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News Wrap: Russia blasts Senate conclusions on influence campaign

In our Tuesday news wrap, a spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin dismissed Senate findings that Russia tried to influence U.S. elections via a sweeping disinformation campaign, calling them “baseless.” Also, after losing to Sen.-Elect Kyrsten Sinema in November, Republican Rep. Martha McSally is appointed to Arizona's other Senate seat, the one long held by Republican Sen. John McCain.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    Two new developments tonight in the ongoing legal dramas related to President Trump.

    A federal judge in Washington today accused his former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn of selling out his country. And he postponed prison sentencing for Michael Flynn. The retired general has admitted to lying about his contacts with Russia during the Trump transition period.

    Meanwhile, the president's personal charity organization will shut down amid allegations that he misused it for personal and political gain.

    We will explore both developments after the news summary.

    In the day's other news: Russia blasted U.S. Senate findings that it ran a sweeping disinformation campaign to help elect President Trump. A spokesman for Russia's President Vladimir Putin called the claims baseless. He said Moscow had nothing to do with any election interference.

    President Trump appeared today to back away a bit from forcing a partial government shutdown on Friday night. Last week, he warned that he would do just that if Congress doesn't approve $5 billion for a southern border wall. Today, he said, it's too early to say.

    Meanwhile, White House aides and top Democrats debated whether other funds could be diverted to border security.

  • Sarah Huckabee Sanders:

    We're looking at every avenue available to us possible. The president has asked every one of his Cabinet secretaries to look for funding that can be used to protect our borders and give the president the ability to fulfill his constitutional obligation to protect the American people by having a secure border.

  • Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.:

    As for the idea of what Sarah Sanders Huckabee said, they could get wall money from NAFTA or some other part of the government, they need congressional approval. They're not getting it for the wall, plain and simple.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Senate Republicans floated another idea, $1.6 billion for border fencing, plus another billion that the president could use at his discretion. Democrats called that a slush fund and rejected it.

    Republican Congresswoman Martha McSally is going to represent Arizona in the U.S. Senate after all. The state's Republican governor appointed McSally today to the seat once held by the late John McCain. Former Senator Jon Kyl has filled the position since September, but says he will resign at year's end.

    McSally ran for Arizona's other Senate seat, but was narrowly defeated in November by Democrat Kyrsten Sinema.

    In China, President Xi Jinping dismissed fears of his nation's growing influence, but he also warned that no one can boss China around anymore. Xi spoke in Beijing, marking 40 years of economic reforms. He defended Beijing's growing economic footprint.

  • Xi JinPing:

    China will never pursue its development at the cost of others' interests, nor will China ever give up its legitimate rights and interests. China pursues a national defense policy that is defensive in nature.

    China's development poses no threat to any country. No matter what stage of development it reaches, China will never seek hegemony.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Xi stopped short of offering any new policies to boost China's slowing economy or to ease trade tensions with the U.S. That, in turn, sent Asian stock markets tumbling.

    Japan, meanwhile, moved to ramp up defense spending against potential threats from China and North Korea. That includes adding the country's first aircraft carrier since World War II. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's Cabinet approved the new plans. It's his latest effort to expand Japan's military role.

    Back in this country, President Trump has formally authorized creation of a U.S. Space Command. The goal is to pull together existing units under one structure. Their focus would be on war-fighting in space and defending satellites.

    The U.S. surgeon general declared today that teenagers' use of electronic cigarettes has become an epidemic. That follows a survey that showed the number of teens who vape has doubled over last year.

    Dr. Jerome Adams called for aggressive steps by parents, teachers, doctors and government officials.

  • Dr. Jerome Adams:

    We already have enough science to tell us that youth use of e-cigarettes are unsafe. Today, we must protect our nation's young people from a lifetime of nicotine addiction and associated problems by immediately addressing use — e-cigarette use.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Last month, the FDA announced a crackdown on the use of e-cigarette flavors that appeal to kids.

    The U.S. Justice Department officially issued a regulation today to ban bump stocks. These are devices that allow semiautomatic weapons to fire like automatics. A gunman used one to kill 58 people in Las Vegas last year. Acting U.S. Attorney General Matt Whitaker signed the regulation today. It takes effect in March.

    On Wall Street, the markets struggled to gain ground after oil prices hit their lowest since August of last year. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 82 points to close at 23675. The Nasdaq rose 30 points, and the S&P 500 was up a fraction.

    And actor-director Penny Marshall has died in Los Angeles. She gained fame on television, and went on to become one of Hollywood's first successful female directors.

    Jeffrey Brown has a look at her life and work.

  • Jeffrey Brown:

    Penny Marshall was first, and she would later say, forever, known as Laverne from the hit ABC sitcom "Laverne & Shirley" that debuted in 1976 and ran for eight seasons.

    A spinoff of "Happy Days," the show featured Marshall and Cindy Williams as roommates and blue-collar workers at a Milwaukee brewery.

  • Cindy Williams:

    Those boys have got the right idea. We should try making money at what we really love to do.

  • Penny Marshall:

    I think we would get arrest for that.

    (LAUGHTER)

  • Jeffrey Brown:

    It was created by penny's older brother, Garry Marshall.

    From there, though, Penny Marshall forged a new and long-lasting Hollywood career as a director. Her first major hit came in 1988 with "Big" starring Tom Hanks as a boy suddenly transformed into a grown man. It became the first film by a female director to gross $100 million at the box office.

  • Robin Williams:

    All these things you're experiencing are the side effects of that and they're making you behave this way.

  • Jeffrey Brown:

    She followed it with "Awakenings" starring Robert De Niro and Robin Williams, which received an Oscar nomination for best picture.

  • Tom Hanks:

    Are you crying? Are you crying?

  • Jeffrey Brown:

    And then "A League of Their Own" in 1992, also with Tom Hanks, alongside Geena Davis, Rosie O'Donnell and Madonna.

  • Tom Hanks:

    Because there's no crying in baseball. There's no crying in baseball!

  • Jeffrey Brown:

    Marshall continued to make films, television series and documentaries up until her death, which came last night at her home in Los Angeles from complications with diabetes. She was 75 years old.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And what a talent.

    Still to come on the "NewsHour": a dramatic day in court for former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn; President Trump's charity is shutting down following a lawsuit; on the ground in Yemen, there's hope a cease-fire may subdue ongoing violence; and much more.

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