STAR TRIBUNE: Both Minnesota senators now back calls for Trump impeachment inquiry over Ukraine

STAR TRIBUNE: Both Minnesota senators now back calls for Trump impeachment inquiry over Ukraine

Patrick Condon

FILE – In this March 5, 2019 file photo Sen. Tina Smith, D-Minn., speaks during a Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, file)

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Tina Smith on Tuesday became the latest Minnesota Democrat to support an impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump, joining Sen. Amy Klobuchar and a growing number of centrist Democrats in Congress alarmed over reports that he sought Ukrainian help ahead of the 2020 election.

“I support the House beginning impeachment proceedings, as a matter of national security, and protecting the rule of law and our Constitution,” Smith said in a prepared statement, moving from her previous position that impeachment talk was premature.

Smith cited recent whistleblower allegations that Trump pressured the Ukrainian government to investigate the role of former Vice President Joe Biden — a leading 2020 challenger — in his son’s business dealings overseas.

Smith’s statement came amid growing pressure on Democratic leaders to take action against the president in the aftermath of the Special Counsel investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

Smith’s move came a day after two freshman House Democrats from Minnesota, Reps. Angie Craig and Dean Phillips, also threw their weight behind impeachment proceedings. It also puts every Democrat in the Minnesota congressional delegation on record as favoring an impeachment inquiry — with the notable exception of Rep. Collin Peterson, who represents a rural western Minnesota district that voted heavily for Trump.

Peterson, chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, said in his own statement Tuesday that he’s not on board with fellow Democrats’ calls for an impeachment inquiry over Ukraine.

“If anyone thinks a partisan impeachment process would constrain President Trump, they are fooling themselves,” Peterson said. “Without significant bipartisan support, impeachment proceedings will be a lengthy and divisive action with no resolution.”

That puts Peterson closer to Minnesota’s three Republican congressmen, who are on record opposed to impeaching Trump. Rep. Tom Emmer, who as chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee is leading the effort to break the Democrats’ House majority, said Tuesday that impeachment would hurt House Democrats politically.

Democrats “have become so radicalized by their hatred of President Trump that they are willing to plunge the nation into a constitutional crisis based on secondhand gossip,” Emmer said in a statement. “Make no mistake about it: backing impeachment will cost the Democrats their majority in 2020.”

Smith, facing re-election in 2020, immediately came under fire from GOP challenger Jason Lewis, who accused her of rushing to judgment without evidence. “Tina Smith and the Democratic Party have demonstrated time and again that they are all too willing to make a mockery of our Constitution by rushing to judgment and shredding due process in order to score cheap political points with their radical, angry political base,” Lewis said.

After days of relative silence, Republicans in Congress began a political counteroffensive in recent days, questioning the reports of the anonymous whistleblower said to have direct knowledge of Trump’s conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky last July. Trump also signaled Tuesday that he was preparing to release a transcript of the disputed call, which his aides said would quell the Democrats’ criticism.

Klobuchar, a candidate for president, called on the White House to make available the whistleblower’s entire report, not only the call transcript.

“Remember it’s the whistleblower complaint we must see,” Klobuchar wrote on Twitter. “Not just one call. Complaint reportedly involves more. It isn’t legal to sell out your country for personal gain.”

Impeachment proceedings appeared imminent on Tuesday with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announcing a formal impeachment inquiry, a dramatic reversal for the Democratic leader who had previously advocated a more measured approach.

Trump’s interactions with Ukraine allegedly involved his insistence that the country investigate business dealings there of Hunter Biden, Joe Biden’s son. Trump’s 2016 campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, was previously prosecuted over his own lobbying work in Ukraine.

On Tuesday, the Washington Post reported that the Justice Department has closed its investigation into work on behalf of Ukrainian interests by Manafort’s one-time associate, Vin Weber, a once-powerful D.C. lobbyist and a former Republican congressman from Minnesota.

An attorney for Weber told the Post that “at all times Mr. Weber acted in good faith and in keeping with the legal advice his company received from the outset.”

To view original article, visit:

BRAINERD DISPATCH: Lewis challenges Tina Smith, progressives during campaign open house

BRAINERD DISPATCH: Lewis challenges Tina Smith, progressives during campaign open house

Gabriel D. Lagarde

Republican senate candidate Jason Lewis talks with people during an open house Thursday, Sept. 12, at the Holiday Inn Express & Suites in Baxter. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

BAXTER — These aren’t the Democrats of Hubert Humphrey anymore.

And while the U.S. House of Representatives may have swung blue in the 2018 midterms, nor is Minnesota the blue stronghold it once was.

Former Congressman Jason Lewis, who lost his Congressional seat in the 2018 “blue wave,” kicked off his campaign to challenge Sen. Tina Smith with an open house at Holiday Inn Express & Suites in Baxter.

“I’m telling you, in 2020 the stakes could not be higher,” Lewis told the assembled crowd of roughly 20 people. “Speaking of the 1960s, the difference between the Democratic platform and today … you had chaos in the streets, you had all of that in the 1960s, but you still had a few grown-ups in the Democratic party. And I’m telling you that Hubert Humphrey couldn’t get the Democratic nomination.”

Lewis is coming off a downturn in his political career — namely, losing to freshman Democrat Angie Craig by 6 percentage points in the suburban 2nd Congressional District. But the last decade has largely represented a rise to national prominence for the former radio talk show host, whose program was nationally syndicated between 2009 to 2015.

During the open house, Lewis shook hands with visitors and rubbed shoulders with prominent Republican lawmakers in the area — the likes of state Reps. Josh Heintzeman, R-Nisswa, and Dale Lueck, R-Aitkin, as well as Cass County GOP Chairman Fred Hage. Resort owner Dutch Cragun stumped for his longtime friend as well.

Republican senate candidate Jason Lewis speaks during an open house Thursday, Sept. 12, at the Holiday Inn Express & Suites in Baxter. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

During his speech, Lewis lambasted Democrats on Capitol Hill — particularly those that form the face of the emerging progressive wing, such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota’s 5th District, as well as the senator he hopes to unseat: Smith.

He described the Democrats as a party run amok, that seeks to impose its authoritarian will on the American people by “offering everything, except what matters — freedom.”

In turn, Lewis defended the legacies of President Donald Trump and his own stint on Capitol Hill, the 115th Congress. While Democrats, Lewis said, alongside some members of the intelligence community and the national media are quick to attack the president on every issue — real or imagined — Trump and the GOP’s collective efforts to roll back Obamacare, make the largest tax cuts since Reagan and protect American interests in international trade have been a boon for small business owners in Minnesota.

Republican senate candidate Jason Lewis speaks during an open house Thursday, Sept. 12, at the Holiday Inn Express & Suites in Baxter. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

Minnesota — which hasn’t selected a Republican presidential candidate since Nixon in ‘72 — is primed to elect Trump for a second term, said Lewis, who noted he looks to ride the same wave of red fervor across the state to his own seat in the U.S. Senate. While it’s been an uphill battle for GOP candidates over the decades, recent elections point to a state shifting conservative — evidenced, Lewis said, by shrinking margins for losers like McCain in ‘08, then Romney in ‘12, and then 2016 for Trump, who only lost by a mere 1.5 percentage points.

And while Trump’s brand of abrasive politics might rub some people the wrong way, Lewis said, people will vote results and good policy over socialistic propaganda from the Democrats. In his perspective, a dividing line of roughly 44,000 swing votes separates the GOP from its goals in the state.

“It’s a binary choice,” Lewis said. “I will tell you, when the top of the ticket is Elizabeth Warren, or Bernie Sanders, or Kamala Harris … there’s going to be a whole lot of people that look at that and say, ‘Well, I might not like the tweets, but I’m certainly not voting for that.’”

To view original article, visit:

ASSOCIATED PRESS: Minnesota oil pipeline fight highlights Democratic dilemmas

ASSOCIATED PRESS: Minnesota oil pipeline fight highlights Democratic dilemmas

Steve Karnowski

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A divisive fight over the future of a crude-oil pipeline across Minnesota is pinning presidential candidates between environmentalists and trade unions in a 2020 battleground state, testing their campaign promises to ease away from fossil fuels.

Progressive candidates Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders have condemned a Canadian company’s plan to replace its old and deteriorating Line 3 pipeline, which carries Canadian crude across the forests and wetlands of northern Minnesota and into northern Wisconsin. They’ve sided with environmental and tribal groups that have been trying to stop the project for years, arguing that the oil should stay in the ground.

Other candidates — including home-state Sen. Amy Klobuchar and front-runner Joe Biden — have remained largely silent, mindful that such projects are viewed as job creators for some of the working-class voters they may need to win the state next year.

The fight illustrates a hard reality behind the Democratic candidates’ rhetoric on climate change. For months, Democrats vying for the White House have sounded strikingly progressive on the issue, endorsing ambitious targets for reducing carbon emissions and putting forward sweeping proposals for investing in the green jobs of the future. But the debate often glosses over the harder, more immediate choices between union jobs and phasing out fossil fuels. Those fights often divide Democrats and may create an opening for President Donald Trump.

Enbridge Energy’s Line 3 project has generated opposition on two main grounds: that the oil it would carry would aggravate climate change and that it would risk spills in pristine areas of the Mississippi River headwaters where Native Americans harvest wild rice. Enbridge says replacing the 1960s-era pipeline, which is increasingly prone to corrosion and cracking, will be safer for the environment while allowing it to restore the line’s original capacity and ensure reliable deliveries to refineries. Labor unions, once the bedrock of Democrats’ support in northern Minnesota, backed the plan on the promise it will create scores of new jobs.

Regulators in Canada, North Dakota and Wisconsin have given the necessary approvals, and some work on those segments already has been completed. In Minnesota, the Calgary, Alberta-based Enbridge is still waiting for permits while court challenges play out.

While it waits, the pipeline has become a political weapon. Democrats and Republicans in Minnesota are in a tug of war over working-class, rural voters needed to win statewide. Trump won enough of those voters to come within just 1.52 percentage points — fewer than 45,000 votes — of beating Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016. He has said repeatedly he intends to win Minnesota in 2020, something not done by a Republican since Richard Nixon in 1972.

While Trump hasn’t taken a specific stand on Line 3, he’s made it clear that he’s all for oil pipelines. Soon after taking office, he signed executive actions to advance the highly disputed Keystone XL and Dakota Access projects, vowing, “From now on we are going to start making pipelines in the United States.” He backed that up in April with more orders to assert presidential power over cross-border pipelines and to make it harder for states to block them over environmental concerns.

Some Democratic candidates have been eager to draw a contrast. Sanders, a Vermont senator, was the first to come out against Line 3. In January, he tweeted a video of himself listening to indigenous activists about the proposal and wrote: “The dangerous Line 3 pipeline in Minnesota would send a million barrels of tar sands oil — the dirtiest fossil fuel in the world — through the headwaters of the Mississippi River, tribal treaty lands and sacred wild rice beds. It must be stopped.”

Warren, a senator from Massachusetts, weighed in just ahead of a recent visit to Minnesota by tweeting: “The Line 3 pipeline would threaten Minnesota’s public waters, lands, and agricultural areas important to several Tribal Nations. I’m with @MN_350 and Minnesota organizers fighting to #StopLine3 and protect our environment.”

She was referring to MN350, a climate change group that’s part of the opposition. Its spokesman, Brent Benson, called on other candidates who’ve spoken out against climate change to oppose Line 3, too.

“It’s folly to be promoting fossil fuel infrastructure in the middle of a climate crisis,” Benson said. “Presidential candidates have an opportunity and a duty to point that out.”

Other Democrats have not taken clear positions on the project. The campaigns of Biden and South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg did not respond to repeated requests for comment. A spokesman for Sen. Kamala Harris of California didn’t address whether she has a position on Line 3, but pointed out that she opposed the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines.

Klobuchar has also avoided taking a position. She has said she wants to ensure a thorough environmental and scientific review to determine if the Line 3 project should move forward. Minnesota regulators signed off on the main environmental review last year, although an appeals court has ordered additional study on the potential impacts to the Lake Superior watershed. But she recently returned $5,600 in donations from an Enbridge project manager after a liberal watchdog group, the Public Accountability Initiative, revealed them.

In contrast to the divided Democrats, Minnesota Republicans have made it clear that they support Line 3, and that they see it as a winning strategy for 2020, coupled with other issues that split Democrats along ideological and geographic lines, such as copper-nickel mining in northeastern Minnesota.

Just before her visit to Minnesota, Warren also tweeted her opposition to a proposed Twin Metals mine near Ely. Like her position against Line 3, it drew an angry response from labor unions.

“Why would you want to be against something that will create so many jobs, and living (wage) jobs, within an area that desperately needs it?” Mike Syversrud, president of the Iron Range Building and Construction Trades Council, told the online news site MinnPost.

When Republican Jason Lewis launched his U.S. Senate campaign at the Minnesota State Fair, the former congressman said he would focus on greater Minnesota — the mostly rural part outside the Minneapolis-St. Paul area — to make up for Democratic strength in the cities. He highlighted the 8th Congressional District, which covers northeastern Minnesota and has swung from blue to red. Lewis said Trump’s campaign is “dead serious about Minnesota,” and that he expects it to follow the same strategy.

“Greater Minnesota is turning red, deep red. … I don’t know how a Democrat’s going to win the 8th District promising to give pink slips to every trade union member on the Iron Range, promising to stop Enbridge, to stop copper mining, to stop logging, to stop people from having jobs on the Iron Range,” Lewis said.

To view original article, visit:

THE RUSH LIMBAUGH SHOW: Jason Lewis discusses U.S. Senate campaign with Mark Steyn

THE RUSH LIMBAUGH SHOW: Jason Lewis discusses U.S. Senate campaign with Mark Steyn

Great discussion on the Rush Limbaugh Show with Mark Steyn yesterday about my campaign for U.S. Senate. We talked about how election 2020 is a watershed moment for Minnesota and for America. Do we embrace individual liberty, lower taxes, and good paying energy jobs for places like the Iron Range? Or do we succumb to the radical anti-Capitalist ideology being pushed by politicians like Ilhan Omar and Senator Tina Smith?

Posted by Jason Lewis on Thursday, August 29, 2019

Election 2020 is a watershed moment for Minnesota and for America. Do we embrace individual liberty, lower taxes, and good paying energy jobs for places like the Iron Range? Or do we succumb to the radical anti-Capitalist ideology being pushed by politicians like Ilhan Omar and Senator Tina Smith?

Full Link to Audio

FOX NEWS: Minnesotans want lower taxes, energy independence, education reform, and they want more mining and timber jobs.

FOX NEWS: Minnesotans want lower taxes, energy independence, education reform, and they want more mining and timber jobs.

Minnesotans want lower taxes, energy independence, education reform, and they want more mining and timber jobs. By working with President Trump and his administration, we can make all of this happen – and more. Get on board right now by going to

Posted by Jason Lewis on Tuesday, August 27, 2019

By working with President Trump and his administration, we can make all of this happen – and more.

STAR TRIBUNE: Jason Lewis to challenge Tina Smith for U.S. Senate seat

STAR TRIBUNE: Jason Lewis to challenge Tina Smith for U.S. Senate seat

Judy Keen

Former U.S. Rep. Jason Lewis, a Republican, announced at the Minnesota State Fair on Thursday that he will challenge Democratic U.S. Sen. Tina Smith in the 2020 election.

Former U.S. Rep. Jason Lewis embraced President Donald Trump’s policies as he announced plans to challenge Democratic Sen. Tina Smith in the 2020 election.

“Let the battle begin,” the Republican said at the GOP’s State Fair booth Thursday.

He called the Senate “the last firewall for freedom” in the face of liberals like U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., and the other three members of the progressive “Squad” of congressional Democrats.

Pressed by journalists about his support for Trump, Lewis suggested that Smith should be asked, “Here’s what the Squad said today. What do you think about that?”

Lewis said he won’t distance himself from Trump’s positions on the economy, immigrants and other issues. “I have a hard time disagreeing with much of it,” he said.

Some of the president’s political aides are advising Lewis’ campaign, and he said Trump plans to go “all in” on competing in Minnesota.

Smith has been “working hard for the people of Minnesota, taking on powerful special interests and working across the aisle to get things done,” said campaign manager Ryan Furlong. He said Smith has fought “to protect health coverage for people with pre-existing conditions, standing up to the big drug companies to lower prescription drug prices [and] making sure young people have the skills they need to fill high-demand jobs.”

DFL Party Chairman Ken Martin said in a statement that Lewis is Trump’s “hand-picked” candidate. “Minnesota voters will reject this failed attempt at a second act,” Martin said.

State Republican Party Chairwoman Jennifer Carnahan called Lewis “the best chance we’ve had in decades” to win statewide.

Lewis, 63, served one term in the U.S. House representing the Second District, which stretches southeast from St. Paul and includes much of suburban Dakota County.

Angie Craig beat him last November, 53% to 47%, after losing to him in 2016. Her victory was part of a national Democratic surge that returned the party to control of the U.S. House and was seen as a repudiation of Trump.

Trump narrowly carried the district in 2016. It’s the sort of “swing” area where the 2018 outcome was largely determined by suburban women and will be contested again in 2020. Lewis had considered another rematch with Craig.

Smith was appointed to the Senate in January 2018 to complete the term of Sen. Al Franken, who resigned amid allegations of sexual misconduct. She handily defeated state Sen. Karin Housley, R-St. Marys Point, in last November’s special election, collecting 53% of votes to Housley’s 42%. Smith also carried the Second District, 50% to 45%.

Housley announced last month that she wouldn’t challenge Smith again.

Emily Hartigan-Stein, a 25-year-old Marine veteran from Shoreview, came to hear Lewis outline his plans. “He’s honest. He’s just like Trump,” she said. “He doesn’t take any [nonsense].”

Stark contrast

Jeff Schuette, Second Congressional District GOP chairman, said Lewis should be able to capture votes in critical suburban areas, and his wide name recognition will be an advantage.

Smith “doesn’t have quite the incumbent armor,” said Schuette, 55, of Eagan.

A Smith-Lewis race would offer stark contrasts in political stances and views of the Trump presidency. According to vote tracking on the politics website FiveThirtyEight, during Lewis’ two-year term he voted with Trump 90% of the time; Smith’s current score is 24.5%.

The two candidates also have had disparate career paths. Before then-Gov. Mark Dayton sent Smith to Washington, she was his lieutenant governor and chief of staff. She also had been chief of staff to Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak.

Smith will speak at the fair’s 4-H beef championship show on Friday.

Lewis lost a run for Congress in 1990 in Colorado and became a radio show host and conservative author and commentator. His radio program, based mostly in Minnesota, was syndicated nationally, and he became a frequent guest host on Rush Limbaugh’s show — a gig he returned to after losing his re-election campaign.

He now contributes brief commentaries called “MN Moments” on Minneapolis-based KTLK-AM. On an episode posted Aug. 15, he referred to Smith as the state’s “accidental senator” and called her “arguably the most liberal [senator] in the country.”

Opinions offered by Lewis during his years on the air surfaced in his campaigns. In 2018, CNN unearthed audio of his multiple disparaging comments about women. A Lewis aide said that “it was his job to be provocative” on the radio.

During his 2018 run, Lewis often spoke about his votes for Republican tax cuts, efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act and changes to the juvenile justice system.

Lewis was born in Waterloo, Iowa, and has degrees from the University of Colorado, Denver, and the University of Northern Iowa.

To view original article, visit:

WCCO CBS MINNESOTA: Jason Lewis Will Run Against Sen. Tina Smith

WCCO CBS MINNESOTA: Jason Lewis Will Run Against Sen. Tina Smith

Esme Murphy

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Jason Lewis, who served as U.S. representative for Minnesota’s 2nd Congressional District for one term before being defeated by Rep. Angie Craig in 2018, has announced his intentions to run against Sen. Tina Smith.

He announced his campaign at the Minnesota State Fair Thursday morning, which was met with cheers at the Republican Party booth.

He is a strong supporter of President Donald Trump, and has strong name recognition from his years on Twin Cities radio as a conservative talk show host.

Tina Smith won a surprisingly easy win over Minnesota Sen. Karen Housley last November, winning by 11 percentage points. Smith won the seat vacated by Al Franken after he resigned following accusations of sexual harassment.

Lewis sought to link Smith to Rep. Ilhan Omar and the three other freshmen Democrats known as “The Squad.”

“I am here to tell you the state of Minnesota is not interested in following The Squad off the rails, they are interested in keeping prosperity going, keeping our Constitution intact and making certain all you have a future,” Lewis said.

Smith is not as progressive on many issues as Omar, but its clear that is what Lewis is going to be talking about during this campaign. And he made it very clear he is going to work very hard for a large turnout in Minnesota’s Iron Range, which in the last presidential election went for Trump.

Not surprisingly at the DFL booth, Lewis’s announcement was met with skepticism.

“When he was a congressman for our district, he was just Trump’s little lackey boy, and got voted out in this election, so I don’t know why he thinks he is going to win against a popular senator like Tina Smith,” Burnsville’s Zach Heinen said.

In 2016, he talked with Esme Murphy about having been labeled by some as a “mini Donald Trump,” saying that the Democratic strategy was to label every Republican candidate a Trump follower.

To view original article, visit: