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DC Memo: FBI raid on Trump property becomes hot political issue, Finstad to cast his first vote in Congress Friday 

The raid is big business for Republican fundraising.

An image of Mar-a-Lago, former President Donald Trump's home in Palm Beach, Florida.
Former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago, home in Palm Beach, Florida was searched by the FBI Aug. 8. According to reports, agents were looking for classified documents, including some pertaining to nuclear secrets.
REUTERS/Marco Bello

WASHINGTON — The FBI’s raid this week on Mar-a-Lago, former president Donald Trump’s Florida home, touched off a wave of outrage among a great swath of the GOP, with many Republican lawmakers using the incident to raise campaign cash, bolster their support among Trump voters and bash the Biden administration and Democrats in general.

According to the Washington Post, the National Archives had been aggressively contacting people in Trump’s orbit to demand the return of documents – both classified and unclassified – they believed were covered by the Presidential Records Act. Late Thursday, the Post reported that some  the documents in question were highly classified papers pertaining to nuclear weapons.

So, the FBI went looking for the papers at Mar-a-Lago, in the process opening a safe and  leaving with dozens of boxes.

The Democratic mantra was “no one is above the law.” But the raid sparked a furor among many Republicans.

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Rep. Tom Emmer, R-6th, coupled the FBI raid with the specter of an Internal Revenue Service, which would be beefed up under the Inflation Reduction Act to modernize the agency and crack down on big-dollar tax cheats, to frighten Americans about the power of the federal government.

“Every single American should be alarmed at the Biden Administration’s weaponization of our justice system,” Emmer tweeted “If they’re willing to go after a former President, what’s to stop them from using their proposed 87,000 new IRS agents to go after you?”

Meanwhile, Rep. Peter Stauber, R-8th, echoed other Republicans who said a former president should not be subjected to FBI raids.

“It’s unprecedented and alarming for the FBI to search a former president’s private residence,” Stauber said in a tweet. “The American people need clear answers immediately as to why the raid at Mar-a-Lago happened.”

The raid was first announced on Monday evening in a statement by the former president, who was at Trump Tower in New York City.

Trump allies in Congress, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-CA, vowed to launch an investigation if they win back control of the U.S. House and U.S. Senate in November’s general election, when the balance of power in Washington will be decided.

Others, including Trump, made use of the raid to raise campaign cash.

“MAR-A-LAGO was RAIDED,” Trump texted his supporters on Tuesday morning. “The Radical Left is corrupt. Return the power to the people! Will you fight with me? Donate.”

Trump’s pick for Senate in Ohio, JD Vance emailed supporters with a message that provided a link to donate. “This is NOT a DRILL,” the message said. “Joe Biden is ATTACKING President Trump for STANDING UP for US, It’s time we show we have President Trump’s back! Act here.”

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Speaking of Trump endorsements, the day after the raid the former president renewed his support for Rep. Michelle Fischbach in a tweet.

“Congresswoman Michelle Fischbach is a phenomenal Representative of the 7th Congressional District,” the former president said. “She is fighting to Uphold the Rule of Law, Secure the Border, Protect Life, Defend the Second Amendment, Strengthen our Military and Support our Great American Farmers.”

Trump’s tweet also said: “Michelle Fischbach flipped this seat in 2020 with my support and she has my Complete and total Endorsement for re-election.”

Fischbach defeated 30-year Democratic incumbent Collin Peterson to win her seat in Congress.

Finstad to cast his first vote in Congress

Republican Rep.-elect Brad Finstad, who won a special election against Democrat Jeff Ettinger on Tuesday, was was sworn in as the newest member of the U.S. House Friday morning, becoming the official representative of the 1st District.

The swearing in by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi occurred right after the House reconvened for a one-day session in the midst of the chamber’s August break. Lawmakers returned to Washington, D.C. to vote on the Inflation Reduction Act.

Finstad’s first vote in office would be a “no” vote on that massive bill, which would spend billions of dollars on new health care and climate initiatives, paying for them with a 15% tax on some large corporations that currently pay no taxes. Money to fund the provisions in the bill will also be raised by a new 1% tax on company stock buybacks.

But not all House members will travel back to D.C. to vote on the Inflation Reduction Act and witness Finstad’s first day in Congress.

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Pelosi allowed House members to vote by proxy – to let another lawmaker to cast his or her vote – to address the problems posed by the pandemic. As of midday Thursday, about 150 U.S. House members notified the Clerk of the House they would vote for the bill by proxy, including Reps. Ilhan Omar, D-5th, and Angie Craig, D-2nd District, who returned to the nation’s capital to vote on the massive spending bill anyway.

Upon his swearing in, Finstad was given a voting card, the keys to the late Rep. Jim Hagedorn’s office in the Longworth House Office Building and a budget to hire staff. It’s likely he will keep a lot of Hagedorn’s staff, who have been working the offices in Longworth and the 1st District since Hagedorn died in February.

However, Finstad is not guaranteed a seat in Congress beyond early January, when a new Congress is gaveled in. To serve in the new Congress, he must defend his seat in November’s general election against the Democrat he defeated 52-48% in the special election – Ettinger.

Ettinger’s campaign says they are optimistic they will have a better result in the general election in a newly configured 1st District – the result of redistricting – that is slightly more favorable to Democrats with the addition of Olmstead and Winona counties.

Because Finstad won the special election by only four percentage points, and former President Trump won the district by more than 10 percentage points, the Cook Political Report this week moved the southern Minnesota district from “safe Republican” to “likely Republican.”

But Finstad’s incumbent advantage, even if it’s just for a few months until November’s election, cannot be discounted.

Minnesota kids are alright, sort of

There’s some good news about Minnesota’s children. The 2022 “Kids Count” survey of the state of the nation’s children ranked Minnesota No. 3 among the 50 states, the District of Columbia and U.S. territories when it comes to “Overall Child Well-Being.’” Only Massachusetts and New Hampshire ranked higher.

New Mexico ranked last in the study.

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The report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation has been issued every year except 2020 because of the unusual circumstances caused by the pandemic. Most of the data in the 2022 report is from 2016 to 2020 and doesn’t reflect the impact COVID-19 may have had on the nation’s children in the last two years.

The foundation measures how children are faring in four categories: economic wellbeing, education, health and family and community. The organization uses government data and information collected from national surveys.

“These indicators represent the best available data to measure the status of child well-being at the state and national levels,” the Kids Count report said.

The report said the number of Minnesota children living in high-poverty areas dropped from 77,000 in a four year-period ending in 2014 to 56,000 in 2016-2020. And the number of high school dropouts between the ages of 16 and 19 dropped from 11,000 in 2010 to 9,000 in 2020.

But there was some bad news too. The percentage of kids aged 3 to 17 who experienced anxiety or depression grew in nearly every state, including Minnesota, between 2016 and 2020. The increase in Minnesota was 14.8%, but the national average was much higher, 25.5%.