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Newsletter: Trump may try to change the narrative, but more talk of Russia is on the way

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Essential Politics
(LAT)

There was a moment as the weekend began where President Trump tried, apparently without much success, to switch the national political narrative back to one of his favorite topics. In other words, to change the subject from Russia.

“The NFL National Anthem Debate is alive and well again - can’t believe it!” he tweeted late on Friday afternoon.

But it didn’t last long, as Trump returned to defending his actions and decrying the “Witch Hunt” by Special Counsel Robert Mueller III. That’s to say nothing of his effort to revise his remarks about Russia after top aides confronted him last week in the Oval Office.

By the middle of this week, Mueller’s work is going to get its first test in a closely watched trial of a key presidential confidante.

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MANAFORT ON TRIAL

Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman, is scheduled to go on trial Wednesday on allegations of bank fraud, tax evasion and conspiracy. Prosecutors say he fraudulently obtained $16 million in loans from a financial institution whose executive sought a role on the Trump campaign and, if he won, the administration.

RESISTANCE TO A PUTIN VISIT

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Meanwhile, the president is finding opposition from both major political parties to his effort to invite Russian President Vladimir Putin to the White House later this year.

Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-South Carolina) suggested on Sunday that Trump’s invitation was unwise.

“The fact that we have to talk to you [Russia] about Syria or other matters is very different from issuing an invitation,” said Gowdy, who heads the House Oversight Committee. “Those should be reserved for, I think, our allies.”

POLITICS LIGHTNING ROUND

-- Trump tweeted an all-caps warning to Iran’s president to “never, ever threaten the United States again.” The tweet came after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blasted the Iranian regime as a kleptocracy that has amassed wealth at the cost of its people in a Sunday speech at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley.

-- Democrats are within striking distance of winning another special election they were not supposed to, this time in Ohio. And they are doing it with a centrist message.

-- Ten months after Hurricane Maria destroyed Puerto Rico’s electric grid, the local agency responsible for rebuilding it is in chaos and more than $1 billion in federal funds meant to strengthen the rickety system has gone unspent.

-- North Carolina’s largest city, Charlotte, won the rights to the 2020 Republican National Convention on Friday. But that’s largely because it faced little serious competition.

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-- They both bill themselves as Donald Trump Republicans, hardliners who happily describe themselves as politically incorrect. One is running TV spots showing him with a shotgun, vowing to “round-up illegals.” Welcome to Georgia’s gubernatorial runoff.

CALIFORNIA VS. TRUMP: 38 AND COUNTING

Few fronts in the battle between California’s Democratic leaders and the Trump administration have been as active as those that play out in courts of law.

Thirty-eight lawsuits have been filed by California officials, led by the efforts of state Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra.

We’ve got a full roundup of what’s at stake.

TODAY’S ESSENTIALS

-- A plan to replace California’s antiquated website for disclosing lobbying activity and contributions to elected officials is 11 months behind schedule, and its budget has doubled.

-- California hit its target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions four years early, a milestone that regulators and environmentalists are cheering. But a closer look shows planet-warming emissions aren’t declining across the board.

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-- Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti is embarking on a 10-day trade mission to Japan, South Korea, Vietnam and Hong Kong, a trip his office says is focused on bringing jobs and investment to L.A. and boosting tourism in the city.

-- In a move to increase voter turnout, Gov. Jerry Brown on Wednesday signed a bill that requires counties to prepay postage for mail-in ballots in California elections.

LOGISTICS

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