Thursday morning news: December 13, 2018


Michael Cohen sentenced to three years in prison » President Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen has been sentenced to three years in prison.

A U.S. district judge in New York handed down the sentence Wednesday. Cohen pleaded guilty in August to charges of campaign finance violations and tax evasion. In November, he pleaded guilty to a charge brought by special counsel Robert Mueller’s office that he lied to Congress about Trump’s past business dealings.

Reporters pressed the president for a reaction as he left a signing event at the White House…

AUDIO: [Sound of White House press)

…but they got no response.

Defense lawyers asked for no prison time, citing Cohen’s subsequent cooperation with investigators. They also said his crimes resulted from his loyalty to Trump.

But unlike lawyers from Muller’s office, Prosecutors said Cohen did not deserve much leniency and that he had not been fully cooperative. Lawyers from Mueller’s office had a more favorable view of his cooperation, saying he had given them “relevant and useful information” in the Russia probe.

The court ordered Cohen to begin his sentence March 6.


Criminal justice reform on holiday Senate agenda » It could be a working holiday for many senators this month. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced this week that the Senate will add criminal justice reform to an already full slate of business the chamber will try to wrap up by year’s end.

MCCONNELL: Expediting this work would require an extraordinary degree of collaboration from everyone. So members should either prepare to cooperate and work together or prepare for a very, very long month. 

The Senate could take up bipartisan criminal justice reform legislation by the end of the week. The so-called “First Step Act” has proven deeply controversial among Senate Republicans. The bill would, among other things, boost rehabilitation efforts for federal prisoners and give judges more discretion when sentencing nonviolent offenders.


U.S. soldiers killed in collision near Japan identified » The Pentagon has identified five Marines who died after two U.S. military planes collided off the coast of Japan. WORLD Radio’s Paul Butler reports.

PAUL BUTLER, REPORTER: Five men went missing after a C-130 refueling plane collided with an F-18 fighter jet  during a regular training mission last week. Search and recovery operations ended after finding only one survivor, who was aboard the F-18.

This week the Marine Corps identified the crew members who were killed. They are Lieutenant Colonel Kevin R. Herrmann of North Carolina; Major James M. Brophy of New York; Staff Sergeant Maximo A. Flores of Arizona; Corporal Daniel E. Baker of Illinois; and Corporal William C. Ross of Tennessee.

They were based at a U.S. air station near Hiroshima.

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Paul Butler.


Strasbourg terror suspect still at large » French authorities put up wanted posters on Wednesday bearing the face of the suspect in Tuesday’s terror attack in the the city of Strasbourg.

Police identified him as 29-year-old Cherif Chekatt. He has a long criminal record—more than two dozen convictions—mostly in France but also in Switzerland and Germany. And officials say he had been flagged as a potential extremist.

Chekatt shouted “Allahu Akbar” as he opened fire on patrons at a Christmas market. He also used a knife to attack people who tried to stop him.

Some early reports suggested at least four people were killed but word now from authorities is that two people are confirmed dead. And at least a dozen others were wounded, including one victim with critical brain injuries.  


Huawei executive detained in Canada granted bail » A Canadian court on Tuesday granted bail to Meng Wanzhou. She is the Chinese telecom executive detained at the request of the United States earlier this month. WORLD Radio’s Kristen Flavin reports.

KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: Justice William Ehrcke of the Supreme Court of British Columbia set Meng’s bail at $7.5 million.

Meng is Chief Financial Officer of telecom manufacturer Huawei. U.S. authorities say the company used a shell company to sell equipment to Iran in violation of U.S. sanctions and misled U.S. banks about the dealings.

The court ordered Meng to wear an ankle monitoring bracelet, surrender her passport, and remain in the Vancouver area, among other restrictions.

China has repeatedly demanded her release, and this week Chinese officials responded by detaining a former Canadian diplomat, who now works with a non-profit group in northeast Asia.

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Kristen Flavin.


British Prime Minister survives no confidence vote » British Prime Minister Theresa May survived a no-confidence vote on Wednesday. Conservative lawmakers unhappy with her handling of the UK’s divorce from the European Union sought to oust her as leader of the party and the country.

May told reporters last night…

MAY: This has been a long and challenging day, but at the end of it, I’m pleased to have received the backing of my colleagues in tonight’s ballot. Whilst I’m grateful for that support, a significant number of my colleagues did cast a vote against me, and I’ve listened to what they said. 

The final tally was 200 to 117. While she won the vote, May still lost the support of a big chunk of her party. Her victory also came at a steep price as she promised not to run for re-election in 2022.

Earlier this week, May postponed and rescheduled a vote on her Brexit plan in Parliament. Lawmakers will vote instead on January 21st.

May is now meeting with EU member nations to relay the concerns of British lawmakers with the Brexit blueprint negotiated between the UK and the EU.

But European Union Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker insisted the bloc will not renegotiate.


(AP Photo/Craig Ruttle) Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s former lawyer, leaves federal court after his sentencing in New York, Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2018. 

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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