Government

Amy Klobuchar: Newly released email 'smoking gun' in Trump impeachment

Minnesota senator says president's trial in Senate will limit time campaigning

Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, a Democratic presidential hopeful, greets audience members Friday before speaking at the V
Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, a Democratic presidential hopeful, greets audience members Friday before speaking at the Veterans Memorial Building in Cedar Rapids. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
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CEDAR RAPIDS — An email from a Trump administration official tying the withholding of Ukraine aid directly to President Donald Trump is a “smoking gun,” Democratic presidential hopeful and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar said at a rally in Cedar Rapids on Friday.

Michael Duffey, a top Office of Management and Budget official, wrote in an email released under a Freedom of Information request, “Clear direction from POTUS to continue to hold.” POTUS stands for President of the United States.

“The President of the United States has said to hold this aid, under his orders — smoking gun, but we have not been able to question that witness,” Klobuchar said, suggesting four key potential witnesses have been blocked from testifying.

Klobuchar said serving as a juror in the impeachment trial of Trump in the Senate could limit her time in Iowa in the final weeks before the Feb. 3 Iowa caucuses.

“I may not be able to be here every day,” Klobuchar said. “That’s one of the reasons I’m here right now. That’s the reason I did 27 counties in 10 days.”

Klobuchar spoke for about an hour in what was billed as a town hall. She took two audience questions and did not hold a media availability.

She called for a “values check,” a “decency check,” a “patriotism check” and an “economic check” on Trump, whose policies she said have left “our farmers and our workers behind.”

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She pitched herself as a “big tent” Democrat, who wants to win over moderate Republicans and independents, and touted her success winning red counties in Minnesota.

Klobuchar called attention to her campaign’s recent surge, which some have linked to a strong Democratic debate performance. She said she’s doubled her field offices in Iowa and staff in New Hampshire, and she noted strides in fundraising.

While still polling in the single digits behind the top tier of candidates, her numbers are climbing and on Friday she released her best quarterly fundraising numbers yet — $11.4 million in the past three months.

Gary Ficken, 58, of Cedar Rapids, signed a form to caucus for Klobuchar at the rally after voting for Trump in 2016, saying he valued her “Midwest roots” and bipartisan success in getting legislation passed.

Ficken said he soured on Trump because, for Trump, “everything is everyone else’s fault” and he “degrades people.”

A number of others in the crowd of about 120 said they remain undecided, but Klobuchar is on their short list.

Lisa Oberreuter, 70, of Cedar Rapids, said she is down to Klobuchar and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who are appealing because they are young and moderate. She wanted to see how Klobuchar interacts with people in person.

“I’m the age of the other candidates, and I want to be able to vote for someone who I can vote for again in four years,” Oberreuter said. “I want a Democrat in the White House for eight years because it is going to take that long to clean up (from Trump).”

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She said she likes Klobuchar’s intellect, down-to-earth-style and that she is “not noisy.” She also likes Klobuchar, an attorney, because of her grasp of the law.

Stephen Nilsen and his fiancee, Leah Holloway, of Dubuque, said they also are between Klobuchar and Buttigieg. Holloway appreciates Klobuchar’s recognition of issues facing farmers, and Nilsen wanted to hear “middle-step solutions” short of Medicare for All plans pitched by other candidates.

“I am looking to make sure my candidate can appeal to a broad base and has a nice progressive platform,” said Nilsen, 32.

Comments: (319) 398-8310; brian.morelli@thegazette.com

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