Horrifying images from Syria over the weekend quickly refocused President Trump’s foreign policy agenda just as his new national security advisor John Bolton is set to begin work.
The chemical weapons attacks in the Syrian town of Douma that killed 40 people prompted Trump on Sunday to issue a rare direct rebuke of Vladimir Putin. Trump blaming the Russian leader, along with Iran, for making possible the deadly suspected chemical attack against civilians. “Big price to pay,” Trump declared on Twitter.
The president’s condemnation of the assault raised the prospect of U.S. military retaliation almost a year after he ordered a cruise missile strike on a Syrian air base following a similar poison gas attack — a move that won Trump widespread praise.
As Laura King reports, the Syria situation also underscores a paradox of Trump’s relationship with Putin.
We’ll be closely watching what comes next. Make sure to sign up for breaking news alerts from the Los Angeles Times.
U.S. AUTHORIZES 4,000 NATIONAL GUARD TROOPS FOR BORDER
We know a bit more now about what the up to 4,000 National Guard troops can and can’t do should they be sent to the U.S.-Mexico border per Trump’s call last week. Defense Secretary James N. Mattis has signed an order authorizing the move but barring the troops from interacting with migrants detained by the Border Patrol in most circumstances. They would be tasked with helping the Department of Homeland Security along the border but not performing law enforcement missions. They will be armed only when necessary for self-defense.
What will Gov. Jerry Brown do?
We’ll be tracking what happens on our our Essential Politics news feed on California politics.
THIS IS A BIG DEAL: HEALTHCARE BRAWL AHEAD
It’s a big day in Sacramento. Lawmakers on Monday will reveal a new measure that would put the state in charge of setting prices for hospital care, doctor visits and other healthcare services covered by commercial insurers, marking one of the most aggressive proposals in the nation to curb soaring healthcare costs.
Melanie Mason has the details of the effort, backed by labor unions and consumer groups and facing stiff opposition from physicians and hospitals. It sets the stage for a major lobbying showdown in the Capitol.
ROHRABACHER FIGHTING ON MULTIPLE FRONTS
GOP Rep. Dana Rohrabacher of Huntington Beach was already having a challenging election year before fellow Republican Scott Baugh jumped into the race. Baugh’s entry is showing how Rohrabacher’s longtime support within the Orange County Republican Party is buckling.
Christine Mai-Duc reports the lack of full party support for Rohrabacher is a stunning break with tradition in a year when Republicans are on the defense.
A reminder you can keep up with these races in the moment via our Essential Politics news feed on California politics.
THINGS GET EASIER FOR FRESHMAN DEMOCRAT
Compton Mayor Aja Brown withdrew her candidacy in California’s 44th Congressional District, a week after conservative celebrity Stacey Dash dropped out of the race. Brown said she is expecting her first child.
They each were trying to unseat freshman Rep. Nanette Barragán (D-San Pedro).
THE MISSING PROOF (AGAIN) ON TRUMP’S VOTER FRAUD THEORY
Elections officials across California will admit the real fear over Trump again wrongly insisting “millions” voted illegally in the state two years ago is that it will convince some that there’s simply no reason to cast a ballot in 2018 or 2020.
In his Sunday column, John Myers lays out the many reasons why the president’s theory doesn’t hold water.
Meet the 13 California legislators who are getting two government checks a month. Patrick McGreevy investigates how lawmakers are augmenting their $107,242 salaries by collecting retirement payments from previous government jobs, a practice that taxpayer activists condemn as “double dipping.”
TIME TO DITCH SPECIAL ELECTIONS?
Elections were held last week in Los Angeles County to temporarily replace two assemblymen who resigned after being accused of sexual harassment, and an assemblyman who quit for health reasons.
With low turnout, they were three textbook cases of why special elections should be scrapped, George Skelton writes in his Monday column.
Learn more about the two races that will be decided in a June 5 runoff.
NATIONAL POLITICS LIGHTNING ROUND
The White House says that U.S. and North Korean officials have engaged in secret back-channel talks and Pyongyang has committed to a summit between Trump and Kim Jong Un that will touch on denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.
Trump is suggesting China will ease trade barriers “because it is the right thing to do” and that Washington and Beijing can settle disputes that have rattled financial markets, consumers and businesses. The president’s tweet doesn’t explain why he’s optimistic about resolving an escalating trade clash between the world’s two biggest economies.
Trump may have met his match in this Newport Beach lawyer whose client Stormy Daniels, now America’s best-known stripper, is suing the president to break free of a deal that bars her from discussing what she says was a one-night stand with Trump in 2006.
The U.S. Senate race in Florida between GOP Gov. Rick Scott and Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson could be one of the most expensive and highly watched races in the nation.
Texas Republican Rep. Blake Farenthold, accused of sexual harassment in a suit that led to an $84,000 taxpayer settlement to a former aide, resigned Friday after insisting for months that he would serve out his term.
Catch up on everyone who has left the Trump administration.
Nancy Pelosi’s No. 2, Maryland Rep. Steny Hoyer, is making clear he’s interested in becoming speaker.
A man was killed in a raging apartment fire in Trump Tower on Saturday.
Get the latest about what’s happening in the nation’s capital on Essential Washington.
LAWMAKERS AIM TO KEEP TEENS OUT OF ADULT COURT
State Sens. Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles) and Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) Lara last year introduced a package of bills to overhaul how California treats young people caught in the criminal justice system. This year, they are continuing the mission with a set of legislative proposals that would roll back more tough-on-crime sentencing laws and keep children and teens out of adult courts.
Law enforcement associations have waged tough opposition to the proposals. But Mitchell and Lara have the backing of a statewide coalition of criminal justice groups and youth advocates that last year brought together hip hop artists and former youth offenders to lobby at the Capitol.
-- Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom is facing backlash for skipping a Latino business group’s gubernatorial forum.
-- A top legislative staff member has resigned as an investigation substantiated allegations he made sexually inappropriate comments to two female employees. Rodney Wilson, who was chief of staff to Assemblyman Tom Daly (D-Anaheim), resigned to become a lobbyist.
-- Officials with the California Legislature disclosed seven sexual misconduct investigations from the 1990s and 2000s.
-- At a town hall in a Sacramento church last week, Sen. Kamala Harris addressed the Stephon Clark shooting and touted training for law enforcement to counter implicit bias.
-- Orange County officials fighting California’s “sanctuary” law is the focus of this week’s California Politics Podcast.
-- California’s effort to get 16- and 17-year-olds to pre-register to vote has now enlisted 100,000 teenagers, according to information released Friday.
-- An ambitious effort to raise commercial property taxes through revamping California’s Proposition 13 will no longer be aimed at earning a spot on this fall’s statewide ballot, supporters said on Friday.
-- Why is it so hard to find construction workers to build housing in California? The latest episode of Gimme Shelter: The California Housing Crisis podcast tries to answer that question.
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