Newsletter: Grounds for an obstruction charge?

President Trump
President Trump stops to take a question as he departs a swearing-in ceremony for new Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia in the Oval Office on Monday.
(Andrew Harnik / Associated Press)

Not cooperating with Congress on the impeachment inquiry could make things worse for President Trump.


Grounds for an Obstruction Charge?


President Trump, desperate to undermine a fast-moving impeachment probe, could be adding to his troubles. House Democrats say Trump’s stonewalling and threats to unmask a whistleblower could lead to obstruction charges if articles of impeachment are drafted over the president’s request for Ukraine’s government to investigate a potential Democratic opponent in next year’s election.

Trump’s allies have been digging in their heels. In a sharply worded three-page letter, Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo said five current and former State Department officials who dealt with Ukraine would not provide depositions to House investigators as scheduled.

More About the Inquiry

Petro Poroshenko, who was Ukraine’s president until May, said in a rare interview with The Times that he never felt pressure from Trump or his personal attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani to open questionable corruption investigations into former Vice President Joe Biden. Neither, Poroshenko added, did he ever think that Biden’s 2016 demand that Ukraine fire an embattled top prosecutor stemmed from anything improper or personal on Biden’s part.

— Trump’s reelection campaign has been cashing in on his impeachment woes.

Impeachment 101: Your complete guide to the people and terms to know.


The Battle of Hong Kong

It was a close-range gunshot seen around the world. On Tuesday, a police officer shot an 18-year-old point-blank in Hong Kong during protests against China’s National Day. For a moment, the city paused — stunned at the news that police had shot a Hong Konger with a real gun for the first time. Then it went back into battle mode.

Pro-democracy demonstrators in Hong Kong retreat as police advance.
(Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)

An Odd Couple’s Mission of Mercy

John Hunter is part of a conservative political dynasty who mostly stands by Trump. His wife, Laura, is a Mexican immigrant who dismisses Trump as a “despicable human being.” But there’s one mission that continues to bind them: lugging water into the desert for thirsty migrants.

It’s Their Tranquility Base

SpaceX and its Chief Executive Elon Musk have their eyes set on Mars. To get there, the company is trying to buy up Boca Chica Village, a tiny waterfront community at the southern tip of Texas, in an effort to expand its operations. But for residents, taking a buyout of their homes would mean giving up a life of peace and seclusion.

The Voice

By now you’ve probably seen the video: a homeless woman singing Puccini in L.A.’s nearly vacant Wilshire-Normandie Metro station. Who is Emily Zamourka? And what is her story?

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— A new poll finds that, three years after California legalized the sale of recreational marijuana, most voters want municipalities to permit pot shops in their communities even though the vast majority of cities have outlawed them.

— The L.A. County Board of Supervisors has rebuked Sheriff Alex Villanueva over his fiscal stewardship: It took the extraordinary step of freezing a portion of his department’s budget to force him to address spending.

— The head of West Hollywood College Preparatory School, where dozens of wealthy parents allegedly had their children’s SAT and ACT exams fixed, has signaled that he will plead guilty and cooperate with investigators in the college admissions scandal.

— In a hearing, a panel of federal appeals judges questioned a Trump administration policy that requires Central American migrants to remain in Mexico while their asylum requests are processed.


— In “Joker,” Todd Phillips’ new movie about the fall and rise of Batman’s greatest nemesis, Joaquin Phoenix puts on quite a show. Film critic Justin Chang says its portrait of madness is both bleak and glib.

Ava DuVernay‘s new turquoise-seated Amanda Theater marks the final piece of the puzzle of her Array campus in Filipinotown, intended as a space where women and artists of color can promote and showcase their work for years to come.

— The L.A. Phil named former chief operating officer Chad Smith its new CEO.

Martin Bernheimer, music critic for the Los Angeles Times from 1965 to 1996, has died at 83. It’s fair to say there will never be another music critic like him.


North Korea fired a ballistic missile that landed in the Sea of Japan, also known as the East Sea, less than 200 miles from the Japanese coast, according to the South Korean military and the Japanese coast guard. The launch came a day after North Korea said it would resume nuclear talks with the U.S. this weekend.

— In a lawsuit over affirmative action, a judge has ruled that Harvard does not discriminate against Asian Americans in its admissions.

— A white former Dallas police officer who fatally shot her black neighbor in his home after she mistook it for her own was found guilty of murder.


— The Trump administration has agreed to a new plan for boosting renewable fuels and offsetting waivers exempting oil refineries from having to use them, three people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg.

United Parcel Service has won U.S. certification to fly drones to expand airborne deliveries. But don’t expect to see one outside your front door soon.

Forever 21 has named more than 40 California stores it might close in bankruptcy, including 26 in Southern California.


— The Angels’ search for a new manager doesn’t stop with Joe Maddon.

— Labor peace and increased scoring are the hot topics heading into National Hockey League season, which begins today. Columnist Helene Elliott offers a preview.

— More than 800 fans were hurt by baseballs at Major League Baseball games over the last eight seasons, a new study has found — and that’s probably just the tip of the iceberg.


— No, Mike Pompeo, it’s not “bullying” for the House to seek information about Ukraine.

Gary Gallerie is renting out vans to homeless people for between $150 and $300 a month. It’s not legal, but it works, writes columnist Robin Abcarian.


— In leaked audio of internal Facebook meetings, Mark Zuckerberg rallied staff against critics, competitors and a possible Elizabeth Warren presidency, saying, “if someone’s going to try to threaten something that existential, you go to the mat and you fight.” (The Verge)

— This profile from earlier this year of Rudy Giuliani the globe-trotting consultant explores where his money comes from. (Businessweek)

— The acting head of the Department of Homeland Security acknowledges he’s losing the battle to keep his agency from being used to serve a partisan immigration agenda. (Washington Post)


Some like it. Some like it not. When the “Forever Marilyn” statue depicting Marilyn Monroe in the billowing-skirt scene from “The Seven Year Itch” first came to Palm Springs in 2012, it drew fans and detractors. Times art critic Christopher Knight called it “grotesque.” (Hey, nobody’s perfect.) Two years later, the 26-foot-tall statue had left to tour other cities. But in 2020, it’s set to make its triumphant (or tragic) return to Palm Springs. Forever.

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