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    Days before Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh is scheduled to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee to address Christine Blasey Ford's allegations of sexual assault, a second woman has come forward alleging sexual misconduct. 

    Deborah Ramirez, who attended Yale University with Kavanaugh, told The New Yorker that Kavanaugh pulled down his pants and exposed himself to her while they were classmates there.

    “I remember a penis being in front of my face,” said Ramirez, who says she had been drinking. “I knew that's not what I wanted, even in that state of mind.”

    In the last week, three sources familiar with the accusation told NBC about Ramirez's accusation. Ramirez, 53, is the same age as Kavanaugh and they both graduated from the university in 1987. Her sister Denise Ramirez was a year behind them at Yale.

    Kavanaugh denied the allegation and the White House called it a "smear campaign" in a statement. 

    Photo Credit: Win McNamee/Getty Images

    In this Sept. 19, 2018, file photo, Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh leaves his home in Chevy Chase, Maryland.In this Sept. 19, 2018, file photo, Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh leaves his home in Chevy Chase, Maryland.

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    For Yolanda Gonzalez, creating art is especially personal while painting portraits. She uses her art and talent to connect across cultures and generations.

    "It taps into a part of our soul that is sacred and that is very personal," she says.

    The daughter of Mexican-American parents, Gonzalez grew up in Southern California and attended San Gabriel Mission High School. It was an art teacher there who recognized Gonzalez's talent and potential. The teacher entered her art into a contest where Gonzalez won first place.

    "I was so excited because I don't think I'd ever gotten recognition for anything in my whole life," she said.

    It was the first of many honors.

    Her art has been exhibited all over the world, and it is sought after by some of the top collectors of Chicano art, including actor Cheech Marin, whose wife Natasha is depicted in the ceramics.

    Notably, Gonzalez's portraits of women exude confidence. She also believes people to be powerful, strong and beautiful.

    Gonzales also likes to share her creativity and knowledge. She volunteers at the AltaMed Senior Center in Downtown Los Angeles, where she teaches art to a diverse class of senior citizens.

    "It's like I'm in another place," art student Josefa Rayrucker says. "It relaxes me a lot."

    For Gonzalez, though, the experience is more than simply teaching these seniors about art.

    "Not only am I giving them the ability to create and to paint and to express themselves; I feel like I'm also feeding a part of them that needs to be nurtured, loved and cared for," she says.

    She says, for her, teaching art is a form of mediation, a way of feeding "the whole energy of creativity" that siphons good feelings into the universe.

    Photo Credit: Azucena Varela

    Yolanda Gonzalez's art incorporates culture, emotion and experience.Yolanda Gonzalez's art incorporates culture, emotion and experience.

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    Months of protests finally paid off Sunday.

    Disneyland Resort, which includes Disneyland and Disneyland California Adventure theme parks, three hotels and the Downtown Disney District, announced an agreement that will provide a minimum wage increase of 40 percent over the next two years for 2,700 Disneyland Resort hotel workers from Unite Here! 11.

    The new minimum wage increase to $15 will take effect in Jan. 2019, as Unite Here! 11 members ratified a new five-year agreement with Disneyland Resort, which the company described as a 40 percent increase over the next two years.

    Housekeepers' wages will move to $15.80 immediately, according to Disneyland Resort.

    In July, nearly 10,000 workers from Master Services Council separately agreed to a three-year agreement that established a $15 minimum wage, which was also set to take effect in January of 2018.

    In addition, Disneyland Resort said that it was undertaking what it described as "major initiatives" to provide employees comprehensive and affordable healthy care options and free employee skills training and education. The company said it will roll out employee healthcare coverage that offers affordable options for workers, their families and eligible dependents in October.

    In addition, Disneyland Resort said that it is also paying increased minimum rates to thousands of hourly non-union workers, though it did not detail the amount of the rate increase for that segment of workers.

    "The strides we have made to implement $15 an hour minimum wages will have an immediate and lasting impact on the quality of life of our cast members and their families," Josh D'Amaro, president of the Disneyland Resort, said in a statement. "Additionally, we are very proud to offer our cast peace of mind through affordable healthcare options and free educational opportunities with our groundbreaking new program called Disney Aspire."

    "Over the last several months, Disney has found common ground on significant labor contracts, increased wages for union and non-union workers and introduced a comprehensive no-cost education program for hourly cast members that's unlike any we've ever seen," President and CEO of the Orange County Business Council Lucy Dunn said in the Disneyland Resort statement. "This is not only good for Disney and its cast members, it sets the bar for our entire Orange County community and we applaud their efforts."

    The company claims that Disneyland Resort has increased employment numbers by nearly 50 percent over the past decade, adding 10,000 new jobs and bringing its staff total to 30,000 people, which the company describes as "cast members."

    Photo Credit: Heather Navarro

    Sleeping Beauty's Castle is pictured here at Disneyland during the summer of 2018.Sleeping Beauty's Castle is pictured here at Disneyland during the summer of 2018.

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    Kohl's plans to hire 90,000 seasonal associates, in addition to hosting a seasonal hiring day at select stores across the country on Oct. 20, the company announced in a statement.

    Interested candidates can stop by participating Kohl's stores for an opportunity to interview for a seasonal position.

    The company is looking for talented candidates interested in joining their team.

    "Kohl's wants workers willing to help deliver an excellent shopping experience to customers," said Kohl's vice president Ryan Festerling.

    The department store retailing chain said it plans to hire 90,000 seasonal associates across its more than 1,100 and plus stores, nine distribution centers, five e-commerce fulfilment centers and credit centers nationwide.

    Kohl's has a variety of positions available, but hiring needs are determined on an individual store basis and may vary by location.

    For more information, visit

    Photo Credit: Getty Images

    File Photo: Kohl's store on August 21, 2018 in California. Kohl's reported better than expected second quarter earnings with earnings of $292 million, or $1.76 per share. Analysts had expected $1.65 per share. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)File Photo: Kohl's store on August 21, 2018 in California. Kohl's reported better than expected second quarter earnings with earnings of $292 million, or $1.76 per share. Analysts had expected $1.65 per share. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

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    British-born music publicist Rob Goldstone now believes the infamous meeting he helped arrange between senior Trump campaign officials and a Russian lawyer who promised dirt on Democrats may have been a Russian intelligence set-up, he told NBC News exclusively.

    He also agreed that he conveyed a "dirty offer" to the Trump team, and while the dirt "didn't materialize," he believes that's what drew the scrutiny of congressional investigators and special counsel Robert Mueller.

    Goldstone had promised Donald Trump Jr. that the lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, had information that "would incriminate Hillary [Clinton] and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father." He also emailed that it was "part of Russia and its government's support for Mr. Trump."

    Goldstone hopes his new book, "Pop Stars, Pageants & Presidents: How an Email Trumped My Life," will provide context for his role in the episode.

    Photo Credit: NBC News

    British music publicist Rob Goldstone is seen outside Trump Tower in New York City, the site of a June 2016 meeting he helped set up between Russians and members of the Trump campaign team.British music publicist Rob Goldstone is seen outside Trump Tower in New York City, the site of a June 2016 meeting he helped set up between Russians and members of the Trump campaign team.

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    A Florida sheriff's deputy fatally shot his wife before turning the gun on himself while their four children were inside the home, NBC affiliate WFLA-TV reported.

    The shooting happened at a subdivision in the Pasco County city of Land O’Lakes, located just north of Tampa.

    Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco said deputies responded to the home around midnight Monday after a teen called 911 to report a shooting. 

    Once inside, deputies found the body of 33-year-old Samantha Keithley on a couch downstairs. Kirk Keithley, 39, a deputy with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, was found dead upstairs with a self-inflicted gunshot wound, the Pasco County Sheriff's office said.

    According to WFLA, deputies said the couple had two children together and one child each from a previous relationship. The children were inside the home at the time of the shooting, but Nocco said they did not appear to witness it.

    The children's ages were not immediately clear, but Nocco said the oldest child is 14 years old. 

    Nocco said the deputy did not use his service weapon in the shooting and added that there had been no previous 911 calls to the home.

    "Domestic violence is a horrendous act that goes on in every community," Nocco said at an early morning news conference. "The moment that any individual goes from protecting people to harming people loses the right, no matter what agency they're with, to call themselves a law enforcement officer."

    DOMESTIC VIOLENCE HELP: The National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233 or 800-787-3224 (TTY) provides people in distress, or those around them, with 24-hour support.

    Photo Credit: WFLA-TV

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    Oakland police arrested at least two people and towed at least 85 cars while working at the scene of illegal sideshows at various locations across the East Bay city early Sunday, the department announced.

    Two officers were also injured as a result of the sideshow activity, which didn't come to a close until about 5 a.m. Sunday, police reported. The extent of the officers' injuries were not immediately disclosed.

    Police took to Twitter at 1:39 a.m. Sunday to report that they were in the midst of dealing with multiple sideshows across East Oakland.

    "Rocks and bottles are being thrown at officers, and numerous gunshots are being fired by sideshow crowd members," the department tweeted.

    Police stated that the number of cars towed as a result of the sideshows could increase to about 100. The department also announced that it was still in the process of counting citations as of 7:30 a.m. Sunday. 

    Further information was not available.

    Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area
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    Authorities tow away cars involved in sideshows in Oakland. (Sept. 23, 2018)Authorities tow away cars involved in sideshows in Oakland. (Sept. 23, 2018)

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    Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein will meet on Thursday with President Donald Trump, the White House said Monday, amid conflicting reports about Rosenstein's fate in the administration.

    Trump has been weighing whether to fire him, and a report that Rosenstein, who has been overseeing the special counsel's Russia investigation, was resigning set off hours of speculation in media reports. But press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders' statement on the Thursday meeting appeared to demonstrate that Rosenstein would remain secure in his role for at least a few days.

    Sanders indicated that Rosenstein, who was at the White House for hours Monday, talked to Trump Monday. The president is in New York City for the United Nations General Assembly.

    "At the request of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, he and President Trump had an extended conversation to discuss the recent news stories," Sanders said. "Because the President is at the United Nations General Assembly and has a full schedule with leaders from around the world, they will meet on Thursday when the President returns to Washington, D.C."

    NBC News worked to confirm multiple reports that Rosenstein was being fired or resigning. Sources close to Rosenstein and the president offered contradictory claims about the deputy attorney general's position in the administration.

    After being at the White House for several hours, Rosenstein joined a previously scheduled meeting with high-level White House officials, a Justice Department official told NBC News. As Rosenstein departed the White House, chief of staff John Kelly was seen shaking his hand.

    Later, Trump addressed the Thursday meeting, saying: “We’ll be determining what’s going on. We want to have transparency, we want to have openness.”

    It remains unclear if Rosenstein ever intended to resign, or if the White House contemplated firing him. He discussed his future in the administration with the top White House lawyer over the weekend, sources said. Several people familiar with the discussion told NBC News that Rosenstein contemplated resigning but others were determined to stay in the job unless Trump fired him directly.

    The reports of Rosenstein's departure brought uproar from some Democrats in Washington.

    "This looks to me like a slow-moving Saturday night massacre," Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said on MSNBC, referring to the Saturday in 1973 when President Richard Nixon's deputy attorney general quit rather than fire the Watergate special prosecutor.

    Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said that Rosenstein "should under no circumstances resign."

    In a radio interview that aired Monday morning, Trump was asked about Rosenstein's future in light of a recent report that Rosenstein had talked about a way to remove Trump from office. Trump said that he didn't want to comment on it until he got more facts.

    "But certainly it's being looked at in terms of what took place, if anything took place," Trump told Geraldo Rivera in an interview taped over the weekend.

    But multiple sources told NBC News that Trump decided over the weekend not to fire Rosenstein after consulting with staff and outside allies, including Fox News host Sean Hannity and influential Republican Rep. Mark Meadows.

    Meadows wants Rosenstein to testify under oath about whether or not he ever thought about wearing a wire durign meetings with Trump or invoking the 25th Amendment, which provides a process for replacing the president if he or she is unable to fulfill their duties, as The New York Times reported last week. A Justice Department official and a source in the room countered the Times report to NBC News, saying that Rosenstein's discussion about wearing a wire was sarcastic.

    The situation among Trump's allies is "chaos," according to an NBC News source who is close to the White House.

    Rosenstein's ouster would throw the future of the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election into doubt. Special counsel Robert Mueller has reported to Rosenstein because Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the investigation.

    The Times reported that Rosenstein made the suggestions to record Trump and invoke the 25th Amendment in the spring of 2017, after the president had fired James Comey, the FBI director. The suggestions also reportedly came after it was revealed the president had asked Comey to end an investigation into Michael Flynn, Trump's former national security advisor, the Times reported.

    Rosenstein had written a memo that was used to justify the president's firing of Comey by criticizing his handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation. Rosenstein was afraid he had been used, according to the Times. That report cited people briefed on meetings and conversations or on memos documenting Rosenstein's actions written by FBI officials, including Andrew McCabe, the former acting FBI chief who also was fired, nearly a year after Comey.

    McCabe said in a statement Monday that he "had no role" in providing information to media organizations about the aftermath of Comey's firing. He also said he personally made sacrifices to protect Mueller's investigation.

    "If the rumors of Deputy AG's Rosenstein's departure are true, I am deeply concerned that it puts that investigation at risk," McCabe said.

    Trump has long mulled firing Rosenstein, angry that the deputy attorney general appointed Mueller, whose probe Trump frequently calls a "witch hunt." Rosenstein took over the probe after Sessions recused himself in March 2017 over his earlier interactions with the Russian ambassador to the United States.

    It's not clear who would take over the Russia probe if Rosenstein resigned or were fired. The next Justice Department official in line to perform the duties of the attorney general is Noel Francisco, the solicitor general.

    Rosenstein told at least one confidant in April that he was prepared to be fired then and confident that he had done his job with integrity, NBC News reported at the time. Trump had been criticizing him publicly and was considering terminating him.

    In private conversations, Rosenstein repeated the phrase, "Here I stand," referring to Christian reformer Martin Luther's quote, "Here I stand, I can do no other," sources who spoke to Rosenstein told NBC News.

    In May, Rosenstein fired back against news reports that articles of impeachment against him were reportedly being drafted by Republican members of the House in a dispute over documents in the Russia probe.

    "I can tell you there have been people who have been making threats privately and publicly against me for quite some time, and I think they should understand by now, the Department of Justice is not going to be extorted," he said in response to a question.

    Photo Credit: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

    White House chief of staff John Kelly (left) and Assistant Attorney General Rod Rosenstein step away following a meeting at the White House in Washington, D.C., on Monday, Sept. 24, 2018.White House chief of staff John Kelly (left) and Assistant Attorney General Rod Rosenstein step away following a meeting at the White House in Washington, D.C., on Monday, Sept. 24, 2018.

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    Amber Guyger, the Dallas police officer accused of manslaughter in the fatal shooting of her neighbor Botham Jean earlier this month, has been fired by the Dallas Police Department.

    The department announced on Twitter that Guyger was "terminated for her actions" by Chief U. Renee Hall during a hearing Monday morning.

    "An Internal Affairs investigation concluded that on September 9, 2018, Officer Guyer engaged in adverse conduct when she was arrested for Manslaughter," the department said.

    Guyger, 30, told investigators she returned home at the end of her shift Sept. 6 and found the door ajar to what she believed to be her apartment.

    In an arrest warrant affidavit, investigators have said Guyger described seeing a “large silhouette” in the apartment and that she gave ”verbal commands that were ignored” prior to firing the shots that killed 26-year-old Jean, her upstairs neighbor. Guyger told investigators she mistakenly believed the apartment was her own and that Jean was a burglar.

    Jean’s family and their attorneys dispute those accounts and said information they gathered from witnesses will contradict Guyger’s statements.

    When asked last week why Guyger hadn't been terminated, Hall said she wasn't able to terminate the officer. She elaborated Thursday with the following statement:

    “There is one overriding reason that I have not taken any administrative or employment action against Officer Amber Guyger. I don’t want to interfere with the on-going criminal investigation into her actions. Here’s why. As an employer, DPD can compel Officer Guyger to provide a statement during a DPD administrative investigation and those statements given to DPD could potentially compromise the criminal investigation. That is not a risk I am willing to take. We cannot let the criminal case be determined on a ’technicality’ rather than the facts. An exhaustive and thorough criminal investigation is essential, and as soon as we are assured that conducting an administrative investigation will not impede on the criminal investigation, we will proceed.”

    Darryl K. Washington, one of the three attorneys representing Jean’s family, commented on Guyger's firing Monday morning while at an unrelated "use of force" trial in Dallas County.

    “The Dallas Police Department has now stepped in and made a decision which is contrary to the decision Chief Hall said was going to be made just a few days ago,” Washington said. “Obviously there has been enough information presented to the Dallas Police Department that would justify termination, so we’re hoping that now that this has happened, it’s our belief that perhaps the district attorney’s office should have enough information to move forward with an indictment.”

    Attorney Lee Merritt said the chief called the attorneys and Jean’s parents last night and explained she intended to fire Guyger.

    “She had to answer some tough questions from the family, specifically about why it took so long and she tried to explain the employment process could, in fact, impact the criminal investigation. In other words, if she’s faced to give a statement in protection of her job, that can infringe on her 5th Amendment right and can affect the criminal investigation. It’s a complicated question,” Merritt said.

    Merritt said the family sees Guyger's termination as a victory -- especially on Monday, the same day Jean is being buried in St. Lucia. A memorial was held for Jean Sept. 13 in Dallas before his remains were flown to his native St. Lucia.

    “The nation of St. Lucia, has turned its attention to that burial service. This comes as a welcome relief, however there’s still a long way to go,” Merritt said.

    During a meeting with the Dallas City Council's Public Safety Committee Monday morning, Hall recommended suspending the department's 72-hour cooling off period following an officer-involved shooting. The current cooling-off period gives the officer three days before being compelled to make an official statement on the shooting.

    Hall's proposal said those statements should immediately follow an incident and that they should include mandatory drug testing. She also said she wanted to make sure there was communication with the community within five days of an incident and to expand citizen review power.

    Lastly, Hall said she wants to expand the department's fairness and bias training to include every officer and not just sergeants and new recruits.

    The Dallas Police Association offered no statement on Guyger's termination and said they will withhold comment until the ongoing investigation is complete.

    Guyger was arrested and faces a manslaughter charge, though Dallas County prosecutors have said they will conduct their own review to determine if a murder charge or other charges are more appropriate.

    Online -- Public Safety and Criminal Justice

    NBC 5's Maria Guerrero, Ken Kalthoff, Scott Friedman and Cody Lillich contributed to this report.

    Photo Credit: NBC 5 News
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    Dallas police officer Amber Guyger, left, was arrested and charged with manslaughter Sunday for the Sept. 6 shooting of Botham Jean, right.Dallas police officer Amber Guyger, left, was arrested and charged with manslaughter Sunday for the Sept. 6 shooting of Botham Jean, right.

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    See some of the images in the news around Southern California.

    Photo Credit: Twitter: Santa Clarita City

    A view of the Charlie fire Saturday Sept. 22, 2018 in the Castaic area.A view of the Charlie fire Saturday Sept. 22, 2018 in the Castaic area.

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    At least four people were tied up for hours inside a Hollywood Hills home in an overnight robbery.

    Jewelry and cash were stolen in the heist in the 3800 block of Oak Glen Drive. The residents were tied up by three armed men.

    When they were able to free themselves four hours after the midnight home invasion, they called police. One victim suffered a head injury, but no one was hospitalized.

    The robbers likely entered through a side door, police said. They were armed with handguns.

    No arrests were reported. 

    Photo Credit: LoudLabs

    At least four people were tied up for hours inside a Hollywood Hills home in an overnight robbery Monday Sept. 24, 2018.At least four people were tied up for hours inside a Hollywood Hills home in an overnight robbery Monday Sept. 24, 2018.

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    Brett Kavanaugh's prospects of winning confirmation to the Supreme Court are dimming as Republicans grapple with the increasingly complicated politics of supporting him, NBC News reported.

    Legal analyst Andrew Napolitano said on Fox Business Monday that the nomination is "a case of lasting impressions" that doesn't rest on whether Kavanaugh can disprove the claims against him, which he denies.

    Republican organizer Matt Schlapp told NBC News there will be a "meltdown" in the party if Kavanaugh isn't confirmed, and that could doom its prospects in November's midterm elections.

    Many Republican senators are cautious or quiet altogether as the nomination twists in the wind.

    Photo Credit: Andrew Harnik/AP, File

    In this Sept. 4, 2018, file photo, President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh is sworn in before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill to begin his testimony in his confirmation hearing to replace retired Justice Anthony Kennedy.In this Sept. 4, 2018, file photo, President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh is sworn in before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill to begin his testimony in his confirmation hearing to replace retired Justice Anthony Kennedy.

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    Brush fires have burned hundreds of thousands of acres in California.

    The Charlie fire in Castaic quickly grew to over 1,000 acres on Saturday Sept. 23, 2018.The Charlie fire in Castaic quickly grew to over 1,000 acres on Saturday Sept. 23, 2018.

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    Federal officials have a new tool to battle the opioid crisis: data. The DEA’s “High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area” program is using a web portal called the “OD Map” to track overdoses caused by opioids in real time. The program will help the agency target high-problem areas with resources and track the sources of the drugs.

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    With Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s job security in question, the spotlight is on the person next in line to oversee the Russia probe should Rosenstein be ousted: the solicitor general.

    Noel Francisco, who represents the Trump administration and the United States before the Supreme Court, could take over supervision of the investigation into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia during the 2016 election -- a probe that President Donald Trump calls a witch hunt. Francisco has questioned the role of special counsels and has said that executive privilege shields presidents from most investigations, NRP and Mother Jones have reported.

    He told a House panel in 2007 that “my own personal belief is that when you hand these issues off to career prosecutors in the public integrity sections in the U.S. attorneys' offices in the Department of Justice, those attorneys are generally better able to assess whether a case should be pursued.”

    Politico noted too that he has accused fired FBI Director James Comey of political bias and the FBI of overreach. In a Wall Street Journal op-ed that he co-authored, Francisco suggested that Comey had used “kid gloves” in his investigation into possible criminal violations by Hillary Clinton, Politico reported. While a lawyer at the law firm Jones Day, he accused the FBI of overreach in its investigation of former Virginia Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell, arguing successfully that the Supreme Court should throw out the conviction because McDonnell had not acted on behalf of the businessman who gave him expensive gifts. 

    His past positions raise the question of whether he would view Robert Mueller's Russia probe as another example of partisan overreach, Politico wrote.

    Monday morning was filled with speculation that Rosenstein would be fired or would quit, but in the end, he remained in the job. Now Rosenstein is to meet with Trump on Thursday to discuss his future in the Justice Department.

    Rosenstein is overseeing the Russia probe because Attorney General Jeff Sessions has recused himself in light of his contacts with Russia's ambassador to the United States.

    Under Justice Department rules, the department's third-ranking official, the associate attorney general, should be Rosenstein’s successor, but the last associate attorney general, Rachel Brand, left early in the year and has not been replaced.

    Francisco, a member of the Federalist Society, was a clerk for the U.S. Justice Antonin Scalia and a law partner at Jones Day with White House counsel Don McGahn, NPR has reported. The solicitor general position, to which he was confirmed by a divided Senate, 50 to 47, is his “dream job,” NPR wrote.

    Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has cast doubt on Francisco’s ability to oversee the Russia probe.

    Christie told ABC News in April: "I can tell you, Noel Francisco, very talented lawyer, but to be Solicitor General, you have a specific skill set and running a Russia collusion investigation is probably not one of them.”

    Francisco was part of the team who helped former President George W. Bush in the recount in Florida during the 2000 election and went on to work in the Bush White House.

    He argued Trump’s travel bans before the Supreme Court, telling the court that the last iteration was not a so-called Muslim ban because it excluded most of the Muslim world. The court ultimately upheld the ban by a 5-4 vote.

    Photo Credit: Cliff Owen/AP

    Solicitor General nominee Noel Francisco testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee's hearing on his nomination, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, May 10, 2017.Solicitor General nominee Noel Francisco testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee's hearing on his nomination, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, May 10, 2017.

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    Star free agent signing LeBron James captured the spotlight Monday at media day when most of the NBA's 30 teams' players and coaches answered questions about how they spent their summer vacation and discuss what's ahead.

    Wearing a gold Los Angeles Lakers jersey, James was the first player to take questions during the Lakers' mid-day news conference. The former Heat and Cavs star joined LA in an off-season blockbuster deal that re-shaped the NBA landscape. 

    "It's just always humbling for me anytime I get the chance to be part of something special," James said Monday.

    He was asked about his expectations entering his first season in Los Angeles. 

    "My expectation is to get better every single day," James said. "I don't expect nothing. You work for what you want. It's all part of the process."

    He also was asked about his thoughts on representing another city.

    "Moving from place to place is something I've become accustomed with," James said. "It's an adjustment my family, myself and my friends will all adjust to because we have each other." 

    Lakers' basketball boss Magic Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka said last week they're thrilled with the offseason progress made by their revamped roster and James, their prize free-agent acquisition. The Lakers have been working out together informally at the club's training complex ahead of the start of training camp Tuesday, and Johnson likes what he sees so far.

    "Just to see all of them together playing a pickup game, oh my goodness," Johnson said. "It's something to watch. I've watched LeBron from afar. I've been at many of his games. But to watch him in the gym is a whole different thing. How much he makes everybody better, but also how he raises everybody's level of play. His basketball IQ and his leadership ability, it's all on display."

    Lonzo Ball won't be on display in every workout at the start of camp, however. The Lakers' second-year point guard had knee surgery two months ago, and Pelinka said Ball will be held out of five-on-five scrimmages when camp begins, even though he has been fully cleared for all basketball activities.

    Johnson and Pelinka praised Ball's offseason work to improve his awkward jump shot by adjusting his shooting mechanics. They also realize Ball has plenty of work to do.

    The Lakers are determined to allow Ball to grow into his role as a playmaking leader, and Johnson believes Rajon Rondo will play a mentoring role. Along with James, the Lakers also acquired Rondo, Lance Stephenson, JaVale McGee and Michael Beasley to form a new veteran core for a 16-time NBA champion franchise that hasn't made the playoffs since 2013.

    The Lakers' disparate collection of talent will need plenty of time to gel, but Johnson is already seeing it happen in those scrimmages.

    "I mean, they are going hard," Johnson said. "It's physical. It's tough. There's trash talking. It's just a lot of fun, and also a lot of teaching at the same time. It's really great to see these young guys getting a chance to learn from champions."

    And as if he needed any reminder, Johnson has witnessed the singular skills of the 33-year-old James, who agreed to a four-year, $154 million free-agent deal.

    "LeBron comes in, and he's already in midseason form and shooting fadeaways and 3-pointers from almost half-court," Johnson said with a broad grin. "And you're sitting there saying, `Man, thank God we signed him."'

    Along with blending their new additions, the Lakers must adjust to the loss of Julius Randle and Brook Lopez. Johnson and Pelinka aren't worried about filling the space left by the departures of those two big men, believing they've got more than enough height to guard anyone.

    "We feel we have two players at every position -- a starter and then a backup to that person," Johnson said.

    Added Pelinka: "A lot of people have said this is one of the deepest rosters in the NBA, and that is an extreme strength to us."

    Dallas and Philadelphia got their media-day responsibilities out of the way late last week, because they are off to China for preseason games soon. The other 28 teams will have availabilities throughout the day.

    Golden State will be asked about the quest to win a third straight title. Minnesota will be talking about Karl-Anthony Towns' new super-max $190 million deal and Jimmy Butler's trade demand. And in Miami, Dwyane Wade will hold the final media-day news conference of his career.

    The 28 teams with media days Monday all open training camp Tuesday.

    Photo Credit: KNBC-TV
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    LeBron James speaks Monday Sept. 24, 2018 during Lakers media day.LeBron James speaks Monday Sept. 24, 2018 during Lakers media day.

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    Pretty much every turkey-loving, gravy-seeking person is aware that the fourth Thursday of November is Thanksgiving.

    And that the whole week of Thanksgiving is generally regarded as "Thanksgiving Week," with various days rocking various nicknames (Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and such).

    But what of the Friday that falls just before Thanksgiving Week? In short, the often celebratory day that is, in essence, Thanksgiving Week Eve?

    Thus far, popular culture has left this particular Friday fully nickname-less, which seems a tad sad, given all of the monikers of the days that almost immediately follow it. 

    And, yes, Fridays should always have fun nicknames. It's an argument that is, all in all, airtight.

    So we'll throw a suggestion into the ring, a handle that sparkles with holiday charm: LA Zoo Lights Friday.

    For, at least in 2018, that's when the popular nighttime lights show at the Los Angeles Zoo & Botanical Gardens will begin for its merry, multi-week run: Friday, Nov. 16, just as Thanksgiving Week officially opens.

    So, yes: Zoo Lights will be atwinkle during the most family-member'd week of the calendar, for many people.

    Does this mean that you can haul all of the visiting relatives over the Griffith Park animal park, to gaze upon the glowing displays and installations?

    It's a pretty swell idea, if you're looking for ways to get out of the house.

    Will there be lots of bulbs twinkling and blinking and forming the shapes of animals and doing other neato, illuminated stuff?

    That's a big part of Zoo Lights, for sure.

    Will honest-to-antlers reindeer return to the zoo, and shall there be "seasonal treats and goodies," and will Santa stop by, when he can? 

    Ho, ho, and ho. (Which is a resounding "yes," obviously.)

    Tickets for LA Zoo Lights go on sale on Oct. 1, which, surprise surprise, is approaching faster than Rudolph alights on a roof on Christmas Eve.

    Best line up your Thanksgiving Week Eve plans now, or, rather, your plans for LA Zoo Lights Friday, for opening night of this yearly whimsical walk-through will be both bright and bustling.

    Photo Credit: LA Zoo

    Beautiful bulbs near all of those beautiful beasties are part of the holiday magic. That magic begins, with glitter and glow, on Friday, Nov. 16, 2018.Beautiful bulbs near all of those beautiful beasties are part of the holiday magic. That magic begins, with glitter and glow, on Friday, Nov. 16, 2018.

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    "Beautiful: The Carole King Story": It's not too late for "It's Too Late," and all of the timeless tunes created by the iconic singer-songwriter. The Broadway hit is on tour, with a stop at the Hollywood Pantages through the end of September, and to say that it is as packed as a double album with ditties you know is to state the obvious. For Ms. King and her husband and partner Gerry Goffin were behind oodles of radio hits, back in the day. Live singing, sparkly costumes, emotive anecdotes, and the sounds of the '60s/'70s shine, through Sunday, Sept. 30.

    Can't Stop, Won't Stop: The music-awesome, DJ-cool, food-truck-ful, joy-laden after-hours part at the California African American Museum returns, with opportunities to see so much fantastic art. On view? "Royal Flush" from Nina Chanel Abney, Robert Pruitt's "Devotion," and several other shows. The cost to enter the celebration is free, oh yeah, and the 7 to 9 p.m. run time means it is the perfect post-work window to grab a yummy bite, hobnob with other art lovers, and soak in some amazing exhibits. The date? Be at CAAM on Wednesday, Sept. 26.

    Sunset & Dine: Taking the chance to nosh among some of Tinseltown's most excellent eateries? All while knowing you're helping an organization dedicated to ending "isolation and homelessness in Hollywood"? It's a very good thing, indeed. And the goodness will rise at the corner of Sunset and Gower on Thursday, Sept. 27 at this annual Hollywood-loving fundraiser. A ticket to snack among the many restaurants is forty bucks, and the places set to show? The list is lengthy, oh yes. Look for Loteria Grill, Soul Hollywood, and several more.

    LA Film Festival: Slipping over to a cinema to take in a fresh director, a new writer, or an unforgettable turn by an up-and-coming actor? Or directors, writers, and actors who've been working for awhile but continue to create fascinating fare? Find your way to this acclaimed fest, which is keeping the projectors warm through Friday, Sept. 28. There are several venues around town, from ArcLight Hollywood to the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, so best check where the film you want to see is playing, pronto.

    Costume Designers Competition: So you totally dig Metropolitan Fashion Week, and its design-centric spirit. Cool. And you say you're looking for a free event to check out some of the most whimsical and creative outfits? Make for the Plaza at the Original Farmers Market on Thursday, Sept. 27 for this treat for the eyes. The theme of the 2018 outfits on the runway will be King Tut, enhanced by the mega replica of the King Tut guardian statue that is still on view at the landmark public market, but not for long. Get there soon to see this photo-ready colossus, and several creative ensembles, too.

    Photo Credit: Beautiful: The Carole King Musical

    "Beautiful: The Carole King Musical" plays through Sept. 30 at the Hollywood Pantages.

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    Best of the best in high school football for Sunday Sept. 23, 2018. 

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    A judge granted attorneys for California's Republican Rep. Duncan D. Hunter and his wife, Margaret Hunter, more time to review the more than 12,000 pages worth of data against their clients at a brief status hearing Monday. 

    The Hunters pleaded not guilty to charges of misusing $250,000 in campaign funds for personal use, including a family vacation to Italy, Hawaii, school tuition, dental work and theater tickets, among others. 

    The 48-page indictment said they attempted to conceal the eight years of spending in federal records, while their household budget was awash in red ink. They have pleaded not guilty to the charges.

    Protesters carrying musical instruments and others dressed in costumes, including a 12-foot inflatable man in a hazmat suit, nicknamed Cleanup Carl, awaited the Hunters as they walked inside the Southern District of California courthouse in San Diego Monday. 

    San Diego resident Judy Harrington wore bunny ears and held a sign referencing an accusation that Duncan Hunter spent hundreds to fly the family’s pet bunny across the country.

    "I hope we raise awareness that it’s not too much to ask for honesty in our elected officials. I mean, really, is that unreasonable?" Harrington said. 

    Duncan Hunter’s lawyers said in 2017 that he and his wife repaid the campaign about $60,000, including the $600 airfare fee for the rabbit.

    The Hunters went through a side door at the courthouse, avoiding the group of about three dozen near the front entrance. 

    In court, Duncan and Margaret Hunter's defense attorneys said they needed more time to review the alleged evidence against their clients while prosecutors said since it is a "simple" case of embezzlement, more time was not necessary.

    A judge sided with the defense stating it was wasn't unreasonable that they would need more time considering the many years over which the alleged crimes occurred. Another status hearing was set for December 3. 

    Margaret Hunter, who was at the time of the allegations Duncan Hunter's campaign manager, has arrived at their three court appearances separate from her husband. 

    The day after they were indicted, Duncan Hunter appeared to blame his wife, who was the congressman's campaign manager at the time, for any misappropriation of funds. He later told NBC 7 that he wants prosecutors to leave his wife alone, contradicting his previous remarks. 

    "My message to the U.S. attorney here is let's get this in court," Hunter said last Tuesday. "Leave my wife out of it, we know they're not after her they're after me. They want to flip the seat, so let's go to court let's have a trial and everybody will see everything."

    Duncan Hunter and his attorney have maintained that the charges against him are politically motivated and that he looks forward to fighting the allegations in court.

    He was among the earliest Republican members of Congress to endorse President Donald Trump and has in interviews compared himself to the president, saying "this is the new Department of Justice. This is the Democrats’ arm of law enforcement."

    "It will be good to expose the leftists that are in the U.S. right now that have brought all this on for political reasons,” Hunter reiterated, telling NBC 7 the charges against him are false.

    Rep. Hunter's opponent released a TV ad aimed at conservative voters in the deeply red District 50 as the indicted congressman made his last court appearance before midterm elections.

    The narrator of the 30-second spot by Ammar Campa-Najjar's campaign that started airing Monday says the Democrat will put "country over party." It contends Hunter blamed his wife for spending donor money on family vacations and "drunken parties."

    Margaret Hunter has yet to speak publicly about the charges. 

    Photo Credit: Gregory Bull/AP
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    U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter, center, leaves court Monday, Sept. 24, 2018, in San Diego. Hunter and his wife Margaret pleaded not guilty on Aug. 23 to charges they illegally used his campaign account for personal expenses.U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter, center, leaves court Monday, Sept. 24, 2018, in San Diego. Hunter and his wife Margaret pleaded not guilty on Aug. 23 to charges they illegally used his campaign account for personal expenses.

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