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Newsletter: Today: ‘Dirty Deeds,’ Not Dirt-Cheap

Donald Trump’s former lawyer pays the price for a hush money scandal that’s putting the president in further legal peril.

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‘Dirty Deeds,’ Not Dirt-Cheap

Donald Trump’s longtime fixer Michael Cohen stood in a Manhattan court yesterday and pleaded for leniency, saying he had acted illegally out of “blind loyalty” to Trump: “Time and time again I felt it was my duty to cover up his dirty deeds.” When Cohen was done, a federal judge sentenced him to three years in prison. But that’s not the end of it. Prosecutors say Trump directed the illegal scheme carried out by Cohen to arrange hush money for two women who claimed they had affairs with Trump, concealing their stories from voters weeks before the 2016 election. Strengthening the case: The parent company of the National Enquirer admitted paying $150,000 to a former Playboy Playmate to ensure she “did not publicize damaging allegations ... and thereby influence that election.”

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Former Trump Lawyer Michael Cohen Attends His Sentencing Hearing
Michael Cohen was sentenced to three years for his role in crimes including campaign finance violations, allegedly at President Trump's direction.
(Eduardo Munoz Alvarez / Getty Images)

More Politics

-- House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi struck a deal with a group of Democratic dissidents to limit the term of her future House speakership to two or possibly four years in exchange for their support.

-- In a rebuke of Trump’s response to Saudi Arabia’s killing of Jamal Khashoggi, the Senate advanced a resolution calling for an end to America’s support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen. The move was largely symbolic.

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-- By saying he might intervene in the case of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou, did the president throw Canada under the bus?

-- In the Trump years, the U.S. debt has grown by $1.9 trillion, roughly the size of Brazil’s gross domestic product.

Will a Little Confidence Take Brexit a Long Way?

Britain’s tortuous march toward leaving the European Union has taken another dramatic turn, with Prime Minister Theresa May surviving a no-confidence vote by Conservative Party legislators who would like to see someone else running the show. Today she’s expected to be in Brussels for a European Council meeting to shore up a deal with EU leaders. Will the outcome allay Parliament members’ concerns enough for them to vote in favor of May’s Brexit plan before time runs out early next year? Stay tuned.

Thou Shalt Not Steal

Until they retired last spring, Sister Mary Margaret Kreuper and Sister Lana Chang ran St. James Catholic School in Torrance, pleading poverty as they explained why they couldn’t afford new textbooks or basketball uniforms. They also talked about how they liked travelling to Las Vegas and Lake Tahoe. Recently, officials told parents the two had stolen at least $500,000 from tuition checks, fees and fundraisers over a decade. That has left a community divided: Is it better to press charges or “forgive as the Lord forgave you”?

A Matter of Trustees

When USC’s trustees appointed retired aerospace executive Wanda Austin as interim president after C.L. Max Nikias was forced out, they gave her a mandate to improve oversight and transparency after a series of scandals. Her decision to replace James Ellis as dean of the business school over his handling of harassment and discrimination complaints has ruffled feathers — with major donors, faculty, alumni and even some trustees. But this week the board says it voted “overwhelmingly” in support of Austin’s move. As board Chairman Rick Caruso said, “Change is difficult.”

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MUST-HEAR PODCAST

In the latest episode of the “Arrive Early, Leave Late” podcast, Clippers forward Tobias Harris talks about his breakout performance in the NBA.

FROM THE ARCHIVES

On this date in 1997, more than 700 foreign dignitaries, state and local officials and Los Angeles arts and social service figures attended a two-hour ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Getty Center, which would open to the public a few days later. The only hitch: One of two electric trams connecting the parking structure to the hilltop complex conked out.

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Guests enjoy a breathtaking view of Los Angeles from one of many balconies at the Getty Center on its dedication day.
(Anacleto Rapping / Los Angeles Times)

CALIFORNIA

-- Los Angeles will pay $300,000 to settle a lawsuit brought by a former City Council aide after a Superior Court judge found he had been wrongfully arrested.

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-- William Newsom, a retired state appellate court justice and father of Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom, has died at age 84.

-- The Los Angeles Times’ former publisher and editor, Davan Maharaj, reportedly received a $2.5-million settlement, but he denies the payout stemmed from a secret recording of his former boss.

-- The Disgusting Food Museum aims to challenge ideas of what we find gross, but new Times food columnist Lucas Kwan Peterson says it reinforces cultural prejudices.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

-- The Screen Actors Guild Award nominations are out, and they’ve given a boost to “A Star Is Born” in awards season.

-- “Mary Poppins Returns” will hit theaters next week. Film critic Justin Chang did not find it supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.

-- The documentary “Never-Ending Man: Hayao Miyazaki” gives an inside look at an animation master’s decision to come back from retirement.

-- The film adaptation of Bruce Springsteen’s theatrical show “Springsteen on Broadway” is coming to Netflix on Sunday, and it’s filled with touching moments.

NATION-WORLD

-- Congress has overwhelmingly approved a five-year farm bill after removing conservative priorities that had stalled negotiations, including stricter work requirements for people receiving food benefits.

-- Turkey will launch a military operation against U.S.-backed Kurdish fighters in northern Syria “within a matter of days,” said President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. That could put it on a collision course with Washington.

-- Paris authorities say an attack on France’s largest Christmas market by a gunman with a long criminal record was an act of terrorism.

-- In Taiwan, murals are helping to lift villages from economic decline.

BUSINESS

-- “Ghosting” in the workplace: Economists report that, in a booming job market, workers are starting to ditch their jobs with nary a text.

-- Southern California Edison is short nearly $1 billion in its power budget, and it’s hoping to charge a chunk of that money to customers leaving for another energy provider.

SPORTS

-- With a playoff berth and a share of the AFC West lead a victory away, the Chargers hope to end their losing streak when they face the Kansas City Chiefs tonight.

-- The Dodgers have been quiet during baseball’s winter meetings, but they’ll be luring a veteran to Los Angeles at some point.

OPINION

-- Speed kills. So do carbon emissions. So why does California give free rein to leadfoots?

-- Let’s hold the 2020 presidential candidates accountable on climate change.

WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING

-- Who’s more likely to be audited: a person making $20,000 or $400,000? (ProPublica)

-- The 100 best images of the year as appraised by National Geographic.

-- Gossip gets a bad name, but it has an important social function. (BBC)

ONLY IN L.A.

What’s on the menu at LAX and Dodger Stadium? If Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Koretz gets his way, all terminals at the airport — as well as every concessionaire at city-owned properties, privately owned movie theaters and large-scale entertainment venues — would have to offer at least one vegan entree. Sound like a good idea? Columnist Gustavo Arellano says it’s “what happens when politicians can’t see the salad for the greens.”

If you like this newsletter, please share it with friends. Comments or ideas? Email us at headlines@latimes.com.


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