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World & Nation

Today: 48-52 and fight

In this image from video, Sen. Mitt Romney speaks on the Senate floor about the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump on Wednesday.
In this image from video, Sen. Mitt Romney speaks on the Senate floor about the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump on Wednesday.
(Senate Television via AP)

President Trump has been acquitted of two articles of impeachment in a mostly partisan vote, with one notable exception. But a reconciliation looks unlikely.

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48-52 and Fight

The Senate has acquitted President Trump of abusing the power of his office and obstructing Congress’ investigation into his conduct, ending the third presidential impeachment trial in American history.

The verdicts on the first article of impeachment, abuse of power — 48-52, with only Republican Sen. Mitt Romney dramatically breaking party ranks, citing “an appalling abuse of public trust” — and the second article on a strict party line vote let Trump declare victory as he seeks reelection. But unlike any president in modern history, he will run under the stigma of having been impeached.

An attempt at reconciliation or closure is difficult to imagine. Partisan fury has deepened. Democrats resent a president they believe got away with abusing his office. Republicans are incensed he was impeached at all. Yet many on both sides believe their own emerged victorious, exciting passion among their core constituencies.

More Politics

— It was a highly partisan trial over which the chief justice presided as a strictly impartial judge.

— For some Mormons, Romney’s vote holds religious significance.

— A new bill in California would force registered voters to cast a ballot, though it would probably be challenged in court should it ultimately become law.

What’s Next After Fourth?

Joe Biden is scrambling to save his presidential campaign after a fourth-place finish in Iowa, attacking his rivals as he tries to avoid a similar fate in New Hampshire.

Ditching efforts to downplay a dismal showing, he critiqued Iowa’s two top finishers by name, nodding to Sen. Bernie Sanders’ socialist identity and Pete Buttigieg’s relative inexperience.

His supporters also rushed to prop up his candidacy, worrying back-to-back losses could tank it, and a super PAC working to elect him said it would spend $900,000 in the next week to help him in New Hampshire. Still, the momentum he had nine months ago will be tough to reignite.

Coal’s Dwindling Holdouts

The numbers tell the story: There are just 20 coal-fired power plants in the continental West whose owners haven’t committed to fully retiring them by specific dates, data compiled by the Sierra Club and additional research by The Times show. That’s compared to 49 that have shut down in the last decade or are slated to.

Coal is being pushed off the power grid by competition from cheaper, cleaner energy sources and rising public alarm about climate change. But a handful of Western utilities keep operating coal plants with no plans to decommission them. The Times dug into the holdouts and why they’re staying put.

Fears of the Coronavirus Spread

In its spread from a central Chinese city to dozens of countries, infecting more than 24,000 people, the novel coronavirus has been propelled by an air travel network that has made people around the globe more connected than ever before. Despite efforts to contain it, scientists are quietly preparing for the growing likelihood of a global pandemic.

As the virus has spread, so too has the fear, particularly among younger Americans — even though officials say the risk of catching it in the U.S. is low. Experts say constant exposure to information on social media is probably causing anxiety because of the sheer volume being shared, not all of it true. For one thing, experts say, you should probably forego the surgical mask and just wash your hands instead.

A Champion on and off the Screen

“Spartacus.” “Lust for Life.” “Champion.” Kirk Douglas, who died yesterday at age 103, brought intensity to all his roles on the screen — and to his work behind the scenes too. Never a fan of the studio system, Douglas launched his own independent production company in 1955, which allowed him to play a part in ending the Hollywood blacklist. He also gave millions to one of Hollywood’s oldest charities, the Motion Picture & Television Fund, and for patients with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. Our film critic Kenneth Turan shares why when he thinks of Douglas he thinks of a single cigarette.

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FROM THE ARCHIVES

Two decades ago this month, another impeachment verdict dominated newspaper front pages: President Bill Clinton’s. He had been accused of perjury and obstruction of justice in attempting to cover up his affair with Monica Lewinsky. There were splits along party lines, debates about whether to allow witness testimony and a cast of characters that are now familiar.

On Feb. 12, 1999, senators took their final vote: 55-45 to acquit him on the perjury charge, and 50-50 on obstruction of justice. On Feb. 13, the L.A. Times announced the news with the headline “CLINTON ACQUITTED.” Read more about how the trial unfolded here.

Feb. 13, 1999: A woman in Sacramento looks at newspaper headlines announcing the acquittal of President Bill Clinton.
Feb. 13, 1999: A woman in Sacramento looks at newspaper headlines announcing the acquittal of President Bill Clinton.
(Bob Galbraith / Associated Press)

CALIFORNIA

— Nearly 24 years after Kristin Smart vanished from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, investigators have served search warrants in the cold case, including one in San Pedro, where a man questioned back then now lives. Sources say they’re part of an effort to gather physical evidence like DNA.

— As L.A. traffic deaths stay high, officials are pleading with drivers: Stop texting.

— Freshman applications to University of California schools dipped for a second straight year, but transfer applications are up. Experts see more students attending community colleges first.

— In an effort to rectify decades of prosecutions targeting LGBTQ Californians, Gov. Gavin Newsom is launching a clemency program to pardon people prosecuted under discriminatory laws. Separately, he also wants to pause physical education tests for students for three years due to concerns over bullying.

— California DMV visitors are finding long lines and mayhem in pursuit of a Real ID. The Times’ Christopher Reynolds suggests you learn from his mistakes.

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HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

— A young aspiring actress whose allegation of sexual assault against Harvey Weinstein led to criminal charges in L.A. County testified in his New York City trial that he groped her while masturbating in an L.A. hotel room.

— The Geffen Playhouse is launching an artist residency project with Sterling K. Brown, Tarell Alvin McCraney and other big names. Cast Iron Entertainment will support work by and about artists of color.

Jessica Simpson’s memoir breaks open the dam that is her personal history, from sexual abuse she experienced as a child to her alcohol addiction.

— HBO Max chose Jameela Jamil to MC and judge a voguing competition show, prompting questions about whether she was the right choice for a series about LGBTQ ball culture. Then she came out as queer.

NATION-WORLD

— At least 138 people deported to El Salvador from the U.S. in recent years were subsequently killed, most within a year of their return, a new report says. It also confirmed at least 70 cases of sexual assault or other violence following their arrival.

Pope Francis has defrocked another founder of a Catholic religious movement for sexual misconduct and abusing his power.

— As cybercriminals step up attacks on local governments, some states are helping cities and counties protect themselves. But the scope of the cybersecurity services they offer varies widely, and some aren’t doing anything.

BUSINESS

Bernie Madoff, who defrauded investors of more than $19 billion in history’s biggest Ponzi scheme, is asking for early release from prison, saying he’s terminally ill.

Spotify has acquired the Ringer, the L.A.-based network of entertainment, sports and pop culture podcasts founded by Bill Simmons.

SPORTS

— As today’s NBA trade deadline approaches, Kyle Kuzma can’t get away from the rumors.

— The Dodgers’ Mookie Betts trade shows they’re finally serious about winning the World Series, columnist Bill Plaschke writes. Dylan Hernández says they’ll be underdogs no more.

Pete Rose wants Major League Baseball to lift his lifetime ban, saying the league didn’t impose similar discipline in the aftermath of the sign-stealing scandals.

OPINION

— The Times’ editorial board writes that Trump’s acquittal “was a virtual certainty from the start of the impeachment process. But that doesn’t make it any less disheartening and dangerous.

— In the races for the Los Angeles Unified school board, the editorial board endorses the incumbents and, in the race to replace Chairman Richard Vladovic, newcomer Silke Bradford.

— California has been a pioneer in recycling. It may have inadvertently made us even more wasteful, writes columnist Patt Morrison.

WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING

— Stopped hearing about vaping? The crisis isn’t getting better — it’s just getting started. (New York Magazine)

— Maybe we’d all have a healthier relationship with food if we cooked and ate it in the nude. (New York Times)

— Is that a traffic jam, or an artist with a wagon full of iPhones and a statement to make about big tech? If you use Google Maps, it might be hard to tell. (Wired)

ONLY IN L.A.

For most Americans, fur has lost its luster. But Angelenos have always been a class apart. For 75 years, Dicker and Dicker of Beverly Hills styled itself as the apex of Hollywood glamour. Its silver fox and Russian sable were the stuff of game show grand prizes, elegant lures for “Let’s Make a Deal,” “Hollywood Squares” and “Queen for a Day.” Now, it’s about to close its doors for good. Though California’s new ban on furs won’t go into effect until 2023, its owner wants to go out on a high note. For the store’s devotees, that means full-length mink on sale.

Comments or ideas? Email us at headlines@latimes.com.


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