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Wednesday, November 27, 2019 9:43 AM

INDIANAPOLIS – The spook’s eyes at the Londonskaya Hotel bar burned holes in me. Every time I glanced in his direction, they were trained on me. I had entered Odessa, Ukraine as part of the last hurrah of Sen. Richard Lugar’s old Republican internationalist order in this pre-partitioned nation. 

It was 2007. Vladimir Putin held only shadow power in the old Soviet remnants. His fractured standing belied a reeling nation, the former Soviet Union, in steep demographic decline. High rates of alcoholism, suicide and plunging birth rates defined this former empire. Donald Trump was a gadfly, wannabe presidential aspirant who owned a couple of Gary riverboat casinos and a New York real estate empire.

It would have been impossible to foresee how this churn of events would play out a dozen years later in Moscow, Kiev, Washington and even Indianapolis. The old Republican internationalist order that once thrived in Indiana has ended, begging the question in the emergent era of the Trump cult of personality, so what if it has?

The Indiana aspect of this story can be told through the hyper-supplicant Pences, with the vice president accepting full ownership of that cult; and Indiana’s two Republican senators, Mike Braun, who owes his station to Trump, and Todd Young, a former Lugar staffer who, had he taken a different career path, might have found himself briefing the Senate in a manner similar to Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman. Last week Vindman, former Ukrainian ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, and State Department Ukrainian expert Dr. Fiona Hill testified before Congress of a disinformation campaign echoing Putin’s Kremlin that it was the Ukrainians, not the Russians, who meddled in the 2016 US elections. The Republican senators received a briefing on the Ukrainian fiction as multiple sources discredited the story. In the wake of the sensational impeachment testimony which appears not to have swayed public opinion, the question for Hoosier voters remains, does it matter? Do people care? I don’t think they do. Hoosier voters appear to be giving President Trump the benefit of the doubt, preferring to decide his future at the ballot box next year. Two recent polls in Indiana, the Old National/Ball State and Bowen Center poll, put Trump’s approval at 52%, while a Morning Consult poll had Trump’s Indiana approval at 50%.

  • INDIANAPOLIS -  Since House Democrats impeached President Trump on a mostly party line vote late last month, I’ve been pretty outspoken that his future should be determined by the voters at the ballot box in November. A historic first censure of a president should become a viable option. Having stated that, we appear to be in for a Senate impeachment trial, though Speaker Nancy Pelosi is refusing to send the two articles to the Senate until Majority Leader Mitch McConnell allows witnesses. Specifically, Democrats maintain that White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, former White House counsel Don McGahn, former nation security adviser John Bolton, and several Office of Management and Budget officials should testify. President Trump wants Joe and Hunter Biden to swear an oath and talk before these Senate jurors. Since polarized Washington has foisted this debacle on to the American people, then it's only fitting to have a real trial, with real witnesses. If Trump wants us to believe there was no transgression, he should allow senior aides to testify.

  • INDIANAPOLIS - Indiana’s two most competitive congressional districts are both open seats in 2020 and are mirror images of each other. The 1st District being vacated by 18-term U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky is in the heart of the state’s industrialized northwest Region. The 5th CD spans northward from Indianapolis, including the doughnut suburbs of Zionsville, Carmel, and Fishers, as well as Anderson, Marion and suburban Kokomo. Four term Republican Rep. Susan Brooks declined to seek another term. According to the 2017 Cook Partisan Index, the 1st is +9% Democratic (meaning a generic Democrat candidate in a normal election cycle could expect a 9% plurality) while the 5th is +9 Republican. These are the two most competitive districts in Indiana. The current maps drawn in 2011 stand to make history. If the 1st and 5th CDs stay in their current party columns next November, these maps will be the first time in the television age when not a single Hoosier congressional seat changed parties.
  • INDIANAPOLIS — There are no winners. We’re all losers, from President Trump down to my kids who will be facing a precarious future filled with climate and fiscal challenges. That’s what I was thinking Wednesday afternoon, watching the mind-numbing tribal parade of congressional Republicans and Democrats stating their rote impeachment talking points. They were all talking past each other, not to each other. It was a disgusting display of governance, across the board. By late that night, Donald John Trump became only the third American president to be impeached, and in payback Washington, perhaps only one of many to come before we know whether we can really keep our republic going. And you could see this coming from miles away, with “The Squad” talking about impeachment months before President Zelensky was even elected president of Ukraine, to Trump’s George Stephanopoulos interview last June when he was asked if he would accept foreign assistance to win reelection in 2020.  “I think you might want to listen, there isn’t anything wrong with listening,” Trump answered. “If somebody called from a country, Norway, ‘we have information on your opponent’ – oh, I think I’d want to hear it.”

  • INDIANAPOLIS - Last Sept. 19 in my publication Howey Politics Indiana, I wrote the cover story "Double Dog Impeachment Dare."  It came just as the whistleblower had surfaced, flagging President Trump's July 25 phone call with Ukraine President Zelensky. There were 146 Democrats (including Indiana's Andre Carson) and one former Republican backing the impeachment of Trump at that time. I acknowledged a sinking feeling about this Ukraine story. Just a day before his “perfect” July 25 phone call with Zelensky , Trump seemed to have dodged the Robert Mueller threat. But last June 16, Trump was asked by ABC's George Stephanopoulos if he would accept foreign intel heading into his 2020 reelection. "I think you might want to listen, there isn't anything wrong with listening," Trump answered. "If somebody called from a country, Norway, ‘we have information on your opponent' – oh, I think I'd want to hear it."  Federal Election Commission Chair Ellen Weintraub quickly released a statement on Twitter to make it "100% clear to the American public" that accepting such an offer is illegal. "This is not a novel concept," Weintraub said. "Electoral intervention from foreign governments has been unacceptable since the beginnings of our nation."
  • INDIANAPOLIS – To use a well-worn-political phrase, is timing is everything. That may have prompted the latest change of the Republican guard at the Indiana Statehouse this past week where we saw State Rep. Todd Huston of Fishers take the House speaker’s gavel by acclamation from one of the strongest speakers in Hoosier history when Brian Bosma of Indianapolis decided to stand down.  Bosma spent two non-consecutive terms with the gavel in what is considered by many as the most powerful Statehouse office due to the Indiana’s constitutionally weak governorship, where a veto can be overridden by a simple majority vote. It follows a similar transition in the Indiana Senate a year ago, when Rod Bray of Martinsville took the helm from Senate President Pro Tem David Long of Fort Wayne, while on the fiscal side State Sen. Ryan Mishler of Bremen and Travis Holdman of Markel took the reins from Senate Appropriations Chairman Luke Kenley and Budget Chairman Brandt Hershman. Informed and reliable sources tell me that House Ways & Means Chairman Tim Brown will seek reelection in 2020 after surviving critical injuries in a 2018 motorcycle accident at the Mackinaw Bridge in Michigan. Huston served as co-chair of that influential, budget-writing committee during the 2019 biennial session.
  •  INDIANAPOLIS - Three years ago, Curtis Hill was a Republican rising star, capturing the nomination for attorney general in a spirited convention floor fight, then leading the ticket that November in votes. He became a rare African-American Republican, working in a building where the rest of his party of white. Hill gave a racial component to Republican politics that had seen females win the constitutional offices, save governor, when Holcomb edged out U.S. Rep. Susan Brooks for the nomination following Gov. Mike Pence leaving his nomination to join Donald Trump’s presidential ticket. But this past week, Hill was fighting for his political career and his law license. His reputation has taken a beating. He faced a Supreme Court disciplinary hearing over allegations of sexual harassment and groping at a 2018 sine die party. The ensuing headlines were a politician’s nightmare. There was a parade of 26 witnesses, including Democrat State Rep. Mara Candaleria Reardon, four Republican legislative staffers, and an Elkhart County employee of Hill’s when he was prosecutor there, who testified under oath that her boss sought sex, saying, “We need to ---- because it would be hot.” Hill was described as a “creeper” who was “grabbing butt” and sliding his hands down Reardon’s backless dress. The “Me too” era passed the Indiana Statehouse over the past couple of years with no official taking a fall. That Hill’s alleged conduct came after movie moguls, media anchors and U.S. senators had been swept from power was an indicator of being tone deaf.
  • NASHVILLE, Ind. - There have been three presidents with vivid Indiana ties.  William Henry Harrison won the battle of Tippecanoe and served as a territorial governor. Abraham Lincoln moved to Spencer County as a boy within days of statehood in 1816 and became a man on the prairie, as poet Carl Sandberg writing that he gained his gait, demeanor and sense of spiritual place, particularly after he journeyed from the Ohio River to New Orleans and witnessed his first impressions of slavery. Benjamin Harrison, grandson of the aforementioned ninth president, was born in Ohio, moved to Indianapolis in 1854, and after serving as a general in the Civil War, used a law career to enter the U.S. Senate before reaching the White House 1888. There have been six Hoosiers who have served as vice president - Schuyler Colfax, Thomas Hendricks, Charles Fairbanks, Thomas R. Marshall, Dan Quayle and Mike Pence - the literal heartbeat away. Of this group, Marshall came closest to ascending to the presidency after President Woodrow Wilson suffered two strokes a century ago, though the First Lady hid the president's condition from the former Indiana governor. I recount this history so you might begin to wrap your mind around the prospect of "President Michael R. Pence."
  • NEWPORT, R.I. - When it comes to America's engagement in what is increasingly globalized marketplace and security, a number of Hoosier statesmen set the compass points for many of us over the past generation. There was the late Sen. Richard Lugar, who in tandem with Democrat Sen. Sam Nunn, established a historic cooperative threat reduction program and helped denuclearize a half dozen nations (including Ukraine), while rounding up and stabilizing a Pandora's box of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons guarded by padlocks and chain link fences as the Soviet Union crumbled. Congressmen Lee Hamilton and Tim Roemer helped establish the post-Sept. 11 security regime and Hamilton served on the Iraq Study Committee following the first American geopolitical blunder of the 21st Century with the Iraq invasion of 2003. The late Rep. Frank McCloskey literally saved tens of thousands of Bosnians from genocidal Serbs in the first ethnic cleansing of this century. Gov. Robert Orr opened up the Pacific rim to investment in our state in the 1980s, and there are now 200 Japanese companies employing more than 100,000 Hoosiers, and, according to Gov. Eric Holcomb, firms from India, South Korea and China are poised to join their ranks.

  • CARMEL – Police stop a driver westbound on 96th Street in Hamilton County. They find less than an ounce of marijuana and this driver in arrested, complete with a stay in the county jail, facing thousands of dollars of legal bills, court costs, fines and a criminal record. Police stop an eastbound driver on 96th Street in Marion County. They find a doobie on the console. He is not arrested, faces no charges, legal bills, court costs or fines. That is the evolving state of marijuana prohibition in Indiana. It's like swiss cheese, with a big hole in the middle and others likely to form in college and border cities. Acting prosecutor Marion County Ryan Mears, then an unelected official, abruptly announced that his office will no longer prosecute marijuana possession cases of under one ounce, which was quickly reinforced by Sheriff Kerry Forestal. Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Chief Bryan Roach said his force would still make marijuana arrests. But after Mears dismissed nearly 150 possession cases, it's only a matter of time before the arrests stop. The cops I know aren't big fans of doing the paperwork, only to watch an offender go free.

  • Merriam-Webster: Aberrant (n) 1: a group, individual, or structure that is not normal or typical: an aberrant group, individual, or structure; 2: a person whose behavior departs substantially from the standard. Synonyms:(Adjective)  aberrated, abnormal, anomalous, atypical, especial, exceeding, exceptional, extraordinaire, extraordinary, freak, odd, peculiar ....


    NASHVILLE, Ind. - On July 27, 2016, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump made his infamous "Russia, if you're listening ..." appeal for dirt on Hillary Clinton. It commenced a two-year jigsaw puzzle type investigation that became President Trump's nightmare. It all seemed to end last July 24, when Special Counsel Robert Mueller testified before Congress that he could not indict Trump for obstruction of justice because of a Department of Justice rule that a sitting president can't be charged. Mueller distinctly said, “The President was not exculpated for the acts that he allegedly committed.”  July 25 should have been a new day, a new era for President Trump, the proverbial sigh of relief. The House could impeach, but there was no way the 55-seat Senate Republican majority would convict. So what does President Trump do?  According to a rough transcript released by the White House, the president essentially attempted to extort dirt on potential rival Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, from the rookie President Zelensky of Ukraine, a former comedian. It is the same Ukraine that gave up its nuclear weapons under the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction Program, went through a revolution in 2014, then saw Russian President Putin annex the Crimea before launching a low-grade war on the eastern part of the country that has since claimed 13,000 lives. This summer, President Trump inexplicably held up close to $400 million in U.S. military aid from this new president, pulled Vice President Pence away from attending Zelensky's inauguration last May, and then subtly put the screws on him on July 25.
  • INDIANAPOLIS — A week ago Monday I began writing the “Double dog impeachment dare” story that headlined the Sept. 19 edition of HPI as a cautionary primer for why going down that rabbit hole would be dangerous for our nation because the consequences are often unintended and the ramifications impossible to gauge. By the time I published it a week ago, the emerging scandal of the DNI whistleblower’s urgent complaint involving President Trump and Ukraine President Zelensky had blown up like a mushroom cloud, as fast as Hurricane Rita did in 2005. It is a disconcerting circumstance. And I am disturbed by what appears to be another round of scandal and hyper media, allegations and denial, talking heads churning out conspiracies and illogical defenses. Our nation faces huge challenges. Our entitlements are on an assured crisis course, probably by the end of the next presidency. We are now running trillion dollar deficits with a good economy. We have no idea how bad that will get in a recession, or a severe recession. We have climate scenarios that are daunting in an immigration/refugee and humantarian sense, and we must begin preparing now.
  • INDIANAPOLIS – It took nine months after South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg kicked off his long-shot Democratic presidential campaign before he landed his first spate of Indiana endorsements. Ten Hoosier mayors – Tom McDermott of Hammond, Dave Kitchell of Logansport, Brent Bascom of Rising Sun, Gay Ann Harney of Rockport, Ron Meer of Michigan City, John Hamilton of Bloomington, Gabriel Greer of Peru, Greg Goodnight of Kokomo, Ted Ellis of Bluffton and Hugh Wirth of Oakland City – were part of a group of more than 50 mayors to endorse this upstart presidential campaign. Beyond his fellow mayors, Buttigieg hasn’t picked up much support from the Democratic Indiana political establishment. U.S. Reps. Pete Visclosky and André Carson aren’t on board, nor is former senator Joe Donnelly, who attended Buttigieg’s campaign kickoff last April. Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett was also there, but didn’t endorse this past week, presumably concentrating on his own reelection bid.

  • NASHVILLE, Ind. - So there was President Trump in the Oval Office on Wednesday, mocking his most recently departed National Security Adviser John Bolton as a "Mr. Tough Guy." A few minutes later, President Tough Guy was seated with Health & Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, announcing a ban on flavored vapes. “We have a problem in our country,” Trump said, springing into action after five vape-related deaths nationally, including one in Indiana. “It’s called vaping, especially vaping as it pertains to innocent children.” But if you want to talk about protecting "innocent children," the huge elephant on the table is the epidemic of mass shootings in our nation in places like Sante Fe and Marjorie Stoneman Douglass high schools in Texas and Florida, and, of course, Sandy Hook Elementary School where more than 20 little kids and educators were slaughtered. Most of these involved AR-15s and many other incidents have killed hundreds of people. And on this point, “President Tough Guy” might as well be “President Mouse.” Because we have no idea where he stands on several issues with widespread support.
  • MICHIGAN CITY – In the wake of the new terror afflicting our schools, our Walmarts, our malls, our nightclubs, it appears we no longer have members of Congress and senators. In the House, we have cephalopods, elected every two years. In the Senate, squids, elected every six. The cephalopod is of the political molluscan class, characterized by bilateral body symmetry and a prominent head known to quip “I approve of this message” and “I have an A rating from the NRA” and a set of muscular hydrostats, modified from the primitive molluscan foot. These creatures that haunt the U.S. Capitol, a variety of K Street salons and a very occasional Hoosier town hall do have abilities. They can open containers with screw caps or, like the Hawaiian bobtail squid, can bury themselves in the sand, leaving only their eyes exposed. Our congressional cephalopods need to grow spines. U.S. Rep. Jim Banks reacted to our American Bloody August (53 murdered by AR-15s in Texas and Ohio) by suggesting that the appropriate response to this ongoing domestic terror is to enforce the laws we already have. Somehow that seems not to be working, thoughts and prayers notwithstanding. U.S. Rep. Larry Bucshon suggested that background checks  – even expanded background checks that 90% of Americans want  – wouldn’t have prevented the mayhem in El Paso, Odessa, Midland and Dayton. Our Midland/Odessa mass shooter did flunk a background check, but then went on to acquire his weapon through a private-party sale. U.S. Rep. Greg Pence called himself a “staunch 2nd Amendment defendant,” but said in Muncie he is open to compromise, though he reminds us, “If you read the second part of the 2nd Amendment, it’s to protect us from the government.”

  • INDIANAPOLIS - For many Hoosiers, last weekend presented a gut punch when we learned that Colts quarterback Andrew Luck was retiring at the tender age of 29. The emotions of fans run the gamut, from incredulity, to anger, sadness, wist and then when you put it into the proper context, appreciation and thanks for what Andrew Luck brought to Indiana. He became a Hoosier, invested in our community while playing with great heart, soul and distinction. One of Luck's most courageous displays occurred in November 2015 in a game against Peyton Manning and the 7-1 Denver Broncos at Lucas Oil Stadium. Luck led the 4-5 Colts to a thrilling 27-24 victory, throwing two touchdown passes and 252 yards (Manning threw for 281 yards, two TDs and two picks and finished the game a mere three yards from becoming the NFL’s all-time leading passer). But it was a brutal second half hit on Luck that would lacerate one of his kidneys and tear an abdominal muscle. It forced him to miss several games.

  • FRENCH LICK – U.S. Senators take this oath: "I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office  on which I am about to enter: So help me God."  Following the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks, Congress and President George W. Bush took an array of security steps to defend Americans from foreign terrorists. The Department of Homeland Security was created, along with the Director of National Intelligence that would eventually be manned by Indiana’s Dan Coats for three years. We experience a number of security elements every time we fly or go into a security sensitive area. These measures have been largely successful as terror attacks from foreign sources like al-Qaeda are exceptionally rare.  In 2019, Americans are facing a virtual guerrilla war from domestic sources ranging from white supremacists to nihilist and anarchists. Attacks just this year have claimed 246 deaths and 979 wounded, culminating to that weekend earlier this month with massacres in Dayton and El Paso took out 30 lives, injuring dozens of others. The gunman in Dayton killed nine people and injured 27 others with an assault rifle and high-capacity magazine in just 30 seconds before heroic cops took him out. That's a total of 1,325 victims, about a third of the 9/11 total. There is now palpable panic. Americans are so insecure that they stampede at the sounding of a motorcycle backfiring on Times Square or a mall sign falling.

  • INDIANAPOLIS – “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” These were the epic words of the Emma Lazarus poem “The New Colossus”  adorning the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty. These words cut to the crux of the American experiment and spoke to our epic, melting-pot heritage. Ken Cuccinelli is acting director of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and he made an astounding assertion on Tuesday. As the Trump administration seeks to dramatically limit legal immigration to America, Cuccinelli tweaked the Lazarus poem after a question from the press. “Would you also agree that Emma Lazarus’s words etched on the Statue of Liberty, ‘Give me your tired, give me your poor,’ are also a part of the American ethos?” NPR’s Rachel Martin asked Cuccinelli during a “Morning Edition”  interview. Cuccinelli responded, “They certainly are: ‘Give me your tired and your poor who can stand on their own two feet and who will not become a public charge.’ That plaque was put on the Statue of Liberty at almost the same time as the first public charge was passed – very interesting timing.” Thus we see the aberration of a basic American ethos, replaced by President Trump and top aide Stephen Miller’s attempt to stir ethnic, racial, urban and rural divides in the country they govern.

    NASHVILLE, Ind. – It has been fascinating to watch Mike and Karen Pence orchestrate his ascension onto the national stage. It has been a meticulous crusade of control. As a congressman and governor of Indiana, Mike Pence rarely strayed from a tight set of talking points. His inner circle is constricted, calculating and guarded. 
    On Aug. 1, my Howey Politics Indiana  analysis was that it's a “reckless” course for the Pences, with my penultimate paragraph reading: “This is flint and spark in extreme drought conditions. President Trump is not uniting Americans, he is exploiting the urban/rural divide along racial lines that are pulled taut these days. An errant spark goaded by the right quote at the wrong time could have devastating consequences.” This was published two days before the mass shooting atrocities in El Paso and Dayton, claiming another 30 lives and injuring dozens more. The El Paso shooter – who I will not lend the sought-after infamy by mentioning his name – published a manifesto on 8chan just moments before opening fire. It was teeming with white nationalist diatribes against “race-mixing” along with the “Hispanic invasion of Texas.” The Dayton shooter appears to have sought association with Antifa, the leftist bookend to white supremacy. Isolate the fringe 1% of the American bell curve and you’ll find the warrens for these two latest cowardly shooters. The problem for Trump and, by association, Pence was the former’s own rhetoric warning of “invasions,” and amplified on Facebook by the Trump campaign and the Prosper Group based in Indianapolis.
  • INDIANAPOLIS  – Perhaps on Tuesday, Aug. 20, we’ll find private citizen Dan Coats at Wrigley Field, taking in the Cubs-Giants game. Or, perhaps, he’ll wait for that day game on Aug. 23 against the Washington Nationals. We can hope that this Cubs fan, Hoosier patriot, who never lost an election, who was willing to walk away from the money-grubbing political swamp at least twice, will treat himself to a beer, a brat and sing “Take me out to the ballgame” soon.Dan Coats deserves it. But the trade-off for the rest of us is that of Edvard Munch’s “The Scream,” or the warning from David Cronenberg’s “The Fly” remake: “Be afraid, be very afraid." When Dan Coats leaves as director of national intelligence on Aug. 15, the last of the “grown-ups” from Donald Trump’s White House will be gone. Jim Mattis, John Kelly, Rex Tillerson and H.R. McMaster had been the “guard rails” for the unpredictable Trump, who presides over an administration filled by “acting” secretaries and directors. These actors now toil with a side-glance for every presidential whim. Screw up and, well, “You’re fired.” Supposedly taking Coats’ place will be U.S. Rep. John Ratcliffe of Texas, a former small town mayor and district attorney who claims to have prosecuted terrorism cases, though there is no evidence that he did. He is a political defender of Trump, who has auditioned on Fox News, which is now the proving ground for economic advisors, United Nations ambassadors, and White House and Foggy Bottom communicators.

  • NEW ALBANY – This is turning out to be a disheartening summer when it comes to race relations in our country. The reelection campaign of President Trump and Vice President Pence appears to be  conducting the most overtly racist strategy since Alabama Gov. George Wallace’s independent bid in 1968. Trump is taunting four minority freshman Democrats - Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., and Rashida Tlaib – with tweets of “go back” to your crime-riddled countries. The problem is three of them were born in the United States and the fourth is a naturalized American. The common denominator is skin color. Trump launched a screed at a rally Greenville, N.C., Wednesday night with Pence in tow, only to have the crowd chant “send her home.” Trump said Thursday, “I was not happy with it — I disagreed with it,” but video showed him savoring the chant. When congressional Republicans pressed Pence on Thursday with their dismay with the rally, Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) said Pence seemed to share their concerns. “He said, ‘at first I couldn't even tell what it was.’" And that is BS. It was clear what people were chanting. You can disagree with these freshmen on politics and policy, but telling elected members of Congress to leave the country is a new low. This is David Duke meeting Joe McCarthy.
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  • Parnas implicates Trump, Pence in Ukraine scandal
    “The announcement was the key at that time because of the inauguration and I told him Pence would not show up, nobody would show up to his inauguration. It was particularly Vice President Mike Pence.” - Lev Parnas, the indicted friend of President Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, in an interview on MSNBC's Rachel Maddow Show, where he implicated Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and Attorney General William Barr in the quid pro quo of the Ukraine scandal that prompted Trump's impeachment. Parnas said that Pence's attendance at Ukraine President Zelensky's inauguration was cancelled the day after Parnas called on Zelensky to announce an investigation of Joe and Hunter Biden, When asked if Pence was aware of the quid pro quo, Parnas said, “I’m going to use a famous quote from [Ambassador Gordon] Sondland. Everybody was in the loop.” 
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  • Pence, Holcomb, Buttigieg head 2020 HPI Power 50
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY in Indianapolis
    and MARK SCHOEFF JR., 
    in Washington

    As we unveil the 2020 version of the Howey Politics Indiana Power 50 List, Hoosiers appear to be relatively satisfied with their state government, unsure about the federals and specifically President Trump, and are most concerned about health care and the economy.

    These are the latest survey numbers from the We Ask America Poll conducted in early December for the Indiana Manufacturers Association. They accentuate the formulation of our annual Power 50 list headed by Vice President Mike Pence, Gov. Eric Holcomb, former South Bend mayor and Democratic presidential contender Pete Buttigieg, and the state’s two Republican senators who will likely sit in judgment (and acquittal) of President Trump in an impeachment trial later this month. 

    As Pence appears to be heading off thinly veiled attempts by Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump to get him off the 2020 ticket, Hoosiers by 47.4% approve to 47.7% disapprove of President Trump’s job performance. This is consistent with 2019 polling by Ball State University and Morning Consult. On the national right/wrong track, just 37% of registered voters in Indiana feel that the country is headed in the right direction, while a majority, 52%, say that things have gotten off on the wrong track, including 51% of independents and 26% of Republicans. Among female voters, the right/wrong track split is 29%/58%.

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