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D.C. Memo: Impeachment just (about 180) hours before Christmas

Trump impeached; Phillips attempts to recruit independent Amash to impeachment team; the USMCA trade deal; and more.

photo of rep. kevin mccarthy speaking
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy objected to the timing of the impeachment vote.

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, the President of the United States was impeached. Let’s get on with this.

But first a quick (and final!) plug: it’s MinnPost’s year-end member drive! That means that it’s time for me to ask you to become a sustaining member of MinnPost (if you’re not already). This newsletter is entirely powered by folks like you and your monthly donations help ensure we can keep it, and all of our other coverage going (that includes reporting, travel costs, and supplies). You can donate here.

Impeachment vote

The President of the United States has been impeached for the third time in U.S. history. The vote was broken down into two articles: article one, abuse of power; and article two, obstruction of Congress. The first article passed with 230 in favor, 197 voting against, and one member voting present (Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii). The second passed the House with 229 in favor, 198 voting against, and one voting present (Gabbard).

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The Minnesota delegation in the House largely voted along party lines, except for Rep. Collin Peterson of Minnesota’s Seventh, who voted against impeachment. Read more at MinnPost.

“I give him some respect because while I disagree with his decision, he’s been very consistent in making sure he represents the people of the 7th District,” DFL Chairman Ken Martin told MinnPost. “I don’t think it will hurt him politically. If anything it will probably help him.”

RELATED: A look back at the Minnesota delegation in Clinton’s impeachment

Seeking manager

Rep. Dean Phillips made some impeachment news this week, leading an effort to draft Republican-turned-independent Rep. Justin Amash (I-MI) into the impeachment effort. Amash, who has described his politics as country over party, has been steadfastly supportive of impeachment.

“I didn’t want to float the idea to our whole Democratic freshman class without at least that he would be interested … and that’s exactly what I did,” Phillips said. “And we’ve been corresponding since.”

Yesterday, as Democrats and Republicans debated impeachment on the House floor, Phillips could be seen talking to Amash and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY).


The House is set to vote on the U.S-Mexico-Canada trade agreement on Thursday. Most of Minnesota’s agriculture sector is looking forward to the legislation passing.

Advocates have been pushing the deal for more than the last year. The hold-up over the last few months: organized labor thought the labor provisions in the deal were too lax. Erik Paulsen, who represented the Third District before losing to Phillips, has been advocating for the deal as a part of the Pass USMCA Coalition. Paulsen told MinnPost the deal would be a win for Minnesota, and before a deal was reached, explained the hold-up like this:

“I mean, there’ve been trade deals that have been done in the past and haven’t had support of organized labor, right?,” Paulsen said. “So I think some of the Democrats tend to push back on some of the trade agreements, based on, on that provision.”

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No mining study after all

Rep. Betty McCollum, long an advocate for the Minnesota Boundary Waters, tried to bring back an Obama-era study looking at the possible impact of copper-nickel mining on the region. But the language McCollum added to a Federal spending bill was cut this week in negotiations, as Republican and Democrats in leadership scrambled to prevent another government shutdown. Read more at MinnPost.

“Why cancel the study? Are we afraid of the science? Of the evidence? Of revealing the truth about the risks of copper-sulfide mining?,” Minnesota House DFLer Kelly Morrison, who represents the Western portion of the Twin Cities, said after we ran the story.

Native American leaders work to overcome community mistrust of census

The Census determines a lot: everything from funding to how many members of Congress are apportioned to each state. For MPR, Tiffany Bui (a former MinnPost intern) writes about organizers trying to increase participation among the Native community, which historically has been one of the most undercounted groups in the U.S.

“People who are still alive know what it is to have a knock on the door and the federal government come in and remove their brothers, their sisters, themselves from their household,” said Elizabeth Day, a program manager for the Native American Community Development Institute. “So it’s completely understandable that people aren’t willing to engage.”

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Sanders weighs in on Mayo closures

The Mayo Clinic’s downsizing and layoffs in Minnesota caught the attention of at least one presidential candidate: Sen. Bernie Sanders.

“Mayo Clinic executives have decided to strip away access to health care from tens of thousands of rural Midwesterners—putting profits over people,” Sanders said on Twitter. “Under Medicare for All we will end the corporate greed in health care that is leaving rural Americans behind.”

The president next door

Thursday night, Sen. Amy Klobuchar takes the debate stage again, this time with far fewer candidates on stage than when we started all those months ago. You can watch the debate on PBS tonight at 7 p.m CST or stream it here on Youtube / Prior to the debate, Klobuchar is in Los Angeles this week with Saint Paul Mayor Melvin Carter, who has endorsed the Minnesota senator.

Molly Hensley-Clancy at BuzzFeed has a great story on how Klobuchar dealt with the 2012 marriage amendment in Minnesota. Here’s a quote: “Amy’s at the back of the train at the beginning, and then as it picks up steam, she moves towards the middle. At the very end, as it’s pulling into the station, she runs up front and it’s like she was driving the train all along.” We covered this back in October.

Here are a few polls for a pulse check on the race.

In Iowa, Iowa State University has a December poll of 632 likely caucus goers (with a margin of error of +/- 4.9%) that shows Klobuchar around where she’s been since October: about 4%

  • Pete Buttigieg: 24%
  • Sen. Bernie Sanders: 21%
  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren: 18%
  • Joe Biden: 15%
  • Sen. Amy Klobuchar: 4%

A December National poll from CNN of 1005 respondents (+/- 3.7) has Klobuchar at 3%.

  • Joe Biden: 26%
  • Sen. Bernie Sanders: 20%
  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren: 12%
  • Pete Buttigieg: 8%
  • Mike Bloomberg: 5%
  • Sen. Amy Klobuchar: 3%
  • Andrew Yang: 3%
  • Sen. Cory Booker: 3%

In other news

Quote of the week

“[Pelosi] wrote the script and created an artificial timeline to make the details fit. Why else are we doing this just hours before Christmas?” said House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy prior to the impeachment vote on December 18th.

What I’m reading

Drew Costley for One Zero: The Blackest City in the U.S. Is Facing an Environmental Justice Nightmare

Costley tackles something that I think isn’t covered enough. What does climate change mean for communities of color inside the U.S., who are likely to face the brunt of the political and environmental implications?

Angelica Jade Bastién for Vulture: Damon Lindelof Knows Exactly What Happens After Watchmen’s Cliff-hanger Finale

For a number of weeks, Watchmen was the best show on television. Now it’s over (for now?). If you haven’t seen it and you’re a fan of the graphic novels, watch it immediately. If you have, this post-show interview is a great dive into how showrunner Damon Lindelof (of Lost and The Leftovers) conceives of the mini-series.

That’s all for this week. Thanks for sticking around. No newsletter next week. Instead, the holidays! Feel free to send tips, suggestions, and sound advice to: Follow me at @gabemschneider. And don’t forget to become a MinnPost member.