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Newsletter: Will these hearings be unimpeachable?

Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Burbank), chairman the House Intelligence Committee.
Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Burbank), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.
(J. Scott Applewhite / Associated Press)

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Will These Hearings Be Unimpeachable?

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Public hearings in the impeachment inquiry of President Trump are scheduled to begin this morning with testimony from State Department official George Kent and William B. Taylor Jr., the by-the-book senior U.S. diplomat in Ukraine.

Both have already told lawmakers they were troubled by the president and his administration’s pressure on Ukraine to conduct investigations that would benefit Trump politically while holding up congressionally approved military aid to the U.S. ally. (Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, will publicly testify Friday.)

How it will play out on TV is anyone’s guess, but Democrats’ top challenge is to keep the proceedings serious and straightforward, but also engaging, while Republicans are looking to question the fairness and integrity of the investigation. Need a quick primer on all this? Here you go.

DACA in the Balance

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The Supreme Court’s conservative justices sounded skeptical Tuesday about the legality of the Obama-era policy known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which has allowed 700,000 young immigrants to live and work in the United States. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., whose vote is likely to be the deciding one, appeared to agree with Trump’s claim that the policy of protecting the so-called Dreamers was legally questionable. A decision in the case won’t come until next year.

After Tuesday’s hearing, University of California President Janet Napolitano — who created the program in 2012 as U.S. Homeland Security secretary — spoke in its defense. Meanwhile, hundreds of L.A. students walked out of class and rallied downtown in support of DACA.

More Politics

— White House advisor Stephen Miller sent emails that “promoted white nationalist literature and racist propaganda” to conservative news site Breitbart, the Southern Poverty Law Center said after releasing excerpts.

— White House acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney said that he no longer plans to sue over the impeachment proceedings and will instead follow Trump’s directions and decline to cooperate.

— Trump said the United States will increase tariffs on Chinese goods if the first step of a broader trade agreement isn’t reached.

Mark Sanford has dropped his challenge to Trump for the Republican presidential nomination, saying the focus on impeachment has made it impossible for his campaign to gain traction.

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A Shaken Campus

A series of student deaths at USC this semester has prompted concern and a demand for answers among the campus community. Nine have died since Aug. 24, and officials have confirmed that three of them died by suicide. University administrators are now engaged in a delicate balancing act as they notify students, attempt to quell rumors, offer mental health resources and also try to avoid triggering students who may be in the midst of a mental health crisis.

Relentless Pursuit

At a serial killer’s trial in 2016, Times reporter Christopher Goffard met Anaheim Police Det. Julissa Trapp, the homicide detective who had spent two years working at the center of the case. He found a story of tenacious policework and obsession — one that is taught to patrol officers graduating to detective work. Now that story is being told in the podcast “Detective Trapp.” It will be released Nov. 19, but Times subscribers can listen to the first two episodes now.

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FROM THE ARCHIVES

On this date in 1958, then-Sen. John F. Kennedy was visiting his sister Patricia and her husband, actor Peter Lawford, with plans to attend their daughter’s baptism the next day; he’d finished a 17-state campaign swing for fellow Democrats. As Kennedy chatted with reporters in his sister’s Santa Monica beachfront home, The Times’ William S. Murphy snapped an informal portrait in a relaxed moment, capturing him with his sports jacket tucked under his arm.

That photo became one of Jacqueline Kennedy’s favorites, and after her husband’s assassination in 1963, she asked that it be used in his first commemorative postage stamp. Murphy autographed the print and placed one of the stamps in the corner. Read more about Murphy, the photo and the stamp here.

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This portrait of then-Sen. John F. Kennedy was taken in 1958 at his sister’s Santa Monica home and was later used in 1964 in the first stamp commemorating him after his assassination. William S. Murphy, who took the photo, autographed the print and placed one of the stamps in the lower left corner.
This portrait of then-Sen. John F. Kennedy was taken in 1958 at his sister’s Santa Monica home and was later used in 1964 in the first stamp commemorating him after his assassination.
(Bill Murphy / Los Angeles Times)

CALIFORNIA

— L.A. Archbishop José Gomez, already the highest-ranking Latino in the U.S. Catholic Church, has marked another milestone by becoming the first Latino elected president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

— Former public defender Rachel Rossi is entering the L.A. County district attorney race, joining a field otherwise filled by career prosecutors and law enforcement officials in a bid to unseat D.A. Jackie Lacey.

— The U.S. has nearly 1,700 high-hazard dams in risky condition, an Associated Press review of federal data found. Six are in California.

— Five survivors of the Gilroy Garlic Festival mass shooting have sued the event’s organizers, saying negligent security contributed.

Uber has appealed L.A.’s suspension of its permit to rent out electric scooters and bikes, setting up a possible legal showdown amid an impasse over the city’s new data-sharing rule.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

— Streaming service Disney+ launched to massive anticipation and (surprise!) technical glitches. One of its new original series, “The Mandalorian,” is the first live-action series in the “Star Wars” universe. TV critic Lorraine Ali says the first episode is the epitome of “Star Wars”: a safe, entertaining blockbuster.

“Parasite” and its take on the class divide could end South Korea’s dry spell at the Oscars.

“Mixed-ish” showrunner Karin Gist explains how Hollywood still makes inclusion hard to achieve.

— Netflix is out with its first look at its upcoming series about Selena.

NATION-WORLD

Hate crimes rose sharply last year against Latinos and transgender people, per new FBI data, and there was a shift overall toward hate crimes against people, not property.

— From 7-degree cold in Chicago and dustings in Memphis to record snowfall in famously snowy Buffalo, a broad swath of the eastern half of the U.S. saw snow and cold records shattered as it was slammed by an arctic air mass that started in Siberia.

— Ousted Bolivian President Evo Morales landed in Mexico, where he has been granted political asylum. The avowed socialist, who became his country’s first indigenous president, has pledged to return and says he was the victim of a coup. Meanwhile, an opposition senator has declared herself interim president, and the U.S. appeared to recognize her as Bolivia’s new leader.

BUSINESS

JetBlue is jumping on the budget-economy bandwagon with a no-frills fare option of its own, dubbed Blue Basic.

Richard Plepler, who led HBO through its creative renaissance with “Game of Thrones” and other shows, is in advanced talks with Apple for a production deal to create original programming for its streaming service.

SPORTS

— As head coach of the Phoenix Suns, onetime Lakers coaching candidate Monty Williams has his new team off to a fast start. But the LeBron James and Kyle Kuzma led a late surge as the Lakers won Tuesday night at Phoenix, 123-115.

Paul George will make his Clippers debut on the road this week, perhaps as soon as today in Houston.

Matt Luff is bringing a more measured mind-set to what he hopes will be his second extended stint with the Kings.

OPINION

— Regardless of what the Supreme Court does, Congress should make DACA stronger and permanent, The Times Editorial Board writes.

— The U.S. has helped create a world in which extrajudicial drone executions are the norm, writes human rights advocate Jennifer Gibson.

— Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney‘s defiance of Democrats’ subpoenas in their impeachment inquiry highlights how limited Congress’ power is to enforce its demands, writes deputy editorial page editor Jon Healey.

WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING

— After the deadly crashes of two 737 Max jets, Boeing first blamed the pilots. Then a victim’s family — including a famous consumer-advocate uncle — got involved. (ProPublica / The New Yorker)

— Inside WeWork‘s toxic phone booths. (Businessweek)

— Tiny biotech companies, not giant drug makers, are worried House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s drug pricing bill could be “devastating” to their industry. (Stat News)

ONLY IN CALIFORNIA

Art Shapiro is a professor of evolution and ecology at UC Davis and a collector of quotes, books, names and stories. Particular interests include Argentinian politics, hermetic texts, meteorology and cheap beer. His specialty, though, is butterflies. For nearly half a century, he has meticulously tracked butterfly populations at 10 sites in north-central California. And at 73, he has no plans to retire.

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