Friday morning news, February 21, 2020

Stone sentenced to 40 months in federal prison » Trump loyalist and ally Roger Stone was sentenced Thursday to more than three years in federal prison.  That followed a controversial move by Attorney General William Barr to back off the prosecutors’ original sentencing recommendation. 

U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson agreed with Barr’s assessment. She said that while Stone’s crimes demanded time behind bars, the seven to nine year sentence originally recommended was excessive.

Stone’s lawyers had asked for probation, citing his age of 67 years, his health, and his lack of criminal history. Instead, he received 40 months.

But President Trump said he believes the trial was unfair. 

TRUMP: The forewoman of the jury, the woman who was in charge of the jury was totally tainted. If you take a look, how can you have a person like this? She was a anti-Trump activist. 

The juror in question was publicly critical of President Trump and even Stone himself before the trial began. With that in mind, his attorneys have requested a new trial. The president said he believes Stone “has a very good chance of exoneration.” 

But he has not said whether he would pardon Stone.

The judge has put Stone’s prison date on hold while she considers his motion for a new trial. He was convicted in November of lying to Congress, tampering with a witness, and obstructing the Russia probe.

Richard Grenell named acting DNI » President Trump has named a staunch ally to take charge of the nation’s 17 spy agencies. WORLD Radio’s Anna Johansen has more. 

ANNA JOHANSEN, REPORTER: The president picked Richard Grenell to serve as acting director of national intelligence. He’s been the U.S. ambassador to Germany since 2018. 

Grenell, an outspoken Trump supporter, becomes the first openly gay member of the president’s Cabinet. He previously served as U.S. spokesman at the United Nations in the George W. Bush administration.

Democrats quickly criticized the announcement, saying Grenell doesn’t have enough relevant experience to be intelligence chief. And Republicans reportedly pushed the administration behind closed doors to nominate a national security professional. 

But because Trump named Grenell acting national intelligence director, he will not face a Senate confirmation hearing.

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Anna Johansen. 

Report: Intel officials say Russia interfering in 2020 campaign » Grenell will follow Joseph Maguire, who has been acting national intelligence director since August. President Trump reportedly had harsh words for Maguire last week. That according to The New York Times. The paper stated Thursday that intelligence officials warned House lawmakers that Russia was again interfering in U.S. elections, working to get President Trump re-elected.

The disclosure reportedly angered Trump, who complained that Democrats would weaponize that intel warning, and use it against him politically. 

The Times said that during the February 13th briefing, Trump’s allies challenged the conclusions, arguing that the president has been tough on Russia. 

Chinese health officials express optimism, as South Korea battles new COVID-19 hot spot » Chinese health officials expressed new optimism Thursday over the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak. The rate of new reported infections in China dropped again yesterday. World Health Organization Director General Tedros Ghebreyesus expressed very cautious optimism. 

GHEBREYESUS: The data from China continue to show a decline in new confirmed cases. Once again, we’re encouraged by this trend, but this is no time for complacency. 

Doubts remain about the true trajectory of the epidemic as China again changed its method of counting and new threats emerged outside the country.

The latest front in the widening fight against COVID-19 emerged in Daegu, South Korea. The city’s 2.5 million residents are being urged to stay inside and to wear masks even indoors.

Daegu and surrounding towns reported 35 new cases of the coronavirus on Thursday.

Paranoia, racism drove German killer » The gunman who killed nine people in suburban Frankfurt left behind a 24-page rant calling for the “complete extermination” of races he considered inferior. WORLD Radio’s Kristen Flavin has that story. 

KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: In addition to his manifesto, the gunman left a video with delusional musings, conspiracy theories, and an infamous quote by Adolf Hitler.

The attacker was found dead at home along with his mother, who may have been his 10th victim. His website and YouTube channel came down almost immediately, as German authorities tried to prevent his rant from spreading across the internet. 

All of the people he killed during his rampage across the city were of foreign origin.

Germany’s federal prosecutor, Peter Frank, described the attacker’s rants as stocked with “confused ideas and far-fetched conspiracy theories.” It was last modified on January 22nd and reportedly offered no indication he was planning an attack.

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Kristen Flavin. 

Morgan Stanley to buy E-trade for $13 billion » Morgan Stanley is buying up an online trading pioneer in one of the biggest deals on Wall Street since the financial crisis more than a decade ago.

Morgan Stanley, the investment bank for millionaires, big business, and mega-mergers, is buying E-Trade Financial. E-Trade is a brokerage firm that encouraged waves of regular investors to get into the market with ads featuring a talking baby.

The price tag on the all-stock deal will be roughly $13 billion. E-Trade will bring with it 5.2 million client accounts, and $360 billion in retail client assets. Morgan Stanley has 3 million client relationships and $2.7 trillion in client assets.

The deal gives E-Trade some shelter during a time of massive disruption in the retail brokerage industry. Its rivals Charles Schwab and TD Ameritrade are in the midst of their own merger. And an ongoing price war has pummeled revenues.

(AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta) Roger Stone arrives for his sentencing at federal court in Washington, Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020. 

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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