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Friday, April 19, 2019
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President Trump at the White House on Thursday just after the Mueller report became public.
President Trump at the White House on Thursday just after the Mueller report became public.
Friday, April 19, 2019 8:22 AM

INDIANAPOLIS – The American people now have access to most of the Russia collusion investigation of Special Counsel Robert Mueller. As I write this, I wade through 440  “lightly redacted” pages. The good news for all Americans is that the actions of President Trump and his 2016 presidential campaign did not rise, in the eyes of the special counsel, to the proverbial “high crimes and misdemeanors.” But the reasoning there is a Department of Justice ruling that a sitting president cannot be indicted. This was hardly an “exoneration” described by Trump and many in the GOP. It offers a narrative of a dysfunctional and chaotic White House.

President Trump was quick to declare a victory -– and this would be strictly in a legal sense – following Attorney General William Barr’s memo last March. On Thursday, Trump said, “I’m having a good day, too. It was called no collusion. No obstruction. This hoax, it should never happen again.” Trump reelection campaign manager Brad Parscale added, “President Trump has been fully and completely exonerated yet again. Now the tables have turned, and it’s time to investigate the liars who instigated this sham investigation into President Trump, motivated by political retribution and based on no evidence whatsoever.”

But this report is troubling in many ways for the conduct of Trump and his campaign. Why? In the executive summary, Mueller writes, “First, the Office determined that Russia’s two principle interference operations in the 2016 presidential election – the social media campaign and the hacking-and-dumping operations – violated U.S. criminal law.”  The problem here is that the Trump administration has not taken the necessary steps to prevent similar assaults from occurring again. The Department of Homeland Security is essentially leaderless.

“Second,” Mueller continued, “while the investigation identified numerous links between individuals with ties to the Russian government and individuals associated with the Trump campaign, the evidence was not sufficient to support criminal charges. Among other things, the evidence was not sufficient to charge any campaign officials as an unregistered agent of the Russian government or other Russian principal.”
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    SOUTH BEND – Cold and pouring rain usually is viewed as nothing positive, even as a disaster, for planners of an outside event. But those conditions were a factor in the positive national news coverage of the announcement of presidential candidacy by South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg. The announcement was planned for Sunday at a major downtown intersection, with nearby streets blocked off, providing space for a crowd of up to 10,000. It seemed likely that the crowd would be the largest in 51 years for a political rally in downtown South Bend. Maybe it would even top the crowd of an estimated 6,000 at the legendary 1968 Dyngus Day rally as Bobby Kennedy spoke on the steps of the courthouse. That has been regarded as the largest gathering ever for a downtown political speech. Then came the forecast for terrible weather. The forecast proved accurate. So, the decision was made to move the event inside, but not to some auditorium. The announcement was switched to an inside site that hardly seemed inside at all. No heat. Leaks in the roof getting many members of the audience wet as the rain continued.
    MARTINSVILLE — As the Indiana General Assembly begins to put a wrap on the 2019 session and prepare to leave Indianapolis, I am somewhat sorry to see them leave town. I fell in love with the Indiana General Assembly in the fourth grade when I paged for Rep. John Thomas of Brazil. Rep. Thomas is my model of what a legislator should be. He was thoughtful, a smart lawyer, and a great example for the next generation. If my path had included legislative service, l would have tried to be a conscientious legislator like he was. Legislative watching is a bit of a passion for me, the same as bird-watching or rock-collecting is for normal people. Spending free time watching the committee work via webcast and, of course, the full chamber sessions for both the House of Representatives and the Senate is better than watching the news on television.  
    BLOOMINGTON – I became active in politics in the late 1950s, got elected to Congress in 1964, and have remained engaged in one way or another every year since then. I’ve had a ringside seat for a long time. So I suppose I should not be surprised that I get asked a lot these days how American politics have changed over the last six decades. A few things stand out. When I first arrived in Congress, Americans had faith in the institutions of government. President Lyndon Johnson had actually run on a platform that we could successfully wage a war on poverty — and been elected. It seems inconceivable today that a politician of prominence would be so bold and so naïve as to propose such a thing, let alone believe that we could do it. Today, Americans have little confidence in government’s ability to deliver. And with reason; Congress can’t even pass a budget on time, and even the most routine matters get bottled up. A war successfully waged on anything domestic seems beyond its grasp.
    INDIANAPOLIS – Helping our communities grow is one objective of governors, mayors and their economic co-conspirators. We might thrive better if they focused on helping our communities develop. Development, as one of my co-conspirators reminds me, is a precursor, a foundation for growth. If diversity of ownership is considered development, then foreign direct investment (FDI) has many virtues. When a foreign-owned company invests in a local city or town, it does more than build or repurpose an existing structure. It hires local labor to do that work and may exhibit different expectations about construction methods and timing. This can be an improvement or a degrading, but it is a difference.
    INDIANAPOLIS – One way to know you’re picking up political traction is when opposing partisans begin to take notice; when you are no longer ignored. That is the prelude to 2 p.m. Palm Sunday when one of the most unlikely presidential campaigns kicks off in South Bend. That’s when Mayor Pete Buttigieg officially joins some 20 Democrats seeking to take on President Trump and Vice President Pence. Buttigieg is now showing up, sometimes in double digits, in state and national polls. In several surveys he trails only septuagenarian front runners Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders. He’s been a piping hot commodity on the cable and network talking head circuit. Last Sunday on NBC's Meet The Press and at the LGBT Victory Fund brunch less than an hour later, Buttigieg got the attention of Republicans. In discussing his sexuality, Buttigieg told the Victory Fund, “It’s hard to face the truth that there were times in my life when, if you had shown me exactly what it was inside me that made me gay, I would have cut it out with a knife. If you had offered me a pill to make me straight, I would’ve swallowed it before you had time to give me a sip of water."  In retrospect, he said, his marriage to his husband Chasten has moved him closer to God. And it brought him in proximity the political battle lines involving Vice President Mike Pence, a longtime foe of same sex marriage. “That’s the thing that I wish the Mike Pences of the world would understand,” Buttigieg said. “That if you have a problem with who I am, your problem is not with me. Your quarrel, sir, is with my creator.” That has now fully placed "Mayor Pete" on the Republican radar.
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  • Horse Race: Buttigieg, Sanders bring their battle to Indiana

    SOUTH BEND – The fight for the Democratic presidential nomination played out across northern Indiana last weekend. There was socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders defending his millionaire status in, of all places, poverty-stricken Gary on Saturday. The next day about 100 miles east, Mayor Pete Buttigieg kicked off his improbable campaign framed in the hulking, leaking Studebaker Building 84 just south of downtown South Bend, declaring that the party doesn’t need to just win an election, “It needs to win an era.” Instead of launching in his revamping downtown or on the stunningly beautiful Notre Dame campus, he ended up in a vestige of the past. Studebaker’s abrupt collapse in 1963 sent the city on a half-century decline, with the 29-year-old Buttigieg returning to pick up the mantle eight years ago, changing, as he put it, South Bend’s trajectory.
  • Horse Race: Mueller plays up Buttigieg ties in South Bend mayoral race

    SOUTH BEND — The Democratic primary mayoral race here now appears to be a two-way showdown between James Mueller and Jason Critchlow. Mueller began his TV ad campaign this past week and, as with his website, it features images and B-roll of the candidate with South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who endorsed him last winter. “Serving my hometown with Mayor Pete has been a great honor, and I’m running for mayor because we have much more work to do,” Mueller says. Mueller’s campaign initiatives include “ensuring universal access to pre-K by 2025; rebuilding, repairing, and reimagining our neighborhoods with public spaces, retail stores, walkable and bikable streets, parks and green spaces, and strong communities; lowering barriers to opportunity so that more of our city can share in our growth.” Local sources tell HPI that while Buttigieg is not expected to actively campaign for Mueller due to his national presidential campaign schedule, the two will almost certainly appear together at Dyngus Day celebrations at the West Side Democratic Club on Monday. Mueller and Critchlow both attended Buttigieg’s campaign kickoff last Sunday. 
  • Money matters in final days of General Assembly

    INDIANAPOLIS – Legislators at the Statehouse have a budget and two major bills on their plate as they head into what could be their last week of work for this session. The budget discussions in particular have gained complexity thanks to the State Budget Agency’s latest revenue forecast. That forecast, looking at the 2019-2021 fiscal biennium, shows figures falling short of previous predictions made in December, showing a net loss around $33 million. While the state’s revenues are expected to make gains from miscellaneous taxes on certain businesses like alcohol sales, cigarette sales, and insurance, changes in other sales taxes and individual income tax calculations brought on the biggest losses. Presenters from the SBA pointed out that a downturn of state revenue from South Bend’s Tribal Casino lowered the forecast as well.
  • Hoosier reaction to the Muller report
    Howey Politics Indiana

    INDIANAPOLIS - Indiana political figures react to the report of Special Counsel Robert Mueller: Vice President Mike Pence: “Today’s release of the Special Counsel’s report confirms what the President and I have said since day one: There was no collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia and there was no obstruction of justice. After two years of investigation, conducted with the full cooperation of this Administration, that involved hundreds of witness interviews and millions of pages of documents, the American people can see for themselves: No collusion, no obstruction. Now that the Special Counsel investigation is completed, the American people have a right to know whether the initial investigation was in keeping with long-standing Justice Department standards — or even lawful at all. We must never allow our justice system to be exploited in pursuit of a political agenda.”
  • Atomic! Notre Dame & St. Mary's; Mueller report coming; Bucshon's future

    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Bloomington

    1. When steeples and spires collapse: Here are your Tuesday power lunch talking points: I had the privilege of addressing Paul Helmke's Civic Leaders class at IU Monday evening. The prelude to this was a shared grim experience stoked by the blaze consuming the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. On Sept. 2, 1993 when Helmke was mayor of Fort Wayne, lightning struck St. Mary's Catholic Catholic Church downtown. I was assignment editor at WKJG-TV and had covered the Helmke administration for the Journal Gazette. We watched the fire from our video crew on the ground as weatherman Greg Shoup monitored the severe storm cell passed through. As flames began climbing the 237-foot steeple, Shoup declared the all clear, we ordered the live truck mast up and cut into regular programming. This would become a shared, riveting, tragic moment for the City of Churches and Northeast Indiana.

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  • Pistole says DOJ policy saved Trump from indictment
    “There’s a lot of detail in there. It begs the question about if he wasn’t president, would he be indicted? That was much more powerful, and that’s why we saw some comments from the president’s team that did not accurately capture (Mueller’s) team’s findings.” - Anderson University President John S. Pistole, who served as deputy director of the FBI from October 2004 to May 2010, reacting to the Mueller report to the Anderson Herald-Bulletin. He was commenting on Department of Justice policy that a sitting president cannot be indicted, which was the rationale Special Counsel Robert Mueller used in not indicting President Trump on obstruction of justice charges. Pistole said the DOJ is not required to hold to its policy. “Again a policy is not a law. It’s not a statute. Policies are overruled,” he said.
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  • Sen. Birch Bayh memorial service set for May 1 at Statehouse
    A memorial service honoring the career of Indiana’s former United States Senator and House Speaker Birch Bayh (1928-2019) will be held Wednesday, May 1, 2019, at noon EDT in the south atrium of the Indiana Statehouse.  Among those remembering Sen. Bayh’s accomplishments will be Gov. Eric Holcomb, House Speaker Brian Bosma, Purdue President Mitch Daniels, former Congressmen Lee Hamilton and Baron Hill, and Federal District Court Chief Judge Jane E. Magnus-Stinson.

    Indiana’s former Secretary of State, Governor and United States Senator Evan Bayh and Indianapolis attorney Christopher Bayh will eulogize their father.  Former First Lady Susan Bayh will attend, as will their sons Beau (2LT, USMC) and Nick (2LT, USA).  Sen. Bayh’s widow, Katherine “Kitty” Bayh (née Halpin), will read a poem written by the Senator.

    The event is open to the public and no RSVPs are necessary.  Attendees should enter the Statehouse from either the upper east (Capitol Street) or lower west (Senate Avenue) entrances.  While the Indiana General Assembly is not scheduled to be in session, attendees should adjust for parking challenges in the vicinity of the Statehouse. 
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