VOA NEWS

December 20, 2018

I'm Christopher Cruise reporting.



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

Associated Press Washington correspondent Sagar Meghani reports.

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.

The judge said, "I can't hide my disgust, my disdain."

Flynn did admit to the judge that he was aware that it was a crime to lie to interrogators when they asked him about his discussions with Russia's then-ambassador to Washington, Sergey Kislyak.



The attorney-general of New York has announced that the Trump Foundation [whom the president] which the president claims is the charity has agreed to dissolve in the face of a civil lawsuit.

The action calls for millions of dollars in restitution and penalties also bars Mr. Trump and his three oldest children from serving on the boards and other charities in New York.



Yemen's key port city of Hodeida was calm 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.



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

The plan is estimated to cost about $242 billion.



The outgoing U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, on Tuesday urged the Palestinians to accept a peace deal, saying they have more to gain than Israel.

VOA's United Nations 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 spokeswoman says President Trump is prepared to go around the long way on 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.



The Trump administration is moving to ban bump stocks, which allow semi-automatic weapons to fire rapidly like automatic firearms.

A senior Justice Department official says bump stocks will be banned under a federal law that prohibits machine guns, effectively in late March.



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

Pence made the announcement at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida shortly after President Trump signed a memorandum authorizing the force at the White House.

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

Media reports suggest the establishment of the command comes amid growing concerns about China and Russia's activities in space.



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.