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Rep. Adam Schiff. Photo: Sarah Silbiger/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Rep. Adam Schiff is quietly lobbying Gov. Gavin Newsom and his allies to appoint him California’s next attorney general, according to people familiar with the matter.

Why it matters: If Newsom selects Schiff, chair of the House Intelligence Committee and a confidant of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Democrats would lose a powerful party voice in the U.S. House and temporarily give up a seat in their slim 221-211 majority.

  • Nonetheless, Pelosi has given her approval to Schiff’s bid, a clear sign she thinks she can manage without him. according to people familiar with the matter. Spokespersons for Schiff and Pelosi declined comment.
  • The attorney general's job also would better position Schiff, a high-profile Democrat who led the Russia investigation into then-President Trump, to run for Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s seat, should the 87-year-old decide not to run for reelection in 2024.
  • The AG's job is being vacated by Xavier Becerra, who President Biden has nominated to serve as secretary of Health and Human Services.

The big picture: While Schiff represents California’s Los Angeles-based 28th District, a safe seat for Democrats, it would take roughly six months for a special election to select his successor.

  • Under Article 1, Section 2 of the Constitution, House vacancies are not filled by appointment — as in the Senate — only by election.

Driving the news: Once Becerra is confirmed, Newsom has the authority to name his replacement as attorney general.

  • It would mark the third high-profile appointment for Newsom, who tapped Secretary of State Alex Padilla to replace Kamala Harris in the Senate, making him the state’s first Hispanic U.S. senator.
  • Newsom then filled Padilla's job with Shirley Weber, making her the state's first Black secretary of state.

The intrigue: Newsom, whose approval rating on the pandemic has plummeted to 31% and who faces a recall effort, has not publicly indicated who he is inclined to pick for the attorney general job, but lobbying campaigns across the state are heating up.

  • Other potential candidates are Rob Bonta, a member of the state Assembly, and Rick Chavez Zbur, director of Equality California, a LGBTQ advocacy group, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
  • “It’s pretty clear that there are advocates for their favorites," said Bill Carrick, a California political strategist. "But it’s not clear that that will have any influence on the one person who will make the decision: Gov. Gavin Newsom.”

Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect that Gov. Gavin Newsom's approval rating specifically on the pandemic has plummeted to 31%, and that he is facing a recall effort.

Go deeper

Updated 7 hours ago - World

Biden in call with Netanyahu raises concerns about civilian casualties in Gaza

Photo: Ahmad Gharabli/Nicholas Kamm/Getty Images

President Biden spoke to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Saturday and raised concerns about civilian casualties in Gaza and the bombing of the building that housed AP and other media offices, according to Israeli officials.

The big picture: At least 140 Palestinians, including dozens of children, have been killed in Gaza since fighting between Israel and Hamas began Monday, according to Palestinian health officials. Nine people, including two children, have been killed by Hamas rockets in Israel.

Updated 8 hours ago - Politics & Policy

"Horrified": AP, Al Jazeera condemn Israel's bombing of their offices in Gaza

A ball of fire erupts from the Jalaa Tower as it is destroyed in an Israeli airstrike in Gaza. Photo: Majdi Fathi/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The Associated Press and Al Jazeera on Saturday condemned the Israeli airstrike that destroyed a high-rise building in Gaza that housed their and other media offices.

What they're saying: The White House, meanwhile, said it had "communicated directly to the Israelis that ensuring the safety and security of journalists and independent media is a paramount responsibility," according to press secretary Jen Psaki.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
9 hours ago - Health

The COVID lab-leak theory goes mainstream

The Wuhan Institute of Virology. Photo: Hector Retamal/AFP via Getty Images The COVID lab-leak theory goes mainstream

A group of high-profile scientists published a letter calling for renewed investigation into the origins of COVID-19 — including the theory that it spilled out of a virology lab.

Why it matters: The possibility that SARS-CoV-2 was created in a Chinese lab and accidentally escaped — rather than emerging naturally from an animal — was initially dismissed as a conspiracy theory. But the letter shows a potential lab leak is increasingly being taken seriously.