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Sunday, February 19, 2017
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U.S. Rep. Luke Messer and other Indiana Republican delegation members aren't eager to talk about President Trump's turbulent first month in the White House.
U.S. Rep. Luke Messer and other Indiana Republican delegation members aren't eager to talk about President Trump's turbulent first month in the White House.
Sunday, February 19, 2017 12:40 PM
By BRIAN A. HOWEY

INDIANAPOLIS – The Republican Indiana congressional delegation in the new age of Trump is, for the most part, lying low during the first month of this turbulent and tumultuous presidency.

Last Thursday’s 77-minute rambling press conference by President Trump, with Vice President Mike Pence seated quietly in the front row, allowed Americans to witness a barrage of lies and half truths, a shaky defense of his firing of Michael Flynn as national security adviser for lying to Pence, and a frontal assault against the news media. Trump seemed to blame the media for “fake news” on the Flynn lies, when he could have told Pence the truth 15 days prior. By Friday, Trump had declared the news media an “enemy of the American people.”

Over the weekend, there has been a drum beat of disquieting news out of the White House. Vice Admiral Robert Harward turned down the plum national security adviser job. Trump reportedly berated CIA Director Mike Pompeo, following a Wall Street Journal report that the intelligence community was withholding information from the commander-in-chief, fearing how the president might disseminate the data. Navy Secretary nominee Philip Bilden reportedly is preparing to withdraw. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was not tipped off about Trump’s change on the Middle Eastern two-state solution. He and Defense Secretary John Mattis have been denied the choice of top deputies, with potential nominees flunking Trump’s political loyalty tests.

On Friday, U.S. Sen. John McCain told the Munich Security Conference, without mentioning Trump by name, saying, “The founders would be alarmed by an increasing turn away from universal values and toward old ties of blood and race and sectarianism. They would be alarmed by the growing inability – and even unwillingness – to separate truth from lies. They would be alarmed that more and more of our fellow citizens seem to be flirting with authoritarianism and romanticizing it as our moral equivalent.”

This came with national media reports that congressional Republicans are stewing. MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough characterizes his post-debate talks with Capitol Hill Republicans by using words like “alarming” and “terrifying.” Mike Allen writes in Axios: “Top Republicans tell us they're as rattled as ever by President Trump and his White House – and want an intervention.”

We asked the Hoosier Republican delegation for their reaction: Specifically to Trump’s press conference performance, whether they were concerned with Trump’s temperament, his factual bearings, and reports about contacts between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin.
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  • By BRIAN A. HOWEY
    INDIANAPOLIS – Vice President Mike Pence has always taken the so-called “long view” when it comes to his career. After losing two congressional races in the late 1980s, he settled into a think tank and broadcasting career, then went to Congress in 2001.  In 2011, he mulled a presidential bid for the following year, then focused on becoming Indiana’s 50th governor. There was the potential for a 2016 White House campaign. Some believe that his signing of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act knocked him out, but others say he knew the crowded field left him only a slender path to the nomination. The clearer path was to get on the presidential ticket, and from May through July 2016, he executed a savvy strategy, wooing Donald Trump when dozens of other Republicans took a pass. When the veep nomination flickered on July 14, he boarded a charter jet and retrieved the prize.
        
  • By JOSHUA CLAYBOURN
    EVANSVILLE – I remember the moment when Mike Pence’s challenge crystallized for me. In 2012, as he campaigned to succeed Mitch Daniels as governor, Pence traveled the state setting up listening sessions with small business owners, and his campaign team asked me to set one up in Evansville. He opened the discussion with an admission that Daniels already addressed most of the low-hanging fruit to improve Indiana’s business environment, but he asked what he could do to further improve state government. As folks around the table offered comments, everyone had plenty of constructive (and harsh) criticism for the national government, but they each struggled to identify concerns with Indiana. In short, thanks to the preceding eight years of Mitch Daniels’ leadership, Indiana was working well – really well, in fact – and Pence would have to work hard to get out from beneath his shadow. Pence’s place in history as governor, literally and figuratively, will forever be viewed next to Mitch Daniels.
  • BY: MARK SOUDER
    FORT WAYNE – Earlier this week, I went to the license bureau. Back when mastodons roamed our state, (before Mitch Daniels became governor) it was a miserable experience. Generally, now I do it on-line and even on a crowded Tuesday morning it is about like a grocery store on a Saturday.  When Mitch took over the state government with radical plans to run it like a business, he quickly became “Ditch Mitch.” His popularity dropped to incredibly low levels. The Democrats perceived a bright political future that could recapture Indiana, going back to making it great again. Gov. Daniels brought in people not trained to go slow. They thought “tactful” meant taking people who resisted change and using tacks to pin them on the wall. After suffering through nasty publicity which impacted his strategy somewhere between zero and zero percent, he emerged after eight years as “Saint Mitch.”  When Mike Pence became governor, he was in a difficult position.
  • By JACK COLWELL
    SOUTH BEND – The National Republican Senatorial Committee already has a TV ad aimed at Sen. Joe Donnelly, starting early in efforts to defeat the Indiana Democrat when he runs for reelection in 2018. And President Trump invites Donnelly to lunch at the White House. Conflict in approach? Not at all. Both the Senate GOP strategists and Trump seek to strap Donnelly in a political hot seat in the battle over confirmation of Neil Gorsuch, the president’s nominee for the Supreme Court. Both seek to put pressure on Democratic senators facing reelection contests in states where Trump won big last fall. Trump carried Indiana by 20 percent. As Trump would say: That’s huge. Both know some Democratic senators are needed now for the 60 votes for confirmation. They want to avoid embarrassment of changing the rules to invoke the “nuclear option” for confirmation by a bare majority. Republicans control 52 seats in the 100-member chamber.
  • By MORTON J. MARCUS
    INDIANAPOLIS – In a world offering little comfort to small towns, joy came this past week to Crothersville, IN. Located just off I-65, south of Seymour, north of Austin, Crothersville now is the proud home of the Tigers, 2017 winners of a girls’ basketball Class A sectional championship. For 103 years, this Jackson County town of 1,600 waited for a sectional championship trophy. Now, only 41 years since the first girls’ team began playing Indiana’s game, that trophy is displayed at the high school on N. Preston Street. From that site of joy, it is only 176 miles north on I-65 to South College Avenue in Rensselaer, Jasper County, where a very different mood prevails. St. Joseph’s College will suspend operations after graduation ceremonies this semester. Continuing students are being offered opportunities at several other Indiana higher education venues. The college is closing. Its buildings will be on caretaker status pending resolution by the board of trustees of the future direction for the institution. Next fall Rensselaer will not welcome approximately 1,000 students and the 200 faculty and staff who serve them.
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  • HPI Analysis: The ups and downs of Gov. Pence's legacy
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY
        
    INDIANAPOLIS – In politics, first and last impressions are impactful. Through that prism we view the four-year term of Gov. Mike Pence, who arrived on the Hoosier political scene 29 years ago as an aggressive and ambitious partisan. He left in a similar mode, achieving a lifelong dream to serve in the White House. But his departure essentially occurred in July. While he accepted a paycheck from Indiana taxpayers through December, his national ambitions left a festering stew in his wake back home. Unlike undefeated Govs. Doc Bowen, Robert Orr, Frank O’Bannon and Mitch Daniels, his political career began with two congressional losses. He transformed himself from an economic conservative to a social warrior, augmented by his statewide radio and TV shows of the 1990s, positioning himself for a 12-year congressional career that commenced in 2000 in a district tailored for a Republican.
  • POTUS fact check; rattled Repubs; Coats wince; road bill advance
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

    1. Politifact and the President: Thursday’s extraordinary and bizarre 77-minute press conference by President Trump, with Vice President Mike Pence and most of the West Wing in attendance, unloaded an amazing amount of information. Politifact, the Pulitizer-Prize-winning truth-seeking website, sorted through what the president said and what was true/false and where he flip-flopped. False: His Electoral College victory was the biggest since Reagan; 9th Circuit not most overturned courtMostly false:  Media has "a lower approval rate than Congress”; Hillary Clinton gave Russia 20 percent of the United States’ uranium. Picking a positive poll: Trump touted results from a recent Rasmussen poll, saying "it has our approval rating at 55 percent and going up." The 55 percent approval rating figure is accurate, according to the Rasmussen poll, as reported by Real Clear Politics. However, 10 other polls have Trump’s approval rating falling between 39 percent and 48 percent.

  • Coats latest Hoosier to get tangled in Trump web of deceit
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS - Last week, it was Vice President Mike Pence who found himself wrapped up in President Trump’s web of deceit. Now it appears another Hoosier, former senator Dan Coats, finds himself out on the same precarious limb. Multiple media reports say that President Trump will bring on billionaire Stephen Feinberg to launch a review of U.S. intelligence services. Trump is essentially at war with the U.S. intelligence network, comparing the CIA at one point to Nazi Germany. It comes before Coats is confirmed to be Trump’s Director of National Intelligence. And it comes in an increasingly surreal enviroment, with the Wall Street Journal reporting Thursday that “U.S. intelligence officials have withheld sensitive intelligence from President Donald Trump because they are concerned it could be leaked or compromised.”  On Thursday morning, angered about news reports based on a multitude of White House and intelligence leaks, Trump launched into what appears to be a coming witch hunt in the U.S. intelligence sector, but also a Twitter tirade: “The spotlight has finally been put on the low-life leakers! They will be caught! Leaking, and even illegal classified leaking, has been a big problem in Washington for years. Failing @nytimes (and others) must apologize!”  Both the New York Times and Washington Post are reporting that Coats “is especially angry in what he sees as a move by [Stephen] Bannon and [Jared] Kushner to sideline him before he is even confirmed, according to current and former officials.”
  • Rep. Smith scuttles vote on redistricting
    By THOMAS CURRY
        
    INDIANAPOLIS  – In front of a packed House chamber, House Elections and Appointments Committee Chair Milo Smith( R-Columbus) denied a vote on redistricting reform Wednesday. Multiple members of the committee moved to vote on the measure but Chairman Smith said that “there is still work to be done and voices heard” and that he “doesn’t know at this time” if the bill will get another hearing. The clock is moving on redistricting reform with the 2020 censure approaching, as well as next week’s session halfway mark. This was the first and only hearing on the bill scheduled for this session and was attended by scores of Hoosier citizens showing support for it, including the League of Woman Voters, Common Cause and even garnered support from Quakers. This year, redistricting reform manifests as House Bill 1014 sponsored by Rep. Jerry Torr (R-Carmel) and includes co-sponsor Speaker Brian Bosma (R-Indianapolis).
  • House GOP budget dove tails with Holcomb views
    By THOMAS CURRY
        
    INDIANAPOLIS - Mostly in line with Gov. Eric Holcomb’s priority, House Ways and Means Chairman Tim Brown released the GOP’s proposed budget on Wednesday. The plan differs only slightly from Gov. Holcomb’s revealed budget in January, showing a unified Statehouse as the 2017 session moves closer to the half-way mark. HB1001 is described by Chairman Brown to “focus on fiscal integrity, strengthen commitment to education, improve Indiana’s workforce and support public safety.”  A noticeable exclusion however, is any talks of road funding. Creating a long-term infrastructure plan has dominated conversation at the Statehouse and it was a campaign promise by Holcomb. Currently, HB1002 would carry that out through increasing the gasoline tax by 10 cents a gallon and includes a host of other fees on drivers. Concerning the separate discussion on the budget and road funding, Chairman Brown said, “That’s something they may decide to do in the Senate,” and also noted that HB1001 is open to amendment this week.
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  • Our response to the press as an 'enemy of the American people'

    Over the past four decades, I have been a committed Hoosier journalist, motivated as a career, but primarily as a steward of our community, state and nation, serving readers with fact, analysis and commentary. My career goal has been to leave a better Indiana and America than when I found it. Eleven of those years I reported and edited for the Elkhart Truth, adding an extra incentive for accuracy. Throughout our state, there are hundreds of committed journalists who strive for the same standards.

    So it is alarming as well as disheartening that President Trump would brand us an “enemy of the American people.” It comes after previous presidential assaults aimed at the very institutions that have made America the greatest nation in history: Our judiciary, our intelligence services, and our political parties. President Trump reveals a staggering dimension of ignorance with this reckless rhetoric, and sets off alarms that his authoritarian bent will fundamentally change this great nation.

    I keep coming back to Purdue President Mitch Daniels’ book, “Keeping the Republic,” echoing a fork in the road assessment of Founding Father Benjamin Franklin, who was asked what kind of nation will we be? He responded, “A republic, if you can keep it.” We now find ourselves at a similar junction. The stewards of the press, three branches of government, an array of civic institutions and our citizens are faced with the arduous task of defending more than two centuries of tradition, now under assault from what appears to be a president who either lacks a fundamental grasp of our guiding concepts and principles, or who seeks to pervert them. - Brian A. Howey, publisher of Howey Politics Indiana

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  • 'Fake news' and a fake president
    President Trump went on another Twitter storm this morning. He’s obsessed with “fake news” after the story broke that his national security adviser Michael Flynn had lied to Vice President Mike Pence. So President Trump took to his Twitter machine, tweeting: “The Democrats had to come up with a story as to why they lost the election, and so badly (306), so they made up a story - RUSSIA. Fake news!” And . . . “FAKE NEWS media, which makes up stories and "sources," is far more effective than the discredited Democrats - but they are fading fast!” And . . .  “The spotlight has finally been put on the low-life leakers! They will be caught!” Aaaaaand . . . “Leaking, and even illegal classified leaking, has been a big problem in Washington for years. Failing @nytimes (and others) must apologize!” Doesn’t a president have better things to do? What we’re actually witnessing here is a fake president. - Brian A. Howey, publisher.
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HPI Video Feed
President Trump's Feb. 16 Press Conference
President Trump's Feb. 16, 2017 White House press conference via Fox News.

Pence kept in dark about Flynn, Russians
NBC News reports on how Vice President Pence was kept out of the loop on Michael Flynn's contacts with the Russians.

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2 videos
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Trump taxes

Should Donald Trump release recent tax returns, like every major party nominee has done over the past 40 years?


 




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