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D.C. Memo: I want nothing. I want nothing.

photo of handwritten notes
REUTERS/Erin Scott
“I want nothing. I want nothing. I want no quid pro quo,” Trump’s notes, visible in big black sharpie, read.

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, more impeachment news, Democrats demand Stephen Miller’s resignation and Rep. Ilhan Omar’s trillion-dollar housing bill. Let’s get on with this.

Impeachment briefing

The last scheduled public impeachment hearing was Thursday. The big witness of the week: Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union. In his testimony, Sondland said President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo were all “in the loop” throughout the hold-up of military funds to Ukraine. “We followed the president’s orders,” Sondland said.

In a press briefing responding to the news, Trump said he told Sondland that he wanted nothing from Ukraine. “I want nothing. I want nothing. I want no quid pro quo,” Trump’s notes, visible in big black sharpie, read.

Thursday, Fiona Hill, the former top Russia expert on the National Security Council, and David Holmes, an embassy official in Kyiv, also testified.

Six out of seven Minnesota Democrats say Miller should resign

In April, Rep. Ilhan Omar called White House Advisor Stephen Miller a white nationalist. “The fact that he still has influence on policy and political appointments is an outrage,” Omar tweeted. She was roundly criticized by prominent conservatives, including the president.

But emails published by Southern Poverty Law Center paint a much clearer picture of Miller’s alignment with white nationalists. The emails, sent between 2015 and 2016, show he directly pushed writers at Breitbart to emphasize race or religion in certain articles in order to create a negative view of subjects. Miller cited VDARE, a prominent white nationalist website. And he is fond of “Camp of the Saints,” a 1973 French novel by Jean Raspail that has become a favorite book in white nationalist circles.

After the emails were published, leaders from the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Black Caucus, Hispanic Caucus, and the Asian Pacific American Caucus all suggested Miller should resign. By Friday, over 80 members (all Democrats) had done the same.

MinnPost contacted all members of the Minnesota Congressional delegation to ask their thoughts on the newly released information about Miller. MinnPost twice reached out to all three Republican Minnesotans in the House, Reps. Tom Emmer, Jim Hagedorn, and Pete Stauber, and received no response.


All but one of the delegation’s Democrats took a stance. Of those that did, all suggested Miller should resign or be fired, including: Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Sen. Tina Smith, and Reps. Angie Craig, Dean Phillips, Betty McCollum, and Ilhan Omar. Only Rep. Collin Peterson, who represents a district won by President Trump by over thirty points, did not respond to requests for comment. A spokesperson said he left for his deer camp, just out of cell phone range, before she could reach him.

Rep. Betty McCollum, who represents Minnesota’s Fourth, said “Miller works at the pleasure of the President of the United States and should be fired.” She added: “If he’s not going to resign on his own, he should be fired.”

Her colleague, Rep. Dean Phillips of Minnesota’s Third, said the question of whether or not Miller should resign isn’t the right question.

“The question shouldn’t be whether or not Stephen Miller should resign,” Phillips said. “It’s why President Trump has not already demanded his resignation. The president has surrounded himself with a cast of advisors who seem to favor deception, intimidation, and racism over truth, decency and inclusion.”

Omar, who had already made her position clear, responded to the publication of the emails on Twitter.

“As I said earlier this year: Stephen Miller is a white nationalist. And now we have the emails to prove it. This type of racism and hatred has no place in our government. Miller needs to step down. Now.”

Primary colors

In March, Minnesota will hold its first presidential primary in about three decades. But party chairs from the MN GOP and DFL will decide who goes on the ballot. The DFL has yet to submit their ballot. For the GOP, despite a few challengers announcing their bid, there will only be one name.

Read more from MinnPost’s Peter Callaghan.

Omar asks for restorative justice

Patrick W. Carlineo, the man charged with threatening Rep. Ilhan Omar and possessing firearms illegally, pled guilty.

In a letter sent a letter to Judge Frank Geraci of the Western District of New York, Omar asked for leniency. “We must apply a system of compassion to criminal justice,” she said. “Who are we as a nation if we respond to threats of political retribution with retribution ourselves?”

2020 watch

MINNESOTA’S SEVENTH: Like in years prior, Republicans want to unseat Democratic Rep. Collin Peterson. And Republicans in Washington seem to have picked a nominee: Former Lt. Gov Michelle Fischbach.

But Republicans in district say not so fast. Dave Hughes, who has twice been the Republican nominee in the district, says Washington Republicans are “basically giving the middle finger to the whole endorsing process.”

“It’s my race. I had eighty-one percent of the delegates last time. A lot of them are still with me and the burden is on her and the three other Republicans,” Hughes told MinnPost.

“The onus is on them. And I’m the front runner no matter what.”

Read more at MinnPost.

MINNESOTA’S EIGHTH: In Republican Rep. Pete Stauber’s district, some news. Former Democratic Representative Rick Nolan has endorsed Quinn Nystrom, an insulin affordability advocate who is running in the Democratic primary to eventually challenge Stauber in the general.

Omar’s trillion dollar housing plan

On Thursday, Omar unveiled her new housing bill: a bid to tackle the growing housing affordability crisis and undo Clinton-era reforms that gutted investments in Federal housing projects. Some analysis from CityLab’s Kriston Capps:

Don’t look for a pay-for mechanism for Omar’s trillion-dollar housing plan: There isn’t one. The bill functions primarily as a statement of progressive values. It flows from three plain truths: Every state, county, and metro area faces a shortage of affordable housing. A sizable fraction of households pay more than half their income on their rent. And based on its recent progress, the private market is so far incapable of addressing this affordable housing shortfall. Socialists are stepping up with their own solutions.

The president next door

Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s presidential campaign has been playing up her gains in the polls, saying that she’s doubled her support. In some early state polls, Klobuchar has jumped from a fading three percent to a debate-sustaining six percent. National polls still put her at between one and two percent.

On Wednesday night, Klobuchar answered a question that was posed by several articles, including this one in the Atlantic: What will Klobuchar do about the rising profile of moderate Mayor Pete?

“Mayor, I have all appreciation for your good work as a local official,” Klobuchar said during the debate. “I have actually done this work. I think experience should matter.”

In other news

Quote of the week

“I have more people supporting me in the black community … [like] the only African American woman who has ever been elected to the United States Senate,” said Vice President Joe Biden. Sen. Kamala Harris, the only current African American woman in the Senate, stood across the stage. “The other one is here,” Harris said.

What I’m reading

Ryan C. Brooks and Diya Amlani for BuzzFeed: “The Most Immoral, Unethical Thing I’ve Ever Seen In My 15 Years Of Politics” — Inside A Small City Mayor’s Campaign For President

Wayne Messam, who you may not remember was still running for President (did you know at all?), has dropped out of the race. But worth jumping back to this piece on his campaign from September, where it appears he hadn’t paid any of his staff.

Akela Lacy for The Intercept: As President, Pete Buttigieg Wants To Give 25 Percent Of Federal Contracts To Minorities. As Mayor, He Gave 3 Percent.

Buttigieg’s campaign has hit a ton of roadblocks as he tries to shore up early states. Notably, polls show him at 0 percent in South Carolina, where Black voters make up a majority of the Democratic base. As he makes promises to tackle systemic racism with his “Douglass Plan,” the Intercept takes a look at what he’s actually done in office up to this point.

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.

Comments (9)

  1. Submitted by Connor OKeefe on 11/22/2019 - 09:11 am.

    Couple thoughts regarding Omar’s complaint.

    First, and this must be said, “Omar? Really?”. Secondly, the strengths of any underlying point withstanding, citing the SPLC is the 21st Century version of Godwin’s law. The SPLC has been brought down in disgrace, and citing them really ruins any momentum an argument may have had.

    • Submitted by kurt nelson on 11/22/2019 - 01:14 pm.

      Miller still wrote the words, regardless of who published them, even if had been Faux news – unless you believe the SPLC made the whole thing up. In that case, you’d think Miler would be denying all of this, but he’s not.

      The SPLC is not the organization it once was, (like the NRA too), but since they merely published what the racist said, I’m not sure they deserve the opprobrium.

    • Submitted by Brian Nelson on 11/22/2019 - 05:18 pm.

      Are the SPLC’s findings regarding Mr. Miller incorrect? If so, please explain.

  2. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 11/22/2019 - 09:38 am.

    Of course the funny thing about Trump’s note pad is the fact that he needs “notes” like this in the first place. Seriously, at this late stage in the process he can’t remember these talking points without a note pad?

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 11/22/2019 - 11:46 am.

      What’s really funny is that he needs notes to speak as badly as he does. What if he really tried to speak off-the-cuff?

    • Submitted by ian wade on 11/22/2019 - 12:14 pm.

      My thoughts exactly. It reminds me of the time that Sarah Palin was caught during a speech with the word “taxes” written on her hand.

    • Submitted by Matt Haas on 11/23/2019 - 12:17 am.

      No, what’s funny is that his penmanship is a dead wringer for my six year old (most likely the intellect too, but I want to give the boy the benefit of the doubt)

  3. Submitted by Mike Schumann on 11/22/2019 - 05:52 pm.

    Restorative Justice for Omar’s threat???? I’m no fan of Rep Omar. But this is the kind of attitude that is creating the disaster we are witnessing on the streets of St. Paul.

    We don’t need restorative justice for people who illegally possess firearms. These people need to be locked up for 5 years PERIOD. Regardless of whether they are gang bangers or right wing nuts.

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