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March 12, 2018

In an interview on 60 Minutes broadcast Sunday night, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said arming "capable" teachers "should be an option for states and communities to consider," insisted there is a "sense of urgency" in the school shootings task force she will chair, seemed to equate false rape and sexual assault accusations at colleges with actual rapes and sexual assaults, and said she's "not so sure exactly" why she is — as interviewer Lesley Stahl put it — President Trump's "most hated Cabinet secretary," the only one protected by a squad of U.S. Marshals. "I think there are a lot of really powerful forces allied against change," DeVos said.

But DeVos' big passion is "school choice," and she struggled to answer Stahl's questions about how shifting taxpayer dollars to private, parochial, and charter schools is working out in practice. When Stahl challenged DeVos' claim that "we have seen zero results" from federal investment in public schools, she said "test scores vis-à-vis the rest of the world have not gone up," even though they've gone up for 25 years in the U.S. DeVos pointed to a positive study of school choice in Florida, and Stahl asked about Michigan, DeVos' home state.

DeVos said "there are certainly lots of pockets where ... the students are doing well" in Michigan, and Stahl pushed back: "No, but your argument that if you take funds away, that the schools will get better, is not working in Michigan, where you had a huge impact and influence over the direction of the school system here. ... The public schools here are doing worse than they did." She asked if DeVos has "seen the really bad schools" to "figure out what they're doing," and DeVos said, "I have not intentionally visited schools that are underperforming." "Maybe you should," Stahl said. DeVos agreed. Peter Weber

4:08p.m.

Democrats are continuing to add to their new majority in the House of Representatives — the party just flipped a seat held by a Republican who was key in the GOP effort to repeal ObamaCare.

Andy Kim, who served as a national security aide to former President Barack Obama, defeated two-term Republican Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-N.J.) in the race for New Jersey's 3rd District, The Associated Press projected on Wednesday.

Prior to the election, this race had been classified as a toss-up by the Cook Political Report. Kim declared victory on Election Night, but MacArthur did not concede the race, per Asbury Park Press. Elected in 2014, MacArthur was the architect of the controversial MacArthur amendment, a part of the GOP's proposed ObamaCare repeal which would have allowed states to opt out of some of the health care law's requirements.

Since Election Day, Democrats have continued to pull off victories in key House races that had remained undecided last week. In New Jersey, in particular, they have made significant gains, as this is the fourth House seat the Democrats have won from the GOP in the state this year, reports The Hill. Kim's victory means that in the 116th Congress, New Jersey will have just a single Republican representative for the first time since former President Theodore Roosevelt's administration, The New York Times reports. Brendan Morrow

3:42p.m.

It has clearly been quite some time since President Trump's last trip to the grocery store.

In a new interview with The Daily Caller Wednesday, Trump pushed for strict voter ID laws, using as part of his argument the completely made-up fact that "if you buy a box of cereal — you have a voter ID." Trump had previously said in August that you need to show photo ID to buy groceries, and apparently nobody has bothered to correct him in the past three months.

Trump in this interview also tossed out a voter fraud conspiracy theory that's even weirder than usual: he contends that there are people who illegally vote by showing up to the polls, voting, and then switching into another outfit in the parking lot so they can get back in line and pretend to be somebody else like something out of an episode of The Simpsons. "Sometimes they go to their car, put on a different hat, put on a different shirt, come in and vote again," Trump claimed without evidence, adding that it's "really a disgrace what's going on.”

This came after Trump baselessly declared that the only reason "Republicans don't win" is because of these "potentially illegal votes," although voter impersonation is actually extraordinarily rare. As Democrats continue to pick up seats in the House of Representatives, don't be surprised by the increasingly nonsensical voter fraud conspiracies, and surprisingly ridiculous misunderstandings of grocery store protocol, to come. Brendan Morrow

3:31p.m.

Looking for the latest scoop on Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation? Check out Guilty Pleasures, an ice cream truck that started serving up Russia probe-inspired flavors around Washington on Wednesday. Putin's Vanilla Delight, Fudge the Truth Chocolate, and Mueller-Berry are some of the options, and are all served for free in a cup or a Cohen.

Per its Twitter bio, Guilty Pleasures is "the only ice cream truck defending the independent investigation by Robert Mueller into Trump's ties to Russian attacks on our democracy," which is probably true. It's the creation of progressive organization Move On, reports The Washingtonian, and the company is pushing for Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker to recuse himself from Mueller's probe. Whitaker assumed oversight of the probe after Jeff Sessions was ousted as the Justice Department's leader, which has Move On worried Trump could inhibit Mueller's investigation or even fire the special counsel, Move On's website reads.

The truck/political statement only spent an hour outside the Department of Justice on Wednesday, but it'll be serving up Indict-Mint Chip and other sweets outside the Trump Hotel in D.C. on Thursday. That is, if the whole concept of churning a months-long investigation of a sitting president into a dessert didn't leave a sour taste in your mouth. Kathryn Krawczyk

2:59p.m.

Jennifer Aniston brings all the pomp and circum-sass in the first trailer for her upcoming film, Dumplin'.

Netflix dropped the trailer for the comedy, written by Kristin Hahn and directed by Anne Fletcher, on Wednesday. Based on Julie Murphy's 2015 novel, Dumplin' follows Willowdean "Dumplin'" Dickson (Danielle Macdonald), a plus-size teen trying to step out from her beauty queen mother's shadow. In one attempt to find herself, Dumplin' signs up for a pageant in her small Texas hometown, which is being judged by her mom (Aniston).

With the help of her best friend Ellen (Odeya Rush), Dumplin' plunges into a world of very high heels, dance classes, lots of hairspray, and fabulous Dolly Parton drag queens.

Aniston and Macdonald are accompanied by Life of the Party's Luke Benward, Disney Channel's Dove Cameron, Lost's Harold Perrineau, Hairspray's Maddie Baillio, and Ginger Minj of RuPaul's Drag Race.

The trailer gives a sneak peek at the movie's soundtrack, which features several songs by Parton and Linda Perry, reports Entertainment Weekly. Sia also joined in, collaborating with Parton to record "Here I Am." Dumplin' will hit Netflix, and select theaters, on Dec. 7. Watch the full trailer below. Amari Pollard

2:43p.m.

Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) will serve as House minority leader, the Republican Party's top position in the next Congress, fending off a long-shot challenge from Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio).

McCarthy was elected to the position in the 116th Congress this afternoon with 159 votes to Jordan's 43, per NBC's Alex Moe. This news comes after Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) were both re-elected to their respective roles of Senate Minority Leader and Senate Majority Leader as expected, reports Vox.

Jordan, an ally of President Trump's, had announced last week that he intended to challenge McCarthy for the position of minority leader, saying that Americans elected Republicans to "come here and change this town" in 2016 but that "I don't think they see the same intensity from folks in Congress" as they do from Trump, per The Hill. Politico reports that Trump had waded into the fight and encouraged some sort of deal between McCarthy and Jordan. It's unclear what that deal might have been, although Politico reports there's speculation that Trump may push for Jordan to become the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee.

Meanwhile, Steve Scalise (R-La.) has also been re-elected as the party's whip. CNN's Chris Cillizza argues that the fact that Republicans have maintained the same leadership in the House after losing over 30 seats indicates that "everyone in Congressional GOP believes Trump is fully to blame" for the flip in power. Brendan Morrow

2:25p.m.

The "caravan" used to make a near-daily appearance in President Trump's vocabulary. But political discussion of the migrant group rolled away as quickly as it arrived, and the word "caravan" hasn't been seen on Trump's Twitter feed since Halloween, CBS News' Kathryn Watson points out.

The real caravan, though, has not exactly disappeared. It's still a group of about 3,600 Central American migrants headed through Mexico to claim asylum in the U.S., NPR reports. And it's in Guadalajara, still more than 1,000 miles from reaching the border, because it opted for a "safer, longer route" to cross just south of San Diego in Tijuana, Fox News reports. A small group of largely LGBT migrants arrived in Tijuana by bus Tuesday, splitting off amid discrimination from other caravan members, they tell The Washington Post.

While Trump may have forgotten about the caravan, perhaps because Election Day is over, the troops he directed to the border haven't. Thousands of troops spent Veterans Day waiting at the border for the caravan's arrival, and will likely be there through Thanksgiving, The New York Times reports. And seeing as they've mostly been tasked with work the National Guard already has under control, veterans say the Army will likely have a morale issue on its hands.

Trump, meanwhile, has moved on to other migrant-blocking, border-strengthening measures — with very limited mentions of the caravan he once considered of peak importance. Kathryn Krawczyk

1:37p.m.

Remember that anonymous op-ed in The New York Times that sent shock waves through Washington in September? Its author was never publicly identified, but Omarosa Manigault Newman claims the Trump administration solved the mystery behind closed doors.

Manigault Newman, a former White House communications aide, told MSNBC Wednesday that she has heard "from my sources" that the Trump administration identified the op-ed writer and has "quietly removed them from the administration." She also said, citing "rumors," that the White House has been relatively quiet about the whole situation because of "how high-level that person is supposed to have been."

The anonymous Times op-ed came from a senior Trump administration official, who claimed there was a "quiet resistance" among officials in the administration who are "working diligently from within to frustrate parts of [Trump's] agenda and his worst inclinations." After its publication, the White House reportedly began a frantic internal search to find out who wrote it, with the president at one point narrowing his list of suspects down to 12. But after a while, the op-ed buzz faded, and there was never any additional reporting about its author.

Manigault Newman had previously floated the idea that Vice President Mike Pence's chief of staff, Nick Ayers, could have written the op-ed, although considering Ayers is still working in the White House and is, in fact, reportedly the leading candidate to replace Chief of Staff John Kelly, her latest update contradicts that theory. However, she maintains that the op-ed's language is similar to "something that would come out of Pence's shop." Watch her comments below. Brendan Morrow

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