Newsletter: Today: Trump’s Legal Team Limbo
President Trump no longer has a veteran defense attorney at his side as the Russia investigation heats up.
Trump’s Legal Team Limbo
Much like the White House, President Trump’s legal team for the Russia investigation has seen plenty of turnover. Last week, John Dowd, his lead lawyer, resigned after disagreements over the president’s desire to be more confrontational. Then, two attorneys who had just been announced to represent him dropped out Sunday. “Don’t believe the Fake News narrative that it is hard to find a lawyer who wants to take this on,” Trump tweeted. Yet he’s struggled to hire top-shelf lawyers, and with Dowd gone, it’s unclear who will pick up the duty of negotiating Trump’s potential interview with prosecutors from the office of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III.
-- On “60 Minutes,” porn actress Stormy Daniels said she was threatened with physical harm by a stranger in 2011 if she went public with her story of an alleged affair with Trump.
-- Many top jobs in the executive branch are still unfilled. Who’s to blame? Trump says it’s the Democrats, but nonpartisan specialists say he is largely at fault.
-- Trump’s order late Friday that bans transgender people from serving in the armed forces except under “limited circumstances” is setting the stage for a legal battle and an eventual Supreme Court ruling.
‘Welcome to the Revolution’
On Saturday, the teenagers spoke loud and clear in calling for stricter gun control laws. Were the adults in Congress listening? Students from Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., joined hundreds of thousands of all ages at the March for Our Lives in Washington, even though most lawmakers and Trump had left for points beyond. Nevertheless, their speeches resonated on TV and social media, and there were hundreds of other demonstrations too, including one in downtown L.A. In the aftermath, the pope voiced his support for young people speaking out, while former Pennsylvania Republican Sen. Rick Santorum suggested students should take CPR classes rather than fight for “phony gun laws.” Here are six of the most powerful moments from Saturday.
Fighting City Hall From … City Hall
The mayor of Riverside thinks City Manager John Russo’s new contract is a giveaway of taxpayer money: It includes pay and other benefits worth about $471,000 this year and a $675,000 low-interest home loan, which would make Russo one of the highest-paid city managers in California. So the mayor tried to veto it, only to be told by the city attorney he could not. Now he’s gone to court.
A Corn-Fed Vision Gone Haywire
The federal mandate to blend corn-based ethanol and other biofuels into gasoline began with the best of intentions: to develop new, climate-friendly fuels and cleaner-burning cars. Instead, at the behest of corn lobbyists more than a decade ago, Congress ended up creating an arcane system, rife with fraud, that is destablizing fuel suppliers. “We made a mistake,” says Henry A. Waxman, the former L.A. congressman who crusaded for its passage. Now, Washington can’t figure out how to fix it.
Life in the Midst of Death
In the largest cemetery in Kabul, Afghanistan, there is no more room for the dead. But that hasn’t stopped the living from moving in. New houses are being built closer and closer to the graves. The reason: The residents say that, with more and more people coming from dangerous provinces to the nation’s capital in search of jobs and relative security, land is in short supply.
OUR MUST-READS FROM THE WEEKEND
-- A bill in Sacramento could “upzone” much of L.A., allowing a greater number of four- to eight-story apartments and condominiums to go up near rail and bus routes where city leaders have long prohibited them.
-- Billions of dollars to help California’s homeless population are piling up and going unspent.
-- Amid the hipster foodies of Grand Central Market, columnist Steve Lopez checks in with one longtime chile vendor who is trying to hang on.
-- Lakers power forward Julius Randle has gone from bully on the court to gentle giant at home.
-- DesignLA magazine looks at Frogtown, one of Los Angeles’ evolving creative communities.
-- March for Our Lives: a bird’s-eye view of downtown L.A.
-- Dakota Fanning: She once was a pint-sized guest star on “ER” and is now a strong-willed boundary pusher on the series “The Alienist.”
-- The Rev. Al Sharpton plans to attend the funeral of Stephon Clark, the unarmed African American man who was killed in his own backyard by Sacramento police.
-- Worried about being on top of an earthquake fault? These new interactive maps will let you know if you are.
-- What could be more dangerous than a quake? Widespread flooding that could transform parts of the state into an inland sea.
-- Do not feed the squirrels: Officials say the creatures have overrun some coastal cities and lost their fear of humans.
HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS
-- Judd Apatow discusses “The Zen Diaries of Garry Shandling,” his new HBO documentary based on the late Shandling’s journals.
-- The story of hip-hop pioneer Roxanne Shanté is finally being told in the Netflix film “Roxanne Roxanne.”
-- Patrick Schwarzenegger grew up in Hollywood before moving to Sacramento with his family. Now, he’s embarking on his own acting career.
-- Music critic Mark Swed: “I survived 24 hours of Taylor Mac, a necessary 246-song attack on the ‘heteronormative narrative.’ ”
Tatum O’Neal became the youngest actress ever to win an Academy Award, winning for supporting actress at age 10 alongside her father, Ryan O’Neal, in the 1973 film “Paper Moon.” Her life has been no Hollywood fairy tale, though. Now 54, she recently talked about life back then, working today and the #MeToo and Times Up movements.
-- An oil boom in New Mexico is raising a lot of questions about water.
-- A fire at a shopping mall killed 64 people in eastern Russia.
-- A surge in gang killings, kidnappings and other crimes is gripping central Mexico’s Jalisco state and has triggered massive demonstrations.
-- Carles Puigdemont, the fugitive former leader of Spain’s Catalonia region, has been detained by German police on an international warrant.
-- A Chicago alderman is planning to introduce an ordinance letting property owners protect graffiti after a cleanup blitz near a site being pitched to Amazon wiped out a work by a French street artist.
-- Workers at the San Onofre nuclear plant discovered a loose bolt inside a radioactive waste canister. To the horror of some nearby residents, work resumed 10 days later.
-- Waymo’s chief executive officer claims his company’s self-driving software would probably have avoided the pedestrian death involving Uber’s autonomous car.
-- The curious case of Lakers forward Lonzo Ball’s tattoos: “My brother got a bunch of them so I didn’t want him to be the only one in the family.”
-- President Kennedy may have been a worse philanderer than Trump. Author Joshua Kendall asks: Does it matter?
-- The internet is optimized to do us harm, writes columnist Virginia Heffernan.
WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING
-- Remembering the four people killed by an Islamist gunman in France on Friday, including the police officer who died trading places with a hostage. (BBC)
-- A new report looks at the coming wave of climate migration: millions forced to relocate because of climate change. (Scientific American)
-- An excerpt from the book “The Vory: Russia’s Super Mafia” examines the rise of organized crime in Russia. (The Guardian)
ONLY IN CALIFORNIA
“I’m tired of people saying I chickened out and didn’t build a rocket. I’m tired of that stuff. I manned up and did it,” said “Mad” Mike Hughes, after launching himself about 1,875 feet above the Mojave Desert in his own steam-powered vehicle and landing back on Earth — which he believes is flat and now knows is quite hard. As for this rocket man’s future, he plans to fill out the paperwork to run for governor.