JOHN KELLY OFFERS UNVARNISHED VIEWS OF TRUMP: President Trump’s former chief of staff John Kelly on Wednesday night offered perhaps his most unvarnished comments to date about his former boss (Washington Post). As the Atlantic’s Peter Nicholas reports, Kelly said that Trump’s request of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky amounted to “an illegal order.” He defended Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, who worked on the National Security Council, from Trump’s attacks. He suggested that Trump was “played” by North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, and he directly rejected Trump’s negative rhetoric about immigrants. Border wall: Constructing one “from sea to shining sea” is a “waste of money.” John Bolton: “If John Bolton says that in the book, I believe John Bolton."

TRUMP LASHES OUT AT KELLY: President Donald Trump on Thursday lashed out at his former chief of staff, branding Kelly an attention seeker after Kelly publicly repudiated the president on a vast range of subjects (Politico). “When I terminated John Kelly, which I couldn’t do fast enough, he knew full well that he was way over his head. Being Chief of Staff just wasn’t for him. He came in with a bang, went out with a whimper,” Trump wrote in a pair of tweets, accusing Kelly of merely seeking the spotlight.

BARR COMPLAINS TRUMP TWEETS ARE UNDERCUTTING HIM: In an exclusive interview, Attorney General Bill Barr told ABC News on Thursday that President Donald Trump "has never asked me to do anything in a criminal case” but should stop tweeting about the Justice Department because his tweets “make it impossible for me to do my job.” Barr’s comments are a rare break with a president who the attorney general has aligned himself with and fiercely defended. But it also puts Barr in line with many of Trump’s supporters on Capitol Hill who say they support the president but wish he’d cut back on his tweets. “I think it’s time to stop the tweeting about Department of Justice criminal cases,” Barr told ABC News Chief Justice Correspondent Pierre Thomas. When asked if he was prepared for the consequences of criticizing the president – his boss – Barr said “of course” because his job is to run the Justice Department and make decisions on “what I think is the right thing to do.” White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham responded: “The President wasn't bothered by the comments at all and he has the right, just like any American citizen to publicly offer his opinions. The President has full faith and confidence in Attorney General Barr to do his job and uphold the law.”

YOUNG, SENATE VOTE SETS UP TRUMP VETO: Eight Senate Republicans voted with all 47 Democrats on Thursday to rein in President Trump's ability to take military action against Iran, paving the way for a veto showdown with the White House (The Hill). Senators voted 55-45 on the resolution, spearheaded by Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), that would require Trump to pull any U.S. troops from military hostilities against Iran within 30 day unless he gets congressional approval. The rebuke comes just a week after senators voted to acquit Trump in his impeachment trial. GOP senators who supported the resolution argued it was about clawing back some of the war making authority Congress has ceded to the executive branch in recent decades, and not a personal slight directed at Trump. That group included: Sens. Mike Lee (Utah), Rand Paul (Ky.), Susan Collins (Maine), Todd Young (Ind.), Jerry Moran (Kan.), Lamar Alexander (Tenn.), Bill Cassidy (La.) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska). “This is not about the presidency … this really is about the proper allocation of power between the three branches of government,” Lee told reporters. “Congress has ceased to be in the war declaration drivers seat.” Lee and Young made a pitch for the bill during a closed-door caucus lunch, and by the time the Senate held an initial procedural vote on Wednesday eight GOP senators were on board. 

CALIFORNIA LG ENDORSES BUTTIGIEG: California Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis is endorsing Pete Buttigieg for president, giving him the backing of the second-highest statewide elected official (San Francisco Chronicle). “What I see in Pete Buttigieg is someone who is young, who is smart, who is a veteran who has served overseas representing our country,” Kounalakis told The Chronicle’s “It’s All Political” podcast Wednesday. Buttigieg’s only experience in elective office was his two-term stint as mayor of South Bend, Ind., a city smaller than Antioch. Kounalakis, however, said that was no small accomplishment — she said Buttigieg had led “a small but feisty city into better things.”

TRUMP CAMPAIGN TAKES AIM AT BUTTIGIEG: Pete Buttigieg is now on the radar of President Trump's reelection campaign (Howey Politics Indiana). In a press release on Thursday, the Trump campaign called Buttigieg "a human weather vane," accusing him of "falsely assuring workers that his plan 'protects' their health coverage. Here's the truth: union workers and the rest of the 1.4 million Nevadans who receive health care through their jobs will lose their coverage one way or another under Pete Buttigieg." Buttigieg actually said the opposite on MSNBC's Morning Joe Wednesday morning, "I’m talking about culinary workers ... who are prioritizing health care and they are not interested in Sen. Sanders’ plan of eliminating all private plans."

TRUMP ALLIES FOCUSED ON BUTTIGIEG'S SEXUALITY: Allies of President Trump have sharply focused attention on the sexual identity of presidential contender Pete Buttigieg in recent days, questioning in stark terms whether Americans are ready for a gay candidate who kisses his husband onstage (Washington Post). The attacks are prompting blunt responses from Buttigieg’s allies and even his Democratic rivals, who call the remarks inappropriate and offensive. The exchanges were ignited by radio host Rush Limbaugh, who received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Trump last week and who framed his comments as an ostensible analysis of how Democrats feel. “They’re sitting there and they’re looking at Mayor Pete — a 37-year-old gay guy, mayor of South Bend, loves to kiss his husband on the debate stage. And they’re saying, okay, how’s this going to look, a 37-year-old gay guy kissing his husband onstage next to Mr. Man Donald Trump? What’s going to happen there?” Limbaugh said. (Buttigieg is 38.) The episode abruptly injected the topic into the political discussion after months when it had a lower profile. And it underlines a notable feature of Buttigieg’s rise: An openly gay, married candidate has never gotten so far in the presidential arena, and it’s not clear how some voters will react. The episode is a window into what Buttigieg could face if he becomes the Democratic nominee.

ADL SAYS WHITE SUPREMACIST PROPAGANDA IN INDIANA UP 92%: The Anti-Defamation League is reporting an all-time high for white supremacist propaganda in 2019. Indiana saw a 92 percent increase in the number of cases. The worst was in the Indianapolis area which saw a 180 percent increase in fliers, stickers and posters (WTHR-TV). "White supremacist groups use propaganda literature to spread their hateful message while simultaneously remaining anonymous and avoiding public backlash," said David Goldenberg, regional director for ADL Midwest. "As certain groups increasingly feel empowered to spread hate in this current environment, our leaders must continue to speak out and not allow these attitudes to be normalized in our communities." A total of 2,713 cases of white supremacist literature — an average of more than four per day — were reported nationwide.

HPI DAILY ANALYSIS: Twice in the past four months President Trump has injected himself in legal proceedings he has no business: With his pardon and elevation into cult hero status of Army Green Beret Maj. Matt Golsteyn who was convicted of murder in Afghanistan, and now with his friend Roger Stone, that prompted four DOJ prosecutors to resign in protest. Let's review: Stone was convicted by a jury for witness tampering and lying to Congress. He was admonished by the judge after he made a social media posting showing her in a gun crosshairs. Trump has now breached rule of law in military and civilian justice. - Brian A. Howey


DIETZEN TO FOCUSES 5TH CD RACE ON HEALTH CARE: Having a medical background, Republican Chuck Dietzen believes he can affect discussions on national health care if he’s elected to the U.S. House (de la Bastide, Anderson Herald-Bulletin). As one of 15 candidates seeking the Republican Party nomination in the 5th Congressional District, Chuck Dietzen, 58, believes his background distinguishes him from the pack. “The important thing is my background and life experiences as a doctor,” Dietzen said during an interview Tuesday with The Herald Bulletin. “I know the district.” Dietzen grew up in Kokomo and recently retired as chief of pediatric rehabilitation medicine at Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health. He is a member of the Howard County Hall of Legends, and is the founder of and a volunteer for Timmy Global Health. “I can affect what happens with health care,” Dietzen said. “Twenty percent of the gross domestic product is spent on health care. I have been to many countries with socialized health care.”

HUPFER PRAYS FOR FETUSES: Indiana Republican Chairman Kyle Hupfer released this statement late Wednesday following the interment of 2,400 aborted fetuses in South Bend earlier that day (Howey Politics Indiana): "Please forgive this late night intrusion but I wanted to share some quick thoughts about today. Spending time tonight with my family and preparing to put my kids to bed, my mind can’t help but take me to the ceremony that occurred today in South Bend. This afternoon the remains of 2,411 precious unborn souls were finally and properly put to rest. A grotesque story was given a beautiful and deserving ending. Tonight, I’ll say a prayer for those who were so casually discarded, those babies whose passions and dreams were snuffed out before they could even begin. I’ll also say a prayer of thanks for those Hoosiers who attended the ceremony, representing all of us who know life is a precious gift from above."

Presidential 2020

CAN PETE CARRY INDIANA? Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg was in Indianapolis Thursday for a private fundraiser (CBS4). The former South Bend mayor returns to Indiana with momentum after strong showings in the early primaries. We watched as VIP guests entered a private fundraiser for Pete Buttigieg in Indianapolis. “Money is always critical and he is trying to build up that momentum and keep it going,” said Political Analyst and Political Science Professor at the University of Indianapolis Laura Wilson. She notes the timing of this event says a lot. “It shows that even though we are coming up to the Nevada primary and the South Carolina primary he obviously thinks this fundraiser is important and being in Indianapolis is important because you only have so much time and he is choosing to spend it here with us,” said Wilson. Buttigieg is leading in terms of delegates after two primary elections. But how will he do here in Indiana? A state that Bernie Sanders won in the 2016 primary election. “It’s hard to say at this point," said Wilson. "I would tell you it says a lot about the Democratic Party that from an idealogical perspective they are still up in the air who they want to support. Bernie being much more progressive, Buttigieg being much more moderate." We asked on twitter if Buttigieg being a Hoosier impacts whether people might vote for him and 83 percent said no but 17 percent said yes.

NEVADA CULINARY UNION WON'T ENDORSE; OPENING FOR PETE: Nevada's powerful Culinary Workers Union will not endorse in the presidential primary, while criticizing Bernie Sanders’ signature Medicare for All proposal (Politico). In declining to pick a candidate — but calling for "choices" in health care — the union created an opening for Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar, two moderate Democrats with little demonstrated support in the state. And it was a further setback for Joe Biden, who has been desperate to reassert himself after two demoralizing performances in Iowa and New Hampshire. "We’re going to endorse our goals," Geoconda Argüello-Kline, the union’s secretary-treasurer, said at a press conference in Las Vegas. "We are not going to endorse a candidate." She said “we respect every single political candidate right now," while singling out Biden by name as a someone the union has known "for many years" and who has "been our friend." For Buttigieg and Klobuchar, the non-endorsement represents an inroad to Latino voters in a state where both candidates were polling in single digits in January but are now coming off strong finishes in Iowa and New Hampshire.

LIMBAUGH AIMS AT BUTTIGIEG: Conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh drew bipartisan criticism Thursday for saying the country won’t elect Pete Buttigieg president because he’s been “kissing his husband” on stage after debates (AP). Limbaugh’s comments came eight days after President Donald Trump awarded him the nation’s top civilian honor during the State of the Union address. The president said, among other things, that the tribute recognized the millions of people a day the host speaks to and inspires. Limbaugh, a staunch Trump ally who recently announced he has advanced lung cancer, made the remarks on his nationally syndicated radio show. Buttigieg has finished in the top two in Democrats’ first two presidential contests in Iowa and New Hampshire. “They’re saying, ‘OK, how’s this going to look?'” Limbaugh said Wednesday, imagining Democrats’ thinking. “Thirty-seven-year-old gay guy kissing his husband on stage, next to Mr. Man, Donald Trump.'”

TRUMP SAYS HE WOULD VOTE FOR GAY CANDIDATE: President Donald Trump said he would vote for a gay presidential candidate, a question revived by the success of former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s White House bid (Politico). In a wide-ranging interview on Fox News personality Geraldo Rivera’s podcast, the president also said he thinks it's possible that American voters could one day elect a gay candidate to the White House. “I think so. I think there would be some that wouldn't, and I wouldn't be among that group to be honest with you,” Trump told Rivera, pointing to Buttigieg’s top-two finishes in both of the first two Democratic presidential contests. “I think that, yes, I think that it doesn't seem to be hurting Pete Boot-edge-edge as you say, as you would call him,” he argued, using the phonetic pronunciation that Buttigieg’s campaign has deployed. “It doesn't seem to be hurting him very much but ... there would be a group that probably wouldn't. But you or I wouldn't be in that group."

TRUMP TO GIVE DAYTONA 500 START COMMAND:  President Donald Trump will give the command for drivers to start their engines before the Daytona 500 on Sunday (AP). Daytona International Speedway officials named Trump the grand marshal for NASCAR's season opener. That means he will deliver the most famous words in auto racing. “Gentleman, start your engines,” has been a staple of races around the world for decades. Trump is the second president to attend the Daytona 500. George W. Bush attended the race in 2004. Trump is the first president to be given an honorary role in pre-race ceremonies.

PENCE COMING TO VEGAS: Vice President Mike Pence will be visiting the silver state ahead of the state's caucuses (News3LV). According to the Trump campaign, Pence will be participating in an "Evangelicals for Trump" event in Las Vegas on Feb. 21.

MAYOR PETE, SOUTH BEND DRAWING RACE SCRUTINY: Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg is facing a more intense spotlight on his past leadership on issues of race and policing as he tries to translate his strong showing in Iowa and New Hampshire into support in more diverse states (AP). Buttigieg, who spent eight years as mayor of South Bend, Indiana, has tripped up in recent days as he was grilled about his record, including the racial disparity in marijuana arrests in South Bend and decisions that led to him having no African American leaders in his administration during a crucial stretch of his tenure in a city where more than a quarter of residents are black. The 38-year-old is trying to address those questions with a flurry of advertisements featuring black supporters and an appeal to minority voters who, like many in their party, are focused on which candidate is best positioned to beat President Donald Trump in November. “Before anybody cares what’s in your plans, they want to know if you’re a serious contender, and I think up until we had the results we did here in Iowa and New Hampshire, it was difficult for us to prove,” Buttigieg said Wednesday on PBS. “Now the process of proving it is underway.”

BLOOMBERG APOLOGIZES FOR STOP & FRISK IN HOUSTON: Democratic presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg used a rally at Houston's Buffalo Soldiers National Museum to tell a predominately black audience that he 'deeply regrets' ever supporting the controversial stop and frisk policy he employed while mayor of New York City (Houston Chronicles). Bloomberg told the audience that he knows now he was wrong to defend the policy that targeted black and Hispanic residents for pat downs to see if they had weapons. That program has become a major stumbling block for many Democratic voters as they weigh Bloomberg's run for the White House.

General Assembly

TOWNSHIP ASSESSOR BILL DIES: A bill that would have eliminated the positions of 13 township assessors died in committee Thursday at the Indiana Statehouse when state Sen. Jim Buck, R-Kokomo, tabled it following testimony (Downard, CNHI). Buck, the chair of the Local Government Committee, said he didn’t table the bill earlier because he wanted to give people a chance to testify. Ultimately, Buck said, he opposed the bill. “I do not like the Legislature, in this case, being the executor of the offices that people chose to keep,” Buck said. Voters chose through a referendum in 2008 to keep township assessors in 13 of the state’s 1,008 townships. The bill passed the House 53-44 after an amendment giving voters another referendum failed.

MELTON CALLS FOR SCHOOL VOUCHER 'TRANSPARENCY': A recently released report by the Counsel for the State Board of Accounts (SBOA) has revealed new information in the special investigation into the two Indiana virtual schools, Virtual School and Indiana Virtual Pathways Academy, that inflated their enrollment numbers to defraud the state out of millions of dollars (Howey Politics Indiana). The new evidence indicates that the virtual charter schools received a combined $68 million in excess funds. Companies affiliated with the schools received another $85 million in extra state money. State Senator Eddie Melton (D-Gary) had the following remarks on the new information uncovered in the investigation: “This new information further reinforces the need for Indiana to require greater transparency and accountability in our virtual charter schools,” Sen. Melton said.

SEN. LEISING PURSUES CURSIVE BILL: The decision by most schools to drop cursive occurred about nine years ago when states, including Indiana and Illinois, adopted the Common Core Curriculum pushed by the federal government, said Indiana Sen. Jean Leising, R-Batesville (Wieland, NWI Times). With computers and keypads commonplace in our everyday lives, many consider cursive irrelevant or a relic of our nostalgia. Common Core made cursive optional and most schools, especially public schools, opted not to teach it.  “When Tony Bennett was state superintendent of schools, he didn’t think it was important, and it was not included,” Leising said. “Eight years ago, I started the effort to get it back. I got it through the Senate each year, but it was killed in the House by the Education Committee Chairman Bob Behning (R-Indianapolis), who refused to give it a hearing.”  She introduced the bill again this year, but the Senate has a new education committee chairman this year in Jeff Raatz, R-Centerville, and he has not scheduled a hearing. “I had interns last year who were college students and couldn’t read cursive,” Leising said. “If you work for a senator, like myself or someone of the same age group, the interns can’t read our notes.”


YOUNG INTRODUCES SMALL BUSINESS VOUCHER BILL: U.S. Sens. Todd Young (R-Ind.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), and Chris Coons (D-Del.) introduced the Small Business Innovation Voucher Act to ensure America's small businesses can compete in the 21st century economy (Howey Politics Indiana). This legislation would create a voucher program at the Small Business Administration (SBA) to provide federal grants for small businesses to partner with institutions of higher education to conduct research and development. This would allow America's small business owners to leverage the cutting-edge research methods, laboratory space, and academic expertise needed to compete in our increasingly interconnected global economy and advance the commercialization of new technologies. "As the son of a small businessman, I value the essential role that small firms play in ensuring America remains the world's leader in commercializing cutting-edge technologies. Our Small Business Innovation Voucher program will build on Indiana's existing voucher program to facilitate public-private partnerships between small businesses and our world-renowned research institutions. Giving Hoosier entrepreneurs expanded access to world-class lab space and brilliant scientists will help drive innovation and enhance economic opportunity across Indiana," said Senator Young.

BUCSHON SAYS DEMS PRIORITIZING 'MESSAGING': U.S. Rep. Larry Bucshon, M.D. (IN-08) released the following statement after voting against House Democrats’ resolution intended for campaign messaging; Removing the deadline for ratification of the equal rights amendment (H.J.Res 79) (Howey Politics Indiana): “As a husband, and the father of two daughters, I understand the absolute importance of equality under law among all U.S. citizens. I want the opportunities for my daughters and other women limited only by their dreams and abilities. Current federal, state and local laws ensure that this is the case. This resolution is an unconstitutional attempt to extend the deadline of the Equal Rights Amendment that passed more than three decades ago and does nothing to advance the cause of equality. Furthermore, this deceitful resolution is being pushed at the behest of the abortion industry as a way to be used by courts to undermine existing pro-life laws and allow tax funded abortions up until birth. Instead of restarting and sending the Equal Rights Amendment through the proper legislative process as suggested by Justice Ginsburg, House Democrats are using this resolution as a political messaging tool for candidates in the 2020 election cycle and their political allies in the abortion industry.”

YOUNG, PENCE REMEMBER IWO JIMA: U.S. Senator Todd Young (R-Ind.) and Rep. Greg Pence (IN-06) today introduced a Joint Resolution to honor the 75th Anniversary of the Battle for Iwo Jima during World War II. The resolution recognizes the bravery and heroism demonstrated 75 years ago during the victory that was led by the United States Marine Corps on the island of Iwo Jima (Howey Politics Indiana). Next month, Senator Young and Congressman Pence will participate in a congressional delegation to Iwo Jima, now known as Iwo-To, to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of the Battle of Iwo Jima. “Iwo Jima is hallowed ground for me, my fellow Marines, and all those who lost loved ones in the battle. This resolution helps to recognize those who gave their lives in Iwo Jima seventy-five years ago,” said Young.

BANKS SEES VA CHAPLAIN REORGANIZATION: U.S. Rep. Jim Banks introduced a bill to realign chaplains at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) directly under the VA Secretary. The bill is designed to create consistent religious policies across the VA, improve access to pastoral counseling and instruct the VA to install a Chief of Chaplains position that functions as an Assistant Secretary to the Secretary at the VA (Howey Politics Indiana). “Spiritual counseling and mental health services can be essential to suicide prevention. As veteran suicides are on the rise, we need to take every measure possible to get those struggling with the unseen scars of war the tools they need to survive,” said Rep. Banks. “The VA should support individual’s religious freedom and provide faith-based services to those that want it.”

PELOSI CALLS FOR ANOTHER TRUMP PROBE: After the Department of Justice overruled a sentencing recommendation made by career prosecutors in the case of President Trump’s longtime associate Roger Stone, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi asserted on Thursday that the reversal represented another “abuse of power” that must be investigated by Congress (ABC News). “This is an abuse of power that the president is again trying to manipulate federal law enforcement to serve his political interest,” Pelosi, D-Calif., said. “And the president is what he is. He thinks he's above the law, he has no respect for the law, but where are the Republicans to speak out on this blatant violation of the rule of law?”

MANCHIN SAYS HE COULD VOTE FOR TRUMP: Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said he could potentially endorse President Trump for reelection just a week after he voted to convict the president for abuse of power, according to a report published Thursday (Fox News). “Everybody can change,” Manchin told Politico. “Maybe the president will change, you know? Maybe that uniter will come out, versus the divider.” Manchin said that, although Trump did his best to unseat him in 2018, the two were having lunch together a week after his third-term reelection. “He said: ‘I knew we couldn’t beat you,'” Manchin said of Trump. “And I said: ‘It wasn’t for lack of trying.’ Boom, it’s over, let it go. I did. I’m asking him to do the same thing I did. He tried to remove me.”


SOUTH SHORE: ENGINEERING FOR DOUBLE TRACKING CLOSER - A project to cut South Shore train commute times between northwest Indiana communities and Chicago recently got the green light for engineering (South Bend Tribune). St. Joseph County officials who have backed the project as a potential economic boost for the area said earlier this week the OK for engineering means the project will likely get federal money for construction. The Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District, operator of the South Shore Line railroad, announced Tuesday the Double Track Northwest Indiana Project received approval for engineering from the Federal Transit Administration. At a County Council meeting Tuesday night, County Commissioner Andy Kostielney said the approval was “very exciting news for the region,” and County Council member Mark Catanzarite said it was like the FTA’s “stamp of approval.”

EDUCATION: IU TRUSTEES POISED TO RAISE HOUSING FEES - The cost of some student housing at Indiana University could increase by more than $1,000 in three years (Bloomington Herald-Times). The IU Board of Trustees is scheduled to vote on housing and dining rate proposals during meetings this week at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. An agenda shows rates for housing and meal plans vary. On the Bloomington campus, some rates will only rise by a few dollars while other increases will be much greater.


WHITE HOUSE: WSJ ADMONISHES TRUMP - The Wall Street Journal editorialized today: After his Senate impeachment acquittal, we wrote that President Trump’s history is that he can’t stand prosperity. Well, that was fast. The President’s relentless popping off this week about the sentencing of supporter Roger Stone has hurt himself, his Justice Department, and the proper understanding of executive power. That’s a notable trifecta of self-destructive behavior even by his standards. Mr. Trump handed another sword to his opponents when he fulminated on Twitter about the initial recommendation of a seven-to-nine year prison sentence for Mr. Stone. He is right that such a sentence would be excessive. Mr. Stone was convicted of lying to Congress, which often receives minimal jail time. His conviction for witness tampering was more serious but involved a faux-macho threat (“prepare to die”) that even the witness said he didn’t take literally. As it happens, senior Justice officials had concluded on their own that the sentence recommendation was excessive and had decided to rescind it before Mr. Trump’s tweet. But by ranting publicly as he did, the President gave Democrats an opening to claim that Attorney General Bill Barr was taking orders from the White House.

WHITE HOUSE: DEMS ALLEGE QUID PRO QUO WITH NY - President Donald Trump appeared Thursday to link his administration's policies toward New York to a demand that the state drop investigations and lawsuits related to his administration as well as his personal business and finances (Politico). Hours before New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo was set to meet the president at the White House, Trump tweeted that Cuomo “must understand” that National Security far exceeds politics,” a reference to his administration’s recent decision to halt New York’s access to the Global Entry and other “trusted traveler” programs that allow New Yorkers faster border crossings and shorter airport lines. Trump continued, “New York must stop all of its unnecessary lawsuits & harrassment, start cleaning itself up, and lowering taxes.” Trump’s invocation of “lawsuits & harrassment” was a reference to the state’s numerous lawsuits against his administration and also against Trump’s business, which is based in New York. That prompted Rep. Val Demings (D-Fla.), one of the House managers who prosecuted Trump’s impeachment in the Senate, to accuse the president of “expanding his abuse of power to blackmailing U.S. states (threatening millions of people he supposedly works for). In this case, he's holding New York state hostage to try to stop investigations into his prior tax fraud.”

WHITE HOUSE: TRUMP MAY RESTRICT WORLD LEADER CALL ACCESS - President Donald Trump suggested on Thursday that he might stop allowing administration officials to listen in on his calls with foreign leaders, musing about scrapping the longstanding practice less than a year after one such phone call kicked off events that led to his impeachment (Politico). “That’s what they’ve done over the years — when you call a foreign leader, people listen,” the president explained in an interview with Geraldo Rivera, who’d asked why so many people were listening in on the calls. Trump added: “I may end the practice entirely, I may end it entirely.”

WHITE HOUSE: TRUMP REFLECTS ON NIXON - Donald Trump reflected Thursday on his place in American presidential history in the aftermath of his Senate impeachment trial — revealing in a rare moment of introspection that he experiences "a little bit of a different feeling" when he gazes upon Richard Nixon's White House portrait (Politico). "Well, it's a terrible thing," Trump told Geraldo Rivera on the television personality's weekly podcast, when asked about the personal toll the monthslong impeachment battle had taken on him. "And, you know, I think of Nixon more than anybody else, and what that dark period was in our country," he continued. "And the whole thing with the tapes and the horror show. It was dark, and it went on for a long time. And I watched it."

WHITE HOUSE: HICKS, McENTEE RETURN - President Donald Trump is surrounding himself with loyalists after a week of banishing staffers across the government in a post-impeachment revenge plot (Politico). On Thursday, the White House confirmed that Hope Hicks, one of Trump’s most trusted confidants, will return to the White House to work directly for the president’s son-in-law and top adviser, Jared Kushner, as a senior adviser after nearly two years away. Trump’s “body man” Johnny McEntee is also being promoted to run the office responsible for filling hundreds of top political jobs throughout the federal agencies, according to three senior administration officials, replacing Sean Doocey, who will move over to the State Department.

WHITE HOUSE: TRUMP SCHEDULE - President Trump will deliver remarks to the National Border Patrol Council members in the South Court Auditorium at 2:30 p.m. He and first lady Melania Trump will leave the White House at 4 p.m. en route to West Palm Beach. They will arrive at Mar-a-Lago at 6:55 p.m.

PENTAGON: $3.8B TO BE DIVERTED FOR WALL - The Department of Defense is diverting $3.83 billion from elsewhere in its budget to build more of President Trump’s border barrier, according to documents reviewed by The Washington Post, setting in motion a White House plan to take some $7.2 billion from the Pentagon budget this year for the project as Trump heads into the presidential election. The Pentagon informed Congress on Thursday of its plans to divert the $3.8 billion from the purchase of aircraft and other equipment and instead use the funds for the construction of border barriers. The Pentagon is moving the money using an obscure counternarcotics law that allows the Defense Department to build fencing for other federal, state and local agencies in known drug-smuggling corridors.

JUSTICE: HUAWEI ACCUSED OF RACKETEERING - Huawei Technologies Co. and two of its U.S. subsidiaries were charged with racketeering conspiracy to steal trade secrets in a new federal indictment unsealed Thursday, opening another front in the Trump administration’s battle with the Chinese telecommunications firm (Wall Street Journal). The new charges amp up pressure on Huawei from the U.S., where Trump administration officials say the company poses a national security risk as it competes fiercely with American rivals around the world. The new indictment, filed in federal court in Brooklyn, N.Y., builds on allegations the U.S. leveled against Huawei in January 2019 accusing Huawei of financial fraud. Federal prosecutors in Brooklyn said the new charges related to a decadeslong effort by Huawei and its subsidiaries, both in the U.S. and China, to steal intellectual property, including from six U.S. technology companies.

MEDIA: McCLATCHY NEWSPAPERS FILES FOR BANKRUPTCY - McClatchy Co., the second-largest U.S. newspaper group by circulation, filed for bankruptcy protection, a move that comes as the nation’s newspaper industry is struggling to cope with a sharp decline in print advertising and the challenges of building a robust digital business (Wall Street Journal). The move is expected to put an end to the McClatchy family’s 163-yearlong control over the publisher, and turn the hedge fund behind the current owner of the National Enquirer into its top shareholder. McClatchy, the publisher of the Miami Herald, Sacramento Bee, Kansas City Star and other well-known newspapers, has struggled under a heavy debt load since its ill-timed $4.5 billion acquisition of Knight Ridder in 2006—a stretch during which its stock price plunged from $496 to 75 cents.

MEDIA: NEWSPAPERS ARE 'TOAST' - Charles Munger, who’s a newspaper company executive as well as a Berkshire Hathaway Inc. vice chairman, said U.S. newspapers have no future. “Technological change is destroying the daily newspapers in America,” Munger, 96, said Wednesday in Los Angeles at the annual meeting of Daily Journal Corp., the publishing company where he is chairman. “The revenue goes away and the expenses remain and they’re all dying” (Yahoo News). Berkshire, the conglomerate controlled by Warren Buffett, announced last month that it would sell off its newspaper holdings. BH Media and the Buffalo News will be acquired by Lee Enterprises Inc. in a rare divestiture for Buffett after he spent years snapping up local newspapers. Buffett, a fan of newspapers since he was a boy, has lamented the decline of the industry as it suffered plummeting readership, ad competition from the web and newsroom cutbacks. He said last year that most newspapers are “toast.” “They’re all going to die,” Munger said Wednesday. “It’s a sad thing.”

MEDIA: SUNDAY TALK - CBS "Face the Nation": Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) ... Tom Steyer ... Anthony Fauci, director of NIH's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Panel: Ed O'Keefe, Paula Reid, Eliana Johnson and Amy Walter. ABC "This Week": Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.). NBC "Meet the Press": Panel: Peter Alexander, María Teresa Kumar, Danielle Pletka and Eugene Robinson. "Fox News Sunday": Kellyanne Conway. Panel: Guy Benson, Donna Brazile, Michael Anton and Charles Lane. Power Player: Ben Folds. CNN "State of the Union" (guest host: Dana Bash): Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.). Panel: Rep. Nanette Diaz Barragán (D-Calif.), Ken Blackwell, Andrew Gillum and Amanda Carpenter. CNN "Inside Politics" (guest host: Nia-Malika Henderson): Margaret Talev, Tarini Parti, Phil Mattingly and Lisa Lerer.


FORT WAYNE: DO IT BEST CORP TO BE ANCHOR ELECTRIC WORKS TENANT - The developers of the Electric Works project on Thursday formally announced that Do It Best Corp., the New Haven-based home improvement company, will serve as an anchor tenant for the mixed-use former G.E. campus near downtown (WPTA-TV). The Thursday afternoon news conference followed several eventful days for the project, which received board backing to extend key deadlines tied to public financing. On Wednesday, in his State of the City address, Mayor Tom Henry reiterated his support for the project. In taking its operation to Electric Works, Do It Best will move hundreds of workers south from the corporation's longtime New Haven home. "The news was a little disturbing when I first heard it," New Haven Mayor Steve McMichael told ABC21. "You're never happy to lose an employer from your community, but certainly it's much better than locating to a different area to Indianapolis or even out of state."

SOUTH BEND: POLICE ACTION SHOOTING PROBE TO CONCLUDE THIS MONTH - The investigation into the fatal shooting of Eric Logan by a South Bend police officer could wrap up by the end of the month (Mazurek, South Bend Tribune). Logan, 54, who was black, was shot and killed June 16 by then-Sgt. Ryan O’Neill, who is white, during an encounter in the parking lot of the downtown Central High Apartments. Police have said the officer responded to a report of someone breaking into cars, and opened fire after Logan approached him with a knife. Ripley County Prosecutor Ric Hertel was appointed to review the incident in July after St. Joseph County Prosecutor Ken Cotter recused himself from the case. In a recent statement, Hertel told the Tribune that his office received a number of reports in late December and that February is "a realistic timeframe" for the results of the investigation to be announced.

CARMEL: BRAINARD SAYS TAXPAYERS WON'T PAY FOR HOTEL COSTS - Carmel, Indiana Mayor Jim Brainard says a projected $38.5 million dollars in cost overruns for construction of the luxurious Hotel Carmichael will not be borne by taxpayers (Baker, WIBC). The city of Carmel announced last week that while construction of Hotel Carmichael at Carmel City Center is on schedule, the cost for the project had grown to an estimated $58.5 million, $20 million higher than the initial budget. “A variety of economic factors” were blamed for the cost overruns, including a national increase in construction costs and local spikes in labor costs and tariffs on imported materials and goods. In a lengthy statement released Monday, Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard offered an explanation for cost overruns related to the construction of the Hotel Carmichael and argued that "Mestestky and the CRC "should be applauded for finding innovative ways of funding these cost increases without any additional risk to taxpayers."

SEYMOUR: 2 COPS FACE GHOST EMPLOYMENT CHARGES - A special prosecutor has charged two Seymour police officers with ghost employment, official misconduct and theft as the result of a four-month investigation, police report (Columbus Republic). Former Police Chief Bill Abbott and current Capt. Carl Lamb have been on administrative leave during the investigation that was started in October 2019 by the Indiana State Police. The charges, which are all Level 6 felonies, stem from a review of that investigation conducted by a special prosecutor, according to a news release from Sgt. Stephen Wheeles with the Indiana State Police Versailles Post.

HIGHLAND: COUPLE SELF-QUARANTINES AFTER CHINA TRIP - In China, Ken Zurek of Northwest Indiana saw the disruption of the novel coronavirus — bustling cities turned to ghost towns, businesses shuttered, citizens confined to their homes, a world on pause in fear of a quickly-spreading virus (Chicago Tribune). “What I just experienced? I never want to experience it here,” said Zurek, 63, a concrete business owner who traveled last month to China with his wife, Annie, 60, to visit her family and meet their new baby granddaughter. After learning of the virus and cutting their visit short to return home after 10 days, the Zureks decided to quarantine themselves in their Highland, Indiana, home for about two weeks even though they haven’t shown any signs of the virus, like fever and cough. The self-quarantine — not ordered by health professionals — is winding down and the Zureks, as well as their family back in China, all have remained healthy, he said.

ELKHART: FIREFIGHTERS TO GET BULLETPROOF VESTS - City firefighters will be safer when responding to emergencies after receiving a Firehouse Subs grant for 40 sets of body armor (Elkhart Truth). According to Elkhart Fire Chief Steve Kamp, the grant is for about $20,000 to $25,000 and allows the department to make bulletproof vests available to every firefighter on a given shift.

INDIANAPOLIS: 38TH STREET A CRIME HOT SPOT - City-County-Councilman John Barth issued a series of tweets this week in which he called for a crackdown on crime along the 38th Street corridor, between Capitol Avenue and Meridian Street, calling it a ‘hot spot’ of violent crime in the area after a string of incidents at a McDonalds/BP location in the area (Baker, WIBC). Customers and residents in the area have regularly witnessed shootings, stabbings, fights and an attack on the franchise owner at the McDonald’s located at 37 West 38th Street. “Annually, there are hundreds of [police] runs to this area,” city-county council member John Barth said Sunday night in a Tweet. “Historically, many runs have been attributed to the BP/McDonald’s.”

INDIANAPOLIS: LILLY ENDOWMENT TO FUND INNER LOOP STUDY - One of the city’s most powerful institutions—the Lilly Endowment Inc.—signaled support on Thursday for exploring design alternatives for the inner loop, the portion of interstates 65 and 70 that snakes through downtown. (Andrews, IBJ) The Indy Chamber Foundation announced that it has received a $475,000 grant from the endowment to fund a study of reconstruction options for the inner loop except for the north split, the first phase of the project, which has already begun. The Chamber Foundation said the study will “inform implementation efforts” in the year 2030 and beyond. “As the inner loop ages toward major reconstruction over the next decade, it’s imperative that we gather the facts and engage our community to build consensus toward the best possible solution,” Indy Chamber CEO Michael Huber said in a written statement.

INDIANAPOLIS: CITY, CHAMBER LAUNCH MINORITY FINANCING - The city of Indianapolis and the Indy Chamber’s Business Ownership Initiative are launching a program to provide low- or no-interest loans to minority entrepreneurs in need of working capital to bid on city contracts (IBJ). The partnership, announced Thursday at the Innovation Hub at 16 Tech, comes after a study commissioned by the city found that minority- and women-owned businesses are substantially underused in the city’s contracting and procurement processes. Those business owners reported that contract sizes were too large for them to manage, and they had limited cash flow to be able to take them on.

MERRILLVILLE: TOWN TO STUDY FOOD/BEVERAGE TAX - Members of the Merrillville Town Council are discussing whether it’s time to pursue a 1% sales tax on food and beverage purchases to help fund an event center (Inside Indiana Business). Our partners at The Times of Northwest Indiana report a developer has expressed interest in transforming a former Burlington Coat Factory store on U.S. 30 into a 140,000-square-foot convention center. The publication says Tri-Land Properties, which owns the Century Plaza, has been investigating development plans. The property near the vacant store also has space for other amenities, like hotels and restaurants. “It’s $50 million for the convention center, it’s $150 million when you put the hotels and the restaurants in,” Tri-Land Properties president Richard Dube told the paper.

MADISON COUNTY: COUNCIL DEADLOCKED IN PAY HIKE - The Madison County Council deadlocked on a request to raise the county’s human resources administrator’s salary by 35% (de la Bastide, Anderson Herald-Bulletin). With only four of the seven council members present Tuesday, the council deadlocked 2-2 to approve a $17,000 pay increase for Beatrice Ramey and to table the request for a month. Councilwoman Lisa Hobbs and Councilman Steve Sumner didn’t attend the meeting. Hobbs was ill and Sumner was called out of town on a family emergency. The vacancy created by the death of Councilman Brent Holland won’t be filled by the Republican Party until Feb. 19.