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Wednesday, November 25, 2020
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Tuesday, November 24, 2020 11:36 AM
By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

1. Trump/Biden transition

Here are your Tuesday power lunch talking points: When General Services Administration chief Emily Murphy announced Monday she has "ascertained" that Joe Biden won the presidential election, in tandem with the Michigan Board of Canvassers signing off on Biden's win there, it basically clears the way for that peaceful transfer of power. 

President Trump: “I believe we will prevail! Nevertheless, in the best interest of our Country, I am recommending that Emily and her team do what needs to be done with regard to initial protocols, and have told my team to do the same." In a tweet late Monday, Trump said that GSA was “being allowed to preliminarily work with the Dems,” though he said he would continue the legal fight and will "never concede."

While Democrats were tied in knots over the transition delay coming in the midst of an unrelenting pandemic, one thing to keep mind is that Donald Trump did not take the transition from President Obama in 2016 seriously. He canned Chris Christie the day after his upset, threw dozens of planning binders into the Trump Tower dumpster, installed VP-elect Mike Pence, and dozens of U.S. government agencies never heard from Team Trump until after he was inaugurated. Micheal Lewis, author of "The Fifth Risk" detailing that 2016 transition, wrote of Trump, "He thought the planning and forethought pointless." 

2. Yellin makes history

It only took 231 years and after 75 male predecessors of the U.S. Treasury, President-elect Biden named Janet Yellin to follow in the footsteps of Alexander HamiltonWall Street Journal: Ms. Yellen, who was the first woman to lead the Fed, would become the first person to have headed the Treasury, the central bank and the White House Council of Economic Advisers.

3. Trump/Pence/Trump poll sandwich

President Trump is already talking about a third run at the Republican presidential nomination in 2024. A POLITICO/Morning Consult  poll released Tuesday has Trump leading Vice President Mike Pence 53-12%. Despite his thread-bare resume, Donald Trump Jr. is at 8%. Nobody else cracks 5%. Club For Growth President David McIntosh said last week that if President Trump runs again, Pence will likely support him.

4. What else are they going to say?

Journalist Carl Bernstein named Indiana U.S. Sens. Todd Young and Mike Braun to his secret list of GOP senators who have disparaged President Trump behind his back. The IndyStar reports that both have denied the report. Braun: “This is more false news from a CNN political analyst as I was one of President Trump’s top defenders during impeachment and strongly support his legal efforts to ensure that every legal vote is counted.” Young: “These unsourced rumors don’t deserve a response.”

5. Minkler to B&T

Out-going Southern District D.A. Josh Minkler has joined Barnes & Thornburg’s white collar and investigations practice in Indianapolis.

It's The Atomic!
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    INDIANAPOLIS – When new Indiana House Speaker Todd Huston walked out of the Indiana House of Representatives on March 11 with the COVID-19 pandemic just beginning to get a death grip on his state, he recalled, “I remember leaving this chamber believing something historic could be taking shape.” On Nov. 15, the White House coronavirus task force posted this warning as the U.S. death toll hit 250,000 and Indiana closed in on 5,000: "There is now aggressive, unrelenting, expanding broad community spread across the country, reaching most counties, without evidence of improvement but rather, further deterioration. Current mitigation efforts are inadequate and must be increased to flatten the curve to sustain the health system for both COVID and non-COVID emergencies."  This warning came as hospitals are being swamped and front line medical workers are disheartened, drained and weary, while folks ranging from nurses to the governor pleaded with people to wear masks. “I want to thank all of the incredible health care professionals, who continue on the front lines of this pandemic,” Huston said. ”Doctors, nurses, and so many others in hospitals and health care facilities across the state; they have fought and are fighting so hard for each of us.“

    FORT WAYNE – Important fact number one: Al Gore did not concede to presumed President-elect George Bush until Dec. 13, 2000. The political system survived. Of course, that was Gore’s second concession. He took his first one back until the process went through the courts. Surely the media would not prefer that Donald Trump had conceded and then taken it back after supporters raised issues of fraud? It is important to establish some more basic points. A president-elect is designated after the Electoral College votes and before a president is sworn into office. It is not anointed by the media. By all evidence presented thus far, and likely to be presented, former Vice President Joe Biden is the presumed president-elect. This isn’t a repeat of 2000, one state with an incredibly close count, but a fairly decisive apparent win though with many narrow victories for Biden: Georgia 0.3%, Arizona 0.3%, Wisconsin 0.6%, Pennsylvania 1.2%, Nevada 2.4% and Michigan 2.6%. Given the closeness and the extraordinary changes in voting patterns, an election not primarily determined in private voting booths on Election Day, the apparent losing candidate has a right to pursue legal questions that arise. The fact that the media is demanding an immediate coronation is not professional journalism. Neutrality was lost earlier, but even feigned neutrality – nodding here and there to fairness – has been abandoned for overt cheerleading, complete with tears. Vice President Biden, on the other hand, has remained publicly calm. He has a commanding lead, understands that no proof of significant fraud looms, and has confidence in the legal system.
    KOKOMO – I am a partisan Republican. I voted for President Donald Trump. I wanted him to defeat Biden and arrest any further slide of our country into the grip of socialism. I desperately wanted to jam a Trump victory into the faces of CNN, MSNBC, CBS, ABC, NBC, The New York Times, the Washington Post, Facebook, Twitter, Nancy, Chuck and all the rest of the usual suspects. At this point it looks like a Trump victory will not happen. The electoral deck is stacked against him and the massive mail-in voting and overwhelmed vote-counting operations in historically ethics-challenged Democrat-machine-run urban centers appears to present a series of hurdles that cannot be overcome. While I would never suggest to President Trump that he just throw in the towel without fully exploring the depths of potential Democrat chicanery, I would suggest that he consider the impact of his every action on our nation and on our reputation throughout the world. While I am a loyal Republican, I am first and foremost a proud American. As an American, I do not want to see our judicial system decide elections.
    INDIANAPOLIS – I hate being right. I really do. It’s a painful burden to carry on my shoulders, this crystal ball that sees so clearly into the future. But, yet again, here we are at a moment in which I must say, “I told you so.” Two weeks before Election Day, I wrote in the Indianapolis Star that the next four years of life in the United States of America are destined to be as turbulent as the past four because neither supporters of Joe Biden nor supporters of Donald Trump were prepared to lose. Sadly, that premonition has come to pass, so why not double down? The five paragraphs that follow were words originally crafted for that piece but that have been seen by no eyes other than mine. Thankfully, since my hard drive resides with me and not in a Delaware repair shop, and the cloud absorbs and retains data above my head, I can share with you those never-before-published and all-too prescient thoughts: What is actually likely to happen – and almost guaranteed to happen – is unrelenting institutional madness. The idea that a Biden victory is somehow a panacea for political fragmentation or that his supporters will quietly accept the result of a Trump victory is an illusion. 
    MUNCIE – The COVID recession played havoc with America’s labor markets as well as the official statistics that we use to describe them. This generated plenty of misunderstanding about the state of the economy. With the passage of time and supplemental surveys of workers, a clearer explanation is now emerging. January 2020 was the last month of economic expansion. Though employment continued to grow in February, other hints of a downturn were already occurring. Part-time workers lost jobs and the labor force began to shrink. From January to April, the unemployment rate rose from 3.6 to 14.7% in what was far and away the most rapid job loss in U.S. history. However, by April, a full 8.2 million fewer men and women were counted as participating in the labor force. This accounting was the result of a survey question conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau for the Department of Labor. The question asked unemployed respondents if they were actively looking for a job. If they said no, they were dropped from the labor force rolls.
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  • Atomic! Pete & Joe's cabinet; Trump's Michigan caper; Christie, Hogan on GOP 'embarrassment'; Young, Braun silence
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

    1. Mayor Pete & Biden's cabinet: Here are your Monday power lunch talking points: Axios reported earlier this month that former South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg is a virtual lock for President-elect Joe Biden's cabinet. But as names leaked out over the weekend ahead of Tuesday's first rollout, Buttigieg is off the speculation lists for United Nations ambassador and Homeland Security. That leaves Veterans Affairs or HUD as likely destination points. Native Hoosier Ron Klain has been named chief of staff and Jake Sullivan is expected to be named national security adviser. NBC News on Sunday confirmed reports that Biden is expected to name veteran diplomat Antony “Tony” Blinken secretary of state and Linda Thomas-Greenfield as U.N. ambassador. On Monday, Biden nominated Alejandro Mayorkas to head Homeland Security, and Avril Haines as his director of national intelligence.
  • Atomic! Vaccine to FDA; No Biden lockdown; Trump plots; Rudy's madcap presser; Holcomb
makes key hires

    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

    1. COVID crisis: Here are your final power lunch talking points for the week: Pfizer and BioNTech will seek emergency authorization for their COVID-19 vaccine today. Vice President Pence presided over the first White House coronavirus task force in months on Thursday. President-elect Joe Biden and his transition team are still locked out of federal data, including vaccine distribution plans. Biden also ruled out a national lockdown as COVID engulfs the nation, straining hospitals, calling it “counterproductive.” And what of President Trump, who hasn’t attended a task force meeting in months or acknowledged the growing crisis to his country? His lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, held a madcap presser devoid of any evidence of election fraud. Wall Street Journal: "President Trump has broadened his push to overturn the election outcome and threatened Republicans who challenge his refusal to concede, as looming deadlines for key states to certify their results are set to narrow the path for his legal challenges. Some Trump advisers say they are concerned the continued push risks giving false hope to millions of Mr. Trump’s supporters."

  • HPI Analysis: As coronavirus pandemic engulfs state, a look at General Assemblies in times of crisis

    INDIANAPOLIS – When Speaker Todd Huston walked out of the Indiana House of Representatives on March 11 with the COVID-19 pandemic just beginning to get a death grip on his state, he recalled, “I remember leaving this chamber believing something historic could be taking shape.” Huston’s premonitions might have matched those of his predecessors like Republican Speaker Cyrus M. Allen in November 1860, or Democrat Speaker Samuel Hamilton Buskirk who took the reins on Nov. 5, 1862, or Speaker Henry C. Crawford in 1932, James Merrill Knapp in October 1929 and again in December 1941, Speaker J. Roberts Dailey in December 1982, or Speaker John Gregg on Sept. 11, 2001.

  • John Gregg making calls on open Indiana Democratic chair race


    INDIANAPOLIS - While Karlee Macer and Josh Owens have broached the sprawling subject as to how the barely credible Indiana Democratic Party recovers its relevance, informed and reliable sources are saying John Gregg, former speaker and gubernatorial nominee, is making calls about entering the race. As the Woody Myers gubernatorial campaign struggled with fundraising in September, it was Gregg who lamented that Indiana Democrats "are sitting this election out. It's a missed opportunity." Democratic sources tell HPI that Gregg has begun to reach out to office holders, signaling his interest in leading the party.   

  • Atomic! Sophomoric loser; Pistole warns; Dr. Carroll's 'OMG' pandemic take; Owens eyes INDem void
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

    1. The sophomoric loser: Here are your Monday power lunch talking points: Just after nine this morning, President Trump tweeted, "I won the election!" This is a sophomoric, ludicrous and dangerous assertion from an apparently unhinged leader. President Trump lost to Joe Biden the Electoral College 306-223 and is trailing in the popular vote 78.7% million to 73.1 million, or 50.9 to 47.3%. Not only is Trump the first American president unwilling to participate in the transition, he appears to have already checked out, refusing his daily intel briefing, not attending the COVID task force meetings, all of this coming as the pandemic is engulfing the nation, with hundreds of hospital ERs running out of ICU beds. Anderson University President John S. Pistole, who as a former deputy FBI director once gave presidents their daily briefing, told the Herald Bulletin's  Rebecca Bibbs, "Every day that goes by that the smooth transition does not take place puts us at greater risk. The key is for the incoming administration to be briefed on the latest most relevant national security intelligence. It’s so the incoming admin is poised on their first day that they can make informed timely decisions. Then it becomes a question of are there some gaps that might be missed? That’s the last thing we need is for something to be missed and not acted upon during what typically is a vulnerable time for the nation.” Pistole added, "It’s recalcitrant, it’s stubbornness. It undermines confidence both within the U.S and in our foreign partners and our adversaries. Any time there is a gap or perceived gap from one administration to another, whether that’s real or perceived, our enemies will seek ways to exploit that.”
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  • 65% of Hoosiers voted in November election
    “We continue to see that candidates and issues drive turnout. Presidential elections tend to have higher turnout rates. That held true this year with 65% of Hoosiers turning out to vote, the highest percentage we’ve seen since 1992.” - Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson, releasing totals for the Nov. 3 election which saw 4.7 million Hoosiers vote. In 2016 and 2012, voter turnout was at 58%. In 2008, 62% of registered Hoosiers voted in the General Election. Hamilton and Wells Counties had the highest turnout in the state with 75% turnout, followed by Greene, Hancock, Whitley at 74%.
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  • Trump and Biden priorities

    With American pandemic deaths crossing the 250,000 threshold, President Trump made calls to Michigan local election officials and is inviting legislators to the White House, while President-elect Joe Biden was talking to stressed out front line medical workers. That explains their priorities. Trump is attempting to undermine the American election system, with a Reuters/Ipsos Poll showing that 68% of Republicans now believing the election was "rigged."

    There are Republicans beginning to speak up (though none from Indiana). “Having failed to make even a plausible case of widespread fraud or conspiracy before any court of law, the President has now resorted to overt pressure on state and local officials to subvert the will of the people and overturn the election," said Sen. Mitt Romney. "It is difficult to imagine a worse, more undemocratic action by a sitting American President.” And Sen. Ben Sasse said, "President Trump lost Michigan by more than 100,000 votes, and the campaign and its allies have lost in or withdrawn from all five lawsuits in Michigan for being unable to produce any evidence. Wild press conferences erode public trust. We are a nation of laws, not tweets.” The damage to our most precious American cornerstone is stunning, disgusting and sad, and the whole world is watching. - Brian A. Howey, publisher

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