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D.C. Memo: Rooftop lies and videotapes

Support, but not really support for Ukraine, Jennifer Carnahan shocks no one and Congress comes together to support better treatment of sexual assault victims. 

Supporters President Donald Trump climb on walls at the U.S. Capitol, rioting against the certification of the 2020 U.S. presidential election results.
Supporters of President Donald Trump climb on walls at the U.S. Capitol, rioting against the certification of the 2020 U.S. presidential election results.
REUTERS/Jim Urquhart

Hello and welcome back to the D.C. Memo. This week you can find me losing my mind a little bit after having a very wild evening this weekend — at a D.C. rooftop bar. I found myself having a conversation with a guy who was “wrongly accused” of being an insurrectionist on Jan. 6! This man was in town for the weekend, hoping to impress my friend and me with his sob story of how he’s a freelance journalist and videographer and his manager falsely sold him out to the FBI (he apparently got too scared to sell the videos he took, so the feds didn’t believe him when he said he was a freelance videographer). Unfortunately, he wasn’t thrilled to learn that I was also a journalist, and that I also was at the Capitol during the insurrection. After I started poking holes, his story started coming apart, and when I got home I looked him up to discover that he was indeed in D.C. that day to storm the Capitol, and that he was caught on video saying “f**k Nancy Pelosi.” Some people really will say anything to impress girls at a bar. Aside from that extremely D.C. moment, here’s what else went on in Washington this week:

Minnesota delegation splits on Ukraine

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addressed Congress and President Biden this week in an impassioned plea for the U.S. to make Ukraine a no fly zone (this would essentially be an act of war against Russia). NATO countries have refused to get directly involved in the conflict, but Zelenskyy has appealed to world leaders to create a new international security organization to include Ukraine.

“I think we were all touched and moved by it,” Sen. Tina Smith told CBS News. “Zelenskyy made such a powerful plea to members of Congress.” Unfortunately for the leader of Ukraine, that wasn’t enough to convince lawmakers like Smith to be in favor of a no fly zone. Members of Congress agreed with President Biden that enforcing a no fly zone would send the U.S. into war with Russia.

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Republicans were a little more muted in their response, saying they weren’t satisfied with Biden’s response to the invasion of Ukraine.

“What Putin is doing to Ukraine is brutal and unacceptable, and President Biden should show more leadership during this time,” Eighth District Rep. Pete Stauber said.

Fifth District Rep. Ilhan Omar expressed some dissatisfaction prior to Zelenskyy’s speech, saying on Twitter that “The difference in the way we are talking about Ukrainian refugees, who are obviously largely white, and the way we talk about black, brown, Muslim refugees from elsewhere, is as clear as day,”

A not unexpected CD1 announcement

Jennifer Carnahan, former Minnesota Republican Party Chairwoman and widow of former First District Rep. Jim Hagedorn, announced Monday that she will run in the special election for her late husband’s seat in the House of Representatives

“I am proud to announce my candidacy to represent Minnesota’s First Congressional District,” Carnahan said in a statement. “Though my heart is still heavy after Jim’s passing, the encouragement I have received from throughout southern Minnesota has inspired me to carry on his legacy by running to complete the remainder of his term.” 

Carnahan said that in the weeks before Hagedorn’s death, he told her to “keep forging ahead” and win the First District. 

Carnahan’s time as chairwoman was mired in controversy, with allegations that she cultivated a toxic work environment for staffers and ignored claims of sexual harassment by members of her staff. Carnahan also had close ties to Anton Lazzaro, a top GOP donor accused of sex trafficking minors.

As MinnPost’s Walker Orenstein reported, at least 20 people have entered the race, including one former state representative and two current state representatives. Five candidates have entered the Democratic Farmer Labor Party primary, including Richard Painter, a former White House ethics lawyer under President George W. Bush, and Jeffrey Ettinger, former CEO of Hormel Foods.  

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The Senate must have wanted a morale booster

So they decided to finally vote on making daylight saving time permanent

On Tuesday, the Senate unanimously passed the Sunshine Protection Act, which would make daylight saving time permanent across the United States. 

The bill still has to pass the House, and even if it becomes law it wouldn’t go into effect until November 2023. 

I try not to take biased stances on legislation, but I personally love this. Although it’s nice having light in the morning, there’s nothing more depressing to me in the winter than the sun going down by 4 p.m. 

In Minnesota, some critics have said that because during the winter the sun wouldn’t rise until nearly 9 a.m., this change could be dangerous for commutes and detrimental to kids going to school early. 

Hope for survivors 

This week, the Abby Honold Act, named after a former University of Minnesota student, was signed into law by President Biden. 

When Honold was a student at the U of M, she was sexually assaulted and had a terrible experience reporting her assault to the police. Honold was so disappointed in her experience that she decided to fight for federal legislation that could help make sure no one has to go through what she did. 

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The legislation will provide federal funding for law enforcement to receive training in evidence-based, trauma-informed care. This could be transformative, but the training is not mandatory — police departments will have to request the grant money, meaning that they will have to have the desire to change in the first place.  The initiative is also being called a “two-year test program” to see if it actually works. To me, the concept of a victim being wronged by the police leading to the police getting more money is a little strange, but I do hope that this initiative will improve the current statistic of fewer than one in 10 reports of sexual assault actually leading to conviction.

The bill was first introduced to the 115th Congress, where it was unsuccessful, but Sixth District Rep. Tom Emmer reintroduced it to the House in the 116th and current 117th Congress.

“Sexual assault is a life-shattering event, the trauma of which can be compounded by improper care,” Emmer said in a statement. “The Abby Honold Act will equip first responders with valuable healing tools and give a voice to survivors.”

The bill  was co-led by Rep. Annie Kuster (D-NH) in the House. Companion legislation in the Senate was led by Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D) and Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX).

“As we work to support survivors like Abby, we need to provide law enforcement with the training and skills they need to best engage with and help victims,” Klobuchar said in a statement. “Now that the Abby Honold Act is signed into law, we can help ensure that law enforcement uses the most effective techniques to respond to these critical investigations.”

What I’m reading

    • “The coronavirus funding collapse is a disaster,” The Atlantic. Ed Yong is back with another pandemic story to ruin your day. And he quoted Minnesota epidemiologist Michael Osterholm in the second paragraph. Yong explains how the U.S. has failed to sufficiently fund recovery efforts from epidemics like Zika in 2016 (Republicans refused Obama’s request for funds), and in 2018 Trump asked Congress to rescind $252 million that was leftover from the 2015 Ebola outbreak, which was left deliberately untouched so that the U.S. could respond quickly to future outbreaks. The insufficient funding has continued on — Congress failed to include $15 billion in covid funding that the White House asked for in the recently passed omnibus spending bill.
    • “Russia’s biggest rappers are going hard against Putin’s war,” Rolling Stone. Many Russian citizens are losing faith (or never had it to begin with) in Vladimyr Putin, and that includes the country’s top rappers. This is a big move for artists who had previously been doing a balancing act of criticizing the government and keeping their ability to perform publicly.

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That’s all from me this week. Thanks for reading. As always, feel free to send any questions, comments, or stories about times you caught a stranger in a wacky lie to ahackett@minnpost.com.