Good morning and welcome to Monday. Time to catch up on the weekend’s political news.

1. Trump suggests Omar return to Somalia. President Trump on Sunday assailed a group of Democratic congresswomen of color as foreign-born troublemakers who should go back to the “broken and crime infested places from which they came,” ignoring the fact that the women are American citizens and all but one was born in the U.S. Trump’s tweets drew sharp rebukes from Democrats, who derided his remarks as racist. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the president wants to “make America white again.” And Republican Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan, a Trump critic who recently took steps to leave his party, called the remarks “racist and disgusting.” Trump was almost certainly referring to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and her allies in what’s become known as “the squad.” The others are Reps. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan. Only Omar is foreign-born. Omar responded on Twitter, posting that “as Members of Congress, the only country we swear an oath to is the United States. Which is why we are fighting to protect it from the worst, most corrupt and inept president we have ever seen.” (AP via MPR News)

2. Klobuchar pitches her electability. After walking nearly 3 miles in Saturday’s SummerFest parade in Ankeny, Iowa, Sen. Amy Klobuchar received a warm reception in steamy conditions under the town’s park pavilion. The Minnesota Democrat was one of several 2020 presidential candidates given a few minutes to address the local party faithful. And Klobuchar quickly got to the point. “I am someone that can win,” she told the crowd. “I have won every place, every race — every time I’ve won.” As she trails the leading 2020 candidates in the polls, Klobuchar is sharpening her message of electability. Speaking to Democrats in Ankeny, she underscored that in 2018, she won in Minnesota congressional districts President Trump easily carried just two years prior. (MPR News)

3. Minnesota farmers among top beneficiaries of trade war aid. The numbers are in: Minnesota farmers received $681 million from the government last year to help them weather the trade war with China. The money, promised by President Donald Trump after China slapped retaliatory tariffs on U.S. farm products in response to his restrictions on Chinese steel, was aimed mostly at soybean farmers.  Ten states, all in the Midwest, received three-quarters of the $8.6 billion payout in what was officially called the Market Facilitation Program. Minnesota farmers received the third-most aid, behind only those in Illinois and Iowa. The data show that big farms in Minnesota, many of them experienced in securing federal subsidies, were able to find legal ways around limits that capped payments to each farmer at $125,000. U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, a Republican in Iowa where farmers received nearly $1 billion in aid, blasted the program and the farmers who found loopholes in it. (Star Tribune)

4. Trump forces eye Minnesota for 2020 victory. Days after President Donald Trump officially announced his 2020 re-election bid, Minnesota Republican Party Chairwoman Jennifer Carnahan attended a picnic on the White House lawn. As they posed for a selfie, the state GOP leader thanked the president for making three visits to the state since taking office. “I told him, ‘We appreciate you coming and we hope to see you here at least as many times before the election next year,’ ” Carnahan said. The president’s response: “I will be there.” Minnesotans have picked the Democratic nominee for the White House in every election since 1972. Trump, who lost the state by just 1.5 percentage points in 2016, believes he can end that streak. With 15 months to go until the general election, the GOP is doubling down on efforts to turn Minnesota red, putting national campaign staff on the ground and hosting a series of training sessions to mobilize Republican voters. (Star Tribune)

5. As Trump draws attention to St. Louis Park pledge debate, local response is muted. President Trump on Thursday said St. Louis Park city leaders were acting with “stupidity” and “disloyalty” to the country by voting last month to stop saying the Pledge of Allegiance before City Council meetings. The president wrote on Twitter that “Patriots are now having to fight for the right to say the Pledge of Allegiance” in St. Louis Park. The president’s tweets and comments have spawned vitriol from conservatives across the country. People called St. Louis Park city offices in droves, sometimes verbally abusing and harassing the workers answering phones, said Jacque Smith, the city’s communications and marketing director. City Council members plan to gauge community members’ opinions this month before voting again on the matter, possibly later this month. Calls numbered in the hundreds last week, she said, but this week, “I really wouldn’t even venture a guess” as to how many. No credible threats to city staff had been reported. Yet for all the national clamoring around the city council’s decision to cut the pledge from its meetings, several St. Louis Park residents interviewed Friday weren’t aware the council made the change in the first place — let alone the media circus playing out online. (MPR News)

Good morning, and happy Friday. Here’s the Digest.

1. Lawmaker calls for changes to Snowbate program. State officials stressed Thursday they are moving to craft new rules for a film and television production incentive program, while a Republican lawmaker called for legislative scrutiny into a quarter-million-dollar rebate to the “Tonight Show” when it was in Minnesota for the Super Bowl. Rep. Nolan West, R-Blaine, said he was bothered to learn of the subsidy in a report from MPR News. The “Tonight Show” accessed incentives through the Minnesota Film and TV Board’s Snowbate program. While the NBC late-night show told the state it spent millions on the 2018 episode, it qualified for more than $266,000 award in return. State law prohibits rebates to talk shows, but the “Tonight Show” was ultimately deemed a variety show. West said the fact that some associated with the board were troubled by the arrangement means lawmakers should be, too. “We need to really nail down these guidelines so they can’t reclassify this show to get funding. That was ridiculous,” West said. “We need to know how much of this gamesmanship is going on.” Nolan is part of the GOP House minority, so he would have to convince Democratic committee leaders to convene a hearing. A spokesman for the House DFL caucus was looking into how his committee chairs would proceed in response to the request. (MPR News

2. Two top staffers leaving Human Services Department. Two top officials in the Minnesota Department of Human Services are leaving the agency. The departures of deputy commissioners Chuck Johnson and Claire Wilson were confirmed Thursday in an emailed statement from DHS Commissioner Tony Lourey. “I am grateful for the decades of service from Deputy Commissioners Chuck Johnson and Claire Wilson, and for their willingness to stay in their positions through the transition from the Dayton to Walz Administration,” said Lourey. “Their guidance, leadership and wisdom was invaluable during the legislative session. We are working to identify an interim deputy commissioner of policy and hope to announce that information in the coming days.” The department did not provide dates or any other information about why they are leaving. The departures are happening seven months into the administration of DFL Gov. Tim Walz, who appointed a slew of new commissioners and retained others to run two dozen state agencies as part of the transition from the previous administration. Sen. Jim Abeler, R-Anoka, said the departures seem “unplanned” and “hasty.” “I’m very concerned about this. It leaves a very big hole in the leadership of DHS,” said Abeler, who chairs the chamber’s Health and Human Services Policy Committee. (MPR News)

3. Fraud investigator still on leave. Minnesota’s top investigator of child care fraud has been paid about $42,000 since she was put on leave nearly four months ago. Inspector General Carolyn Ham was put on paid leave March 18 after an audit singled her out in detailing a rift within the ranks of those responsible for rooting out fraud. She makes $132,880 a year, according to the Department of Human Services. Ham had been put on leave while DHS officials investigated a complaint against her. The department said Wednesday that the investigation is still going, and refused to elaborate further. State laws require officials to acknowledge the existence of a complaint against a public employee, but the details of the complaint are not disclosed unless a worker is disciplined. A March report from the Office of the Legislative Auditor found “pervasive” fraud in a state-administered child care program. The audit painted a picture of a team of 14 fraud investigators who seemed on a different page than their boss, Ham, who oversees some 250 employees charged with oversight of human services programs. State Rep. Mary Franson, R-Alexandria, questioned the length of the investigation. She criticized DHS and the administration of Gov. Tim Walz for not firing Ham earlier. “I’m not exactly sure where this investigation is going,” Franson said. “The fact that she is sitting at home, doing nothing, getting paid for her incompetence, is only going to enrage taxpayers further.” Ham could not be reached for comment. (Pioneer Press)

4. How will we pay the growing cost of senior care? By 2030, 1 in 5 Minnesotans will be 65 years old or older. And those numbers alone will pressure on the state’s long-term care systems in ways never seen before. “[Even] if services weren’t getting more expensive, just the sheer number of people that will be accessing services increases the investment significantly,” said Rajean Moone, executive director of the Minnesota Leadership Council on Aging. “And many of these are entitlement programs, so the increase is not capped. If you qualify for Medical Assistance, you’ll get Medical Assistance and we’ll pay for the services that you need.” Medical Assistance — the state’s Medicaid program — pays for a lot of seniors’ long-term care services like nursing homes, assisted living or home care services, among other things. When someone paying for long term care has nearly exhausted their savings, they qualify for Medical Assistance, which then pays for the care. How Minnesota addresses those rising costs — either through increased funding or cost-cutting — while also funding other priorities like education and infrastructure, is far from settled. “We need to talk about it now because this is such a huge challenge,” said Sen. Kent Eken, DFL-Twin Valley. Eken has proposed a long-shot idea — a constitutional amendment that would dedicate funding to long-term care in the state. Eken’s goal is to ensure senior care doesn’t compete with general fund dollars from other priorities such as infrastructure or education. (MPR News)

5. New U of M president says she’s ready to get started. The new president of the University of Minnesota is ready to hit the ground running. Joan Gabel gave her first report as president to the university board of regents on Thursday. She told regents she is ready to take leaps where needed and incremental steps when necessary to advance the mission of the university. Gabel is 11 days into the job of president. She’s the first woman to hold the position at the University of Minnesota since it was founded in 1851. She called it a historic moment that she was honored and humbled to be a part of. “It’s very important that anyone, who might not see themselves reflected in the position or goal that they aspire to achieve, know that it’s possible for them,” Gabel said. “I hope that I’m showing that not only to women and girls on campus and in the community, but anyone who doesn’t see themselves reflected in what it is they hope to achieve.” When asked what she will focus on in her first months, Gabel talked about making effective use of the institution’s budget and investing in student well-being. (MPR News)

Two top officials in the Minnesota Department of Human Services are leaving the agency.

The departures of deputy commissioners Chuck Johnson and Claire Wilson were confirmed Thursday in an emailed statement from DHS Commissioner Tony Lourey.

“I am grateful for the decades of service from Deputy Commissioners Chuck Johnson and Claire Wilson, and for their willingness to stay in their positions through the transition from the Dayton to Walz Administration,” said Lourey. “Their guidance, leadership and wisdom was invaluable during the legislative session. We are working to identify an interim deputy commissioner of policy and hope to announce that information in the coming days.”

Wilson’s last day is Aug. 1 and Johnson will stay on for a month or two, according to the department. DHS did not say why the two deputy commissioners are leaving. The departures are happening seven months into the administration of DFL Gov. Tim Walz, who appointed a slew of new commissioners and retained others to run two dozen state agencies as part of the transition from the previous administration.

Johnson has worked for DHS in some capacity since 1989, working on early welfare reform efforts and eventually rose to deputy commissioner of operations, overseeing the agency’s budget development. DHS is the state’s largest agency and receives the second largest slice of the state budget. The department is in charge of overseeing a broad range of health care services, from welfare and economic assistance, to services for the elderly and people with disabilities.

Sen. Jim Abeler, R-Anoka, said the departures seem “unplanned” and “hasty.”

“I’m very concerned about this. It leaves a very big hole in the leadership of DHS,” said Abeler, who chairs the chamber’s Health and Human Services Policy Committee.  “He takes a lot of institutional knowledge with him. It’s a big agency with all kinds of tentacles. He knows all of the ins and outs.”

Wilson has been with the department since 2016 and was appointed deputy commissioner for policy by Lourey  this year. She oversees the department’s policy administration and equity work.

“She really has a lot of credentials in caring with people with disabilities and a lot of credibility with me,” Abeler said. “I don’t know how they replace that.”

Brian Bakst contributed to this report