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Politics

Newsletter: Trump vs. California, No. 841

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Essential Politics
(LAT)

California Gov. Jerry Brown, who once studied to be a Jesuit priest, has made a habit of issuing pardons tied to the holidays. Sticking to tradition, Brown on Friday issued 14 sentence commutations for current inmates and 56 pardons, including for five immigrants with criminal records facing possible deportation.

President Trump broke with tradition and used the holiday to attack California’s governor and promise there would be no deal for so-called “Dreamers” brought illegally to the U.S. as children.

“Is this really what the great people of California want?” Trump wrote. He also cited Fox News, suggesting he learned about the pardons by watching his favorite news source, a frequent inspiration for his tweets.

The governor’s office responded that “Pardons are not granted unless they are earned,” and pointed out to reporters that Trump’s comments come not long after he declared April to be “Second Chance Month.”

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As Melanie Mason wrote when detailing the immigrants Brown pardoned, such a move from the governor can be decisive in helping a person avoid deportation.

Brown has exercised his pardon power substantially more than preceding governors. Since taking office in 2011, he has granted 1,115 pardons and 51 commutations.

The dust-up between California’s governor and the president of the United States comes at the close of a week when Trump tweeted his support for Orange County supervisors who broke with the state on its “sanctuary state” policies and a few days after his administration said it would add a question about citizenship to the 2020 Census, which would disproportionately affect California.

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Christine Mai-Duc reports that Orange County’s decision to spurn the state’s “sanctuary state” policy was met with enthusiasm among GOP congressional candidates running in some of California’s hottest congressional races.

As George Skelton writes in his Monday column about the census decision, it seems Trump wants to hurt California politically and financially, as well as find more immigrants to deport. That’s not what the president is saying, but virtually no one buys the official version of why he plans to ask everyone in America whether they are a U.S. citizen, Skelton says.

CIA NOMINATION WILL FORCE RECKONING WITH TORTURE

The Central Intelligence Agency has slowly started to pull back the curtain on Gina Haspel, Trump’s nominee to run the country’s premiere spy agency. She’s spent almost her entire 33-year career undercover, running espionage operations around the world and earning the respect of her colleagues. However, the agency’s legacy of black sites, where terrorism suspects were imprisoned and tortured, will be a source of controversy during her confirmation process. Chris Megerian took a look at Haspel’s long career and how her role in the interrogation program could prove to be an obstacle.

BETTER CALL A LAWYER -- ANY LAWYER?

Trump has struggled to find top-shelf legal talent to represent him in the Russia investigation, so he’s increasingly relying on a trio of little-known lawyers. They’re all connected to Jay Sekulow, who has been representing Trump since last summer.

Get the latest about what’s happening with the investigation on Essential Washington.

NATIONAL POLITICS LIGHTNING ROUND

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-- Trump has invited Russian President Vladimir Putin to visit the White House, according to a Kremlin aide. They haven’t set a date, yet.

-- Laura King noted Sunday that the tone of the president’s holiday tweets differed markedly from the sentiments of goodwill commonly expressed by previous U.S. chief executives on national or religious occasions.

-- China raised import duties on pork, fruit and other products from the United States in an escalating tariff dispute with Trump that companies worry might depress global commerce.

-- Trump claimed his border wall construction has started. It hasn’t.

-- Another week, another chance to check out our project detailng everyone who has left the Trump administration.

-- In Trump’s orbit, few people are safe. Here’s a look at who might get booted next.

-- Statues offensive to Native Americans are poised to topple across the country.

-- Bill Cosby’s retrial comes in the #MeToo era.

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Get the latest about what’s happening in the nation’s capital on Essential Washington.

ANOTHER TRY TO CHANGE POLICE TRANSPARENCY LAWS

For years, state lawmakers have attempted to change California’s laws against releasing police shooting investigations, which are now some of the strictest in the nation. All those efforts have failed, however, in the face of strong opposition from law enforcement groups.

Now, in the wake of the police killing of an unarmed black man earlier this month in Sacramento, legislators are trying again by attempting to make all police shooting investigations public, Liam Dillon reports.

THE NEXT GENERATION’S FIGHT

Young people who marched for gun control all over the country showed that the unyielding firearms lobby is in deep trouble with the next generation, Skelton wrote in his Thursday column, arguing that if you pit a growing youth movement for sensible national firearms regulation against an aging gun lobby, the kids ultimately win.

AS IF! ‘CLUELESS’ ACTRESS IS OUT OF CONGRESSIONAL RACE

Actress-turned-conservative commentator Stacey Dash is calling her congressional candidacy quits a little over a month after jumping into a Los Angeles race in an attempt to unseat freshman Rep. Nanette Barragán (D-San Pedro).

Dash tweeted a statement that she is “withdrawing” from the race because “the overall bitterness surrounding our political process, participating in the rigors of campaigning, and holding elected office would be detrimental to the health and wellbeing of my family.”

But the decision comes too late: She will still appear on the June 5 primary ballot as a Republican “Actress/news analyst.”

The race remains interesting, since Compton’s Democratic Mayor Aja Brown is running against the congresswoman. You can keep up with the midterms via our Essential Politics news feed on California politics.

AN INDEPENDENT IN NAME ONLY

Think fast: How do you register to vote as an independent? It’s not by choosing “American Independent” on California’s registration card.

In his Sunday column, John Myers revisits the subject of a Times investigation from 2016: Voters who mistakenly choose a right-wing party associated with white supremacy when what they really wanted was to be an unaffiliated “independent” voter. There are now more than a half-million votes in the American Independent Party, and there’s no sign of state lawmakers having any plans to try to solve the problem.

SCHWARZENEGGER RECOVERING FROM HEART SURGERY

Former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is in stable condition after undergoing emergency open-heart surgery during a procedure to replace a valve in his heart, according to his spokesman. Schwarzenegger was undergoing a less-invasive catheter valve replacement but during that procedure an open-heart surgery team stepped in to replace the valve due to complications.

Schwarzenegger woke up Friday morning and his first words were: “I’m back.”

TODAY’S ESSENTIALS

-- Judge Stephen Reinhardt, the liberal face of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals who died last week, is remembered for being someone who tried to help the underdog.

-- California Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra issued policy guides for schools on how to deal with hate crimes, bullying and immigration enforcement. The policies were unveiled a day after his office issued two informational documents for local law enforcement agencies on how to follow the state immigration laws.

-- Becerra has sued Sutter Health, the largest hospital system in Northern California, alleging anticompetitive business practices that unfairly drove up costs for consumers.

-- Four state treasurers including California’s John Chiang requested that U.S. Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions meet with them to find a way to allow banks to handle money from the marijuana industry in states that have legalized marijuana. “This is not just a blue state phenomenon but includes purple and red states in every corner of our country,” they wrote in a letter to Sessions. “A majority of Americans now live in states where they have decided to legalize cannabis.”

-- The man Trump called “my African American” is running for Congress against Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R-Richvale.)

-- California has a new “deputy first dog.” Meet Cali, the governor’s new puppy.

LOGISTICS

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