Newsletter: House Democrats’ preemptive strike


In the Senate impeachment trial, House prosecutors tackled President Trump’s Biden claims in an effort to preempt the White House’s narrative.


House Democrats’ Preemptive Strike

House prosecutors are expected to wrap up their opening arguments in the Senate impeachment trial of President Trump today by focusing on obstruction of Congress, the second of two articles of impeachment against President Trump.


Yesterday, the Democratic team of impeachment managers tried to preempt what they expect Trump’s defense team will argue beginning Saturday — that the president has done nothing wrong and none of the allegations described by Democrats are impeachable offenses.

So, House prosecutors focused on why abuse of power, the first impeachment article, doesn’t have to be a crime recognized under the law.

And they addressed head-on the topic of former Vice President Joe Biden, and his son Hunter Biden, by asserting that there’s no evidence they acted inappropriately in relation to Ukraine — an effort to show that Trump had no credible basis for asking the country to investigate the two men.

Rep. Adam B. Schiff, who has led the prosecutors’ presentation, has drawn praise from Democrats and even some Republicans for his steady performance, though other Republicans have called it repetitive.

But no matter what party, senators are finding ways to cope with the long days of impeachment arguments, including vigorous gum-chewing, candy stashes and glasses of milk.

More Politics


— The Trump administration has announced the replacement of Obama-era water protections with a significantly weaker set. The new regulations lift limits on how much pollution can be dumped into small streams and wetlands, and they are expected to hit California and other Western states especially hard.

— In step with Trump’s push for more energy development in California’s deserts, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management says it wants to transform 22,000 acres of public land in the southern Owens Valley into one of the largest geothermal leasing sites in the state.

— The Trump administration has moved to impose restrictions on tourist visas for pregnant foreign women to prevent so-called birth tourism aimed at gaining U.S. citizenship for the child.

— The White House says Trump today will become the first president to attend the March for Life, an annual antiabortion gathering in Washington.

Reunited, but It’s Not the End of the Story

At L.A. International Airport this week, nine parents arrived from Guatemala City on a mission: to be reunited with their children. For some, it has been nearly two years since the Trump administration separated their families and deported the parents. But a long road lies ahead: “As happy as this reunion is, it’s really the beginning of a whole other journey for these parents and children who have been highly traumatized by what they’ve been put through,” says one child psychiatrist.


Arming Children in Mexico

In a lawless stretch of western Mexico, children as young as 6 are taking up arms against organized crime as part of a vigilante group. Human rights officials are calling it child abuse. A leader of the group says an increase in violence in the region and the absence of government intervention have left the community with no choice but to arm even its children against drug gangs.


In 1948, a runaway locomotive led The Times’ coverage. The train stopped just short of disaster, but too late to avoid spectacle. Crews had just unhooked a Santa Fe diesel locomotive on the morning of Jan. 25. All 600,000 pounds lurched forward and crashed into a concrete barrier, but stopped after hitting a utility pole. A third of it was left hanging 20 feet over Aliso Street. There were no injuries and the train was moved with assistance from a crane. Read the original story here.


— Three American firefighters who died in an Australian air crash fighting bush fires there were flying a California-based tanker. They were identified late Thursday as as Capt. Ian H. McBeth, 44, of Great Falls, Mont.; First Officer Paul Clyde Hudson, 42, of Buckeye, Ariz.; and Flight Engineer Rick A. DeMorgan, Jr., 43, of Navarre, Fla.

— Reports of hate crimes rose in L.A. for the fifth straight year in 2019, hitting their highest level since 2002. They got more violent and were more often based on religion, and one expert says there’s reason to think this year could be worse.

— L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti says he hopes to reach a preliminary agreement with the Trump administration on a joint plan to help combat the city’s swelling homelessness crisis when he meets with Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson today.

— A new campaign ad from former Rep. Darrell Issa has drawn criticism from some of his Republican colleagues for highlighting the sexuality of his opponent Carl DeMaio.

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Mt. Waterman, L.A.’s nearest and coziest ski resort, will be open this weekend, providing a rare opportunity for locals looking for an easy and affordable day in the snow.

Lunar New Year is Saturday, and as always, there will be much drama surrounding the giving of those lucky red envelopes.

Keto recipes made for everyone, and a beginner’s guide to the diet.

— On the garden calendar: how to take a free hügelkultur workshop.


— Dozens of Hollywood names have signed a letter urging the Directors Guild of America to make accommodations for new and expectant parents in its policies. The list includes Greta Gerwig, Amy Poehler, Ava DuVernay and Reese Witherspoon.

— From “Old Town Road” to western outfits, Lil Nas X shot to fame as a modern cowboy. Hodo Musa is the stylist who honed his signature look — and she’s helping decide where it goes next. Lil Nas X is up for six Grammy Awards on Sunday. Here’s what you need to know before showtime.


— How experimental musician FKA twigs is redefining her artistry: “I used to be a dancer and now I’m a mover and it’s just different.

— The Sundance Film Festival is often a gold rush for deal makers. But that may change after a year of flops and a shorter supply of films without distributors.

— The publisher of “American Dirt” is standing by the polarizing new novel, saying it wants to generate “empathy” for migrants.


—As Chinese officials take unprecedented measures to contain the spread of a new respiratory virus of unknown potency, 33 million people at the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak are under quarantine and Lunar New Year celebrations around the country have been canceled. In Los Angeles, a traveler who arrived at LAX was taken to a hospital for evaluation. But the World Health Organization says it’s too early to call the outbreak an emergency.

— In a New York courtroom, actress Annabella Sciorra confronted former movie mogul Harvey Weinstein from the witness stand. Her two hours of wrenching testimony marked the first time one of Weinstein’s accusers stared him down in a criminal court.

— Hundreds of Puerto Ricans protested in San Juan, angry over emergency aid that until recently sat unused in a warehouse as recent earthquakes rocked the island.


Bangladesh’s new, purpose-built settlement for some of its 1 million Rohingya Muslim refugees from Myanmar has concrete housing, flood defenses, food warehouses, freshly paved roads, mosques and a solar grid. One problem? It’s in the middle of the ocean. Meanwhile, the United Nations’ top court has ordered Myanmar to take emergency measures to protect the Rohingya from violence.


— The stockbroker who inspired “The Wolf of Wall Street” served time for securities fraud. Now he’s suing the movie’s production company for fraud, saying he’s been damaged by allegations the movie was bankrolled by money pilfered from a Malaysian investment fund amid the 1MDB scandal.

California unions are expanding, with campaigns for nurses, electricians, animation artists, scooter mechanics and university researchers. But nationally, labor organizing is stagnating.

— Spain and other countries are outperforming the U.S. in attracting high-spending international tourists. Experts say Trump is one reason why.


— Javier “Chicharito” Hernández’s move to MLS represents something — but it’s not retirement, columnist Dylan Hernández writes. What Chicharito abandoned was a very specific goal.

— While you wait for Super Bowl Sunday, here are some bets to make.


— L.A.’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority has a ridership problem, the editorial board writes. Would making Metro free for its public school students help?


Cheating in baseball is a problem, but the L.A. City Council’s call to rewrite history isn’t the solution. There’s no way to prove the Dodgers would have won, the editorial board says.

— To Americans watching on TV, impeachment may look less like a democratic spectacle than “a local cable co-op hearing,” Times critic Lorraine Ali writes. “The no-frills production had even the jurors tuning out,” she says. “Trump is on trial, but so is the disappearing American attention span.


— Why do so many TikTok creators film in their bathrooms? It’s the perfect stage for this social media moment. (New York Times)

— Earthworms are usually treated as guardians of the soil. But jumping worms are taking over North American forests. (The Atlantic)


A vineyard in Sonoma County has turned the water of the Russian River into wine, but it’s no miracle. Officials say more than 97,000 gallons of Cabernet Sauvignon spilled from a tank and eventually leaked into the 110-mile tributary flowing into the Pacific Ocean. Now there are concerns about what all that red wine will do to the water quality and the delicate ecosystem, but recent rains may have helped to dilute it.

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