This is Essential Politics, our daily look at California political and government news. Here's what we're watching right now:
- A scathing state audit says University of California President Janet Napolitano's office failed to disclose surplus cash and paid some staffers high salaries.
- An effort to ban the so-called '"Netflix tax" on streaming video failed in an Assembly committee.
- Challengers have emerged for two Republican incumbents, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Tulare) and Rep. Ed Royce (R-Fullerton).
Rep. Steve Knight (R-Palmdale) told the crowd at his packed town hall in Simi Valley that he figured many of them wanted to talk about North Korea. Then the shouts of "Russia" started.
"We won't talk about North Korea," he said. "OK. Somebody please ask a question about a person who might start a war out there."
Knight engaged in about an hour of sometimes testy back-and-forth with the largely liberal crowd as they grilled him on his stances on various issues.
Knight's district is almost evenly split between registered Democrats and Republicans, while about a fifth of voters list themselves as "no party preference." National Democrats have targeted Knight's seat as one they want to flip in 2018.
Would he vote to keep preexisting conditions as the Republican-controlled Congress debates changing Obamacare?
"I will keep preexisting conditions," he said.
Does he believe in "accelerated" climate change caused by humans?
"I do believe that humans have a part. I do believe that we are possibly in a cycle, " he said. "But that being said, you can't put this kind of pollution into the air and not think that it is affecting the atmosphere."
Knight also fielded questions about President Trump and criticized him for his frequent trips to his Florida resort.
"I don't think that going down to Mar-a-Lago — or whatever it is called — is proper," he said.
Asked about Trump's possible conflicts of interest and whether he was violating the emoluments clause of the Constitution, Knight said he and his staff were reading the Constitution on Tuesday asking, "Is this a violation, is this not? [This situation] is kind of different than any other president because you got a billionaire president that owns things," he said.
"There has to be either an investigation or some sort of a committee looking into this," he said.