In a showdown over the State of the Union address, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told President Trump he’ll have to wait until the government shutdown ends — and he appears to be complying.
Not in Her House
The U.S. Constitution says the president “shall from time to time give to the Congress information of the state of the union.” It doesn’t say where, when or how. So after Speaker Nancy Pelosi suggested last week that President Trump delay his State of the Union address in the House until a partial government shutdown is over — and Trump said he would do so anyway — Pelosi turned her suggestion into a refusal. After a brief figurative stare-down, Trump blinked and said he would find some “alternative.” But then, several hours later, the president conceded in a tweet that “there is no venue that can compete with the history, tradition and importance of the House Chamber” and said he would postpone the address until after the government reopens. Meanwhile, the shutdown has gone on for more than a month. The Senate has a chance today to vote on competing bills to end the impasse, but the hopes of doing so appear slim.
Trump’s Venezuela Gambit
On a day of protests by Venezuelans against their socialist government, the Trump administration took an unusual and potentially dangerous step Wednesday: recognizing Juan Guaido, the leader of the country’s political opposition, as its legitimate leader. President Nicolas Maduro reacted quickly, announcing he was breaking diplomatic ties with Washington and giving U.S. diplomats 72 hours to leave. Venezuela has teetered on the verge of collapse for some time, with roughly 80% of the people now living in poverty.
Witness Intimidation or Self-Defense?
Trump’s former lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen, told a federal judge last month he had acted out of “blind loyalty” to cover up Trump’s “dirty deeds” before the judge sentenced him to three years in prison. Now he’s putting off his scheduled appearance before Congress, with a spokesman citing “ongoing threats against his family” from Trump and attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani. Democrats have accused the president of interfering with a congressional investigation and say they may issue a subpoena to force Cohen’s testimony. Trump has brushed off the suggestion he did anything improper to Cohen: “He’s only been threatened by the truth.”
-- Hundreds of Internal Revenue Service employees have received permission to skip work during the shutdown due to financial hardship. Union leaders expect that number to surge as some carry out a coordinated protest.
-- American officials have been taking aim at the Chinese government-supported Confucius Institutes at U.S. universities, warning they pose a threat. Some defenders of the program call it “a Red Scare.”
60 Hours, 50 Abortions
In parts of the United States, patients drive hours and across state lines to seek abortions. Lesser known is that some doctors commute long distances to provide them. In the return of Column One, the L.A. Times’ signature showcase for storytelling, reporter Soumya Karlamangla and photographer Gina Ferazzi document a California physician’s monthly trip to a clinic in Texas — and provide an extraordinary glimpse into the highly charged, intimate issue of abortion.
A New Movement in L.A., for a Moment at Least
The final votes on a tentative agreement between the United Teachers Los Angeles union and the L.A. Unified School District are still being counted. The teachers are back to work. But, some wonder, will the teachers’ strike have an effect on the city’s politics that lasts well beyond the six days of walkout? Aside from bringing people together, the strike highlighted issues of inequality and L.A.’s struggling school system.
FROM THE ARCHIVES
On this date in 1848, gold was found at Sutter’s Mill near Coloma, Calif. When news got out, it started the Gold Rush that would transform the state. To commemorate the 100th anniversary, the U.S. Post Office issued the three-cent stamp, pictured below, in 1948.
-- Months of tension and turmoil on USC’s Board of Trustees prompted an emergency meeting on campus, with the university’s leadership a top item for discussion.
-- An L.A. Unified teacher has filed a federal class-action lawsuit against United Teachers Los Angeles alleging it continued to take dues out of her paycheck despite a change in law that bars public-sector unions from forcing members to pay.
-- The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power is extending an olive branch to the Owens Valley after all these years: proposing to sell some of the commercial property it leases, but not the water rights.
-- After the recent storms, nearly all of the state’s reservoirs are at or above average levels. That’s a good sign for the water supply.
HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS
-- Bryan Singer, long one of Hollywood’s most bankable and versatile filmmakers, is facing a new series of lurid sexual assault accusations. He categorically denies ever having sex with, or having a preference for, underage boys.
-- The Sundance Film Festival gets underway today. It’s remained at the forefront the conversation about representation in front of and behind the camera.
-- Awards columnist Glenn Whipp examines five Oscar nominations that surprised us this week and how they happened.
-- Elton John’s farewell tour has made its way to L.A. The concert is so breezy, it hardly feels like goodbye.
-- Authorities say five people were killed in a shooting at a central Florida bank and one suspect was arrested.
-- A quickly escalating measles outbreak around Portland, Ore., has led health officials in nearby Clark County, Wash., to declare a public health emergency.
-- Australia’s government is seeking information about one of its citizens missing in China after friends and supporters of the writer said he has been detained.
-- Congo’s president urged his nation to “massively” support incoming leader Felix Tshisekedi after a disputed election.
-- Is a robot coming for your job? It’s more likely if you live in Riverside, San Bernardino, Merced or Modesto, according to a Brookings Institution report.
-- Google, Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft and Apple spent a combined $64.2 million on federal lobbying last year, according to new ethics reports.
-- Columnist LZ Granderson notes that your Los Angeles Rams are in the Super Bowl, but the “your” part of the sentiment leaves a lot to be desired. It’s time for L.A. fans to step up.
-- The L.A. Kings have had a dreadful season on the ice so far. Team President Luc Robitaille told columnist Helene Elliott that losing is unacceptable.
-- There’s a word for forcing people to work for untold weeks without paying them.
-- Is masculinity really toxic or is it unfairly under assault?
WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING
-- How the death of a 14-year-old girl in Germany at the hands of a refugee became a political weapon. (The New Yorker)
-- A brief history of the State of the Union address, a tradition we used to take for granted. (Vox)
-- The mystery of the ancient kite-shaped structures in the Middle East. (Atlas Obscura)
ONLY IN L.A.
Columnist Steve Lopez thinks the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences got it wrong this week in the best actor category. “It snubbed a man who should have topped the list of nominees. A man who routinely delivers polished performances at red carpet events across L.A.’s celebrity-studded universe, showing up nattily attired and cleverly passing himself off as a Hollywood player.” That man would be Terry Bryant, who has been essentially unemployed and homeless for years. He’s been charged with stealing Frances McDormand’s best actress statuette at the post-Oscars Governors Ball last year. This is his story.