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Today: ‘Mob Boss’ Versus ‘Slimeball’

Today: ‘Mob Boss’ Versus ‘Slimeball’
President Trump and former FBI Director James B. Comey. (Evan Vucci / Associated Press, left, and Andrew Harnik / Associated Press)

How ugly is it getting between President Trump and former FBI Director James B. Comey? Pretty ugly.

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'Mob Boss' Versus 'Slimeball'

In his first TV interview since President Trump fired him nearly a year ago, former FBI Director James B. Comey called Trump "morally unfit to be president" and likened him to a mob boss. In a series of tweets hours before the interview aired, Trump called him a "slimeball" and "slippery" and suggested Comey should be imprisoned. (Remember when Trump led his campaign rallies with chants of "Lock her up!" and praised Comey's actions investigating Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server? Yes, we've come a long way since then.) Read on for more about the interview with Comey and Trump's efforts to discredit him.

After 'Mission Accomplished,' What's Next?

Trump is enjoying some rare broad support for a U.S.-led missile strike aimed at Syrian chemical weapons installations — and even tweeted out the historically loaded phrase "Mission Accomplished!" to mark the occasion. But the bigger picture, as always, is more complicated. Trump hasn't yet laid out a long-term strategy for dealing with Syria's civil war. Several lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are concerned about Trump's use of military force without coming to Congress first. And in Duma, site of the suspected chemical attack that led to the West's retaliation, the Syrian army, upon entering, declared it "purified from armed terrorist groups."

More Politics

-- Trump's reelection campaign spent more than $1 out of every $5 on attorney's fees this year.

-- The Trump administration is abandoning a threat to crack down on recreational marijuana in states where it is legal. Trump directed the abrupt retreat without telling Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions in advance.

-- Former First Lady Barbara Bush will not seek any additional medical treatment for her failing health and will instead focus on comfort care.

Build That 'Virtual' Wall, Kind Of

On a recent day in the high desert east of Nogales, Ariz., not a single Border Patrol agent was within sight as a group of five migrants crossed into the U.S. But soon they were spotted and ran back to Mexico. How? A surveillance tower full of souped-up cameras and radar systems, miles away. Compared with a much-talked about "big, beautiful wall," such a high-tech approach is getting low priority.

The U.S. Border Patrol's so-called Integrated Fixed Towers are equipped with cameras that help agents see migrants in the high desert.
The U.S. Border Patrol's so-called Integrated Fixed Towers are equipped with cameras that help agents see migrants in the high desert. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

The Healing Power of Music

On different stages and different nights in the desert, a powerful weekend of music unfolded — for very different reasons. In Las Vegas, singer Jason Aldean and dozens of his country music peers gathered Sunday for an emotion-filled edition of the Academy of Country Music Awards, not far from where 58 fans were killed and hundreds more injured while Aldean was onstage in October. The night before and about 250 miles away, at the Coachella Music and Arts Festival, Beyoncé delivered a tribute to America's historically black colleges and universities in what pop music critic Mikael Wood calls "one of the most impressive things I've seen in 20 years of professional show-going."

A New Era at The Times

Like many Angelenos, Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong got his start far from L.A. before making it his home. Now, with his planned $500-million purchase of the Los Angeles Times and sister papers in Southern California, the billionaire is looking to invest in and bring stability to the media organization. As columnist Steve Lopez notes, so many of California's newspapers have foundered. Years ago, The Times became a tenant in its own historic downtown L.A building, so when the lease is up June 30, we'll be moving our headquarters to El Segundo. But the mission is to build on The Times' legacy. "The last bastion to the health of democracy are journalists," Soon-Shiong says. "We have to become a source of trust."

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OUR MUST-READS FROM THE WEEKEND

-- Without mentioning special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, Trump's lawyers are arguing in a seemingly minor case that the Supreme Court should bolster the president's power to hire and fire officials.

-- How single-payer healthcare became the biggest policy flashpoint in California's race for governor.

-- Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti went to Iowa to test the presidential waters. Here's what he had to say in a wide-ranging Q&A.

-- The legacy of Max Ehrlich, who was one of the world's most sought-after cabaret actors and composers, has been rediscovered more than 70 years after his death at Auschwitz.

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-- At the new restaurant Majordomo, critic Jonathan Gold is unsure whether to praise chef David Chang or bury him.

MUST-WATCH VIDEO

-- Film critic Justin Chang says "The Rider" is an achingly beautiful contemporary western and a fascinating blend of narrative and documentary film techniques.

CALIFORNIA

-- A program that pays veteran L.A. police officers and firefighters nearly double for the last five years of their careers received a flood of new enrollees in February, records show.

-- Voters are getting to know state Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra through his aggressive stance challenging Trump. That could help Becerra out in November's election.

-- What role should the Los Angeles River play? UCLA research suggests that if the city meets its goal of capturing large amounts of runoff and treated water, the river will run dry several months of the year.

-- A different UCLA study says residents across L.A. County are increasingly anxious about the cost of living, with housing costs at the top of their worries. Young people are feeling it the most.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

-- It's handled: The Shonda Rhimes-created TV series "Scandal" is coming to a close Thursday. "It's ending exactly the way I thought it would," she says.

-- Danger, Will Robinson? No, TV critic Robert Lloyd says the reboot of "Lost in Space" is worth checking out.

-- At the box office, "Rampage" opened at No. 1, but the sleeper hit "A Quiet Place" keeps on rocking.

-- R. Lee Ermey, a retired Marine who made a career in Hollywood playing military men, has died at age 74. He immortalized lines like "What is your major malfunction?" in "Full Metal Jacket."

CLASSIC HOLLYWOOD

Charlie Chaplin, who was born on this date in 1889, said that if he had known just how insidious Adolf Hitler and the Nazi regime were, he never would have made "The Great Dictator." The 1940 anti-fascism satire will return to the big screen at the Alex Theatre in Glendale on Thursday. Check out more special screenings around town here.

NATION-WORLD

-- In a "protest suicide," a lawyer known for his advocacy for LGBT rights and environmental issues burned himself to death in a New York City park to protest fossil fuels.

-- Philadelphia's police commissioner has defended officers who arrested two black men at a Starbucks. The incident has led to accusations of racism, concern from the mayor and an apology from the company.

-- Ahead of Mexico's July 1 elections, fake news is running rampant. A team of fact-checking journalists is working around the clock to verify campaign claims.

-- Are you sitting down for this? Don't! A study suggests too much sitting may thin the part of your brain that's important for memory.

BUSINESS

-- MoviePass, a subscription service that lets you see one movie a day in theaters for $9.95 a month, could dramatically change the film industry, if the industry doesn't kill it first.

-- A lot more than the No. 19 pastrami sandwich has gone into the success of Langer's Deli, as President and Chief Executive Norm Langer will tell you.

SPORTS

-- The L.A. Kings are on the brink of elimination from the Stanley Cup playoffs after the Las Vegas Golden Knights cashed in at the end of Game 3.

-- California native Alexander Rossi came up big at the 44th running of the Grand Prix of Long Beach, becoming the first driver to win from the pole position in 11 years.

OPINION

-- It could be that the free market will wind up doing what Congress refuses to do: tighten access to firearms and stand up to companies that make and sell assault-style weapons.

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-- A tax law professor admits tax policy is a bore, until they take away your Social Security and Medicare. (P.S.: Tomorrow is the deadline to file those returns.)

WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING

-- Five years after the Boston Marathon bombing, thousands of artifacts have been carefully and respectfully preserved in a warehouse and the city's archives. (Boston Globe)

-- As Mueller's spokesman, Peter Carr says "no comment" a lot, but that doesn't mean he sits around all day doing nothing. (Salt Lake Tribune)

-- How six Chinese men survived the sinking of the Titanic and disappeared soon afterward. (South China Morning Post)

ONLY IN L.A.

You're stuck in gridlock on the southbound 405. A Porsche 911 GTS rockets by at 110 mph. Do you call the California Highway Patrol? Not if you're in Carson, where the Porsche Experience Center offers anyone 21 or older with a driver's license (and some cash) the chance to whiz around a track in high-performance sports cars. One stretch just happens to run parallel to the freeway.

If you like this newsletter, please share it with friends. Comments or ideas? Email us at headlines@latimes.com.

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