January 11, 2019

With Democrats teasing possible 2020 presidential bids left and right, it's hard to tell who's next in line to officially announce.

One likely candidate whose announcement could come very soon is Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), who The New York Times reports has just hired a communications director for a possible 2020 run, in addition to some other important hires reported by Politico. Considering, as the Times points out, she has 15 days to file with the Federal Election Commission once she has spent $5,000 or more on campaign expenses, her announcement could come during that window — not to mention the fact that Politico reports she's planning a trip to Iowa.

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.)'s announcement also appears to be around the corner. KCBS reports that Harris has decided to run and that she'll declare her candidacy sometime around Martin Luther King Day. This latter aspect of the report is in dispute, but sources that spoke with the Times and Politico didn't exactly deny that she's running, just saying that the timing of any announcement hasn't yet been decided.

We also might soon hear from Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), who CNN says has been looking for a campaign manager and has "narrowed" his search, also "zeroing in on senior staff" in New Hampshire and Iowa.

Finally, while he has already signaled a likely 2020 run with an exploratory committee, former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro has said he will announce his final decision on Jan. 12.

But what about some of the other frontrunners, like Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and former Vice President Joe Biden? Axios reports that both seem likely hold off on their announcements a bit longer, though Biden has privately said he will make his decision this month, the Times reports. With as many as 30 people potentially running on the Democratic side this cycle, enjoy the slim lineup while it lasts. Brendan Morrow

10:33 p.m.

President Trump gushed about his love for Attorney General William Barr during a private meeting with Senate Republicans on Tuesday, a person with knowledge of the lunch told The New York Times.

After receiving Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report on his investigation into Russian collusion with the Trump campaign on Friday evening, Barr sent Congress on Sunday a four-page letter with his interpretation of the report. He wrote that Mueller did not find any coordination between the campaign and Russia, but was unable to determine whether Trump obstructed justice. "I love the A.G.," Trump enthused during the lunch. "He works fast. I love this guy. You told me I would."

Trump's aides are treating Barr's letter like a total vindication of Trump, and not showing any concern over what the full Mueller report might say. Aides have been holding celebratory dinners, the Times reports, and GOP strategist Harlan Hill said the mood is of "over-the-moon ecstasy."

They might want to pump the brakes, Democratic strategist Joe Lockhart told the Times. He served as President Bill Clinton's press secretary when Clinton was impeached, and said the White House might come to regret taking a victory lap before the Mueller report is released, comparing this to President George W. Bush standing in front of a "Mission Accomplished" sign early in the Iraq War. The Trump administration has "left it wide open for every new development to be a big story," Lockhart said. "I just think they struck the exact wrong tone. Right now it can only go one way, which is bad for them." Catherine Garcia

9:24 p.m.

A state of emergency has been declared in New York's Rockland County due to a measles outbreak, and starting at midnight on Wednesday, unvaccinated children will be prohibited from public spaces.

This applies to anyone 18 and under who is not vaccinated, and expires in 30 days; if a child receives an MMR vaccination, they will no longer be under the ban. While authorities will not stop children to ask if they are vaccinated, parents will be held accountable if found in violation of the declaration, with their cases referred to the district attorney, ABC 7 New York reports. Rockland County has a large Orthodox Jewish community, and there is no religious exemption; health officials said local rabbis have been encouraging their members to get vaccinated.

There have been 153 confirmed cases of the virus, and county executive Ed Day said that health officials who have been investigating the outbreak have been told by infected people to leave their homes. "This type of response is unacceptable and irresponsible," he said. "It endangers the health and well-being of others and displays a shocking lack of responsibility and concern for others in our community." Catherine Garcia

8:16 p.m.

Seeing Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) use bizarre props to criticize her Green New Deal proposal actually boosted Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's confidence, the Democrat from New York tweeted on Tuesday.

Lee printed out several strange images, including one of Ronald Reagan shooting a gun while riding a velociraptor, telling his colleagues from the Senate floor that he was giving the Green New Deal "the seriousness" it deserved. Ocasio-Cortez called Lee out on his shenanigans in a series of tweets, first pointing out that it's pretty hilarious that "GOP Senators are using their Congressional allowances to print Aquaman posters for themselves to argue that a #GreenNewDeal saving our nation from climate change is a 'waste of money.'"

Ocasio-Cortez went on to share a video of Lee's speech, and confessed that she occasionally suffers from "imposter syndrome: those small moments, especially on hard days, where you wonder if the haters are right. But then they do things like this to clear it right up. If this guy can be Senator, you can do anything."

She also called out Senate Republicans for "refusing to hold any major hearings on climate change," and then went right back to mocking Lee and his speech. "With the #GreenNewDeal, legislators, experts, and advocates have spent countless hours poring over details of industrial policy and impact of global temperature/sea level projections," she tweeted. "That's what you do when you take your job seriously and respect the chamber. This is what happens when you don't." Catherine Garcia

6:54 p.m.

Shortly after taking off from Orlando International Airport on Tuesday afternoon, a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 8 jet turned around and made an emergency landing, after the pilots reported an issue with one of the engines, the airline said.

Southwest said the incident was not connected to a computer system that is being investigated for the role it may have played in the fatal crashes of a Lion Air jet in October and an Ethiopian Airlines plane earlier this month. Because of those crashes, the Federal Aviation Administration grounded all Boeing MAX planes, although the airlines have been able to fly their jets to storage areas.

The Southwest plane was headed to Victorville, California, where the company's fleet of 34 MAX jets will be stored during the grounding. There were no passengers on board, the airline said, and the plane will remain in Orlando for review. Catherine Garcia

5:49 p.m.

Democrats staged a resistance to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's (R-Ky.) Green New Deal gambit on Tuesday, but still saw a few defections.

The Senate roundly defeated Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Ed Markey's (D-Mass.) non-binding climate resolution, with 57 senators voting "no" and 43 voting "present." Every Republican voted against the bill, and Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), Doug Jones (D-Ala.), and Angus King (I-Maine) joined them.

McConnell called for the Tuesday vote knowing it would be easily defeated, and hoping it would put Democrats on the record as backing the controversial resolution. A handful of 2020 contenders have publicly supported the climate change-fighting proposal, but all of them voted "present" on the bill in Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer's (D-N.Y.) attempt to avoid what he called a "stunt" by McConnell.

The Green New Deal calls for a major overhaul to America's infrastructure in order to drastically cut carbon emissions. Kathryn Krawczyk

5:39 p.m.

There's only one path to total collusion delusion glory, and Sean Hannity is leading the way.

The Fox News host launched what he's calling a "collusion delusion bracket challenge," best described as his quest to find out which President Trump opponents committed the biggest media blunders since Inauguration Day, Hannity staffers wrote on his website. "The worst" blunderer will be determined in a "championship game played in a DC martini officiated by Wolf Blitzer" — and you can play along.

The bracket itself was actually created by the New York Post, and White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders tweeted out a distorted picture of it Monday night. It compiles 32 "media blunderers" from network TV, cable TV, Twitterati, and print conferences — though Hannity isn't actually letting you imagine a Rachel Maddow-Kathy Griffin faceoff.

Instead of choosing a winner by votes or some other unbiased election format, Hannity just wants you to guess how he filled out his mystery bracket. Match the most picks with Hannity, and you could win such epic prizes as T-shirts, polo shirts, or survival bands (bracelets).

You'll probably need to use Sanders' squished copy of the bracket, seeing as the downloadable version Hannity shared on his website is approximately 50 pixels wide. Kathryn Krawczyk

5:31 p.m.

The Robert Kraft saga continues.

The New England Patriots' owner pleaded not guilty to charges on two misdemeanor counts of first-degree solicitation on Tuesday. Prosecutors alleged last month that Kraft solicited a prostitute in Jupiter, Florida, saying they obtained video evidence of his alleged crime but would drop the charges if he paid a fine and agreed to admit his guilt and do community service.

Kraft did not speak publicly on the matter until last Saturday when he issued a statement of apology. "I am truly sorry," he said at the time. "I know I have hurt my family, my close friends, my co-workers, our fans, and many others who rightfully hold me to a higher standard."

But, per ESPN, the 77-year-old will not take the deal. Instead, Kraft is pleading not guilty to charges on two misdemeanor counts of first-degree solicitation, and has asked for a jury trial.

Kraft could be assigned 100 hours of community service and a $5,000 fine if found guilty. He technically could face up to a year in prison, as well, but, per ESPN, that is unlikely. Tim O'Donnell

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