Good morning, and happy Tuesday. Here’s the Digest.
1. Lawmakers rip Trump over remarks with Putin. Key members of Congress, including some Republicans, are criticizing President Donald Trump’s performance at a press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin as “bizarre,” “shameful” and a “missed opportunity” to stand up to Russia. House Speaker Paul Ryan delivered a strongly worded statement, saying there’s “no question” that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election, and noting that U.S. intelligence agencies and a House panel agreed. Other high-profile Republicans also expressed dismay. “I never thought I would see the day when our American President would stand on the stage with the Russian President and place blame on the United States for Russian aggression,” tweeted Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz. “This is shameful.” Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., called it “bizarre” and “flat-out wrong” for Trump to suggest that both the U.S. and Russia are to blame for the deteriorated state of the two countries’ relationship. Democrats piled on with Tina Smith of Minnesota calling it “nothing short of disgraceful,” adding, “This is a shocking development when I thought I couldn’t be shocked any more.” (AP)
2. Swanson backs gun control measures. In the midst of a heated DFL primary for governor, candidate and Attorney General Lori Swanson came out Monday in support of several gun control measures, including “enhanced” background checks, banning the devices known as bump stocks and “red flag” laws, which allow police to petition a judge to take weapons from people who are dangerous to themselves or others. Swanson’s campaign issued a press release stating her position on several proposals after receiving pressure from a group supporting tougher gun laws to sign a campaign pledge. In the release, Swanson didn’t specify what types of enhancements she would support regarding background checks for purchasing a firearm. Gun control has been at the forefront of the political debate in national and state politics this year after the February shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida. Swanson is competing in an August 14 primary against U.S. Rep. Tim Walz and state Rep. Erin Murphy. “No child should be afraid to go to school, and no parent should be afraid to put their child on the morning bus, because of violence. We secure our courthouses and airports. We should make our schools safe too,” Swanson said. (MPR News)
3. Appeals court clears release of sex offender. Thomas R. Duvall, one of the most violent sex offenders in state history, is one step closer to being released after spending more than 30 years locked up for a series of brutal rapes of teenage girls. In a ruling issued Monday, a three-judge panel of the Minnesota Court of Appeals upheld a lower-court ruling in favor of Duvall’s petition for conditional discharge from the Minnesota Sex Offender Program (MSOP). The judges determined that the state failed to prove “by clear and convincing evidence” that Duvall did not meet the standards for provisional discharge into the community. Human Services Commissioner Emily Piper, whose agency oversees the sex offender program, has already vowed to appeal the ruling to the Minnesota Supreme Court, setting the stage for another round of legal arguments over Duvall’s future. “I have grave concerns about this decision,” Piper said in a written statement. “Three experts have previously testified that Thomas Duvall is not ready for life in the community and that he presents far too great a risk to public safety. I share that view and will exhaust every possible avenue of appeal.” (Star Tribune)
4. Drivers’ licenses get an update. Minnesota drivers’ licenses are getting a major makeover this summer, months before the state begins issuing the Real ID-compliant cards. And for the first time, people under 21 will get their licenses and state IDs in a vertical format. State officials unveiled the new designs Monday. The background snowflakes and state seal are gone. The new graphics include pine trees, a lake and canoeist. The individual license number will once again be broken up by hyphens and anti-forgery features, including laser engravings, have been added. An image of a walleye will appear when the card is held up to a light. Dawn Olson, director of driver and vehicle services at the Minnesota Department of Public Safety said they will begin issuing the newly-designed licenses and identification cards on August 6. Olson said it will take four years to replace all the current licenses. (MPR News)
5. Council candidate arrested, loses job. St. Paul police arrested city council candidate David Martinez on Monday morning on suspicion of violating the state’s revenge porn law. On Saturday, a blog post appeared on Martinez’s campaign website and included a photo of a woman whose breasts were exposed. The post said Martinez’s estranged wife had obtained a restraining order against him. On Monday, at about 7:30 a.m., police arrested Martinez, 38, on suspicion of nonconsensual dissemination of private sexual images, which is a felony. The case was presented to the Ramsey County attorney’s office for charging consideration and they have requested further investigation, according to an office spokeswoman. Martinez had been a Department of Commerce project consultant since December, but was no longer employed as of Monday morning, according to Ross Corson, a department spokesman. Corson said he could not discuss the circumstances because it’s a personnel matter. (Pioneer Press)