Sen. Tina Smith sides with House Dems in impeachment inquiry

Minnesota DFL convention
Sen. Tina Smith accepts the DFL nomination at the state convention in June 2018 in Rochester, Minn. DFL Sen. Tina Smith said on Friday that Republicans in Washington are wrong to minimize the impeachment investigation into President Trump.
Jerry Olson for MPR News 2018

DFL Sen. Tina Smith condemned Republicans in Washington on Friday, saying they are wrong to minimize the impeachment investigation into President Trump.

She said U.S. Envoy Bill Taylor’s allegations this week that military aid for Ukraine was used as a political bargaining affirms the need to keep the probe going.

“Based on what we’ve heard from Mr. Taylor and what the president himself has said we have grave concerns, I have grave concerns about national security and abuse of power,” Smith said during a community hearing in Oakdale. “It’s important we do this impeachment proceeding.”

Republicans are demanding more transparency in the investigation, and a GOP Senate resolution denouncing the House Democratic-led inquiry was introduced this week.

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Smith said the House proceedings are akin to a grand jury gathering facts and deciding whether to lodge charges. If it comes to a House vote and Senate trial, she said, there will be ample room for public deliberation.

At the hearing at Tartan High School Friday morning, the senator also discussed her proposal to help schools upgrade their cafeterias.

She is cosponsoring a plan with Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins that would financially assist school districts with lunchroom improvements.

Smith toured the suburban high school, which is short of space for fresh food. Tartan High School also uses disposable trays because it lacks equipment to clean reusable ones. Smith said the federal government should help.

“Make grants and loans available to school districts who want to improve their kitchen equipment,” she said. “So, a district like this, if they had dishwashers, they wouldn’t have to waste money and do environmental damage by using Styrofoam trays over and over again every day.”

Smith is also cosponsoring a bill that would make it easier to get food from farms to schools. And she’s the author of legislation that would bar school leaders from denying service or reducing meal eligibility to students in a way that could result in public shame.