Daily Digest: Friday roundup

Good morning, and happy Friday. What a week it’s been.

1. Wetterling document release highlights law enforcement split. Stearns Country Sheriff Don Gudmundson delivered a brutal assessment Thursday of the cascading errors and internal friction among law enforcement that let Jacob Wetterling’s killer stay free for decades even as the clues pointed overwhelmingly to Danny Heinrich. In sometimes heartbreaking detail, Gudmundson described multiple points early in the Wetterling investigation where it was clear Heinrich should have been the prime suspect, but that basic errors in policing allowed him to elude justice as key evidence and tips went unnoticed or unattended. At least one investigator from that time disputed Gudmundson’s characterization of a failed probe. Former Wetterling task force head and FBI agent Al Garber called the analysis unfair. “Don wasn’t there. He didn’t see the day-to-day operations,” Garber told reporters Thursday. “… He doesn’t know.” (MPR News)

2. Poll confirms Trump will be on voters minds in November. Donald Trump is not on the ballot this year, but seven in 10 Minnesotans said he will still be top of mind when they head to the voting booth in November. A survey of 800 likely voters in the MPR News/Star Tribune Minnesota Poll found 43 percent want their vote in the 2018 midterm election to change the direction that Trump is leading the nation, while 29 percent want their vote to support Trump. Twenty-seven percent said their vote in November doesn’t have much to do with Trump, while only 1 percent of respondents said they were not sure. A majority of younger, metro-area voters said they are motivated to vote against the direction of the president. Sixty-one percent of 18 to 34-year-olds said their vote this fall is to support a change of direction in the nation, as did 52 percent of people from Hennepin and Ramsey counties, the state’s two most populous counties. More women than men — 47 to 39 percent — want their vote to change the direction of the president. (MPR News)

3. Early voting starts today. Although Election Day is more than six weeks away, Minnesota voters can cast early ballots starting on Friday. Minnesotans will be able to vote in person at county election offices throughout the state or vote from home by mailing in “no-excuse absentee” ballots. Early voting will be open until Nov. 5, the day before Election Day. Secretary of State Steve Simon expects another large voter turnout this year, in part because early voting makes it easier to cast ballots. “More Minnesotans turned out to vote in this year’s primary election than any year since at least 1950,” Simon said in a statement. “People across the state are fired up to vote, and our 46-day early voting period, one of the longest in the nation, gives every Minnesotan ample opportunity to be a voter and help keep our state number one in the nation for voter participation.” (Pioneer Press)

4. Political handicappers give edge to Phillips over Paulsen.  Two major election forecasters said this week that it’s more likely than not that Republican U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen will be out of a job next January. The Cook Political Report and the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics are two of the most prominent outlets that assess the competitiveness of U.S. House, Senate, and governor’s races. To this point, they had rated the contest between Paulsen and Democratic challenger Dean Phillips as a “toss-up,” along with about two dozen other House races around the country. As of Thursday, each outlet had shifted the CD3 race into the “leans Democratic” column — putting Paulsen in a small group of the most vulnerable Republican incumbents up for re-election in a midterm cycle that is expected to be very favorable to Democrats. (MinnPost)

5. A deep dive on Russia’s efforts to influence the 2016 U.S. election. For many Americans, the Trump-Russia story as it has been voluminously reported over the past two years is a confusing tangle of unfamiliar names and cyberjargon, further obscured by the shout-fest of partisan politics. What Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel in charge of the investigation, may know or may yet discover is still uncertain. President Trump’s Twitter outbursts that it is all a “hoax” and a “witch hunt,” in the face of a mountain of evidence to the contrary, have taken a toll on public comprehension. But to travel back to 2016 and trace the major plotlines of the Russian attack is to underscore what we now know with certainty: The Russians carried out a landmark intervention that will be examined for decades to come. Acting on the personal animus of Vladimir Putin, public and private instruments of Russian power moved with daring and skill to harness the currents of American politics. Well-connected Russians worked aggressively to recruit or influence people inside the Trump campaign. (New York Times)

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