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D.C. Memo: It’s not a transcript. It’s a memo.

Impeachment inquiry; cannabis banking; Stacey Abrams coming to Minnesota; Jason Lewis on dual loyalty; and more.

photo of donald trump
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi agreed to impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump over a conversation the president had with the president of Ukraine regarding an investigation of Joe Biden’s son.
REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

The D.C. Memo is a weekly recap of Washington political news, journalism, and opinion, delivered with an eye toward what matters for Minnesota. Sign up to get it in your inbox every Thursday.

Welcome to this week’s edition of the D.C. Memo. This week in Washington, impeachment is on everyone’s mind. Other things are going on, like all Minnesota members voting for the same bill and Klobuchar’s trip to Iowa, but you’ll have to read on for that.

Impeachment

All of it happened remarkably quickly: a whistleblower complaint alleging President Donald Trump misused his authority on a phone call with the Ukranian president, moderate Democrats backing impeachment, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi agreeing to go along with them, and the White House releasing the memo (not a transcript) noting what was said during the call.

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What was said exactly? Trump maintains he did not imply that Ukraine would lose aid if they did not follow through on his request, but you can read it for yourself here. Here is an excerpt of two parts of the conversation:

President Trump (PG.2): I’ll say that we do a lot for Ukraine. We spend a lot of effort and a lot of time. Much more than the European countries are doing and they should be helping you more than they are. Germany does almost nothing for you.

President Trump (PG.4): There’s a lot of talk about Biden’s son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great. Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it… It sounds horrible to me.

There is no public evidence of Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, committing wrongdoing. And Ukraine’s former prosecutor general told the Washington Post Thursday that Hunter Biden broke no laws.

On Thursday, the acting intelligence chief called the whistle-blower complaint “totally unprecedented” during testimony in front of the House. Pelosi has said that this is not the outcome she wanted, but plans to expedite the impeachment investigation, due to the president’s actions.

Republicans, like Rep. Tom Emmer of Minnesota’s Sixth, have gone back to prior talking points, using the impeachment push to try and tie the entire Democratic majority to socialism.

But Rep. Dean Phillips of Minnesota’s Third, a member of the moderate Problem Solvers Caucus, begs to differ, calling the President’s actions: “A betrayal of his oath, a betrayal of the Constitution, and a betrayal of every American.”

Collin Peterson’s impeachment vote

Speaking of, every single Democrat in the Minnesota congressional delegation said they support impeachment proceedings for President Donald Trump except for one: Rep. Collin Peterson. Peterson is the last original Blue Dog Democrat and the Representative for Minnesota’s Seventh District. Peterson said he has no intention of voting for an impeachment inquiry.

“If anyone thinks a partisan impeachment process would constrain President Trump, they are fooling themselves. Without significant bipartisan support, impeachment proceedings will be a lengthy and divisive action with no resolution,” Peterson said in a statement. Read more at MinnPost.

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In 1998, Peterson supported impeachment proceedings against President Bill Clinton, but ultimately, not articles of impeachment. His reasoning, along with his Blue Dog colleague Gary Condit of California, was that Republicans didn’t make the case that impeachment was warranted.

“I don’t think they did that.” Peterson told the Weekly Standard in 1998, saying Republicans ran the inquiry poorly by not calling the proper witnesses. “They haven’t brought anything new to the table.”

High finance

In a rare show of legislative solidarity, every Minnesota House member voted for the SAFE Banking Act, which would make it easier for cannabis businesses to acquire bank accounts. There are only a few other states with bipartisan delegations all voting to support this bill: Nevada, New York, Oregon, Washington.

The vote was 321 to 103, with 229 Democrats and 91 Republicans voting in favor.

“Conflict between state & federal law means legal, legitimate marijuana businesses are forced to operate on a cash-only basis, creating serious risks for employees, business owners, & communities,” Rep. Betty McCollum of Minnesota’s Fourth District said on Twitter. “The #SAFEBankingAct will fix this problem and I’m proud to support it.”

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Stacey Abrams in Minnesota

Stacey Abrams, Former Georgia gubernatorial candidate and founder of FairFight, an organization dedicated to stopping voter suppression, will be the keynote speaker at DFL Founders Day on Friday, December 6. The event is an annual DFL fundraiser and if prior trends continue, will be closed to the press, according to MinnPost statehouse reporter Peter Callaghan.

Jason Lewis’ dual loyalty comment

Accusing Jewish people of dual loyalties (to Israel and the country they live in) is an old anti-semitic trope. Republicans and moderate Democrats alike have criticized Rep. Ilhan Omar’s for saying:

“I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is OK for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country. I want to ask why is it OK for me to talk about the influence of the NRA (National Rifle Association), of fossil fuel industries or Big Pharma, and not talk about a powerful lobbying group that is influencing policies?”

Former Rep. Jason Lewis has criticized Omar for her language. But Lewis has said the words “dual loyalty” explicitly, something Omar did not do.

CNN’s KFILE reports that Lewis, now running for Senate against Sen. Tina Smith, “once said some Republicans have ‘dual loyalties’ to Israel” and that strong support for Israel is because of a “very strong American Jewish lobby.”

Lewis has not apologized, and Republicans in the House, like Emmer, who have attacked Omar, have not spoken out on Lewis’ comments.

The return of the return of Franken

Former Sen. Al Franken is going to host a radio show on SiriusXM, continuing his streak of return appearances and expanding out from his smaller podcast. Franken resigned from the Senate after being accused of sexual misconduct by eight women.

The President next door

I was in Iowa last weekend following around Sen. Amy Klobuchar from Cedar Rapids to Des Moines. Two big events to cover: the Polk County Steak Fry and the first LGBTQ candidate forum since 2007.

At the candidate forum, I spoke to students, caucus goers and government officials. One of them is Aime Wichtendahl, a Hiawatha city councilwoman and an honorary co-chair for the event.

“I think [Klobuchar] wasn’t as strong as some of the other candidates like [Sen. Elizabeth] Warren or [Sen. Cory] Booker,” Wichtendahl, the first openly trans elected official in the state of Iowa, told me. “I do think her best moments were talking about gun violence, talking to the survivor of the Pulse shooting — that was her most human moment. I think she connected on an emotional level with a lot of the audience.”

If you want to know more about the forum and what people thought… Read more at MinnPost.

In other news, Klobuchar’s campaign is running paid Twitter ads on the poll that shows Klobuchar with 8 percent support after the last debate, but every other poll tells a different story (between 0 and 3 percent in California, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire). Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s surge in most polls is also evident, surpassing Biden’s lead in Iowa with 22% of likely Democratic caucusgoers saying she’s their candidate.

Be on the lookout for my coverage of Klobuchar at the Steak Fry and beyond, where Klobuchar staffers had to place (and then pick up) what seemed like an infinite number of Amy for America (and Iowa) lawn signs.

In other news

  • Former San Diego Republican Rep. Darrel Issa, who retired from his own now-blue seat, is said to be making a play for an entirely different congressional seat: indicted San Diego Republican Duncan Hunter’s.
  • The first member of Congress to back impeachment, Rep. Al Green of Texas, said he feels “vindicated.” The most jarring thing I’ve seen on the House floor was Green essentially talking about impeachment to himself (and CSPAN) with an empty chamber behind him. It looks like that’s not likely to happen again.

Quote of the week

“It is impossible that the whistle-blower is a hero and I’m not. And I will be the hero! These morons — when this is over, I will be the hero,” Rudy Giuliani, the president’s attorney and former New York Mayor told Elaina Plott at The Atlantic.

What I’m reading

Michael E. Miller for the Washington Post: Immigrant kids fill this town’s schools. Their bus driver is leading the backlash.

In Worthington, residents are squabbling whether or not schools should be expanded to account for the influx of undocumented children. Worth a read if you want to get a sense of how some folks, far from the border, don’t like change (or people sometimes fleeing dangerous situations from other countries).

“They can call it whatever they want,” one resident said of the opposition to expanding the school system, “but the bottom line is that it is racism.”

Peter Callaghan for MinnPost: A power map of Gov. Tim Walz’s top staff

A deep dive into who actually works around the seat of executive power in Minnesota. Go for the reporting, stay for the fun scroll graphic that lets you see where each staff member’s office is.

That’s all for this week. Thanks for sticking around. Until next week, feel free to send tips, suggestions, and sound advice to: gschneider@minnpost.com. Follow at @gabemschneider. And don’t forget to become a MinnPost member.