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D.C. Memo: Walking a mile in another man’s Balenciagas

New texts show the White House knew how bad Jan. 6 was; Rep. Ilhan Omar fights Islamophobia; and Rep. Dean Phillips places high on the list of our richest representatives.

screenshot of video of dean phillips and peter meijer exchanging a shoe
Earlier this year, Rep. Dean Phillips, Congress’ 22nd richest member, exchanged shoes with Michigan Rep. Peter Meijer, its 12th richest member.
Hello and welcome back to the D.C. Memo. This week you can find me pondering my existential dread as the weather in D.C. has been steadily in the 60s for the last week. Even for this swamp, that heat in December is not normal. In more (or less) uplifting news, here’s what is in store for the Memo this week: New texts show the White House knew how bad Jan. 6 was; Rep. Ilhan Omar fights Islamophobia; and Rep. Dean Phillips places high on the list of our richest representatives.

The White House knew exactly how bad it was

Many public figures are learning that you probably shouldn’t send unencrypted text messages during big security threats. This week, lawmakers exposed text messages sent to Mark Meadows, former chief of staff in the Trump White House, on January 6 during the insurrection at the Capitol from about half a dozen people including politicians and journalists.

On Tuesday, Republican Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming read them aloud in front of the House select committee investigating the attack as the House voted 222 to 208 to hold Meadows in criminal contempt of Congress for failing to comply with the committee’s subpoena.

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“It is really bad up here,” one said, according to Cheney. Others texted, “The president needs to stop this ASAP” and “Fix this now.”

Cheney also shared texts from Fox News hosts Laura Ingraham, Brian Kilmead and Sean Hannity, all of whom have downplayed the severity of Jan. 6 in their coverage since. On that day, though, they seemed pretty urgent.

“Mark, the president needs to tell people in the Capitol to go home. This is hurting all of us. He is destroying his legacy,” Ingraham wrote.

“Please get him on TV,” Kilmeade wrote, adding that the attack was “destroying everything you have accomplished.”

Hannity similarly asked Meadows if Trump could “make a statement” and “ask people to leave the Capitol.”

But, as we know now, Trump did not condemn the attack. Around 2:30 that day, Trump tweeted, “Please support our Capitol Police and Law Enforcement. They are truly on the side of our Country. Stay peaceful!”

Soon after that tweet, Punchbowl News founder Jake Sherman also sent Meadows a series of messages: “Do something for us … We are under siege in the cpaitol [sic] … There’s an armed standoff at the house chamber door … We’re all helpless …”

It wasn’t until 4:17 p.m. that day, after a lot of the violence had died down, that Trump posted a video to his Twitter account, telling rioters to go home, and “we love you, you’re very special.”

Denouncing Islamophobia

Rep. Ilhan Omar introduced a bill earlier this year that would establish a new special envoy position at the State Department to “monitor and combat Islamophobia worldwide.” The bill passed after Omar had to defend herself against hateful, Islamophobic comments sent her way by Colorado Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert.

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On Tuesday, the House passed the bill in a 219-212 vote along party lines.

In introducing the debate, Rep. James McGovern, the Democratic chairman of the House Rules Committee, cited surveys showing an uptick of anti-Muslim sentiment nationwide and around the world — and the need for an energetic U.S. response.

McGovern said the House had arrived at this moment because a colleague has “told a completely fabricated story again and again that implies a Muslim colleague is a terrorist … just because they are Muslim.”

Those actions are “a stain on this entire institution,” he said, without naming Boebert, the freshman lawmaker from Colorado. “This House is better than the worst actions of a few here.”

It’s not likely that the bill will make many advances in the Senate, but it will not be the last step taken by lawmakers like Omar who have repeatedly said that it’s up to Republican leadership to stand up to their more outspoken right-wing members. Democrats have so far not censured Boebert or removed her committee assignments as they have for other lawmakers like Paul Gosar, who posted an animated video online of him killing New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

For more on the violent threats that some of Minnesota’s delegation have experienced since Jan. 6, we spoke with Reps. Angie Craig and Omar last week.

Craig, McCollum fight for maternal health

Second Congressional District Rep. Angie Craig led several of her colleagues — including Fourth Congressional District Rep. Betty McCollum — in reintroducing the Native Women’s Maternal Health Resolution, which seeks to create and improve access for Indigenous women to comprehensive and culturally competent maternal health care and family planning services.

“In the United States, Native women face significantly higher rates of death or serious illness during childbirth, a heartbreaking statistic that the federal government must take urgent action to reverse,” Craig said. “It’s absolutely critical that we continue to shed light on this crisis and enact policy solutions that will ensure every woman in America has access to high-quality maternal health care and family planning services in their own communities.”

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McCollum, who is the vice chair of the Native American Caucus, said that this issue deserves the attention and focus of Congress. “The federal government has unique trust and treaty responsibilities to provide high quality health care throughout Indian Country. For far too long, Native American women – especially those of child-bearing age – have been disproportionately impacted by the lack of these critical health care investments… I’m proud to join Rep. Craig in introducing the Native Women’s Maternal Health Resolution to draw attention to this crisis,” she said.

Strengthening the chains

Sens. Amy Klobuchar, Tina Smith and Rep. Angie Craig announced a new program that will release approximately $1 billion in funding to shore up food supply chains and support farmers. The funding, called the Food Supply Chain Guaranteed Loans, is available through the American Rescue Plan, which was passed earlier this year. The loans will back private investment in processing and food supply infrastructure. According to Klobuchar, Smith and Craig, the program will “help eliminate bottlenecks in the food supply chain in Minnesota and around the country.”

“Minnesota’s farmers play a key role in generating and protecting our nation’s food supply. The Food Supply Chain Guaranteed Loans are a step forward as we continue working to support them and bolster our food supply chain,” Klobuchar said.

“The COVID-19 pandemic exposed gaps in our supply chains – highlighting the need for action to shore up our food supply infrastructure. I’m pleased that USDA is directing funds from the American Rescue Plan to address these challenges, which will help to eliminate bottlenecks in the supply chain, deliver better prices for family farmers and create economic opportunity in rural America,” Craig said.

Consumer prices have increased by the fastest pace in about 39 years in November, meaning higher prices for everything from gasoline to food, while consumers are continuing to overwhelm a supply chain that has seen worker shortages.

The issue has become so apparent that some lawmakers have proposed a bipartisan committee on supply chain issues. In other words, if you haven’t stocked up on your holiday meal ingredients or bought your holiday gifts yet, you might want to get on that sooner rather than later to avoid ultra long shipping times or product shortages in stores.

More like lot-of-Pennies Coffee

According to Business Insider, Third District Rep. Dean Phillips is the 22nd wealthiest member of Congress. (That’s out of 535 in the House and Senate combined.) Phillips has nearly $25 million in assets.

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So when he “walked a mile in someone else’s shoes” with Republican Rep. Peter Meijer earlier this year, the two seem to have a lot in common: Meijer is the 12th wealthiest member of Congress with $60.5 million in assets.

Phillips is a cofounder of Penny’s Coffee, a former chairman for Talenti Gelato and the former President and CEO of Phillips Distilling Company. He’s also got more than $250,000 in Apple stock and at least $50,000 in Facebook stock.

Rick Scott, a Republican from Florida, is at number one, with over $200 million in assets.

What I’m reading

  • “Did the pandemic change dads forever?” The 19th. It seems to me that there has been a plethora of coverage of moms during the pandemic, but not so much of dads, so I appreciated the depth of interviews in this story. Reporter Chabeli Carrazana spoke to dads about how their perception of gender roles in the home changed during the pandemic, and how many of them have had deeper conversations about why our society often treats mothers and fathers differently.
  • “A real Housewife of New York dined and dashed at D.C.’s sceniest restaurant,” Intelligencer. I can’t say that I have ever watched a Real Housewives of New York episode, but I can say that I have dined at this restaurant, Le Diplomate, which I would not necessarily call D.C.’s “sceniest” restaurant. It is, however, a great place to take out-of-towners for brunch and to possibly spot some of D.C.’s social elite. I love this story, though, because “The Countess” Luann de Lesseps racked up a tab of over $500 with a seafood tower and “copious amounts of Grey Goose,” and then simply fled the premises. Witnesses saw everything, and the manager and server were “gobsmacked.” Apparently de Lesseps paid up a couple of days later, but only after her publicist was contacted.
  • “America is not ready for Omicron,” The Atlantic. America is not ready for omicron, and I am not ready for another harrowing COVID-19 story from Ed Yong. Yet here we are. The omicron variant is not looking good, and it seems to be causing more breakthrough infections than the original strain or delta variant. The silver lining, though, seems to be that it is causing less severe disease than delta, at least for those who are already vaccinated.

That’s all from me this week. Thanks for reading. As always, please feel free to send any questions, comments or subpoenaed text messages to ahackett@minnpost.com, or find me on Twitter @byashleyhackett.