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Today’s Headlines: The attorneys general strike back

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton
Texas Atty. Gen. Ken Paxton speaks Jan. 6 at a rally in support of President Trump that preceded the violent insurrection at the Capitol.
(Jacquelyn Martin / Associated Press)

Republican attorneys general are embracing the playbook Democrats used over the last four years.

TOP STORIES

The Attorneys General Strike Back

For four years, Democrats succeeded in unraveling much of the Trump agenda through a deluge of lawsuits led by California. Now, that courtroom playbook is about to be turned against them.

Republican attorneys general are angling to retaliate with equal force against the policies of President Biden, though the lawyers may find them a tougher target. Democratic-led suits had a high success rate, given the Trump administration’s legal blunders.

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Working in the Republicans’ favor this time is a better-funded and more brazen political apparatus. The same “dark money” groups that funneled millions of dollars into helping Trump reshape the Supreme Court as president are now focused on helping GOP attorneys general undermine the Biden administration.

Officials are continuing to push the boundaries of an elected position that, not long ago, was among the most apolitical in state government.

Which Way for the GOP?

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The dramatic shift in tone from Senate Republicans between two impeachment trials of former President Trump, just a year apart, reveals a party that has grown weary of defending its leader but lacks the fortitude to sever ties, with GOP lawmakers openly grappling this weekend with the difficult question of how to move forward after such a divisive trial.

In the wake of Trump’s acquittal, Republicans are divided on the power Trump will — and should — command in the Republican Party, including in the 2024 presidential election. Seven Republicans voted for conviction, a number so large that the vote will go down as the most bipartisan presidential guilty tally in American history; even so, the GOP votes represented just 14% of the Senate conference.

Though he ultimately voted not guilty, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) scorched Trump on the Senate floor after the vote, saying of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, “There is no question that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of that day.”

More Politics

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— House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that Congress will establish an independent, Sept. 11-style commission to look into the deadly insurrection that took place at the U.S. Capitol.

— As Biden reforms immigration policy, a question: What becomes of sanctuary beneficiaries?

— White House deputy press secretary T.J. Ducklo resigned after he was suspended for issuing a sexist and profane threat to a journalist seeking to cover his relationship with another reporter.

A New Plan to Scale Up Vaccinations

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Blue Shield of California will create an algorithm to determine where to allocate COVID-19 vaccines across the state with the goal of being able to administer 3 million shots a week by March 1, according to a contract that grants the insurance giant far-reaching powers in overseeing the distribution of doses.

The company will attempt to drastically scale up the number of daily doses, but that goal will largely depend on the supply sent to the state. California received a little more than 1 million vaccine doses in the last week from the federal government.

The contract says Blue Shield’s algorithm will prioritize vaccine distribution with “a focus on equity” and will be updated based on vaccine availability and COVID-19 rates.

Meanwhile, Dodger Stadium and several other COVID-19 vaccination sites that were shuttered last week because of shortages are set to reopen today, though continuing supply problems mean the vast majority of shots administered will be second doses, Los Angeles officials said.

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More Top Coronavirus Headlines

L.A. County elementary school campuses are cleared to fully reopen for the first time in nearly a year because of dropping coronavirus rates, health officials said. But the milestone will not result in an immediate reopening of campuses in the L.A. Unified School District.

— The effort to vaccinate the homeless population and the skid row community in L.A. is just getting underway and is fraught with obstacles.

— The World Health Organization has granted an emergency authorization to AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine, a move that should allow the United Nations agency’s partners to ship millions of doses to countries worldwide.

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For more, sign up for Coronavirus Today, a special edition of The Times’ Health and Science newsletter.

OUR MUST-READS FROM THE WEEKEND

— Armed with a camera, a young ER doctor captures the faces of the COVID-19 war.

— A year after the pandemic began, Wuhan has become a city of forgetting.

— A mother’s search for her missing son leads to the dark world of a marijuana dispensary.

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— A Valentine’s Day story: “I’m transgender. This is what happened when I finally told my wife.”

FROM THE ARCHIVES

Monday marked the federal observance of George Washington’s Birthday, also known as Presidents Day, which has come to honor those who’ve served as chief executive of the United States. But for those who share the name of a U.S. president, it’s a bit tricky.

In 1993, The Times interviewed not only a man named George Washington of Los Angeles but also Jimmy Carter of North Hollywood, Bill Clinton of Sherman Oaks and John F. Kennedy of Canoga Park, among others.

“As far as I know, my parents just liked the name,” said William McKinley, a parks and recreation worker from Glendale. “I just hope I don’t end up like he did.”

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Five U.S. presidents
Five U.S. presidents (no, not their namesakes) — George H.W. Bush, left, Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford and Richard Nixon — pose for a portrait at the dedication of the Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley in 1991.
(Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times)

CALIFORNIA

— L.A. County’s top prosecutor and the family of George Floyd, who is Black, have denounced allegations that L.A. officers circulated a mock Valentine photo of the man killed by Minneapolis police last summer with the caption “You take my breath away.”

— The state has pledged to begin the shutdown of its long-troubled and frequently violent youth prisons after 80 years. But what comes next?

Supermarket workers are feeling alone and unrecognized in the pandemic as they worry, “Is today the day I ... get the virus?”

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— The New Jalisco Bar, a lifeline for LGBTQ Latinos in downtown L.A., is on the brink of closure.

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NATION-WORLD

— A sprawling blast of winter weather across the U.S. probably is to blame for the deaths of two people in Texas, where power was knocked out for more than 4 million people, grocery stores and air travel were shut down, and schools closed.

— Fulton County Dist. Atty. Fani Willis, who is investigating whether Trump should face charges for trying to pressure Georgia’s elections chief into changing the results of the presidential race in his favor, has a reputation as a tough courtroom veteran.

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— The future government of Spain’s restive Catalonia region is in the hands of a man spending his nights in a prison cell for sedition.

Larry the cat, a four-legged inhabitant of London’s 10 Downing St., has marked a decade as Britain’s mouse catcher in chief.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

— In the film “Minari,” actor Steven Yeun and writer-director Lee Isaac Chung connect to the unspoken feelings.

— The late Liz Carmichael, a transgender woman, brash automobile entrepreneur and Ayn Rand-loving libertarian with purported mafia ties, is the subject of the HBO docuseries “The Lady and the Dale.”

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— The high-minded, low-budget horror-comedy “Bad Hair” features 1980s high-top fades and asymmetrical bobs.

Johnny Pacheco, legendary bandleader, producer and co-founder of salsa label Fania Records, has died at 85. He was dubbed the “Godfather of Salsa.”

BUSINESS

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala of Nigeria was appointed to head the World Trade Organization, becoming the first woman and first African to take on the role amid disagreement over how the body decides cases involving billions in sales and thousands of jobs.

— Conservative social media website Parler has returned to the internet after its service provider suspended the site after the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.

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SPORTS

— Inspired by the Black Lives Matter protests that unfolded last summer, UCLA gymnast Nia Dennis added her piece to the social justice conversation — with another groundbreaking floor exercise routine.

— Alpine skier Mikaela Shiffrin set an American record with the sixth world title of her career.

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Get our free daily crossword puzzle, sudoku, word search and arcade games in our new game center at latimes.com/games.

OPINION

— At $7.25 an hour, the federal minimum wage is appallingly low. America needs a $15 minimum wage, The Times’ editorial board writes.

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— Columnist LZ Granderson asks: Can America break through the tribalism of Sunday mornings?

WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING

— Interviews with current and former officers in Washington show how failures of leadership and communication put hundreds of Capitol police officers at risk and allowed rioters to get dangerously close to members of Congress. (ProPublica)

— All the presidents’ pets: an illustrated guide. (CNN)

ONLY IN L.A.

Career experts say to follow your passion. That’s what Clark and Alice Campbell did, and now they’re known on YouTube as That High Couple. Working from their 420-square-foot Hollywood apartment, the husband and wife turned their love of marijuana into a serious side hustle. “We looked online to see what other YouTube channels were covering weed and we didn’t see any couples out there,” Alice said. “Well, except for Cheech and Chong,” Clark added.

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Comments or ideas? Email us at headlines@latimes.com.


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