TRUMP USED PENCE TO EXERT PRESSURE ON UKRAINE: President Trump repeatedly involved Vice President Pence in efforts to exert pressure on the leader of Ukraine at a time when the president was using other channels to solicit information that he hoped would be damaging to a Democratic rival, current and former U.S. officials said (Washington Post). Trump instructed Pence not to attend the inauguration of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in May — an event White House officials had pushed to put on the vice president’s calendar — when Ukraine’s new leader was seeking recognition and support from Washington, the officials said. Months later, the president used Pence to tell Zelensky that U.S. aid was still being withheld while demanding more aggressive action on corruption, officials said. At that time — following Trump’s July 25 phone call with Zelenksy — the Ukrainians probably understood action on corruption to include the investigation of former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden. Officials close to Pence insist that he was unaware of Trump’s efforts to press Zelensky for damaging information about Biden and his son, who had served on the board of an obscure Ukrainian gas company, when his father was overseeing U.S. policy on Ukraine. The Associated Press is reporting that Pence, according to aides, did not listen in on that call. Pence’s activities occurred amid several indications of the president’s hidden agenda. Among them were the abrupt removal of the U.S. ambassador to Kiev; the visible efforts by the president’s lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, to insert himself in the U.S.-Ukraine relationship; as well as alarms being raised inside the White House even before the emergence of an extraordinary whistleblower complaint about Trump’s conduct. Perhaps most significantly, one of Pence’s top advisers was on the July 25 call and the vice president should have had access to the transcript within hours, officials said. Officials close to Pence contend that he traveled to Warsaw for a meeting with Zelensky on Sept. 1 probably without having read — or at least fully registered — the transcript of Trump’s July 25 call with the leader of Ukraine. White House officials said that Pence probably would have received the detailed notes of the president’s call in his briefing book on July 26.

SHORT DISPUTES PENCE WAS UNPREPARED FOR ZELENSKY MEETING: An aide to Vice President Pence disputed the notion that the vice president was poorly prepared for his meeting with Zelensky, and pointed to the eventual outcome — that the Trump administration ultimately released the aid — as a sign of a productive meeting. The White House Counsel’s Office did not alert the vice president’s office to the existence of the whistleblower complaint until the day before it became public, the aide added (Washington Post). In his meeting with Zelensky, Pence conveyed the news that hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. aid to Ukraine was not going to be released amid concerns about the country’s lagging efforts to combat corruption. He also emphasized Trump’s frustration that he thought the European Union was not doing a sufficient job in helping to provide aid. A participant in the meeting said Zelensky was “crestfallen” by the news, though a second participant described the meeting as “cordial” and Zelensky as understanding of U.S. concerns. At that point, Ukraine’s president had already spoken to Trump and was familiar with the president’s demands. Pence did not mention Biden or the dormant probe of Burisma, the company for which his son had served as a board member. But former officials said that Pence’s emphasis on corruption probably would have been interpreted by Zelensky as “code” for that issue, whether the vice president intended it or not.  A top Pence staffer rejected the charge that the vice president was conveying an inappropriate — or coded — message from the president. “The president consistently raised concerns about corruption and the lack of burden-sharing by European partners, so having run on an anti-corruption campaign, Zelensky was receptive to those messages,” said Marc Short, Pence’s chief of staff. “The vice president, as your reporting says, reported back to the president after the meeting and the aid was released.”

TRUMP HAS COMBATIVE PRESSER: President Trump demonstrated what Republicans told us for Playbook Wednesday morning: that the White House has no real strategy to handle the impeachment process, except trying to undermine it with bursts of anger. @realDonaldTrump at 11:48 a.m.: "The Do Nothing Democrats should be focused on building up our Country, not wasting everyone's time and energy on BULLSHIT, which is what they have been doing ever since I got overwhelmingly elected in 2016, 223-306. Get a better candidate this time, you'll need it!" President Trump during a pool spray with the Finnish president: On Adam Schiff: "He should resign from office in disgrace and frankly they should look at him for treason ... There's an expression: they couldn't carry his blank strap ... But [Schiff] couldn't carry [Pompeo's] blank strap." ... TRUMP was asked what he could learn from Finland, which is the world's happiest country: "If you got rid of Pelosi, and you got rid of Shifty Schiff." ... On the whistleblower: "That person's a spy in my opinion" ... On the Bidens: "Biden's son is corrupt, and Biden is corrupt."

NEXT HPI WEEKLY ON TUESDAY: The next weekly edition of Howey Politics Indiana will be published around 9 a.m. Tuesday Oct. 8.

POMPEO ACKNOWLEDGES HE WAS ON UKRAINE CALL: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo acknowledged Wednesday he was on the July phone call between President Donald Trump and Ukraine’s president that’s at the center of the House impeachment inquiry. But Pompeo continued to push back against what he said was Democrats’ “bullying and intimidation” (AP). The Trump administration has set a defiant tone, resisting Congress’ access to impeachment witnesses, even as House Democrats warned such efforts themselves could amount to an impeachable offense. Pompeo has tried to delay five current and former officials from providing documents and testimony in the inquiry that could lead to charges against Trump. But Democrats were able to set closed-door depositions for Thursday for former special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker and next week for ousted U.S. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch. Pompeo acknowledged at a news conference in Rome on Wednesday that “I was on the phone call” on July 25 between Trump and the Ukraine president, saying that as America’s chief diplomat he was well-versed in U.S. policy toward Ukraine.

BUTTIGIEG BECOMES THE $51M MAN: He is now the $51 million man. That would be South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who will post $19.1 million on his third quarter FEC report, trailing only Bernie Sanders, who will report $25 million. The challenge for Buttigieg now is to translate money into votes. Recent polls indicate that he has a yeoman's amount of work to do on that front (Howey Politics Indiana). Last week we reported that one element for a Buttigieg lane to the nomination opening up would be the demise of frontrunner Joe Biden. And last week polls out of Iowa and New Hampshire showing Elizabeth Warren moving into the lead seemed to bear out that potential. On Wednesday, the second of three septengarians in the Democratic race - Sen. Sanders - was hospitalized with heart surgery and the placement of two stents. He is off the campaign trail until further notice. On Tuesday, a POLITICO/Morning Consult poll found that 40% of likely Democratic voters still believe Joe Biden has the best chance of beating President Trump. In a Winthrop Poll in South Carolina, Biden maintained a 20% lead, 37-17% over Warren, with everyone else in single digits, with Buttigieg at 4%. More importantly, the mayor is getting zero black support, while Biden has a 46-10% lead over Warren with that demographic. The wrinkle for Biden on African-American support is that a national Quinnipiac Poll had Warren picking up 19% of support in that demographic, up 9% over August. On Friday, Buttigieg addresses the Indianapolis NAACP at the Marriott Downtown around 7:20 p.m., and you've got to think that unless the mayor can change the dynamic in some compelling fashion, his future is more likely to take place on a Democratic ticket or cabinet. Buttigieg is also opening a new campaign headquarters in South Bend at 6 tonight.

SANDERS HAS HEART STENT SURGERY: Bernie Sanders experienced chest discomfort during a campaign event Tuesday evening and had two stents inserted to address a blockage in an artery, his campaign announced (Politico). “Sen. Sanders is conversing and in good spirits. He will be resting up over the next few days," senior adviser Jeff Weaver said in a statement Wednesday. "We are canceling his events and appearances until further notice, and we will continue to provide appropriate updates.” The Vermont lawmaker has kept up a relentless campaign schedule, particularly during the summer months, and often makes three or four stops a day in different regions. He was scheduled to attend a gun policy forum in Nevada on Wednesday, and then make seven appearances in California on Thursday and Friday. At 78, Sanders is the oldest candidate in the Democratic field. But he projects vigor belying his age on the trail, and has not been faced with questions regarding his stamina and mental acuity that have plagued former Vice President Joe Biden, who is two years younger.

PROSECUTORS VOW TO ENFORCE MARIJUANA LAWS: Marion County may no longer be prosecuting people with small amounts of marijuana, but so far that office stands alone (WTHR-TV). Earlier this week, Marion County’s acting prosecutor announced that people picked up for having one ounce or less won’t face charges. He said minor marijuana possession cases are clogging courts, overcrowding jails and taxing resources that could be better spent fighting violent criminals. Today, we checked with other prosecutors across central Indiana to see if they’ve considered the same thing. But so far, none have. Prosecutors in Madison, Boone, Monroe, and Hancock Counties all said they plan to continue prosecuting marijuana possession cases. “We do everything we can to make decisions based on the code,” said Hancock County Prosecutor Brent Eaton. “They [people in the community] entrust me to enforce the code.” A spokesperson for the Association of Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys, Inc. said the organization wouldn’t comment on Marion County’s decision, but that it remains opposed to the legalization of marijuana. Delaware County Prosecutor Eric Hoffman has no plans to join his Marion County counterpart in no longer enforcing possession-of-marijuana laws. “I completely understand and respect that in a free society anyone can advocate and lobby the legislature to legalize marijuana,” Hoffman said (Muncie Star Press). “That is a debate that belongs in the Statehouse with our lawmakers.” Hoffman said while prosecutors “have absolute discretion in deciding when to file criminal charges and how to allocate their resources,” such decisions are usually made “based upon the specific and individualized facts and circumstances of each case, rather than proclaiming that in all cases they will ignore a particular state law not to their liking.”

FED MORTGAGE EXPOSURE DRAMATICALLY EXPANDS: The federal government has dramatically expanded its exposure to risky mortgages, as federal officials over the past four years took steps that cleared the way for companies to issue loans that many borrowers might not be able to repay (Washington Post). Now, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Federal Housing Administration guarantee almost $7 trillion in mortgage-related debt, 33 percent more than before the housing crisis, according to company and government data. Because these entities are run or backstopped by the U.S. government, a large increase in loan defaults could cost taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars.

FARMERS AIM ANGER AT DC, NOT TRUMP: American farmers helped elect President Donald Trump in 2016 on hopes he would shake up Washington and turn around a struggling agricultural economy, but many of his policies have actually stung farmers, notably his trade war with China and biofuel waivers for oil refiners (Reuters). Many farmers are angry, and some are directing their anger not at the Republican president, but at Washington’s bureaucracy. Trump has faced backlash from agricultural groups, ethanol producers and Midwestern politicians upset that his trade war with China has slashed export sales of U.S. soybeans and other crops. Also, Corn futures tumbled after the government forecast a big crop when a flood-ridden spring stalled plantings. Corn-based ethanol plants shuttered after the administration granted waivers to dozens of exempting oil refineries. Yet polls show that while Trump’s support in farm country has slipped, it remains substantial. Instead of directing their anger at Trump, dozens of farmers interviewed by Reuters blasted the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and other Washington institutions they believe are thwarting his true agenda. Unsubstantiated conspiracy theories involving USDA staff are circulating in farm country and gaining traction online.

HPI DAILY ANALYSIS: We're starting to get a handle on why Vice President Pence spent so much time in Indiana last week pushing the USCMA law that already had wide support here. The Washington Post's reporting today that President Trump had drawn Pence into what is becoming a mushrooming scandal is becoming a realization beyond Pence's tiny power circle. Pence's Sept. 1 meeting with President Zelensky and whether he knew of the grand scheme of what appears to be an extortion attempt has the potential of being a huge problem, as well as Trump's decision to draw him into this morass. Thus, Pence and his close supporters must be gaming out the wide vista of implications, from his own legal exposure as the congressional impeachment inquiry widens, to scenarios that President Trump loses GOP Senate support, putting his presidency in mortal danger. Republicans and pundits are now openly discussing what a Pence presidency might look like, as well as him being on the top of the 2020 ticket, as opposed to a "stable genius" mired a self-induced scandal. And they must be looking at Trump's decision to draw Pence in as a scorched earth defense, with the message to Senate Republicans being that if Trump and Pence go down, the result would be a President Pelosi. This is a stunning turn of events. Fasten your seatbelts. - Brian A. Howey



Campaigns

JUDGE SAYS DECATUR MAYORAL NOMINEE CAN RUN: A Wells County judge overruled the Adams County Election Board on Wednesday and declared Daniel Rickord eligible to run for mayor of Decatur (Francisco, Fort Wayne Journal Gazette). The decision means that Rickord, a Democrat, will challenge Republican Mayor Kenneth Meyer in the Nov. 5 municipal election. “I am just very glad that people are getting the chance to vote. That's what this country is all about,” Rickord said in a telephone interview. The ruling by Wells Superior Court Judge Andrew Antrim reversed a 2-1 party-line vote by the election board that disqualified Rickord in August after the Adams County Republican Party challenged his eligibility by claiming he had missed a state-imposed deadline for declaring his candidacy.

MERRITT SEES 'CRIME INFESTED' INDY: At a news conference held this morning at the corner of 56th Street and Illinois Street on the north side of Indianapolis, mayoral candidate Jim Merritt highlighted the “gravity of the crime problem” in the city (Howey Politics Indiana). “The simple fact is that crime has spread during Joe Hogsett’s term as mayor. It now infests every nook and corner of our once-safe communities,” he said. “While the headlines are often dominated by the murders and shootings happening throughout Indianapolis,” he continued, “there is another equally sinister cancer that is eating at the core of our communities. Although burglaries and robberies are ‘less violent’ in a physical sense, the perpetrators aren’t just stealing money or jewelry or valuable objects. They’re stealing our sense of security in our homes, our security for our families, and the security of our city.”

IMPD RESPONDS TO MERRITT: IMPD discredited Merritt's statement. "There are no plans to combine North and Northwest District," Aliya Wishner, IMPD's chief communication officer, said (WRTV). "Doing so is antithetical to the community-based, beat policing strategy that IMPD has worked to implement over the last several years." According to IMPD, 34 new HD cameras are being installed across the city in the coming weeks. After the camera upgrade project is complete, IMPD says all existing cameras will be replaced and 30 more added in new locations. "IMPD has 130 cameras installed across Marion County, and we've been transparent that there are challenges with the current antiquated system," Wishner said. "That's why, as part of the $35 million public safety technology investment being made in our city in collaboration with Mayor Hogsett and the City-County Council, we currently have 34 new HD cameras on hand to install in the coming weeks."

MACKEY LAUNCHES 4TH CD CAMPAIGN: Life-long Tippecanoe County resident and children’s healthcare reform advocate Joseph William Mackey has announced his campaign for the 4th CD Democratic nomination. There will be three launch events on October 4 and October 6 in Logansport, Lafayette, and Avon (Howey Politics Indiana). “Over the last year, I’ve spoken to hundreds of Hoosiers all over the 4th District who want to know why their members of Congress are not working to improve the lives of Indiana families,” said Mackey. “They want to see Indiana leading the nation in clean energy manufacturing and healthcare reform. They want our government to support public education from kindergarten to college. And they are not seeing the leadership that was promised by Jim Baird and the Republican Party. That is why I am proud to announce my candidacy for the 4th District of Indiana.” The Logansport event will be on October 4 from 6:30 – 7:30 p.m. at Amelio’s On The River restaurant, 431 S. 5th Street. Mackey and his wife, Tami, lost two of their children to pediatric cancers in 2011 and 2013, and have since become fervent advocates for the families of children with cancer. They created the Claire E. and Patrick G. Mackey Children’s Cancer Foundation which provides various forms of assistance to those families struggling with the challenges of having a child with cancer, and raises funds to support pediatric-specific cancer research.

VOTE REGISTRATION DEADLINE OCT. 7: Are you registered to vote? If you want to have your say in the November 5th municipal election, you need to register today. Voters registering in the county clerk’s office must do so by the close of business Monday, October 7th, and voters registering online have until midnight Monday night (Howey Politics Indiana). Hoosiers can register to vote online by using the Indiana Voters app (available on iPhone and Android) or by visiting www.IndianaVoters.com. Citizens can also submit an application to register in person at their local county clerk's office. In addition to registration, the Indianavoters.com and the app allow Hoosiers to look up their polling place, get directions to their polling location, find out who's on their ballot, track their absentee ballot application or provisional ballot information and contact local election officials. “I urge all eligible Hoosiers to exercise their right to vote,” said Secretary Lawson. “It only takes a few minutes to register and can be done online at any time.”

ZODY COMMENTS ON SBOE MEETING: Indiana Democratic Party Chairman John Zody issued the following statement after the State Board of Education met in Gary. “This is what Indiana Republicans’ disgraceful and divisive effort to privatize education looks like: students learning in unheated, leaking buildings and in downright dangerous conditions. Governor Holcomb and his for-profit school reform agenda has created an educational system that is leaving some Hoosier children behind.”

Presidential 2020

BUTTIGIEG BLASTS TRUMP 'MOAT': South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg called President Trump's consideration of a "border moat" as one of disregarding human beings (Howey Politics Indiana). Appearing on MSNBC's "Live With Velshi and Ruhle," Buttigieg said, "To call it childlike is an insult to children. And it also reflects the basic mentality of this president, which is, he doesn't regard human beings as human beings. I think we've had profound questions about this president's fitness all along. So the best thing that I can do about it, as a candidate for president, is to make the case for a better way -- for the kind of country we will want to live in after this presidency comes to an end, one way or the other." As for Trump's call for the arrest of political opponents for "treason," Buttigieg said,  "The simple fact is that these rantings are not the words of the leader of a democracy. When you are being criticized, let alone when you are being called out for wrongdoing, responding by describing somebody who is calling you out or disagreeing as being disloyal to the country because they're being critical of you -- this is the stuff of tinpot dictatorships, not the presidency. And it's sad not just for the president, but for the presidency itself, for the country. Remember, this is the President of the United States. Your life and mine depend on the wisdom and judgment of the President of the United States, and these rants are a bad sign for all of us."

BUTTIGIEG, BETO MIX IT UP ON GUNS: No other 2020 Democrat at a gun-policy forum yesterday endorsed Beto O'Rourke's proposal to implement a mandatory buyback program for assault weapons, Axios' Alexi McCammond reports from Vegas (Axios). O'Rourke explicitly called out Pete Buttigieg — both on stage and in a brief press conference — for their disagreement on this issue: Buttigieg said when asked about the buybacks debate among 2020 Democrats: "We have a way, sometimes, as a party ... of getting caught. Just when we've amassed the discipline and the force to get something done right away, a shiny object makes it harder for us to focus." O'Rourke's retort: "Those who are worried about the polls, or want to triangulate or talk to consultants or listen to focus groups — and I’m thinking about Mayor Pete on this one, who I think probably wants to get to the right place, but is afraid of doing the right thing right now."



Congress

VOLKER TO TESTIFY TODAY:  Congress hears its first impeachment witness today (Axios). Kurt Volker, the special U.S. envoy to Ukraine until he resigned last week, was little known outside of foreign policy circles. Now a central figure in the early stage of the inquiry, he's scheduled to testify in private today. (AP)

WHITE HOUSE SUBPOENAS UKRAINE DOCS: The House committees at the heart of an investigation into whether to impeach President Trump over his effort to enlist Ukraine to probe Democratic rival Joe Biden said they planned to issue a subpoena on Friday to force the White House to turn over records related to a pair of phone calls between Mr. Trump and Ukraine’s president (Wall Street Journal). Separately, the House Intelligence Committee disclosed that the whistleblower whose allegations ignited the Ukraine investigation had contacted the panel before filing a formal complaint. Democrats leading the House intelligence, oversight and foreign-affairs committees said they planned to direct the White House subpoena to acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney. The subpoena would be officially issued by the Oversight Committee.

PELOSI EXPECTED TO PUSH USMCA PASSAGE: The impeachment war has hastened Speaker Pelosi's determination to approve a trade deal with Mexico and Canada, making it the one thing most likely to get done this year, lawmakers and their aides tell Axios. Democratic lawmakers need something to bring home to their constituents ahead of 2020 — especially in vulnerable districts. And while Pelosi has said she is committed to passing several different proposals, the USMCA trade deal is the most realistic and urgent, Hill sources say. If Pelosi fails, Republicans have more ammunition to scorch House Democrats for being impeachment obstructionists.

General Assembly

MONEY RECOMMENDED FOR LAKE MICHIGAN BEACH EROSION: At the state agriculture and natural resources committee meeting, legislators recommended that the state find the money for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers study into solutions to Lake Michigan beach erosion. There’s no telling whether the governor and the state budget committee will act upon that recommendation (Indiana Public Media). Municipalities, parks officials, tourism experts, and environmentalists are asking the state for money to help prevent erosion along some Lake Michigan beaches. The groups want about $850,000 to go toward a study by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to come up with long-term solutions. After the study is done, Indiana would be able to ask for federal funding to address beach erosion. The groups also wanted money to temporarily reduce erosion by placing sand on beaches. The City of Portage, Ogden Dunes, and the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority have offered to put forth half the money toward the matching funds needed for the long-term study.



State

SBOE: WALKER QUESTIONS STATE TAKEOVER OF GARY SCHOOLS - A rare visit by the Indiana State Board of Education brought a renewed sense of urgency to addressing the learning environment of Theodore Roosevelt College and Career Academy students, displaced from the historic Gary Roosevelt High School building last year. While the state board visited Indiana University Northwest on Wednesday for its regular monthly board meeting, Board Secretary Tony Walker took a tour of Gary schools a day ahead of the meeting. What he found, Walker said, made him wonder if state intervention in the cash-strapped Gary Community School Corp. was working (Lanich, NWI Times). Walker reported back to the board photos and concerns of the management of the schools he visited — one being West Side Leadership Academy, where he said he observed mold and leaking ceilings, particularly in the high school library. “The state has taken over Gary Community School Corp. two years ago,” Walker said. “There’s just no excuse that these students are still subject to conditions where they can’t go to the library, they can’t sit in classes without having leaks all over that building. If we’re going to get involved, we have to make it better.”

SBOE: HS ASSESSMENT PROPOSALS REQUESTED - The Indiana State Board of Education (Board) met today at Indiana University Northwest (IUN) in Gary for its October business meeting. “We are grateful to Chancellor Lowe for hosting us and appreciate the opportunity to see the campus. IUN is doing great work preparing future teachers,” said B.J. Watts, board chair (Howey Politics Indiana). The Board unanimously approved the release of the high school assessment request for proposals. The Indiana Department of Administration will manage the process. An evaluation team will consider responses and provide a recommendation to the Board for review. Upon the recommendation of the Indiana Department of Homeland Security, Board members also voted to approve a loan from the Common School Fund for West Lafayette Community School Corporation. The Board will meet next month on November 6, 2019 in Indianapolis.

EDUCATION: IVY TECH NAMES RICHMOND CHANCELLOR -  Ivy Tech Community College has named Dr. Stacy Atkinson Chancellor for its Richmond campus and Connersville site. Atkinson succeeds Chad Bolser who stepped into the role of vice president of operations for the southern campuses at Ivy Tech in July (Inside Indiana Business). Atkinson has been with Ivy Tech since 2015. She has served in many roles at the college including early childhood adjunct instructor for the Muncie campus, senior instructional designer with the Center for Instructional Technology and the executive director of Strategic Initiatives. “We are thrilled Stacy is continuing her leadership role with the Richmond campus and with Ivy Tech,” said Sue Ellspermann, president, Ivy Tech Community College.

LABOR: TRUMKA VISITS UAW IN INDY - The president of the AFL-CIO visited striking auto workers from a central Indiana General Motors facility Tuesday afternoon. The stop comes as contract negotiations continue (Indiana Public Media). United Auto Workers officials released a statement Tuesday saying a contract proposal from GM failed to meet union member’s “demands or needs.” While union leaders say they’re awaiting a response to their counter-proposal, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka spoke with UAW workers in Bedford. The AFL-CIO consists of 55 unions, including the United Auto Workers. UAW Local 440 President Kevin Hutchinson says Trumka’s visit with workers from the GM Bedford casting facility was an honor. “His message was to them was the members of the AFL-CIO have our backs; they’re supporting us,” Hutchinson says. “And his message to them was one day longer, one day stronger.”

Nation

WHITE HOUSE: TRUMP'S PRESSER OF GRIEVANCE - The rowdy, meandering and combative news conference Wednesday began with President Trump marveling at the media (Washington Post). “Look at all the press that you attract,” he told Finnish President Sauli Niinisto as the two men faced a room of reporters. “Do you believe this? Very impressive.” It ended with Trump excoriating the press as “corrupt people” who undermine U.S. democracy. “If the press were straight and honest and forthright and tough we would be a far greater nation,” he said. For the 40 minutes in between, the East Room of the White House played host to a roller coaster display of the grievances, victimhood, falsehoods and braggadocio that have come to define Trump’s presidency — a combustible mix that has only become more potent as the president faces the growing threat of impeachment.

WHITE HOUSE: TRUMP SLAPS TARIFFS ON E.U. - The U.S. plans to swiftly impose tariffs on $7.5 billion in aircraft, food products and other goods from the European Union after the World Trade Organization authorized the levies Wednesday, citing the EU’s subsidies to Airbus (Wall Street Journal). The new duties represent the most significant trade action against the EU since the Trump administration hit the bloc with steel and aluminum duties last year, and could further sour relations between allies that have long sought to resolve trade disputes without resorting to tariffs. “I’m tempted to say it will poison the well on other U.S.-EU trade issues, but the well is pretty poisoned anyways,” said William Reinsch, a senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. The Trump administration “wants to watch the Europeans squirm for a while,” he said.

WHITE HOUSE: TRUMP SCHEDULE - President Trump will leave the White House at 10 a.m. en route to Ocala, Fla. He will travel to The Villages, a sprawling retirement community outside of Orlando, where he will give a speech at 1:10 p.m. and sign an executive order on health care for seniors at the Sharon L. Morse Performing Arts Center. Afterward, Trump will take photos with supporters. He will depart at 2:45 p.m. en route back to Washington.

STATE: I.G. DETAILED ATTEMPT TO SMEAR UKRAINE ENVOY - The State Department’s inspector general briefed congressional aides Wednesday about an apparent attempt to smear the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, who is seen by House Democrats as a key witness in their impeachment inquiry (Politico). Sources who attended the closed-door briefing — deemed “urgent” when it was announced on Tuesday — described it as bizarre and confusing. Steve Linick, the inspector general, revealed that a packet of documents containing misinformation about the former ambassador, Marie Yovanovitch, was sent to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo earlier this year from an unknown source. Hunter Biden, the son of former Vice President Joe Biden, was also a target of debunked conspiracy theories laid out in the documents, lawmakers and aides said.

USDA: PERDUE PESSIMISTIC ABOUT DAIRY FARMERS - President Donald Trump’s agriculture secretary said Tuesday during a stop in Wisconsin that he doesn’t know if the family dairy farm can survive as the industry moves toward a factory farm model (AP). U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue told reporters following an appearance at the World Dairy Expo in Madison that it is getting harder for farmers to get by on milking smaller herds. “In America, the big get bigger and the small go out,” Perdue said. “I don’t think in America we, for any small business, we have a guaranteed income or guaranteed profitability.” Perdue’s visit comes as Minnesota and Wisconsin dairy farmers are wrestling with a host of problems, including declining milk prices, rising suicide rates, the transition to larger farms with hundreds or thousands of animals and Trump’s international trade wars.

HEALTH: VAPE LUNG DAMAGE LOOKS LIKE CHEMICAL BURNS SAYS MAYO - The lung damage in some people who have become ill after vaping nicotine or marijuana products resembles a chemical burn, doctors from the Mayo Clinic reported on Wednesday (New York Times). Their findings are based on samples of lung tissue from 17 patients around the country whose biopsy specimens were sent to Mayo to be examined under the microscope by experts in lung pathology. Two samples came from patients who died. “All 17 of our cases show a pattern of injury in the lung that looks like a toxic chemical exposure, a toxic chemical fume exposure, or a chemical burn injury,” said Dr. Brandon T. Larsen, a surgical pathologist at the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Ariz. “To be honest, they look like the kind of change you would expect to see in an unfortunate worker in an industrial accident where a big barrel of toxic chemicals spills, and that person is exposed to toxic fumes and there is a chemical burn in the airways.”

AUTOS: RAM SUPRASSES SILVARADO AS NO. 2 TRUCK - Fiat Chrysler’s Ram pickup unseated General Motors’ Chevrolet Silverado as the second-best selling vehicle in the U.S. during the first nine months of the year (AP). Experts say with a United Auto Workers strike underway that has shut down GM’s pickup factories, the Ram likely will beat the Silverado for the full year for the first time. Company figures released Wednesday show the Ram led the Silverado by nearly 52,000 as of Sept. 30. So far this year, U.S. buyers snapped up 461,115 Rams, a 23% increase over the same time last year. GM sold 409,316 Silverados during the first nine months, down 3.6% from a year ago. Ford’s F-Series pickup remained the most popular vehicle in America with 662,574 sold through September. That’s down 2.4% from a year ago.

AUTOS: GM SALES UP 6% - General Motors Co.’s U.S. auto sales climbed 6.3% in the third quarter on higher pickup-truck sales and strong demand for its sport-utility vehicles, signaling a United Auto Workers strike at its U.S. factories has so far had little effect on showroom traffic (Wall Street Journal). GM’s quarterly sales gains contrast with flat results at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles FCAU -1.89% NV for the same period and a 5.1% decline reported by Ford Motor Co. F -3.26% for the third quarter.

Local

CITIES: INDY EYES EMINENT DOMAINE FOR GM STAMPING SITE - The City of Indianapolis is considering using eminent domain to take ownership of the site of the former General Motors stamping plant (CBS4). The Ambrose Property Group currently owns the site, but recently scrapped a $1.38 billion mixed-use development called “Waterside” for the site on the western edge of downtown Indianapolis. Part of the property was recently acquired by the Indianapolis Zoo as they plan expansion. The corporate counsel for the City of Indianapolis sent a letter to Ambrose Wednesday. “If Ambrose would prefer to avoid the delay and expense of a court process, we would welcome the opportunity to begin negotiating acquisition of the property immediately…If not, we will pursue the eminent domain process to its conclusion,” the letter said in part.

CITIES: AMBROSE GIVES LAND TO INDY ZOO - The Indianapolis Zoo is expanding its footprint. A 10-acre donation from Indy-based Ambrose Property Group, combined with land purchased by the zoo, will add 26.5 acres of space to the popular Marion County attraction (Inside Indiana Business). The Zoo and White River Gardens currently covers 67 acres and is home to nearly 1,300 animals including 213 species. Zoo representatives say the land deal will allow the zoo to expand the animal areas and educational programming into its current parking lot space. Dr. Rob Shumaker, Zoo president, says the new space will improve events and customer experience.

CITIES: HOGSETT ANNOUNCES EAST SIDE DEVELOPMENT - The mayor of Indianapolis announced a third area of the city designated for investment and revitalization on Wednesday (WTHR-TV). The area will be along E. 10th Street just east of the city. It is designated as the 2019 Lift Indy investment area, which means $3.5 million in investment over the next three years. “Over the decades, the City has partnered with numerous community organizations and philanthropic groups to restore and rebuild the near east side. This area of our city has made tremendous strides, and it is my honor to announce this area as our third Lift Indy neighborhood.” said Mayor Joe Hogsett. “This program is more than an initiative to improve one area – it is a long-term strategy to elevate all of Indianapolis’ neighborhoods, for the betterment of all people in our city.”

CITIES: MAYOR TYLER UPSET ABOUT BLOCKED RR CROSSINGS - Public outrage about stopped trains blocking traffic in Muncie escalated this summer (Walker, Muncie Star Press). Wednesday, it was city officials' turn to vent, even though they admit solutions are difficult, at best. The problem came up at the Muncie's board of works meeting Wednesday morning, with Mayor Dennis Tyler saying efforts to work on a solution likely won't go anywhere without state or federal help. The issue was at the forefront following another incident Monday when emergency responders were having to navigate around a stopped train on Tillotson Avenue to respond to emergencies.

CITIES: FORT WAYNE COP WON'T BE CHARGED IN SHOOTING - A Fort Wayne police officer who fatally shot a man following a police chase won’t face charges in the shooting (AP). The Allen County Prosecutor’s Office said Tuesday that Officer Chris Hawthorne’s fatal shooting of 26-year-old Shaquille Kelly was justified. Kelly was fatally shot May 22 after a police chase ended when he crashed his car. Prosecutors said Kelly exited his crash-damaged car carrying a handgun and that Hawthorne “reasonably believed that force was necessary to prevent serious bodily injury or death to himself and other officers.”

CITIES: ERROR FOUND IN KENDALLVILLE MAPS - If you live east of Main Street in Kendallville, your city council representative may not be who the city’s district map says it is (KPC News). And it’s an issue that affects the only city council district that has a contested race this fall. According to Kendallville’s City Council district map, District 3 is supposed to cover the area bounded generally by Main Street on the west, Wayne Street to the north, Iddings Street to the south and the area east of Bixler Lake south of the railroad tracks to the east. That district is supposed to include voting precincts 20, 21 and 22. This fall, District 3 has a contested race between Republican incumbent Amy Ballard, who is seeking her first full term after being caucused into the seat, and Democrat challenger Sachiko Janek.

CITIES: 6 HOOSIER CITIES ON BEST IN MIDWEST LIST - Six Indiana cities are being recognized on Midwest Startups' list of the best startup cities in the Midwest for 2019. Indianapolis is the highest-ranked Hoosier city on the list, coming in at No. 4. This is the third year the publication has ranked the tech ecosystems of 54 Midwest cities, to analyze the Midwest’s growth in tech across the region (Inside Indiana Business). The Indiana cities included in the ranking are: Indianapolis 4; Lafayette 14; Bloomington 17; South Bend 23; Fort Wayne 29 and Evansville 33.

COUNTIES: SCOFFLAW SUES LAKE - A real estate investor faced with losing hundreds of tax certificates won at the county’s auction of tax-delinquent property has filed a civil lawsuit against the Lake County treasurer and auditor offices (NWI Times). By filing the Lake Superior Court suit Monday, Thomas Wisniewski, 56, claims the county wrongfully determined he owes $208,000 in overdue taxes on approximately 40 properties. The county used that determination as the basis of its argument to object to Broadway Logistics Complex LLC's 500-plus bids this past March because video evidence showed Wisniewski participated in the auction on behalf of the firm. State law bars tax-delinquent property owners from bidding.

COUNTIES: STEUBEN WARNS OF EEE - Steuben County Health Department is urging people to be aware of the potential of disease being spread by mosquitoes (KPC News). Both West Nile Virus and Eastern Equine Encephalitis have been detected in northern Indiana, though no human cases have been documented in the state. Neither West Nile nor EEE have been detected in Steuben County, said a news release from the health department.

COUNTIES: GRANT SHERIFF DEPUTIES SEEK RAISE - Sheriff's deputies in Grant County are demanding a pay raise. Deputies have been in negotiations with county commissioners for the last few weeks, since they figured out they make about 30-percent less than what the average deputy makes across the rest of the state (Darling, WIBC). Sgt. Matt Sneed with the sheriff's department told WISH-TV they can't compete with neighboring counties of similar size, population, and crime rate that are paying more. "I had one of the guys that I supervise this year leave and go to a nearby county at a local agency down there to make about $18,000 a year more," he said. He said with more deputies leaving Grant County to find better, high paying gigs, it leaves the public to deal with the consequences of having less manpower on the force. "If it's an emergency and we need to run lights and sirens to get there to back somebody up on something we're putting the public in jeopardy because we would have to drive much faster because we are so much farther away from the scene," Sneed added.