REP. CHENEY CALLS FOR TRUMP IMPEACHMENT: U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney, the third ranking House Republican and daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, called for the impeachment of President Trump on Tuesday. She joins Republican Reps. Fred Upton of Michigan, Adam Kinzinger of Illinois and John Katko of New York in calling for Trump's ouster (Howey Politics Indiana). "On January 6, 2021 a violent mob attacked the United States Capitol to obstruct the process of our democracy and stop the counting of presidential electoral votes. This insurrection caused injury, death and destruction in the most sacred space in our Republic," Cheney said in a statement. "Much more will become clear in coming days and weeks, but what we know now is enough. The President of the United States summoned this mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack. Everything that followed was his doing. None of this would have happened without the President. The President could have immediately and forcefully intervened to stop the violence. He did not. There has never been a greater betrayal by a President of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution. I will vote to impeach the President."

 

McCONNELL SAYS TRUMP MAY HAVE COMMITTED IMPEACHABLE OFFENSES: Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader, has told associates that he believes President Trump committed impeachable offenses and that he is pleased that Democrats are moving to impeach him, believing that it will make it easier to purge him from the party, according to people familiar with his thinking (New York Times). Axios reported this morning "There's a better than 50-50 chance that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell would vote to convict President Trump in an impeachment trial, sources tell Mike Allen. "The Senate institutional loyalists are fomenting a counterrevolution" to Trump, said a top Republican close to McConnell. U.S. Sen. Todd Young is a lieutenant of McConnell's but hasn't announced where he stands (Howey Politics Indiana). The House is voting on Wednesday to formally charge Mr. Trump with inciting violence against the country. “This failed attempt to obstruct the Congress, this failed insurrection, only underscores how crucial the task before us is for our Republic,” Mr. McConnell said as the Senate reconvened on Wednesday to finish the electoral count disrupted by the siege. “Our nation was founded precisely so that the free choice of the American people is what shapes our self-government and determines the destiny of our nation.”

 

PENCE REFUSES TO INVOKE 25TH AMENDMENT: Vice President Mike Pence informed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in a letter late Tuesday that he will not invoke the 25th Amendment to remove President Donald Trump from office (IndyStar). “I do not believe that such a course of action is in the best interest of our Nation or consistent with our Constitution,” Pence wrote in a letter to a speaker. Pence praised Pelosi and others for their leadership in the aftermath of last week’s attack on the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob, calling it “a moment that documented to the American people that unity is still possible in Congress when it is needed most.” But Pence said he did not yield then to pressure “to exert power beyond my constitutional duty to determine the outcome of the election, and I will not yield now to efforts in the House of Representatives to play political games at a time so serious in the life of our Nation.”

 

BUCSHON, BANKS FOLLOWING PENCE ON 25TH, IMPEACHMENT; MRVAN FAVORS: U.S. Rep. Larry Bucshon posted Vice President Mike Pence's statement urging Members of Congress "to avoid actions that would further divide and inflame the passions of the moment" by voting to impeach President Trump or invoke the 25th Amendment. Bucshon tweeted last night, "I agree with VP Mike Pence" (Howey Politics Indiana). U.S. Rep. Jim Banks said in a Facebook posting last night, "I agree with Vice President Pence. Now is not the time for more of Speaker Pelosi’s partisan games that will only further divide this country. That’s why I’ll be voting against impeachment." Bucshon also tweeted, "In addition, what @SpeakerPelosi is doing by forcing the Capitol Police to not allow Members onto the House floor without a “security” checkpoint is unconstitutional based on Article 1, Section 6. This should not stand. @GOPLeader with House Republicans must formally protest." U.S. Rep. Frank J. Mrvan tweeted, "Today, I am announcing my support for implementing the 25th Amendment and articles of impeachment against President Trump due to his action of inciting an insurrection against Congress, a co-equal branch of government."

 

TRUMP EXPRESSES NO RESPONSIBILITY, ISSUES THREAT: President Donald Trump on Tuesday took no responsibility for his part in fomenting a violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol last week, despite his comments encouraging supporters to march on the Capitol and praise for them while they were still carrying out the assault (AP). “People thought that what I said was totally appropriate,” Trump said. He made the comments during his first appearance in public since the Capitol siege, which came as lawmakers were tallying Electoral College votes affirming President-elect Joe Biden’s victory. In Alamo, Texas, a city in the Rio Grande Valley near the U.S.-Mexican border — the site of the 450th mile of the border wall his administration is building, Trump brushed off Democratic calls on his Cabinet to declare him unfit from office and remove him from power using the 25th Amendment. “The 25th Amendment is of zero risk to me, but will come back to haunt Joe Biden and the Biden administration,” Trump said. “As the expression goes, be careful of what you wish for.” Trump angrily lashed out at lawmakers’ push for his second impeachment this week, claiming, “It’s causing tremendous anger and division and pain far greater than most people will ever understand, which is very dangerous for the USA, especially at this very tender time.”

 

CARSON SAYS HE WAS TARGETED BY MOB: U.S. Rep. Andre Carson said on Tuesday he learned he was targeted by insurrectionists who invaded the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 (Howey Politics Indiana). “It is extremely disturbing to learn from press reports that I was one of several individuals identified in a list of 'good guys' and 'bad guys' targeted for attacks," Carson, D-Indianapolis, said.  'The indicted terrorist had the means and opportunity to carry out his plans to violently attack, injure and destroy government officials and related offices in our Nation’s Capitol. These were not idle threats. These were planned and organized measures to take my life, my colleagues’ lives and try to destroy our government. As a former law enforcement officer, it is especially disappointing to see the failure of law enforcement officials, including the U.S. Capitol Police, to notify individuals like myself that we were targeted and at risk from the indicted terrorist and his co-conspirators."

 

WHAT TO EXPECT IN U.S. HOUSE TODAY: Things are still fluid, but expect the House to convene at 9 a.m. for initial debate and a pair of procedural votes (Politico Playbook). Around lunchtime — though it could certainly slide to later — we expect the start of two hours of debate on the article of impeachment. That will be followed by the House impeachment vote, likely in the mid- or late afternoon. The vote SHOULD take between 40 minutes and an hour. And once the gavel comes down, it is likely that Trump will have been impeached — again. This time, as many as a dozen Republicans are expected to side with Democrats (though it could be more). The New York Times reports that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy "will not be whipping the vote," not to mention the horrifyingly ominous fact that McCarthy has reportedly “warned members not to verbally attack colleagues who vote for impeachment because it could endanger their lives.”

 

U.S. MILITARY LEADERS DENOUNCE INSURRECTION: The nation’s military leadership on Tuesday denounced last week’s storming of the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob as a plot to overthrow the government, while federal prosecutors said they were examining more than 160 cases and weighing sedition charges in some of them (Wall Street Journal). In a further sign of a tougher posture, Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy has decided to allow National Guard members being sent to Washington through next week’s presidential inauguration to carry weapons, a U.S. defense official said late Tuesday. Earlier in the day, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the heads of the branches of the U.S. military called the Jan. 6 assault, in which a violent, pro-Trump mob forcibly entered the Capitol where lawmakers were certifying Mr. Biden’s presidential victory, “a direct assault on the U.S. Congress, the Capitol building, and our constitutional process.” The statement also knocked back unfounded claims made by some Republican lawmakers and Trump supporters that he was the election’s actual winner, an unusual situation for a military that typically steers clear of domestic politics. “On January 20, 2021, in accordance with the Constitution, confirmed by the states and courts, and certified by Congress, President-elect Biden will be inaugurated and will become our 46th commander-in-chief,” said the statement, signed by the Joint Chiefs chairman, Army Gen. Mark Milley, and the commanders of the Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, National Guard and Space Force.

 

ISP, IMPD NOT AWARE OF ANY ARMED STATEHOUSE DEMONSTRATIONS: The Indiana State Police told IBJ Tuesday it is not aware of any planned protests at the Statehouse in the coming week, amid a warning from the FBI to law enforcement about plans for armed protests at all 50 state capitols leading up to President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration Jan. 20. An internal FBI bulletin said this weekend that nationwide protests could start as early as later this week, according to two law enforcement officials who read details of the memo to The Associated Press. Investigators believe some of the people are members of extremist groups, the officials said. “Armed protests are being planned at all 50 state capitols from 16 January through at least 20 January, and at the U.S. Capitol from 17 January through 20 January,” the bulletin said, according to one official. The officials were not authorized to speak publicly and spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity. Locally, Indiana State Police Capt. Ron Galaviz told IBJ the agency is not aware of any planned activities on the Statehouse grounds. Galaviz, the department’s chief public information officer, said state police will continue to monitor activity while also communicating with our local and federal law enforcement partners. “While we do not speak to specifics as they pertain to operational and security measures, we are prepared to provide the necessary security for the Statehouse and its adjacent campus,” he said in an email. Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department spokeswoman Aliya Wishner said the city department’s leaders have “been in constant contact with our local, state, and federal law enforcement partners and will continue this coordination through Inauguration Day and the weeks that follow.”

 

FIRST BILL TO LIMIT GOVERNOR'S POWERS HEARD IN HOUSE: After a months-long pandemic managed almost entirely by Gov. Eric Holcomb, many Hoosier lawmakers had one takeaway: the governor has too much power (Downard, CNHI). That’s the main focus of at least six Senate bills and 10 House bills filed so far in the 2021 session – one of which received its first committee hearing Tuesday. State Rep. Matt Lehmen, R-Berne, authored HB 1123, which limits how many times the governor can renew an emergency declaration. “Right now the law says every 30 days (the emergency declaration) can be renewed,” Lehmen said in the Rules and Legislative Procedures Committee on Tuesday. “If we leave session as we did (in 2020) in March, those 30-day (renewals) can go until we return back here in January (for the next legislative session).” Under Lehmen’s bill, the governor would need legislative approval to extend that first declaration for another 30 days. If the crisis continues past the first 30-day renewal, the General Assembly can meet again in a special session to extend it for another 60 days. Under current law, only the governor can call for a special session, which Holcomb said legislative leadership didn’t push for over the summer. “Nothing here prohibits the governor from saying, ‘Hey, things have gotten worse,’” Lehmen said, and therefore he can revise past executive orders. Lehmen clarified that local government can still enforce stricter mandates if they so choose.

No one signed up to testify for or against the bill and the committee chair, Rep. Dan Leonard, R-Huntington, said the committee would vote on the bill next week. Six similar bills limiting the governor’s powers are also assigned to Leonard’s committee. But Lehmen’s bill is far from the only bill dealing with the governor’s powers – just the first to get a committee hearing. Some other bills forbid the governor and local officials from closing schools or churches. Others specify that business restrictions must be applied equally across an entire industry such as not allowing big retailers with multiple services to operate at the expense of smaller, specialty shops.

 

AZAR RELEASES MORE VACCINES: Barely a month into a mass vaccination campaign to stop the COVID-19 pandemic, the Trump administration unexpectedly shifted gears Tuesday to speed the delivery of shots. A slow start had triggered widespread concern from states and public health officials (AP). Now, Health and Human Services Alex Azar has announced two major changes. First, the government will no longer hold back required second doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, practically doubling supply. Second, states should immediately start vaccinating other groups lower down the priority scale, including people age 65 and older, and younger people with certain health problems. The move better aligns the outgoing administration with the new Biden-Harris team. On Friday, President-elect Joe Biden said he will rapidly release most available vaccine doses to protect more people. He said he supported immediately releasing vaccines that health authorities were holding back out of caution, to guarantee they would be available for people needing their second dose. “We had been holding back second doses as a safety stock,” Azar said on ABC. “We now believe that our manufacturing is predictable enough that we can ensure second doses are available for people from ongoing production. So everything is now available to our states and our health care providers.” Simultaneously, he gave states the green light to dramatically expand the pool of people eligible to receive vaccines. “We are calling on our governors to now vaccinate people aged 65 and over, and under age 65 with a (health condition) because we have got to expand the group,” he said.

 

HPI DAILY ANALYSIS: Vice President Pence is sick of President Trump's "bullshit." Sen. Mitch McConnell and Rep. Liz Cheney are on the same page, with Cheney saying “there has never been a greater betrayal” by a U.S. president. They now appear to be seeking to lance the Trump boil from the Republican Party, so he can no longer do what he did prior to the Georgia U.S. Senate races that the GOP lost last week. The impeachment of President Trump is now a serious possibility. As I've been saying since 2016 ... anything can happen. Anything. In Thursday’s weekly HPI, we’ll have our interview with Gov. Holcomb, along with timely commentary from myself, Craig Dunn, Mark Souder, Dave Kitchell and Joshua Claybourn. Look for it around 9 a.m. Thursday. - Brian A. Howey

 

Campaigns

 

TRUMP APPROVAL CRATERS: Tarnished by last week’s riot at the Capitol, Donald Trump is ending his presidency with his lowest-ever poll numbers. A new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll pegs Trump’s approval at just 34 percent, the lowest in four years of tracking opinions of the president’s job performance. More than six in 10 voters — 63 percent — disapprove.

 

TRUMP'S 2024 RUN APPROVAL FALLS TO 40%; PENCE AT 18%: Days after pro-Trump rioters stormed the Capitol, 40 percent of Republicans and GOP-leaning independents said they would vote for President Donald Trump if he ran in the 2024 Republican primary, a drop in support over the last two months, according to a POLITICO/Morning Consult poll released on Wednesday. In November, by contrast, 53 percent in those same categories said they supported a 2024 run. The only other person to clear double-digit support for a potential 2024 run in the latest poll was Vice President Mike Pence, with 18 percent saying they would vote for him. Among all respondents, 55 percent said Trump should resign the presidency, with 54 percent approving of the Senate’s removing Trump from office if successfully impeached by the House.

 

PUNDITS SAYS PENCE MAKING RIGHT MOVES: Vice President Mike Pence is at odds with President Donald Trump after a tumultuous week on Capitol Hill, but pundits say Indiana's former governor has made all the right political moves this week (Lange, IndyStar). In a rare break with Trump after four years of almost unabridged loyalty, Pence declined to intervene in the Electoral College count as Trump had demanded. But late Tuesday, Pence also ruled out invoking the 25th Amendment, which would remove Trump from power. Earlier that day, House Democrats introduced both an impeachment article against the President and a resolution on Monday calling on Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment, which has never been used since it was ratified in 1967.  Pundits told IndyStar Pence is navigating the troubled political waters admirably. What happens in the days ahead is likely to have broad implications for both the political futures of both Trump and Pence, who both reportedly are eyeing runs for the White House in 2024. "This week I think (Pence is) looking better than ever," said Mike Murphy, an Indiana political strategist and former Republican state lawmaker. "I think that he has caught a lot of flack from people in the last four years about being obsequious and kind of a puppy dog trailing behind the president. When the rubber met the road, or whatever you want to say, he stood up against the president."

 

CUMMINS TO WEIGH ELECTION CERTIFICATION VOTE: Cummins Inc. has said it will consider whether lawmakers voted last week against certifying President-elect Joe Biden’s victory before making future donations to their campaigns, joining a growing list of companies that have said the GOP-led effort to overturn the 2020 presidential election results will factor into their political giving (Columbus Republic). Through its political action committee, Cummins, a Columbus-based Fortune 150 company, has made at least $26,000 in contributions over roughly the past two years to at least 27 of the 147 Republican members of Congress who voted to overturn election results in Arizona or Pennsylvania — including Sen. Ted Cruz, R-TX, and Rep. Greg Pence, R-IN, according to the Federal Election Commission.

 

U.S. CHAMBER WEIGHING DONATIONS AFTER SIEGE: Lobbyists for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the biggest K Street organization and a regular donor to congressional campaigns, said Tuesday they were evaluating which lawmakers to cut off from the group’s political support after rioters stormed the Capitol last week (Roll Call). “There are some members who by their actions will have forfeited the support of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce — period, full stop,” Neil Bradley, the chamber’s executive vice president and chief policy officer, said during a virtual news conference Tuesday. “We’re going to have a lot more to say about the members whose actions last week — and the actions over the next eight days and beyond — will have cost them the chamber’s support.”

 

ZODY OP-ED ON CAPITOL ATTACK: Indiana Democratic Chairman John Zody released this op-ed article on Tuesday (Howey Politics Indiana): Last Wednesday was the saddest and angriest I’ve been in more than two decades of involvement in American politics. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw windows being broken out of a building where I used to work and an angry mob chasing police officers and hunting down former colleagues and Members of Congress. It was a domestic terrorist attack against the United States. What happened at the U.S. Capitol last week was beyond words and is no joke. Secure perimeters were breached. People were injured or killed, including one police officer, and it wasn’t hard to see that this crowd was treated a lot differently than crowds at Black Lives Matter protests last summer. The comparison is haunting and that notion warrants consideration from every single one of us.

 

GOP MEGA-DONOR SHELDON ADELSON DIES: Sheldon Adelson, the multibillionaire casino mogul and Republican Party megadonor, has died at age 87 (CNBC). Adelson died from complications related to treatment for Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, according to a statement Tuesday from Las Vegas Sands, his casino and resort company. Adelson, whose net worth was estimated by Forbes to be $33 billion, had been among the most-watched donors supporting President Donald Trump’s 2020 reelection effort. He was also a stalwart supporter of Israel, maintaining a close friendship with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu until recently. His funeral will be held in Israel, and a memorial service in Las Vegas is planned for a later date.

 

Presidential 2020

 

STEELWORKERS, COMPANIES URGE BIDEN TO KEEP TARIFFS IN PLACE: The steel industry and United Steelworkers union are urging the incoming Biden administration to maintain the steel tariffs of 25% on most foreign-made steel and quotas that were imposed in 2018 after thousands of steelworker layoffs and mill idlings nationwide (Pete, NWI Times). The American Iron and Steel Institute, Steel Manufacturers Association, United Steelworkers union, Committee on Pipe and Tube Imports and American Institute of Steel Construction sent a letter to President-elect Joe Biden saying the tariffs were still needed at a time when the international market was flooded with overcapacity, most significantly from China's state-run steel industry that accounts for more than half of the global output and is 10 times more than any other country in the world. "Continuation of the steel tariffs and quotas is essential to ensuring the viability of the domestic steel industry in the face of this massive and growing excess steel capacity," they wrote. "Removing or weakening of these measures before major steel producing countries eliminate their overcapacity — and the subsidies and other trade-distorting policies that have fueled the steel crisis — will only invite a new surge in imports with devastating effects to domestic steel producers and their workers."

 

General Assembly

 

LAW ENFORCEMENT REFORM BILL ADVANCES IN HOUSE: A law enforcement reform bill that appears to have wide support from policing agencies and minority groups is advancing to the Indiana House floor (Erdody, IBJ). The House Courts and Criminal Code Committee unanimously passed House Bill 1006 on Tuesday morning. The bill, authored by Republican Rep. Greg Steuerwald, would largely ban the use of chokeholds, penalize officers for intentionally turning off body and vehicle cameras, and make it easier for the Indiana Law Enforcement Training Board to decertify bad acting officers. Decertifying a police officer means he or she can no longer serve in law enforcement in the state. The bill would expand the conditions for decertification, making it possible when an officer is convicted of just one misdemeanor crime (current law requires it to be two or more or for it to be a felony conviction) and adds language that would allow for decertification if the officer has simply “engaged in conduct that would be a criminal offense” even if he or she has not been convicted of a crime. “I think that is a very dramatic increase to the statute,” Steuerwald said.

 

RAATZ BILL BOOSTS PUBLIC SCHOOL FUNDING: State Sen. Jeff Raatz hopes to assist public schools by increasing state funding for students attending virtually because of COVID-19 (Emergy, Richmond Palladium-Item). The Richmond Republican authored Senate Bill 2, which would fully fund public schools for students who receive at least half of their education virtually for the 2020-21 academic year because of the novel coronavirus pandemic. Current law provides that schools receive 85% of per-student state funding for virtual students, but Raatz's bill would increase that to 100% for the current school year, as long as the student was not attending school virtually prior to COVID-19. "No one could have predicted the impact COVID-19 would have on our schools when our state's school funding laws were written," Raatz said in a release. "This is intended to be a one-year fix to recognize the hardships caused by COVID-19."

 

GARY COUNCIL BACKS MELTON BILL ON CHARTER SCHOOL BAN: The Gary Common Council voted unanimously at a recent special meeting to throw its support behind state legislation eyed at banning the creation of new charter schools citywide (Cross, NWI Times). A ban on new charter schools cannot be enacted at the local level, but the resolution passed Thursday night signals support to Sen. Eddie Melton, D-Gary, and his pitch for permanent ban legislation in Indianapolis. The move comes as the Gary Community School Corp. attempts to right its finances and boost enrollment and the Mayor Jerome Prince administration seeks to build a new state-of-the-art high school mirrored off Purdue Polytechnic in Indianapolis.

 

Congress

 

SEN. BRAUN GOES SILENT: Senator Mike Braun of Indiana was one of the senators who planned to formally object to the results of the 2020 presidential election on January 6. Going so far as to post images of himself signing the objection that morning. However, after violence broke out in the Capitol, he reversed his decision (Williams, WFIE-TV). He tweeted that he still planned to push for an investigation, but he was withdrawing his objection. Since tweeting the decision, Braun has only tweeted condolences for Officer Brian D. Sicknick, who died of injuries he sustained from a beating that occurred during the riot. Since the Monday before the attack, 14 News has attempted to get a response from the senator repeatedly to explain his reasoning for his reversal, as well as to ask why he felt his objection needed to be withdrawn to put distance between the nation and the attack. Meanwhile, 14 News went to his hometown of Jasper. There, we asked his wife about the matter, and she said she would pass the request on to Senator Braun.

 

HOUSE BEGINS TRUMP IMPEACHMENT: The House will take its first formal step toward removing President Donald Trump Tuesday, with Democrats warning he presents a grave and immediate threat to the nation despite having just a week left in office (Politico). Democrats’ push to force Trump out — first with a vote later Tuesday calling on Vice President Mike Pence to take unilateral action and then an impeachment vote Wednesday — is barreling to the floor at unprecedented speed. “This is a solemn day,” House Rules Chair Jim McGovern said as his panel moved quickly to tee up the resolution intended to pressure Pence. The Massachusetts Democrat, who was steps away from the doors as rioters attempted to pound their way into the chamber last Wednesday, rebuked Trump for urging his supporters to march on the Capitol where their insurrection temporarily halted certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s win. “He called together an angry mob, he filled them with falsehoods and false hope. And then he sent them to the U.S. Capitol,” McGovern said. “It is past time for the vice president to do the right thing here.”

 

TRUMP MOB SECONDS, FEET AWAY FROM HOUSE CHAMBERS: With rioters ransacking the Capitol, Rep. Jim Himes hunkered in the visitors’ gallery overlooking the House chamber. He watched colleagues below rush to exit the floor, heard the reverberation of a single shot from somewhere close and waited his turn to evacuate (Wall Street Journal). A trio of Capitol Police officers with guns drawn then led Mr. Himes and about two dozen colleagues—the last lawmakers in the chamber—across the long gallery, maneuvering through narrow rows of seats and over brass handrails. The officers were agitated and shouting at one another, he said, because they didn’t know which of the doors leading to the hallway to pick. “They had no idea which door didn’t have a mob behind it,” he said. The mob’s rampage last Wednesday was a rare and deadly assault by American citizens on the halls of Congress, leaving two killed, three others dead and widespread damage. The toll could have been much worse. In the hour after they breached the building, the rioters—some carrying nooses, bats, pipes, chemical irritants and zip ties that can be used to handcuff people—were feet or seconds away from the lawmakers they sought to confront, hoping to stop them from ratifying the election of Democrat Joe Biden and keep President Trump in power.

 

TRUMP HAD TARGETED CHENEY ON JAN. 6: Rep. Liz Cheney’s historic decision Tuesday to vote to impeach President Trump had its roots in a dramatic phone call from her father, former vice president Richard B. Cheney, who was watching events unfold on television last week and warned that she was being verbally attacked by the president (Washington Post). Cheney (R-Wyo.), the third-ranking member of the House Republican leadership, became the most prominent congressional Republican to call for Trump’s impeachment. “There has never been a greater betrayal by a President of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution,” Cheney said in a statement. “I will vote to impeach the president.” Six days earlier, Cheney was in the House chamber, urging that Republicans reject efforts pushed by Trump and many others in her party to challenge the electoral college results that determined Trump had lost his reelection bid. She did not know she was being attacked by Trump, who was delivering the speech that would incite a mob to storm the Capitol, until her father reached her by phone in the House cloakroom. “We got to get rid of the weak congresspeople, the ones that aren’t any good, the Liz Cheneys of the world,” Trump said in the speech, singling her out as he urged the mob to march to the Capitol.

 

State

 

GOVERNOR: JOHNSTON TO PRESENT HOLCOMB BUDGET - OMB Director Cris Johnston will present Gov. Eric Holcomb's biennial budget at 1:30 p.m. today before the budget committee in the House Chamber (Howey Politics Indiana).

 

GOVERNOR: HOLCOMB TO RESUME KEY INVESTMENT PROJECTS - Gov. Eric J. Holcomb today announced he will proceed with key state investment projects initially put on hold due to the financial impact of COVID-19 (Howey Politics Indiana). “In May, we reduced spending because of the sudden, sharp drop in state revenues and to prepare for a continued decline in state revenue due to the economic impact of COVID-19. Thankfully, current revenues are stronger than expected, and that means we can responsibly move forward with these one-time expenditures that were already approved and on the books,” Gov. Holcomb said. The Governor directed the State Budget Agency to work with the appropriate agencies to proceed with the approximately $65 million Next Level Trails grant program and $110 million of deferred maintenance projects. The General Assembly approved these appropriations in the current 2019-2021 state budget.

 

ISDH: TUESDAY COVID STATS - The Indiana Department of Health Tuesday announced that 3,191 additional Hoosiers have been diagnosed with COVID-19 through testing at state and private laboratories. That brings to 570,477 the number of Indiana residents now known to have had the novel coronavirus following corrections to the previous day’s dashboard. A total of 8,731 Hoosiers are confirmed to have died from COVID-19, an increase of 88 from the previous day. Another 373 probable deaths have been reported based on clinical diagnoses in patients for whom no positive test is on record. Deaths are reported based on when data are received by the state and occurred over multiple days. To date, 2,770,157 unique individuals have been tested in Indiana, up from 2,762,573 on Monday. A total of 6,175,128 tests, including repeat tests for unique individuals, have been reported to the state Department of Health since Feb. 26.

 

NATIONAL GUARD: TRANSPORTING VACCINATIONS - Members of the Indiana National Guard will help in the state's effort to transport and administer the COVID-19 vaccine to Hoosiers across the state (WRTV). According to information from the Indiana National Guard, approximately 150 guardsmen will be involved in the effort along with personnel from the Indiana State Department of Health. "We go when we're called and right now this new assignment to help deliver the COVID-19 vaccine will be another integral cog to turn the tide in our favor against the coronavirus," Brig. Gen. Dale Lyles, the adjutant general and leader of the Indiana National Guard, said.

 

ATTORNEY GENERAL: ROKITA ANNOUNCES SENIOR STAFF - Attorney General Todd Rokita has selected Michael Chopp as Human Resources Director, Molly Deuberry Craft as Communications Director, and Mike Ward as Director of Investigations at the Office of the Attorney General (Howey Politics Indiana). “These public servants will be tremendous assets to the office and to the people of Indiana,” said Attorney General Rokita. “All three bring a wealth of public sector experience, and I am excited to bring them into an office already full of dedicated and skilled employees.” Michael Chopp served as Director of Human Resources for 12 years at the Office of the Indiana Attorney General under Greg Zoeller and Steve Carter before moving to the private sector in 2016.  A native of Northwest Indiana, Molly Deuberry Craft has over a decade of communications experience in government and non-profit organizations. Mike Ward worked as Director of Special Investigations at the Office of the Attorney General for more than three decades.

 

RDA: HANNA LEAVING AFTER A DECADE - Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority (RDA) President and CEO, Bill Hanna, announced he is resigning his position effective February 12 in order to accept a position in the private sector. Hanna served as President and CEO of the RDA for 10 years (Howey Politics Indiana). During Hanna’s tenure, he led the efforts to unite stakeholders in shaping some of the largest infrastructure, development and transportation projects in Northwest Indiana. The RDA successfully partnered with local, state and federal officials to bring the following projects to its service area: South Shore West Lake rail extension; South Shore double track project; Transit Oriented Development to support rail projects; Leveraging $1 billion in shoreline development projects including Wolf Lake Park in Hammond, East Chicago North Harbor redevelopment as shoreline, Whiting Lake Front Park, Marquette Park in Gary, and Gateway to the Indiana Dunes in Porter County; Relocation of a class 1 railroad and completion of the expansion of the Gary International Airport Runway; and Chicago Dash Bus Line to Chicago and transit area development. “Bill’s dedication and hard work has led to decades-long dreams in the Region becoming realities. With game-changing projects like double tracking the South Shore line and the West Lake Corridor extension, Bill’s long-lasting, positive influence on Hoosiers is undeniable,” said Holcomb.

 

AGRICULTURE: INDIANA HAD EXCELLENT CROP HARVEST IN 2020 - Indiana farmers reported harvesting excellent crops in 2020, according to USDA NASS, Indiana Field Office. The 2020 crop was much improved over a water slogged, dismal 2019 crop (Hoosier Ag Today). Indiana corn production in 2020 totaled 982 million bushels, 21 percent above 2019. Corn acreage harvested for grain totaled 5.25 million, up 9 percent from 2019. The average yield of 187 bushels per acre was 18 bushels above 2019. Indiana soybean production totaled 329 million bushels, up 21 percent from 2019. Harvested acreage was 5.68 million, up 320 thousand from 2019. The average yield of 58 bushels per acre was 7 bushels above 2019 and was a record high yield.

 

PUBLIC AFFAIRS: IEC NAMES CHARBONNEAU - Indiana Electric Cooperatives (IEC) named Michael Charbonneau to its government relations team. He will serve as the association's director of external government relations (Howey Politics Indiana). Charbonneau will be responsible for representing IEC, its member cooperatives and the generation and transmission cooperatives with state and federal government. He will lobby and assist with the development and implementation of legislative and regulatory strategies.

 

IU: ALLEN NAMED COACH OF THE YEAR BY AFCA - Indiana football coach Tom Allen was named the American Football Coaches Association’s national coach of the year on Tuesday (Indiana Public Media). Allen becomes just the third IU coach to win the award, joining Bo McMillan in 1945 and John Pont in 1967. “I am so humbled and honored to be voted on by my peers and fellow coaches in the country,” Allen said. The award was worth an extra $100,000 to Allen, who has now earned $250,000 in contract bonuses since the end of the season. Allen earned $100,00 for leading the Hoosiers to a bowl and $50,000 for being named the Big Ten’s coach of the year.

 

SPORTS: ND 5TH, IU 12TH, BSU 23RD IN FINAL GRID POLL - The Ball State Cardinals secured more than their first-ever bowl win this season; they also head into the offseason as a Top 25 team. BSU (7-1) came in at 23rd in the final AP poll, which -- as expected -- was led by Alabama after its Monday night victory in the championship game. Ohio State, despite a big loss to the Crimson Tide, finished second, followed by Clemson, Texas A&M and then Notre Dame. Though the Fighting Irish (10-2) were selected as the final of four teams to compete for the national championship, they dropped to fifth in the final poll after a blowout loss to Alabama. As for the Hoosiers (6-2), one of the best seasons in decades ends with a 12th-place ranking. Indiana dropped its bowl contest to Ole Miss, despite being favored in that game.

 

NBA: PACERS DEFEAT GOLDEN STATE -  Edmond Sumner earned a start for Indiana that came with a daunting assignment: defending Stephen Curry (AP). Myles Turner made a go-ahead 3-pointer with 2:59 left and scored 22 points, Aaron Holiday converted a layup on the next possession and the Pacers held off Curry and the Golden State Warriors 104-95 Tuesday night. Indiana kept Curry in check by regularly playing him with a tough box-and-1 defense, though the two-time MVP still created his chances. He found his groove again following a rare off night Sunday against the Raptors to finish with 20 points.

 

Nation

 

WHITE HOUSE: PENCE TIRED OF TRUMP'S 'BULLSHIT' - After four-and-a-half years of unbending loyalty, Vice President Mike Pence is ready to move on from Donald Trump. All it took was the president inciting a riot that, quite literally, put Pence’s life in danger (Politico). “Pence is done with Trump’s bulls--t,” said a former Pence adviser. “He’s not going to give a prime time speech saying, ‘F you Donald Trump,’ but in his own way he is going to just get to the finish line and keep his head down.” The vice president has spent the past few days navigating between two political forces. There is bipartisan praise for his refusal to indulge the president’s unconstitutional ploy for a second term. But the MAGA base he cultivated alongside Trump is now threatening him with political retribution and even death for that same refusal. Not wanting to inflame the situation further, Pence and his aides have tried to dodge the spotlight since the president attacked him for lacking the “courage” to illegally overturn the election outcome.

 

WHITE HOUSE: TRUMP, PENCE RUPTURE EXTRAORDINARY - For Vice President Mike Pence, the moment of truth had arrived. After three years and 11 months of navigating the treacherous waters of President Trump’s ego, after all the tongue-biting, pride-swallowing moments where he employed strategic silence or florid flattery to stay in his boss’s good graces, there he was being cursed by the president (New York Times). Mr. Trump was enraged that Mr. Pence was refusing to try to overturn the election. In a series of meetings, the president had pressed relentlessly, alternately cajoling and browbeating him. Finally, just before Mr. Pence headed to the Capitol to oversee the electoral vote count last Wednesday, Mr. Trump called the vice president’s residence to push one last time. “You can either go down in history as a patriot,” Mr. Trump told him, according to two people briefed on the conversation, “or you can go down in history as a pussy.” The blowup between the nation’s two highest elected officials then played out in dramatic fashion as the president publicly excoriated the vice president at an incendiary rally and sent agitated supporters to the Capitol where they stormed the building — some of them chanting “Hang Mike Pence.” Evacuated to the basement, Mr. Pence huddled for hours while Mr. Trump tweeted out an attack on him rather than call to check on his safety. It was an extraordinary rupture of a partnership that had survived too many challenges to count.

 

WHITE HOUSE: TRUMP CITES 'TREMENDOUS ANGER' - In his first comments to reporters in several days, President Donald Trump said the impeachment effort underway in Congress is causing “tremendous anger," and that he wants "no violence." Later, the president reportedly said he has no regrets about his speech last Wednesday to supporters before they stormed the Capitol (Scripps National). Trump spoke with reporters briefly as he was leaving the White House Tuesday morning to board Marine One on the South Lawn, on his way to an event in Texas later in the day. “I think it’s causing tremendous anger,” Trump continued Tuesday, referring to the latest effort.

 

WHITE HOUSE: TRUMP, PENCE DETENTE - President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence appear to have come to a détente after nearly a week of silence, anger and finger-pointing (AP). The two met Monday evening in the Oval Office and had a “good conversation,” according to a senior administration official. It was their first time speaking since last Wednesday, when some of Trump’s supporters stormed the Capitol building as Pence was presiding over certification of November’s election results. Pence and his family were forced into hiding. During their conversation, the official said, Trump and Pence pledged to continue to work for “the remainder of their term”—a seeming acknowledgement that the vice president will not pursue efforts to try to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office with nine days left in his term. While his office had not definitively ruled out invoking the amendment, Pence had signaled that he no intention of moving forward with that kind of challenge. The House is prepared to cast a vote Tuesday calling on Pence to invoke the amendment.

 

WHITE HOUSE: TRUMP BRAND TURNS TOXIC - In November - as President Donald Trump began his effort to overturn the election he had lost - his longtime friend Tom Barrack called him with advice: Stop, for the sake of your business (SFGate). The Trump Organization was already struggling, hurt by political backlash and coronavirus-related closures, facing huge unpaid loans. Barrack told Trump that he could help that business - as well as his aides, and the country itself - by ensuring a peaceful transition, according to person familiar with the conversation. An "elegant" exit, Barrack said, could preclude what could be a painful future: millions of dollars in legal costs, rampant investigations and more boycotts of his businesses. Now the Trump Organization is facing the consequences: In the past week, it has lost a bank, an e-commerce platform and the privilege of hosting a world-famous golf tournament, and its hopes of hosting another have been dashed. In the future, the Trump Organization also could lose its District of Columbia hotel and even its children's carousel in Central Park, if government landlords in Washington and New York reevaluate their contracts with Trump.

 

WHITE HOUSE: TRUMP, PENCE, BIDEN SCHEDULES - President Trump and Vice President Pence have nothing on their public schedules. President-elect Biden and Kamala Harris will receive the President’s Daily Brief and meet with transition advisers. Harris will then take part in a virtual finance event for the Presidential Inaugural Committee.

 

JUSTICE: HUNDREDS FACE CHARGES IN CAPITOL 'CRIME SCENE' - The top federal prosecutor in Washington, D.C., said on Tuesday that more than 70 people tied to the Capitol riot had been charged with crimes and that he expected that number to rise into the hundreds, with prosecutors looking at charging some rioters with sedition and conspiracy (New York Times). Michael Sherwin, the acting U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, said at a news conference that the federal investigation was unprecedented in its scope, with the entire Capitol grounds being “essentially, a crime scene.” He cautioned that the investigations would take months or longer.

 

COVID: PANDEMIC CAUSING 4K DEATHS DAILY - As America slogs through this grimmest of winters, there is no relief in the daily tabulations of Covid-19 deaths: More than 4,400 were reported across the United States on Tuesday, according to a New York Times database, a number once unimaginable (New York Times). Yet even as the disease touches thousands of families, the nation is distracted by the political crisis gripping Washington in the last days of the Trump administration. Tuesday’s death count, which set another daily record, represented at least 1,597 more people than those killed in the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The U.S. death toll, already the world’s highest by a wide margin, is now about 20,000 shy of 400,000 — only a month after the country crossed the 300,000 threshold, a figure greater than the number of Americans who died fighting in World War II.

 

JUSTICE: WOMAN EXECUTED AT TERRE HAUTE PRISON - A Kansas woman was executed Wednesday for strangling an expectant mother in Missouri and cutting the baby from her womb, the first time in nearly seven decades that the U.S. government has put to death a female inmate (AP). Lisa Montgomery, 52, was pronounced dead at 1:31 a.m. after receiving a lethal injection at the federal prison complex in Terre Haute, Indiana. She was the 11th prisoner executed at the facility since July when President Donald Trump, an ardent supporter of capital punishment, resumed federal executions following 17 years without one. As a curtain was raised in the execution chamber, Montgomery looked momentarily bewildered as she glanced at journalists peering at her from behind thick glass. A woman standing over her shoulder leaned over, gently removed Montgomery’s face mask and asked if she had any last words. “No,” Montgomery responded in a quiet, muffled voice. She said nothing else.

 

VETERANS: AMVETS, DAV TO PURGE MEMBERS GUILTY IN CAPITOL INSURRECTION - Multiple veterans and service members are being investigated for their roles in the mob takeover of the U.S. Capitol building Wednesday, and at least two national veterans organizations want to ensure they’re not on their membership lists (Stars & Stripes). Disabled American Veterans, which has 1 million members nationwide, condemned the riots Saturday and announced its intent to remove any members found guilty in the attack. Supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol, resulting in five deaths. “[W]e are saddened that any veteran would desecrate our nation’s capital and will take immediate action to initiate the removal of any DAV member found guilty of committing illegal acts against our nation,” said Butch Whitehead, national commander of DAV. “Such behavior is a disgrace to our national values and must not be tolerated.” AMVETS, which has 250,000 members, decided to do the same. Any member who engaged in violence at the Capitol on Wednesday will be expelled from the organization by their local post, said Joe Chenelly, executive director of AMVETS.

 

MICHIGAN: SNYDER TO FACE CHARGES IN FLINT WATER SCANDAL - Former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, his health director and other ex-officials have been told they're being charged after a new investigation of the Flint water scandal, which devastated the majority Black city with lead-contaminated water and was blamed for a deadly outbreak of Legionnaires' disease in 2014-15, The Associated Press has learned. Two people with knowledge of the planned prosecution told the AP on Tuesday that the attorney general's office has informed defense lawyers about indictments in Flint and told them to expect initial court appearances soon. They spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.

 

Local

 

INDIANAPOLIS: PREPARATION FOR COLLEGE GRID CHAMPIONSHIP IN HIGH GEAR - The ball has officially been passed to Indianapolis as the city prepares to host the 2022 College Football Playoff National Championship game at Lucas Oil Stadium (Brown, Inside Indiana Business). During a virtual "hand off" ceremony, Indy CFP Host Committee Board Chair Mark Howell said the event could generate $150 million in economic impact for central Indiana and, assuming the public health environment has returned to normal, more than 100,000 fans could descend upon downtown Indianapolis for the four-day event. Howell said the host committee was unable to travel to this year's national championship game in Miami due to the pandemic. "There were no scheduled site observations. All the fan events had to be canceled and all press conferences were held virtually," said Howell. "However, having said that, we've been in very close contact with the CFP staff in Miami and they have done an absolutely incredible job of managing their processes, keeping their teams and essential personnel in a safe environment."

 

FORT WAYNE: CONSTRUCTION BEGINS ON ELECTRIC WORKS — Construction can now being on the Electric Works project, after developers closed on the massive deal. RTM Ventures, the project’s development team, on Tuesday announced it has closed on $286 million in project financing (WANE-TV). “Reaching this milestone took the collaboration, commitment and passion of many, many people,” said Josh Parker of RTM Ventures, the development team behind Electric Works. “We are grateful to our public and private sector partners for their continued support and belief in the potential of Fort Wayne and this project – and the profound positive impact it will have on the city, the region and the state. To the community, we are ready to make your vision of Electric Works a reality.”

 

FISHERS: FORMER MARSH TO BE VACCINATION SITE - The first COVID-19 vaccination administered in Fishers Tuesday morning also came with the announcement of a former Marsh store being purchased by the Fishers Health Department (WRTV). The former Marsh store, located at 116th Street and Brooks School Road, will serve as a mass vaccination site by the end of January. As the FHD anticipates an increase in supply and demand for the vaccine, the new site will have the ability to vaccinate up to 1,000 people per day.

 

COLUMBUS: COP ARRESTED AFTER IPS PROBE - An officer with the Columbus Police Department was arrested Tuesday on felony battery and official misconduct charges after an investigation by detectives with the Indiana State Police-Versailles Post (Columbus Republic). CPD contacted ISP on June 17, 2020 and requested an investigation be conducted after an officer allegedly struck a suspect while the suspect was in custody in the back of a Columbus police vehicle on June. 16, said Sgt. Stephen Wheeles, Indiana State Police spokesman. Wheeles said the investigation by ISP detectives determined that officer John Velten, a 14-year veteran of the CPD, arrested an adult male after responding to a fight on Indiana Avenue in Columbus on June. 16. While handcuffed in the back seat of the police vehicle, the suspect began hitting his head against the interior of the police vehicle, Wheeles said. As a response, Velten struck the suspect with his fist while the suspect was still handcuffed inside of the vehicle, he said.

 

POSEY COUNTY: COUNCILMAN POSTED ON MULTIPLE PLATFORMS –  Posey County officials and residents are raising concerns over a council member’s social media posts surrounding the riots at the U.S. Capitol (Costello, WFIE-TV). According to representatives from the Posey County Democratic Party, Republican Councilman Aaron Wilson took to his personal Facebook account posting several comments that many say they find disturbing. Community members say these posts extend far beyond just Facebook. Wilson appears to give similar messages on Parler, Clapper and TikTok accounts. “Sure there are some radicalized extremists just like him, but most of us were horrified by what we saw in DC on Wednesday and would never want it to happen again,” an anonymous community member said. “Any elected office that calls for violence should be removed from office, and if necessary, charges brought against him.” Posts that have since been deleted were screen grabbed and sent to us by Democratic party officials. Those posts show Wilson saying things like, quote, “I’m not condemning anything after a whole year of violence from far-left groups,” and “enough is enough” and “it’s time to go to war.”

 

MADISON COUNTY: COUNCIL VOTES TO ASK SUMNER TO RESIGN - The Madison County Council adopted a resolution calling for the immediate resignation of Steve Sumner from the council (de las Bastide, Anderson Herald Bulletin). The resolution asking Sumner to resign was approved 5-1 Tuesday, with Democrat Fred Reese casting the lone no vote and Sumner abstaining.There was no discussion involving the resolution that was moved for consideration by Republican Mikeal Vaughn and seconded by Republican Anthony Emery. Sumner, R-2nd District, was arrested and charged on Dec. 21 on Level 6 felony charges of child solicitation and possession of child pornography. “I have no intentions of resigning,” Sumner said after the meeting. “I knew this was coming. It didn’t surprise me.”

 

ALLEN COUNTY: GOAL OF 800 VACCINES A WEEK SET - The Allen County Department of Health plans to have 800 shots a week for those over age 80 when it opens a COVID-19 vaccination clinic Wednesday at Fort Wayne's Memorial Coliseum (Rodriguez, Fort Wayne Journal Gazette). County health officials, who also raised the status of the county's COVID-19 restrictions from orange to red beginning today, said the clinic represents is the beginning of a widening assault on the virus. "It's an exciting day. It's really an historic day," said health department Commissioner Dr. Matthew Sutter. "Our goal is to give everybody who wants a shot, a shot," he added.

 

ALLEN COUNTY: PUBLIC HEALTH ORDER RENEWED - The Allen County health commissioner has renewed the local public health restriction because of the continued widespread transmission of COVID-19 (Fort Wayne Journal Gazette). The renewed order limits social gatherings and events to no more than 25 people. The order also requires restaurants, bars and fitness centers to limit capacity to 50%. It will go into effect on Wednesday. The move is part of the anticipated shift of Allen County into the state's red category this week, Allen County Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Sutter said in a statement.

 

ELKHART COUNTY VACCINE ROLLOUT GOES SMOOTHLY - Members of the general public who are 80 or older began receiving COVID-19 vaccinations in Elkhart County this week, and the process is going smoothly, county Health Officer Dr. Bethany Wait said Tuesday (Elkhart Truth). During a public meeting of the Elkhart County Community Organizations Active in Disaster (COAD) on Tuesday, she said about 130 people received their first shot from the county Monday and that a similar number of people would get the shot Tuesday. “We just wanted to make sure we knew what we were doing in starting slow, so we’ll start ramping up and seeing more patients,” Wait said.

 

LAKE COUNTY: FAIRGROUNDS TO BE VACCINE SITE - The Lake County Health Department will begin distributing a limited number of COVID-19 immunizations at the Lake County Fairgrounds Wednesday to eligible individuals who make an appointment online at ourshot.in.gov or by calling 211 (Carden, NWI Times). The fairgrounds site is the eighth COVID-19 vaccine distribution location in Lake County, including hospitals in Crown Point (two), Gary, Merrillville and Munster, and the city health departments in East Chicago and Gary. Currently, only health care workers, first responders, long-term care facility residents and staff, and individuals age 80 and up are eligible to receive the vaccine, due to the limited supply of doses the state receives on a weekly basis from the federal government.