An impeachment standoff ends. A Senate trial nears. And new evidence emerges.
Next Stop, a Senate Trial
After a nearly monthlong standoff, the House of Representatives plans to send articles of impeachment against President Trump today to the Senate, which is poised to begin pretrial preparations Thursday.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi had been holding the articles in the House in hopes of getting more favorable trial terms for Democrats, after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had stated that there was “no chance” Trump would be convicted and that he was coordinating with the president’s lawyers on ground rules.
The outcome of Pelosi’s gambit remains to be seen, but the extra time has allowed former Trump national security advisor John Bolton to state he would testify in the Senate if subpoenaed.
In addition, House Democrats have released a trove of documents they obtained from Lev Parnas, a close associate of Trump’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani, including a handwritten note that mentions asking Ukraine’s president to investigate “the Biden case.”
Meanwhile, Trump’s lawyers are scrambling to assemble their legal team and draft opening statements for a Senate impeachment trial that is expected to start next week.
— After nearly two years of a bruising trade war, the new U.S.-China trade deal to be signed today will give Trump some immediate benefits and allow both sides to put off the most difficult issues. That means it doesn’t even begin to address the big differences on trade and economic policy.
— Former Trump administration national security advisor Michael Flynn has filed court papers to withdraw his guilty plea, saying federal prosecutors had acted in “bad faith” and breached their deal with him in the Russia investigation.
— During the first Democratic debate of the new year, Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren more or less made nice, the Iraq war resurfaced, Sen. Amy Klobuchar had another solid night, and former Vice President Joe Biden had reason to be pleased. Here are five takeaways from the night.
— And while the debate played out, candidate Michael Bloomberg‘s meatball-loving staff sent out a string of odd tweets.
An ‘Animal Apocalypse’
As huge fires continue to burn across Australia, 27 people have died as a result. The death toll for native animals: hundreds of millions to more than 1 billion, scientists estimate. The huge numbers illustrate that, while humans can adapt somewhat to intensifying fires — through better emergency planning, more fire crews and “home hardening” — delicate ecosystems are far more vulnerable. And the devastating effects on wildlife could be a preview of what California may experience in future fire seasons.
The Mystery of Delta Flight 89
How did the pilots of a jetliner end up dumping fuel on a playground filled with elementary school children in Cudahy? That is one of many questions surrounding the Tuesday morning incident. Officials say Delta Flight 89 abruptly turned back to LAX shortly after taking off for Shanghai because of an engine problem. Typically, when pilots dump fuel to reduce weight before an emergency landing, they try to do so over water and at a high altitude. This time, residents and schoolchildren in Cudahy and other neighborhoods long plagued by pollution found themselves dodging jet propellant.
Did These Cops Commit a Crime?
An investigation into allegations that members of the elite Los Angeles Police Department Metro Division falsely portrayed people as gang members or associates has expanded into a criminal probe. Officers assigned across the city are suspected of falsifying field interview cards during stops and entering incorrect information about those questioned in an effort to boost stop statistics. “This definitely has a criminal aspect,” Chief Michel Moore told the Police Commission. “Falsifying information on a department report is a crime.”
A digest of essential news, insight and analysis from L.A. Times editors.
FROM THE ARCHIVES
On this date in 1967, the first Super Bowl game was held in L.A. The Green Bay Packers and Kansas City Chiefs faced off at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. It was also the start of what would become a Super Bowl tradition: an elaborate halftime show. The Los Angeles Times reported the show featured “the Grambling College Tiger Band from Louisiana, the 193-piece University of Arizona Band, the Bell Rocket Air Men, a 200-voice chorus, 300 pigeons and 10,000 balloons.” The “Rocket Air Men” wore special belts that shot them 100 feet into the air, but only for about 20 seconds, according to The Times.
— Three of USC’s top athletic officials are out — including Steve Lopes, long been considered second in command — after turmoil including the college admissions scandal.
— Michael Avenatti, the former attorney for porn actress Stormy Daniels, was arrested on suspicion of bail violations, according to a court filing by federal prosecutors.
— Nury Martinez has outlined a “families first” agenda as the new president of the Los Angeles City Council, including a reexamination of how homelessness is being handled.
— Four members of Moms 4 Housing, an activist group protesting the Bay Area housing crisis, have been arrested in the vacant Oakland home where they had been squatting since November.
— A Santa Clara County sheriff’s deputy is on paid leave after a 9-year-old found his badge and a loaded handgun in an Airbnb in South Lake Tahoe, where he’d apparently left them behind, authorities said.
HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS
— Secret screenings. Redacted scripts. “This Is Us” creator Dan Fogelman and his team work hard to keep the show’s signature twists secret.
— Spike Lee will lead the jury of this year’s Cannes Film Festival and become the first black person to do so in its 73 years. Festival organizers hope he’ll “shake things up” among the world’s cinema elite.
— Billie Eilish is about to become the youngest person ever to write and record a James Bond theme song.
— The Peabody Awards are going Hollywood after 80 years as a mostly New York affair. The ceremony will take place at the Beverly Wilshire hotel in June.
— TV phenom Josh Thomas deserves your attention. This time, he’s ready for it.
— More than six years after Bridgegate, the scheme to deliver political payback by orchestrating a massive, four-day traffic jam in New Jersey, is now before the Supreme Court. The question the justices are homing in on: Even if it were politically motivated, was it a crime?
— Britain, France and Germany have launched action under the Iran nuclear agreement, paving the way for possible sanctions. The European Union’s foreign policy chief says it’s a response to Tehran’s attempts to roll back parts of the deal.
— Meanwhile, as protests in Iran continue, it’s uncertain whether the protests will grow big enough and include all layers of society to truly threaten a government run by ayatollahs since the 1979 revolution.
— South Africa can now strip refugees of their asylum status if they engage in any political activity related to their home countries, according to a new law that critics call illegal and deeply ironic.
— A new Trump administration policy makes it harder for victims of wage theft at staffing agencies and subcontractors to sue the companies where the violations actually took place — but not in California, due to its tougher labor laws.
— As fraudsters target seniors for scams, banks should do more to protect them, writes columnist David Lazarus.
— Trump plans to overhaul Medicaid eligibility rules despite scant evidence of fraud. Consider it a new front in the Republican war on helping the poor, columnist Michael Hiltzik writes.
— Dwight Howard’s second act with the Lakers has been “pure joy” for both sides, and his one-year, $2.56-million contract now looks like a bargain, columnist Helene Elliott writes.
— The WNBA and its players union have reached a landmark eight-year collective bargaining agreement that triples what top players can earn and brings the first six-figure salary average in the league’s history.
— Chargers great Antonio Gates has officially retired.
— Ousted Papa John’s founder and chief executive John Schnatter says his recorded N-word comments were taken out of context and contained “never a whiff of bias or prejudice,” he writes in a letter to the editor in response to Sandy Banks’ column.
— Flavored vapes hook kids. The federal government says it’s on track to ban them by next month. But why wait? California lawmakers should act now, writes the editorial board.
— Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders are quickly becoming Democratic rivals. Columnist Jonah Goldberg says it sounds like a replay of the 2004 primary.
WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING
— The bristlecone pines of eastern California have fascinated scientists for decades, and these “post-apocalyptic trees, sci-fi trees” might just outlive us all. (The New Yorker)
— When “low-carb” became “keto”: Amazon and new online trends are shaping old products. (Vox)
ONLY IN CALIFORNIA
Each year, visitors to Yosemite National Park turn out to see a natural phenomenon that lasts just two weeks in February: the winter “firefall,” when the waning light hits Horsetail Fall on El Capitan’s granite walls at just the right angle to create a streak of orange resembling a lava flow. But if you want to capture the firefall in all its glory, you can’t just show up and expect to be wowed. Here’s how to see it.