Newsletter: Building the case against Trump

William B. Taylor Jr., the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, testified in the impeachment inquiry hearing that one of his staff members overheard President Trump speaking on the phone to Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union. Sondland told the staffer afterward that Trump cared more about “investigations of Biden” than Ukraine, Taylor said.


Here are the stories you shouldn’t miss today:


Building the Case Against Trump

On Day 1 of the public impeachment inquiry hearings into President Trump, Democrats succeeded in more directly connecting Trump to alleged misconduct related to Ukraine while Republicans continued to cry foul.


Testimony from William B. Taylor Jr., the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, and George Kent, a deputy assistant secretary at the State Department, solemnly testified about watching American policy hijacked for Trump’s personal benefit. Taylor revealed a previously undisclosed cellphone call in which Trump appeared to personally push a senior State Department official to pressure Ukraine.

Republican lawmakers countered by attacking the legitimacy of the hearings and repeatedly noting that neither man had personally spoken with Trump or had firsthand knowledge of his motivations. Meanwhile, Trump claimed to not be watching the proceedings, though at the time he said that, he had already tweeted or retweeted about them 34 times earlier in the day. Public hearings will resume Friday.

More Politics

— During the impeachment hearings, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan paid a visit to the White House. That drew sharp bipartisan criticism and rallied protesters who decried Turkey’s recent invasion of northeastern Syria.

— Former Gov. Deval Patrick of Massachusetts is telling allies that he will join the 2020 Democratic presidential primary field, according to two people familiar with his plans. An official announcement is expected before Friday.

A Search for Answers at USC


Nine USC students have died since Aug. 24, and some of the deaths have been potentially linked to drug overdoses. Particularly worrisome is that investigators are probing whether any of the deaths are connected to tainted drugs — drugs touted as one thing but which actually contain more potent narcotics such as fentanyl. Three of the USC deaths were by suicide, according to campus officials.

So Many Faults

When an earthquake strikes, the instinct of many Californians is to ask: Which fault ruptured — the Newport-Inglewood, the Hayward, the mighty San Andreas? But scientists are saying more and more that it’s not so simple. New research shows that the Ridgecrest earthquakes that began in July ruptured at least two dozen faults.

It’s the latest evidence of how small faults can join together to produce a large earthquake, and how those quakes can cover a wider area than expected.

All Wound Up

Fredric J. Friedberg is passionate about vintage wristwatches — and specifically those from the Illinois Watch Co. He once owned more than 700 Illinois watches. But it didn’t stop there. He’s also written a 1,648-page, five-volume book about the company, which was founded in 1870 and has long been forgotten by most people.

In today’s Column One feature, see what makes Friedberg tick (and don’t miss the cameo by “A Clockwork Orange” star Malcolm McDowell).


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On this date in 1981, the space shuttle Columbia landed at Edwards Air Force Base — returning to Earth early after developing a fuel-cell problem soon after launch two days prior. But no matter the early arrival, crowds still flocked to welcome it, as The Times’ Al Martinez reported in the next day’s paper:

“It was party time and pride time on the eastern fringe of the bleak, dry lake bed where a crowd estimated at between 100,000 and 200,000 cheered the dusty landing of the world’s first reusable spacecraft. They toasted the touchdown with blaring horns and upraised cans of beer. ...

“They came from New York and Florida and Virginia and Alabama and Nebraska and Texas and Oregon. They came as part of a well-planned itinerary or they came on the spur of the moment. They came to introduce young people to the wonders of space flight, or they came — in one elderly couple’s case — to see what could be their last view of an awesome new age.”

Nov. 14, 1981: Spectators watch the space shuttle Columbia as it lands at Edwards Air Force Base.
Nov. 14, 1981: Spectators watch the space shuttle Columbia as it circles to land at Edwards Air Force Base.
(Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times)



— Ninety-five percent of L.A. County voters say homelessness is a serious or very serious problem, according to a new poll conducted for the Los Angeles Times and the Los Angeles Business Council Institute.

— The administrator of a small West Hollywood school where the rich and powerful went to rig their kids’ SATs pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit racketeering amid the college admissions scandal, admitting he let Rick Singer run a text-fixing scam out of his school for years.

— Deputies shot and killed a sword-wielding man they had chased onto the campus of Esteban Torres High School in East L.A., prompting a lockdown.

— Starting next month, electric cars priced above $60,000 won’t qualify for California’s clean-vehicle rebate — part of a move to direct public resources not toward the rich but toward lower-income communities.

— Regulators have opened an investigation into PG&E’s deliberate, preemptive power outages last month.


Dolly Parton explains why she won’t talk politics, and why there won’t be a “9 to 5” sequel.

John Legend was as surprised as you were that he was named People’s Sexiest Man Alive.


— VH1 is taking some heat for casting El Chapo’s wife, Emma Coronel, in the docuseries “Cartel Crew.”

“Waves” is Trey Edward Shults’ wildest essay on the subject of family fragility, and also his grandest and most affecting, our critic Justin Chang writes.

— His colleague Kenneth Turan says the new “Charlie’s Angels” reboot, by contrast, is a concept in search of a movie.


— For years, American authorities have asserted they hold no responsibility for Runit Dome, a concrete-capped waste site in the Marshall Islands, where the United States dumped atomic soil and debris created by its Cold War nuclear weapons testing program. But the U.S. did pay to remove graffiti from it.

— Kentucky’s Republican Gov. Matt Bevin could face a big decision when the vote totals from his re-election race are double-checked today — concede to Democrat Andy Beshear, or contest it in a historic move that could put the outcome in the hands of state lawmakers?


— The worst flooding in Venice in more than 50 years has prompted calls to better protect the historic city from rising sea levels as officials calculated hundreds of millions of dollars in damage.

Germany will quit coal completely within 19 years in a major shift for Europe’s biggest economy.


SoCal Edison has agreed to pay $360 million to dozens of public agencies affected by wildfires and mudslides in the last two years.

— Apple’s first major update to its MacBook Pro laptop finally ditches its much-hated “butterfly” keyboard.

— The deadline by which you’ll have to use an enhanced ID or driver’s license — known as Real ID — to board a flight is fast approaching. Should airlines have to warn you?


Google wants more of your data, especially your financial data. Its solution: Google checking accounts.


Zlatan Ibrahimovic won’t return to the Galaxy next season.

Hyun-Jin Ryu’s bid to become the ninth Dodger to win the Cy Young Award fell short Wednesday, when instead Mets’ right-hander Jacob deGrom won it for the second year in a row.

Evan Mobley has become the first No. 1 boys’ basketball recruit to sign with USC.



— California’s leaders shouldn’t undermine their own mandate for solar panels on new homes by letting utilities and developers rely on far-off farms, The Times’ editorial board writes.

— Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are pushing American Jews to the left on Israel, Columbia professor Samuel G. Freedman writes.


— “I thought being a healthcare reporter would make cancer easier. I was wrong.” (Politico Magazine)

— Quit Bro, Go. Subpoena Colada. Insane in the Ukraine. The impeachment cocktails at bars in Washington, D.C. (Washingtonian)



Jeff Bridges has found a big-time buyer for his Spanish Revival-style compound in Montecito: Oprah Winfrey, who shelled out $6.85 million. Records show that’s the exact same price Bridges and his wife, Susan Geston, paid for the home five years ago. Take a look inside the Dude’s former abode here — and, yes, it had some rugs that really tied the rooms together.

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