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Politics with Jennifer Brooks

It's Yovanovitch live this morning

By Stephen Montemayor

Good morning, and Happy Friday!

Happening this morning: ousted Ukrainian ambassador Marie Yovanovitch is the next to testify in this opening week of public House impeachment hearings. You can watch live here.

Heads up: New Des Moines Register/CNN/Mediacom Iowa Poll on the Democratic presidential field will be released at 7 p.m. Saturday. Also coming soon, from Patrick Condon: a fresh look at how Mayor Pete Buttigieg is booming in that state right now and is on the verge of breaking into the top tier of candidates there in a way Minnesota U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s campaign has longed to accomplish all year. In other Iowa news: Klobuchar, who famously hedged over the summer when asked her preference between Minnesota and Iowa’s state fairs, picks a side ahead of Saturday’s University of Minnesota vs. Iowa Hawkeyes football game (per Torey Van Oot). Klobuchar won’t be at the game, but her husband will be there and will be joined by Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz.

Today, the governor will be in Cloquet to tour Sappi North America’s paper mill before traveling to Duluth to deliver remarks at the Northeast MN Apprenticeship Summit.

Andy Mannix with an important contribution in the Columbia Journalism Review this week. You may recall how a video he recorded of protests outside Target Center during President Donald Trump’s Minneapolis rally became fodder for disinformation on social media. Conservative news sites, blogs and a former intelligence officer who is part of Trump’s 2020 campaign, shared screenshots purporting to show that U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar and political strategist Tim Mynett, alleged to have been dating Omar, outside. Seeing this, Mannix actually looked into whether the reports were true: Omar’s spokesman, Jeremy Slevin, also supplied photos of Omar in Morocco and a picture of her plane tickets, which showed an Oct. 11 return date – the day after Trump’s rally. An aide for U.S. Rep Karen Bass, who traveled with Omar, also confirmed the two were “on the other side of the planet the night of the rally.”

Mannix describes how his reporting only strengthened the resolve of some of Omar's biggest critics, including one who dredged up photos from Mannix's wedding and insulted his wife. People are still sharing the false claim about Omar's participation at the protests and Mannix could find no examples of social media accounts correcting their past posts about the video.

Running for public office invites public scrutiny and, with it, the possibility of vehement criticism. But legitimate criticism—the sort that keeps public officials accountable—should depend on truth, which journalists are obligated to defend and which, in the cases of Omar and Minneapolis’ Somali community, is too often absent. I know that viral hoaxes won’t go away until people stop sharing them and social-media platforms weed them out. The former may never happen; efforts at the latter are nascent. Journalists shouldn’t wait for either.

I’ll be reporting on disinformation in Minnesota throughout 2020. Tips? smontemayor@startribune.com. I’m also on Signal and Telegram: 1-612-760-8405.

Doug Wardlow, a Republican who unsuccessfully ran for Minnesota Attorney General last year, is out with a new fundraising email, asking supporters to chip in $50 to $1,500 on the inspiration of what he described as a “radical left-wing political agenda” afoot under Attorney General Keith Ellison. Wardlow cites a “special assistant attorney general” position, an environmental lawyer paid for by a nonprofit group backed by former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Doug Seaton, a local lawyer for conservative causes who is representing Energy Policy Advocates, which has ties to the fossil fuel industry, is suing Ellison’s office for more information on the position. Ellison has called the lawsuit “without merit” and said his office was “happy to accept the assistance of New York University Law School to help me advance the cause of environmental stewardship.”

A GOP source tells me there’s a “strong chance” that Wardlow will run again for the office. Wardlow polled ahead of Ellison at one point late in the 2018 race before losing, 49-45.

Ellison has meanwhile joined a lawsuit in Michigan seeking to shut down the Enbridge Line 5 pipeline, which starts in Superior, Wis., and runs underwater across the Straits of Mackinac that connects Lakes Michigan and Huron, reports Brooks Johnson out of our Duluth bureau.

On Thursday, China lifted its ban on imports of U.S. poultry that dated to 2015 when the Chinese banned the purchase of U.S. birds after an outbreak of the avian flu. The move restores a lucrative market for Minnesota’s turkey and chicken sectors that had generated $15 million to $16 million a year in the state, reports Jim Spencer in Washington.

Washington Post: Former Minnesota Gov. and ex-wrestler Jesse Ventura says he’s interested in the Green Party’s presidential nomination.

State Auditor Julie Blaha will formally request the first financial audit of her office in six years in a meeting with the Legislative Audit Commission later today. "As the Office of the State Auditor has had a change in leadership with my election and it has been six years since our last Internal Controls and Compliance Audit, it is an appropriate time to ask the OLA to audit the OSA," Blaha said in a statement. "As we noticed the lapse in time since we were audited by the OLA, we also noticed a hole opening up in the audit cycles of all Minnesota constitutional offices. When we see a trend like that, we urge people to stop and ask why.”

Today is the fourth anniversary of Jamar Clark’s death in Minneapolis, which sparked weeks of protests and an occupation outside the Fourth Precinct police station. Community activists plan to demonstrate in north Minneapolis, with calls for reopening an investigation into the two Minneapolis police officers involved in his shooting death. Both the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office and the DOJ declined to prosecute the case upon review in 2016.

Vox has a video report on copper mining near the Boundary Waters that has netted more than 800,000 views online so far. Watch here.

A favor to ask: If you haven’t already, please take a moment and complete this quick Morning Hot Dish reader survey.

That’s all for today. Drop me a line if you have any tips or feedback at smontemayor@startribune.com or on Twitter at @smontemayor.

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