December 19, 2018

VOA news. I'm Christopher Cruise reporting.

A federal district judge on Tuesday sternly rebuked President Trump's first national security adviser, Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, for lying to investigators about his contacts with Russia in the weeks before Trump assumed power in early 2017, but the judge delayed his sentencing.

The Associated Press Washington correspondent Sagar Meghani reports Flynn admitted to the judge that he knew lying to the FBI is a crime.

The delay came in a stunning hearing where Federal Judge Emmet Sullivan accused the retired three-star general and former national security adviser of selling out his country, raising the prospect he could send Flynn to prison.

Prosecutors had recommended against prison terms, citing Flynn's cooperation in the special counsel's Russia probe.

The delay in sentencing will allow Flynn to keep cooperating and get credit for it when he is sentenced.

Flynn was to be the first White House official sentenced in the special counsel's probe.

President Trump tweeted "good luck" to Flynn before the hearing.

Flynn is set to be sentenced sometime in the months to come.

Under pressure from a New York state lawsuit, the president's charitable foundation is closing down.

Associated Press correspondent Warren Levinson reports.

The Trump Foundation has reached an agreement to dissolve and to distribute its remaining assets to other non-profits.

New York state filed suit against the foundation last spring, accusing it of operating like an extension of the Trump business and presidential campaign. Now lawsuit continues.

Acting Attorney-General Barbara Underwood is seeking millions of dollars in penalties. She also wants an order barring Trump and his eldest children from running any other charities.

Lawyers for the foundation say its infractions were minor and that the Trumps wanted to shut down the enterprise any way.

A judge must still sign off on the agreement.

Underwood said her office had found what she called "a shocking pattern of illegality."

This is VOA news.

Yemen's key port city of Hodeida was calm on Tuesday morning hours after a U.N.-mediated cease-fire went into effect between government-allied forces and the country's rebels.

Fighting subsided as the cease-fire took effect, with only the sporadic sound of automatic weapons fire heard in the city where the port handles about 70 percent of Yemen's imports.

Japan released details of a five-year plan to increase defense spending to counter potential threats from China and North Korea.

Spending includes the purchases of dozens of U.S.-built fighter jets as well as helicopters.

The plan is estimated to cost more than $240 billion.

Outgoing U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley on Tuesday urged the Palestinians to accept a peace deal. She said they've got more to gain than Israel.

VOA U.N. correspondent Margaret Besheer reports.

Haley, who is also a member of President Donald Trump's cabinet, said she has led his administration's much anticipated peace proposal and that it is "not just a few pages, containing unspecific and unimaginative guidelines," but is longer with "much more thoughtful detail." But she did not elaborate on any of those details, only saying it would be different from all previous proposals.

"There are things in the plan that every party will like, and there are things in the plan that every party will not like. That is certainly true for the Israelis and the Palestinians, but it is also true for every country in the world that has taken an interest in the subject."

The White House says the president is prepared to go around the long way on getting money for the border wall.

Associated Press correspondent Warren Levinson reports.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer says there are plenty of proposals around to keep the government open past Friday.

"The only proposal that cannot pass is the president's demand for an unnecessary, ineffective, exorbitantly expensive border wall."

The president has said he is willing to shut the government down if he doesn't get $5 billion for his proposed wall.

Now presidential press secretary Sarah Sanders says there are other ways to get the 5 billion. For instance, she said in a Fox News interview there is a defense bill she claims would provide 26 billion for border security. Money from that could be diverted to wall building.

Vice President Mike Pence announced on Tuesday the official launch of the Pentagon's new Space Command. The organization is part of an effort to better organize and advance the military's vast operations in space.

Pence said the plan is to oversee and organize space operations and find more effective ways to defend American assets in space and elsewhere.

You can find more on these and other late breaking and developing stories, from around the world, around the clock, at voanews.com and on the VOA news mobile app. I'm Christopher Cruise, VOA news.