Sarah Sanders dodges Trump Foundation questions while attacking FBI over Flynn – as it happened

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Press secretary said in briefing she is ‘not aware’ of anything that would indicate Flynn had committed treason

10.01pm GMT

That’s it for today, thanks for reading.

9.32pm GMT

Bernie Sanders has topped a poll of potential Democratic candidates for president. Sanders got a whopping 36% in the straw poll, which admittedly was conducted by a progressive organization – Democracy for America.

Joe Biden got 15% of the vote, while hot-ticket Beto O’Rourke took 12%. The DFA polled 94,000 of its members between November 29 and December 14. Elizabeth Warren won 8% of the vote – way down from her performance in the DFA’s poll ahead of the 2016 election, when 42% of members wanted her as their candidate.

Following the 2016 election, Sanders galvanized support by running “one heck of a fantastic presidential campaign,” said DFA’s current executive director, Charles Chamberlain, who will become chairman of the group in January. He said the straw poll exposes that Warren and Harris “have some work to do” to build support among progressives. But he said the poll at this early stage for DFA members is also a “cross between name recognition, people they’re excited about and people they actually think are running.”

9.01pm GMT

The Trump administration has banned bump stocks – the devices that can be fitted to a semi-automatic weapon, like an AR15, to effectively turn it into a machine gun.

Bump stocks were used in the 2017 Las Vegas shooting that killed 58 people. Owners have 90 days to turn in or destroy the devices and blocking owners from being able to register them

8.50pm GMT

Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez had the highest rate of small donor funding of any member of the House of Representatives in 2016, according to OpenSecrets.org.

OpenSecrets says 62% of Ocasio-Cortez’s fundraising total – she brought in $2m – came from donations of less than $200.

8.23pm GMT

A group of former Obama and Beto O’Rourke staffers have launched Draft Beto – an effort to convince the Texan to run for president.

The team want to raise $1m for O’Rourke’s potential campaign “to both convince him to run [I’m not sure he’ll take that much convincing] and give him a headstart in the primary”.

“The comparisons to JFK and even Obama exist for a reason. Beto’s the real deal. His ability to inspire and connect with voters is unparalleled, even among such strong field of presidential contenders,” said Nate Lerner, Co-Founder of Draft Beto and head of its grassroots team. “The energy we’re seeing this early is absolutely unprecedented as well.”

8.05pm GMT

That’s that then. Straight from the

tortoise’s
horse’s mouth.

.@Kasie: Are you convinced there won’t be a government shutdown over Christmas?

Senate Majority Leader McConnell: “Yeah, I am.” pic.twitter.com/2xSglRhYM3

7.33pm GMT

Help us defend the truth in 2019. Make a year-end gift to the Guardian. A note from the Guardian’s US editor, John Mulholland:

In normal times we might not be making this appeal. But these are not normal times. Many of the values and beliefs we hold dear at The Guardian are under threat both here in the US and around the world. Facts, science, humanity, diversity and equality are being challenged daily. As is truth. Which is why we need your help.

Powerful public figures choose lies over truths, prefer supposition over science; and select hate over humanity. The US administration is foremost among them; whether in denying climate science or hating on immigrants; giving succor to racists or targeting journalists and the media. Many of these untruths and attacks find fertile ground on social media where tech platforms seem unable to cauterise lies. As a result, fake is in danger of overriding fact.

7.31pm GMT

And it’s over. The press briefing – the first in about three weeks – lasted about 15 minutes.

•The administration “wish[es] General Flynn well”, Sanders said, after Flynn was lambasted by a judge this afternoon and told he could face a prison sentence. Flynn’s sentencing hearing for lying to the FBI has been postponed.

7.21pm GMT

With the deficit ballooning, why is the Trump administration asking taxpayers to pay for this wall?

Sanders says the wall would save money in the long run.

7.16pm GMT

•Sanders is asked about her claim earlier today that the government could come up with $5bn for Trump’s border wall separately from the budget bill – potentially avoiding a government shutdown.

“The president has asked every agency to look and see if they have money they can use for that purpose.”

7.11pm GMT

Sarah Sanders is holding a press briefing at the White House. She’s asked for a reaction to the Flynn hearing earlier.

The delay is something “between General Flynn and the courts”, Sanders says.

6.44pm GMT

•Michael Flynn, former White House national security adviser, has requested a delay in his sentencing for the crime of lying to federal investigators, after a judge warned he could face time in prison.

•Judge Emmet Sullivan slammed Flynn as he weighed a sentence in a DC court. “Arguably, you sold your country out,” Sullivan said. “I’m not hiding my disgust, my disdain, for this criminal offense.”

6.07pm GMT

Judge Emmet Sullivan has asked for a status hearing in 90 days, after delaying Michael Flynn’s sentencing hearing.

In an extraordinary hearing at the US district court for the District of Columbia, Sullivan expressed “disgust” at Flynn’s behavior, and suggested he was considering sending Flynn to prison.

5.54pm GMT

Michael Flynn, Donald Trump’s former national security, has asked for a delay in sentencing.

Judge Emmet Sullivan earlier said Flynn had committed a “very serious offence” in lying to the FBI.

5.50pm GMT

The court is back in session in Washington DC. Judge Emmet Sullivan has just clarified that he did not mean to suggest Flynn may be guilty of “treason”.

Sullivan has also clarified that Flynn was not acting as a foreign agent while serving in the government, as the judge had earlier alleged. Flynn was in contact with foreign officials before Trump became president. From CBS News Steven Portnoy:

“I felt terrible about that,” Sullivan says, after the prosecutor notes Flynn’s conduct as a foreign agent ended in mid-Nov 2016.

“I’m not suggesting he committed treason,” Sullivan adds, further apologizing for his remarks in the prior session.

5.29pm GMT

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders is holding a briefing at 1.30pm. Given the Flynn developments that could be… interesting.

It’s the first press briefing since late November.

5.17pm GMT

The sentencing hearing of Michael Flynn has entered a dramatic recess, after Flynn was subjected to a scathing rebuke and warned that he could face a prison sentence.

Judge Emmet Sullivan, in charge of sentencing Flynn, spent around 15 minutes lambasting Trump’s former national security adviser, telling Flynn that “arguably, you sold your country out” and expressing “disgust” and “disdain”, at his offences.

5.05pm GMT

This is from Andrew Prokop, a reporter from Vox, who is tweeting from inside the courtroom.

Judge Sullivan now asking whether Flynn could have been charged with treason (!).

Van Grack doesn’t want to answer.

5.04pm GMT

Flynn is really being hauled over the coals by Judge Sullivan.

Sullivan told Flynn he had committed a very serious offence and said he was not ruling out a prison sentence. From Tim Ryan:

“Arguably, you sold your country out,” Sullivan said. “The court’s going to consider all that. I cannot assure you that if you proceed today you will not receive a sentence of incarceration.”

He went on:

“I’m not hiding my disgust, my disdain for this criminal offense.”

4.47pm GMT

Help us defend the truth in 2019. Make a year-end gift to the Guardian. A note from the Guardian’s US editor, John Mulholland:

In normal times we might not be making this appeal. But these are not normal times. Many of the values and beliefs we hold dear at The Guardian are under threat both here in the US and around the world. Facts, science, humanity, diversity and equality are being challenged daily. As is truth. Which is why we need your help.

Powerful public figures choose lies over truths, prefer supposition over science; and select hate over humanity. The US administration is foremost among them; whether in denying climate science or hating on immigrants; giving succor to racists or targeting journalists and the media. Many of these untruths and attacks find fertile ground on social media where tech platforms seem unable to cauterise lies. As a result, fake is in danger of overriding fact.

4.33pm GMT

Courthouse news reporter Tim Ryan is tweeting live from the Michael Flynn hearing in Washington DC.

Flynn has just told the court “he does not wish to challenge the circumstances of his FBI interview”, according to Ryan.

Sullivan says those claims could “affect or call into question” Flynn’s plea or at the least his acceptance of responsibility

Flynn is at the podium now, answering questions about the claims.

Flynn says he does not wish to challenge the circumstances of his FBI interview

4.25pm GMT

Trump’s charity shutdown comes after months of concerted reporting by the Washington Post reporter David Fahrenthold.

Fahrenthold uncovered a slew of alleged misdeeds by the Trump Foundation. Trump used charity money to “pay off legal settlements for his private business, to purchase art that decorated one of his clubs and to make a prohibited political donation”, Fahrenthold wrote today.

The largest donation in the foundation’s history — a $264,231 gift to the Central Park Conservancy in 1989 — appeared to benefit Trump’s business: it paid to restore a fountain outside Trump’s Plaza Hotel. The smallest, a $7 foundation gift to the Boy Scouts that same year, appeared to benefit Trump’s family. It matched the amount required to enroll a boy in the Scouts the year that his son Donald Trump Jr. was 11.

4.15pm GMT

Donald Trump has agreed to shut down his charity, amid a lawsuit alleging “a shocking pattern of illegality” at the organization.

New York attorney general Barbara Underwood announced the shut down of the Trump Foundation on Tuesday. Underwood is bringing a lawsuit against the organization, seeking millions of dollars in repayments.

“Today’s stipulation accomplishes a key piece of the relief sought in our lawsuit earlier this year. Under the terms, the Trump Foundation can only dissolve under judicial supervision – and it can only distribute its remaining charitable assets to reputable organizations approved by my office.

“This is an important victory for the rule of law, making clear that there is one set of rules for everyone. We’ll continue to move our suit forward to ensure that the Trump Foundation and its directors are held to account for their clear and repeated violations of state and federal law.”

4.05pm GMT

Donald Trump appears to have backed down over the looming government shutdown, with the White House suggesting an upcoming budget deal does not have to include funding for a border wall.

In an interview with Fox News press secretary Sarah Sanders said the government has come up with “other ways” to find the $5bn Trump had been demanding.

3.41pm GMT

Arizona’s governor has appointed Martha McSally to take John McCain’s seat in the US Senate, according to the Washington Post.

McSally, who lost in her run for Arizona’s other Senate seat in November’s mid-terms, will have to run in a special election in 2020 if she wants to keep her place in the US Senate.

McSally strikes me as an unwise choice for a number of reasons. She’s like an NFL team that plays down to its opponents’ level – and she’ll be tasked with running for re-election immediately. https://t.co/C01s2sL28e

3.03pm GMT

CNN’s Chris Cuomo has been through the Senate reports on how Russia targeted the 2016 presidential election. His takeaway is that “the tactics that the Russians used were really, really similar to what we saw from team Trump”.

Cuomo cited an unnamed senior Trump campaign official who told Bloomberg the Trump campaign were targeting the same groups as the Russians went after: african-americans, young women and white liberals.

The Republican controlled Senate Intel Committee just put out some third party research that provides our best evidence to date of what Russia was doing on social media to muck up our election. The clear goal: help Trump. #LetsGetAfterIt #CuomoPrimeTime pic.twitter.com/kwqTdumoGc

2.48pm GMT

Roger Stone, longtime political advisor to Donald Trump, has taken a lie detector test in an attempt to prove he did not conspire with Russia during Trump’s 2016 campaign.

WSVN reports that the polygraph test was paid for by Stone and conducted by John Palmatier, a former police officer with more than 35 years experience giving polygraph tests.

Doubts about polygraph tests grew in the scientific community until the National Research Council – an organization of scientists – conducted a systematic evaluation and concluded that the test is lacking in scientific validity (2).

In 1998, the U.S. Supreme court acted to restrict their use in legal proceedings. In particular, defense attorneys can no longer use evidence that their client passed a polygraph test as establishing innocence of a crime.

2.24pm GMT

Good morning and welcome to the Guardian’s coverage of the day’s political news.

Michael Flynn is will be sentenced at 11am ET for lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russia during the presidential transition. Donald Trump’s former national security adviser will discover his fate at US district court for the District of Columbia. Our reporter Stephanie Kirchgaessner will be at court.

Good luck today in court to General Michael Flynn. Will be interesting to see what he has to say, despite tremendous pressure being put on him, about Russian Collusion in our great and, obviously, highly successful political campaign. There was no Collusion!

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Source: russia
Link : Sarah Sanders dodges Trump Foundation questions while attacking FBI over Flynn – as it happened

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