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Newsletter: Today: With a Friend Like President Trump …

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Deputy Atty. Gen. Rod Rosenstein, left, U.S. Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions and acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe.
(Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images)

President Trump amps up his fight with the Justice Department. 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

With a Friend Like President Trump …

The Republican Party. The media. The U.S. intelligence community. NATO. Trading partners. Federal judges. President Trump has blasted all of these and more, but his harsh comments about Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions — one of his most loyal supporters — and nearly every other top Justice Department official set off alarms, even as the AG tried to smooth things over. The White House said Trump still has confidence in Sessions and that special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s job is safe, at least for now. Then reports surfaced that the president’s aides are looking at Mueller’s team to gain leverage against it.

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More Politics

-- Donald Trump Jr., Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner will speak before Senate committees next week about Russian election meddling.

-- Sen. John McCain’s absence as he fights brain cancer will complicate Republican efforts to repeal Obamacare, change taxes and more.

-- Trump said he left his seat at a G-20 dinner to speak with Vladimir Putin in part because Japan’s first lady spoke no English. It turns out she’s pretty fluent.

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-- California’s conservative would-be exes are thinking about living in Texas.

O.J. Simpson and the ‘10,000-Pound Elephant’ in the Room

O.J. Simpson could be out of prison as early as Oct. 1, after a unanimous vote by a Nevada parole board. While his hearing was about his 2008 robbery conviction, many of Simpson’s answers brought back memories of his acquittal in the 1994 slayings of Ron Goldman and Simpson’s ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson. Simpson seemed to suggest he was ready to step out of the public spotlight once he is free. Given the international media attention, that may be easier said than done.

Is USC’s Leadership Making the Grade?

An overdose, a young companion, drug-fueled parties. By now you have most likely read about the secret life of Dr. Carmen A. Puliafito, who resigned from his post as USC medical school dean last year. But what about the actions of USC administrators and the Pasadena Police Department? That’s the part of the story that most interests columnist Steve Lopez. His recommendation: “At the very least, [USC President C.L. Max] Nikias needs to break the silence and tell what he knew and when he knew it.”

An Innocent Man and the ‘CSI’ Effect

Raymond Lee Jennings spent 11 years behind bars for the murder of an 18-year-old woman in a Palmdale parking lot. The testimony of retired FBI profiler Mark Safarik, the star of the television show “Killer Instinct,” helped convict him. Earlier this year, a judge declared Jennings factually innocent. As for Safarik’s testimony? He withdrew it, though he still defends his analysis. But this isn’t the first time the work of profilers has been called into question.

Video: Funny, Black and Female in Hollywood

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“The sassy best friend, the sassy black judge, the sassy next-door neighbor….” Sherri Shepherd ticks off the roles available to black female comedians like her in Hollywood. The list of black funny women considered by the major studios to a bankable comedic lead is even shorter. Reporter Tre’vell Anderson talked with 18 of them to see how they want to shake up the expectations that surround them in the entertainment world.

Top row, from left: Retta, Yvette Nicole Brown, Regina Hall. Middle row: Zainab Johnson, Amanda Seal
Top row, from left: Retta, Yvette Nicole Brown, Regina Hall. Middle row: Zainab Johnson, Amanda Seales, Marsai Martin. Bottom row: Aisha Tyler, Sherri Shepherd, Loretta Devine
(Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

FLASHBACK FRIDAY

“Human squalor — a picture of approximately 50,000 persons driven to California by dust storms, drought, ill health and debts — awaits the visitor looking beyond the roadside today in the San Joaquin Valley.” That’s how a five-part series began on this date in 1937, about the thousands who migrated to California from the Plains states because of the Dust Bowl.

MUST-WATCH VIDEO

-- Film critic Kenneth Turan reviews Christopher Nolan’s WWII epic “Dunkirk,” a film that demands to be seen on a big screen.

-- Film critic Justin Chang reviews Luc Besson’s “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets,” a dazzling, dimwitted space opera.

-- Checking out the “Blade Runner 2049 Experience” at Comic-Con.

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CALIFORNIA

-- Inside the fight to save the gold-mining town of Mariposa from a monster fire.

-- For young California homeowners, a proposed extension of Prop. 13 rules could make buying a new house a lot less expensive.

-- A federal judge has denied former Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca’s request to remain free while he appeals his conviction.

-- Developer Mohamed Hadid will have to do community service and pay fines after pleading no contest to criminal charges over a Bel-Air mega-mansion.

YOUR WEEKEND

-- Eight recipes that show why brown butter makes everything taste better.

-- Heading to San Diego this summer? Here are 10 breweries where you can quench your thirst.

-- What’s your most embarrassing pet story? Tell us here for our upcoming Pets Issue.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

-- Chester Bennington, lead singer of the Los Angeles hard rock band Linkin Park, died of a suspected suicide at age 41.

-- For some longtime Comic-Con fans and retailers, a tipping point has been reached in the profitable but uneasy alliance between the comic-book world and Hollywood.

-- The Getty has announced its most important drawings acquisition in 20 years.

NATION-WORLD

-- Parades, parties and port-a-potties: Eclipse mania is taking hold across the U.S. ahead of the Aug. 21 event.

-- A Saudi prince has been arrested after video clips in which he appears to be violently abusing people surfaced online.

-- Researchers say that more than 1 in 3 cases of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia can be traced to factors such as inadequate education, obesity and smoking.

BUSINESS

-- Elon Musk said he has received “verbal government approval” for a hyperloop connecting New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, D.C., but city officials say they know nothing about it.

-- Consumer columnist David Lazarus looks at a new Bank of America fee that kicks in if you aren’t one of its customers.

SPORTS

-- Las Vegas used to be viewed with caution because of its ties to gambling, but Sin City is becoming a mecca for professional sports leagues and organizations to set up shop.

-- Arrogate is horse racing’s superstar, but has anybody really noticed?

OPINION

-- Silicon Valley’s push for universal basic income is (surprise!) totally self-serving.

-- In the long run, failure to repeal Obamacare may not hurt Republicans: See the David Horsey cartoon.

WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING

-- Why the term “expiration date” on drug labels is a misnomer. (NPR)

-- A suburban Chicago woman kept a bag of moon dust from the Apollo 11 mission in her bedroom closet. After a legal fight, it sold at auction for $1.8 million. (Chicago Tribune)

-- The son of the late Jim Henson gives his side of the story about why the voice of Kermit the Frog was fired. (The Hollywood Reporter)

ONLY IN L.A.

Before Universal Studios Hollywood opened the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, fans of the Boy Who Lived went to the store Whimsic Alley to get their fix of Gryffindor scarves, Hermione wands and that Hogwarts favorite: chocolate frogs. But after a legal battle with Warner Bros. over what Whimsic Alley could sell and the arrival of the theme park attraction, the Miracle Mile shop is closing — and the magic is gone.

Please send comments and ideas to Davan Maharaj.

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