Today: The Mooch in the Middle

Anthony Scaramucci answers questions during a White House news briefing on July 21, 2017.
Anthony Scaramucci answers questions during a White House news briefing on July 21, 2017. (Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images)

With turmoil on many fronts, there's no break-in period for the new face of the White House. I'm Davan Maharaj, editor-in-chief of the Los Angeles Times. Here are some story lines I don't want you to miss today.



The Mooch in the Middle

Congress will question presidential advisor Jared Kushner about Russia behind closed doors. Senators are expected to vote on a healthcare bill, but they haven't known what it will be. The House is getting ready to vote on a bill to limit President Trump's ability to suspend or terminate sanctions on Russia. And the president keeps tweeting — about the "complete power to pardon," a "witch hunt" and loyalty. With Sean Spicer gone, the new man in the middle of all this is Anthony "The Mooch" Scaramucci, the White House's new communications director who talks a smooth game but had to delete some old tweets and apologize for having called Trump a "hack."


More Politics

-- "I did not collude, nor know of anyone else in the campaign who colluded, with any foreign government," senior White House adviser Jared Kushner said in a statement Monday.

-- As the Trump administration looks to crack down on legal marijuana, military veterans are lobbying for pot.

-- Could Trump pardon himself? No president ever has, and legal opinions are mixed.

-- Perspective: Why Spicer's brief but vivid career as White House press secretary was great TV.

What Did USC Know — and When?

Four days after The Times published a story about drug use by the then-dean of USC's medical school, the university said it was "outraged and disgusted" by Dr. Carmen A. Puliafito's conduct and announced it was moving to fire him. Though it's unclear when top USC officials first learned about the allegations, The Times made repeated inquiries over the last 15 months. Phone calls were not returned, emails went unanswered and a letter seeking an interview with USC President C.L. Max Nikias to discuss Puliafito was returned by courier, unopened. Read the correspondence here.

LAPD's Cadet Program Has the Blues

The Los Angeles Police Department's cadet program enrolls more than 2,000 young people who hand out bobbleheads at Dodgers games, direct traffic at Hollywood Bowl parking lots, listen to lectures and work on their physical fitness. But a recent scandal involving cadets, stolen police cars and illicit sex has shed light on deficiencies both in the program and in how the LAPD keeps tabs on its cars and other equipment.

The Tragic Toll of Human Smuggling

The driver of a tractor-trailer is in custody after police found eight bodies and dozens of people struggling for their lives in the back of the sweltering 18-wheeler in San Antonio. Authorities are calling it a human-trafficking tragedy, and it's not the first here. While the acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement is vowing to stop trafficking, some immigration advocates say ramping up border security has driven those seeking refuge into the arms of smugglers.

For Asian American Lawyers, It's Lonely at the Top


For much of the United States' history, Asian Americans were excluded from the legal profession. Today, there are more than 50,000 Asian American lawyers, compared with only 10,000 in 1990. But as California Supreme Court Justice Goodwin Liu writes in this op-ed, reaching the profession's top ranks has proved more elusive. Why? Read on.

A Sad Day at the Zoo

One of the challenges of reporting from overseas is putting a human face on events taking place thousands of miles away. This story puts an animal's face on Venezuela's economic and political troubles. The Caricuao zoo in Caracas was once a showcase for tropical wildlife and a major tourist destination. Now it is the picture of neglect, with vultures circling above the pen of Ruperta, an African elephant who was once the star attraction.

Children look at Ruperta, the main attraction of the Caricuao zoo in Caracas, Venezuela.
Children look at Ruperta, the main attraction of the Caricuao zoo in Caracas, Venezuela. (Adriana Loureiro Fernandez / For The Times)


-- Gustavo Arellano on the upside of visible homelessness in Orange County: We can't pretend we're better than everyone else.

-- Sixteen years after an East L.A. bar owner was stabbed to death, an LAPD reserve police officer solved the slaying.

-- California's agriculture industry is trying to bring robots into the fields before it runs out of low-wage immigrant workers.

-- How Rotten Tomatoes became Hollywood's most influential and feared website.

-- There's big money in playing video games, a.k.a. e-sports.

-- Dear media: When you cover death by suicide, do it thoughtfully.




-- A real-life Iron Man? Richard Browning shows off a jet-powered exosuit at Comic-Con.

-- Travel writer Christopher Reynolds takes a pack trip into the Eastern Sierra for four days of riding, fishing and camping.

-- Jeff Goldblum explains his "Thor: Ragnarok" character as only he can.


-- Claremont McKenna College has suspended several students over their demonstration against a speaker known for defending police against Black Lives Matter activists.

-- The Orange County district attorney's office is investigating the jailhouse death of a 27-year-old man convicted of car theft who was sharing a cell with a man charged with two murders.

-- A massive wildfire burning near Yosemite National Park that forced the evacuation of thousands of residents last week is 40% contained.

-- Lowriders and other car lovers have turned out in force this summer for cruising events on Whittier Boulevard in East L.A., but officials are again looking to curb the cruising.


-- Film critic Justin Chang says Tiffany Haddish is a comic revelation in the sweet, sexy and hilarious "Girls Trip."

-- What was Comic-Con in San Diego like? These pictures capture the scene.

-- The late Chester Bennington's real artistic legacy will be the message he put across: the reassurance he offered from the dark.

-- At the FYF Fest, Frank Ocean and Brad Pitt teamed up to make the music festival feel like one of a kind.


John Heard played a corrupt detective in "The Sopranos," Tom Hanks' nemesis in "Big" and a disabled Vietnam War veteran in the film "Cutter's Way." Though most people associate Heard, who was found dead at age 71 over the weekend, as the father in "Home Alone," he didn't necessarily want to be remembered that way. He thought his role as a drunkard in the original "Sharknado" would "replace people calling me the 'Home Alone' dad."


-- Drug war bloodshed in Mexico has soared to record levels, with more homicides recorded in June than in any other month in at least two decades.

-- Yuri Dmitriev dedicated his life to finding the mass graves of thousands of Stalin's victims. Now, friends and colleagues say the government is trying to silence him.

-- Confused by all those groups fighting in Syria? We break it down by arm patches.

-- A new study shows that friendliness in dogs is associated with the same genes that make some people hyper-social.


-- From California to the Midwest, billionaire investor Warren Buffett is steadily building an energy powerhouse.

-- This reluctant librarian has a taste for disruption, and that makes for good business.


-- At the British Open, Jordan Spieth turned a horrendous situation into perhaps the greatest moment of his golf career.

-- The Dodgers are on a roll, but — uh oh! — their ace pitcher Clayton Kershaw had to leave Sunday's game because of tightness on the right side of his lower back.


-- If President Trump fires special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, we're headed for a constitutional crisis.

-- Don't believe the American Heart Assn., investigative journalist Nina Teicholz says. Butter, steak and coconut oil aren't likely to kill you.


-- On Islam, the wall and Hillary Clinton: the tweets Scaramucci deleted. (Washington Post)

-- Who needs fantasies of the Confederacy when we have real life in a Southern town? (Avidly)

-- Why is Japan's birthrate so low? (The Atlantic)



Lady Bug the dachshund was once dumped at a Riverside shelter, her hind legs unable to move. Thanks to the love and care of the vet who adopted her, including acupuncture, physical therapy and a water treadmill, Lady Bug not only can walk again, she also competed at the 22nd Wiener Nationals at Los Alamitos Race Course. As columnist Chris Erskine reveals, this story has legs — short, stubby, cute ones.

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