DENVER — U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R) wouldn't say Thursday if he believes asking a foreign government to investigate a political rival is appropriate.
Reporters had a chance to speak to Gardner collectively before he gave a keynote address at a Colorado Chamber of Commerce luncheon in downtown Denver. He addressed some questions again before he exited.
Both exchanges became somewhat tense, as Gardner walked out of the building following a question from 9NEWS reporter Anusha Roy.
Multiple 9NEWS requests for scheduled interviews have been ignored by Gardner's team.
ON THE IMPEACHMENT INQUIRY
Pres. Donald Trump has been accused of asking Ukraine to investigate the son of former Vice President Joe Biden, who's currently running to become the Democratic candidate for president in 2020.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced last month that the House of Representatives will move forward with an impeachment inquiry because of the allegations, but that hasn't been put to a full House vote. Trump's administration said it won't cooperate with the inquiry, according to his attorneys.
When asked whether it would be appropriate for a president to ask a foreign government to investigate an opponent, Gardner did not give a "yes" or "no" answer.
"The Senate Intelligence Committee is starting an investigation, a bi-partisan investigation. Unfortunately, though, what we've seen is a very political process take over," he said.
The senator appeared to get agitated with journalists who kept asking the same line of questions. When reporters continued to press him on the topic, Gardner replied that he had answered the question.
"Here's what you see in a House of Representatives. You see a partisan process taking place. Why is it that when you all [reporters] do stories, or when we see reports in the news, it's about four states? Colorado, Arizona, Maine, and North Carolina. Seems to be about politics and elections, other than the serious process that it is," he said.
ON HALLIBURTON LAYOFFS
9NEWS reporter Anusha Roy questioned Gardner about his tweet regarding the energy company Halliburton and its recently announced layoffs. Halliburton will lay off 178 people from its facility in Grand Junction, Colorado, as well as hundreds of others in three other states.
In a tweet on Wednesday, the senator echoed claims that the layoffs are linked to SB-181, the new oil and gas regulations implemented by Democrats in Colorado this year, despite the layoff happening outside of Colorado, as well:
"The anti-energy bill from the Colorado Democrats is having a real-life impact on hardworking Colorado families, and there is no denying it is hurting our economy. The war on energy workers and their families must stop now."
The new law emphasizes health and safety when regulating oil and gas development.
During the Chamber of Commerce panel discussion, the senator said, "Producers in Colorado and Texas and North Dakota and domestic energy production, which has made United States energy secure, has helped insulate U.S. from terror in the Middle East, countries that don't like us, manipulations by OPEC and others."
Roy asked the senator about tying layoffs in four states to new regulations that only apply to Colorado.
"Senate Bill 181 is having a negative impact on businesses, you can see municipalities that have put in place moratoriums, permitting is down, many companies that have declared bankruptcy have cited Senate Bill 181, so that's a big challenge," he said.
Gardner himself cited an Associated Press article connecting SB-181 to job loss and negative impacts (the AP article was a summary of this article from The Daily Sentinel out of Grand Junction), but he walked away before 9NEWS could ask any further questions.
He also accused Roy of bias, asking: "Where are you from?"
"I'm from 9NEWS," she said.
"So you must have your own opinion," he responded.
She asked the question again before he left.
Halliburton hasn't come out and made the claims Gardner did. The oilfield supply company has been laying off workers for months, across North America, not just in Colorado.
A short clip of the group interview started circulating on Twitter Thursday afternoon. It was shared by Sahil Kapur from Bloomberg, who wrote:
"Remarkable video: Cory Gardner declines five times to say if it's OK for a president to ask a foreign country to investigate his political rival. He tries to move on, but reporters persist. He says impeachment is about "politics" and repeats that Senate Intel is investigating."
The president "liked" Kapur's comment on Twitter.