HC Wake-Up Call: Ocasio-Cortez to Bring Kavanaugh Critic to SOTU, David Bernhardt Nominated for Interior Secretary & Manafort's Sentencing Delayed to March 13

Good morning, Her Campus! With a break-neck news cycle, there is no possible way for you to stay on top of every story that comes across your feeds—we’re all only human, after all.

But, life comes at you fast. So grab a cup of coffee and settle in for this quick and dirty guide to stories you might’ve been sleeping on (like, literally. It’s early.)

Rep. Ocasio-Cortez to Bring Kavanaugh Critic to SOTU

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s announced on Monday that her guest for President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address is the woman who cornered former Sen. Jeff Flake in an elevator on live television to protest his support for then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

“This @AnaMariaArchil2, the NY-14 shero that will be accompanying me to the State of the Union tomorrow,” the New York Democrat wrote on Twitter, quoting a tweet with the video of the September encounter. “She wasn’t planning on leaping into that elevator ahead of the Kavanaugh vote, but after hearing the stories of survivors across the country, she went in.”

Ana Maria Archila, who lives in Ocasio-Cortez’s district and is the co-executive director of the left-leaning Center for Popular Democracy, confronted Flake, an Arizona Republican who at the time was considered a potential swing vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination, on an elevator and urged him for more than two minutes to reconsider his support for Kavanaugh, Politico reports. The encounter ultimately went viral.

Kavanaugh had been accused by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford of pinning her down and groping her at a party when the two were teenagers in the 1980s, but he denied the accusations. Flake later said he wanted to delay the confirmation vote to allow for the committee to investigate, and later voted to confirm Kavanaugh.

“I never thought I'd be excited about being in the same room with Donald Trump,” Archila said, adding that Ocasio-Cortez invited her to be her guest a few weeks ago. “We talked about making sure that we, with our presence, express the dignity of people who are under attack from this administration, the resilience. We will try to communicate that with the way we show up in the space.”

According to the Associated Press, Archila said she will wear white and a pin that Ocasio-Cortez gave her, which says, “Well-behaved women rarely make history.”

Usually members of Congress try to send a message about a particular policy with whom they invite as their guest to the State of the Union. Other Democrats have announced that they have invited formerly furloughed workers to the address.

President Trump Nominates David Bernhardt as New Interior Secretary

President Donald Trump announced Monday that he is nominating acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt to serve in the role officially.

“David has done a fantastic job from the day he arrived,” Trump said of the acting secretary who came to fill the role after former secretary Ryan Zinke departed the position at the end of last year.

“I am pleased to announce that David Bernhardt, Acting Secretary of the Interior, will be nominated as Secretary of the Interior. David has done a fantastic job from the day he arrived, and we look forward to having his nomination officially confirmed!” Trump tweeted.

According to USA Today, however, environmental groups have been wary of Bernhardt, a former oil and agricultural industry lobbyist who formerly served under the George W. Bush administration. Critics have also said that Bernhardt is too close to former clients who he represented against the Interior Department.

In a 2017 ethics recusal letter sent to the Interior Department, Bernhardt said he would not participate “personally and substantially” in matters involving his former clients or employees as they come before the department for a certain period of time. However, according to ABC News, some of the recusals have expired, opening the way for Bernhardt to work on policies that he previously challenged for clients.  

Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee which overseas much of the Interior Department’s activities, said he plans to conduct “vigorous oversight” into how the department oversees industries that Bernhardt used to lobby for.

“The president putting him in charge of regulating his former clients is a perfect example of everything wrong with this administration,” Grijalva said.

Paul Manafort’s Sentencing Delayed to March 13

Paul Manafort, President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, will be sentenced for the first time on March 13th, a federal judge in Washington said Monday after accepting Manafort’s guilty plea.

In a one-paragraph order, U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson delayed the sentencing by a week to give attorneys for Special Counsel Robert Mueller and Manafort time to discuss charges alleging that the longtime Republican operative lied after agreeing to cooperate with the special counsel.

According to Politico,  Manafort pleaded guilty in September to conspiracy against the U.S. and conspiracy to obstruct justice. The plea deal said Mueller would ask for a more lenient prison sentence if Manafort agreed to “cooperate fully and truthfully” with the special counsel’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

But in December, Mueller accused Manafort of breaching that deal by repeatedly lying about his communications with a longtime Russian colleague and his contacts with the Trump administration.

Manafort’s attorneys argued that their client’s misstatements were not intentional, and attributed it to his declining physical and mental health tied to his solitary confinement in an Alexandria, Virginia jail since last July, Politico reports.

But at the March 13th hearing, Manafort will be sentenced on two charges: conspiracy and witness tampering. According to CNN, Manafort will also be sentenced at a later date by a separate federal judge in the Eastern District of Virginia for eight financial crimes that he was convicted of last summer.

On Monday, Jackson, Manafort’s attorneys, Manafort himself and prosecutors with the special counsel’s office held a closed-door hearing for 4½ hours to discuss the evidence that the special counsel has presented regarding Manafort’s alleged broken plea deal.

Jackson has set a Friday deadline for all the attorneys to file additional briefs on the alleged lying. She has scheduled a second sealed hearing for February 13th.

What to look out for...

President Donald Trump’s 2019 State of the Union address will take place tonight, February 5th, at 9:00 EST.