Newsletter: The long and short of a Senate trial

President Trump
President Trump at the White House on Dec. 9.
(Sarah Silbiger / pool photo)

Here are the stories you shouldn’t miss today:


The Long and Short of a Senate Trial

As the House prepares to vote to impeach President Trump, most likely on Wednesday, Senate leaders have begun fighting over which witnesses each party might call in a trial — or whether to call witnesses at all.


On the Democratic side, Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer is urging that several senior Trump aides be summoned, including acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and former national security advisor John Bolton. At the same time, Democrats want to avoid having the trial devolve into a venue for airing Trump’s attacks against former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter.

On the Republican side, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said there was “no chance” Trump would be convicted and that he was coordinating with the president’s lawyers on ground rules. Sen. Lindsey Graham said he had already made up his mind to acquit, so the trial should be short. But other Republicans have indicated they would like a lengthier process.

Bloomberg’s Blitz

Turn on a TV in Southern California these days, and there he is: Michael Bloomberg, a billionaire running for the Democratic presidential nomination. In the L.A. media market alone, he’s already spent more than $5.4 million on broadcast TV ads. Rather than focusing on states such as Iowa or New Hampshire, Bloomberg’s advertising blitz is going after California, the 13 other states with contests on Super Tuesday and more than a dozen that vote later in March.

More Politics

— Rep. Jeff Van Drew, a freshman Democrat from New Jersey, reportedly plans to vote against impeaching Trump and will become a Republican.

— Under the Trump administration’s Remain in Mexico protocols, only 11 cases — or 0.1% of all completed cases — resulted in asylum being granted, records show.


— All seven of the Democratic presidential candidates who have qualified for Thursday’s scheduled debate in Los Angeles have threatened to skip the event to express support for union workers involved in a contract dispute at Loyola Marymount University.

Taiwan’s Fight Against Election Meddling

Ahead of next month’s presidential election in Taiwan, the spread of false information via social media has become a primary concern. Scholars say China has targeted the island with a Russian-style disinformation campaign to exploit divisions and undermine democracy. To combat it, Taiwan’s government is relying on private citizens to check facts and promote media literacy.

Full Speed Ahead, but Not All Are Aboard

The California bullet train is over budget and far behind schedule, and after Gov. Gavin Newsom said he was scaling back its ambitions, the Trump administration began trying to claw back $2.5 billion in federal funds spent on the project. That hasn’t stopped the bullet train authority from moving ahead with an aggressive plan to issue its biggest contract in history, much to the consternation of some.

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— The dangers of lithium-ion batteries got little attention from the Coast Guard, despite some red flags before the deadly fire aboard the dive boat Conception.

— Columnist Steve Lopez looks at how L.A.’s homelessness crisis has hit a crossroads with nearly 1,000 deaths on the streets this year.

Scott Budnick, a producer of the “Hangover” movies who is well known for his criminal justice advocacy, is among those under investigation after helping a teen convicted in a killing.

— Remembering Scott Timberg, whose cultural appetites fueled his career as an author and journalist and led him to question the future of the arts in the internet age. He died last week at 50.

— California now has 1 million solar roofs. Are 1 million batteries next?

— How Grammy-nominated singer and rapper Lizzo stole the show.


On this date in 1940, the first major storm of winter stopped traffic in Gorman on what was then called the Ridge Route between Los Angeles and Kern counties. “Occupants of an estimated 500 automobiles and trucks stalled on the Ridge Route thumped themselves to keep warm while highway crews spread dirt on ice-coated pavement to permit traffic to move,” The Times reported the next day. The Ridge Route is now Interstate 5.


— Scuffles broke out during a Glendale town hall event on Armenian genocide that was attended by Rep. Adam B. Schiff, who is at the center of the effort to impeach Trump. As Schiff began speaking, about a dozen people began yelling at him; they removed their jackets, revealing shirts supporting Trump.

— Tributes have been pouring in for Tim Staples, a San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department search and rescue team volunteer who died on the treacherous slopes of Mt. Baldy while taking part in a massive search for a missing hiker.

— Southern Californians of Vietnamese descent have been rallying outside the Chinese consulate in L.A. behind the Hong Kong protesters who are pushing for democracy.

— Burbank Unified school officials removed a mural of Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi from a campus during the same week she denounced genocide charges levied against her country’s military.


— Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy discusses her plans for “Star Wars” and more after the film “The Rise of Skywalker” and the Baby Yoda phenomenon.

— After years of supporting roles or shared leads, Regina King is the undisputed star of “Watchmen,” the first major superhero drama on TV to star an African American woman.

— The Hallmark Channel has reversed its ban on advertisements featuring same-sex couples and apologized for pulling them.

— Actress Anna Karina, who died Saturday in Paris at age 79, more than Jean-Luc Godard’s muse; she helped define the French New Wave.


— The promise of reparations to atone for historical ties to slavery has opened new territory in a reckoning at U.S. colleges, which until now have responded with monuments, building name changes and public apologies.

— Marathon United Nations climate talks have ended with a slim compromise that sparked widespread disappointment.

— British Prime Minister Boris Johnson says he is set to begin “before Christmas” the push to secure parliamentary approval for his Brexit deal.

— In Spain, sex workers are fighting for union rights, leaving some feminists conflicted.


— Louisiana’s gator farmers are getting ornery as California’s ban on alligator-skin boots and purses finally goes into effect.

— If you still have money in a flexible spending account, here are some tips for spending it before year’s end.


— The Rams’ playoff aspirations suffered a devastating blow in a loss to the Dallas Cowboys.

LeBron James put on a show as the Lakers beat the Atlanta Hawks to extend their winning streak to seven games.


Presidential candidates rarely discuss California’s issues. They should try at the next debate, writes columnist George Skelton.

— As an emergency room doctor, Steven Sainsbury saw how often guns kill. Leave firearms off your holiday shopping list.


— How coerced labor in Xinjiang, China, “touches almost every part of the supply chain.” (Foreign Policy)

Tucker Carlson: “I’ve made a complete break mentally with the world I used to live in.” (The Atlantic)

— “The 50 best comedy sketches of the decade”: Agree or disagree? (Vulture)


Porto’s potato balls, guava-and-cheese strudel and Cuban cakes and pastries have become the stuff of L.A. legend. But do you know the story of how they began? Much of it revolves around Rosa Porto, who lost her job and saw her husband sent to a labor camp when Fidel Castro took power in Cuba. The couple would eventually leave and settle in L.A., where Rosa baked and sold cakes for neighbors and fellow Cuban immigrants. Last week, the bakery and cafe’s matriarch died at 89.

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