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D.C. Memo: ‘Congress itself is the target’

New information from the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, Biden on the killing of Daunte Wright and some nice sights from the District.

An image of pro-Trump rioters storming the U.S. Capitol on January 6.
REUTERS/Ahmed Gaber
A new report by the Capitol Police’s internal watchdog details the ways department leaders overlooked essential intelligence in the days leading up to the riot on Jan. 6.
Hello and welcome back to the D.C. Memo. This week I’m reminiscing about last week’s MinnPost Festival, where MinnPost reporters got to lead panels with some truly impressive and entertaining speakers. If you missed out on any of the sessions, you can now watch them on MinnPost’s YouTube channel. In this week’s memo, we’ll cover new information from the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, Biden on the killing of Daunte Wright and some nice sights from the District.

Report says leaders failed to prepare for capitol siege despite warnings

A new report by the Capitol Police’s internal watchdog details the ways department leaders overlooked essential intelligence in the days leading up to the riot on Jan. 6, according to the New York Times. Michael A. Bolton, the Capitol Police’s inspector general, discussed the findings of the 104-page report titled “Review of the Events Surrounding the Jan. 6, 2021, Takeover of the U.S. Capitol” during his testimony to the House Administration Committee Thursday.

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The highlights of the report, according to the Times:

  • Capitol Police leaders ignored or overlooked intelligence reports warning of attacks on lawmakers.
  • Department leaders ordered a special crowd-control unit not to use its most powerful nonlethal weapons.
  • Officers responded with defective protective equipment.

A threat assessment from Jan. 3 said that “Congress itself is the target on the 6th” and that “Stop the Steal’s propensity to attract white supremacists, militia members and other who actively promote violence may lead to a significantly dangerous situation for law enforcement and the general public alike.”

The Department of Homeland Security also warned the Capitol Police that a map of the Capitol’s underground tunnel system was posted on pro-Trump message boards. Despite the clear evidence, Bolton allegedly found that an operations plan for Jan. 6 found that there were “no specific known threats related to the joint session of Congress.”

Three Minnesotans have been arrested for taking part in the insurrection so far, with two being taken into custody just in the last week.

Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick died one day after the insurrection from injuries sustained while clashing with rioters.

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Biden calls for ‘peace and calm’ after killing of Daunte Wright

President Joe Biden called for “peace and calm” on Monday in the wake of the “tragic” fatal police shooting of Daunte Wright in Minnesota. Wright’s death shook the nation as it did the Brooklyn Center community, and protests commenced outside the city’s police department every night this week. Black Minnesotans and their allies around the country are expressing outrage at another Black man shot to death by a white police officer, a stark reminder of the violence that led to the ongoing trial of Derek Chauvin in neighboring Minneapolis.

“I haven’t called Daunte Wright’s family, but my prayers are with the family. It’s really a tragic thing that happened,” Biden told reporters in the Oval Office. “There is absolutely no justification, none, for looting, no justification for violence… [T]he anger, pain, and trauma that exists in the Black community in that environment is real, it’s serious, and it’s consequential.”

Biden, who helped author the 1994 crime bill, stands far from a future that imagines the abolition of police and prisons.

“What I support are the police having the opportunity to deal with the problems they face and I’m totally opposed to defunding the police offices,” Biden said during the first presidential debate in September 2020. “As a matter of fact, police, local police, the only one defunding in his budget calls for a $400 million cut in local law enforcement assistance. They need more assistance.”

Reporter Becky Dernbach from Sahan Journal outlined ways that you can help people in Brooklyn Center who may need support in the aftermath of Daunte Wright’s killing.

Trump goes off-script at Mar-a-Lago

Former President Donald Trump held a Republican National Committee donor retreat at Mar-a-Lago Saturday night in which he ripped into Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in his keynote speech. According to Trump, McConnell is a “dumb son of a bitch,” Anthony Fauci is “full of crap,” and Mike Pence is a disappointment for not fighting the certification of election results in January.

Some Republican leaders were “not pleased” with Trump’s verbal attacks, with Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson told CNN’s “State of the Union” that “Anything that’s divisive is a concern and is not helpful for us fighting the battles in Washington and at the state level.”

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Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), an outspoken critic of the former president, told “Face the Nation” host Margaret Brennan on CBS that Trump in his Mar-a-Lago speech used “the same language that he knows provoked violence on Jan. 6.”

Biden commits to getting troops out of Afghanistan

President Joe Biden declared Wednesday that he will withdraw the remaining American troops from Afghanistan, claiming that the “forever war” that began after 9/11 could no longer be justified 20 years later.

“We cannot continue the cycle of extending or expanding our military presence in Afghanistan, hoping to create ideal conditions for the withdrawal & expecting a different result,” Biden said from the White House Treaty Room, announcing the US troop withdrawal starting May 1.

Biden has been skeptical about the U.S. presence in Afghanistan: As vice president, he advised Barack Obama to move towards a smaller counterterrorism role in Afghanistan. He also has said that his national security focus tilts towards China and Russia rather than the Middle East.

Two decades ago, Biden joined his Senate colleagues in a unanimous vote that authorized military force against “nations, organizations, or persons” President George W. Bush determined were behind the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

The full withdrawal, which Biden has announced will be complete by September 11, would end two decades of war that wounded 20,000 U.S. troops and killed more than 2,200.

Ilhan Omar’s ‘secret’ friendship with Nancy Pelosi

The Speaker of the House is at war with “The Squad,” says Washington Bureau Chief of USA Today Susan Page. But that doesn’t necessarily include Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar, Page writes in an adaptation of her new book on Pelosi.

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Few people knew that Pelosi’s ties with Omar were “warm,” Page writes, and describes the lengths to which Pelosi went to cultivate the loyalty of a new member that might otherwise be inclined to cross her.

In an exclusive interview with Page, Omar recalled that Pelosi was one of the first people to call her with congratulations after winning the Democratic primary in 2018. “You’re going to win, so we’ll see you in November,” Pelosi allegedly told her. In that same conversation, Omar brought up the House’s ban on headgear, which Pelosi then helped her amend by cosponsoring a measure in Congress.

Pelosi also invited Omar to a congressional delegation trip to Ghana. Omar was the only freshman member to attend.

Klobuchar: Bad Apple

As chair of the Senate Antitrust Subcommittee of the Judiciary Committee, Sen. Amy Klobuchar joined ranking member Mike Lee (R-Utah) in sending a letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook criticizing the company over its “refusal to provide a witness” to testify at the upcoming hearing on app stores and competition.

“The fact that there are just two gatekeepers between consumers and the millions of online applications available for download raises serious competition concerns. These companies have the power to control how and if mobile app developers can reach app users, and ultimately, which apps become successful,” Klobuchar said in a statement.

After receiving Klobuchar’s letter, the Senator reported that Apple yielded and decided to send a representative for testimony. Other tech giants like Google will send representatives to testify before the Antitrust Subcommittee on April 21.

Klobuchar has introduced legislation to update the U.S. antitrust enforcement regime that could block exclusionary conduct by large firms and authorize a significant increase in funding for federal antitrust enforcement.

Some pretty news out of D.C.

On Sunday, some D.C. residents (including myself) were witnesses to an incredible display of double rainbows as a light rainstorm passed through the region around sunset. I wasn’t in a great position to get the jaw-dropping photos that some people did, but the spectacle was great enough to make it into the Washington Post.

Carissa Bunge took this incredible photo over the U.S. Capitol:

What I’m reading

  • Buy Every American an Electric Moped, The Nation. Could government-subsidized moped scooters be the next solution for climate change? (Minnesota’s own) Alex Pareene thinks so, and in this article for The Nation he makes a pretty good case — California already provides a subsidy for electric vehicles in order to reduce carbon emissions. Pareene asks, “Why not do the same for electric scooters?”
  • Bitcoin’s Climate Problem, The New York Times. Confession: I don’t really get cryptocurrency nor have I attempted to understand it in any detailed way. But now I’m even more confused hearing Bill Gates say that “Bitcoin uses more electricity per transaction than any other method known to mankind, and so it’s not a great climate thing.” I’m wondering how this will affect investors’ choices moving forward as companies that support climate initiatives also support Bitcoin transactions.
  • This 20-year-old found her voice after George Floyd’s death. Now, she’s protesting again, The Lily. Rayveen Koha-Jallah, a 20-year-old River Falls student, began her activism last year after George Floyd’s death. She lives about 20 minutes from Brooklyn Center, where Daunte Wright was fatally shot by a police officer this week. This article is an inspiring profile on a young Liberian-American woman who’s finding her voice during a time of deep trauma for the Black community in Minnesota.

That’s all for this week. As always, please send any questions, concerns, or electric moped reviews to ahackett@minnpost.com. You can also reach me on Twitter at @byashleyhackett.