium back in May and said, “You know, when I ran for Governor I said I was for the death penalty.  And from that theoretical standpoint, of never having been here, I was, and I believed it in my heart.  But I’ll tell you what.  Sitting behind this desk and seeing this case come across my desk and realizing that although I’m not obligated to do a thing, I do have the ability to spare this life — as bad a life as it has been — I have the ability to spare it.  And so I’m looking Colorado in the eye and I’m saying I’ve changed my mind.  I don’t think I’m pro-death anymore. I’m going to grant clemency here, and I’m willing to stand up in front of you for re-election and you tell me if you agree or disagree.”  That’s courage.  That’s leadership.  Standing up and trying to navigate between two obvious and limited choices by using a hundred year old power in a way that it was never intended to be used is political, it’s calculated, and it’s why people started to look at him, not as this affable, fun-loving beir meister,  but as this glass-jawed, weak in the knees guy who needs people to like him, and simply can’t stomach the idea that people would oppose him.  This was the most tone deaf decision I think this Governor made up to that point — he’s made others since — but this was it.  And for them to then stand up there and say, “We did this because we knew it was going to start a conversation —.”  That’s absolutely silly, and lacks credibility.  The bottom line is this:  This is the law of the state of Colorado.  If you —when you take your oath and say, “I uphold and defend the law”— if you get to a place where you can do neither, your obligation to this state is to say, “I’m stepping down. I can’t do this anymore.” Not to pass the buck to the next Governor, whoever that may be.  And we see the same thing with the President, by the way. They push through the Obamacare. You remember Pelosi standing up there and saying, “Well, we’ve got to read [pass] it to find out what’s in it.”  Well, I guess that’s true for the White House, too, because as they read it, they see a whole bunch of deadlines they’re unprepared to meet. But they’re afraid of the political ramifications.  I think we’re at a weird place, here — a weird, scary place for the state and for the country. I would much rather have a governor who I disagreed with politically but felt bound by the law, than I would to have even a Republican in there who feels like, in some Machiavellian way, as long as I find the right ends, how we get there is irrelevant. And that’s what we’re seeing out of these two executives, and it’s got to change.

SILVERMAN:  Wow.  To borrow a phrase from our President, “You’re fired up, ready to go!”

BRAUCHLER:  Amen to that!

SILVERMAN:  There was a lot of talk about you possibly running for Governor.  Bob Beauprez announced today.  Do we have a second announcement?  You’re fired up and ready to go against John Hickenlooper, what are you thinking?

BRAUCHLER:  I think that’s probably the only thing I could do to make this an even more crowded field.  No.  Look, I’m very happy that we have this many qualified candidates running.  I’ll tell you what, I am anxious to find the Republican who’s going to rise to the top of this list, who can beat this Governor, and bring us back to being what we were up to this point.  And that is:  Colorado.  We don’t follow the East coast or the West coast.  We don’t need to look downhill to come to the right conclusion.  We’re a state that believes in liberty, whether it’s marijuana legalization — which I didn’t agree with, but that’s the law of the land — whether it’s these gun laws.  I disagreed with the guns laws, but look, as District Attorney, if I stood up and I said, “I disagree with these gun laws.  I’m not going to prosecute people for violating them,”  didn’t I just pull a Hickenlooper, there? Didn’t I just say, “I disagree with the law, I know you put it on there, that’s a conversation we’re having.”  The numbers in favor of that law, by the way, are far less than the support of the death penalty.  I should be voted out of office if I did something like that.  this is a bigger deal than just these individual laws. This is about adherence to the state Constitution, the federal Constitution, and the idea that the law is bigger than the man.  And I don’t think we have that right now.

SILVERMAN:  It’s called the rule of law, and it’s important.  […]

[commercial break]


SILVERMAN:  George Brauchler, also a Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Army reserves.


SILVERMAN:  You served in over in Afghanistan.


SILVERMAN:  Oh, in Iraq! I apologize.

BRAUCHLER:  That’s all right.

SILVERMAN:  Um, what do you think is going on in the world?  I’m sure you’ve seen what’s going on with Mr. Putin, and with the Middle East — Iran, Afghanistan, Iraq.

BRAUCHLER:  It feels like, um, we are seeing the end result of what I think was the President’s position all along, and that was to diminish us as a world power and really bring us in line with what he perceives to be a better world view.  And that is that every country is equal.  And the idea that he couldn’t defend American exceptionalism, because you know what, every country thinks they’re exceptional, which is nonsense.  Um, but, the idea that we’re going to diminish ourselves so that we wield no more power than Switzerland, or Canada, or Trinidad andTobago, I think that’s the end goal here.  And we’re seeing how the rest of the bad parts of the world respond to that.  And that is Putin has all but flipped off the country and said, “Come get me!  I’m amassing troops on the Ukrainian border.  What are you going to do about it.” And we keep saying things like, “We are going to talk louder and louder.  We are — John Kerry will be very unhappy.”  And it doesn’t seem to work.

SILVERMAN:  That’s a good Kerry impression, and to see it in person, where you elongated your face was really something!

BRAUCHLER:  [laughs]

SILVERMAN:  Uh, I think that America is exceptional. What has made America exceptional?  Rule of law, we’ve talked about that.  Our free market capitalism system, I think that’s in part. And a strong military.  I was really worried about Chuck Hagel taking over, and I really wish APAC would have opposed Chuck Hagel.  But they got talked out of it by Barack Obama, who’s kind of used and abused APAC, and hopefully they’re starting to fight back.  You’re a member of the military. What do you think of these proposed cuts?

BRAUCHLER:  Well, I — look, I think they’re damaging.  I think the idea that, at a time when we have greater uncertainty coupled with the ability of even small, rogue countries able to unleash devastating terrorism in the form of — whether it’s taking over planes, dirty bombs, nuclear, biological, or chemical attacks — the idea that we’re going to draw our forces down to pre-World War II levels, I think again, is an abdication of our role and our obligation to the rest of the — the rest of Western civilization, frankly, and the world. The idea that any country can defend themselves from these ne’er-do-wells is false.  We have a special place in this world.  It’s why we spend so much of our treasure — our taxes — on a military.  It’s not just to defend us but to defend our allies, defend our interests.  I know there’s a lot of people out there who feel like —.  Not a lot of people, but there’s a handful of loud people that think our prominent role in the world is a negative.  But I want you to picture the last 70 years without a United States of America.  I mean, it seems to me, we’re listening to a lot more Wagner.

SILVERMAN:  Oh, boy!  Yeah.  I won’t be listening.  I probably won’t be around.  It’s a scary world.  America is better for having a strong military.  And when you announce it, our enemies notice.  And there are enemies out there.  [Introducing the next topic, the sentencing of Stevie Vigil who provided the gun to Evan Ebel who killed two good men.]

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SILVERMAN:  Let’s talk about Stevie Vigil.  […] I was surprised to read your name in the paper involved in  that case.  It was a federal case.   How did you get involved?

BRAUCHLER:  You know, it started off as a state prosecution.  And Assistant District Attorney Mark Hurlburt, who’s no stranger to the news, you know.  He was one of the prosecutors on Kobie Byrant, was DA up in the 5th Judicial District for a decade.  Um, he was on the case, and we started analyzing our laws versus the feds’.   The bottom line is this:  the most prison that Stevie Vigil could have received under the state system would have been three years.  And with our probation eligibility, after a long weekend in prison, it seemed like she was going to have virtually no ramifications for this conduct. So, the feds were also very interested in prosecuting her but they had deferred to us. And we had a conversation and the bottom line is we thought maybe our laws aren’t where they should be in this particular area. Maybe there’s a better opportunity here to have a bigger message than just in Arapahoe County.  We could make this state-wide, maybe even region-wide. So, the feds got involved, charged her. She got a 27-month sentence yesterday, which, look, with all respect in the world due to the court, I would have liked to see more time.  But under the federal system, she is going to do 85% of that.  So, you can do the math.  She’s going to do more time in federal prison than she’d have done under our state laws for the same thing.

SILVERMAN:  Well, give us the facts on the case.  How do you know that she knew that Evan Ebel was a felon, and did she know what he intended to do with that gun?

BRAUCHLER:  I don’t think she had any idea what he intended to do with it, but I think she knew he was troubled, if not violent.  I think she definitely knew he was a felon, from her own statements and the statements of those around her who knew about her relationship with Evan, and other conversations that we were able to get access to while Evan was in custody, and from some other relationships that we developed.  It was no doubt that she knew that he was a felon.  Here’s the bigger thing, though. Look, just by chance, I helped prosecute, along with Steve Jensen, the two guys that sold the Tech DC-9 handgun to Klebold and Harris.  They didn’t know what Klebold and Harris were going to do.  If they did, we would have charged them as accomplices or accessories, in one way or another. But they each went to prison for 6 years — Mark Manus did.  And Phil Duran went for 4 and a half years, to prison, for virtually the same kind of conduct, which is when you provide a handgun to someone that shouldn’t have one, you really ought to be  judged by the worst thing that they do with it.  And I had really hoped that that would be the sort of be the sentence that came out of this. I would — on these kinds of cases, a sentence that shocks the community is the one that best serves the community.  Had Stevie Vigil gotten six years in federal prison, I think people would have taken note in a way that maybe, today, it’s a front page story and people go, “Huh!” and move on.