Start Here: Sanders narrowly wins New Hampshire and Roger Stone sentencing reversal

It’s Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2020. Let’s start here.

1. Sanders takes New Hampshire

ABC News projects that Bernie Sanders will win the New Hampshire primary, with Pete Buttigieg in second and Amy Klobuchar in third, based on our analysis of the vote.

Sanders narrowly eked out a win against a strong challenge from Buttigieg in the Granite State after a close finish a week ago in the Iowa caucuses.

“Any traditional way of looking at this, you get the most votes in Iowa, you get the most votes in New Hampshire, yeah you’re the front-runner, but actually [Sanders] doesn’t even have a delegate lead, Pete Buttigieg is tied there,” ABC News Political Director Rick Klein tells “Start Here” today. “He got 60% four years ago, this time he got barely 25%, that’s less than Jimmy Carter.”

Moderates and those looking for a candidate to unite the country lifted Klobuchar to competitive status in the New Hampshire Democratic primary, largely at former Vice President Joe Biden’s expense, according to a final analysis of exit polls.

“It’s not an impossible mountain to climb, the headlines really help, a lot of voters are still making up their mind and if you read in the paper that someone has momentum you’re more likely to jump on the bandwagon, but yes it’s going to be a tough uphill battle,” ABC News Deputy Political Director MaryAlice Parks says.

2. Roger Stone reversal

All four federal prosecutors involved in the case against Roger Stone have withdrawn after the Department of Justice announced a reversal in the sentencing for President Donald Trump‘s longtime ally and former campaign adviser.

On Monday, prosecutors told a federal judge that Stone should be sentenced to serve seven to nine years in prison after he was found guilty last November on all seven counts brought against him by former special counsel Robert Mueller as part of his investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

But late Tuesday afternoon, hours after the president called the recommendation a “miscarriage of justice,” the Department of Justice moved to seek a shorter sentence, but left it up to the judge to decide. A department official, who requested anonymity to speak about the department’s internal deliberations, said the original recommendation “was not what had been briefed to the department and the department thinks the recommendation was extreme, excessive and grossly disproportionate to Stone’s offenses.”

“I don’t know if what this is is going to go down in history as a Tuesday afternoon massacre, but I do think it’s a very big deal,” ABC News Legal Analyst Kate Shaw says. “There are strong norms in the Department of Justice against White House interference, particularly in criminal matters. And if that’s what happened here, then that’s a huge break with DOJ protocols.”

When asked by reporters about the Stone case on Tuesday, Trump said he did not speak to the Department of Justice: “I stay out of things to a degree people wouldn’t believe,” while adding he had the “absolute right” to get involved.

3. Student’s father accused of sex trafficking

Lawrence Ray, 60, has been charged with sex trafficking and forced labor after he allegedly subjected his daughter’s roommates and friends at Sarah Lawrence College to “sexual and psychological manipulation,” according to an indictment from federal prosecutors in Manhattan.

“According to federal prosecutors, he would, under the pretense of helping them through their problems, subject them to things like sleep deprivation, to other kinds of psychological torture, things that prosecutors said shock the conscience,” ABC News Senior Investigative Reporter Aaron Katersky tells the podcast.

Sarah Lawrence College said in a statement to ABC News that the charges are “serious, wide-ranging, disturbing, and upsetting,” adding, “We have not been contacted by the Southern District of New York, but will of course cooperate in their investigation to the full extent of the law if invited to do so.”

Ray has not yet entered a plea, but faces life in prison if convicted.

“Start Here,” ABC News’ flagship podcast, offers a straightforward look at the day’s top stories in 20 minutes. Listen for free every weekday on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeartRadio, Spotify, Stitcher, TuneIn or the ABC News app. Follow @StartHereABC on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for exclusive content and show updates.

Elsewhere:

‘Xerox it and pass it out’: A series of recently unearthed video and audio clips of former Mayor Mike Bloomberg making controversial remarks about criminal justice is shining a new light on his record with policies that, in many cases, disproportionately impacted African Americans and Latinos.

‘Savage and heartless’: Following the release of President Trump’s budget plan, ABC News takes a look at three things to know about the election-year fight on health care spending.

‘Fight for the people’: Michelle Caruso-Cabrera, longtime former CNBC anchor and correspondent, announced Tuesday her plan to run for Congress, challenging freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez for her seat representing New York’s 14th District.

From our friends at FiveThirtyEight:

FiveThirtyEight takes an in-depth look at what went down in the New Hampshire primary.

Doff your cap:

Fourteen years ago, Daniel “Doc” Jacobs lost his left leg below the knee, three toes from his right foot and parts of three fingers from his left hand after an IED hit the Navy corpsman in his truck in Ramadi, Iraq .

After retiring from the Navy in 2012, he hoped he could be part of something positive as a civilian.

In a few days, he’s gearing up to climb Mount Kilimanjaro to do exactly that.

“It was definitely a good switch from the negative of being told that I’m not medically ready and I’m just gonna sit at a desk and have my uniform ready if a congressperson wants to meet with a wounded corpsman,” Jacobs said. “I said, ‘I can do that on the outside and still have an impact on the world.'”

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