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Minnesota congressmen criticized for taking Delta flight after flying with Trump

Minnesota GOP congressmen (clockwise, from left) Jim Hagedorn, Tom Emmer and Pete Stauber.
(Associated Press)

Three Minnesota congressmen are facing backlash over taking a commercial flight home from Washington, D.C., on Friday night just two days after they shared Air Force One with President Trump.

U.S. Reps. Pete Stauber, Tom Emmer and Jim Hagedorn all were on the same Delta Air Lines flight despite the airline’s restrictions on passengers recently exposed to COVID-19. Trump announced early Friday he had tested positive for the virus.

Delta’s policy says customers who know they were exposed to the virus in the last 14 days cannot travel on the company’s aircraft. The airline defines exposure as face-to-face contact with someone carrying the virus, or sustained contact for more than 15 minutes less than six feet apart.

Ken Martin, chairman of the state Democratic Party, said the three Republican congressmen put the health and safety of other passengers at serious risk.

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Hagedorn pushed back in a post on his campaign Facebook page Saturday morning, saying the three men had tested negative and had not been exposed to someone carrying the virus longer than 15 minutes and closer than six feet. He said the men also informed the airline and the flight’s captain of their situation, and the airline “made the decision to fly based upon the facts.”

A new timeline from President Trump’s doctors, if accurate, would mean Trump held events while knowing he was sick, potentially exposing supporters, employees and others. The White House quickly tried to walk back some of the comments.

Delta spokeswoman Gina Laughlin told the Minneapolis Star Tribune that the flight was less than 40% full and that no one left the plane before it took off to protest the men’s presence. Another Delta spokesman, Anthony Black, told the Associated Press on Saturday that he did not know what other passengers on the flight were told about the situation.

Black confirmed the airplane was held for about an hour until the airline’s operations center in Atlanta cleared it to fly. He said Delta was reviewing the matter to see whether proper procedures were followed.

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A top Minnesota Republican who greeted Trump at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport on Wednesday said he tested negative for the coronavirus. State House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt said in a statement that he got tested Friday morning and obtained the results Saturday afternoon.


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