Wednesday morning news: December 19, 2018

Flynn sentence delayed » A federal judge on Tuesday agreed to delay the sentencing of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn to allow him to cooperate further with special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe.

Flynn pleaded guilty a year ago to making false statements to the FBI about his dealings with a Russian ambassador.

While agreeing to delay Flynn’s sentence on Tuesday, District Judge Emmet Sullivan blasted Flynn for working at the White House while an unregistered agent of Turkey. The judge said—quote—“Arguably you sold your country out.”

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said Tuesday that Flynn’s wrongdoing in no way reflects on President Trump.

SANDERS: Any actions he engaged in had nothing to do with the president. Just because—maybe he did do those things, but that doesn’t have anything to do with the president directly.

The president wished Flynn “Good luck” in court Tuesday, adding that it—quote—“will be interesting to see what he has to say, despite tremendous pressure being put on him, about Russian Collusion.”

White House softens stance on border wall funds » Also on Tuesday, press secretary Sarah Sanders suggested the White House may be willing to compromise on funding for a border wall to avoid partially shutting down the government on Friday.

SANDERS: At the end of the day, we don’t want to shut down the government, we want to shut down the border from illegal immigration, from drugs coming into this country and make sure we know who’s coming and why they’re coming. 

Sanders said the administration has a “number of different funding sources” it could couple with the money from Congress, adding up to the $5 billion President Trump wants for the wall.

Her remarks were the first indication that the president might be willing to negotiate the wall funding level with Democrats to pass the spending bill.

President Trump previously demanded $5 billion for a wall be included in the federal budget. Democrats offered only $1.3 or at most $1.6 billion for border security.

Trump Foundation shutting down » President Trump’s embattled charitable foundation will soon close its doors. WORLD Radio’s Paul Butler has more.  

PAUL BUTLER, REPORTER: New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood, a Democrat, announced Tuesday that the Donald J. Trump Foundation is shutting down.

Underwood is suing the group, which she says operates like an extension of Trump’s businesses and political campaign. Lawyers for the foundation said any infractions were minor and they’ve been trying to shut down the foundation voluntarily for months.

Underwood and the foundation filed a joint stipulation in court Tuesday. It lays out a process for shuttering the charity and distributing its remaining assets to other nonprofit groups. The attorney general’s office is still seeking millions of dollars in penalties … and wants Trump and his eldest children barred from running other charities.

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Paul Butler.

Senate approves Criminal Justice Reform bill » The U.S. Senate overwhelmingly approved a sweeping criminal justice reform bill Tuesday night.

AUDIO: On this vote, the yeas are 87, the nays are 12.  

The bill will expand job training programs and other measures designed to help prisoners stay out of jail after they’re released.

And GOP Texas Senator Ted Cruz said while the bill gives judges more discretion when sentencing nonviolent offenders, language was added to help ensure the law does not go easy on those who pose a threat to the public.

CRUZ: It lowers mandatory minimums for nonviolent drug offenders. This amendment excludes a series of specific violent offenses including carjacking and including destruction of aircraft and motor vehicles and drive-by shootings. 

Leaders in the House say they’ll pass the bill this week and send it to President Trump, who has said he will sign it into law.

McSally appointed to U.S. Senate » Martha McSally, the Arizona Republican who narrowly lost the election for one of the state’s U.S. Senate seats in November will fill the other one in January.

Arizona Governor Doug Ducey announced Tuesday he’s appointed her to fill the seat of the late Senator John McCain. She’ll replace Jon Kyl who temporarily filled the seat after McCain’s death in August.

McSally on Tuesday said she knows she has big shoes to fill.  

McSALLY: John McCain was a giant in the Senate, an Arizona icon, and an American hero. I am going to commit to holding myself to the standard of service that Senator McCain exemplified, putting country before self. 

She will serve until the 2020 election, when voters will elect someone to serve the final two years of McCain’s term.

McSally is a two-term congresswoman and former Air Force colonel who served as the first U.S. female combat pilot.

President Trump authorizes Space Command » President Trump signed a memorandum Tuesday authorizing the Pentagon’s new Space Command.

Vice President Mike Pence made the announcement at Florida’s Kennedy Space Center.

PENCE: A new era of American leadership in space has begun. 

He said a 4-star general will lead the new command, which will establish unified control over all military space operations.

PENCE: It will develop the space doctrine, tactics, techniques and procedures that will enable our war fighters to defend our nation in this new era.

The Space Command will seek to speed up technical advances and find more effective ways to defend U.S. assets in space. That includes the vast constellations of satellites that American forces rely on for navigation, communications and surveillance.

The move comes amid growing concerns that China and Russia are working on ways to disrupt, disable or even destroy U.S. satellites.

(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster) President Donald Trump’s former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn arrives at federal court in Washington, Tuesday, Dec. 18, 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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