Welcome to this week’s edition of the D.C. Memo. This week from Washington, the Senate impeachment trial, a look at Rep. Ilhan Omar’s time as Progressive Caucus whip, and a former EPA official on the PolyMet mine project.
Let’s get on with this.
A tale of two senators
The Senate trial is now in full swing and both sides are presenting opening arguments.
Due to Senate rules, which do not allow photography in the chamber, some outlets have hired sketch artists to visually represent the trial. Others are having fun.
The trial so far has involved long hours. Senators can only drink two things on the floor: water or milk.
Recently, I talked to Sen. Tina Smith about what she expects of the trial. For starters, Smith favors additional witness testimony during the trial: “I think trials have witnesses and we shouldn’t be afraid of the facts that these witnesses might bring forward.”
Back in Minnesota, MinnPost’s Peter Callaghan caught up with Sen. Amy Klobuchar at a GOTV rally on Friday.
“I don’t know how many days this is gonna last,” she said to reporters. “I just know that I have a constitutional duty to do my job.”
“I just want you to think: What can I do for Amy today?”
Ilhan Omar counts the votes
Rep. Ilhan Omar represents the Fifth District. She’s working on legislation. Constituent services. Fundraising. And she’s on television, responding to whatever remarks the President has made about her. But behind the scenes, and typically out of view, Omar has another job: Whip of the Progressive Caucus.
“Where nobody really expects you to do anything, there is actually more opportunity for you to do a lot more,” Omar said. “And that has been, and will always, I think, be part of my legacy as a freshman here.”
A former federal official testified on Tuesday that state regulators asked his office to delay the submission of concerns about a key water permit for the PolyMet copper-nickel mine.
From MinnPost’s Walker Orenstein: “Kevin Pierard, who oversaw the permit at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, said state officials asked him to submit concerns after a public comment period because those critiques would duplicate issues raised by environmental groups — but also because they would “create a good deal of press.”
By the numbers
- $342,870: The amount of money raised this year by the Committee For Stronger Rural Communities, a super PAC created by sugar beet interests to protect the Seventh District’s Rep. Collin Peterson.
- 15: The number of U.S House members involved in the Senate impeachment trial. Eight House Republicans were appointed to advise the President’s defense team. Seven Democrats were appointed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to serve as impeachment managers (effectively prosecutors). None are Minnesotans.
- 0: The amount of time Klobuchar will be able spend in Iowa during the Senate impeachment trial. Her daughter is working as an active surrogate for her while she’s out of state, temporarily taking over her Twitter account. Last night Klobuchar held a tele-town hall with Iowa voters.
The president next door
Manhattan is far from the Twin Cities, but The New York Times editorial board says Klobuchar is their candidate.
On Sunday, they endorsed both Klobuchar and Sen. Elizabeth Warren for President.
Before Klobuchar received the Times endorsement, she was touting an endorsement from the Quad-City Times, which covers two regions at the state-border: Davenport and Bettendorf in southeastern Iowa, and Rock Island, Moline, and East Moline in northwestern Illinois.
With the Iowa Caucus barely a week away (Feb. 3), The Des Moines Register will be releasing its endorsement this Saturday.
Zooming out a bit, here’s a snapshot of national opinion from the Morning Consult, which surveyed 12,402 Democratic primary voters, with a margin of error of +/- 1 percent.
- Former Vice President Joe Biden: 29%
- Sen. Bernie Sanders: 24%
- Sen. Elizabeth Warren: 15%
- Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg: 10%
- Former Mayor Pete Buttigieg: 8%
- Andrew Yang: 4%
- Sen. Amy Klobuchar: 3%
- Tom Steyer: 3%
- Rep. Tulsi Gabbard: 2%
In other news
- The Saudi crown prince hacked Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’s phone, according to a Guardian investigation.
- Glenn Greenwald, the journalist best known for releasing the Edward Snowden files, was charged with “cybercrimes” in Brazil that sound a lot like doing journalism.
- How worried should you be about this coronavirus outbreak?
Quote of the week
“Milk While Speaking: Senate rules do not prohibit a Senator from sipping milk during his speech,” reads page 758 of the Senate Standing Rules.
What I’m reading
Ryan Mac for BuzzFeed News: Clearview AI Says Its Facial Recognition Software Identified A Terrorism Suspect. The Cops Say That’s Not True.
Clearview AI, a facial recognition company that has a database of billions of photos, contracts out with police departments nationwide. A BuzzFeed News investigation shows show the company has misrepresented its effectiveness and hidden key facts about its connections to white nationalists.
Constance Grady for Vox: The controversy over the new immigration novel American Dirt, explained
If you’re not already following what’s going on with the newly released novel, American Dirt, this is a decent primer. In short: An author received a seven figure book deal to write a story about Mexican migrants. The book has had a large debut campaign, showing up on Oprah’s book list. The issue: Latinx writers, like Myriam Gurba, have widely panned the book, framing the portrayal as dehumanizing, insulting and distanced from reality.
That’s all for this week. Thanks for sticking around. Until next week, feel free to send tips, suggestions, and sound advice to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow at @gabemschneider. And don’t forget to become a MinnPost member.