10 things you need to know today: December 19, 2018

A federal judge berates Michael Flynn and delays his sentencing, Trump considers dropping demand for wall funding, and more

Michael Flynn after his sentencing was delayed
(Image credit: SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

1. Judge berates Flynn, delays his sentencing

U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan on Tuesday postponed the sentencing of Michael Flynn, President Trump's former national security adviser, after harshly criticizing the retired three-star general for lying to FBI agents investigating Russia's election meddling, and working to advance Turkey's interests while part of Trump's campaign. "Arguably, you sold your country out," the judge said. After Sullivan warned Flynn still could face prison despite cooperating with Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation, Flynn's lawyer requested the delay in the hope that Flynn could earn the court's mercy by further helping prosecutors. Flynn pleaded guilty more than a year ago to lying about his conversations with Russia's ambassador to the U.S.

The Washington Post

2. Trump might accept spending deal proposal without wall funding

The White House hinted Tuesday that President Trump could back down from his threat to allow a partial government shutdown unless he gets $5 billion he wants for his proposed border wall in a year-end spending bill. The bill must be passed by midnight Friday to avoid a shutdown, and last week Trump met with Democratic leaders and said he would be "proud" to shut down the government for the cause of border security. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Tuesday, however, that the Trump administration could support the $1.6 billion in border security funding proposed by Senate Democrats. "We have other ways that we can get to that $5 billion" and will "work with Congress" to do so, she said.

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3. Senate passes criminal justice reform bill

The Senate on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved the biggest overhaul of the federal criminal justice system in decades. The bill, the First Step Act, was passed 87-12, with backing from both conservatives and liberals. It seeks to change tough-on-crime prison and sentencing laws that have increased prison populations and created what critics on both sides of the aisle have called an unfair criminal justice system. The bill creates more rehabilitation programs, eases mandatory minimum sentencing, reduces the three-strike penalty from life in prison to 25 years, and lets some federal inmates earn time credits by taking part in special programs. The legislation now moves to the House, where it also has bipartisan support. President Trump tweeted Tuesday that he looks "forward to signing this into law!"

The New York Times Politico

4. Trump charity to close under lawsuit alleging misuse of funds

President Trump's charitable foundation agreed to shut down in a deal reached with New York's attorney general. The deal will resolve allegations that the Trump Foundation misused assets to settle some of Trump's business disputes and support his bid for the White House. The agreement, which was reached under court supervision, also calls for distributing the foundation's remaining $1.7 million to other nonprofit groups. Despite the deal, state Attorney General Barbara Underwood's lawsuit accusing the Trumps of illegally running the foundation as part of their real estate empire and Trump's presidential campaign remains ongoing. It seeks $2.8 million in restitution and a 10-year ban to prevent Trump and his three eldest children from operating charities in the state.

The Associated Press

5. Arizona governor appoints McSally to fill McCain's Senate seat

Rep. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.), who narrowly lost her midterm Senate bid to Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), will fill the seat vacated by late Sen. John McCain, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) announced Tuesday. Arizona had never sent a woman to the Senate before this year, and now it will be represented by two. After McCain's death in August, former Sen. John Kyl (R-Ariz.) temporarily rejoined the chamber to fill the seat, but only promised to serve until the end of the year. Kyl formally announced his resignation last week, leaving Ducey to appoint another replacement. McSally will now serve until a special election can be held in 2020.

The New York Times

6. Trump administration bans bump stocks

The Trump administration on Tuesday announced a ban on bump stocks, attachments that let semi-automatic rifles fire like fully automatic machine guns. Calls for banning the devices began after they were used last year in the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history, which left 58 people dead and hundreds injured in Las Vegas. Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker signed the regulation, which will take effect 90 days after it is published in the Federal Register, which could happen Friday. Once that happens, bump stock owners will have to destroy the accessories or hand them over to federal authorities.

The Associated Press

7. U.S., Mexico announce cooperation on reducing migration

The U.S. and Mexico on Tuesday announced a plan to work together to discourage migration from Central America. The U.S. pledged a contribution of $10.6 billion, mostly through existing aid programs including loans and other private sector support under the Overseas Private Investment Corporation. The agreement marked a symbolic early effort at collaboration by the Trump administration and the government of new Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador after two years of somewhat combative relations between the North American neighbors. Mexico said it would contribute $25 billion to development in southern Mexico over five years, which López Obrador has said could provide employment opportunities for Central Americans.

The Washington Post

8. Nevada becomes 1st state with majority-female legislature

The Clark County, Nevada, Commission on Tuesday appointed Beatrice Duran and Rochell Nguyen to fill two open state Assembly seats, making Nevada the first state with a female-majority legislature. When lawmakers convene in 2019, the legislature will have women in 32 of the 63 total seats in the state Assembly and Senate. "A great milestone!" tweeted Democratic Gov.-elect Steve Sisolak, who voted to approve Duran and Nguyen in his last meeting as Clark County Commission chairman. Half of Nevada's representatives in the U.S. House will be women next year, too. Both of the state's U.S. senators will also be women. Jacky Rosen defeated incumbent Dean Heller in November. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) in 2016 became the first woman elected to represent the state in the U.S. Senate.

Los Angeles Times

9. More sponsors drop Tucker Carlson's Fox News show

Just For Men, Ancestry.com, and Jaguar on Tuesday announced they would stop advertising on Tucker Carlson's Fox News show. The departures added to a growing exodus of sponsors from Tucker Carlson Tonight following the host's recent comments suggesting immigrants make the U.S. "dirtier." Bowflex, SmileDirectClub, NerdWallet, Minted, Pacific Life, and Indeed had previously abandoned the show. Carlson faced widespread criticism for saying on his Dec. 13 show: "We have a moral obligation to admit the world's poor, [Democrats] tell us, even if it makes our own country poorer and dirtier and more divided." In response to the backlash, Carlson has resisted apologizing, arguing that what he said was "true," and accusing liberal critics of trying to silence him.

The Hollywood Reporter The Washington Post

10. Laverne & Shirley star, director Penny Marshall dies at 75

Actress, director, and producer Penny Marshall died Monday night due to diabetes complications, her family said Tuesday. She was 75. Marshall is best known for her starring role as Laverne DeFazio on the Happy Days spinoff Laverne & Shirley, which ran through the 1970s and '80s. She then went on to direct the Oscar-nominated Awakenings, becoming the second woman to direct a Best Picture nominee. She also directed Big, the first film by a woman director to pass $100 million at the box office, and A League of Their Own. Marshall's most recent project was the still-forthcoming documentary of NBA star turned diplomat Dennis Rodman.

Los Angeles Times The Hollywood Reporter

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