TAYLOR TO LEAD OFF IMPEACHMENT INQUIRY THIS MORNING: The nation will hear public testimony from House impeachment witnesses for the first time Wednesday morning, including from one whose description of President Trump’s pressure campaign on Ukraine gets at the heart of Democrats’ inquiry (Wall Street Journal). Bill Taylor, the acting ambassador to Ukraine, and George Kent, a senior State Department official, will address impeachment investigators together at 10 a.m. EST. House committees conducting the inquiry have already released transcripts of their closed-door depositions, in which they described a shadow diplomacy campaign waged in Ukraine by Rudy Giuliani, Mr. Trump’s personal attorney. In a departure from most congressional hearings, staff attorneys are expected to ask the bulk of the questions, with 45-minute blocks for questioning by only the Democratic chairman and top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee or their staff. After that, other committee members will be given five minutes each for question. In his testimony last month, Mr. Taylor, a longtime diplomat, told investigators that Mr. Trump made $400 million in U.S. aid to Ukraine contingent on Kyiv announcing investigations into Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and alleged Ukrainian interference in the 2016 U.S. election. That assertion has since been backed up by at least two other witnesses, who said a White House meeting for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was also conditioned on the announcement of new probes. Neither Mr. Taylor nor Mr. Kent has said they discussed the subject of Ukraine aid directly with Mr. Trump. House Democrats conducting the inquiry have accused the president of abusing the power of his office to press a foreign leader to undertake investigations that could benefit him politically. Mr. Trump has repeatedly denied the existence of a quid pro quo between aid and investigations. The first public hearing marks a new phase of the impeachment inquiry, now in its seventh week.

TRUMP HAS MUDDLED MESSAGE IN FACE OF IMPEACHMENT: President Donald Trump has described his infamous July call with Ukraine’s president as “perfect.” He has insisted the whistleblower is a “Never Trumper“ who opposed his presidency. And he blasts House Democrats for waging a flawed, secretive impeachment investigation that shut out his allies (Politico). Trump has tested nearly a dozen messages since the inquiry into whether he pressured Ukraine to investigate the Bidens began in September with mixed results. Some have been proved false, some have been dismissed as ineffective and still others have been forgotten as he careens from one message to another. Now, as the investigation moves into a critical new phase with public hearings beginning Wednesday, frustrated allies are urging Trump to stop talking about himself and focus on his army of supporters. They want the president to hammer Democrats for trying to subvert the will of the voters in 2016, depriving the country of Trump’s strong economy and America First foreign policy. “What it does is go to the broader argument: Partisan Democrats are trying to undo an American election,” said a former Trump adviser who remains close to the White House. “It’s ‘us against them’ instead of ‘him against the world.’”

SUPREME COURT SUSPENDS 3 JUDGES INVOLVED IN SHOOTING: The Indiana Supreme Court has temporarily suspended three judges who were involved in a fight in downtown Indianapolis during which two of them were shot (Associated Press). The order Tuesday says the justices imposed the suspensions after finding that Clark County judges Andrew Adams and Bradley Jacobs and Crawford County Judge Sabrina Bell engaged in judicial misconduct during the May 1 fight outside a fast-food restaurant. The order says all three were intoxicated “and behaving in an injudicious manner” when a night of bar-hopping led to the fight during which Adams and Jacobs were shot. That fight led to charges against Adams and two other men. Under the court’s order, Adams will serve a 60-day unpaid suspension ending Jan. 12, and Jacobs and Bell will serve 30-day unpaid suspensions ending Dec. 22.

BUTTIGIEG LEADS IOWA IN MONMOUTH POLL: South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg has joined former Vice President Joe Biden, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders at the top of the leaderboard in the third Monmouth University Poll of the 2020 Iowa Democratic caucuses. Buttigieg’s gains since the summer have been across the board, with increasing support coming from nearly every demographic group.  Regardless, less than one-third of likely caucusgoers say that they are firmly set on their choice of candidate and most would not be too disappointed if they had to switch their support.  The poll also finds that Mike Bloomberg receives a chilly reception among Hawkeye State Democrats as he considers whether to make a late entry into the nomination contest. Four candidates are currently vying for the top spot in Iowa’s caucuses – Buttigieg (22%), Biden (19%), Warren (18%), and Sanders (13%).  Compared to Monmouth’s August poll, Buttigieg has gained 14 points (up from 8%) and Sanders has gained 5 points (up from 8%), while Biden has lost 7 points (down from 26%), and Warren’s standing has changed by only 2 points (20% previously). Buttigieg has gained ground among every major demographic group since the summer. His support stands at 26% among voters who describe themselves as moderate or conservative, 23% among those who are somewhat liberal, and 15% among those who are very liberal. He is currently in the top tier for both women (24%, to 22% for Biden, and 20% for Warren), and men (20%, to 19% for Sanders and 16% for Warren).   “Buttigieg is emerging as a top pick for a wide variety of Iowa Democrats. While he has made nominally bigger gains among older caucusgoers, you really can’t pigeonhole his support to one particular group. He is doing well with voters regardless of education or ideology,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute.

TRUMP TO MEET ERODOGAN TODAY AT WHITE HOUSE: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and President Donald Trump will meet as relations between the two NATO allies are at their lowest point in decades, with Turkey rebuffing the U.S. and turning toward Russia on security issues and Ankara facing a Washington backlash over attacks on Kurdish civilians during its incursion into Syria last month (AP). Erdogan and Trump have a difficult agenda Wednesday that includes Turkey's decision to buy a Russian air defense system and its attack on U.S.-allied Kurdish forces in northern Syria. Their scheduled afternoon news conference, however, will give Trump a stage to counter the first public hearings in the House impeachment inquiry.

HALEY CALLS TRUMP 'TRUTHFUL': Former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley vigorously defended Donald Trump on Tuesday, pushing back against concerns about his mental acuity and fitness to serve and describing the president as “truthful” during her time in his administration (Politico). "I talked to him multiple times, and when I had issues, he always heard me out,” Haley said Tuesday on NBC's "Today" show. “I never had any concern on whether he could handle the job ever." “What about his truthfulness?” host Savannah Guthrie pressed, repeating her question. “Did you think he was a truthful person?" "Yes, in every instance I dealt with him, he was truthful, he listened and he was great to work with,” Haley responded. The former South Carolina governor appeared on the "Today" show to promote her new book after stepping down from her position as ambassador to the U.N. in 2018.

TARIFFS REMAIN CHINA TRADE WAR STUMBLING BLOCK: Tariffs are emerging as the main stumbling block in efforts by the U.S. and China to come to a limited trade deal, a month after the two countries called a truce in their trade war (Wall Street Journal). The logjam centers on whether the U.S. has agreed to remove existing tariffs in the so-called “phase one” deal that the two countries have been working toward—or whether the U.S. would only cancel tariffs set to take effect Dec. 15, according to people familiar with the talks. “The U.S. negotiators will try to exact the maximum they can before doing anything” on tariff relief, one of the people said. President Trump said Tuesday that a “significant phase-one trade deal with China could happen, could happen soon.” But he added that he is prepared to increase pressure on China if the two sides can’t reach an agreement. “If we don’t make a deal, we’re going to substantially raise those tariffs, they’re going to be raised very substantially,” Mr. Trump said in a speech to the Economic Club of New York.

EVANSVILLE UPSETS NO. 1 KENTUCKY: Evansville could’ve simply let coach Walter McCarty enjoy his return to his alma mater, used Tuesday’s game against top-ranked Kentucky as a litmus test for where it stands this early in the season and graciously collected the $90,000 check it received for showing up. Instead, the Aces shocked the country. The word “Evansville” was the No. 1 trending topic on Twitter during the second half (Evansville Courier & Press). Evansville 67, No. 1 Kentucky 64. Who saw that coming? Vegas didn’t. The Aces were 25-point underdogs, playing a top-ranked team for just the third time in program history. Yes, the team picked eighth in the preseason Missouri Valley Conference poll just knocked off the winningest program in college basketball history. McCarty led his hometown college to a ictory over his alma mater, where he won a national championship. It’s a fairytale story. K.J. Riley led the Aces with 18 points while Sam Cunliffe added 17 as the only Aces in double figures. Immanuel Quickley (16) and Tyrese Maxey (15) led the Wildcats offensively.

HPI DAILY ANALYSIS: Let’s hand it to the Purple Aces for their epic upset of No. 1 ranked Kentucky. This is an impressive beginning for Coach Walter McCarty, who just put his program on the map. - Brian A. Howey

Presidential 2020

BUTTIGIEG BEGINS AIRING MEDICARE AD IN IOWA: Pete for America announced a television ad buy focused on Mayor Pete Buttigieg's signature Medicare for All Who Want It proposal (Howey Politics Indiana). The new 30-second spot “Refreshing,” will run statewide on television and digital. The ad highlights Iowans’ support for Pete’s Medicare for All Who Want It plan, which combats the rising cost of health care while providing Americans with the freedom to choose the best health care plan for themselves and their families.

BUTTIGIEG SEEKS TO BUILD COALITION: As Pete Buttigieg boarded his campaign bus Monday afternoon, a New Hampshire voter stopped him to ask if campaign staffers were hawking “Republicans for Pete” stickers yet. They aren’t. But Buttigieg, who’s staking out center-left ground in the Democratic presidential primary, is trying to build a coalition of unaffiliated voters to go along with Democrats and make a surprise splash in the open-primary state featuring two senators-next-door, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, campaigning on the left (Politico). At town halls during his latest swing across New Hampshire, Buttigieg name-checked “future former Republicans” in the same breath as “progressives and moderates ... ready for some kind of change.” His organizers are targeting independent voters from the new field offices Buttigieg opened this fall. And while Buttigieg is polling well in both Iowa and New Hampshire right now, jockeying for first place in the caucus state and breaking into double-digits in several recent polls of each state, the presence of non-Democrats in the New Hampshire Democratic primary — unlike Iowa’s closed caucus system — could prove decisive in a tight Democratic nominating race that has divided sharply along ideological lines in recent months. “We’re running in the Democratic primary and I’m running on the values that make me a Democrat, but there is room for a lot of people,” Buttigieg said. “We’re definitely going to make sure we’re reaching out and cultivating folks who are ready to cross sides.”

SANFORD ENDS CHALLENGE TO TRUMP: Former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford on Tuesday ended his long shot bid to unseat President Trump for the 2020 Republican presidential nomination (The Hill). Sanford's campaign announced his intent to bow out of the race in a statement following a press conference in New Hampshire.  “I am suspending my race for the Presidency because impeachment has made my goal of making the debt, deficit and spending issue a part of this presidential debate impossible right now," he said.

WHY BLOOMBERG, PATRICK EMERGE: The center of the Democratic Party is throwing a fit. The party’s moderate wing has suddenly produced back-to-back threats of Michael Bloomberg and Deval Patrick entering the presidential primary, revealing its determination to have an imposing presence in a race shaped by unrestrained liberal policy prescriptions and candidates (Politico). Both men have concluded in recent weeks that Mr. Biden, the former vice president, is not the imposing adversary they had expected him to be, interviews with aides and allies show. Both also believe there is room in the race for a more dynamic candidate who is closer to the political middle than Mr. Biden's two most prominent challengers, Ms. Warren and Senator Bernie Sanders. Should Mr. Bloomberg and Mr. Patrick enter the race, they would test that proposition in different ways: Mr. Bloomberg with a powerfully funded campaign that would take on President Trump directly and contest the biggest states on the primary map from the start; Mr. Patrick with an insurgent candidacy that would begin in next-door New Hampshire and run through South Carolina, where black voters are likely to decide the primary.


IMPEACHMENT INQUIRY SCHEDULE: Today Bill Taylor and George Kent. Friday: Marie Yovanovitch. Next Week's witneness: Tuesday: Pence aide Jennifer Williams, Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, Kurt Volker and Timothy Morrison. Wednesday: Gordon Sondland,  Laura Cooper and David Hale. Thursday: Fiona Hill.

BANKS CONNECTS TIK TOK TO CHINA: In a new video for FoxNews.com, U.S. Rep. Jim Banks explains why Chinese-owned TikTok needs to be investigated for how it handles user data and if the app presents a danger to American national security (Howey Politics Indiana). This video comes days after Rep. Banks had an op-ed appear at FoxNews.com applauding CFIUS for investigating TikTok’s acquisition of musical.ly for national security threats to American citizens. TikTok “is a tool of the Chinese Communist Party – the Chinese government – to infiltrate the United States for purposes that are the best interests of China… The more that we learn about how the Chinese use tools like the TikTok app, or the facial recognition apps they’ve used in the past… the more we should be concerned about what their purposes ultimately are.”

BANKS BILL PASSES HOUSE: Legislation designed to improve the Department of Veterans Affairs and introduced by U.S. Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN-03) passed with unanimous, bipartisan support. The bill’s passage occurred just one day before the House holds its first public impeachment hearing (Howey Politics Indiana). Only 4% of legislation introduced in Congress gets a vote on the House floor. Since the Democrats control the House, they control what gets to the floor. So, the majority of bills passed are Democrat-sponsored. It is rare for a bill to reach the floor at all, but even rarer for a bill introduced by a member of the minority party to pass when the majority is in charge. Rep. Banks’s bill, the VA Design-Build Construction Enhancement Act of 2019, encourages the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to use design-build construction in appropriate circumstances. Design-build is an innovative and effective method for managing construction projects that is widely used in the private sector and some parts of the federal government. “I am glad the U.S. House took a break from partisan impeachment to pass this common-sense bill to help tackle the multibillion-dollar backlog of construction projects at the VA,” said Rep. Jim Banks. “The VA should use every available tool to deliver world-class facilities to our veterans.”


STATEHOUSE: HILL ARGUES ABORTION CASE - Attorney General Curtis Hill has asked a federal district court to reject challenges brought by the Whole Woman’s Health Alliance (WWHA) and affiliated co-plaintiffs against Indiana laws designed to protect women seeking abortions (Howey Politics Indiana). “Unsurprisingly,” Attorney General Hill said, “there are not among the plaintiffs any pregnant women seeking to invalidate such safeguards. Plaintiffs attack nearly every Indiana abortion statute and regulation — from licensing to physical examination — including some that do not even affect them. And while plaintiffs invoke the rights of patients, their interests as abortion providers diverge from pregnant women.” WWHA operates a South Bend clinic that provides medication abortions, in which patients are provided medications that cause fetal death and then cause the patients to expel the deceased fetuses after they leave the clinic. Key arguments put forward by Attorney General Hill challenge the plaintiffs’ standing to sue, and Hill laments that WWHA treats as trivial the very real threats to women’s mental and physical health inherent in abortion procedures. In documents filed as part of Indiana’s Nov. 8 motion for summary judgment, multiple women’s testimonies are included to help shed light on the experience of obtaining abortions.

GAMING: TERRE HAUTE CASINO APPLICATION EXTENDED - The Indiana Gaming Commission has updated its guidance regarding Vigo County casino applications and proposals (Terre Haute Tribune-Star). In a newsletter sent Tuesday, the Commission noted the deadline to apply for the gaming license and submit proposals has been extended by one day, from Dec. 1 to Dec. 2. Vigo County residents approved inland gaming in the county in last week's general election. The casino referendum passed 15,145 to 8,729, a split of 63.44% percent in favor to 36.56% against. Applying for the license requires a $50,000 fee, and the successful applicant would pay the commission a $5 million license fee. The state has set a $100 million minimum investment on the part of the operator. The Gaming Commission will review applications and is expected to award the license in the first quarter of 2020. Spectacle Entertainment and Full House Resorts both have publicly stated interest in operating a Vigo casino.  Terre Haute businessman Greg Gibson is one of the lead investors in and a vice president of Spectacle Entertainment.


WHITE HOUSE: TRUMP WANTS TO FIRE MULVANEY - President Trump has been threatening for weeks to fire acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, but senior advisers have counseled him to hold off on such a drastic step amid a high-stakes impeachment probe, according to three people familiar with the discussions (Washington Post). Senior advisers have cautioned Trump that removing Mulvaney at such a sensitive time could be perilous, the people said — both because Mulvaney played an integral role in the decision to freeze the aid, and because of the disruption that would be caused by replacing one of Trump's most senior aides.

WHITE HOUSE: TRUMP PONDERS FIRING IG - President Trump has discussed dismissing the intelligence community's inspector general, Michael Atkinson, because Mr. Atkinson reported a whistle-blower's complaint about Mr. Trump's interactions with Ukraine to Congress after concluding it was credible, according to four people familiar with the discussions (New York Times). Mr. Trump first expressed his dismay about Mr. Atkinson around the time the whistle-blower's complaint became public in September. In recent weeks, he has continued to raise with aides the possibility of firing him, one of the people said.

WHITE HOUSE: TRUMP MET WITH LEV & IGOR - Lev Parnas, has described to associates that he and his business partner, Igor Fruman, told President Trump at the dinner that they thought the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine was unfriendly to the president and his interests (Washington Post). According to Parnas, the president reacted strongly to the news: Trump immediately suggested that then-Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, who had been in the Foreign Service for 32 years and served under Democratic and Republican presidents, should be fired, people familiar with his account said. Parnas declined to comment. Todd Blanche, a lawyer for Fruman, declined to comment. The White House did not respond to a request for comment. Parnas's account of personally discussing Ukraine with Trump more than 18 months ago suggests that he and Fruman had more personal interaction with the president — and potentially more influence over his views on that country — than the White House has acknowledged."

WHITE HOUSE: TRUMP SCHEDULE - The president and first lady Melania Trump will participate in the arrival of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his wife Emine Erdogan at noon on the South Portico. Afterward, the four of them will meet in the Oval Office. Trump and Erdogan will participate in a bilateral meeting at 12:30 p.m. in the Oval Office followed by an expanded working lunch in the Cabinet Room. At 2 p.m., Trump will meet with senators in the Oval Office.  That the meeting will also include Erdogan. At 3:10 p.m., Trump will participate in a joint press conference with Erdogan in the East Room. The Trumps will bid farewell to Erdogan and his wife at 3:45 p.m. in the Diplomatic Reception Room.


SOUTH BEND: BUTTIGIEG SETS DIVERSITY GOALS - The city of South Bend will set an annual goal of buying at least 15% of its goods and services from minority- and women-owned firms, under a Mayor Pete Buttigieg administration plan unanimously approved Tuesday night by the Common Council (Parrott, South Bend Tribune). The plan’s adoption came about a month after a consultant found the city has underutilized such firms. Specifically, from 2015 through 2017, the city did about 12% of its business with minority- and women-owned companies, while those firms comprised about 15% of the market, according to a “Disparity Study” that California-based Colette Holt & Associates conducted at a cost to the city of $250,000. The administration released the study results Oct. 4. Under the Minority and Women Business Enterprise Inclusion Program Plan, the city’s “Diversity Compliance Inclusion Officer,” a position now held by Christina Brooks, will have the discretion to set the 15% goal for any projects valued at more than $50,000, in which at least three MWBE firms are available to do the work.

FORT WAYNE: COUNCIL TO REVIEW CONTRACTS - In a unanimous vote Tuesday, the Fort Wayne City Council approved changes to the review process for certain consultant contracts totaling at least $25,000 (Gong, Fort Wayne Journal Gazette). The new rule, put forward by Councilman Russ Jehl, R-2nd, excludes attorney fees and contracts from Fort Wayne City Utilities. It requires that any consultant contract of $25,000 or more be submitted to City Council for review. Currently, City Council must sign off on contracts of $100,000 or more. “We're talking about at what point should council see consultant contracts, because there have been a few below the $100,000 threshold that the administration has done unilaterally that I think council would have liked to have seen,” Jehl said. Jehl said he learned through discussions with other council members that although most want to see contracts below the $100,000 threshold, no one wanted to see so many that it would slow down meetings.

NOBLESVILLE: JENSEN ANNOUNCES NEW HIRES - Mayor-elect Chris Jensen announced the following personnel appointments today: Emily Gaylord will serve as Communications Director and Kevin Sears will serve as Operations Coordinator (Howey Politics Indiana). “Emily and Kevin bring years of experience at the highest levels of public service and in the private sector,” Mayor-elect Jensen said. “I’m proud to welcome them to Noblesville as we work to bring the best possible government services and leadership to residents on day one of our administration.” Emily Gaylord will serve as Noblesville’s Communications Director, managing public and strategic communications, external facing information, and media interactions. She currently works as an account executive at Hirons, an Indianapolis public relations agency, where she has managed communications efforts for major state government agencies and programs and some of the state’s largest non-profits. Kevin Sears comes to Noblesville as the Jensen administration’s Operations Coordinator from Governor Eric Holcomb’s Office where he works as the Director of Scheduling and Logistics. In his role as Operations Coordinator, he will assist with administration logistics, scheduling, internal briefing and reporting, stakeholder and resident relations, and operations management.

PORTAGE: LAKE MICHIGAN BREACHES DUNE PAVILION - Mayor John Cannon said when he was at the Lakefront Park and Riverwalk earlier this year to discuss the devastating erosion, he was concerned that the rising lake waters would eventually break through the dunes and potentially jeopardize the pavilion (NWI Times). His fears have come true, and the city police and fire departments are now calling for closing the $17 million city-managed lakefront pavilion that's the gateway for many of the 3.6 million annual visitors to the Indiana Dunes National Park, he said. High waves on Lake Michigan breached the dune just west of the pavilion for the first time last week, and waves were seen rushing into the area again Monday, according to Indiana Dunes National Park Superintendent Paul Labovitz.

MUNCIE: COUNCILWOMAN CENSURED - A Muncie councilwoman was censured Tuesday night after a comment to police that some believed to be racist (WIBC). At-large Council Member Linda Gregory told police in a September council meeting to look for monkeys in McCullough Park. Her comments were live-streamed and posted on the city’s Facebook page. She apologized for her comments in October and again Tuesday night during a council meeting at City Hall. Gregory and Council President Doug Marshall voted against the censure, which was supported by the seven other council members. Gregory, a Democrat, last week lost her reelection bid in a six-person race won by three Republicans.

HAMMOND: CLARK, GAVIT HS CLOSURES URGED - The superintendent of the School City of Hammond is recommending the closure of Gavit and Clark middle/high schools within the next two years, as construction progresses on a new, unnamed Hammond school building (NWI Times). Superintendent Scott Miller presented his plan to a full district board room Tuesday night, where he said the schools, if the plan is approved, would be closed by the start of the 2021-2022 school year. The closures, Miller said, could save the district nearly $36 million over the next five years.

FISHERS: K-9 KILLED IN CHASE - A K9 officer with the Fishers Police Department was killed while tracking two men involved in a car chase overnight (CBS4). Police were originally called about a drunk driver on I-69 around 12 a.m. Officers tried to stop the car, but the driver kept going. The car stopped on Olio Road and two men in the car got out and ran from police. During a press conference, Chief Ed Gebhart said a K9 unit was called to the scene to track the suspects. K9 officer Harlej was tracking the men off-lead when officers heard what sounded like a gunshot.

PORTER COUNTY: ANOTHER JUDGE CANDIDATE - Local attorney Matt Soliday announced Tuesday his intention to run as a Democrat for the judicial seat being vacated next year by Republican Porter Superior Court Judge Roger Bradford (NWI Times). The announcement sets up a general election battle with fellow attorney Katrina Spence-Smock, who is seeking the same seat as a Republican. "As a trial lawyer with over 27 years of experience in both criminal and civil law, I believe that I am uniquely qualified to serve the citizens of Porter County as judge," Soliday said in his announcement.