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D.C. Memo: What happened and why

Trump’s short life as a blogger, the January 6 commission controversy and a Minnesota political power family.

Tear gas is released into the crowd of rioters during clashes with Capitol police on January 6.
REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
On WCCO last weekend, Rep. Tom Emmer said “This should have never have happened, and it should never be allowed to happen again. I’m confident we’re going to prosecute all those who broke the law, and we’ll know what happened and why.”
Hello and welcome back to the D.C. Memo. This week you can find me drafting a manifesto on the need for permanent three-day-weekends (If you’re my boss reading this, I’m definitely not doing that). On that note, I hope you all had a great Memorial Day weekend, but life must go on: This week in the Memo, we’re looking at Trump’s short life as a blogger, the January 6 commission controversy and a Minnesota political power family.

Blogger calls it quits

Former president Donald Trump’s blog is no more. The website, which his advisers called a “beacon of freedom,” was created after he was banned from popular social media platforms following the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. The ban immediately cut off Trump’s direct access to 88 million Twitter followers and 35 million Facebook followers.

Trump’s blog was just 29 days old when the former president ordered his team to put it out of its misery, advisers told the Washington Post.

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On its last day, the site — whose job it was to make up for tweets that garnered hundreds of thousands of reactions — received just 1,500 shares or comments on Facebook and Twitter. A Post analysis found that Trump’s website, including the blog, fundraising page and online storefront,  attracted “fewer estimated visitors than the pet-adoption service Petfinder and the recipe site Delish.”

Differing views on January 6

Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Rep. Tom Emmer were on WCCO Radio on Memorial Day to talk about a range of issues including the commission to investigate the January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Klobuchar said Democrats were able to pick up some Republican votes, but that they were “not enough.”

“The silver lining is I’m coming up with a bipartisan report, which goes through in great detail, of all the things that got messed up at the Capitol, with leadership, with police, and with the police review board,” the senator said.

Emmer, on the other hand, said he did not support the commission because it was “politicized.” Despite what he calls that politicization, the Republican representative told WCCO, “This should have never have happened, and it should never be allowed to happen again. I’m confident we’re going to prosecute all those who broke the law, and we’ll know what happened and why.”

But it seems as though the “what happened and why” information won’t come from Congress. Senate Republicans blocked the creation of the commission last week, after Mitch McConnell reportedly asked Republicans to vote against the bill as a “personal favor.”

Going federal

Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin made his first appearance in federal court Tuesday on civil rights charges. Chauvin was already found guilty of three charges in Hennepin County in April, but he’s now part of a new investigation: The federal indictment accuses him, along with the three officers at the scene of George Floyd’s death, of depriving Floyd of his constitutional rights.

A second federal indictment also charges Chauvin with deprivation of civil rights under color of law for a 2017 incident involving a 14-year-old boy, whom Chauvin allegedly struck in the head with a flashlight and pinned to the ground with a knee on his neck and back during an arrest.

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Chauvin appeared in court via video conference from Minnesota’s maximum-security prison in Oak Park Heights, where he is currently being held as he awaits sentencing on his state charges. Chauvin was once again represented by his attorney Eric Nelson, who represented Chauvin at his trial in Minneapolis.

For more on what to expect during the federal investigation, check out my colleague Greta Kaul’s article with the details.

A Minnesotan power family

POLITICO featured a Minnesota political family’s ties to the Biden administration in their West Wing Playbook newsletter on Wednesday. Minnesotans may be familiar with Jake Sullivan, Biden’s national security adviser, who grew up in Minneapolis with a father who worked at the Star Tribune and a mother who worked as a public school teacher. Jake served as chief counsel for Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who introduced him to Hillary Clinton, for whom he started working during her first presidential campaign in 2008.

Jake’s younger brother is also now involved in the Biden administration: Tom Sullivan serves as deputy chief of staff for policy at the State Department (the same position he held at the end of the Obama administration). The web of power doesn’t stop there, though — the brothers’ spouses, Rose Sullivan and Maggie Goodlander, also hold senior positions at the Health and Human Services Department and the Justice Department, respectively.

The family was intertwined in Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s political life, too: At various points from 2007 to 2015, Jake was the senator’s chief counsel, Tom was her deputy chief of staff and Rose served as her chief of staff.

And just for fun, POLITICO reports that Klobuchar recalled a long Asia trip that included Republican Sen. John McCain, where she said: “Tom would always order the most Minnesota-type food, and McCain was always giving him grief…they’d have weird, who knows what, sushi and Tom would always be ordering, ‘I’ll have chicken and rice’ every time.”

Sen. Klobuchar told POLITICO that Tom’s steadfast Midwestern diet was a sign of character.

What I’m Reading

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  • Who Cares? The Baffler. Author Sarah Jaffe writes about “the year everyone discovered that caring is actually hard work.” Jaffe explores the “new” phenomenon of mothers struggling to balance work-from-home jobs with learn-from-home kids, saying that this problem has actually always been around, it just took a pandemic to get everyone to notice. Also under Jaffe’s microscope: the concept of “essential workers,” who are predominantly women, and how society suddenly became hyper-aware of the work that is required to “maintain our continued existence.” If you have time to read one thing this week, make it this piece.
  • Stimulus Checks Substantially Reduced Hardship, Study Shows, New York Times. I saw a lot of jokes going through social media about how people were going to spend their “stimmy.” Americans received two more rounds of stimulus checks in the past six months, totaling $2,000 a person, and those well-off enough and willing enough to share talked about stimulating the economy by spending on what some might call frivolous things. But this article talks about the overwhelming trends: Among households with children, reports of food shortages fell 42 percent from January-April. Among all households, frequent anxiety and depression fell by more than 20 percent. It appears those stimulus checks really did what they were supposed to for many people.
  • Friday Night Meatballs: How to Change Your Life With Pasta, Serious Eats. As all of my friends and most of my family are fully vaccinated, I’m starting to think more about how I’m going to start fostering more in-person connections with those I care about again. This article makes a case for the Friday night pasta — or any food, really — tradition and how it helped this author hold onto old friendships and foster new ones. I might just try it out.

That’s it from me this week. Thanks for reading! As always, please feel free to send questions, comments or stories of your own short-lived blogging days to ahackett@minnpost.com. You can also reach me on Twitter @byashleyhackett.