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Trump's big foreign policy week to start with embarrassing Pompeo rebuke

Trump's big foreign policy week to start with embarrassing Pompeo rebuke
Essential Politics (LAT)

It could be a week focused on global challenges, and it's starting out with what looks to be an embarrassing rebuke of President Trump's foreign policy.

Barring a last-minute change of votes, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is expected Monday to reject secretary of State nominee Mike Pompeo, Tracy Wilkinson reports.

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It would be the first time in years that a nomination for such a high-level Cabinet position did not receive backing at the committee level. Despite the snub, the full Senate is expected to approve CIA Director Pompeo's nomination later this week thanks to a handful of Democratic votes.

The president is hosting French President Emmanuel Macron for the administration's first official state visit, with North Korea and Iran dominating political conversation over the weekend.

Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, arriving back to back, will bring a unified message to Trump: Save the Iran nuclear deal.

Iran's foreign minister said in an interview aired Sunday that if Trump pulls out of the landmark nuclear accord, Tehran might respond by relaunching and intensifying its nuclear program.

On North Korea, confusion over what "denuclearization" means to the White House — and North Korea — has raised questions about the administration's degree of preparation for the direct talks with Kim Jong Un, which are planned by mid-June, Laura King reports. Trump's weekend tweet might sum up the state of play: "maybe things will work out, and maybe they won't — only time will tell."

Wilkinson nicely lays out how each side views the talks, and writing from Seoul, Matt Stiles explains the sentiment on the Korean peninsula.

We'll keep track of all the developments in this space. Make sure to sign up for breaking news alerts.

THE RACE FOR GOVERNOR

We're 42 days from the June 5 primary, and the candidates who want to replace Gov. Jerry Brown are readying their final pushes. The intensity levels rose over the last week.

A well-financed independent committee backing Antonio Villaraigosa's bid released its first television ad Thursday, praising his record for working with Republicans and as a candidate for "all of California."

The independent expenditure committee behind the ad campaign, Families & Teachers for Antonio Villaraigosa for Governor 2018, is sponsored by the California Charter Schools Assn. Advocates, a well-funded group that could spend millions on the race.

On Friday, rival Democratic candidate Gavin Newsom's campaign sent letters to television stations urging them not to air the ad. The campaign said it uses snippets of video footage from Villaraigosa's own campaign ads, considering that to be illegal coordination between the campaign and PAC.

And on Monday, Newsom launched his first television spot in the race, highlighting his record on same-sex marriage, gun control and universal healthcare. The 30-second spot is airing statewide on broadcast and cable.

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Last week, Newsom won the endorsement of the California Medical Assn., the powerful lobbying arm of the state's physicians.

Seema Mehta reports that Newsom, who repeatedly has made plain his boredom with the lieutenant governor job and its slim portfolio, routinely skipped the handful of official duties he has.

The front-runner in the governor's race missed scores of meetings held by the University of California Board of Regents, the California State University board of trustees and the California State Lands Commission, according to a Times review of attendance records.

George Skelton argues that the candidates for governor need to start talking about taxes.

THE MOOD OF THE STATE

A team of reporters fanned across California to talk learn how residents are thinking about this year's election. They spoke to more than 100 people from Redding to San Diego.

As Mark Z. Barabak and Phil Willon write, Californians seem to be feeling more upbeat now that the recession is in the rear view mirror.

REPUBLICANS GET MORE SERIOUS ABOUT POTENTIAL WAVE

The latest round of campaign finance reports show California's vulnerable GOP incumbents are taking their challengers more seriously, with most of them already surpassing or nearly topping the money they raised in all of 2016.

Still, three House Republicans here reported having less money in the bank than their Democratic challengers, Christine Mai-Duc reports.

And Democrats concerned about getting shut out of a competitive race are looking to consolidate. The DCCC has added Gil Cisneros to its "Red to Blue" program, elevating him above several other Democrats in the crowded race to replace retiring Republican Rep. Ed Royce.

A reminder you can keep up with these races in the moment via our Essential Politics news feed on California politics.

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NATIONAL POLITICS LIGHTNING ROUND

-- Trump vowed Saturday that his personal lawyer, Michael Cohen will not "flip" and cooperate against him in the special counsel investigation, and attacked a New York Times story as part of a "witch hunt" against him.

-- A federal judge delayed the ruling in the Stormy Daniels lawsuit against Trump and his personal lawyer.

Get the latest about what's happening in the nation's capital on Essential Washington.

TROUBLE AT THE FPPC

A power struggle inside the state's political watchdog agency broke out into a public war of words between rival commissioners after an advisor to Brown objected to a planned reshuffling of duties as a threat to policing campaign finances in California.

A QUIET END FOR A BILL TO REQUIRE DISCLOSURE OF MISCONDUCT INVESTIGATIONS IN SACRAMENTO

In just about three weeks' time, bills in Sacramento will fizzle unless they've been heard by one of the California Legislature's policy committees. And here's a surprise: A mandate for lawmakers to disclose some of the Capitol's sexual harassment investigations is about to be quietly killed.

The proposal has sat idle for more than three months. And as John Myers writes in his Sunday column, it's a curious development even as legislative leaders insist they are committed to more transparency when it comes to misconduct.

TODAY'S ESSENTIALS

-- Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon had some harsh words for a powerful labor union after they opened a campaign account to oppose Assembly member Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens), who is under investigation for sexual harassment.

-- A Senate investigation substantiated claims of inappropriate sexual behavior against Adam Keigwin, a former chief of staff who now works for the public affairs firm Mercury.

-- Hours after Trump tweeted that the feds wouldn't pay for the California National Guard's new efforts on everything but illegal immigration, Pentagon officials quietly confirmed they still plan to foot the bill.

-- A California bill seeks to end the practice of employers requiring workers to handle harassment, discrimination and other claims in mandatory arbitration, instead of in the courts.

-- A measure that would see California license special banks to handle billions of dollars generated by the legal marijuana market was given initial approval by state lawmakers.

-- Find out why one of the biggest housing bills in the country died last week on the latest episode of our podcast on the California housing crisis, Gimme Shelter.

-- We introduce readers to the El Centro Border Patrol academy, with many Latino trainees who grew up near the border.

-- Thanks to everyone who watched our panels on politics at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books this weekend. It was a terrific event bringing thousands of people together to celebrate literature and learning. You can find recaps of the program here, and here is my conversation about Trump's first year with authors David Cay Johnston, Sarah Kendzior and Steve Almond.

-- The Times Editorial Board is backing Tony Thurmond for superintendent of public instruction.

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