NATION POLITICS ESSENTIAL WASHINGTON

Some Republicans start accepting Donald Trump as their candidate. The House speaker is not among them.

  • Paul D. Ryan says the burden is on Donald Trump to unify the party
  • Trump's new finance chairman is a banker and movie producer who once worked at Goldman Sachs
  • All but one GOP nominee of the last 28 years are either skipping the convention or declining to endorse Trump
  • In L.A., Hillary Clinton compares Bernie Sanders this year to her failed 2008 campaign
  • The FBI has questioned a top aide in the investigation into Clinton's email server

Trump champions coal mining, mocks Clinton in West Virginia

When Donald Trump put on a coal miner’s hard hat at a rally Thursday night, it left many in the audience pondering how badly it might muss up his hair.

Newly minted as the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, Trump mugged for the audience of thousands packed into a sports arena, pretended to shovel coal and finally removed the hat, only to reveal that he’d been saved by his hair spray.

“My hair look OK?” he asked before mocking the environmental advocates who are perpetually at odds with West Virginia’s coal industry.

“If I take hair spray, and if I spray it in my apartment which is all sealed, you’re telling me that affects the ozone layer?” he asked. “I say, no way, folks. No way, OK? No way. That’s like a lot of the rules and regulations you people have in the mines. It’s the same kind of stuff.”

The exuberant West Virginia crowd was a fitting one for Trump's first rally as the Republican presidential nominee in waiting. The state's primary on Tuesday no longer matters much, but he showed up nonetheless for the rally he’d scheduled before rivals Ted Cruz and John Kasich dropped out of the race.

Trump walked on stage to John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads.” When the music faded, the crowd kept singing, “West Virginia, mountain mama,” as Trump waved his arms like a conductor.

“I want the primaries to keep going, but everybody’s out,” he joked. “I’m the only one left.”

Trump then ridiculed Hillary Clinton for trying to explain what she meant when she said her energy policies would put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business. The crowd booed the mention of Trump's presumed Democratic rival in November.

Trump also blasted the Obama administration for what he called its ridiculous regulations on coal, and he praised the “Trump Digs Coal” signs held up by his supporters.

“That’s true – I do,” said Trump, who has rejected calls for reducing fossil fuels consumption to fight climate change.

In a riff on free trade, Trump also alluded to the sex scandal that led to President Bill Clinton’s impeachment.

“The Clinton administration, of which Hillary was definitely a part,” he said, trailing off as the groans grew louder. “She was a part of almost everything. Almost, I say. Not everything. Almost.”

The groaning faded into laughter and applause.

“Terrible,” Trump said. “Terrible. I didn’t think the people of West Virginia thought like that. That’s terrible. You should be ashamed of yourselves.”

In L.A., Hillary Clinton says Donald Trump is a 'risk we cannot afford'

Hillary Clinton lashed out at presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump on Thursday, arguing that he was dangerous, divisive and out-of-touch with the needs of working Americans.

"With all the challenges we face in America and the world, we can't have a loose cannon in the Oval Office," she told thousands of cheering supporters in a stuffy college gym in East L.A. "That is a risk we cannot afford."

Looking at the heavily Latino crowd, Clinton declared that she could think of no better place to celebrate Cinco de Mayo. She spent most of her brief remarks calling for comprehensive immigration reform and a path‎ for citizenship for those in the country illegally. 

"We're going to end raids and round-ups. We're going to keep families together. We know we've got work to do but I think winning the election will really set that in motion, don't you?" Clinton said. "Also, not only will we work for comprehensive immigration reform, we have to recognize the kind of language coming from Donald Trump is hateful and we need to repudiate it."

Clinton noted that since Trump cleared the GOP field earlier this week, he reiterated his plans "to create a deportation force and round up millions of people," to scrap President Obama's executive actions on illegal immigration and ‎to build an enormous wall on the southern border.

"The best way to prevent that from happening is to make sure he never gets near the White House," Clinton said.

Clinton never once mentioned her Democratic rival Bernie Sanders, though a handful of his supporters tried to interrupt her by chanting his name.

Earlier in the day, during remarks at the California African American Museum, she called for party unity and appeared to nudge Sanders when she noted that she dropped out  in 2008 when it became clear that Barack Obama would be the Democratic nominee, even though that race was far tighter than the race between Clinton and Sanders.

 

He is not a perfect man. But what I do believe is that he loves this country and he will surround himself with capable, experienced people and he will listen to them.

Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, speaking about Donald Trump on CNN on Thursday. Perry, once a foe of Trump, said he's supporting the billionaire businessman.

Snapshot from the trail: Hillary Clinton in Los Angeles

Latino Twitter to Donald Trump: A taco bowl is not the way to our heart

Donald Trump has frequently vowed to "win the Hispanic vote" in November.

This is despite public opinion polls that find Latino voters have overwhelmingly negative impressions of the presumptive GOP nominee, who has called for mass deportations of immigrants in the country illegally and has accused Mexico of sending drug dealers and rapists to the U.S. 

On Thursday, the Cinco de Mayo holiday, Trump tried to reach out to Latinos: He tweeted a photo of himself with a giant taco salad.  

The Internet was not impressed. 

On Twitter, where #Hispanics, #CincoDeMayo and #TacoGate were trending, some accused Trump of outright racism.

Others turned to humor, referencing Trump's vow to build a massive wall along the Mexican border and get Mexico to pay for it.

And some took the opportunity to tell Trump what they think of his presidential campaign. 

Hillary Clinton wants donors to help 'Stop Trump'

 (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

Hillary Clinton's campaign is launching what it calls a new "Stop Trump" fund, asking supporters to chip in to ensure presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump "can never use the power of the presidency."

"I hope you'll chip in to become a founding donor of the Stop Trump Fund right now — when you do, we’ll send you a free sticker to show off to your friends," Robby Mook, Clinton's campaign manager, wrote in the pitch.

However, it's not really a separate fund, the campaign confirmed. The money goes into the same primary account that is also being used to fend off Bernie Sanders, Clinton's rival for the Democratic nomination. 

Asked about how the "Stop Trump" money would be used, Clinton spokesman Josh Schwerin said, "The best way to stop Donald Trump is to elect Hillary Clinton."

Top aide to Hillary Clinton questioned by FBI in email server investigation

 (Seth Wenig / Associated Press)
(Seth Wenig / Associated Press)

Huma Abedin, a close aide to Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton, was questioned last month by FBI agents investigating whether classified material was mishandled on the private email server used by the former secretary of State and her aides, according to a person familiar with the investigation.

Abedin was interviewed for about two hours at the FBI’s field office in Washington on April 5, according to the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing.

Abedin is one of Clinton's longtime confidantes. and the interview is the latest indication that FBI agents have completed much of their background work and are nearing a conclusion in the politically sensitive probe.

Abedin's lawyer, Karen Dunn, could not be reached for comment. Mike Kortan, a spokesman for the FBI, did not immediately return phone messages seeking comment. 

Donald Trump is not ready to support Paul Ryan either

I am not ready to support Speaker Ryan's agenda. Perhaps in the future we can work together and come to an agreement about what is best for the American people.

Donald Trump, responding to House Speaker Paul Ryan's reluctance to endorse him as the presumptive GOP nominee.

House Speaker Paul Ryan 'not ready' to support Donald Trump

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan has struggled to remain neutral during the GOP primary battle, but Thursday he bared his misgivings about Donald Trump — and what it would take for him to support the nominee.

"I'm just not ready to do that at this point," Ryan said told CNN when asked about backing Trump. "I hope to." 

"What is required is that we unify this party. And I think the bulk of the burden on unifying the party will have to come fro our presumptive nominee," said Ryan, who as second in line to the presidency is the highest-ranking elected Republican in office. 

The speaker, who has repeatedly rebuffed overtures to run as an alternative to Trump, praised the businesman for all but clinching the nomination.

But he also laid out what was expected of the nominee of the party of Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan.

"He inherits something that's very special to all of us. ... We hope that our nominee aspries to be Lincoln- and Reagan-esque — that that person advances the princples of our party and appeals to a wide, vast majority of Americans."

Clinton nudges Sanders by pointing to her support for Obama after her failed 2008 campaign

 (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

Though Hillary Clinton did not explicitly call on Bernie Sanders to end his presidential bid Thursday, she called for party unification by holding up her own example of dropping out in 2008 when it became clear that Barack Obama would be the Democratic nominee.

“I did that when I pulled out in ’08. Some of you remember,” she told a couple of hundred African American community leaders gathered at a museum in Los Angeles, and the crowd murmured in agreement.

Clinton noted that she is more than 3 million votes and nearly 300 pledged delegates ahead of Sanders. In 2008, she said, she ended her campaign when she was about equal with Obama in the popular vote because he led her by about 60 pledged delegates.

“A much, much smaller margin than what we see in this race, but I knew that he had won because it matters how many delegates you have,” Clinton said. “... I knew then that whatever differences we might have had in the campaign, they were nothing compared to the differences between us and the Republicans. Now if that was true in ‘08, that is true on steroids today."

She repeatedly skewered presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump, saying he does not listen to people, would wreck the economy, try to repeal the Affordable Care Act and allow other nations to obtain nuclear weapons.

“That is the kind of risk this country cannot afford to take,” she said. “That is dangerous.”

Clinton spoke at the California African American Museum near downtown Los Angeles on the first of a two-day sprint through the state, a combination of fundraisers and organizing events in the lead-up to the state’s June 7 primary.

Later Thursday, Clinton was scheduled to attend a fundraiser with Los Angeles City Councilman Jose Huizar and to rally supporters at East Los Angeles College in Monterey Park.

Trump names his finance chairman, a banker and Hollywood producer who once worked at Goldman Sachs

Steven Mnuchin and event chair Gillian Wynn at the annual Los Angeles Gala Dinner in March in Culver City. (Rich Polk / Getty Images)
Steven Mnuchin and event chair Gillian Wynn at the annual Los Angeles Gala Dinner in March in Culver City. (Rich Polk / Getty Images)

Donald Trump named a California banker as his chief fundraiser on Thursday as he prepares to spend as much as $1 billion on his campaign against presumed rival Hillary Clinton.

Steven T. Mnuchin, a former Goldman Sachs partner and onetime co-chairman of the troubled Relativity Media studio, will serve as Trump’s national finance chairman.

Trump, a billionaire who has spent mostly his own money on the campaign, has vowed to start raising funds for the Republican Party. But he continued to play coy Thursday about whether he will – after months of accusing rivals of trading government favors for donations – seek money for the campaign from contributors with a stake in public business.

“Mr. Trump has self-funded his successful primary battle and will likewise be putting up substantial money toward the general election,” said a Trump campaign announcement on Mnuchin’s hiring.

In an interview, Mnuchin said Trump hoped to get contributions from a broad base of donors.

“We’re not looking to raise money from special-interest groups,” he said. “He’s been consistent on that.”

Mnuchin said he had no experience raising money for a political campaign, but a history of doing so as part of his work on charitable boards.

At Goldman Sachs, Mnuchin once oversaw the trading of mortgage-backed securities, a line of business that drove the world economy into crisis in 2008. Mnuchin said he hadn’t traded such securities since the late 1990s.

After leaving Goldman Sachs, Mnuchin led an investment group that bought what was left of IndyMac, a collapsed Pasadena bank. The group included hedge-fund operators John Paulson and George Soros. Mnuchin became chairman and chief executive of the successor bank’s holding company, OneWest Bank Group LLC.

Mnuchin is now chairman and chief executive of Dune Capital Management LP, an investment firm, and chairman of Dune Entertainment Partners LLC.

For years, Mnuchin has worked in the entertainment industry. His executive producer credits include feature films “Mad Max: Fury Road,” “American Sniper,” “Entourage” and “The Lego Movie.”

Mnuchin stepped down as co-chairman of Relativity Media last year shortly before the Beverly Hills studio filed for bankruptcy protection. Some creditors were irked that Relativity repaid major loans from OneWest just before the bankruptcy filing, according to Variety.

Mnuchin said he served on the studio's board for a relatively short time and was not involved in its banking relationship with OneWest.

The campaign’s statement Thursday said Mnuchin had “previously worked with Mr. Trump in a business capacity” but provided no details. Mnuchin declined to say what they’d worked on together.

Mnuchin said he’d served on many boards, including those of the Los Angeles Police Foundation and the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art.

4:27 p.m: This post was updated with comments from Mnuchin.

Mitt Romney joins list of Republicans who plan to sit out GOP convention

Mitt Romney (Tom Smart / European Pressphoto Agency)
Mitt Romney (Tom Smart / European Pressphoto Agency)

Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee,  plans to sit out the party's nominating convention this summer — and he's not alone. 

With Donald Trump now the presumptive GOP presidential nominee, a chorus of prominent Republicans -- past presidents and nominees alike --  are shunning endorsements and offering similar sentiments about the July convention in Cleveland: will not attend. 

Last month, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who ended his candidacy for the White House in February, was curt when asked if he would attend.

"No," said Bush, who was often the subject of personal taunts by Trump.

Several members of Congress, including Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Richard Burr of North Carolina, who both face tough reelection fights, have said they will not attend. McCain, the 2008 GOP nominee, has battled Trump publicly for much of the last year. 

Still, in recent days Trump has sought to assuage any ill will from within the party, calling for Republicans to unite around him in anticipation for a hard-fought battle with Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton this fall. And some Republicans, such as New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, McCain's 2008 running mate, have become some of Trump's most ardent supporters. 

But when it comes to establishment figures, Trump has stumbled. 

Pormer Presidents George W. Bush and George H.W. Bush will not make endorsements this election cycle, according to the Texas Tribune. 

It's the first time in five election cycles the elder Bush will not endorse the Republican nominee. 

Fork in hand, Trump takes a stab at Latino outreach

In Europe, there's a sense that Trump could actually win

 (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)
(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

Many Europeans seemed surprised and in some cases stunned Wednesday over Donald Trump’s emergence as the presumptive Republican nominee for president of the United States.

The business mogul and television celebrity all but locked up the Republican nomination with his victory in the Indiana primary Tuesday that was followed by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and then Ohio Gov. John Kasich ending their campaigns.

“Trump’s foreign policy ideas seem so diffuse and erratic," Thorsten Hasche, a political scientist at the University of Goettingen in Germany, said in an interview. "The prevailing fear is that America would be more isolationist with a President Trump and European countries would have to do more on their own for their own defense.”

Until now, Trump was generally viewed in Europe as a peculiar and poorly qualified candidate that American voters would reject, as well as a Republican Party outsider with strange ideas who had virtually no chance of becoming the nominee — let alone the next president.

The Rolling Stones want Donald Trump to stop using their songs at his campaign rallies

 (Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times)
(Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times)

Time for Donald Trump to find a new playlist for his rallies.

The Rolling Stones don’t want their songs on his stage, ever, the group told BBC News on Wednesday.

Trump’s campaign has used several songs, including “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” and “Sympathy for the Devil,” without the group’s consent, and band members want him to stop.

"The Rolling Stones have never given permission to the Trump campaign to use their songs and have requested that they cease all use immediately," a band representative said in a statement Wednesday.

Stones guitarist Keith Richards told Billboard in an interview last year that he found the GOP candidate’s approach “refreshing,” but later called a potential Trump presidency the “worst nightmare.”

Adele, Aerosmith and R.E.M.’s Michael Stipe have also sent the campaign notices to stop using their songs. Stipe called Trump’s campaign a “moronic charade.”

Republican senator: This race needs a candidate who acts like an adult

Republican Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska, long an outspoken critic of Donald Trump, bashed both political parties for nominating presidential candidates more unpopular than “Dumpster fires.”

In a barrage of tweets and a 1,500-word Facebook post, the freshman senator attacked Trump and Hillary Clinton as examples of how Democrats and Republicans have failed most Americans in the presidential race. He also called for a third-party candidate to enter the race and act like an “adult.”

“Washington isn’t fooling anyone — neither political party works,” Sasse wrote on Facebook. “... They’re like a couple arguing about what color to paint the living room, and meanwhile, their house is on fire.”

Sasse relayed several frustrations he said he heard from constituents at a local Wal-Mart on Wednesday: They don’t like either party or either candidate and have lost hope for significant policy change.

His answer? A one-term candidate who campaigns honestly and will listen to and implement what voters ask for.

“They deserve a president who knows that his or her job is not to ‘reign,’ but to serve as commander-in-chief and to ‘faithfully execute’ the laws, not to claim imperial powers to rewrite them with his pen and phone," Sasse wrote, taking aim as well at President Obama, who has touted his "pen-and-phone" strategy of using executive action to accomplish his policy goals.

Overnight, California Republicans lose the promise of a competitive primary and high turnout

Republicans at the party's California convention in Burlingame last week. (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)
Republicans at the party's California convention in Burlingame last week. (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

You can't say it doesn't sting. California's role as the closing prize of the primary campaign season has been sundered by little Indiana, where a sweeping victory handed the title "presumptive Republican nominee" to Donald Trump.

Gone are visions of GOP candidates chowing down at In-N-Out, walking the beach in their oxfords, pretending to understand the innards of high-tech inventions in Silicon Valley, gaping at cow herds in the Central Valley and braving the wind-swept cultural wilds of the City by the Bay.

All that, along with the enticing possibility of the first decisive GOP presidential contest here in half a century, was wiped out because of voters in a state California outnumbers by more than 32 million people.

Yes, California will still have the Democratic primary, but that has more value for its bragging rights and convention leverage than for its effect on the Democratic nomination, which is pretty much in Hillary Clinton's pocket.

Sanders' fundraising is slowing just when he needs it most – for California

Sanders supporters march in downtown L.A. The campaign is already relying more on activism in California and less on media buys. (Barbara Davidson / Los Angeles Times)
Sanders supporters march in downtown L.A. The campaign is already relying more on activism in California and less on media buys. (Barbara Davidson / Los Angeles Times)

As Bernie Sanders looks toward California to make a defiant final stand, he is bumping up against a dilemma that his campaign has not had to confront in some time.

He is running short on cash.

In no state is money more crucial for a candidate than in California. Its sheer size, in both geography and population, makes running here a ridiculously expensive endeavor. Its media markets are some of the most costly in the world, and candidates who try to sidestep big ad buys typically fail to convey their message to key segments of the electorate.

So now is a poor time for a precipitous drop in cash flow for Sanders. Amid a string of big losses to front-runner Hillary Clinton in April, Sanders' fundraising for the month fell to $25.8 million — which would seem a significant amount, except that in both February and March, he raised nearly $20 million more.

Some still resist, but many Republicans come to terms with their new reality: It's Trump

Now that Donald Trump is the Republican presidential nominee-in-waiting, he faces the tall order of trying to unify his party. (Justin Lane / European Pressphoto Agency)
Now that Donald Trump is the Republican presidential nominee-in-waiting, he faces the tall order of trying to unify his party. (Justin Lane / European Pressphoto Agency)

Suddenly, Republicans are confronting a reality that seemed fantastically implausible not long ago: Donald Trump as their all-but-official presidential nominee.

The response Wednesday in some quarters was a combination of denial and resistance that was unlike anything seen in recent history.

Republican leaders, including some who sparred with Trump, pleaded for unity. Prominent GOP lawmakers announced their support. So did some tea party activists.

But many Trump detractors were unmoved. Talk of finding a third-party alternative continued unabated. Big-money donors, including the Koch brothers and casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, were notably silent, as was Mitt Romney, Republicans' last presidential nominee and a fierce Trump critic.

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