CHINA HOLDS TARIFF FIRE AS TRUMP RATCHETS UP PRESSURE: China held back from immediate retaliation for higher U.S. tariffs, unlike in past rounds, taking time to weigh its options amid uncertainty over how the Chinese economy would weather a full-bore trade conflict (Wall Street Journal). A failure to break an impasse in talks in Washington on Friday opened a new phase in the trade fight after more than five months of back-and-forth negotiations. This time, some economists and analysts said, Beijing is taking stock of potential economic damage from higher tariffs. The U.S. raised punitive tariffs to 25%, from 10%, for $200 billion in goods leaving China on Friday and thereafter. President Trump also ordered staff to begin the paperwork to impose levies on the more than $300 billion worth of everything else China sells to the U.S. While Beijing has met previous volleys of tariffs from the U.S. by raising duties on American goods—and the government has promised to retaliate—it held its fire. Though China has more limited tariff options, since it imports fewer products from the U.S. than the other way around, the Chinese leadership is also constrained by an economy that is in a shaky recovery from a sharp slowdown. The tariff escalation is worrisome for Chinese officials, who are watching potential ripple effects, from weakening of the currency to crimping future foreign investment. Raising existing tariffs or imposing new ones could hit products China’s economy needs, like semiconductors, pork, oil and passenger jets.

TRUMP SAYS TARIFFS WILL MAKE U.S. ‘STRONGER’: President Donald Trump said Friday that trade talks between China and the U.S. were continuing in a "very congenial manner" despite new tariffs the U.S. imposed Friday on $200 billion in Chinese imports and Beijing's vow to retaliate (AP). In a series of blustering morning tweets, Trump also claimed the new tariffs will help rather than hurt the U.S. and bring "FAR MORE wealth." He offered a proposal he said would ease any negative impact on U.S. farmers from lost sales to China. U.S. and Chinese negotiators planned to continue talks Friday in an effort to resolve the standoff after the United States raised tariffs on Chinese imports, escalating tensions between the world's two biggest economies and rattling stock markets around the world. "Tariffs will make our Country MUCH STRONGER, not weaker. Just sit back and watch!" Trump tweeted. The U.S. stock market, which until this week had been expecting the two sides to reach an accord on trade, has been dropping for several days and reacted negatively again to Trump's tweet that "there is absolutely no need to rush" to make a deal. Investors worry about the impact of a full-blown trade war because it would raise costs for companies importing Chinese goods, could make doing business in China more difficult and would generally threaten to slow the global economy.

TRUMP IN A TRADE MESS: President Trump is in a trade mess. His new trade deal to replace the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is bogged down in Congress, with little chance of passing, while the China deal he promised more than a year ago is quickly unraveling (The Hill). The administration on Friday increased tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese goods, raising the prospect of retaliatory measures from China, and Trump is due to make a decision Saturday on whether to place tariffs on automobile imports. Congressional Republicans are frustrated that the new NAFTA deal, known as the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), is stalled with little prospect of winning ratification in the Democratic-controlled House. That impasse is coming at a time when negotiations with China are sliding backwards, leading to prolonged pain in farm states whose exports have been caught up in the trade war. “From the agriculture states, states where agriculture is key, the impact is being felt,” said Senate Republican Conference Chairman John Barrasso (R-Wyo.). “People at home are still absolutely with the president but they’d like to see this come to a conclusion.” GOP senators this past week pressed Vice President Pence at a private meeting to speed up talks with Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to get a deal to implement USMCA, which needs congressional approval, and to reach an agreement with China. “We need to see it done soon. The confidence back home is shaky. Folks are hurting,” Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), who represents a farm state and is up for re-election in 2020, told The Hill after Tuesday’s meeting.

MAYOR PETE'S INDIANA PROBLEM AS HE TRAILS BIDEN, SANDERS: Pete Buttigieg’s presidential campaign now has an Indiana problem. The We Ask America Poll with registered Indiana voters released Thursday has him in third place  behind Joe Biden (33%), Sen. Bernie Sanders (23%) with Mayor Pete at 20% (Howey Politics Indiana). Buttigieg has essentially leapfrogged his home state  to become a viable Democratic presidential contender. But as we’ve written in the past, beyond his South Bend political base and strength in that small media market, and his activities with Accelerating Indiana Municipalities where mayors from both parties hold him in high regard, he is not particularly “famous” here. Or as We Ask America put it, “Despite very loud noise from the far left of the Democratic Party and Buttigieg's popularity in the South Bend region, it seems that, for now, rank-and-file Indiana Democrats prefer a traditional party leader" to the tune of 56%. His neglecting his home state gives his primary rivals a few arrows in their quiver: Could Mayor Pete carry his home state, either in a Democratic primary a year from now, or against the Trump/Pence ticket in November?  Our take: Perhaps, but it's no slam dunk at this point.

JOURNALISTS, OPPO RESEARCHES SEEK BUTTIGIEG RECORDS: Allan Blutstein, senior vice president with the conservative political action committee America Rising, wanted Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s daily calendar since the beginning of the year. Eilish O’Sullivan, a University of Texas student journalist, asked for information related to Buttigieg’s Twitter account (Parrott, South Bend Tribune). London-based Fox News reporter Lukas Mikelionis requested any Buttigieg emails since 2012 that contained the keywords, “Trump, immigration, Pence, socialism, black lives matter, racism, black people, church, Catholic and LBGTQ (sic).” They were three of the people — a mix of journalists, political operatives and advocacy groups — who in recent weeks filed public records requests with the city regarding Buttigieg’s tenure as mayor as he seeks the Democratic nomination for president. Along with his rapid rise in the polls, and likely because of it, the information-gathering is another sign people are taking Buttigieg’s campaign seriously, said Brett Di Resta, a Washington-based Democratic strategist. “Research isn’t cheap and it’s not easy,” said Di Resta, president and CEO of The Maccabee Group. “You don’t do that if you don’t believe someone is a real contender.”

TRUMP CALLS PETE 'ALFRED E. NEUMAN': President Donald Trump dismissed Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg on Friday in a single sentence. “Alfred E. Neuman cannot become president of the United States,” Trump told Politico on Friday. Buttigieg responded, "I’ll be honest. I had to Google that. I guess it’s just a generational thing. I didn’t get the reference. It's kind of funny, I guess. But he’s also the president of the United States and I’m surprised he’s not spending more time trying to salvage this China deal." That was in reference to the collapse of trade talks with China on Friday, coming on the same day Trump increased tariffs from 10% to 25%, a move that is creating anxiety among Indiana farmers and manufacturers.

HOUSE PASSES BROOKS' BROADBAND BILL: With more Americans than ever relying on the internet, the U.S. House has passed legislation to increase access to broadband services. The bipartisan legislation, authored by Rep. Susan Brooks, R-5th District and Rep. Paul Tonko, D-N.Y., would help expand broadband access in underserved areas and create a simpler process for small businesses and local economic developers to access federal broadband resources (de la Bastide, Anderson Herald-Bulletin). The proposed legislation establishes the Office of Internet Connectivity and Growth at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. It directs the office to simplify access for small businesses and local communities, possibly including small business workshops and other support resources. The legislation also streamlines the process for small businesses and local governments to apply for federal broadband assistance. “To put it simply,” Brooks said on the House floor, “people in every state of our country, including Indiana, need better access to the internet.”

AMTRAK SUPPORTERS SEEK ROKITA AS FOX IN HEN HOUSE: Former Congressman Todd Rokita’s appointment to the Amtrak board of directors is a “fox in the henhouse” pick, railroad supporters say (Politico). Amtrak backers and rail passenger advocates are worried about Rokita's nomination to the railroad’s board of directors, your host reported Thursday. Rokita voted several times to cut funds for Amtrak during his four terms in the House, and some say his nomination is reminiscent of Lynn Westmoreland, another former member who also voted against federal funding for Amtrak before being picked for its board. (His nomination is still pending.) It’s worth a reminder that it’s not easy for anyone to get confirmed to the Amtrak board right now. Westmoreland, who was first nominated a year and a half ago, is being held up along with two other picks for the board by Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), who takes issue with Amtrak’s plans to eliminate service along the Southwest Chief route.

STEAK & SHAKE TEETERS: A decade ago, entrepreneur Sardar Biglari was Steak n Shake’s savior, righting the Indianapolis chain in the teeth of the Great Recession by imposing relentless discounting (Andrews, IBJ). Today, Biglari, 41, a cocksure executive who scoffs at conventional corporate governance practices, risks being shackled with a different legacy: the man who destroyed the storied chain, which was founded in Normal, Illinois, in 1934 and has been based in Indianapolis since the 1970s. The outlook is that bad for Steak n Shake, which in the first quarter racked up an $18.9 million operating loss. That’s on top of a $10.7 million loss for all of 2018. Worse yet, customer traffic counts are in a tailspin, sliding 13 percent over the last three years and 7.7 percent in the first quarter.

NRA'S LAPIERRE EXPENSES REVEALED: National Rifle Association Chief Executive Wayne LaPierre billed the group’s ad agency $39,000 for one day of shopping at a Beverly Hills clothing boutique, $18,300 for a car and driver in Europe and had the agency cover $13,800 in rent for a summer intern, according to newly revealed NRA internal documents (Wall Street Journal). The documents, posted anonymously on the internet, provide new details of the clothing, travel and other expenses totaling more than $542,000 that Ackerman McQueen Inc. alleges Mr. LaPierre billed to it. The travel expenses allegedly include more than $200,000 in “Air Transportation” costs during a one-month period in late 2012 and early 2013, in part related to a two-week trip over Christmas to the Bahamas by Mr. LaPierre. The additional details behind the ad agency’s claims comes as Mr. LaPierre faces internal scrutiny at the NRA over his expenses amid an extraordinary falling-out between the NRA and Ackerman McQueen.

HPI DAILY ANALYSIS: We are now at a trade impasse, not only with China, but with the NAFTA remake. President Trump's one tailwind is the economy, but these trade showdowns could put that in jeopardy. - Brian A. Howey


HOOSIERS VOTING BY ALTERNATIVE METHODS: Alternative methods of voting are catching on in Indiana. The U.S. Census Bureau reported recently that 28.6% of Indiana voters cast their ballots by alternative methods in the 2018 election, more than double the 12.5% who did so in the previous mid-term election in 2014 (Kelly & Francisco, Fort Wayne Journal Gazette). Nationally, 39.8% of voters used alternative methods in 2018, up from 31.1%  in 2014, the Census Bureau found. Alternative methods include any method of voting other than in person on Election Day, such as voting by mail and early voting. Indiana ranked 21st among states for highest percentage of voters using alternative methods in 2018. The highest ranking states – Washington, Oregon and Colorado – have mail-only voting systems. The lowest ranking states were 11 that offered no early voting and required excuses for absentee voting.

VANDERBURGH COUNCILMAN PANS EARLY VOTE: A kind-of rainy Saturday afternoon outside Northeast Park Baptist Church. It's not a scene that conjures up images of politics -- which might explain why there was nary a candidate or vote-huckstering volunteer in sight (Langhorne, Evansville Courier & Press). But the church was a polling place for early voters just three days before Tuesday's citywide primary election. It was meant to be an alternative for people looking to avoid long lines on election day. It was open from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m. And just 53 voters showed up all day. Meanwhile, four paid poll workers sat in a downstairs room at the church, whiling away the hours. One of them told a voter she'd brought a book to read. City taxpayers will shell out $23,320 to pay poll workers so 1,021 people could vote early in-person in the week before Tuesday's primary, according to data generated by the Vanderburgh County Clerk's Office. "Yep, it was 1,000 people. I know, I checked it out myself," said County Councilman Tom Shetler Jr. "Can you imagine? That's a lot of doggone money spent for 1,000 people to vote early who, really, could have voted with a couple different methods of absentee voting or voting on the day of the election."

Presidential 2020

BUTTIGIEG SLAMS DEMS OVER IDENTITY POLITICS: Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg said Saturday that Democrats are exacerbating a crisis in the U.S. by using identity politics (The Hill). In a speech to the Human Rights Campaign, a major LGBT rights group, the mayor of South Bend, Ind., who is gay, warned of a “crisis of belonging in this country” being exacerbated by “so-called identity politics” that emphasize how one person hasn’t walked in another’s shoes. “Something that is true, but it doesn’t get us very far,” he said. "I'm not talking about pretending there are equivalencies between the different patterns of exclusion in this country," Buttigieg clarified. "Divisive lines of thinking” have entered Democrats’ mindset, Buttigieg continued, explaining: “Like when we’re told we have to choose between supporting an auto worker and a trans woman of color, without stopping to think about the fact that sometimes the auto worker is a trans woman of color, and she definitely needs all the security she can get.” “The wall I worry about the most is not the president’s fantasy wall on the Mexican border that’s not going to get built anyway,” Buttigieg said. “What I worry about are the very real walls being put up between us as we get divided and carved up.”

BUTTIGIEG DESCRIBES COMING OUT: Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg described Saturday his public coming out as a gay man in 2015, and how the exclusion he experienced made him conscious of what it means to belong and the need to overcome divisions (AP). The 37-year-old described "a crisis of belonging in this country" experienced by LGBTQ people, women, immigrants, people of color, people with disabilities, workers and more and the need for "hopeful and audacious voices" to unite people in a changing time. "What every gay person has in common with every excluded person of any kind is knowing what it's like to see a wall between you and the rest of the world and wonder what it's like on the other side," Buttigieg said as he gave the keynote address Saturday night in Las Vegas at a gala for the Human Rights Campaign. The mayor of South Bend, Indiana, made the appearance at the LGBTQ civil rights group event while making his second campaign swing this year through Nevada, which is third in line to cast votes for the Democratic presidential nomination next year.

PETE'S RISE THE ENVY OF OTHER MAYORS: No mayor has ever ascended directly to the White House. So, Pete Buttigieg’s surprising performance in the Democratic primary has been met with a dose of excitement in the nation’s city halls — along with some humility (Politico). Buttigieg, the mayor of Indiana’s fourth-largest city, has been steeped in television coverage, raised millions of dollars and been photographed with his husband, Chasten, for the cover of Time magazine. Meanwhile, New York City’s Bill de Blasio, the mayor of the nation’s largest city, is having difficulty persuading anyone — the media, his own constituents — to take his own potential run for president seriously. “Everybody’s going to laugh at him” if he runs, said Doug Herman, a Democratic strategist. “The irony is that the South Bend mayor is being taken seriously, and the New York mayor’s not.” And it isn’t just de Blasio. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who considered running for president before demurring earlier this year, has been asked more than once if Buttigieg’s success didn’t make him reconsider his own choices. “Mayor Pete, somebody that is a veteran like you, is a mayor like you, is a Rhodes scholar like you, is a pianist like you,” a reporter asked Garcetti in Los Angeles recently, where he appeared alongside Buttigieg. “Do you think, ‘That could have been me?’”

BIDEN HAS 31% LEAD IN SOUTH CAROLINA; BUTTIGIEG AT 8%: Former Vice President Joe Biden holds a sizable lead over the 2020 Democratic presidential field in a key primary state, according to a new Post and Courier-Change Research Poll (The Hill). The survey, which was released on Sunday, found that 46 percent of likely Democratic voters in South Carolina, home to the nation's third primary, favor Biden over the rest of the Democratic field. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is a distant second, with 15 percent of respondents saying they'd support him. Meanwhile, 10 percent of likely South Carolina Democratic primary voters said they'd favor Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.). South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) each earned support from eight percent of respondents. 

BLACK CAUCUS SEES DREAM 'BIDEN-HARRIS' TICKET: The Congressional Black Caucus may have found an answer to its Joe Biden dilemma: Vice President Kamala Harris (Politico). Some black lawmakers are agonizing over whether to back Biden or two members of the close-knit caucus — Sens. Harris and Cory Booker — who are also vying for the White House, according to interviews with a dozen CBC members. But with the former vice president jumping out to a huge, if early, lead in the polls, several CBC members are warming to the idea of a Biden-Harris ticket to take on President Donald Trump. “That would be a dream ticket for me, a dream ticket!” said Rep. Lacy Clay (D-Mo.). “If she is not the nominee, that would be a dream ticket for this country.”

Sunday Talk

MUELLER TESTIMONY COULD COME ON WEDNESDAY: Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) is walking back remarks he made earlier on Sunday, saying "nothing has been agreed to yet" on the date of special counsel Robert Mueller's testimony before the House Judiciary Committee. "Just to clarify: we are aiming to bring Mueller in on the 15th, but nothing has been agreed to yet," Cicilline, who is a member of the committee, wrote later, after his remarks circulated. "That's the date the Committee has proposed, and we hope the Special Counsel will agree to it. Sorry for the confusion."  Cicilline said earlier on "Fox News Sunday" that the House Judiciary Committee had come to a tentative date of May 15 for Mueller testify, noting that a representative for the special counsel had agreed to the date but "obviously, until the day comes, we never have an absolute guarantee."  "A tentative date has been set of May 15th and we hope the special counsel will appear," Cicilline said. "We think the American people have a right to hear directly from him."

KUDLOW SAYS CHINA COMING UP SHORT: White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said Sunday that China has "not come far enough" on trade negotiations, but that discussions will continue. “We want to be as sure as we can be, we don’t think the Chinese have come far enough,” Kudlow said on "Fox News Sunday." “The talks will continue, and I will say this, there’s a G20 meeting in Japan toward the end of June, the chances President Trump and President Xi will get together at that meeting are probably pretty good.” “The problem is two weeks ago in China there was backtracking by the Chinese… we can’t forget this, this is a huge deal with the broadest scope and scale the two countries have had before."

HARRIS SAYS U.S. IN CONSTITUTIONAL CRISIS: Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) said Sunday the U.S. could be facing a constitutional crisis after another week of building tension between Congress and the White House. "A constitutional crisis is generally when the system we set up with checks and balances, when each of the independent co-equal branches of government fails to perform its duties and I think we're seeing the breakdown of responsibilities," the 2020 presidential hopeful said. "I think it's fair to say we're looking at a crisis of confidence, potentially a constitutional crisis." Speaking Sunday morning to Jake Tapper on CNN's "State of the Union," Harris cited Attorney General William Barr's refusal to appear before the House Judiciary Committee and the panel's party-line vote to hold him in contempt, as well as the Trump administration's failure to comply with congressional subpoenas.

MOULTEN SAYS TRUMP DOESN'T HAVE A CHINA PLAN: Rep. Seth Moulton (Mass.), a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, said Sunday that the Trump administration doesn't have a strategy to deal with China. “We absolutely need to get tough with China, and it’s not just on trade. It’s the rising threat that China is to our national security, I mean they are stealing American ideas and American military secrets through the internet every single day," Moulton said on "Fox News Sunday." “But we need a strategy, and I listened to Mr. Kudlow’s interview, I don’t think this administration has a strategy, they don’t have any sense of urgency, and they clearly don’t know what this means to American families.  “Wielding tariffs like a cudgel because it makes the president look tough? That only hurts American families,” Moulton added.

General Assembly

GAMING LAW A MIXED HAND: The gaming bill Gov. Eric Holcomb signed into state law last week offers the same "win some, lose some" outcome casinos' customers might experience on the gaming floors (Steele, NWI Times). Holcomb signed House Enrolled Act 1015 on Wednesday. In addition to allowing an inland Gary casino, it legalizes sports gambling beginning Sept. 1, changes the wagering tax structure to benefit casinos, and moves up permission for live-dealer table games at racinos to Jan. 1, 2020. "Overall, I think the bill was healthy for the state of Indiana," said Horseshoe Casino Senior Vice President and General Manager Dan Nita. Horseshoe parent Caesars Entertainment also owns a casino in southern Indiana, and the two central Indiana racinos — the combination horse racing tracks and casinos. Perhaps none will benefit more than Spectacle Entertainment, the new owner of the Majestic Star casino boats.

ELLINGTON CITES ANNEXATION LAW: Gov. Eric Holcomb signed a bill earlier this week that voids annexation remonstrance waivers from before July 2003 (Atkinson, Indiana Public Media). The waivers allow property owners to give up their right to formally object to an annexation. This comes just weeks after a judge ruled state legislation that halted Bloomington’s annexation plan is unconstitutional. House Bill 1427, known as the “Local Government Matters” bill, also covers tax distribution data and fire protection services, among other things. Republican State Rep. Jeff Ellington of Bloomington says the provision gives a voice to Monroe County residents who want a say in the annexation debate. “There’s no better local control than someone being able to own their property within basic guidelines and rules and this, I think, just resets that foundation,” he says.

NRA HONORS SMALTZ, LUCAS: The National Rifle Association's Institute for Legislative Action recently awarded Reps. Ben Smaltz, R-Auburn, and Jim Lucas, R-Seymour, the Defender of Freedom Award at its 148th National Rifle Association annual meeting in Indianapolis (Kelly & Francisco, Fort Wayne Journal Gazette). “This year Jim Lucas and Ben Smaltz succeeded in passing legislation to expand self-defense options for Hoosiers,” said Chris Kopacki, Indiana state director for the organization. “This award honors Lucas and Smaltz for leading the fight in Indiana to promote our fundamental right to self-protection.” The Defender of Freedom Award is awarded to individuals who have distinguished themselves in preserving and protecting Second Amendment rights, the NRA says. “I thank Representatives Lucas and Smaltz for their unwavering commitment to freedom,” Kopacki said. At the NRA annual meeting, Gov. Eric Holcomb signed into law Lucas and Smaltz's bill, which eliminates state fees for a new five-year state license to carry a handgun; allows licensed gun owners greater ability to carry for self-protection in churches and curtails lawsuits against those who use reasonable force in self-defense.


GOVERNOR: HOLCOMB ADDRESSES ANDERSON U. GRADUATES - Donning gaps and gowns, 432 Anderson University students walked across a stage Saturday and stepped into the the next season of their lives (Arwood, Anderson Herald-Bulletin). The Ward Fieldhouse in the Kardatzke Wellness Center, which held AU's 101st commencement ceremony, was packed. Families and friends of the graduates cheered when their loved ones received their hard-earned diplomas. Gov. Eric Holcomb gave the commencement address. He spoke on the history of Indiana, and the impact that AU has had on it over the past century. "When I think about just how far Indiana as a state has come in the last century, a lot of who we are, what we are, as a growing state, is because of this university," he said. "The previous generations kept this special place always in forward motion." Taking a chapter from old Uncle Sam posters, Holcomb told the students that Indiana needs them. He asked them for four favors: He asked them to stay in Indiana, to pursue a career they are passionate about, to meet someone and fall in love, and finally, to fail. "Fail," he said. "Not permanently fail, but fail while pushing it to the max. Fail fast, and get back up."

GOVERNOR: STATE REVENUES AHEAD OF SCHEDULE - Indiana began the final quarter of its 2019 fiscal year with a positive month of revenue collections (Smith, Indiana Public Media). That puts the state well ahead of its budget needs with just two months to go before the books are closed. Almost all of Indiana’s revenue sources outperformed expectations in April – individual income, corporate, interest, insurance, gaming and cigarette taxes and fees came in above target. Sales taxes, the state’s largest revenue source, did not meet projections, though they’re still on target for the overall fiscal year. Also on target for the year: total state revenues. April’s strong showing means the state is now more than $200 million ahead of where the budget projections need it to be for the current fiscal year, which ends in June.

HEALTH: INDIANA JOINS NURING COMPACT - Indiana will recognize nursing licenses from many others states with a new law taking effect this summer (AP). The law will have Indiana join the nurse licensure compact, under which those with Indiana nursing licenses could work in other member states. The National Council of State Boards of Nursing says about 30 states are part of the compact, although Kentucky is the only one of Indiana’s neighboring states currently in the agreement. Hosparus Health official Amelia McClure tells WFYI-FM that the compact allows nurses to work throughout the states needing them most. Hosparus Health operates hospice centers in southern Indiana and Kentucky. McClure says it’s been difficult to fill nursing jobs in rural southern Indiana without the licensing compact. Indiana’s law takes effect July 1.

EDUCATION: IU TO KICK OFF RURAL CONFERENCE - Indiana University will host inaugural Indiana University Rural Conference Monday and Tuesday at the French Lick Springs Resort. The conference, organized by the IU Center for Rural Engagement, will offer sessions on more than 100 initiatives and projects focused on rural communities (McLaughlin, Indiana Public Media). The university says sessions will span health, quality of place, and resilience, including recent water quality and mapping initiatives with Indiana Geological and Water Survey and the Hoosier Resilience Index, developed by IU’s Environmental Resilience Institute.  "The conference will bring an expansive view of the opportunities and challenges of our rural communities, and pair those with specific, action-focused information to empower residents across the region," said Kerry Thomson, executive director of the IU Center for Rural Engagement, in a news release. Keynote speakers at the conference will include Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch, IU Bloomington Provost and Executive Vice President Lauren Robel and Indiana Youth Institute Vice President Charlie Geier. 


WHITE HOUSE: TRUMP VOWS TO HALT FUTURE 'WITCH HUNTS' - President Trump focused early on Sunday on special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference, saying that this "witch hunt" must "never be allowed to happen again" (The Hill). "Think of it," Trump tweeted amid a battle over Mueller's report. "I became President of the United States in one of the most hard fought and consequential elections in the history of our great nation. "From long before I ever took office, I was under a sick & unlawful investigation concerning what has become known as the Russian Hoax," he continued in a separate tweet. "This never happened before in American history, and it all turned out to be a total scam, a Witch Hunt, that yielded No Collusion, No Obstruction. "This must never be allowed to happen again!"

WHITE HOUSE: McGAHAN REBUFFS TRUMP ON OBSTRUCTION REQUES - Within a day of the release of the Mueller report last month, President Trump sought to have former White House counsel Don McGahn declare he didn’t consider the president’s 2017 directive that he seek Robert Mueller’s dismissal to be obstruction of justice, but Mr. McGahn rebuffed the request, according to people familiar with the matter (Wall Street Journal). Mr. Trump has publicly denied asking Mr. McGahn to fire the Russia probe special counsel since the release of the report. Mr. Mueller’s report detailed that directive, and a subsequent request by Mr. Trump that Mr. McGahn deny that conversation ever happened, and said that Mr. McGahn rebuffed both. Last month, Mr. Trump tweeted: “If I wanted to fire Mueller, I didn’t need McGahn to do it, I could have done it myself.” Privately, Mr. Trump asked White House special counsel Emmet Flood to inquire whether Mr. McGahn would release a statement asserting that he didn’t believe those interactions with the president—and Mr. Trump’s subsequent efforts to have Mr. McGahn deny news reports about that request—amounted to obstruction, the people familiar with the matter said. Mr. Flood didn’t respond to a request for comment. William Burck, a lawyer for Mr. McGahn, said in a statement about the request: “We did not perceive it as any kind of threat or something sinister. It was a request, professionally and cordially made.” The last time Vice President Mike Pence spoke at Liberty University, he used the backdrop of one of the world’s largest Christian schools to vouch for candidate Donald Trump’s faith credentials during the 2016 campaign (USA TODAY). When Pence returned to the school Saturday to deliver the commencement address, his remarks were more personal. Pence, who has been facing criticisms of his own religious views recently, warned graduates that they have to stay strong against the challenges they’ll get from Hollywood, the media and the secular left. “Some of the loudest voices for tolerance today have little tolerance for traditional Christian beliefs,” Pence said. “Be ready.” With his wife, Karen, sitting on stage as he spoke, Pence recounted the “harsh attacks” he said they endured when she returned this year to teaching art at a Christian elementary school where she’d worked when he’d served in Congress. Unlike her previous stint, this time Karen Pence faced scrutiny after news reports pointed out that the school bans gay students and teachers. “Throughout most of American history, it's been pretty easy to call yourself Christian,” Pence said. “It didn’t even occur to people that you might be shunned or ridiculed for defending the teachings of the Bible. But things are different now.”

WHITE HOUSE: TAYLOR STUDENTS STARTS 'I LIKE MIKE' GROUP - After an unexpected public backlash when Vice President Pence was tapped as commencement speaker, a Taylor University student started an "I Like Mike" campaign to show the overwhelming majority at the small Christian college in rural Indiana support the state's former governor (Fox News). David Muselman, 20, a freshman finance major from Berne, told Fox News he started the campaign because he couldn't believe the backlash after the university announced Pence would be speaking at its May 18 commencement. Some upset students and alumni launched a petition to have Pence's invitation rescinded, saying they felt "personally attacked" and were "physically shaking." Critics said students would "feel unsafe at their own graduation."

WHITE HOUSE: GIULIANI CANCELS UKRAINE TRIP - Rudy Giuliani has canceled a trip to Kiev in which he planned to push the incoming Ukrainian government to press ahead with investigations that he hoped would benefit President Trump, the N.Y. Times' Ken Vogel reports: The president's personal lawyer was facing "withering attacks accusing him of seeking foreign assistance for ... Trump’s re-election campaign. Giuliani said that he felt like he was being "set up," and blamed Democrats for trying to "spin" the trip.

WHITE HOUSE: GUAIDO OPEN TO U.S. MILITARY INTERVENTION - Juan Guaidó has for the first time said he would likely back US military intervention in Venezuela, speaking on the eve of another weekend of tension and calls for mass protests (Telegraph). “If the Americans were to propose a military intervention I would probably accept it,” he said, in an interview with Italian daily newspaper La Stampa. Mr Guaidó has previously said that “all options remain on the table” – a comment echoed frequently in Washington – but has been gradually hardening his rhetoric on the issue in the wake of last week's failed uprising. This latest appeal is seen as his most direct yet.

SPORTS: VOGEL HIRED AS LAKERS COACH - The Los Angeles Lakers' head coaching search has come to an end, as they are hiring former Indiana Pacers and Orlando Magic coach Frank Vogel to try to right the ship. According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski and Ohm Youngmisuk, Vogel agreed to a three-year deal with the team on Saturday.


CITIES: INDY EMPLOYEES BAD MOUTH 10 POINT COALITION - Negative comments about the Indy Ten Point Coalition on social media is why two city employees have been suspended (WIBC). Gregory Meriweather works for IMPD to help empower communities and collaborate with groups, like Ten Point, to reduce violence in Indianapolis. Meriweather commented on a Facebook Live post about community safety from a pastor, Preston Adams, on Wednesday.  "Ten Point is walking the track like good hoes do," he wrote. Rev. Charles Harrison, who is in charge of Indy Ten Point, is outraged by the comments.  "I'm offended by it and I think the comment was vile," he said to WISH-TV. "Cit official ought to be bringing people together rather than saying or doing things that creates division among the community!" Police Chief Bryan Roach met with Meriweather Thrsday and suspended for three days without pay, according to Aliya Wishner, a city spokeswoman. She said Meriweather's comments are "unacceptable." The other city worker in trouble is is Shonna Majors, the city's  first director of community violence reduction hired in 2018. On that same Facebook Live comment thread started by Meriweather's comment, she replied to it with posting "$$$."

CITIES: MALLON TO HEAD INDY CIB - Andrew Mallon, corporation counsel for the city of Indianapolis, was approved Friday morning as executive director of the Capital Improvement Board, replacing Barney Levengood, who has held the position for 28 years (IBJ). The CIB’s board of managers selected Mallon unanimously. He immediately takes over as fourth executive director the CIB has had since it was formed in 1965. Mayor Joe Hogsett said Friday that Donald Morgan will replace Mallon as corporation counsel effective immediately. Levengood, who announced he would be retiring in January, will be retained as a consultant over the coming months to assist with Mallon’s transition. The CIB hired Medallion Partners, a national executive recruitment firm, to lead the search for Levengood’s replacement.

CITIES: INDY HAS NEW SCOOTER RULES, CAPS - The city of Indianapolis on Friday approved new regulations for scooters and other dockless shared-use mobility devices, imposing caps on the number of overall licenses in the city and how many scooters each company can have (Colombo, IBJ). The Department of Business and Neighborhood Services board also approved rules that would force scooter companies to place 10% of their fleet in low- and moderate-income neighborhoods—a move that city officials hope will ease some residents' mobility challenges. The rules, which go into effect in mid-July, also limit the number of scooters that can be placed in high-use districts such as the Mile Square, Fountain Square and Mass Ave. There will now be a cap of six licenses for dockless shared-use mobility companies in Indianapolis. The city currently has five businesses or organizations with such licenses: Bird, Lyft, Lime, Spin and the Pacers Bikeshare. However, the Pacers Bikeshare does not deploy any dockless devices. There also will be a cap of 1,000 devices per license-holder, although the size of that cap could go up or down depending on each company’s utilization rates over time.

CITIES: WESTFIELD PAYS OFF GRAND PARK TENET - The city of Westfield has quietly paid a tenant at the Grand Park Events Center more than $300,000 from the city’s Grand Junction tax increment financing fund to settle a lease disagreement that arose after the tenant was displaced from its space several times (Quinn, IBJ). And a legal agreement indicates the city will need to make a duplicate payment in the near future. The city made a $312,500 payment on April 30 to NinjaZone LLC, which has operated a fitness academy in a 3,000-square-foot space at the events center for about two years, according to a list of claims—or financial transactions—that will be presented to the city council for approval Monday. When asked by IBJ about the status of NinjaZone’s lease last week, Westfield confirmed the lease had been terminated but would not provide details about the settlement agreement. “The City of Westfield and NinjaZone have mutually agreed to separate from a lease agreement at the Grand Park Events Center,”  a statement from Westfield spokesperson Vicki Duncan Gardner said. “After thorough conversations, both organizations found the separation in the best interest of all parties. We wish NinjaZone well and hope the business finds success in a new location.”

CITIES: ELWOOD FD CHIEF DEMOTED - Elwood Fire Chief Brad Compton was demoted by the city's mayor Friday night after his department vehicle was spotted in Illinois, a violation of city policy (WTHR-TV). Mayor Todd Jones confirmed to Eyewitness News Saturday morning that he had notified Compton of the demotion and requested he return his city-owned pickup truck. Jones said he conducted an internal investigation after he received an e-mail containing images that allegedly showed Compton and his Elwood Fire Department pickup truck parked in Marshall, Illinois.

CITIES: STATE POLICE PROBE CARTHAGE DEPUTY MARSHALL - A Carthage deputy town marshal was arrested Friday after he allegedly fired shots during a burglary investigation in April at a business (WRTV). Jonathan Hancock, 38, responded to a business on April 8 on the report of a burglary, according to a press release from Indiana State Police. Hancock lives near the business and identified himself as a police officer when he found three suspects coming out of the business. The suspects ran from the scene and Hancock then fired shots. None of the suspects were struck by the bullets, according to the release.

CITIES: URBANSKI LEAVING ISO - Celebrated maestro Krzysztof Urbanski will leave the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra after the 2020-21 season—a decade after he joined the organization as music director, becoming the youngest artistic leader of any major American orchestra (IBJ). “In an era when orchestras across the globe are vying for top-tier artistic direction, the ISO has benefited from a decade of stellar leadership from Maestro Urbanski,” said the symphony’s CEO, James Johnson, in a statement released Friday afternoon. In a statement, Urbanski called his eight years so far with the ISO “artistically rewarding in every respect.” “Making music with my colleagues in Indianapolis is a thrilling experience, an occasion for audiences to be amazed by the virtuoso performances of the many new musicians who have joined the orchestra in recent years as well as to appreciate the artistic depth of the orchestra’s long-serving veterans,” he said.

COUNTIES: LAKE COUNCILWOMAN FRANKLIN DIES - With the passing of Lake County Councilwoman Elsie Franklin, the local Democratic Party will soon have to find a replacement for one of its most experienced political leaders (Racke, NWI Times). Franklin, who represented the council’s 2nd District, died early Monday after a years-long struggle with various health problems. Over her long career in local politics, Franklin accumulated a deep reservoir of influence and institutional knowledge. She served on the county council for 16 years and as the chairwoman of the Gary Democratic Precinct Organization for nearly a decade until 2015. The challenge for Democratic leaders will be to find a replacement who can approach Franklin’s cachet with 2nd District residents and her understanding of how the county council interacts with municipal governments. They also have a narrow window in which to do it. By statute, the county clerk must formally notify Lake County Democratic Party Chair Jim Wieser that the 2nd District seat is vacant. Wieser then has 30 days to organize a caucus of precinct committee members, who will vote on a replacement. As of Friday morning, Wieser had not received notice from the clerk’s office, he told The Times. If the notification comes Monday, the caucus will have to be held by June 12, he added.