Newsletter: Today: After the Rexit, What’s Next?
Even amid President Trump’s visit to California, the White House keeps on churning.
After the Rexit, What’s Next?
After months of speculation over Rex Tillerson’s fate as secretary of State, his firing was announced via tweet. The reason, President Trump would later say, was because he and Tillerson “disagreed on things” such as the Iran nuclear deal. Perhaps it was fitting, then, that even the manner of his dismissal became a dispute. The man tapped to succeed Tillerson, CIA Director Mike Pompeo, is thought to be closer to Trump’s mind-set, but some are concerned he also could withhold information that challenges the president’s worldview. In turn, CIA Deputy Director Gina Haspel could become the first woman to run the agency, but her confirmation hearings may focus more on her role in the CIA’s torture of terrorism suspects after 9/11 and destruction of key evidence. And there may be more of a shakeup coming: Trump is considering replacing Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin, who’s been investigated over his travel and leadership of the department, with Energy Secretary Rick Perry.
Trump’s Visit to California: So Near, Yet So Far
Trump spent Tuesday in Southern California perusing border wall samples (“see-through” is best), needling Gov. Jerry Brown, raising money for the GOP, ripping the media in front of a crowd of Marines and proposing, maybe, a new “Space Force” — like the Air Force, but in space. Yet for a president who spurns many White House traditions, he did continue one: snarling traffic in L.A. (Move over, Obamajam, for “Make America Late Again.”) Protesters and supporters turned out on the streets, but Trump kept them at a distance — just as many Republican candidates chose not to be seen with the president. Still, columnist Steve Lopez found some Trump fans in Newport Beach who put him right up there with Ronald Reagan.
When a Tie May Be as Good as a Win
The outcome of the special congressional election in western Pennsylvania may not be known until later this week, but the message is clear: It suggests trouble for Republicans in November. With comparatively little money or help from his national party, Democratic candidate Conor Lamb was narrowly leading Rick Saccone, who got the support of Trump at a rally this weekend. The district has been solidly red for years, but voters appear to have shrugged off the party’s biggest legislative achievement: the tax cut measure.
-- A tale of two spokesmen: One, for Immigration and Customs Enforcement in San Francisco, resigned, saying he was disillusioned by what he called false claims about a sweep. The other, a top Tillerson aide, was fired by the White House after he contradicted the official account of how and when the secretary of State was dismissed.
-- Trump also fired his White House personal assistant, John McEntee. The president’s campaign then announced McEntee will rejoin the campaign as a senior advisor of operations.
-- Two associates say Trump advisor Roger Stone claimed to have had contact with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in 2016.
-- A federal appeals court upheld the bulk of Texas’ crackdown on “sanctuary cities” in a victory for the Trump administration in its immigration fight.
-- That offer by Stormy Daniels to return the $130,000 she received in return for agreeing to stay silent? A lawyer for the porn actress says Trump’s legal team did not respond.
A Master of the Universe
“My goal is simple,” Stephen Hawking once told Science magazine. “It is complete understanding of the universe, why it is as it is and why it exists at all.” That mix of bravado and brilliance was a calling card of the British physicist, whose contributions to theoretical physics are frequently compared to those of Albert Einstein — and who gained fame with his bestselling book, “A Brief History of Time.” Now, Hawking has died at age 76 of complications from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, from which he had suffered since he was 20.
-- Prototypes, protesters, supporters, speeches: Trump’s day in California.
-- At Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Trump speaks to military personnel.
-- L.A school leaders have been celebrating the student walkouts of 1968. Now, they’re getting ready for them in real time as students prepare to walk out for 17 minutes this morning in memory of those killed in the Parkland school shooting as part of a nationwide protest.
-- Pasadena Police Chief Phillip Sanchez has announced his retirement from an agency that has been embroiled in controversy.
-- A legislative report says a statewide single-payer health plan would be a years-long undertaking.
-- Officials say that a mountain lion has been recorded crossing the 101 Freeway south into the Santa Monica Mountains for only the second time in 16 years.
HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS
-- Helen Molesworth, the chief curator at L.A.’s Museum of Contemporary Art, has been fired, according to sources close to the museum.
-- Getty Center architect Richard Meier has been accused of sexually harassing five women and will take a six-month leave of absence from his firm.
-- “The View” panelist Joy Behar has apologized for her likening Christianity to mental illness.
-- The dark film comedy “Flower” is a coming-of-age story ripe for the Time’s Up era.
Michael Caine, who turns 85 today, has won two Oscars and been nominated four other times over his career. But when he’s on screen, he’d prefer to not get any compliments. “One of the worst insults I could think of is if you are sitting in the audience with someone and you say, ‘Isn’t Michael Caine a wonderful actor?’ Then I have failed,” he told The Times in 2015, while discussing his character, Fred, in the film “Youth.” “You should be saying, ‘What is going to happen with Fred?’ ”
-- Prosecutors in Florida say they will seek the death penalty against the man accused of killing 17 people at a high school. Meanwhile, the National Rifle Assn. is challenging the state’s new gun control law. Does it have a case?
-- The U.N. advisor on genocide prevention says all information he has received indicates Myanmar’s government intended to get rid of Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine state and possibly even destroy them.
-- Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah survived a roadside bombing after his convoy was hit by an explosive device as it passed the border crossing between Israel and the Gaza Strip.
-- After the poisoning of a former spy in England, the British have reason to be on edge about nerve agents.
-- Happy Pi Day! Why do some people think pi should be replaced by tau?
-- The U.S. Justice Department is on a collision course with AT&T over its planned $85-billion purchase of Time Warner Inc. A trial is set to begin Monday.
-- Erratic schedules have become a part of life for L.A. retail workers, according to a survey of more than 800 by the UCLA Labor Center.
-- In tennis, top-seeded Simona Halep says Serena Williams is still the world’s best player.
-- The real Rex Tillerson mystery isn’t why he was fired, it’s how he lasted so long.
-- What would the late Andrew Breitbart think of Steve Bannon? Columnist Jonah Goldberg says his old friend would tell Bannon to stay in Europe with his un-American shtick.
WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING
-- Kansas runs one of the most secretive state governments in the nation, an investigation finds. (Kansas City Star)
-- Good or bad? This Swedish CEO runs his business like a gym. (Harvard Business Review)
-- You probably know a quote from Albert Einstein, and he probably never said it. (Aeon)
ONLY IN L.A.
Elon Musk already has electric cars and trucks, reusable rockets, tunnels and flamethrowers in his portfolio of businesses, so why not a restaurant? Tesla has applied for permits to build a eatery along with an electric-car charging station in Santa Monica, just a couple of months after Musk tweeted about creating “an old school drive-in, roller skates & rock restaurant.”