Newsletter: Today: Trump’s Fixer in a Fix
A series of FBI raids targeting President Trump’s personal lawyer has enraged Trump, leaving everyone to wonder what comes next.
Trump’s Fixer in a Fix
Few people are as close to President Trump as his personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, who has compared himself to fictional Hollywood fixer Ray Donovan. So when FBI agents seized computers, tax documents, emails and more from Cohen, it was bound to rile Trump. “It’s an attack on our country,” the president said. The raids were carried out by FBI agents working with the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan, headed by a Trump administration appointee, and said to be based on a referral by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III. That prompted Trump to speak for the first time in public of possibly firing Mueller, including his customary threat: “We’ll see what happens.” The Washington Post reported that Cohen is under investigation for possible bank fraud, wire fraud and campaign finance violations.
More From Washington
-- Trump on Monday said he would make a “major decision” about the U.S. response to a suspected poison gas attack in Syria over the next 24 to 48 hours. Syria and Russia continued to insist it was a hoax.
-- Trump says a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will be arranged for May or early June, but there’s still no announced date, meeting site or even a U.S. ambassador in South Korea to help.
-- “It was my mistake, and I’m sorry”: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg will take his apology tour to Capitol Hill today amid a massive backlash over the Cambridge Analytica scandal and more. Some observers say he should prepare to be pummeled.
Brother, Can You Spare $29 Trillion?
Feeling good about the GOP tax cuts and all that government spending Democrats and Republicans have approved? The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has some sobering numbers: Start with a budget deficit that will top $1 trillion by 2020; then see how the national debt rises from nearly $16 trillion this year to almost $29 trillion by 2028. That debt load would amount to more than 96% of gross domestic product, a rate not seen since the aftermath of World War II. Will Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid be on the chopping block?
Or How About $8 Million?
In 2012, the Inglewood Unified School District was in such financial trouble that the California Department of Education took over. The goal was to bring stability. Instead, it brought more chaos. After going through three state-appointed leaders (not including interim administrators), the district finds itself staring at an $8-million budget shortfall — along with fewer students, low test scores and run-down buildings.
Minding the Pay Gap
Today is Equal Pay Day, a symbolic marking of how far into the year women must work to catch up to what their male counterparts made last year. The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has made a more tangible contribution, ruling that employers may not consider prior salary in setting a person’s pay, thereby removing it as a justification for the pay gap between men and women.
He Awakened a Giant, All Right
For decades, Tony Robbins has urged people to “unleash the power within,” through self-help books, infomercials and seminars. But in a video that went viral, he unleashed something else: a torrent of criticism over his response to a female seminar attendee about the #MeToo movement. Robbins has offered an apology. Columnist Robin Abcarian caught up with a woman who’s become an instant star.
-- How do political campaigns track your data online? This video explains.
-- A drone tour of China’s Hengdian World Studios, which claims to be the largest outdoor film studio in the world.
-- The L.A. County district attorney’s office says writer-director James Toback, who has been accused of sexual misconduct by scores of women, will not face criminal charges in five investigations because the allegations are beyond the statute of limitations.
-- Delano police say immigration agents gave statements that conflicted with surveillance footage of the events before a deadly crash that claimed the lives of two immigrants in the country illegally.
-- A crucial vote today by the board of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California to approve billions for a Sacramento-San Joaquin delta project could go down to the wire.
-- David Hogg, a survivor of the Parkland, Fla., high school shooting who was mocked by Fox News host Laura Ingraham for not being accepted to several California universities, says he got into UC Irvine.
HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS
-- Bravo’s “Watch What Happens Live” has made another trip to L.A. with host Andy Cohen, and the crowd is going wild.
-- “The Simpsons” is coming under fire for how it did, and didn’t, address concerns about the way Indian storekeeper Apu is depicted.
-- A decade ago, Kate Nash was hailed as the next big thing in music. Today, she’s got a new album with “zero expectations,” and that’s pretty liberating.
-- Fleetwood Mac is going its own way without longtime guitarist Lindsey Buckingham. Did he quit or get fired?
Frank Capra’s output as a director was priceless: “It Happened One Night,” “Mr. Deeds Goes to Town,” “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” “It’s a Wonderful Life” and more. But one of his earlier productions, a Hollywood Hills home built for him in 1925, does have a price. It recently sold for $1.54 million. Get a look inside his onetime Spanish Revival-style house.
-- A 3-centimenter finger bone has the potential to rewrite the history of our ancestors’ migration out of Africa.
-- Russia began to feel the pinch from the latest round of U.S. sanctions Monday; the ruble dropped nearly 2% against the dollar and stocks took a hit.
-- The opening of Bill Cosby’s sexual assault retrial is shaping up as another #MeToo moment, complete with topless protester.
-- Florida Gov. Rick Scott is running for U.S. Senate. He’ll challenge incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson in what will likely be one of the most expensive and hotly contested races in 2018.
-- Sen. Tammy Duckworth of Illinois became the first serving U.S. senator to give birth. It’s a girl!
-- The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau may fine Wells Fargo & Co. hundreds of millions of dollars for its mortgage-lending and auto-insurance abuses, following up on a threat by Trump.
-- Ask for it by name? TV commercials for prescription drugs are “doing more harm than good,” according to a new study.
-- CBS didn’t tell the sad, ugly side of golfer Patrick Reed’s story while he was on his way to victory at the Masters. Others did.
-- Andre Ingram is 32 and has spent 10 years playing in the NBA’s developmental league. He may soon get in a game with the Lakers.
-- What to do about Syria? The Times’ Editorial Board says Syrian President Bashar Assad is a brutal despot, but overthrowing him shouldn’t be part of America’s mission right now.
-- Do Democrats need their own Trump? They’re in desperate need of some disruption, writes columnist Jonah Goldberg.
WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING
-- The biggest page on Facebook purporting to be part of the Black Lives Matter movement was apparently a scam linked to a white man in Australia. (CNN)
-- Remember when everything in L.A. was a 20-minute freeway drive away? Those days are long gone but not forgotten. (KPCC)
-- Only 15% of the Earth’s ocean is mapped, but the quest to chart it all could open a Pandora’s box. (BBC)
ONLY IN L.A.
Chase Utley is a Dodger. He is not a dodger. When at bat, no active player in major league baseball has been hit by a pitch more than Utley. Soon, he stands to be beaned by No. 200. Utley says it’s an acquired skill, one that has gotten easier with age, at least in one respect: “Maybe my reaction time isn’t quite as good anymore.”