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Politics

Newsletter: Essential Politics: He’s back and he’s tweeting

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Essential Politics
(LAT)

Those of us on the West Coast generally don’t see the regular morning tweets from President Trump until we wake up and grab our smartphones for a dose of political reality.

Things were quiet during Trump’s overseas trip. But now that he’s back, the jolt is back.

Good morning from the state capital. I’m Sacramento Bureau Chief John Myers, and it’s clear that the president has some things to get off his chest.

He’s also making changes in his communications team, after weeks of pounding questions about the Russia investigation.

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JABS AT GERMANY

The president began Tuesday’s Twitter assault by criticizing the trade practices of Germany, as well as the country’s defense spending. The comments came after comments from German Chancellor Angela Merkel that the European power may no longer be able to rely on its allies.

(And only later did we hear that Trump has been handing out his cell phone number to world leaders.)

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Then there was a rare late-night tweet Tuesday, with a cryptic message: “Despite the constant negative press covfefe.” Of course #covfefe became the top-trending term. By Wednesday morning, the tweet had been deleted. The president tweeted a challenge of sorts: “Who can figure out the true meaning of ‘covfefe’ ??? Enjoy!”

In between the president creating social media buzz, the press secretary got his turn too.

SPICER VS. PRESS CORPS

As it’s been so many times before, the daily press briefing quickly turned testy between reporters and Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary.

The sparring included whether Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and top advisor, had tried to establish a private line of communication with Russian officials, and on the definition of “fake news.”

All of that was on the heels of news that Mike Dubke, the president’s still relatively new communications director, had resigned.

In a statement, Chief of Staff Reince Priebus said Dubke had offered his resignation two weeks ago, before Trump left for his eight-day foreign trip.

SCHIFF ON RUSSIA, AND THAT WEIRD WHITE HOUSE VISIT

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It was more about Russia than the United States.

That’s the view of Burbank Democrat Rep. Adam Schiff on the real motivation of alleged Russian meddling in the presidential election.

In a Tuesday speech at UC Irvine, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee said that the Kremlin was actively trying to undermine American democracy and sow discord as a way to prop up the authoritarian regime in Moscow.

Meantime, we’ve now got a little clearer look at Schiff’s unusual trip to the White House during the peak of the storm in March about classified documents and accusations of wiretapping.

As Phil Willon reports, it was Schiff’s only visit to the Trump White House. And it didn’t seem to go so well.

THE DEFINITIVE RUSSIA INVESTIGATION EXPLAINER

With both houses of Congress in recess this week, the pace will undoubtedly slow on congressional inquiries about the Trump team’s communication with Russian officials.

In the interim, our Times team has put together a comprehensive look at all things pertaining to the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

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A BIPARTISAN PROBLEM: WHO ARE WE?

Say what you will about President Trump’s record so far, replete with stumbles on the major items he pledged during his campaign to push through: He’s been an unbridled success at muddling the two major political parties.

Cathleen Decker takes a look at the troubles Republicans and Democrats are having to define themselves in any way other than in response to Trump.

“EVEN THE ‘GOOD HOMBRES’ ARE NOT SAFE”

As the legal fight over the president’s immigration efforts continues to make its way through the courts, one federal judge has some particularly pointed criticism of the plan.

U.S. Circuit Judge Stephen Reinhardt joined a fellow judge in rejecting the emergency plea of a Mexican national, whose wife and children are American citizens, to remain in the United States.

But Reinhardt didn’t miss an opportunity to take aim at Trump.

“President Trump has claimed that his immigration policies would target the ‘bad hombres,’ ” wrote Reinhardt, an appointee of former President Jimmy Carter. “The government’s decision to remove Magana Ortiz shows that even the ‘good hombres’ are not safe.”

BILLS, BILLS, BILLS: FROM DRUG PRICING TO TEEN SLEEP

Lawmakers at the state Capitol are arriving at work this morning expecting a very long day. And that’s after a long one on Tuesday, and more to come this week.

This is the week by which all state Assembly and Senate bills must pass the house in which they were written, or else they’re shelved for the year.

On Tuesday, dozens of bills were passed by both houses. Some of the proposals that cleared their first hurdle and moved on to the other side of the state Capitol:

-- A measure aimed at increasing pressure to lower prescription drug costs by requiring more public reporting of price hikes.

-- Giving parents at smaller California companies 12 weeks of protected family leave.

-- Banning the use of marijuana in automobiles because of concerns over drugged driving.

-- Prohibiting middle schools and high schools from starting classes earlier than 8:30 am, an effort to help sleep deprived teenagers.

-- Banning Californians from buying more than one rifle a month.

-- Outlawing smoking at California beaches and parks.

We’ll have updates on the bills being considered today and all week on our Essential Politics news feed.

TODAY’S ESSENTIALS

-- Although the election took place more than a week ago, the fiercely fought contest to be the leader of the California Democratic Party isn’t over. Political organizer Kimberly Ellis, who lost to longtime party leader Eric Bauman by just over 60 votes, lodged a formal complaint on Tuesday.

-- Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista) created a bit of a hubbub when he got on the roof of his Vista office and took pictures of protesters.

-- The Pentagon tested its homeland missile defense system on Tuesday, amid rising concerns about North Korea.

-- The Supreme Court made it harder to sue police for barging into a home and provoking a shooting, setting aside a $4-million verdict against two Los Angeles County deputies on Tuesday.

-- Americans ratcheted up their spending in April at the fastest pace in four months, in a sign the economy has rebounded this spring after a lackluster winter.

LOGISTICS

Essential Politics is published most weeks on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

You can keep up with breaking news on our politics page throughout the day. And are you following us on Twitter at @latimespolitics?

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john.myers@latimes.com

Follow me on Twitter at @johnmyers and listen to the weekly California Politics Podcast


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