Newsletter: Today: The Mueller Deputy Who Could Interview Trump
A top prosecutor in the Russia investigation has a hard-charging reputation — some say too hard.
The Mueller Deputy Who Could Interview Trump
Andrew Weissmann is a veteran federal prosecutor who built a reputation for aggressive tactics and a no-nonsense demeanor before joining special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s Russia investigation team as a senior deputy. Among his biggest cases were taking on crime boss Vincent “The Chin” Gigante and the Enron scandal. But in going after Enron’s major outside auditor, Arthur Andersen, Weissmann came under fire for having pushed legal boundaries. Now, as a likely choice to lead any direct questioning of President Trump, should he submit to an interview in the investigation, Weissmann is a prime target of Trump’s allies and surrogates. His supporters and his detractors agree he is to be feared.
Where Does the President Stand on Guns?
Over the years, Trump has varied widely in his positions on gun control and public access to firearms. Since the deaths of 17 people at a Florida high school last week, he’s been mostly silent on the issue, even as hundreds of students who survived the massacre have spoken out. On Monday, the White House said Trump was “supportive” of efforts to improve background checks for people looking to buy guns, such as a bipartisan bill co-sponsored by Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn. But the statement did not expressly say Trump supported the bill. Meanwhile, students are heading to Florida’s capital today to urge state lawmakers to act.
-- Laughing? Not so much. Many Russians just wish the election-meddling story would go away, but several people who worked at the “troll factory” say they think the criminal charges filed in the Mueller investigation are well-founded.
-- Trump endorsed Mitt Romney in Utah’s Senate race, another sign they have reconciled after having battled each other.
-- Pennsylvania’s high court issued a new congressional district map for the state’s 2018 elections, potentially giving Democrats a boost.
You May Say They’re ‘Dreamers,’ but They’re Not the Only Ones
Much of the immigration debate has focused on the fate of those protected from deportation by the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. It’s also caused tension between the “Dreamers” and those who are living in the U.S. illegally but cannot qualify for the program. “I’m very bitter. These DACA kids definitely have this sense of entitlement,” says one man who came from Mexico nearly 30 years ago.
The Solutions to Homelessness Remain Elusive
In L.A. County, thousands of beds for the homeless have been added in the last two years and millions of dollars are beginning to flow in from two ballot measures. But a new report shows the effort will fall far short of solving the crisis; officials underestimated how much new housing would be needed when those measures went to voters. In Orange County, a camp along the Santa Ana River is expected to be cleared out today, but only after U.S. District Judge David Carter took a characteristically unorthodox approach in getting the county to give out motel vouchers and to agree to provide more housing.
Raking In Cash, but Not the Crowds
The thrill of competition. The snore of the crowd? Pyeongchang is hardly the first Olympics to see lackluster attendance, but at many events the empty stands are a downer for the athletes. Organizers say they sold more than 90% of available seats and blame cold weather and transportation problems for many who haven’t shown up; events scheduled early in the day to accommodate American TV haven’t helped either. Some sports business experts wonder: If the Games still generate billions of dollars, does attendance really matter?
More From the Olympics
-- Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada won the gold medal in ice dancing, becoming the most decorated figure skaters in Olympic history with their third gold and fifth medal overall.
-- Former L.A. Kings defenseman Slava Voynov once spent two months in jail for domestic abuse in Southern California but is now playing for the Olympic Athletes from Russia.
-- Do you miss Bob Costas on TV? Columnist Chris Erskine explains why he does, even if Costas oozed ego on screen.
OUR MUST-READS FROM THE WEEKEND
-- Why Trump’s Playboy Playmate sex scandal is just another ho-hum day in his presidency.
-- A 2008 attempt to reform a program that allows Los Angeles cops and firefighters to collect their pensions and salaries simultaneously at the end of their careers has had little effect, a Times analysis shows.
-- An Italian model’s rape allegations against Harvey Weinstein could bring charges, but the case is far from overwhelming.
-- A traveler’s journey through central Vietnam includes some of the country’s most notable sights, its best beaches and a more relaxed pace.
-- “I’m super proud just to be where I am today”: U.S. skier Nick Goepper discusses how he’s prepared to deal with post-Olympics life after he once contemplated suicide.
-- At the “Black Panther” premiere, celebrities answer the question, “How many black superheroes can you name?”
-- The Trump administration’s budget proposal released last week again seeks to zero out funding for an earthquake early warning program administered by the U.S. Geological Survey. Representatives from California say they will move to keep funding the program.
-- Remember how hot it was? Freezing temperatures are forecast to sweep through this week, potentially endangering the state’s almonds and other lucrative Central Valley crops.
-- Democrats still dominate the state’s voting rolls, but registered independent voters could soon outnumber Republicans.
-- Pizza and pellet grenades: How San Diego spent $50,000 prepping for border wall prototype protests that never came.
HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS
-- Box-office estimates show the superhero movie “Black Panther” had the fifth-highest domestic opening weekend of all time.
-- A mariachi opera in Northridge presented a heart-wrenching immigrant’s tale as “Dreamers” in the audience watched.
-- “I love this country and honestly tried my best,” Fergie says. People are still talking about her rendition of the national anthem at the NBA All-Star Game.
-- A new Willie Nelson album is arriving just in time for his 85th birthday in April. Get a load of the title track here.
Long before the superhero film “Black Panther” made history this weekend, Sidney Poitier was the first African American superstar; the first black actor to earn a best actor Oscar for 1963’s “Lilies of the Field”; and the first to be the top box-office draw in 1968. Poitier turns 91 today.
-- In post-marriage-equality America, those on the conservative right who once pushed back against gay rights now appear to have shifted their focus to the transgender community.
-- A new study found U.S. diplomats stationed in Havana suffered brain injuries, but medical experts still can’t determine the cause.
-- German Chancellor Angela Merkel began paving the way for her exit from office by picking a surprise successor in the Christian Democrats Party.
-- Residents of Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, have pulled together and found a way to appreciate beauty amid the devastation after Hurricane Maria.
-- Unions at Walt Disney World Resorts filed a federal complaint accusing the company of holding employees’ $1,000 bonuses hostage during contract negotiations.
-- Inflation is heating up. Here are some ideas for dealing with it.
-- Will the NBA All-Star experience LeBron James had in L.A. this weekend lead him to join Lakers? Columnist Bill Plaschke hopes so.
-- The Dodgers officially got back to work, 110 days after losing the final game of the World Series.
-- Mass shootings will continue in this country until we finally ban mass-shooting weapons, writes columnist (and gun owner) George Skelton.
-- Grocery bags and takeout containers aren’t enough. It’s time to phase out all single-use plastic.
WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING
-- Within an hour of news of the Florida school shooting, Twitter accounts suspected of links to Russia quickly used it to inflame the gun control debate. (New York Times)
-- Former Bush speechwriter David Frum argues “America is under attack and the president doesn’t care.” (The Atlantic)
-- Augmented reality is here, and it’s in our kids’ toys. (Wired)
ONLY IN CALIFORNIA
The Hangtown Fry looks like an omelet. It smells like something else. Though the dish of brown oysters, bacon and scrambled eggs was born during the Gold Rush era in Placerville (a.k.a. Old Hangtown), the Buttercup Pantry is the only restaurant there that regularly serves it. “Oh, it’s disgusting,” said Robert Huston, who’s owned the Buttercup for 33 years but never dared to eat the signature meal. He’s not alone.
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