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Editorial Roundup: Excerpts from recent Minnesota editorials

December 23, 2019 GMT

St. Cloud Times, Dec. 20

Tolerance around the Christmas tree: Washington will wait

’s been an historic week: President Donald Trump became the third president in American history to be impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives.

The lower house of Congress voted to forward a case against the president to the Senate, contending the president abused the power of his office by pressuring a foreign power to assist him in his re-election campaign, and obstruction of Congress for barring testimony of subpoenaed witnesses in the investigation of the Ukraine affair.

As expected, Democratic Reps. Betty McCollum, Ilhan Omar, Angie Craig and Dean Phillips voted to impeach. Reps. Tom Emmer, Pete Stauber and Jim Hagedorn, all Republicans, voted against it.

A leading Minnesota Democrat, the 7th District’s Rep. Collin Peterson, split from the party and voted against the articles of impeachment, one of only three Democrats to do so. Plenty of people are mad about that, calling for his ouster as a DINO, “Democrat in name only.” On the other side, plenty of people think he finally came over to the right side.

It’s a microcosm of the reactions nationwide to this most severe of sanctions for our nation’s leader. It’s a situation impossible to create anything except deeper divides.

And so the battle lines were dra... No, they weren’t. The battle lines have been clear for months. Better to say “then the rhetorical offensives began.” The melee of words and memes was launched.

This coming week, many Central Minnesota families will come together to celebrate Christmas, among the holiest of Christian holidays. The season’s traditions burgeon with messages of brotherhood and good will.

The practical execution of family holiday ritual mean gatherings of people united by blood, but maybe not outlook. Always have. Navigating those differences is good practice for what’s to come.

While the impeachment of a president is the most serious business of a nation, there will be time to fight those battles later.

This week is our chance to reset for the hard work ahead in navigating the almost-unprecedented divide in our nation.

This week is a better time to focus on the things that unite the Gen Z climate-activist cousin and the uncle who supports this president: shared love of family, or even just egg nog and a hotly contested cribbage game.

It’s a time to bask in the joy of toddlers underfoot and old, old ornaments on the Christmas tree.

It’s a time to set the worries of Washington aside — for now — and try to find that place where Americans are united in their love of one another, tolerance of one another’s foibles and are committed to each other’s well-being, come hell or high water. Like family. Like crazy-making, infuriating, loyal family.

Merry Christmas from the Times, or if Christmas is not part of your faith, we wish you a restorative week.

Washington will wait.

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The Free Press of Mankato, Dec. 23

Counties correctly welcome refugees

Hiding behind the veil of claiming to give local leaders more control, President Trump’s executive order requiring all U.S. counties to vote on whether to allow refugee resettlement is a transparent attempt to stir up anti-refugee sentiment.

We already know of his opposition to allowing people into this country for whatever reason and now he’s made up requirements to support his stance.

In Blue Earth and Nicollet counties, that plan backfired. Both County Boards last week voted to accept refugees, and rightly so.

The vote, in reality, is largely a symbolic gesture because not many refugees are flowing into the region these days. The order also applies only to the county of origin that refugees enter, and southern Minnesota is not usually the first location refugees come to.

Even so, it’s encouraging to see local county commissioners not only vote to welcome refugees but to speak up against not doing so. Calling refugees “new Americans,” Nicollet County Commissioner Jack Kolars said they follow in the footsteps of past groups of refugees and immigrants who often faced discrimination and persecution when they arrived and went on to be productive citizens.

Of the two local boards, only one commissioner voted against the resolution, Nicollet County Commissioner John Luepke. Representing a chiefly rural area, he said his constituents wanted him to vote against refugee settlement and said he believed the public cost of assisting refugees as well as other immigrants is too high.

Perhaps Luepke and those constituents are unaware that a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 2017 draft report determined refugee-owned businesses generated $4.6 billion and refugees contributed $63 billion more in tax revenue than they received in public benefits in the preceding decade. And perhaps Luepke is unaware that Nicollet County had just two refugees arrive in the past two years, according to the Minnesota Council of Churches Refugee Services.

Minnesota state demographer Susan Brower has said that the future of the state’s growth heavily relies on immigration because we will need that population for long-term economic viability. Nearly 60 percent of new Minnesotans in 2018, or 10,718 people, were immigrants, according to census numbers.

South-central Minnesota already is experiencing a worker shortage, so recognizing that refugees and immigrants contribute financially is a factor that communities must take into account right now as well as farther down the road.

County boards that support refugees are not only taking the moral high ground of offering safe harbor to people from often war-torn countries, they are helping Minnesota be a more diverse, financially stable place to live for all its residents.

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Minneapolis Star Tribune, Dec. 20

Senate must do its duty, in fair trial

For only the third time in this country’s history, a president has been impeached. It now will be up to the U.S. Senate to determine whether President Donald Trump becomes the first one to be convicted by trial in the Senate and removed from office.

The Senate impeachment trial was designed by the founders to be a serious, deliberative proceeding. For that reason, senators acting as jurors take an oath to do “impartial justice.” In deciding the case before them, they are free to question witnesses. A conviction must be delivered by a supermajority, to foster consensus. In another move intended to convey impartiality, the chief justice of Supreme Court presides.

At least that’s how it’s supposed to work. But what is left of all those high-minded intentions when two key figures, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, have already declared their full cooperation with the defendant?

It is unsettling that McConnell and company are so emboldened that they don’t even feel the need to go through the motions of a fair trial. This is where, at least in theory, the president should be able to make his strongest defense against the charges made by the House. To call the witnesses that would clear his name and attest that the actions he took were not for his personal gain. But now, after months of bitter complaints that Trump had no chance to defend himself, after absurd, over-the-top outrage that he has been treated worse than a witch at the Salem trials, worse than Jesus Christ at the hands of Pontius Pilate, the defense apparently intends to produce … nothing.

And really, there is no need when the fix is in. In a recent interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity, McConnell said there was “ zero chance ” the president would be removed from office, and vowed “total coordination” with the White House and the Trump defense team.

Impeachment and potential removal of a president is a rare and grave matter and deserves to be treated as such, not dismissed as simply another partisan maneuver. Whether McConnell acknowledges it or not, the House did its due diligence, with hearings in which witnesses corroborated one another on information that led to the charges. Trump blocked some of the most important witnesses and attempted to intimidate those who did testify — itself an obstruction of a legal and valid investigation.

The founders intended impeachment as a necessary curb on a rogue leader, because even more important than the presidency are the carefully constructed checks and balances that undergird our government. They hardly could have imagined a circumstance in which senators would yield that power in favor of protecting the very leader they are duty-bound to hold to account.

If the Senate acquits Trump, so be it. No president has ever been convicted. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is withholding the articles of impeachment until the Senate shows it will conduct a fair trial, with documents and witnesses. Only then, she said, will the House appoint managers who would handle the prosecution. McConnell’s discomfort is understandable. But lasting damage will be done if the Senate conducts only a show trial with a predetermined outcome that would be an acquittal in name only.