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D.C. Memo: Calling BS

Rep. Angie Craig will not defund the police, Olympic gymnasts share their story at the Capitol and a rally at Rep. Jim Hagedorn’s office.

screen capture of rep. angie craig speaking on video
During a meeting of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Rep. Angie Craig called out Republicans’ attempts to tie her and other Democrats to the “defund the police” movement.

Hello and welcome back to the D.C. Memo. This week you can find me attempting to stay on top of the sudden deluge of news; Summer is over! The Senate is back in session, with the House back next week, and already things are starting to heat up. Here’s just some of what we’re looking at this week: Rep. Angie Craig will not defund the police, Olympic gymnasts share their story at the Capitol and a rally at Rep. Jim Hagedorn’s office.

Before we get into all that, though, a quick note: I love writing the D.C. Memo for you every week, and it’s been really nice to hear back from many of you with fun stories and feedback. Although the Memo is a labor of love, it’s still labor, and labor costs money. MinnPost is entering our fall membership drive this week — if you’ve enjoyed the Memo, please consider becoming a member to help keep our nonprofit publication going.

Angie Craig wants Republicans to stop putting words in her mouth

Second District Rep. Angie Craig, who we reported last week is fighting against Republicans’ attempt to associate her and other Democrats with “defund the police” as the midterms approach, said her piece during a debate in the House Energy and Commerce Committee markup of the Build Back Better Act.

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Craig took issue with what she described as her Republican colleagues’ repeated efforts to politicize funding for the deployment of Next Generation 9-1-1 technology, arguing that an amendment introduced by Republicans was an extension of Republican campaign strategy designed to inaccurately paint congressional Democrats as supportive of efforts to defund the police. 

“I don’t represent the City of Minneapolis,” Craig said. “I represent a Southeastern Minnesota Congressional District that starts about 20 minutes from the City of Minneapolis. I just want to go back to a couple of points that have been made by my colleagues. The first is: what happened in Minneapolis last summer – many of us Democrats in the state of Minnesota spoke out against the violence and the looting. But what happened in Minnesota happened because Derek Chauvin put his knee on George Floyd’s throat and murdered him. And we all watched it. So please don’t come here and tell me that what happened in Minnesota happened because of the defund the police movement. There is no movement, it is a fraction. You all get so upset when we talk about QAnon. We talk and compare you to your colleagues who support and stand next to QAnon supporters. And yet, you do exactly what you’re doing today.”

Craig also mentioned fellow Minnesotan Rep. Tom Emmer: “My quote in this Wall Street Journal article says ‘My friend and colleague Tom Emmer knows that it’s complete bullshit that I’ve ever supported the defund the police movement. And yet he leads the National Republican Campaign Committee, and not only will they try to stick that to me, but they will try to stick that with every other swing district Democrat across this country.’ My colleagues, this amendment is nothing but a part of that effort.”

Craig’s district is one of the NRCC’s top priorities to unseat in the 2022 election, of which Emmer is chair.

‘I blame Larry Nassar, and I also blame an entire system’

The Senate Judiciary Committee heard those words from Olympic gymnast Simone Biles Wednesday as she and several other star gymnasts testified before Congress. In gut-wrenching testimony, the gymnasts described the sexual abuse they suffered at the hands of former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar. They blamed the FBI for letting him continue to molest children even after they told their stories to FBI officers. They also blamed Team USA and USA Gymnastics for failing to report abuse they knew about.

It’s been five years since the first women came forward publicly in 2016 to accuse Nassar of sexual abuse under the guise of medical treatment. Since then, hundreds of young women and girls have come forward with their own stories of abuse. In 2017, Nassar pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 60 years in prison for child pornography and other charges. A year later, he pleaded guilty and was sentenced to an additional 40 to 175 years for multiple counts of sexual assault of minors.

In her testimony, former Olympic gymnast McKayla Maroney called out the FBI, revealing that agents were dismissive of her when she told them as a teenager what had happened to her at the hands of Nassar.

“I began crying at the memory over the phone, and there was just dead silence,” Maroney said of a conversation with an FBI agent. “I was so shocked at the agent’s silence and disregard for my trauma. After that minute of silence, he asked: ‘Is that all?'”

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Maroney also condemned the FBI’s investigation into allegations against Nassar, saying that they had legitmate evidence of child abuse but did not make significant moves on the investigation until 17 months later. When they did finally document her report, Maroney said, they “made entirely false claims about what I said.”

It’s estimated that Nassar sexually abused around 150 women and children before his arrest in 2016. The first allegations of his abuse came from 1992 when he was still a medical student at Michigan State.

Al Franken is still holding on to the spotlight

As reported by Axios, former Minnesota Sen. Al Franken did not rule out running for public office again in an interview with Masslive on Monday.

“I’m keeping my options open,” Franken said in the interview when asked about entering politics again. “Right now my focus is on doing this [tour] and doing other stuff that is more politically blatant.”

In one of the most abrupt downfalls in recent political memory, Franken resigned from the Senate in December 2017 after seven women accused him of sexual misconduct. He had been one of the most recognizable figures in the Senate, in part because he’d entered as a best-selling author and a former writer and performer on “Saturday Night Live.”

Leanne Tweeden — Franken’s main accuser — and seven other women leveled accusations against Franken, and over 30 of his Democratic Senate colleagues called for his resignation.

Franken has returned to comedy and will begin a standup tour starting this Saturday, according to MassLive.

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Rally at Hagedorn’s office

On Wednesday, members of Comunidades Organizando el Poder y la Acción Latina (COPAL) rallied outside of Rep. Jim Hagedorn’s office in Mankato in support of a budget reconciliation bill that includes a pathway to citizenship for DACA recipients.

From COPAL’s news release: “According to the New American Economy, in 2017, Minnesota Congressional District 1 was home to 42,000 immigrants or 6.3% of the population. Immigrants paid $372.5 million dollars in taxes and had a spending power of one Billion dollars. While the wealth created by immigrant labor only increases, their working conditions do not improve. The US Congress needs to protect the stability of those workers and their families.”

The Mankato Free Press covered the rally, where an “energetic” crowd gathered in hopes of getting a meeting with Hagedorn.

The protesters weren’t able to exchange words with Hagedorn on Wednesday, but a representative from his office accepted a letter from COPAL leaders.

What I’m reading

  • U.S. government aid helped reduce poverty in 2020, Census data shows,” Reuters. During 2020, a year marked by a disastrous pandemic which caused millions of Americans to lose their jobs, the poverty rate actually decreased. This is pretty wild to me, but it does prove that enhanced government benefits — like increased unemployment payments — and stimulus checks actually really helped pull some families out of poverty. I don’t know about you, but I’d love to see a $1200 check deposited into my bank account every once in a while from here on out.
  • After Floyd’s killing, Minneapolis police retreated, data shows,” Reuters. This Reuters analysis of the patterns and practices of MPD officers after the murder of George Floyd last summer has some pretty revealing findings. In the the months that followed Floyd’s murder, Reuters found that Minneapolis police officers “imposed abrupt changes of their own, adopting what amounts to a hands-off approach to everyday lawbreaking in a city where killings have surged to a level not seen in decades.”
  • Cottagecore, cluttercore, goblincore — deep down, it’s about who we think we are,” Washington Post. I had some kind of weird pride during the pandemic: I never got into baking sourdough like what seemed like the rest of America in the “cottagecore” movement. So, unbeknownst to me, a lot of Americans transitioned from “cottagecore” to “cluttercore,” a rejection of minimalism and embrace of bright colors, bold patterns, etc. I missed that too. And now, finally, we’ve reached “goblincore”: Homes filled with “dark wood and plants, mossy colors, whimsical mushroom prints,” and the like. Honestly, I feel like I’ve been missing out on these pandemic moments. I guess I’ll stick with my classic millennial home filled with books and plants.

That’s all from me this week. Thanks for reading. As always, please feel free to send any questions, comments or or what you wish your friends and colleagues would stop accusing you of to ahackett@minnpost.com, or follow me on Twitter at @byashleyhackett.