Sam's Top 5 Things to Know for a Thursday

1. Comey sought more Russia probe resources before being fired

Associated Press: Three US officials said yesterday that in the days before his firing by President Donald Trump, FBI Director James Comey told U.S. lawmakers he had asked the Justice Department for more resources to pursue the bureau's investigation into Russia's interference in last year's presidential election.

The officials said Comey met last week with Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, to make the request. Comey then alerted lawmakers with ties to the concurrent congressional investigations into Russia's meddling. A Justice Department spokeswoman said it was false that Comey had asked Rosenstein for money for the Russia investigation.

The revelations raise new questions about what prompted Trump's decision to fire Comey. The White House has cited a memo from Rosenstein, in which he criticizes Comey's handling of last year's investigation into Democrat Hillary Clinton's email practices.

Rosenstein's memo makes no mention of the FBI's Russia investigation, which is probing both Russia's hacking of Democratic groups last year and whether Trump campaign associates had ties to Moscow's election interference.

Trump defended his decision yesterday, asserting in a flurry of tweets that both Democrats and Republicans "will be thanking me" for his action. He did not mention any effect the dismissal might have on the FBI and congressional investigations into contacts between his 2016 election campaign and Russia.

Trump told reporters, “He wasn't doing a good job. Very simply. He was not doing a good job.”


2. Republican Representative Erik Paulsen has joined the Democrats' call for independent Russia probe after the firing of former FBI Director James Comey.

MPR NEWS: Comey's office was investigating whether people in Trump's campaign had ties to Russian interference in the 2016 election. Since the FBI director's termination Tuesday, most of Minnesota's congressional delegation has called for an independent commission, special prosecutor, or both, to examine the matter.

"For 10 months, the FBI has been investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election," Paulsen said in a statement. "The extraordinary decision to fire Director Comey definitely raises questions which must be answered. I believe these circumstances call for an independent investigation that the American people can trust with confidence."

GOP U.S. Reps. Jason Lewis and Tom Emmer, as well as Democrat Collin Peterson, haven't made public statements on Comey's termination. Aside from Paulsen, the Minnesota members of Congress pushing for an additional Russia investigation are all Democrats.

3. Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson says he’s running for governor again

 MPR NEWS: Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson, the 2014 Republican nominee for governor, announced Wednesday he would try again to capture the state’s top political office next year.

Johnson is the seventh Republican, and 13th candidate overall, to enter an incumbent-free race that promises to be expensive and explosive. Outside groups have already signaled they’ll play big in Minnesota, one of the last places in the Midwest with a Democratic chief executive.

“I’m ready. I’m tested,” he says. “Join me in the fight to reclaim our state and the fight to return power, opportunity and freedom to you and every citizen of this great state of Minnesota.”

Johnson said he would cap property tax increases, loosen state mandates on schools and create an automatic refund trigger when the state has surpluses. He promises to take on a state government culture he argues is filled with cronyism and overbearing laws.

He’s banking on Republican delegates giving him a second shot. He won the party’s endorsement the last time and that held up in a four-way primary. But Johnson lost to DFL Gov. Mark Dayton by a 50-44 margin.

4. Tentative Agreement Reached to Save Forest Lake Police Department

A joint release from the city of Forest Lake, Law Enforcement Labor Services and the Washington County Sheriff's Office Wednesday night said a tentative agreement has been reached that would keep the city's police department intact. The agreement, which is subject to approval of union membership, is with both the city's patrol officers and sergeants. The unions are scheduled to vote on the agreement on May 11. It will be presented to the council on May 15.

5. St. Olaf President Says Racist Note Was 'Fabricated'

KSTP: The President at St. Olaf College has informed members of the campus community that a racist note an African-American woman found on her car April 29 was fabricated.

President David R. Anderson wrote in an an email that the note was "apparently a strategy to draw attention to concerns about the campus climate."

Students said the woman discovered a typed note that read, in part, "I am so glad that you are leaving soon. One less (expletive) that this school has to deal with. You have spoken up too much. You will change nothing. Shut up or I will shut you up.'

The note spawned a sit-in that continued through the weekend. The college canceled class that Sunday night in anticipation of that Monday's planned demonstrations.

The following morning, hundreds of students filled Tomson Hall for a sit-in organized by "St. Olaf Students of Color, Marginalized Groups on Campus and International Students." Before sharing instances of racism on campus, the members laid out a list of demands for the administration.

In his second email Wednesday, Anderson said that concerns expressed by students were real and need to be addressed. He wrote, "despite this fact, those concerns are real and, as I said earlier, we are committed to the process we have begun to address them. We also continue earnestly to investigate all of the other racist and hateful messages that have been reported."


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