January 28, 2019

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) Skyped into the Sundance Film Festival this weekend for the premiere of Knock Down the House, a documentary on the 2018 campaigns of four Democratic candidates for Congress, of whom Ocasio-Cortez was the only one to win election.

In addition to weighing in on the film itself, Ocasio-Cortez warned against accepting common assumptions about candidate viability. "One of the things that all four of us faced in our run was this idea that we had to combat very early on that a lot of other candidates don't have to combat ... is this idea of viability," she said. "From day one, people did not give us the chance that they sometimes give to other candidates on day one, and a lot of that has to do with our preconceived notions of who looks like a person that can win a congressional race or where that person comes from."

She also urged a long-term perspective on political change which avoids myopic attention to current battles and players. "This is not just about the president of the United States," Ocasio-Cortez argued. "He could be gone tomorrow and that [would] not change the systemic injustices that led to his election."
Bonnie Kristian

8:24 p.m.

Former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg's campaign manager Mike Schmuhl wants to be realistic about Super Tuesday.

In a memo sent Tuesday, Schmuhl said the goal for next week when voters in 14 states, including Texas and California, head to the polls is not to win, but "minimize" frontrunner Sen. Bernie Sanders' (I-Vt.) margin of victory. But, fear not, Buttigieg supporters, that doesn't mean the campaign is giving up. Schmuhl added that the subsequent Tuesdays on March 10 and 17 are where the mayor really has a chance to shine, pointing out that while Super Tuesday accounts for 34 percent of available delegates, those two voting slates account for 28 percent.

FiveThirtyEight's Nate Silver thinks the memo is admirable in that it sets "realistic expectations," but he also argues it means Buttigieg might eventually have to rely on a contested convention to win the nomination, because without a healthy amount of delegates on Super Tuesday it will become incredibly difficult to win outright. Tim O'Donnell

8:16 p.m.

A juror in the Roger Stone trial is setting the record straight.

In an op-ed for The Washington Post published Tuesday night, Seth Cousins wrote about the allegations being leveled against the jury. Last year, they found Stone, a longtime friend and adviser to President Trump, guilty of obstruction, witness tampering, and lying to Congress. Since then, Trump has accused the foreperson, who ran for Congress as a Democrat in 2012, of being "totally biased," and Stone's lawyers have claimed he did not have a fair trial.

There is a "striking irony" to this, Cousins wrote, because the foreperson "was actually one of the strongest advocates for the rights of the defendant and for a rigorous process. She expressed skepticism at some of the government's claims and was one of the last people to vote to convict on the charge that took most of our deliberation time." The jury followed all instructions, examined evidence, and made sure each voice was heard. "Roger Stone received a fair trial," Cousins said. "He was found guilty based on the evidence by a jury that respected his rights and viewed the government's claims skeptically. Our jury valued truth, plain and simple."

An estimated 1.5 million Americans serve on juries every year, and "elected officials have no business attacking citizens for performing their civic duty," Cousins said. "When the president attacks our jury's foreperson, he is effectively attacking every American who takes time off work, arranges child care, and otherwise disrupts their life temporarily to participate in this civic duty. His attacks denigrate both our service and the concept of equal justice under U.S. law." Read the entire op-ed at The Washington Post. Catherine Garcia

7:03 p.m.

Michelle Janavs, the heiress to the Hot Pockets fortune, was sentenced to five months in prison on Tuesday after admitting to paying bribes to a fixer who promised to get her two daughters into the University of Southern California.

She is the 15th parent sentenced as part of the college admissions scandal, which rocked Hollywood and wealthy enclaves across the United States. Janavs, 49, of Newport Beach, California, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to commit laundering. "I'm so very sorry I tried to create an unfair advantage for my children," she told the court on Tuesday.

Federal prosecutors said she agreed to pay Rick Singer, a college admissions consultant, $100,000 to improve her daughters' ACT exam scores and $200,000 to have one of her daughters admitted to USC as a fake beach volleyball recruit. Janavs must also pay a $250,000 fine and serve two years of supervised release after her stint in prison.

Prosecutors had recommended Janavs serve 21 months in prison. Her defense lawyers argued that she was the victim of Singer's "manipulative sales tactics," and her public embarrassment was enough of a punishment. Catherine Garcia

6:45 p.m.

The second Democratic debate in a week — and the last before the South Carolina primary on Saturday — airs Tuesday evening on CBS News from 8 p.m. ET to 10 p.m. ET. The debate will also mark the candidates' last chance to appeal to voters ahead of Super Tuesday on March 3, when residents of 16 states and territories will have the opportunity to cast their ballots.

Appearing on the stage in Charleston will be Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who stands as the decisive frontrunner after the Nevada caucuses last Saturday, as well as former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg; former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg; Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren; former Vice President Joe Biden; Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar; and billionaire philanthropist Tom Steyer, who returns after having not qualified for the Nevada debate stage six days ago. CBS Evening News anchor Norah O'Donnell and CBS This Morning co-host Gayle King are set to moderate.

The debate will air live on CBS stations (you can find yours here) and stream on Apple TV, Roku, and Amazon Fire TV via CBSN. The debate can also be streamed live on Twitter, Facebook, or watched below on YouTube. Jeva Lange

6:38 p.m.

There are still two weeks left to file for a Senate run in Montana, so Democrats are taking one last shot at convincing Montana Gov. Steve Bullock to throw his hat into the ring.

Bullock, who ran a short-lived presidential campaign last year, has always maintained he views himself as an executive and said he doesn't have any interest in sitting in Congress' upper chamber. But Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer flew out to Montana last weekend, anyway, in the hopes of changing his mind, multiple sources familiar with the meeting told Politico.

It remains to be seen if anything came of it — Bullock's office didn't respond to requests for comment, while a spokesperson for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee declined to comment.

Democrats, who are outnumbered 53-47 in the Senate, believe that if Bullock challenges Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.), it will put the state back into play immediately. Read more at Politico. Tim O'Donnell

5:35 p.m.

He was just a little bit off on that one.

During Senate testimony Tuesday, Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf was grilled by Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) about the United States' preparedness for a potential coronavirus outbreak. At one point Kennedy asked Wolf about the virus' fatality rate, which Wolf said was likely somewhere between 1.5 and 2 percent. He then veered off course by telling Kennedy that the flu's fatality rate is in the same ballpark, which is not correct or even particularly close.

Kennedy didn't seem convinced, but opted not to press Wolf more on the flu stats. That didn't mean he let him off the hook generally, however. The senator was not pleased with Wolf's answers to a number of his questions and reportedly grew visibly irate at times, The Hill reports.

The Trump administration as a whole has taken some criticism for what some perceive to be a lackadaisical, overly-optimistic response to the outbreak. Tim O'Donnell

5:13 p.m.

As President Trump capped his visit to India on Tuesday, he praised Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's commitment to religious tolerance in the country.

"We did talk about religious freedom, and I will say that the prime minister was incredible in what he told me," Trump said during a press conference. "He wants people to have religious freedom, and very strongly."

It probably isn't realistic to expect Trump to have said anything else or criticize his host, especially after he was so pleased with how he was received during his visit. But the praise was juxtaposed against violent outbreaks in New Delhi on Tuesday spurred by a Modi-backed law, which excludes Muslims from a list of migrant groups who are granted a path to Indian citizenship if they can prove they're fleeing persecution from neighboring countries.

The U.S. State Department and Congress have expressed concern over the citizenship law and other actions viewed as part of a crackdown against India's Muslim population conducted by Modi's Hindu nationalist government. But Trump seemingly wasn't willing to cross that line during his trip. He did say he asked Modi about it, but ultimately he wants to "leave that to India." Read more at The Washington Post. Tim O'Donnell

See More Speed Reads