Wednesday morning news, February 19, 2020

Trump commutes sentence of former IL gov. Blagojevich » President Trump on Tuesday commuted the 14-year prison sentence of former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich.

The 63-year-old Democrat exhausted his last appellate option in 2018 and had seemed destined to remain behind bars until his projected 2024 release date.

Many, including Democratic Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfood quickly denounced the move. 

LIGHTFOOT: This is a man who was a governor of our state. He committed crimes, as found by a jury of his peers. He’s got to accept responsibility for that. 

Blagojevich was found guilty of crimes that included seeking to sell an appointment to Barack Obama’s old Senate seat and trying to shake down a hospital. 

But the president said Blagojevich has served more than enough time already.

TRUMP: He’ll be able to go back home with his family after serving eight years in jail. That was a tremendously powerful, ridiculous sentence in my opinion. 

The president also commuted several other sentences and pardoned several people on Tuesday. 

Among those he pardoned was former New York City Police Commissioner Bernie Kerik. He served three years in prison beginning 2010 for tax fraud and lying to officials. 

Trump also pardoned the former owner of the San Francisco 49ers, Edward DeBartolo. He pleaded guilty in 1998 to covering up an extortion plot involving licensing of a casino.

Judge refuses to delay Stone sentencing » A federal judge on Tuesday refused to delay sentencing for Roger Stone. That as President Trump kept up his unrelenting defense of his longtime confidant and said he wouldn’t be quieted on social media even if he’s making things harder for his attorney general.

Judge Amy Berman Jackson plans to sentence Stone on Thursday, as scheduled. She said delaying the sentencing “would not be a prudent thing to do.”

Stone’s defense team has requested a new trial and had asked Jackson to delay sentencing until she rules on that motion.

A new set of prosecutors was in court Tuesday after the original team resigned last week in protest. That after Attorney General William Barr overruled their recommendation that Stone serve at least seven to nine years in prison.

Bloomberg joins Democratic rivals on debate stage » There will be one new candidate on the podium for tonight’s presidential debate in Las Vegas: Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Bloomberg qualified for the debate after he soared into third place in an average of national polls with nearly 15 percent support. 

His Democratic rivals charge that Bloomberg’s deep pockets give him an unfair advantage. 

SANDERS: Mr. Bloomberg, like anybody else, has a right to run for president. He does not have a right to buy the presidency!

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders heard there, campaigning in Richmond, California. As former Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign has sputtered out of the gate, Sanders has surged. At 25 percent, he now leads Biden by 7 points in that national average. He also has a big lead in two recent Nevada polls. 

Tonight’s debate begins at 9 p.m. Eastern. It will be televised on NBC.

WHO equipping countries to battle coronavirus » The director general of the World Health Organization says many countries must better prepare themselves to deal with the COVID-19 coronavirus. Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus said Tuesday …

GHEBREYESUS: Many of these countries have been sending samples to other countries for testing, waiting several days for results. 

He said the WHO is sending testing equipment to dozens of those nations. 

Officials say the risk within the United States remains low. But the Director of the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci cautioned…

FAUCI: Given how this is such a dynamic situation globally, that risk could change. So we’re telling our American citizens to not be fearful, to not be afraid, but to keep an eye out on it. 

The latest numbers show that COVID-19 has infected more than 73,000 people globally, mostly in China with more than 1,800 deaths. 

Boy Scouts files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy » The Boy Scouts of America has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy as it urges victims of sexual abuse to come forward. WORLD Radio’s Kristen Flavin has more. 

KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: Recent changes in statute of limitations laws in several states have unleashed hundreds of sex abuse lawsuits against the Boy Scouts. The 110-year-old organization filed for bankruptcy on Tuesday in an attempt to craft a victim compensation plan.

Chapter 11 protection would enable the group to put those cases on hold for now and continue operating. But ultimately the Boy Scouts could be forced to sell some of its vast property holdings, including campgrounds and hiking trails, to raise money. The victims compensation fund could top $1 billion. 

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Kristen Flavin.

(AP Photo/M. Spencer Green, File) In this March 14, 2012, file photo, former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, with his wife Patti at his side, speaks to the media in Chicago before reporting to federal prison in Denver. 

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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