Here are the stories you shouldn’t miss today:
Impeachment Time Draws Nigh
As the House moves toward impeaching President Trump, it’s all over but the long-winded speeches and procedural maneuvering. The vote to impeach is expected to play out along strictly party lines, and the only real question appears to be whether it happens today or tomorrow.
Yesterday, Trump lashed out at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the architect of the proceedings, in a six-page letter that veered from grievance to grievance and denied any wrongdoing. “You are making a mockery of impeachment and you are scarcely concealing your hatred of me, of the Republican Party, and tens of millions of patriotic Americans,” the letter reads.
Although Pelosi once said impeachment should be a bipartisan undertaking, she said in an interview with The Times yesterday that the gravity of the president’s misconduct made her willing to push forward without any Republican support. As for how it shapes her legacy, only time will tell.
Meanwhile, Trump is staging a “Merry Christmas” campaign rally in Michigan tonight.
— Rudolph W. Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer, says he provided the president with information that the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine was impeding investigations that could benefit Trump politically. Within weeks, she was recalled from her post.
— A federal judge has sentenced former Trump campaign official Richard Gates to 45 days in jail and three years of probation, while former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort has been hospitalized while serving his federal prison sentence.
— The chief judge of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court said that the FBI provided “unsupported” information when it applied to eavesdrop on a former Trump campaign advisor and directed the bureau to report back by next month on what steps it was taking to fix the problems.
— With funding for the federal government set to expire this weekend, the House has taken the first step in approving a deal on a $1.4-trillion spending package that would bolster election security, increase funding for fighting wildfires and, for the first time in more than 20 years, pay for gun safety research.
— Thursday’s Democratic presidential debate at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles is back on track after a labor dispute there was ended. Plus: Why does Pete Buttigieg bug so many progressive activists?
China Rising in the Mideast
As Trump has made moves that critics say strengthen Russia’s position in the Middle East, there’s another U.S. rival rising there: China. It now stands as the region’s largest investor and expects to cement that status with Belt and Road, a sprawling, $1-trillion infrastructure project meant to revive the ancient trading routes of the Silk Road.
No Escape From the Past
Growing up, Garry “Twin” Dorton was a leader of the Rollin’ 40s Crips gang. In recent years, Dorton used his street cred to mediate between rival gangs and mentor young people. “But there is a hard truth to gang-banging,” writes reporter Cindy Chang in today’s Column One: “You can never leave it behind, no matter how cleanly you live.”
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FROM THE ARCHIVES
Eleven years ago this week, a certain New York real estate developer sued Rancho Palos Verdes — the culmination of a years-long battle with the city over his golf course there, and in particular over the reviews required for him to build on the landslide-prone site. The Times reported at the time:
“When Donald Trump came to Rancho Palos Verdes six years ago with plans for a world-class golf course, he was welcomed with open arms. Then came the dispute with the city over his plan to name a street after himself. And then came the battle with neighbors over his 12-foot-tall ficus trees.
“Now the mogul is suing the small town, and suing big. He wants $100 million from a city with an annual budget just shy of $20 million.
“In a lawsuit filed this week, Trump accused the city of fraud and civil rights violations, contending that the city was refusing to allow improvements needed to maintain the ‘Trump image.’ ... But city leaders and some residents said the lawsuit was just another attempt by the real estate mogul to bully the community and avoid playing by the rules.”
The story also quoted Trump as saying that he “had conducted a private poll of area residents and found he had an 88% approval rating. Trump declined to give details about the poll, saying he is planning to use it in litigation.”
— Bankrupt utility giant PG&E Corp. has removed a requirement that California Gov. Gavin Newsom sign off on its settlement with wildfire victims, trying to buy more time for its restructuring plan.
— Where in California might a massive earthquake wreak the worst havoc? We mapped where it would cause the most shaking and destruction.
— The Long Beach breakwater won’t be removed. The Army Corps of Engineers says changes would be too costly and could hinder port operations and recommends rehabbing the reef.
— Many Latin American consulates in L.A. are led by women. The #MeToo movement is just one reason why.
HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS
— A talk-show host risked his career to interview the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. It’s now streaming for the first time.
— Milos Forman, Ivan Passer and their 73-year friendship: meeting in childhood, escaping Czechoslovakia and conquering Hollywood. Also, Passer gives a storyteller’s account as a witness to Czechoslovakia’s history — its tragicomic absurdity and stubborn humanity. Plus,
the story behind the story.
— Being a Jewish woman comes with baggage. From “Broad City” to “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” what you see on TV just scratches the surface.
— We got Eddie Murphy, Robert De Niro, Antonio Banderas and three other actors together for a conversation about guerrilla filmmaking, movies that misbehave and more.
— “Hustlers” director Lorene Scafaria writes about the dance she had to do for money to make her movie about a band of strippers who scammed their clients.
— When it comes to climate change, more and more scientists are rejecting the idea that researchers should just stick to the data. Instead, they’re speaking publicly about the risks.
— Pope Francis has abolished the use of the Vatican’s highest level of secrecy in clergy sex abuse cases, responding to mounting criticism in a move victims’ advocates cheered as long overdue. “The carnival of obscurity is over,” one said.
— When Iran blocked the internet, tech experts in the U.S. tried to hack a solution. Here’s why they couldn’t.
— How a new law moves India closer to being a Hindu country.
— Meet the small cocoa farmers taking on Big Chocolate.
— Here’s why so many gas pumps still have less-secure credit card readers.
— Organizations representing freelance journalists are mounting a legal challenge to a AB5, a new California law that aims to rein in companies’ use of independent contractors by placing certain restrictions on contract work.
— Angel Stadium could sell this week for a lot less than first advertised.
— Drew Brees versus Tom Brady: Who’s really thrown more touchdown passes?
— Now that the Supreme Court has sent the message that homelessness is not a crime, L.A. city and county officials should focus not on prettifying the streets but on building more shelters and creating permanent support housing, The Times’ editorial board writes.
— Protecting our elections from cyberthreats requires long-range planning and investment, not a one-time rescue, writes Michael Chertoff, the former Homeland Security secretary under President George W. Bush.
WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING
— How black women are saving black mothers’ and babies’ lives by helping one another have healthier pregnancies. (Politico Magazine)
— “I always said that when my time came I’d want to go fast. But where’s the fun in that?” Art critic Peter Schjeldahl on the art of dying. (The New Yorker)
— Prison costs taxpayers $80 billion a year. It costs some families everything they have. (The Marshall Project)
ONLY IN L.A.
To understand why Porto’s is L.A.'s most beloved bakery, all you need to do is eat a potato ball, a divine sphere of fluffy mashed potatoes filled with spiced meat and fried to tawny brown, as columnist Lucas Kwan Peterson lovingly details. But each location’s Saturday-at-Disneyland crowds are a clue too. As we told you earlier this week, the chain’s co-founder Rosa Porto has died at 89. Over the decades, her empire adapted to L.A.'s changing demographics and dwindling Cuban population and in so doing became the quintessential L.A. restaurant — and an incredible story of American success.