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318 posts
  • Trump
  • Opinion
  • The Witch Hunt
  • Rule of Law
Robert S. Mueller III's investigations team continues to work steadily and quietly while Washington's political institutions crumble.
Robert S. Mueller III's investigations team continues to work steadily and quietly while Washington's political institutions crumble. (Saul Loeb / AFP/Getty Images)

Paul Manafort’s decision to accept a plea deal and cooperate with special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election doesn’t really come as a surprise — having already been convicted on tax fraud charges, this was the smart move for Manafort, a former chairman of Donald J. Trump’s presidential campaign. From the public’s point of view, it’s most significant for the reassurance it offers: The political machinery in Washington may be in shambles, but the courts, and Mueller’s team, are holding firm.

I’m among those who believe President Trump has sought to obstruct justice, from his firing of FBI director James B. Comey to his threat to Mueller to not investigate Trump family finances. Congress, which is where you’d expect to find oversight — you know, checks and balances — has instead offered Trump cover. Adherence to law is secondary to congressional Republican leaders whose primary focus is hanging on to power.

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  • Opinion
  • Rule of Law
Fred Guttenberg attempts to shake hands with Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh on Sept. 4.
Fred Guttenberg attempts to shake hands with Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh on Sept. 4. (Andrew Harnik / AP)

During a break in Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings on Sept. 4, the father of a school shooting victim approached Kavanaugh and tried to shake his hand.

Kavanaugh moved away without clasping hands with Fred Guttenberg, whose 14-year-old daughter Jaime was among 17 people killed on Feb. 14 at Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida.

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  • Opinion
  • The Golden State
  • Election 2018
It's possible the two gubernatorial candidates may not appear on the same stage at the same time before election day.
It's possible the two gubernatorial candidates may not appear on the same stage at the same time before election day. (Los Angeles Times)

Earlier this summer it seemed possible, even likely, that there would be only one debate between California’s two gubernatorial candidates. That’s all that front-runner Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, would agree to.

Now it seems as if even that one debate will not happen, and this time because of John Cox’s demands. The Republican businessman, who is challenging Newsom, wouldn’t agree to participate unless he could dictate the topics of conversation, according to a story by my colleague Melanie Mason. The debate host, CNN, finally canceled the Oct. 1 event — and who can blame the network for pulling out?

What a couple of babies. Cox and Newsom should be happy to meet in any and all forums to engage with each other and show voters the differences between them. As The Times editorial board said in a recent editorial, there’s nothing quite like these unscripted debate forums to offer a glimpse into the real character of a candidate.

  • Opinion
  • We're All Doomed
Pope Francis warned that the devil has "got it in for the bishops."
Pope Francis warned that the devil has "got it in for the bishops." (Alberto Pizzoli / AFP/Getty Images)

Pope Francis will meet Thursday with a delegation of U.S. bishops who want to discuss the furor over the sensational accusations against the pope by a retired Vatican diplomat. The delegation will be led by Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles, the vice president.

It’s possible that after the meeting the pope will abandon his policy of refusing to comment on accusations by Carlo Maria Vigano, a former Vatican envoy to the United States. Last month Vigano issued a “testimony” in which he claimed that Francis had attempted to rehabilitate former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick after Francis’ predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, had sidelined McCarrick by 2010 in response to reports that McCarrick had sexually harassed seminarians. 

Certainly Catholics demoralized by the McCarrick affair hope the pope will break his silence. But they couldn’t have been encouraged by a sermon the pope delivered at Mass on Tuesday.

  • Trump
  • Opinion
  • We're All Doomed
  • The Golden State
  • The Swamp
The Trump administration is planning to rollback yet another Obama policy limiting methane emissions from oil and gas well sites.
The Trump administration is planning to rollback yet another Obama policy limiting methane emissions from oil and gas well sites. (Photo courtesy of Dana Caulton)

There’s a certain irony in the timing of a report that the Trump administration is about to lift more restrictions on methane emissions from drilling operations a day after Gov. Jerry Brown signed a new law requiring California to get all of its electricity from zero-carbon sources by 2045.

On the one hand, we have more environmentally irresponsible behavior from the Trump administration, while on the other, the fifth-largest economy in the world steps out — again — as a global leader in the fight to counter the worst effects of climate change.

You can guess which one I’m rooting for.

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  • Trump
  • Opinion
President Trump listens to others speak during a lunch with members of Congress at the White House in late June.
President Trump listens to others speak during a lunch with members of Congress at the White House in late June. (Jabin Botsford / Washington Post)

President Trump’s recent claims about the economy have been so outlandish, even Fox News is correcting him. 

Early Monday morning, Trump claimed this distinction:

Oh for heaven’s sake. It’s a good milestone for sure, but that combination of high growth and low unemployment has been repeated dozens of times since World War II ended. Here’s what Fox News’ research arm had to say:

  • Opinion
  • Rule of Law
Sen. Kamala Harris speaks with Sen. Cory Booker during confirmation hearings for Brett Kavanaugh on Friday.
Sen. Kamala Harris speaks with Sen. Cory Booker during confirmation hearings for Brett Kavanaugh on Friday. (J. Scott Applewhite / Associated Press)

Sen. Kamala Harris, one of at least two potential Democratic presidential candidates on the Senate Judiciary Committee, got a lot of eyeballs for the video of part of her interrogation of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

The drama unfolded Wednesday when Harris asked the judge: “Have you discussed [Robert S.] Mueller or his investigation with anyone at Kasowitz Benson Torres, the law firm founded by Marc Kasowitz, President Trump’s personal lawyer?” Sounding like a prosecutor warning of a perjury trap, she added ominously: “Be sure about your answer, sir.”

Kavanaugh, perplexed, asked, “Is there a person you’re talking about?” Harris, unable or unwilling to provide a name, shot back: “I’m asking you a very direct question: Yes or no?” 

  • Opinion
  • The Golden State
Elon Musk, chairman and CEO at Tesla and chairman of SpaceX, inhales what he said was marijuana on a live YouTube webcast on Sept. 6.
Elon Musk, chairman and CEO at Tesla and chairman of SpaceX, inhales what he said was marijuana on a live YouTube webcast on Sept. 6. (Screenshot)

While the business world was scandalized by Elon Musk smoking marijuana on a podcast late Thursday, here’s a reason for Los Angeles to be offended: The city may be getting played by Musk and his tunnel-boring company. 

Mayor Eric Garcetti, the City Council and the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority have all been drafted into working on Musk’s idea to build a network of tunnels under Los Angeles that could whoosh cars or pods of people underground and out of traffic.

City Council members wanted to waive the standard environmental reviews for Musk’s proof-of-concept tunnel, giving the project a free pass rarely extended to other transportation projects. City staff have begun work on the environmental review needed for the Boring Co.’s other project in L.A. — the proposed Dugout Loop, a 3.6-mile underground shuttle to ferry fans to Dodger Stadium.

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  • Opinion
  • Rule of Law
Sen. Kamala Harris questions Judge Brett Kavanaugh on Wednesday.
Sen. Kamala Harris questions Judge Brett Kavanaugh on Wednesday. (Jacquelyn Martin / AP)

Among several surreal moments at the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh,  one of the strangest was an encounter Wednesday evening between Sen. Kamala Harris and the nominee.

In full prosecutorial mode, Harris asked Kavanaugh:  “Have you discussed [Robert S.] Mueller or his investigation with anyone at Kasowitz Benson Torres, the law firm founded by Marc Kasowitz, President Trump’s personal lawyer?” She added the portentous warning: “Be sure about your answer, sir.”

Like most people watching, I assumed Harris was about to confront Kavanaugh with evidence that there had been such a potentially problematic conversation, and name the lawyer with whom Kavanaugh supposedly communicated.

Anonymous descriptions of a choatic White House have President Trump livid.
Anonymous descriptions of a choatic White House have President Trump livid. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

The president is not amused. In fact, the one-two punch this week from Bob Woodward’s book detailing the dysfunction in the White House, and Wednesday’s unsigned New York Times op-ed that seemed to verify Woodward’s work even as the White House slammed it, has the administration writhing and reeling.

Here are a few points to focus on.