Opinion | Scott M. Estill: Watch out

Scott M. Estill

Jump in your car and drive a few hours north (the gas is cheaper now) and you will cross over into Wyoming. If you want to see some spectacular (not in Colorado) country, continue the drive up to the Jackson Hole area to do some hiking and perhaps visit Liz Cheney (yes, the one who just got crushed in her recent primary).

In 2016, Cheney received 156,176 votes in the general election for the state’s lone seat in the U.S House of Representatives (60% of the total votes). In 2018, her vote total of 127,963 was good for 62% of the vote. In 2020, her vote total jumped to 67% (185,732). She got more popular every year, until she didn’t. In last week’s primary, she received a grand total of 49,316 votes (29%).

What could she have possibly done to lose her seat to attorney Harriet Hageman? The same Hageman whose 25,052 votes (21%) was good for a third-place finish in the 2018 Republican primary for governor and who previously endorsed Cheney and called her a “proven, courageous, constitutional conservative.” The same Hageman who was a Ted Cruz delegate in 2016 and called Donald Trump “racist and xenophobic.”

Perhaps an endorsement from the ex-president provided a bit of an assist? Even though she voted with the Trump agenda over 93% of the time, he recently referred to her as a “crazed lunatic.” Try as you might, you can’t make this stuff up. Hageman recently called Trump “the greatest president of my lifetime.”

How can the Republican party allow this to happen, in Wyoming or any other state? How can they let a twice-impeached criminal continue to lead the GOP and simply continue to walk in line behind the big lie of election fraud, a nice theory with no evidence as support? To look the other way when an attempted insurrection in which several people were killed or seriously injured? To continue to follow a man who has illegally removed classified documents from his former office and lied about it? How can this once proud political party simply become a cult aligned with a con-artist personality?

The case with respect to the stolen documents is simple. Someone tipped off the FBI about 15 boxes of classified materials at the ex-president’s private club. This was after the FBI received a letter from Trump’s attorney stating that no boxes existed. The attorney, as they say, has some explaining to do, as lying to federal investigators is not recommended. Whether the attorney or someone else is lying, the government has an easy obstruction of justice charge to add to the mix (a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison), to say nothing of the potential 20 years in prison for violating the espionage act.

I reviewed search warrant requests as a former trial attorney for the U.S. Department of the Treasury.  A “routine” search warrant involves multiple layers of review given the high standard of probable cause to believe that a crime has been committed. A search warrant involving an ex-president is anything but “routine.” In fact, as far as I can tell, it has never happened before. Thus, this warrant was reviewed by the U.S. Attorney General personally before it was presented to the judge, who signed off.

Do you have any idea how much “probable cause” there must have been in the affidavits and other exhibits supporting the request for a warrant on an ex-president in order for it to be approved? And knowing also that its execution would cause a political firestorm amongst his strongest supporters? A lot of people looked at this search warrant before it was executed.

As Trump previously stated with respect to Hillary Clinton in 2016: “If you’re innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?” On Aug. 10 he invoked the Fifth Amendment and refused to answer any questions in a New York lawsuit based upon advice from counsel. That was excellent advice. He’s guilty, of course.

The Wyoming fiasco can’t happen here in Colorado, can it? The Republican candidate to represent Summit County in the U.S. House in November is Marshall Dawson. I did not see any mention of the Trump cult on his website, although he may wish to reconsider his slogan of “Make Congress suck less.” I hope at some point our fellow citizens in Wyoming and the rest of America will learn that taking commands from a likely felon is not a good long-term political strategy. And for Colorado, please pay attention. The border is a lot closer than you think.

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