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Essential Politics: A Republican could lose his job this week

A new week begins and finds a top Republican in Sacramento in danger of losing his job, a White House with one fewer top advisor, an emboldened Breitbart News operation, new plans for Afghanistan, and the topic of impeachment surfacing at congressional town halls in California.

And there are still two weeks to go in August.

California’s Legislature returns to work Monday after a recess that put renewed pressure on Assembly GOP leader Chad Mayes.

Congress is still out of session, but politicians from both parties have been busy deflecting — and denouncing President Trump for his all-over-the-map responses to neo-Nazis and white supremacy.

LIGHTNING ROUND

A Republican senator says Trump hasn’t shown the stability and competence needed to do the job.

Trump will address the nation Monday night with his plans for Afghanistan.

How Steve Bannon became the face of a political movement with roots in Los Angeles

Trump thanked Bannon and wished Breitbart News success.

Bannon’s ouster is the latest on our detailed graphic of all the musical chairs within the Trump administration.

Vice President Mike Pence will be in California next month for a series of high-dollar fundraisers for Republicans.

L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti is heading to the early presidential primary state of New Hampshire.

The president and first lady will skip the Kennedy Center honors in December.

Sen. John McCain hangs out with his other two “amigos.”

We’ll cover Trump’s Afghanistan address and more live on Essential Washington.

MAYES ON DEFENSE

The rift among Republicans exposed by last month’s vote on climate change policies is only growing wider. On Friday night, the state party’s board took the extraordinary step of calling on Mayes to step down from his post as leader of the Assembly Republican caucus. The vote was a sign of deep unhappiness with Mayes’ support for the cap-and-trade program, which was extended with Republican help. If Mayes doesn’t step down — and he has no plans to do so — the state party’s board encouraged his colleagues to pick someone else. Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez announced last week she will seek to replace him. A vote of the caucus could happen as early as Monday.

We’ll be tracking the drama in Sacramento and across the state on our Essential Politics news feed.

NEW RAGE OVER AN OLD WAR

First Trump blamed “many sides” for the violence in Charlottesville, then in a scripted message he condemned the KKK, neo-Nazis and white supremacists. One day later, he had reverted to his original message. Here’s Colleen Shalby’s quick recap of the back-and-forth.

Bad timing? After Trump was criticized for again blaming “many sides” for the violence in Charlottesville, Va., and equating the “alt-right” to the “alt-left,” the president retweeted a far-right media figure.

“You have a moral responsibility to send an unequivocal message that you won’t stand for hate and racism.” That’s what former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger told Trump in a video message that criticized his response to the Charlottesville violence.

A Confederate history activist in Virginia explained to me why the monuments matter so much to him, and why the violent protesters are “trash of the world.”

Rep. Darrell Issa of Vista, one of California’s vulnerable Republicans, called for a House Judiciary Committee hearing on the effects of white supremacist groups on civil rights.

In the past year, California also saw white nationalists and neo-Nazis rally in the state. The Legislature will hold hearings in the next month to determine what can be done to prevent violence at rallies and whether any new laws are needed, George Skelton writes in his Monday column. Senate leader Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) has asked the Joint Legislative Committee on Emergency Management and the Senate Judiciary and Public Safety committees to conduct hearings.

When thinking about what to do to prevent racism-fueled violence in the wake of Charlottesville, Californians should also stop to recall the state’s own long history of discrimination and bigotry, Skelton writes.

Trump’s Treasury secretary explains himself on the matter.

Here’s one answer to the question about what white nationalists want.

ROHRABACHER MEETS WITH ASSANGE IN LONDON

While many House members were working in their districts this past week, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher took a trip to Europe and met with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Rohrabacher’s office said in a statement that he would take information Assange gave him back to Trump. The GOP congressman told the Daily Caller they discussed “what might be necessary to get him out” and even suggested they talked about a presidential pardon in exchange for information on the hacking that led to WikiLeaks’ publishing of emails from the Democratic National Committee.

BILLIONS IN NEW SPENDING COMING TO A BALLOT NEAR YOU

When lawmakers return next week from their summer recess, one of the big items on their to-do list is approving billions in new spending to put on the 2018 ballot.

Gov. Jerry Brown and top legislative leaders have agreed to support bonds to finance the construction of new homes for low-income residents and improvements to water and parks infrastructure, Liam Dillon reports. But exactly how much money and what projects would receive the funding remain undecided and subject to furious debate over the next month. Housing will be the top spending priority.

PRESCRIPTION DRUG COSTS UNDER SCRUTINY

Watch for efforts to clamp down on prescription drug costs to be a major focal point of this final legislative push, Melanie Mason reports.

POLITICAL ROAD MAP: A LARGER LEGISLATURE?

The complexity of governing California grows every year, enough that some suggest it’s past time to post the constitutional equivalent of a “Help Wanted” sign. Yes, that would mean expanding the size of the Legislature.

In his Sunday column, John Myers explores the options for making California’s legislative districts smaller, in the hopes that each lawmaker might better connect with constituents.

TODAY’S ESSENTIALS

— This week’s California Politics Podcast will get you up to speed on what to expect in Sacramento this week.

— The man who suggested splitting California into six states may have failed in 2014, but he’s got a new idea: Make it three states.

— Impeachment, censure and the 25th Amendment were topics at Democratic town halls over the weekend in California.

— California secessionists have introduced another Calexit ballot measure.

Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom continued his intermittent campaign swing through the Central Valley last week with stops in Fresno and Bakersfield. In Fresno, the Democratic candidate for governor sweet-talked the crowd by saying he supported increasing water storage, single-payer healthcare and California’s bullet train.

— House Republicans descended on the Reagan Ranch outside Santa Barbara, using the former western White House as a backdrop to pitch their plans to overhaul the U.S. tax system. Even though they were thousands of miles from Washington, they couldn’t escape the latest Trump controversy.

— The California Democratic Party on Sunday rejected a last-ditch appeal contesting the election of Eric Bauman as the party’s new leader, setting up a strong possibility of a court challenge. Bay Area Democratic activist Kimberly Ellis, who narrowly lost the race to become the new party chair, says “all options are on the table” on how she’ll respond, a hint of possible court action.

— California corrections officials have failed to ensure prisons monitor inmates at risk for suicide, a state audit finds.

— A campaign finance agency lifted the contribution limit to Democratic state Sen. Josh Newman as he fights off a recall threat.

— “Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda appeared alongside Rep. Tony Cardenas (D-Los Angeles) on Thursday in front of an auditorium packed full of high school students for a “town hall” geared toward promoting education and civic participation.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi was in Los Angeles to speak about infrastructure with newest California Rep. Jimmy Gomez. But she was pressed instead to comment on the president’s mixed messages on Charlottesville. She said his comments demonstrated Trump “doesn’t know right from wrong.”

— GOP Rep. Jeff Denham has a new challenger, but he’s not even old enough to be a congressman yet. Mateo Morelos Bedolla, 24, is running a long-shot campaign against the four-term congressman, but if he wins he’d turn 25, the constitutionally required minimum age to serve in the House, in time to be sworn in.

— San Diego County physician James Veltmeyer announced over the weekend that he’s challenging Democratic Rep. Scott Peters.

— After a number of female tech entrepreneurs came forward with tales of sexual harassment by male venture capitalists, a Democratic state senator is seeking to crack down on such behavior.

— On Thursday, Trump repeated a claim about Gen. John Pershing’s treatment of Muslim prisoners that historians have described as urban legend. It’s not the first time the president’s shared the tale.

— “Enough is enough,” the L.A. Times Editorial Board argues in its latest “Our Dishonest President” editorial.

— And finally, I wrote something for all the working moms out there that has nothing to do with politics.

LOGISTICS

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