Welcome to the first D.C. Memo ever written after a president was impeached for the second time. There’s a lot to cover here, so let’s get started. This week: Minnesota’s delegation splits on impeachment vote; Klobuchar prepares to take the lead on Capitol riot investigation; and the feds tell Minnesota to expand COVID-19 vaccinations.
Impeachment vote follows party lines
Minnesota’s U.S. House contingent — four Democrats and four Republicans — voted along party lines Wednesday in the historic second impeachment of President Donald Trump for his role in inciting a violent attack by his supporters on the U.S. Capitol. The vote was 232-197 to impeach Trump, with every Democrat and 10 Republicans voting in favor of impeachment.
Here are partial comments or prepared statements from each of the state’s representatives, which were gathered by reporters for the Star Tribune and the Pioneer Press. Rep. Ilhan Omar was the only Minnesota representative to speak during the House floor debate:
The Democrats, all voting in favor of impeachment:
Rep. Ilhan Omar: “For years we have been asked to turn a blind eye to the criminality, corruption and blatant disregard for the rule of law from this tyrant in the White House,” Omar said in a House floor speech during the impeachment debate. She said Trump must be impeached and removed from office for “directly and specifically” inciting “a violent attempt to interrupt our democracy.”
Rep. Dean Phillips: “Without consequences, without the rule of law, we have no America,” Phllips said. Of his Republican colleagues who opposed impeachment, he said: “If they come to a different conclusion than I, that will be recorded by history. I take no exception to opposing opinions, only to corruption of principles. What I’m seeing is a corruption of principles.”
Rep. Betty McCollum: McCollum, who presided over the impeachment debate from the rostrum, said later, “Make no mistake, this was a terrorist plot to disrupt Congress and to prevent Congress from performing its duty under the U.S. Constitution to certify the results of the Electoral College. For the safety of our nation, this president must be removed from office before he inflicts more damage to our democracy.”
Rep. Angie Craig: “After witnessing and experiencing the January 6th attack on our Capitol, it is clear that President Trump asked these terrorists to show up in Washington, assembled them and incited them to march to the Capitol to attack a separate branch of government,” Craig said. “For that reason, I am voting today in support of his impeachment.”
The Republicans, all voting in opposition to impeachment
Rep. Jim Hagedorn: Hagedorn said impeaching Trump amounts to “further dividing an already splintered nation” — though Hagedorn has never rejected the president’s false claims of a rigged election. “Democrats have prosecuted another unwarranted and politically motivated impeachment.”
Rep. Michelle Fischbach: “With fewer than seven days remaining in this administration, we should be focused on moving forward and getting back to work on behalf of the American people,” said Fischbach, the newest member of the delegation who beat longtime Rep. Collin Peterson last November.
Rep. Tom Emmer: “In one week, a peaceful transfer of power will occur that has been the hallmark of our Republic,” Emmer said. “Today’s vote only serves to further the division in our country at a time when our country desperately needs to move forward together.”
Rep. Pete Stauber: Stauber condemned the violence at the Capitol but said, “I believe efforts to impeach the President contradict the idea of unity and will only further divide our already divided nation. President Trump has just days left in his Presidency and he has promised a peaceful transfer of power. America needs to heal, so I do not support these rushed efforts to impeach the President.
Klobuchar to help lead riot probe
U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar will take a lead role in a congressional investigation into the riot at the Capitol.
The Minnesota Democrat will become the chair of the Rules Committee when the Democrats take control of the Senate later this month. The Rules and Homeland Security committees, Bill Salisbury of the Pioneer Press reported, will investigate how hundreds of Trump supporters overwhelmed Capitol police and went on a rampage inside the building. “After what we’ve just been through as a country, it makes working in Congress and showing leadership on the committee that I’m going to be chairing” feel much more important, Klobuchar told Salisbury.
As the ranking member of the rules panel, Klobuchar led Democrats in the debate before Biden was certified as the winner of the Electoral College. She is also the chair of the inauguration committee and will speak at the swearing-in ceremony Jan. 20. “My first job is to make sure the inauguration is safe,” she said. “I don’t think people will take the peaceful transfer of power for granted after what happened at the Capitol.”
Klobuchar also told Salisbury that she has ruled out becoming a part of Biden’s cabinet. “I was not seriously considered (for a Cabinet appointment),” she said, “because I knew how closely divided (the Senate would be — 50 Democrats and 50 Republicans) and how important the Senate was and the kind of work I could do there.” Plus, those grapes were probably sour anyway.
Threat on Minnesota’s Capitol
The Star Tribune’s Paul Walsh reported that the FBI believes it has credible evidence of a threat at the Minnesota and Michigan state capitols on Sunday by right-wing extremists as part of their preparation for armed protests in every state and Washington, D.C., leading up to Biden’s inauguration.
The evidence is spelled out in an alert dated Dec. 29 that was written by the FBI’s Minneapolis division, based on what the division said was intelligence from two “collaborative” sources with “direct access” to vital information. The report, Walsh wrote, said some followers of the violent Boogaloo movement attended protests in early December at the Minnesota State Capitol “to identify escape points and defensible positions in the event violence occurred.”
Minnesota Department of Public Safety spokesman Bruce Gordon said security was being ramped up for whatever might come in and near the State Capitol grounds. Officials on Thursday suggested Minnesotans stay away from the capital for the next few days.
Minnesota Public Radio reported that Minnesota officials reacted with caution after the federal government called on states to expand the pool of people who should get priority for COVID-19 vaccinations.
On Tuesday, Trump administration officials urged states to expand eligibility to people 65 and older, as well as to people most vulnerable to the disease. But state officials say the federal government wasn’t backing up those calls with more vaccine deliveries. Which is totally unlike the Trump administration.
About 430,000 doses have been shipped to Minnesota to health providers and to the federal program for long-term care facility vaccinations, MPR reported, citing the state’s new COVID-19 vaccination dashboard. More than 140,000 Minnesotans have received at least one dose.
“A promise to deliver isn’t delivering,” Kris Ehresmann, the state’s infectious disease director, told reporters. The changing recommendations could add “a couple million people who will expect to be vaccinated” in Minnesota, she said. “If we’re only getting 60,000 doses a week, that is going to be a real problem.”
MinnPost’s Greta Kaul has more on Minnesota’s vaccination progress so far and how we compare to other states.
What I’m reading
“The Five Crises of the American Regime,” by Michael Lind of Tablet magazine. In this sobering piece, Lind examines the crises that he believes are at the heart of our current malaise: political, identity, social, demographic and economic. If America is to recover, he concludes, it “will be the work of several generations.”
“Doggone it, if they could do it…” by Jonathan Wertheim of Sports Illustrated. In this look back at a legendary rescue mission in Alaska, where a small town faced its own epidemic, Wertheim retraces the trek of the rugged mushers and dogs who raced across 700 miles of treacherous forests and frozen lakes to deliver diphtheria-fighting serum.
ICYMI, here are some good MinnPost reads for the weekend:
- “Emergency powers, elections and violent rhetoric: Why it may be hard to get anything done at the Minnesota Legislature this year,” by Peter Callaghan.
- “Minnesota Power pledges no carbon by 2050, zero coal by 2035,” by Walker Orenstein.
- “Unique collaboration created Fergus Falls’ new Center for Dental Health,” by Andy Steiner.