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D.C. Memo: Peterson votes ‘no’ on impeachment inquiry

Rep. Collin Peterson
MinnPost photo by Walker Orenstein
Rep. Collin Peterson was one of two House Democrats to vote against a resolution formally starting impeachment proceedings against President Trump.
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, an impeachment resolution, Klobuchar’s record on the marriage amendment, and Omar votes “Present.” Let’s get on with this.

Impeachment vote

After weeks of haranguing by House Republicans for not holding an official vote to authorize the impeachment process, House Democrats did exactly that. On Thursday, Democrats held a vote for a resolution that largely passed along party lines. The next stage of the impeachment inquiry will be more public and transcripts from prior private testimony will be released.

Republicans still did not like the terms.

“The resolution offered by the Democrats today was a public relations charade to try to validate their closed, one-sided and partisan impeachment exercise,” First District Rep. Jim Hagedorn said in a statement after the vote.

Two Democrats voted against the resolution: Jeff Van Drew (NJ-2) and Minnesota Seven’s Collin Peterson. Peterson is an unusual Democrat. His votes tend to be some of the most conservative in the House (he is the last original Blue Dog Democrat) and he won in a district where President Trump also won by a 30 point margin in 2016. Breaking with his party, Peterson also notably voted for the impeachment inquiry of President Bill Clinton in 1998, but ultimately decided against voting for impeachment itself.

“Today’s vote is both unnecessary, and widely misrepresented in the media and by Republicans as a vote on impeachment,” Peterson said in a statement after the vote. “I will not make a decision on impeachment until all the facts have been presented.”

Klobuchar and the marriage amendment

Sen. Amy Klobuchar has said “we” when it comes to defeating the amendment would have constituonally banned same-sex marriage in Minnesota. But some people involved with the effort, including a board member of the organization chiefly responsible for opposing the amendment, don’t remember it that way. They say she waited until the last minute to join the effort.

“Her response was that this was not an issue she was gonna take a position on,” John Sullivan, the former board member, said. “She said, you know, that ‘I oppose it, but I’m not taking a position.’”

Others, like campaign director Richard Carlbom, have a different view of Klobuchar’s actions.


“My attitude is that it took thousands and thousands of people to defeat the amendment and no single person deserves all the credit and they’re just a lot of people who deserve credit for being part of the historic victory of Minnesota,” said Carlbom, now a consultant for DFL politicians. “And she certainly was one of the people who deserve credit for that historic victory.”

Read more at MinnPost.

Recognizing the Armenian genocide

Following Turkey’s bloody incursion into Syria, the House rebuked the country with a vote to recognize the Armenian Genocide, the ethinic cleansing of 1.5 million Armenians by the Ottoman government from 1914 to 1923. (The Turkish government, the successor to the Ottoman empire, does not acknowledge these events happened.)

Lawmakers have previously held off on supporting a resolution like this because of the U.S. relationship with Turkey.

It passed broadly with bipartisan support, 405 to 11, but one Democrat in the Minnesota delegation voted “present:” Rep. Ilhan Omar.

Her reasoning is here:

I believe in accountability for human rights violations — especially ethnic cleansing and genocide — is paramount. But accountability and recognition of genocide should not be used as cudgel in a political fight. It should be done based on academic consensus outside the push and pull of geopolitics. A true acknowledgement of historical crimes against humanity must include both the heinous genocides of the 20th century, along with earlier mass slaughters like the transatlantic slave trade and Native American genocide, which took the lives of hundreds of millions of indigenous people in this country.

Some supporters were vexed by this argument, reports the Strib’s Torey Van Oot.

“I don’t understand how morally, when asked to affirm or deny, that you would vote ‘present,’ ” said Parker-Der Boghossian, whose mother’s family escaped death during the systematic murders and expulsions that affected some 1.5 million Armenians, a Christian minority within what was the Muslim-majority Ottoman Empire, with most of the violence taking place in modern-day Turkey. “I don’t know morally how you do that.”

The president next door

Klobuchar is experiencing a bit of a surge in New Hampshire, jumping to 5 percent in CNN’s most recent poll. The margin of error is +/- 4.1 and Sen. Bernie Sanders is currently leading with 21 percent.

For the sixth Democratic debate, Klobuchar will need to reach a 4 percent polling requirement in at least four polls. This is her only qualifying poll so far.

Completely unrelated, The Intercept has a quick piece on Klobuchar’s support for the Minnesota Teen Challenge, citing MinnPost coverage from 2013. Here’s the lead:

DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE Sen. Amy Klobuchar once requested a $500,000 earmark for Minnesota Teen Challenge, an anti-LGBT ministry that claims that Halloween, Harry Potter, and Pokémon are gateways to drug addiction (via Satanism).

In other news

Quote of the week

“The Soviet-style process that Speaker Pelosi and Adam Schiff have been conducting behind closed doors for weeks now has been rotten to the core,” Republican House Minority Whip Steve Scalise said on Tuesday.

What I’m reading

Maxwell Tani for The Daily Beast: G/O Media Tells Deadspin Staff in Leaked Memo: Stick to Sports

G/O Media, formerly Gizmodo Media (formerly Gawker Media) is experiencing an all out rebellion of staff. The media group owns several properties, including The Onion, video-game news website Kotaku, and the now defunct Splinter. The recent trouble is at Deadspin, their sports property, where a deputy editor was fired for not sticking to doing only sports coverage. It seems that most of the staff followed suit and resigned in protest.

Michael Waters for Vox: Paper napkins are expensive and environmentally unsound. Now the industry is trying to save itself.

After plastic straws, the paper napkin industry is worried it’s the next thing to be cancelled. This is a story that delves into Big Napkin’s strategy for survival.

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 (12)

  1. Submitted by Jon Kingstad on 11/01/2019 - 10:20 am.

    The vote on the resolution on the impeachment process was purely procedural and a sop to the whining GOP about how “unfair” the process is. There has been nothing unfair about the process to date given that the House has no authority to do anything more than impeach, i.e. accuse, the President if there is sufficient evidence to establish that he committed high crimes or misdemeanors. Whether that is enough evidence to remove the President is up the US Senate. Rep. Peterson provides a plausible and reasonable explanation for his “no” vote in that light.

    • Submitted by Kevin Schumacher on 11/01/2019 - 12:10 pm.

      I got a letter from his office immediately after the vote, and his explanation was anything but reasonable and plausible. He complained that the process has been partisan (gosh, golly gee…who would have known) and that Dems have not been transparent, but then went on to vote against a measure that would open the process up for all to see (some might be so bold as to call that transparency). His letter also was filled with Republican talking points about the matter, suggesting that MN7 voters are being conned by his contention that he actually is a Democrat.

      As a voter in MN7, I am furious with him and it is clear that he is only doing what he needs to to get re-elected; no fairness regarding shared concerns about trump, no rational consideration of the facts, no inclination toward openness in further investigation, and most of all, no leadership. I have asked him in writing repeatedly if he has read the unredacted Muller report, and have gotten no response. Many of us frankly believe that it is time for him to change parties, given his past and current voting record.

      I have decided to vote for the Republican candidate in the 7th next Fall, because at least we will know what they are.

      • Submitted by Jim Bernstein on 11/01/2019 - 05:15 pm.

        Voting for the Republican candidate – an avowed Trump supporter – does not seem like a very wise move. Granted, Rep. Peterson can be annoying and sometimes infuriating but he is a Democrat who does vote with his party more than 50% of the time. A Trump Republican can be counted on to vote with Democrats probably less than 5%.

      • Submitted by Pat Terry on 11/04/2019 - 03:59 pm.

        Yeah, that sounds like a great strategy.

  2. Submitted by Eric House on 11/01/2019 - 10:23 am.

    disappointed about Rep. Peterson’s statement. He wants it both ways- the vote isn’t about impeachment (true- it’s about the investigation) but he won’t make a decision on impeachment until the facts come out. How does he expect to get the facts, if the investigation isn’t formalized?

  3. Submitted by Robert Ahles on 11/01/2019 - 11:52 am.

    “I will not make a decision on impeachment until all the facts have been presented.”

    Is Peterson both deaf and blind?

  4. Submitted by Henk Tobias on 11/01/2019 - 12:14 pm.

    Its so odd how Colin’s concerns match so closely with Republican concerns. To answer Robert Ahles question, Yes. When your paycheck depends on you not seeing (Or hearing) something its very easy not to see it. And apparently he thinks his getting elected means him pandering to the low information voters in his district.

  5. Submitted by Tom Anderson on 11/02/2019 - 11:08 pm.

    The final vote against the resolution was bi-partisan. A rare thing these days.

  6. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 11/03/2019 - 01:17 pm.

    Peterson’s vote is the kind of easy vote congress people in difficult districts can cast to make marginal voters happy. And really, if someone like Rep. Peterson’s vote turns out to be decisive, impeaching Trump is probably the wrong thing to do. Removing a president from office shouldn’t require a close call.

    For myself, I am as anti Trump as anyone I know, and I don’t think he is unfit for office. Still, with the evidence presented so far, I am not yet convinced a sufficient case has been made for his removal from office. I am waiting to hear all sides.

  7. Submitted by Pat Terry on 11/04/2019 - 03:31 pm.

    The fact that Peterson continues to get elected in that district as a Democrat is a testament to his political skill. Seriously, no one should be second guessing a guy like that. When he retires or finally loses, that district will be Republican for decades.

    • Submitted by Frank Phelan on 11/04/2019 - 09:25 pm.

      Well, he is a reliable vote for Speaker at the beginning of the session (I think).

      But you’re right, he will be the last D from the CD7.

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