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Today: A 'Witch Hunt'? Well, There’s Toil and Trouble

President Trump is heading overseas, but not without some parting shots. I'm Davan Maharaj, editor-in-chief of the Los Angeles Times. Here are some story lines I don't want you to miss today.

TOP STORIES

A ‘Witch Hunt’? Well, There’s Toil and Trouble

Amid this week’s toil and trouble at the White House, President Trump was relatively quiet, even after a special counsel was appointed to investigate the Russia-related investigation. Not for long. “This is the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history!” he tweeted (though the representative from Salem, Mass., disagreed). True to Trump form, he turned to aggrieved hyperbole more than once, as observers debated whether it would hurt or help him — or maybe do some of both.

More From Washington

-- “No, no, next question”: Trump says he didn’t urge former FBI Director James Comey to back down on investigating Michael Flynn.

-- The No. 2 official at the Justice Department told senators that he knew Trump wanted to fire Comey before he wrote a letter criticizing him.

-- Trump is leaning toward tapping Joe Lieberman to head the FBI and could announce his pick before he leaves for the Middle East today.

Trump’s Trip to the Birthplace of Islam

Much like a couple of previous presidents who were caught in a swirl of trouble at home, Trump is headed to the Middle East. It’s the initial leg of a trip that will take him out of the country for just over a week, a stretch of time that an official says a “homebody” like Trump wishes were shorter. First stop: Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam, where Trump is expected to emphasize the war against terror and present a major new package of weaponry for sale. Here’s why the Saudis are hoping for a reset with Trump.

Insurers on Obamacare: Don’t Look at Us, Blame the White House

“Obamacare is collapsing, it’s dead, it’s gone,” Trump said during his news conference yesterday. “There is nothing to compare it to, because we don’t have healthcare in the country.” He and other GOP leaders say the marketplaces are failing on their own. But health insurers, which are planning big rate increases or pullouts, and state officials tell a different story: that the Trump administration is undermining the Affordable Healthcare Act by refusing to commit to steps to keep markets running. “We don’t know who is making decisions,” says one CEO.

Roger Ailes’ Legacy: You Decide

Roger Ailes worked as an advisor to GOP presidential candidates from Richard Nixon to Donald Trump — and built Fox News into a conservative juggernaut that brings in more than $1 billion a year in profits — but his legacy is far more complex. The cable channel he ran for 21 years, before he was fired last year amid a sexual harassment scandal, called itself “fair and balanced.” Yet, as TV critic Lorraine Ali writes, “an ideology that Ailes made the cornerstone of his network’s coverage: Us versus Them” has reshaped the media landscape. Ailes’ death at age 77 complicates several lawsuits and a federal investigation too.

The NFL Has a Big Rain Delay in Inglewood

If the waiting is the hardest part, NFL fans in L.A. have had two decades of hard times — and now, they’ll have to wait a little longer for a permanent home for the Rams and Chargers. This year’s heavy rains have set back the opening of the $2.6-billion stadium in Inglewood by nearly a year, to the start of the 2020 season. It’s the first part of a multiple-phase project on a site that is 3½ times the size of Disneyland.

FLASHBACK FRIDAY

“One of the saddest things in the United States today,” said William C. Melton, Victorville’s civil defense coordinator in 1968, “is the extreme apathy about the bomb.” Forty-nine years ago, The Times visited “one of the world’s most unusual fallout shelters” located in abandoned gold mine.

MUST-WATCH VIDEO

-- An eyewitness to a car driving through a crowd at New York’s Times Square describes what she saw.

-- Auto review: The Karma Revero is a luxury hybrid electric super car with a $130,000 price tag.

-- Why “The Handmaid’s Tale” and “Big Little Lies” have captured actress Freida Pinto’s attention.

CALIFORNIA

-- Los Angeles’ teachers union is confronting questions about its future after a costly loss in the LAUSD school board races this week.

-- Authorities say the head of a now-defunct South L.A. charter school has been charged with embezzlement and money laundering.

-- The battle over completing the 710 Freeway is heating up again, with a long tunnel in the mix.

-- A Sacramento County woman who drizzled nacho cheese from a gas station dispenser onto her Doritos has been hospitalized for nearly a month after contracting botulism.

YOUR WEEKEND

-- Health check: Here’s what you can do now that might lower your odds of dementia later.

-- Pass the butter: great recipes for biscuits, rolls and dinner breads.

-- Vertical gardening: 11 ways to get your vegetables to grow up. Plus, check out this free book on drought-friendly gardening.

-- Take a walk through the new Los Angeles State Historic Park.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

-- Chris Cornell had one of rock’s great voices and one of its most curious minds.

-- A 1982 Jean-Michel Basquiat painting sold for more than $110 million, the highest price ever paid at auction for a work by an American artist.

-- Danny McBride has a special flair for playing obnoxious loudmouths on screen, but his role in “Alien: Covenant” breaks the typecasting.

-- The seven-part Netflix documentary series “The Keepers” looks at one of Baltimore’s most vexing cold cases: the 1969 killing of a young nun.

NATION-WORLD

-- Police say the driver of a car that killed one person and injured at least 22 others is a U.S. Navy veteran with a history of drunk driving arrests.

-- A United Nations court has ordered Pakistan not to execute an Indian man convicted of spying, pending its final verdict.

-- Sweden’s top prosecutor said Friday that she is dropping an investigation into a rape claim against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

-- In a victory for canines and animal-rights activists, China will ban dog meat sales at the notorious Yulin dog-eating festival, according to two U.S. nonprofit organizations.

-- Rising sea levels could mean twice as much flood risk in coastal cities, including those in Southern California.

BUSINESS

-- A federal judge suggested he will sign off on a $142-million deal to settle class-action lawsuits against Wells Fargo over unauthorized accounts, if the agreement is amended.

-- Federal regulators have taken the first formal step toward repealing tough net neutrality rules enacted two years ago.

SPORTS

-- Cue the overbooking jokes: USC has a deal in place to sell the naming rights of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum to United Airlines.

-- The hype around this year’s Preakness is low, which is just the way trainer Todd Pletcher and his Kentucky Derby-winning horse, Always Dreaming, like it.

OPINION

-- To save the republic, take away Trump’s Twitter account.

-- The five stages of Trump news cycle grief.

WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING

-- “Early on, I recognized that Trump’s sense of self-worth is forever at risk”: Tony Schwartz, co-author of “The Art of the Deal,” says the president’s self-sabotage is rooted in the past. (Washington Post)

-- Here’s why the Seattle Times’ obituary for Eudocia Tomas Pulido did not tell the story of her life in slavery. (Seattle Times)

-- The “Saturday Night Live” cast talks about a season that’s not normal. (The Hollywood Reporter)

ONLY IN L.A.

Finland may be the spiritual birthplace of the sauna, but L.A. knows a hot trend when it sees one. The latest twist: infrared saunas, some complete with their own celebrity clientele. Here are few places to get your power shvitz on.

Please send comments and ideas to Davan Maharaj.

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