Multiple investigations are focusing on President Trump’s business, campaign, inauguration and administration.
Mueller Time or Not, Trump’s in Legal Jeopardy
After nearly two years, there are signs special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election could be wrapping up. But no matter what Mueller concludes, President Trump is facing a slew of federal, state and congressional inquiries into virtually every aspect of his career: the company that bears his name, the campaign that won him the White House, the inauguration that celebrated his improbable victory, and the administration that he currently leads from the Oval Office. Legal problems, and possibly further indictments of Trump’s friends and aides, probably will shadow Trump for the rest of his White House tenure.
No Missile Tests Lately, but ...
Trump will meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un next week in Hanoi at their second summit in eight months. In that time, Pyongyang appears to have taken small, strategic steps aimed at showing a willingness to partially denuclearize. But U.S. intelligence officials and United Nations experts say it has continued development of its nuclear arsenal and ballistic missiles, and Stanford researchers estimate that North Korea has produced sufficient bomb fuel over the last eight months to add up to seven weapons.
-- The Trump administration’s plan to shrink the ballooning backlog of immigration cases by pushing judges to hear more of them has failed, according to the latest data. Since October 2017, the pending caseload has grown by more than 26%.
-- A federal judge has issued a tighter gag order on Roger Stone, the former Trump political advisor, after he posted an image on social media showing what appeared to be the crosshairs of a gun sight next to her head. “I gave you a second chance,” Judge Amy Berman Jackson told Stone. “But this is not baseball.”
-- Britain and Germany are balking at the Trump administration’s call for a ban on equipment from Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei, threatening a global U.S. campaign to thwart China’s involvement in future mobile networks.
Pension Fund Shocker!
California’s public pension fund has often placed an emphasis on socially responsible investing. So it might come as a surprise to state employees and taxpayers that they were helping to fund the efforts of the National Enquirer, the Trump-friendly supermarket tabloid involved in funneling $150,000 to silence one of his alleged mistresses. In fact, CalPERS was one of the biggest investors in the debt-laden owner of the National Enquirer, according to public records reviewed by The Times. How did it happen? Read on.
Where Is the Dislike Button?
Facebook makes money by promising advertisers they’ll “connect with the people who will love your business” — even if those people are interested in the neo-Nazi punk band Skrewdriver or in perpetrators of the Holocaust such as Joseph Goebbels and Heinrich Himmler, according to a Times review of Facebook topics. After being contacted by The Times, Facebook said it would remove many of the audience groupings from its ad platform. “While we have an ongoing review of our targeting options, we clearly need to do more,” says Facebook spokesman Joe Osborne, “so we’re taking a broader look at our policies and detection methods.”
FROM THE ARCHIVES
After the Dec. 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor, air-raid sirens, searchlights and anti-aircraft guns filled Los Angeles. Anti-Japanese sentiment ran high and would lead to the incarceration of Japanese Americans. On Feb. 23, 1942, a Japanese submarine shelled oil installations north of Santa Barbara. Two days later, starting at 2:25 a.m., pandemonium spread through Southern California when the U.S. Army announced the approach of hostile aircraft. Air sirens blared, and more than 1,400 rounds were fired during the Great Los Angeles Air Raid. In the panic, five people died and several more were injured, and shells damaged property on the ground. One thing, though: There were no enemy planes over L.A.
-- In Oakland, the state’s housing crisis has collided with its school funding crisis, as teachers went on strike for smaller classes, more nurses and counselors, and wages that will allow them to live in the Bay Area.
-- The state Republican Party will pick a new chair this weekend. Job No. 1 for him or her: Raise money, stat.
-- Several doctors and other healthcare providers accused of writing bogus prescriptions or selling painkillers and other drugs on the black market are facing criminal charges after a federal investigation.
-- Prosecutors have asked police to conduct a deeper investigation before they decide whether to file charges against a security guard who shot and wounded a YouTube personality known as “Furry Potato” during a bizarre clash outside a West L.A. synagogue last week.
-- Las Vegas is open for skiing and snowboarding, and conditions couldn’t be better.
-- Want to work out like Chris Hemsworth? Well, the “Avengers” actor has a new health and fitness app, so you can at least pretend that you will.
HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS
-- Jussie Smollett was charged with filing a false police report in which he claimed to have been the victim of a racist, homophobic attack. His arrest could not only damage his career but also affect the Fox show “Empire.”
-- Sexual misconduct allegations against the son of Time’s Up Chief Executive Lisa Borders prompted her resignation this week. At the time she stepped down, she cited a need “to address family concerns that require my singular focus.”
-- Peter Tork, who died Thursday at age 77, was a real musician who also played one on TV as the resident goofball on “The Monkees.”
-- Countdown to Sunday’s Oscars: The theme of the set design this year is inclusion, not Donald Trump’s hair, but you can be forgiven if your mind goes there.
-- North Carolina‘s elections board has ordered a new election in the nation’s last undecided congressional race after reviewing evidence that November’s vote was tainted by absentee ballot fraud.
-- As the deadline approaches for the withdrawal of U.S. forces fighting Islamic State in Syria, America’s closest European allies have turned down a Trump administration request to fill the gap with their own troops.
-- In Nigeria, guns, religion and climate change are intensifying the deadly clashes between mostly Muslim herders and Christian farmers.
-- Officials say fire raced through densely packed buildings in a centuries-old district in Bangladesh’s capital, killing at least 81 people.
-- As age-obsessed billionaires turn to “vampire” therapies, the FDA takes a stand on injecting the blood of young people into older folks.
-- The golden era of podcasting appears to be here, with Spotify’s planned acquisition of producer Gimlet Media.
-- Gymnastics has become a major sport at UCLA and a source of pride for an athletic powerhouse experiencing a series of disappointing seasons in men’s basketball and football.
-- Can LeBron James carry the Lakers into the playoffs? Based on James’ latest performance, columnist Bill Plaschke starting to be a believer.
-- On the presidential campaign trail, Sen. Kamala Harris tried on a sequined jacket, and men went nuts.
-- Outrage culture is out of control. A sense of emergency is what people on all sides have developed an addiction to.
WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING
-- How much do Americans value diversity? A significant minority rarely encounters people of different races, ideologies or religions. (The Atlantic)
-- The most L.A. thing ever? A gas station in Chinatown. (Guernica)
-- In Hong Kong, a Latin word with an unintentionally smutty meaning has long appeared on signs, much to the consternation of some. (The Outline)
ONLY IN L.A.
Look, up in the sky. It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s … snow?! Though some people couldn’t quite believe it, yes, snow fell in Malibu, Pasadena, West Hollywood, Northridge, San Bernardino, Thousand Oaks and several other unexpected places on Thursday. Not for the first time, of course — check out these photos from 1949 — but it was one of the few SoCal snow days in the social media age. It even prompted actor Jerry O’Connell of “Stand by Me” fame to tweet a video: “Calabasas, California, where the Kardashians live,” he said, pointing at specks on a car. “It’s snowing right now. Look at this. Snow. Snow. Not hail. Snow.” OK. We got it.