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D.C. Memo: All coup’d up

Omar drafts articles of impeachment; Fischbach sworn in; Emmer opposes $2,000 stimulus checks; and more.

An explosion caused by a police munition is seen during the riot at the U.S. Capitol Building on Wednesday.
An explosion caused by a police munition is seen during the riot at the U.S. Capitol Building on Wednesday.
REUTERS/Leah Millis

Happy New Year and welcome back to the D.C. Memo. Has anything notable happened lately? We jest, mostly because we’re still trying to process everything we saw and read and heard yesterday coming out of the nation’s capital. And while we can’t possibly do justice to all of the coverage and the many reactions, we can steer you to a few of the most trenchant stories. There was some normal news to report, too, especially among Minnesota’s congressional delegation. Let’s get to it:

Capitol chaos

On Wednesday evening, MinnPost talked to several members of Minnesota’s congressional delegation after the chaos in Washington, where a mob of Trump loyalists broke in and occupied the U.S. Capitol while lawmakers were meeting to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s electoral win.  Read our story here and also check out these national takes in the wake of yesterday’s events:

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Spencer’s account

The Star Tribune’s Jim Spencer was in the U.S. House press gallery, listening to Republican complaints about the election results, when a member of the House press staff approached and told the reporters to go to the press room and gather anything they needed because they were about to be locked in the chamber.  “Then came word that rioters who supported President Donald Trump had breached the Capitol,” he writes. Read his frightening account here.

Impeachment, part II?

U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar joined a growing group of Democrats calling for Trump to be removed from office in the last weeks of his presidency.  Omar made the announcement in a tweet, writing that she was drawing up Articles of Impeachment. “Donald J. Trump should be impeached by the House of Representatives & removed from office by the United States Senate,” she wrote.

“This is not a one-off incident,” she said in a prepared statement.  “It is the result of years of collaboration on the part of the Republican Party, who have aided and abetted Trump’s criminal attempts to destroy our republic, and the cause of democracy around the world.”

Fischbach takes the reins

Earlier in the week, on Sunday, Minnesota’s newest congresswoman, U.S. Rep. Michelle Fischbach, was sworn-in as a member of the 117th Congress. In November, the Republican from Paynesville beat longtime Democratic Rep. Collin Peterson in Minnesota’s Seventh District, a sprawling rural region that covers the western half of the state.  “As I took the oath of office today, I felt an intense sense of responsibility for both our nation and the people of the Seventh District of Minnesota, who I now have the privilege of representing in Congress,” she said in a statement.

On Wednesday, Fischbach joined her First District colleague Jim Hagedorn in voting to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. Every other Minnesotan in Congress, including Republican Reps. Tom Emmer and Pete Stauber, voted against the effort.

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Emmer holds out

U.S. Rep. Tom Emmer was the only member of Minnesota’s congressional delegation to vote last week against an increase in COVID relief for adults and children from $600 to $2,000, which President Trump sought. The Republican explained to the Star Tribune’s Patrick Condon that the increase would add to the national debt and that Congress didn’t do enough to offset the measure by trimming other spending.

Congress and Trump had already signed legislation authorizing the smaller amount as part of a broad COVID aid package. “Congress carefully developed this compromise to provide direct payments to individuals while directing additional funding in more targeted ways,” Emmer said in a prepared statement. He voted for the full aid package, as did each member of Minnesota’s delegation.

Each of the state’s five current Democratic House members and Republican Rep. Pete Stauber voted for the increase to $2,000. Republican Rep. Jim Hagedorn was absent from the vote.  Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith, both Democrats, also supported the larger checks.

Hagedorn surgery

Speaking of Hagedorn, he had a kidney removed as he continues his fight against advanced kidney cancer. The Associated Press reported that surgeons at the Mayo Clinic also removed cancerous tissues surrounding the kidney.  State Republican Party Chairwoman Jennifer Carnahan, who is married to Hagedorn, said in the statement that the performing surgeon called the procedure a success and Hagedorn was resting comfortably.  He was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer nearly two years ago.

Stauber for governor?

Buried in a Star Tribune story about GOP hopefuls for governor was this nugget: U.S. Rep. Pete Sauber could be a candidate.  Reporter Stephen Montemayor writes: “One potentially formidable contender is U.S. Rep. Pete Stauber, who has won two successive races in a large northeastern Minnesota district that Democrats mostly held for decades.  Stauber campaign manager Johnny Eloranta said the congressman ‘is keeping all options open.’”

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What I’m reading

The Plague Year” by Lawrence Wright of The New Yorker.  This looong piece (which fills nearly the entire magazine) will require some serious hygge time by the fireplace, but it’s worth the effort. Wright recounts several factors that contributed to the COVID outbreak, including a creeping complacency in American policy circles. Early in the piece, he writes: “It had been a century since the previous great pandemic, which found its way from the trenches of the First World War to tropical jungles and Eskimo villages. Back then, scientists scarcely knew what a virus was. In the twenty-first century, infectious disease seemed like a nuisance, not like a mortal threat. This lack of concern was reflected in the diminished budgets given to institutions that once had led the world in countering disease and keeping Americans healthy.”

Finally, don’t miss these MinnPost reads:

That’s it for this week.  Let’s hope next week brings more sanity.  As usual, feel free to contact me at gaamot@minnpost.com or to find me on Twitter.