Newsletter: Impeachment gives us ‘crooked Trump’

Former White House national security aide Fiona Hill and David Holmes, a U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, during their testimony to the House Intelligence Committee on Nov. 21.
Former White House national security aide Fiona Hill and David Holmes, a U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, during their testimony to the House Intelligence Committee on Thursday.
(Los Angeles Times)

Good morning. I’m Paul Thornton, and it is Saturday, Nov. 23, 2019. Let’s take a look back at the week in Opinion.

Great news: There was no school shooting to compete for the top spot in this newsletter. Less great news: The indisputable leading item remains the air-tight impeachment case against the president, whose boast that that he could shoot someone in public and not lose support increasingly looks like a warning.

I’ve challenged points made by former Republican strategist Scott Jennings in his op-ed articles for us before (I don’t know, something about filtering the president’s grave abuses of power through a partisan lens deeply troubles me), but he has a point about where we stand on impeachment: The Democrats have proved beyond any doubt that President Trump acted crookedly with Ukraine, and Republicans remain unmoved in their support for him. Of course, there’s the question of whether this says more about the Democrats’ case than the state of the Republican party, but that’s another matter.


As for what these hearings have shown about Trump, op-ed contributing writer Virginia Heffernan has an idea: The notion that the president cares about corruption is a lie. If anything results from this impeachment process, even one that culminates in acquittal (which Trump will surely say “totally exonerates” him), perhaps it’s this indelible impression of crookedness that voters will take with them into the voting booth next year.

Trump’s presidency is a failure, and impeachment over Ukraine is only one part of it. Consider the Mueller report. Or his bullying of California. Or his treatment of immigrants. Or the abortive selection of his own resort to host the G-7. Or his more than 13,000 false statements (and counting) since his inauguration. The Ukraine scandal only adds depth to the overall picture of how we know Trump operates, says the L.A. Times Editorial Board. L.A. Times

Add to your 2020 lexicon “Bernaissance,” the term used by our contributing writer Melissa Batchelor Warnke to describe her growing interest in Sen. Bernie Sanders after supporting Hillary Clinton in 2016 and initially counting out the 78-year-old Vermont senator in the 2020 Democratic primary. Sanders, she says, talks almost exclusively about “us” and what we could do as a country as opposed to his personal story — a style and sincerity that have energized young voters in a way that former Vice President Joe Biden never could. L.A. Times

Brown is the new black, and Trump has helped make it that way. Erin Aubry Kaplan, whose work appears frequently on the L.A. Times’ op-ed page, notes that immigration has long fostered the separation of blacks and Latinos. Many Americans have long cast immigrants’ stories, but not black Americans’ stories, within the classic American frame of bootstraps-pulling. The nearly three years of the Trump presidency have erased that narrative advantage, Kaplan writes. New York Times


California is home to the nation’s most polluted national parks. We have more national parks than any other state, and what sets them apart isn’t the resplendent California scenery but something that ought to bring us great shame: The air pollution levels are the worst in the system. Smog that drifts in from the L.A. basin and the San Francisco Bay Area reduces visibility from the mountain peaks of Joshua Tree National Park and injures the ancient pines of Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon. California is well-equipped to handle this problem, but new rules by the Trump administration may hamper our efforts. L.A. Times

A note to readers: This newsletter will be taking next weekend off because of the Thanksgiving holiday. I’ll be in your inbox again on Dec. 7. As always, thank you for reading, and happy Thanksgiving.

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