TRUMP’S DEFINING NIGHT: One night in Buenos Aires could define Donald Trump's presidency. Within a few hours, Trump telegraphed ambivalence about the two issues that have defined his time in politics: China and the wall (Swan, Axios). On China, Trump eased free traders' concerns by agreeing to freeze the trade war for 90 days — keeping the tariffs at 10% instead of ratcheting up to 25% — in the hope that the Chinese will crack down on fentanyl exports, buy a "very substantial" amount of U.S. products and, for the first time, earnestly address their bad behavior including theft of American intellectual property. On the wall, Trump signaled he's prepared to sign a temporary government funding bill to delay a shutdown fight for two weeks. Why it matters: Trump's comments mean the next three months may define his presidency. His first term is slipping away from him. On the trail, he promised to build a wall. But almost two years into his presidency, he's barely built anything. He also promised to force China to end its abuse of American businesses. But China hasn't changed in any meaningful way. In the coming weeks and months, Trump must decide what means he will use to force these two seemingly impossible outcomes: getting Democrats to pay for his wall and getting China to stop stealing from American companies. These hawks worry the Chinese can drag the "dialogue" with the Trump administration beyond the 90 days, delaying action from a president hobbled by looming Democratic subpoenas, a special counsel investigation and a wobbly stock market.

TRUMP SAYS CHINA TO ROLL BACK AUTO TARIFFS: President Donald Trump on Sunday announced that China would “reduce and remove” its tariffs on American automobiles, one day after the White House negotiated a temporary cease-fire in its trade war with Beijing (Politico). “China has agreed to reduce and remove tariffs on cars coming into China from the U.S. Currently the tariff is 40%,” the president wrote on Twitter. There was no immediate confirmation for Trump’s claim, and the timetable for China’s rollback on the automobile duties remains unclear. Earlier this year, China lowered its tariffs on automobiles to 15 percent, from 25 percent. However, it later raised the rate on U.S. autos to 40 percent as part of the escalating trade war. That was in response to Trump raising the tariff on Chinese autos from 2.5 percent to 27.5 percent.

U.S./CHINA FACE THORNY ISSUES: The trade truce between the U.S. and China calms their economic battle and opens a brief window for the two nations to explore whether they can bridge deep divides on a range of difficult disputes (Wall Street Journal). After a weekend dinner between President Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping at a Group of 20 summit here, the U.S. postponed its threat to increase tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese goods to 25% from 10%. But it set a timeline of only about three months for the two sides to negotiate several issues that have proved largely intractable in the past. In a tweet Sunday night, Mr. Trump said China agreed to cut tariffs on American cars. “China has agreed to reduce and remove tariffs on cars coming into China from the U.S. Currently the tariff is 40%,” Mr. Trump said. China cut its tariff on non-U.S. imported vehicles from 25% to 15% in July. But within days it increased its tariff on cars made in the U.S. to 40% in retaliation for new U.S. tariffs on vehicle imports. Issues still on the table include forced technology transfer by U.S. companies doing business in China; intellectual-property protection that the U.S. wants China to strengthen; nontariff barriers that impede U.S. access to Chinese markets; and cyberespionage. In a sign of the difficulty of the talks ahead, Chinese officials haven’t acknowledged they accept the U.S. negotiating agenda or any deadline for talks. Nor is it clear what accommodation on any or all of the issues would prove sufficient to hold off the U.S. from raising tariffs when its deadline expires.

FARM GROUPS PLEASED WITH TRUCE: President Donald Trump met with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the G20 Summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina on Saturday. Trump agreed that on January 1, 2019 he will leave the tariffs on $200 billion worth of product at the 10% rate and not raise it to 25% as he previously committed. China will agree to purchase a not yet agreed upon, but very substantial, amount of agricultural, energy, industrial, and other product from the United States to reduce the trade imbalance between the two countries. China has agreed to start purchasing agricultural product immediately (Pfeiffer, Hoosier Ag Today). Both China and the U.S. have placed a 90 day timeframe on completing a deal. Once that 90 days is up, the 10% tariffs will increase to 25% if no agreement has been reached. John Heisdorffer, a soybean grower from Keota, Iowa, and American Soybean Association president said, “This is the first positive news we’ve seen after months of downturned prices and halted shipments. If this suspension of tariff increases leads to a longer-term agreement, it will be extremely positive for the soy industry. We want to begin repairing damage done to our trade relations with China, which has been essential to successful soybean exports for years.” In a statement from Angela Hoffman, Executive Director for the group Farmers for Free Trade, she said, “Any signal, even if temporary, that this trade war may de-escalate is welcome news for farmers. While farmers are cautiously optimistic about this development, they are also keenly aware that they are still subject to the existing painful retaliatory tariffs and lost markets that have hurt their recently harvested crops and income.”

VETERANS CONCERNED ABOUT STATE ASSISTANCE FUND: Two Indiana veterans are raising concerns that state employees are receiving special treatment when requesting money from the state's veterans assistance fund (Associated Press). Air Force veteran Lisa Wilken and Army veteran William Henry are concerned about how the state's Military Family Relief Fund is being managed, WRTV-TV reported. Other veterans said their applications were stalled for weeks or months or that they were denied assistance for services that state employees received. The fund was created in 2007 to help veterans with food, housing, utilities, medical services and transportation. It receives a portion of sales from veteran license plates or Support the Troops plates. Army veteran Amanda Rickert turned to the fund in the hopes of finding permanent housing and getting assistance repairing her truck. She said the agency denied her request, citing that funds can only be used for rent and utilities, not vehicle issues. National Guard veteran Eddra Harrington said it took her four months to get approved for a grant. She said she also wasn't awarded funds to help with her vehicle issue.

AFTER BIG HOUSE LOSSES, NO GOP COURSE CORRECTION: With a brutal finality, the extent of the Republicans’ collapse in the House came into focus last week as more races slipped away from them and their losses neared 40 seats (New York Times). Yet nearly a month after the election, there has been little self-examination among Republicans about why a midterm that had seemed at least competitive became a rout. President Trump has brushed aside questions about the loss of the chamber entirely, ridiculing losing incumbents by name, while continuing to demand Congress fund a border wall despite his party losing many of their most diverse districts. Unlike their Democratic counterparts, Republicans swiftly elevated their existing slate of leaders with little debate, signaling a continuation of their existing political strategy. And neither Speaker Paul D. Ryan nor Representative Kevin McCarthy, the incoming minority leader, have stepped forward to confront why the party’s once-loyal base of suburban supporters abandoned it — and what can be done to win them back. “There has been close to no introspection in the G.O.P. conference and really no coming to grips with the shifting demographics that get to why we lost those seats,” said Representative Elise Stefanik, an upstate New York Republican who is planning to repurpose her political action committee to help Republican women win primaries in 2020. “I’m very frustrated and I know other members are frustrated.”

WISH-TV OWNER TO BUY FOX59/CBS4: Nexstar Media Group Inc. has agreed to buy Tribune Media Co. for $4.1 billion, creating the largest owner of local-TV stations in the U.S., according to a person with knowledge with the matter (IBJ). Nexstar outbid private equity firm Apollo Global Management LLC with an all-cash offer that values Tribune at about $46.50 a share, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the purchase isn’t yet public. An announcement could come as soon as Monday. The deal involves two companies that own TV stations in Indianapolis. Nexstar is the owner of WISH-TV Channel 8, and Tribune Media owns WTTV-TV Channel 4 and WXIN-TV Channel 59. That might create issues with the Federal Communications Commission, which limits ownership of of multiple TV stations in a single market under many circumstances. The deal would create a new king of local TV, unseating Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc. Four months ago, Sinclair was forced to abandon its own takeover attempt for Tribune after the $3.9 billion transaction drew the ire of regulators. Nexstar had been interested in Tribune last year before Sinclair had agreed to buy it.

NOTRE DAME TO FACE CLEMSON IN FOOTBALL PLAYOFF: The undefeated Irish have booked a spot in the College Football Playoff (South Bend Tribune). On Sunday, Notre Dame (12-0) officially received its bid for the four-team playoff. The Irish, given the No. 3 seed, will play against No. 2 Clemson (13-0) on Dec. 29 in the Cotton Bowl at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. No. 1 Alabama and No. 4 Oklahoma will play the other national semifinal in the Orange Bowl at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla. The Tigers defeated Pittsburgh 42-10 on Saturday to win the ACC Championship. The Irish had the week off after finishing the regular season with a 24-17 win at USC. Clemson, the national champions following the 2016 season, will take part in the College Football Playoff for the fourth year in a row. This will be Notre Dame's first trip to the College Football Playoff since it began in 2014.

HPI DAILY ANALYSIS: Presidents Trump and Xi have reached a 90-day deal to ease the tariff/trade war. This will be seen as a positive move, but you have think about Hoosier farmers who will be meeting with their bankers this month and next, making planting and financial decisions for 2019, with the truce then coming to an end in at the end of February. If resolution on these tough issues the U.S. has been grappling with since President Bush41's administration isn't reached, they will have made decisions that are baked in to the coming growing season, and will be relying on Trump reaching a long-term deal that would benefit the strong portion of his political base.  - Brian A. Howey


BLOOMINGTON MAYOR HAMILTON TO SEEK 2ND TERM: Bloomington Mayor John Hamilton will run for re-election, he announced in an email late Sunday afternoon (Bloomington Herald-Times). The email was short on details, other than he will host a re-election launch party 5:30-7 p.m. Tuesday at the Monroe County Democratic Party Headquarters, 116 S. Madison St. A brief program will start at 6 p.m., the email stated.

SANDERS LAYING OUT BIGGER CAMPAIGN: Sen. Bernie Sanders is laying the groundwork to launch a bigger presidential campaign than his first, as advisers predict he would open the 2020 Democratic presidential primary season as a political powerhouse," AP's Steve Peoples reports a meeting of the Sanders brain trust in Burlington, Vt (Axios). A final decision has not been made, but those closest to the 77-year-old self-described democratic socialist suggest that neither age nor interest from a glut of progressive presidential prospects would dissuade him from undertaking a second shot. "This time, he starts off as a front-runner, or one of the front-runners," Sanders' 2016 campaign manager Jeff Weaver said. "It'll be a much bigger campaign if he runs again, in terms of the size of the operation."

SEN. HARRIS MULLS 2020 RUN: Sen. Kamala Harris said she will decide whether to run for president during the holiday season — setting the stage for an announcement from one of the Democratic field’s most highly anticipated 2020 contenders as early as the next several weeks (Politico). “It will ultimately be a family decision,” the California lawmaker told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” co-host Mika Brzezinski during the “Know Your Value” event in San Francisco on Saturday evening.

Sunday Talk

NADLER SAYS RUSSIANS HAD 'LEVERAGE' OVER TRUMP: New York Democrat Jerry Nadler, the incoming chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said Sunday that new revelations from one of President Trump’s allies amount to proof that Russia had "leverage" over Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign. In an exclusive interview on "Meet the Press," Nadler said that former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen’s admissions last week related to his role in securing a Trump Tower in Moscow during the time of the GOP presidential primary raise the specter of a compromised presidential candidate, and now president, that should trouble the American people. "The fact that he was lying to the American people about doing business in Russia and the Kremlin knew he was lying gave the Kremlin a hold over him," Nadler said.

WARNER SAYS SENATE REFERRALS MADE TO MUELLER: Virginia Sen. Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said his committee has made "a number of referrals" to special counsel Robert Mueller's office for prosecution, and vowed to do the same for anyone who lies to congressional investigators probing Russian interference in the 2016 election. "If you lie to Congress, we're going to go after you. We're going to make sure that gets referred," Warner said on "Face the Nation" Sunday.

CHENEY SAYS BUSH 'MASTERFUL' ON FOREIGN POLICY: Former Vice President Dick Cheney, who served as defense secretary in George H.W. Bush's administration, remembered the 41st president as "masterful" on foreign policy during unique and important moments in world history. "The nation was lucky to have him at that particular time," Cheney said on "Face the Nation" Sunday. Cheney, who also served as vice president under Mr. Bush's son, George W. Bush, said the elder president offered steady leadership during two crucial moments in history: the end of the Soviet Union and the Persian Gulf War.

BAKER RECALLS BUSH'S LAST MOMENT: President George H.W. Bush's last words were "I love you, too," spoken to his son George W. Bush, according to former Secretary of State James Baker, who was in the room when the 41st president passed away Friday at the age of 94.  On "Face the Nation" Sunday, Baker recalled the "peaceful, gentle" passing of his close friend of almost 60 years he said was like an older brother to him.  "I was the little brother, and I was very, very happy for George H.W. Bush to refer to me as his little brother. And we were extremely close," Baker said.


PELOSI VOWS TO BRING DREAMER BILL: Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi vowed to pass legislation that would put so-called Dreamers — young undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children — on a pathway to citizenship when her party retakes control of Congress' lower chamber in January (CBS News). "America draws strength from our long, proud heritage as a nation of immigrants. In the Majority, Democrats will work to reverse the Republicans' destructive anti-immigrant agenda," Pelosi said in a statement Saturday, responding to a letter sent Thursday by the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. "Our House Democratic Majority will once again pass the Dream Act to end the uncertainty and fear inflicted on patriotic young men and women across the country."

GRASSLEY SEEKS TO LIMIT TRUMP'S TRADE POWER: A fresh example of the political hurricane about to hit Trump's hardline trade agenda: Incoming Senate Finance Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) told Axios' Caitlin Owens he may try to make it harder for the president to impose new tariffs. Grassley said he would take a favorable view of legislation limiting the administration's power to impose tariffs to protect national security (known as Section 232 authority). "Maybe the definition of national security or maybe the conditions under which national security could be used as an excuse is a little wide," he told Axios. Grassley, a farmer himself, is among farm country's staunchest congressional advocates. The Chinese and other countries have targeted American farmers with penalties in retaliation for Trump's tariffs.

COMEY REACHES TESTIMONY DEAL: Former FBI director James Comey has reached an agreement with House Republicans, ending a standoff over whether he would appear in front of Congress to discuss his role in law-enforcement decisions during the 2016 election (Wall Street Journal). Lawyers for Mr. Comey filed a brief in court on Sunday saying he had reached an “acceptable accommodation” that would allow for the former FBI director to testify in a closed door hearing on Friday. The agreement will make Mr. Comey’s testimony in front of the House Judiciary and Oversight committees public within 24 hours of his appearance.


GOVERNOR: HOLCOMB HONORS SEAMAN WITH SAGAMORE - The teacher credited with stopping a student who opened fire in a Noblesville classroom in May received one of Indiana’s highest honors on Saturday (Fox59). Governor Eric Holcomb presented Jason Seaman with the Sagamore of the Wabash award at an Indiana Society of Chicago ceremony. The award is usually given to those who have rendered a distinguished service to the state or to the governor.

EDUCATION: PURDUE OFFERS NEW PREP COURSES -  Purdue University says it will offer high school students a taste of college before they graduate with a series of one-week courses (Associated Press). Purdue says its Summer College for High School Students will provide three different one-week, one-credit classes beginning in July. One prepares students for professional schools such as medicine and veterinary medicine, another is a model United Nations, and the third is about empowering women in business. Students can apply directly to the program through Purdue’s Office of Admissions and will be admitted as non-degree students. Eligible students must possess a high school GPA of 3.3 or higher, be at least 16 years old, and complete the sophomore year of high school before courses begin.

SINAI FORUM: HOLTZ SAYS TO 'KEEP IT SIMPLE' - With the rhythmic repartee of a seasoned comedian, legendary football coach Lou Holtz captivated a nearly standing-room-only audience at the last presentation of the 65th season of the Sinai Forum at Purdue Northwest (O'Leary, NWI Times). Holtz used the hour to impart through stories, examples and self-deprecating humor his “simple philosophy and simple plan” that have guided his success and the success of the teams he’s coached throughout the years. Holtz said he likes to keep it simple. “We complicate life, and we don’t have to,” Holtz said. “All you need is something to do, someone to love, something to believe in and something to hope for.”

SPORTS: PURDUE TO FACE AUBURN IN BOWL - For the second straight season, Purdue reached the six-win plateau necessary to become bowl eligible (Fort Wayne Journal Gazette). Last year, the Boilermakers capitalized on the postseason opportunity with a momentum-boosting victory in the Foster Farms Bowl. They'll get a similar opportunity this season, when they take on Auburn in the Music City Bowl in Nashville, Tennessee. The Boilermakers (6-6) and Tigers (7-5) will meet at Nissan Stadium, the home of the Tennessee Titans, on Dec. 28. Purdue comes in off a victory over Indiana in the Old Oaken Bucket Game, while Auburn is still smarting from a 52-21 shellacking at the hands of No. 1 Alabama in the Iron Bowl.


WHITE HOUSE: TRUMP SAYS HE WILL MEET WITH KIM - President Donald Trump has said he will likely hold a second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un early in the New Year and that three locations were being considered (NBC News). The president — who was returning from the G-20 summit in Argentina — told reporters aboard Air Force One that a second summit may happen in “January or February.” “We have actually talked about three sites, we haven’t determined the sites,” he said.

WHITE HOUSE: BUSH TRIBUTES CREATE CONTRAST FOR TRUMP - The tributes to former president George H.W. Bush poured in this weekend, each in their own way exposing the pitfalls ahead this week for the Oval Office’s current resident (Washington Post). The 41st president was remembered by Barack Obama, the 44th, as “a humble servant.” “Honorable, gracious and decent” were the words Bill Clinton used in praise of his immediate predecessor. House Speaker Paul D. Ryan’s encomium described Bush as “great in his character, leading with decency and integrity.” On Monday, Bush will return to Washington, where he will lie in state at the Capitol until Wednesday when, as tradition demands, Trump will attend the former president’s funeral at Washington National Cathedral. It’s unclear whether Trump will deliver a eulogy. In death, presidents are measured not only by their accomplishments but by what their tenure says about sitting presidents — and in this case, the contrast appears stark.

WHITE HOUSE: TRUMP CLIMATE SKEPTICISM SPREADS ACROSS GOP - Sen.-elect Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee said falsely in the lead-up to her campaign that the Earth has started to cool, and argued inaccurately that scientists have not reached a consensus on climate change (Washington Post). In Florida, which has been pummeled by hurricanes, Sen.-elect Rick Scott has acknowledged rising and warmer seas could be harmful to his state but won’t attribute it to human activity. And Sen. John Neely Kennedy, who is expected to announce Monday whether he will run for Louisiana governor, told reporters last week that while the Earth may be getting hotter, “I’ve seen many persuasive arguments that it’s just a continuation of the warming up from the Little Ice Age.” As President Trump’s rejection of climate science isolates the United States on the world stage, illustrated by the small U.S. delegation dispatched to this week’s United Nations climate summit in Poland, he has also presided over a transformation in the Republican Party — placing climate change skepticism squarely in the GOP’s ideological mainstream.

WHITE HOUSE: TRUMP SCHEDULE - President Trump will meet with HUD Secretary Ben Carson at 1:45 p.m. in the Oval Office.

CIA: MBS EVIDENCE STRONG IN KHASHOGGI MURDER - The C.I.A. has evidence that Mohammed bin Salman, the Saudi crown prince, communicated repeatedly with a key aide around the time that a team believed to have been under the aide’s command assassinated Jamal Khashoggi, according to former officials familiar with the intelligence (New York Times). The adviser, Saud al-Qahtani, topped the list of Saudis who were targeted by American sanctions last month over their suspected involvement in the killing of Mr. Khashoggi. American intelligence agencies have evidence that Prince Salman and Mr. Qahtani had 11 exchanges that roughly coincided with the hit team’s advance into the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, where Mr. Khashoggi was murdered.

PENTAGON: SENIOR TALIBAN LEADER KILLED - A top Taliban leader was killed in a U.S. airstrike in Afghanistan, officials from the Taliban, the Afghan government and the U.S.-led military coalition said, just as Washington is in delicate peace talks with the insurgent movement (Wall Street Journal). U.S. Army Col. David Butler, spokesman for U.S.-led international forces in Afghanistan, said Abdul Manan, the Taliban’s shadow governor in southern Helmand province, was killed late Saturday in an attack by an “unmanned aircraft.” In a statement, the Taliban also confirmed his death. Mr. Manan’s killing is the biggest loss for the Taliban since 2016 when the group’s leader, Akhtar Mansour, was killed in a U.S. drone strike in western Pakistan.

MUELLER: 'REPORT' UNFOLDING BEFORE OUR EYES - Everyone's waiting for the "Mueller Report." But it turns out that special counsel Robert Mueller is writing a "report" in real time, before our eyes, through his cinematic indictments and plea agreements, Garrett M. Graff reports for Axios: One of the least-noticed elements of the special counsel's approach is that all along, he has been making his case bit by bit, in public, since his very first court filing. With his major court filings so far, Mueller has already written more than 290 pages of the "Mueller Report." And there are still lots of loose ends in those documents — breadcrumbs Mueller is apparently leaving for later. Perhaps the best example is Mueller's oddly specific reference to the Russian hackers targeting Hillary Clinton "for the first time" after candidate Trump's still-unexplained "Russia, if you're listening" comment on July 27, 2016.

MEDIA: KENNEDY HONOREES PAY TRIBUTE TO BUSH41 -  Last year's Kennedy Center Honors ceremony was almost overshadowed by controversy surrounding the sitting president. This year's event took place in the shadow of the death of a former commander-in-chief. Sunday night's ceremony honoring lifetime artistic achievement featured multiple tributes to former President George H.W. Bush, who died Friday night at age 94. The night kicked off with an extended standing ovation in Bush's memory at the request of hostess Gloria Estefan (Associated Press). "I think it's appropriate to recognize the passing of a wonderful man who dedicated his life to service and who graciously attended this event many times during his administration, laughing, applauding, singing along and even shedding a tear from right up there in the presidential box," said Estefan, who recalled being invited to the White House and how Bush "literally spent 45 minutes patiently talking to my eight-year-old son" about how the government worked.

MICHIGAN: 1ST MIDEST STATE TO LEGALIZE REC MARIJUANA - Michigan clears a threshold this week as the first state in the Midwest to allow marijuana for more than just medical purposes (Associated Press). In the Nov. 6 election, voters by a wide margin endorsed recreational use by adults who are at least 21. The move comes 10 years after voters approved marijuana to alleviate the effects of certain illnesses. Many supporters believe that decadelong experience, as well as similar legalization efforts in other states, led to victory at the ballot box. “It’s certainly going to smell like freedom,” starting Thursday, said Detroit lawyer Matt Abel, who specializes in marijuana law and whose office sign says, “cannabis counsel.”


CITIES: MICHIGAN CITY COUNCILMAN TRIAL SET - County Councilman John P. Sullivan has been scheduled to face a jury next spring on the criminal charge he is facing (Michigan City News-Dispatch). Accused of entering a 39-year-old Wanatah woman’s home without her authorization on Aug. 3, Sullivan is scheduled for a jury trial to begin May 20, 2019, in La Porte Superior Court 1. He has until his final pretrial conference on April 18 to enter a plea agreement with the state, if one can be reached.

CITIES: FEREBEE FINALIST FOR DC JOB - Indianapolis Public Schools Superintendent Lewis Ferebee is a finalist for the open Washington, D.C., schools chief job, according to someone with knowledge of the search process (IBJ).