Newsletter: The Nunes question
Here are the stories you shouldn’t miss today:
The Nunes Question
Congress is on a Thanksgiving break, but developments in the historic public impeachment hearings against President Trump continue to unfold.
A new major question involves Rep. Devin Nunes, a key Trump defender at the hearings into whether the president and his allies tried to push Ukraine into investigating Democrats in the U.S., especially former Vice President Joe Biden. Late Friday, CNN reported that Lev Parnas, an indicted associate of Trump personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani, was prepared to tell Congress that Nunes had met late last year in Vienna with former Ukrainian prosecutor Viktor Shokin to obtain information about Biden and his son.
On Sunday, in a Fox News interview, the Republican congressman from Tulare, Calif., declined to directly answer a question about the allegation but threatened to sue CNN for reporting it. (He’s also recently sued other journalism organizations, a stone-fruit farmer and a fake cow.)
Meanwhile, freshly released State Department documents shed new light on why Giuliani worked to have the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine removed and also reveal Giuliani’s contact with Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo weeks before the envoy was recalled.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper has fired Navy Secretary Richard V. Spencer and ended a clash between Trump and top military leadership over the fate of a Navy SEAL accused of war crimes in Iraq. Esper alleges that Spencer proposed a deal with the White House behind his back to resolve the matter of Navy Chief Petty Officer Edward R. Gallagher.
Trump has defended Gallagher, who was acquitted of murder in the stabbing death of an Islamic State militant captive but convicted of posing with the corpse while in Iraq in 2017. Esper’s actions effectively give Trump the outcome he had sought in championing Gallagher.
— Will Trump’s former national security advisor John Bolton fill in the gaps on Ukraine as an impeachment witness?
— FBI surveillance of a former campaign advisor to then-presidential candidate Trump in 2016 was marred by bureaucratic mistakes but wasn’t illegal or driven by bias within the bureau’s leadership, according to people familiar with the findings of an internal investigation.
— Billionaire and former New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has joined the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, adding new uncertainty to the party’s already unsettled contest to pick Trump’s challenger in 2020. It also has implications for journalism.
A Vote for Democracy
After nearly six months of unprecedented unrest in Hong Kong, voters turned out in large numbers for the city’s only direct elections to send a message: The pro-democracy movement has their support. On Sunday, pro-democracy candidates won 388 council district seats versus 58 for pro-government candidates, with six races not final. The results send a strong rebuke to the Hong Kong government and its supporters in China, but as a practical matter, they may not change much.
When Do You Let Go?
It was Valentine’s Day 2010 when Steve Simmons asked his wife, Rafaela, to go on a motorcycle ride. She wanted to stay home, he said, but Rafaela went along to make him happy. An accident left him with a broken wrist and separated shoulder; it left her with a severe brain injury. After 27 days, doctors asked Steve: Did he want to disconnect her from life-sustaining treatment?
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OUR MUST-READS FROM THE WEEKEND
— In mid-September, columnist Steve Lopez hailed a cab and met cabbie Oganes Papazyan. They planned to stay in touch. Instead, Lopez discovered that police say a passenger killed the driver, a devoted family man.
— In the post-#MeToo era, a new documentary delves into sexual misconduct charges against the Bikram yoga founder. He denies the allegations and has a surprising response to the film.
— For presidential candidates these days, eating tacos is the kissing babies of stumping for Latino votes.
— DNA genealogical databases are a gold mine for police, but with few rules and little transparency.
— Angie Dickinson will always be Angie Brown from Burbank. Columnist Chris Erskine celebrated his birthday by having lunch with her.
FROM THE ARCHIVES
On this date in 1907, The Times heralded the creation of the Silver Lake reservoir. “More than fifteen times greater than the largest reservoir in Los Angeles, and destined to be the finest body of water in the city, Silver Lake, in the northwest hills, is rapidly nearing completion,” begins the article, which goes on to describe its construction and how the lake would be stocked with black bass. As for the rules: “No shooting, fishing or bathing is to be permitted at the reservoir.”
— The only child to survive a San Diego murder-suicide that claimed the lives of his parents and his three brothers has died, according to a family member.
— Police say at least six people were shot at a party in a downtown L.A. warehouse district early Sunday.
— Six people who had fallen ill aboard a Norwegian Cruise Line ship that was docked at the Port of Los Angeles were evaluated by paramedics as they disembarked, authorities say.
HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS
— Inside the wild world of the VH-1 show “Love & Hip Hop,” where the line between reality and fantasy is blurred.
— Columnist Mary McNamara says we should get rid of the term “everyman,” especially when referring to Tom Hanks.
— Raymond Kappe, who founded the Southern California Institute of Architecture and promoted prefabricated homes as environmentally friendly, has died at 92.
— The Supreme Court says Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has been released from a Baltimore hospital where she was being treated for a possible infection.
— Vice President Mike Pence made an unannounced visit to Iraq on Saturday in the highest-level American trip since Trump ordered a pullback of U.S. forces in Syria two months ago.
— Leaked classified documents lay out China’s deliberate strategy to lock up ethnic minorities even before they commit a crime, to rewire their thoughts and change the language they speak.
— Zuhal Atmar is the first woman in Afghanistan to run a recycling plant, driven by her wish to help the environment and fight climate change. It has come at a high personal cost.
— Tens of millions of pensioners and savers around the world are facing retirement insecurity, as plunging interest rates since the financial crisis wreak havoc on plans.
— The electric Mustang is just the start of Ford’s drive to hit 50 mpg in six years.
— The future of USC football coach Clay Helton is mired in scrutiny despite the team’s surging potential after a victory over UCLA.
— The Lakers are planning to discuss with the NBA the officiating of LeBron James in Saturday night’s victory over the Memphis Grizzlies. James scored 30 points while taking 27 shots, but he didn’t get to shoot a single free throw.
— In this Cabo San Lucas fishing tournament, first place could mean a $1-million payday.
— Tiny houses? Safe parking? Let’s give homeless people alternatives to the sidewalk.
— Why Mister Rogers was a Thanksgiving heretic.
WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING
— In the Philippines, hip-hop artists are rapping in protest of the government’s lethal drug war. (Asia Times)
— At a memorial for author Toni Morrison, black women were the center of attention. (The Undefeated)
— RuPaul: “The philosopher queen” is moving beyond reality TV. (Vanity Fair)
ONLY IN CALIFORNIA
A luxury surf resort … in the driest reaches of the desert? That’s the idea behind the proposed Thermal Beach Club, where a 22-acre surf lagoon with ocean-like waves would anchor a development with hundreds of high-end private residences and fancy clubhouse amenities. But many in Thermal think the powers that be should focus more on helping the farmworkers there who must contend with power outages, bad roads and undrinkable water.
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