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D.C. Memo: Iowa is where we are

Impeachment trial starts; Klobuchar debates; refugee resettlement; and more.

REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
“I want to thank you for bringing up Iowa,” Sen. Amy Klobuchar told the debate moderators Tuesday, “because that is where we are."
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 from Washington, the impeachment trial in the Senate begins, the Democratic presidential candidates gathered in Des Moines for another debate, and the president’s refugee resettlement policy was temporarily blocked by the courts.

Let’s get on with this.

Impeachment updates

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The impeachment trial in the Senate effectively started Thursday, beginning with the reading of both articles of impeachment submitted by the House and the swearing in of Chief Justice John Roberts. Next, the Senate will set the initial groundwork for the trial and proceedings are expected to begin next week.

You can watch the trial on CSPAN.

As the Senate considers whether to review additional evidence and witness testimony as part of the trial, here’s something relevant: The White House violated the law when it held security aid to the Ukraine, according to the Government Accountability Office, a nonpartisan agency that reports to Congress.

And more: Lev Parnas, an associate of Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, released a trove of impeachment-related information to the House. The documents appear to show a loose network of Trump associates boasting about tracking and spying on former Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch. Ukraine has launched an investigation into the possible illegal surveillance.

The president next door

On Tuesday night, the Democratic debate. Only six candidates were able to meet the threshold to appear on the stage: Minnesota’s own Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, former mayor Pete Buttigieg, former Vice President Joe Biden, and billionaire philanthropist Tom Steyer.

The debate was in Iowa (if you hadn’t noticed), where Klobuchar has staked much of her presidential prospects. “I want to thank you for bringing up Iowa,” Klobuchar told the debate moderators, “because that is where we are.”

Klobuchar has outran and outlasted several candidates, including two other senators, in order to remain on the debate stage. Recent polling places her between 4 and 8 percent in Iowa.

Read more me at MinnPost: Five takeaways from Klobuchar’s performance at the debate.

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Refugee resettlement

A federal judge temporarily blocked an executive order from President Donald Trump seeking to give local governments more discretion over refugee resettlement this week, saying that giving local authorities the power to decide if they resettle refugees: “flies in the face of clear congressional intent.”

Greta Kaul at MinnPost talks to Rachele King, the state refugee coordinator at the Minnesota Department of Human Services, about how the program works. Read more at MinnPost.

By the numbers

  • 23: The number of Minnesota counties that have explicitly said yes to refugee resettlement, following the executive order by President Trump that gave local governments the authority to decide if they would accept refugee resettlement. Read more from MinnPost’s Greta Kaul and Tom Nehil.
  • 20: Percent of likely caucus goers backing Sen. Bernie Sanders, per the latest Des Moines Register poll, conducted by J. Ann Selzer. It’s effectively anyone’s game: Biden has 15 percent, Buttigieg 16 percent, and Warren 17 percent. In this poll, Klobuchar is at 6 percent.
  • 12: The number of town halls held by Rep. Angie Craig of Minnesota’s Second District since being elected. Craig will host her 13th townhall in Zumbrota on Saturday.

Berning back home

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Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minneapolis will be around town on Friday hosting two rallies for Sen. Bernie Sanders presidential campaign: one at the Hennepin County Government building at 8:10AM and one at the University of Minnesota at 11AM.

To kick off the start of early voting in Minnesota, Klobuchar is also hosting her own get-out-the-vote rally on Friday evening at First Avenue in Minneapolis.

Tracking Emmer

Rep. Tom Emmer of the Sixth District had an ethics complaint filed against him by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, who argue that his staff following around members of Congress during impeachment and asking them questions is a violation of House ethics rules.

The complaint alleges “multiple instances in which the NRCC appears to have had its employees or others on its behalf chase and badger Democratic members of Congress in House office buildings.” From Pat Condon at the Strib.

In other news

Quote of the week

“Faithful execution of the law does not permit the president to substitute his own policy priorities for those that Congress has enacted into law. OMB withheld funds for a policy reason, which is not permitted under the Impoundment Control Act (ICA). The withholding was not a programmatic delay,” the Government Accountability Office wrote of the withholding of Ukraine funds.

What I’m reading

Astead Herndon for the New York Times: Danny Glover, Judge Judy, Mandy Moore and a Still-Crowded 2020 Field

Want to know what Danny Glover is up to? He’s in South Carolina, stumping for Bernie Sanders. A whole cast of celebrities are traveling the country for their favorite candidate and you can read more about it here if you’re curious.

Jessica Moulite for The Root: Rep. Ayanna Pressley Reveals Beautiful Bald Head and Discusses Alopecia for the First Time

Rep. Ayanna Pressley discusses her alopecia diagnosis for the first time with The Root, in what is one of the more vulnerable interviews I’ve seen with a member of Congress in a long time.