January 21, 2018

Judge Denies Democrats Restraining Order to Stop Trump’s Pick for CFPB

In a victory for the Trump White House, a temporary restraining order to halt the president’s pick for acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), Mick Mulvaney, was denied by a judge late Tuesday though the decision is likely to be appealed.

U.S. District Judge Timothy Kelly ruled in favor of Trump in his effort to appoint White House budget director Mulvaney to lead the bureau, the nation’s top financial watchdog agency.

“Denying the president’s authority to appoint Mr. Mulvaney raises significant constitutional questions,” Kelly, a Trump nominee for the bench, said.

The ruling comes after a nasty partisan spat that pitted the Trump administration against an Obama-era holdover.

Leandra English was elevated to acting deputy director Friday when Richard Cordray resigned. The fight for control bled into the weekend and on Sunday, English filed an emergency restraining order to keep Mulvaney out.

The government filed a response to English’s restraining-order request late Monday, calling her claims to the office a “bureaucratic sleight-of-hand” meant to circumvent presidential authority.

English cited the Dodd-Frank Act, which created the CFPB. She said that as deputy director, she became the acting director under the law and argued that the federal law the White House contends supports Trump’s appointment of Mulvaney doesn’t apply when another statute designates a successor.

“We are pleased with the court’s decision to deny the request for a temporary restraining order, finding that the plaintiff had not shown a substantial likelihood of success on the merits,” Lauren Ehrsam, a spokesperson with the Department of Justice, said in a statement.

Former CFPB litigation counsel Deepak Gupta, who represented English, said the career civil servant would weigh her next step but added he didn’t think Kelly’s ruling was “the final stop for this case.”

Earlier Tuesday, Mulvaney instructed staff to “disregard” instructions from English and then tweeted a picture of himself working at a desk under the handle @CFPBDirector.

“Consistent with my email from yesterday, please disregard any email sent by, or instructions you receive from, Ms. English when she is purporting to act as the Acting Director,” Mulvaney wrote in an email Tuesday. “I apologize for having to send this instruction again. And I feel terrible about you folks being put in this position, as I understand it can be both confusing and disruptive.”

The scene was a follow-up to an awkward power struggle that played out Monday when Mulvaney and English both showed up for work. Mulvaney brought donuts. English sent out post-Thanksgiving holiday wishes.

Both declared in emails that they were in charge.

Mulvaney, a former congressman, has called the agency a “joke” and an example of bureaucracy run amok. He is expected to dismantle much of what the bureau has done.

A new director for the CFPB must be confirmed by the Senate.

Fox News’ Jake Gibson and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Trump Calls Jones ‘Weak’ in Alabama Senate Race

President Trump on Sunday weighed in again on the fast-approaching Election Day in the Alabama Senate race, calling Democratic nominee Doug Jones “weak” on crime and other conservative issues, but stopping short of backing embattled GOP candidate Roy Moore.

“The last thing we need in Alabama and the U.S. Senate is a Schumer/Pelosi puppet who is WEAK on Crime, WEAK on the Border, Bad for our Military and our great Vets, Bad for our 2nd Amendment, AND WANTS TO RAISES [sic] TAXES TO THE SKY,” Trump tweeted. “Jones would be a disaster!”

Trump is in a tough political position. He and fellow Republicans desperately need to keep the Alabama Senate seat left open after GOP Sen. Jeff Session became U.S. attorney general, considering they now have just a narrow 52-46 member majority in the chamber.

Moore, a Christian conservative, has been accused in recent weeks of sexual misconduct with teenage women roughly four decades ago. He has denied the allegations and refused to quit the race, with Election Day on December 12.

Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., unsuccessfully backed Moore’s rival in the Alabama GOP primary, Luther Strange, a more moderate Republican appointed to Sessions’ seat until the election.

Trump has said Moore should step aside if the allegations are true. However, the president, before leaving on Thanksgiving break, appeared to soften his position, telling reporters, “I can tell you one thing for sure: We don’t need a liberal person in there, a Democrat Jones.”

He also said Moore “denies” the allegations.

“He says it didn’t happen,” Trump said. “He said 40 years ago this did not happen.”

By Joseph Weber

Democrats Turn on Franken Over Groping Allegations

Democrats lashed out at Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., Thursday after Los Angeles TV and radio host Leeann Tweeden accused him of kissing and groping her during a USO tour in 2006, with at least two female lawmakers pledging to return campaign funds raised for them by Franken’s political action committee.

Leaders of both parties in the Senate called for an ethics investigation of Franken, a request echoed by the senator himself, Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

“The allegations brought forth are extremely disturbing,” Perez said in a statement. “Sexual misconduct, harassment, and assault are never acceptable, no matter one’s party or politics. The Senate should immediately begin an ethics investigation into Senator Franken’s conduct.”

Pelosi said any “credible allegation” should be subject to an ethics probe, telling Fox News “We are at a watershed moment and now is the time for Congress to overhaul how it deals with the issue of sexual harassment.”

Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., went a step further, tweeting that she had donated $30,000 in campaign contributions from Franken’s Midwest Values PAC to food banks in her home state.

McCaskill said she was “shocked and concerned” by Tweeden’s allegations against Franken, who was elected to the Senate in 2008.

“Comedy is no excuse for inappropriate conduct,” McCaskill’s statement added.

Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., announced that she planned to donate $20,000 raised by Franken’s PAC to a group working on behalf of female veterans in the state.

“This type of behavior isn’t acceptable whether it’s from a Democrat or a Republican or an independent,” Baldwin, who is up for re-election next year, told MSNBC in an interview.

Another prominent Democratic woman, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, reportedly planned to donate $12,500 in campaign funds to Protect our Defenders, a nonprofit group dedicated to combating sexual assault in the military.

“The allegations against Sen. Franken are deeply concerning,” Gillibrand posted on Twitter. “This kind of behavior is unacceptable and should not be tolerated anywhere in our society. There is nothing funny about it and there is no excuse for it.”

Franken’s fellow Minnesota Democrat, Amy Klobuchar, said, “This should not have happened to Leeann Tweeden. I strongly condemn this behavior, and the Senate Ethics Committee must open an investigation.”

A spokeswoman for Klobuchar, who has received at least $15,000 from Midwest Values PAC, did not immediately respond to queries from Fox News about the senator’s plans for the money.

In a series of statements, the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), singled out eleven Democratic senators and called on them to return their donations from Midwest Values PAC.

“If [senator’s last name] won’t immediately denounce Franken and return his donations, it will be clear [he or she] puts partisan politics over basic decency,” each statement read.

The senators named by the NRSC were McCaskill; Baldwin; Joe Manchin of West Virginia; Jon Tester of Montana; Tim Kaine of Virginia; Joe Donnelly of Indiana, to whom the NRSC referred as “Mexico Joe”; Debbie Stabenow of Michigan; Bob Casey of Pennsylvania; Bill Nelson of Florida; Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Sherrod Brown of Ohio.

Of the eleven, only McCaskill and Baldwin had announced plans to return the money Thursday evening.

Fox News’ Brooke Singman and Barnini Chakraborty contributed to this report. The Associated Press also contributed to this report.

House Passes Republican Tax Reduction Bill

The House on Thursday passed a sweeping tax bill largely along party lines that makes good on a Republican campaign promise to reform the country’s tax code.

The House bill passed 227-205.

But the future of the Senate version, which includes a repeal of ObamaCare’s individual mandate, is still very much up in the air.

While the “Tax Cut and Jobs Act” was pitched as a plan to help middle income Americans, the final version scaled back many popular deductions while cutting the corporate tax rate to 20 percent from 35 percent. It also collapsed tax brackets to four from seven.

Republicans aggressively marketed their plan as something that would benefit everyone but critics said much of the financial gains would go to the wealthiest Americans and big corporations.

New York Rep. Pete King, one of the most ardent opponents of the proposal, called the House bill “an unforced error,” and suggested it could come back to bite Republicans in next year’s midterm elections.

Ahead of the vote, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi slammed it as “a tax hike on 36 million middle class familiar that is dead on arrival in the Senate.”

The Senate version, which is working its way through the Finance Committee this week, is facing a lot of obstacles, including pushback from GOP senators.

Earlier Thursday, President Trump visited Capitol Hill to meet with House Republicans ahead of the vote.

“He told us that we have this once-in-a lifetime opportunity to do something really bold, and he reminded us that is why we seek these offices,” Rep. Steve Womack, R-Ark., said of Trump’s closed-door pep rally. “And here we are on the cusp of getting something really important done.”

Some House Republicans spoke warily of what might happen to the tax bill in the Senate.

“Political survival depends on us doing this,” said Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D. “Frankly, one of the things that scares me a little bit is that they’re going to screw up the bill to the point we can’t pass it.”

The House measure would collapse today’s seven personal income-tax rates into four: 12, 25, 35 and 39.6 percent. The Senate would have seven rates: 10, 12, 23, 24, 32, 35 and 38.5 percent.

Both bills would nearly double the standard deduction to around $12,000 for individuals and about $24,000 for married couples and dramatically boost the current $1,000 per-child tax credit.

Each plan would erase the current $4,050 personal exemption and annul or reduce other tax breaks. The House would limit interest deductions to $500,000 in the value of future home mortgages, down from today’s $1 million, while the Senate would end deductions for moving expenses and tax preparation.

Each measure would repeal the alternative minimum tax paid by higher-earning people. The House measure would reduce and ultimately repeal the tax paid on the largest inheritances, while the Senate would limit that levy to fewer estates.

Fox News’ Barnini Chakraborty and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

NPR Legal Reporter Criticizes Gorsuch for Citing the Constitution

The newest Supreme Court justice, Neil Gorsuch, has made headlines since joining the court last spring—and not just for his written opinions. Pedantic. Boorish and juvenile. Annoying. In his colleagues’ faces. These are some of the harsh things liberal Court watchers have had to say about Gorsuch.

It’s hard to square these comments with the outpouring of support Gorsuch received from former clerks, classmates, and others after he was nominated to the Supreme Court earlier this year. Just watch a few minutes of this speech by Mark Hansen, Gorsuch’s former law partner, who was close to tears at the end, talking about what an honorable, decent (and whip smart) friend and colleague he has been:

But the left would have you believe otherwise.

In a recent episode of the Supreme Court podcast “First Mondays,” NPR’s legal affairs correspondent Nina Totenberg took aim at Gorsuch. First in her crosshairs was his habit of frequently citing the Constitution. She objected to Gorsuch bringing things back to first principles at oral argument. He often prefaces his questions by saying, “Let’s look at what the Constitution says about this … It’s always a good place to start.” This should come as no surprise.

When rumors were swirling about potential Supreme Court nominees in late 2016, a former Gorsuch clerk wrote on Yale’s Notice & Comment blog: “Whenever a constitutional issue came up in our cases, he sent one of his clerks on a deep dive through the historical sources. ‘We need to get this right,’ was the memo—and right meant ‘as originally understood.’”

As a member of the Supreme Court, Gorsuch is putting these principles into practice and fulfilling his commitment to faithfully interpret the Constitution according to its original public meaning.

And that’s not all Totenberg had to say about Gorsuch. She claimed there is a rift on the court between Gorsuch and Justice Elena Kagan. Here’s what she said:

My surmise, from what I’m hearing, is that Justice Kagan really has taken [Gorsuch] on in conference. And that it’s a pretty tough battle and it’s going to get tougher. And she is about as tough as they come, and I am not sure he’s as tough—or dare I say it, maybe not as smart. I always thought he was very smart, but he has a tin ear somehow, and he doesn’t seem to bring anything new to the conversation.

First, I’m highly skeptical of someone purporting to know what happened when the court met in conference. The justices are notoriously secretive about these meetings—not even law clerks are allowed in the room. During conference, the justices discuss cases following oral argument and cast their initial votes in conference, though they sometimes change after draft opinions have been circulated. This is precisely the time for the justices to debate the issues in a case.

Second, Totenberg’s assertion that Gorsuch is “maybe not as smart” as she thought is off base. Anyone who has read his speeches or his written opinions—either from his time on the appeals court or his first two months on the Supreme Court—can see why that is patently false. The Columbia-Harvard-Oxford-educated judge weaves literary references into his opinions and writes in a clear, concise manner that’s easy for lawyers and lay people alike to understand.

Totenberg also said she hears Gorsuch “doesn’t believe in precedent”—which is likely motivated by a concern that he would overturn cases liberals like if given the chance. This same issue came up during his confirmation hearing, when Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., grilled Gorsuch about his views on the “superprecedent” status of Roe v. Wade. During the hearing, Gorsuch explained several factors that judges weigh when deciding whether an old decision is still good law.

He even wrote a book on this topic, along with 11 other judges and leading lexicographer Bryan Garner. And he’s given every indication that he’ll follow the Supreme Court’s guideposts for when to overrule or uphold a past decision. It’s also worth mentioning that, even if he disagreed with a past decision, Gorsuch can’t singlehandedly overturn precedents like Roe v. Wade. If an appropriate case came before the court, a majority of the justices would need to agree.

Gorsuch rubs Totenberg the wrong way—and she isn’t the only one.

At the start of the court’s current term, Jeffrey Toobin wrote an article for The New Yorker taking issue with Gorsuch “dominat[ing] oral arguments, when new Justices are expected to hang back” and writing dissents in his first couple months on the job.

Toobin highlighted a case involving statutory interpretation where Gorsuch dissented from the majority’s reading of the statute. Gorsuch wrote, “If a statute needs repair, there’s a constitutionally prescribed way to do it. It’s called legislation.” What Toobin objected to are basic functions of the job—if justices aren’t to ask questions at argument or write separately when they disagree with the majority, what are they supposed to do?

In an article in The New York Times over the summer, Linda Greenhouse—who referred to Gorsuch as “the justice who holds the seat that should have been Merrick Garland’s”—said the new justice violated the court’s unwritten rules and norms and “morph[ed]… quickly into Donald Trump’s life-tenured judicial avatar.” This gets to the heart of the problem.

According to the left, Gorsuch shouldn’t be on the Supreme Court, and Trump shouldn’t be in the White House. In other words, these criticisms of Gorsuch can be explained as simply another iteration of the resistance movement.

But Gorsuch isn’t going anywhere. The apoplectic left better get used to him sparring with the other justices, asking questions, writing fiery dissents, and generally returning to first principles.

By Elizabeth Slattery / /

ABC, CBS, NBC Initially Fail to Cover Donna Brazile’s Claim That the DNC Rigged Primary for Clinton

Three major news networks—ABC, CBS, and NBC— failed to cover on their nightly news programs Thursday the explosive allegations from Donna Brazile that the Democratic National Committee (DNC) rigged the 2016 Democratic primary in Hillary Clinton’s favor.

PHILADELPHIA, PA – JULY 26: on the second day of the Democratic National Convention at the Wells Fargo Center, July 26, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton received the number of votes needed to secure the party’s nomination. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Brazile claimed in an excerpt from her soon-to-be-released book that Clinton’s campaign had control over the DNC’s pocketbook and strategy in exchange for paying down the Party’s 2012 presidential campaign debt, explaining that the Party skewed the primary in Clinton’s favor through backroom financial deals so she could easily beat Bernie Sanders.

Despite these bombshell allegations, ABC, CBS, and NBC did not cover these revelations on their evening newscasts, even though the excerpt, taken from Brazile’s new book Hacks: The Inside Story of the Break-ins and Breakdowns That Put Donald Trump in the White House, had been published more than 12 hours prior.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) spoke about the DNC rigging scandal on CNN at 4:40 p.m. Eastern, but ABC’s World News Tonight, CBS’s Evening News, and NBC Nightly News did not feature any segment about the subject on their 6:30 p.m. Eastern programs.

Instead, CBS broadcast a segment on the Niger ambush, while ABC and NBC led off with segments on President Trump’s proposed tax cut.

Trump called out the three networks for not giving any airtime to the DNC rigging revelations:

Media watchdog organizations, such as the Media Research Center, took notice of the networks’ failure to cover Brazile’s allegations.

Media Research Center Vice President Dan Gainor told Fox News:

The Donna Brazile story is astonishing. The media loves to tell stories of Republican discord. Here’s the woman who was the interim head of the DNC saying Bernie Sanders got screwed by the party and Team Clinton. No matter how much the media wants to hide that, it’s a huge issue and will impact future elections.

Brazile took over as interim chairperson of the DNC in July 2016 after party insiders ousted Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) as chair on the evening before the DNC convention in Philadelphia.

After Fox News and CNN aired segments about Brazile’s DNC rigging claims and the president tweeted about the subject, CBS and NBC published stories on their websites Friday afternoon about the matter. ABC published a story about it Friday night.

At Least 26 Killed in Mass Shooting at Texas Church

At least 26 people were killed in Texas, with many more wounded, after a gunman opened fire at a church outside San Antonio on Sunday, the state’s governor confirmed.

Multiple sources speaking to Fox News identified the gunman as 26-year-old Devin Patrick Kelley. The mass shooting unfolded at First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, which is about 30 miles southeast of San Antonio. Police killed the gunman, Fox News has confirmed.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said up to 27 people were killed and “many more” wounded after a man walked into the church around 11:30 a.m. on Sunday and opened fire at the crowd of people.

Emergency personnel respond to a fatal shooting at a Baptist church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, Sunday, Nov. 5, 2017. (KSAT via AP)

Emergency personnel respond to a fatal shooting at a Baptist church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, Sunday, Nov. 5, 2017.  (KSAT via AP)

If the number of people dead is confirmed, Sunday’s shooting would be the deadliest at a church in modern U.S. history.

A possible motive was unclear. Kelly lived in a suburb of San Antonio and didn’t appear to be linked to organized terrorist groups, a U.S. official told The Associated Press. The official said investigators were looking at social media posts Kelley may have made in the days before Sunday’s attack, including one that appeared to show a semiautomatic weapon.

Rep. Henry Cuellar told Fox News that investigators believe the gunman drove to the church from Comal County, Texas.

“It is horrible,” Wilson County Commissioner Larry Wiley told Fox News of the massacre. “It appears someone walked in and started shooting.”

The church’s pastor, Frank Pomeroy, said his 14-year-old daughter was killed in the shooting, according to ABC News.

“We have accepted a multiple number of patients from the shooting,” Megan Posey, a spokeswoman for Connally Memorial Medical Center in Floresville, 15 miles from church, told Fox News. She said she did not have a specific number. She said doctors were assessing the patients.

Some victims were transported to Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, KSAT reported.

Helicopters and emergency personnel were seen arriving at the scene. The FBI is also on scene.

Law enforcement officials stand next to a covered body at the scene of a fatal shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, on Sunday, Nov. 5, 2017. (Nick Wagner/Austin American-Statesman via AP)

Law enforcement officials stand next to a covered body at the scene of a fatal shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, on Sunday, Nov. 5, 2017.  (Nick Wagner/Austin American-Statesman via AP)

The gunman, according to Wiley, was killed roughly five miles away in Guadalupe County after being cornered by deputies.

Police are checking the gunman’s home for explosives, San Antonio Express-News reported.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton told Fox News that “people never think” a shooting like this can “happen in their communities.”

“In a small town, … I can imagine that these people are devastated. And everyone in the community is going to … have some type of close relationship” to those either killed or injured at the First Baptist Church.

He added it’s “hard to justify why anyone would do this.”

“This is horrific for our tiny little tight-knit town,” Alena Berlanga, who lives 10 minutes outside of Sutherland Springs told The Associated Press. “Everybody’s going to be affected and everybody knows someone who’s affected.”

President Trump, who’s currently traveling in Asia, tweeted: “May God be w/ the people of Sutherland Springs, Texas. The FBI & law enforcement are on the scene. I am monitoring the situation from Japan.”

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said in a statement that “While the details of this horrific act are still under investigation, Cecilia and I want to send our sincerest thoughts and prayers to all those who have been affected by this evil act.”

“I want to thank law enforcement for their response and ask that all Texans pray for the Sutherland Springs community during this time of mourning and loss,” the statement read.

Sutherland Springs has a population of about 400 residents.

Sunday’s shooting comes just over a month after 58 people were killed and hundreds injured on Oct. 1 after a gunman opened fire on a country music festival in Las Vegas.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates. Fox News’ Robert Gearty, Jake Gibson, Rick Leventhal and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Democratic Party Rocked by Bombshell Claims, Infighting

Still reeling from Hillary Clinton’s loss to Donald Trump in last year’s presidential election and wondering how to move forward, the schism within the Democratic Party appears to have widened even more in the wake of the bombshell claims made Thursday by a former interim party boss.

The allegations by Donna Brazile not only asserted that the Democratic National Committee helped rig last year’s presidential primary in favor of Clinton over Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, but also raised a number of troubling questions as the party attempts to regroup ahead of next year’s midterm elections.

Are Brazile’s revelations the first shots in a virtual civil war between the Democratic establishment faithful to the Clintons and a growing progressive wing represented by lawmakers like Sanders and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren? Is this the final nail in the coffin for Clinton’s influence within the Democratic Party? Will this scandal linger into 2020 when the party challengesTrump for the White House?

“This is standard in politics when you don’t have the presidency because there is nobody in charge of the party,” Joe Trippi, a Democratic strategist and Fox News contributor, told Fox News. “You’re going to have an all-out battle and a new voice will eventually emerge.”

Finding out who that voice is and when it will emerge appears, for the time being, to be a long way away as the fallout from Brazile’s claims reverberate throughout the Democratic Party.

“It was obviously a shocking revelation,” Sanders’ campaign manager Jeff Weaver told CNN on Friday. “”It was pretty clear that they were on the Clinton side … I don’t think any of us imagined that there was actually a formal arrangement giving the Clinton campaign control of the DNC.”

In her new book – excerpts of which were published on Politico – Brazile writes that the DNC signed a joint fundraising agreement document with the Hillary Victory Fund and Hillary for America. It had been signed in August 2015, four months after Clinton announced her candidacy and a year before she officially secured the nomination over Sanders.

“The agreement—signed by Amy Dacey, the former CEO of the DNC, and Robby Mook with a copy to Marc Elias—specified that in exchange for raising money and investing in the DNC, Hillary would control the party’s finances, strategy, and all the money raised,” Brazile wrote. “Her campaign had the right of refusal of who would be the party communications director, and it would make final decisions on all the other staff.”

Defenders of Clinton have noted that the Sanders’ campaign also signed its own joint fundraising agreement with the DNC during the campaign season.

Clinton Southbank London

Brazile took over as the interim DNC chairman in 2016 when Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz was forced out as chairman over emails that indicated the party organization unfairly favored Clinton over Sanders during the primary.

DNC spokeswoman Xochitl Hinojosa, who works under current DNC chairman Tom Perez, told Fox News that the party “must remain neutral in the presidential primary process, and there shouldn’t even be a perception that the DNC is interfering in that process.” But it appears the damage has been done.

Democratic Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii said Brazile’s revelations confirmed “what many suspected for a long time” and added that the “deep financial debt, closed door decision-making, complete lack of transparency, and unethical practices are now front and center.”

Gabbard’s statement was preceded by a video earlier in this week in which she slammed Perez for a recent overhaul of the party’s executive committee, which she said was intended “to cast out those who haven’t fallen in line with the establishment and who are actually demanding real reform.”

Massachusetts’ Warren, who campaigned for Clinton during the presidential campaign and is rumored to be eyeing a run herself in 2020, said “yes” when asked if the campaign was rigged and called it “a real problem.”

“But what we’ve got to do as Democrats now, is we’ve got to hold this party accountable,” she said, according to the BBC.

Trump weighed in on social media on the mounting scandal and said the American public “deserves” an inquiry, while lashing out at Clinton in a series of tweets.

FoxNews.com/Alex Pappas contributed reporting to this story. 

Islamic Terror Attack in Manhattan Kills 8, Injures 9; Suspect in Custody

At least 8 people are dead after a driver barreled into a bike path and crashed a rental pickup truck into a crowd in Lower Manhattan Tuesday afternoon, shouting “Allahu Akbar,” law enforcement sources tell Fox News and The Associated Press.

Another nine people were injured, authorities said. Police tweeted that one person — who police shot twice — has been taken into custody and is expected to survive. Police added that there are “no others outstanding.”

NYPD shooting photo

The NYPD is responding to reports of a shooting in Lower Manhattan Tuesday, a few blocks from the World Trade Center Memorial.  (New York Police Department)

FBI officials confirmed to Fox News that they have agents responding to the situation “with NYPD.” A bomb squad is also on scene examining a vehicle.

A law enforcement source said the suspect had two weapons, believed to be a paintball gun and a B.B. gun.

Mayor Bill de Blasio has been briefed on the situation, and is at the scene. The mayor’s press secretary tweeted there was “NO active threat.”

Governor Andrew Cuomo tweeted he has “been briefed with preliminary information on the situation in Lower Manhattan and am heading to the scene.”

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said President Trump been briefed on the incident. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has also been briefed.

One witness who passed the scene while on the West Side Highway said he saw several peple bleeding on the ground and a truck hit several people. Another witness told The Associated Press the truck had collided with a small bus and another vehicle.

A school photographer nearby said he peeked around the corner, where he saw a thin man in a blue track suit running and holding a gun. He claimed he saw a heavier man chasing after him.

Fox News’ Jake Gibson and Rick Leventhal and The Associated Press contributed to this report. This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

North Korea’s Mountain Nuclear Site Collapsed, Killing at Least 200

200 feared dead after tunnel collapses at North Korean nuclear test site, Japanese TV claims

About 200 people are feared dead in North Korea after underground tunnels at a nuclear test site that was feared to be unstable reportedly collapsed, crushing 100 people in the initial cave-in and 100 others when the tunnels again gave way on top of rescuers.

The collapse at the Punggye-ri test site on Oct. 10 occurred while people were doing construction on the underground tunnel, Japan’s Asahi TV reported, citing a source in North Korea. The television station also said North Korea’s sixth nuclear test on Sept. 3 most likely caused the tunnel to crumble and created serious damage in the region.

No officials have confirmed the Japanese TV station’s claims, but experts have feared for more than a month that the test site was on the verge of crumbling since the nuclear blast. North Korea said it detonated a hydrogen bomb, calling it a “perfect success.” It was the country’s most powerful bomb tested to date and the blast was reportedly 10 times more powerful than the nuclear bomb that was dropped over Hiroshima at the end of World War II.

Japan Meteorological Agency's earthquake and tsunami observations division director Toshiyuki Matsumori speaks in front of a screen showing the seismic event that was indicated on North Korea and observed in Japan, during a news conference at the Japan Meteorological Agency in Tokyo, Japan, September 3, 2017, following the earthquake felt in North Korea and believed to be a nuclear test. REUTERS/Toru Hanai - RC19ECC1F430

Japan Meteorological Agency’s earthquake and tsunami observations division director Toshiyuki Matsumori speaks in front of a screen showing the seismic event that was indicated in North Korea and observed in Japan.  (Reuters)

The test triggered a 6.3-magnitude earthquake that day and multiple tremors have been detected from the area since then. Satellite images obtained by 38 North, which specializes in North Korea issues, showed several landslides occurred after the Sept. 3 test. Also a possible “collapse chimney crater” was seen on Mount Mantap, possibly caused by the underground tests.

It’s unclear if the mountain will collapse in the near future, but the report said there was “significant cracking” and “irreversible strain” on the land because of the nuclear test.

Some experts also said Mantap was suffering from “tired mountain syndrome” due to the stress on the ground, the Washington Post reported. Chinese scientists have also warned the mountain could collapse and release radiation. Radioactive xenon-133 was detected in South Korea after the test.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un provides guidance with Ri Hong Sop (2nd L) and Hong Sung Mu ( 2nd R) on a nuclear weapons program in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang September 3, 2017. KCNA via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, CONTENT, LOCATION OR DATE OF THIS IMAGE. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. NO THIRD PARTY SALES. NOT FOR USE BY REUTERS THIRD PARTY DISTRIBUTORS. SOUTH KOREA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN SOUTH KOREA. THIS PICTURE IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS. - RC173054AEE0

Kim Jong Un inspects what North Korea claims to be a nuclear warhead. The photos were released the same day North Korea conducted its sixth nuclear test in September.  (Reuters)

Additionally on Tuesday, North Korea rebuked Trump and the U.S., saying “the Trump group’s vicious vituperation against the DPRK is an expression of their frustration, fear and horror,” according to a statement released by state-run Korean Central News Agency. The day before, the Hermit Kingdom blamed Trump’s “extreme, direct and long threats” for driving them to obtain “complete nuclear deterrence.”

“The U.S. has to ponder over the possible consequences,” the statement said.

Katherine Lam is a breaking and trending news digital producer for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter at @bykatherinelam

President Fires on Fusion, Uranium One and Hillary Scandals as Mueller Preps ‘Collusion’ Announcement

President Donald Trump talks to reporters as he walks to board Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House, Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

President Trump on Sunday said the lack of investigation into the Clinton campaign spending a reported $12 million on a dossier crafted during the 2016 presidential race to smear him has sparked unprecedented “anger and unity” among fellow Republicans.

“Never seen such Republican ANGER & UNITY as I have concerning the lack of investigation on Clinton made Fake Dossier (now $12,000,000?),” Trump said first in a series of tweets.

The president tweeted after South Carolina GOP Rep. Trey Gowdy, chairman of the House Oversight committee, told “Fox News Sunday” that his concerns about Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign purportedly paying a law firm at least $10 million for the dossier, which was to be used as Trump opposition research.

“I’m interested in that … laundering money through a law firm,” Gowdy said.

In the series of tweets Sunday, the president again attempted to make the larger case that Washington and the rest of the country is consumed by the Justice Department’s special counsel probe into whether Trump associates colluded with Russia during the White House race, amid similar issues related to Democrats and others.

“The Uranium to Russia deal, the 33,000 plus deleted Emails, the Comey fix and so much more. Instead they look at phony Trump/Russia,” Trump tweeted following news reports earlier this weekend that special counsel Robert Mueller now has federal grand jury charges in the Russia investigation that could be made public as early as Monday.

Congressional investigators are in fact looking into new details about an Obama-era Uranium deal with connections to Russia and perhaps Clinton when she was secretary of State. The FBI investigated her use of private email servers and deleted emails when she ran the State Department.

However, then-FBI Director James Comey, whom Trump recently fired, concluded the server-email investigation without recommending criminal charges.

“The Dems are using this terrible (and bad for our country) Witch Hunt for evil politics, but the R’s … are now fighting back like never before. There is so much GUILT by Democrats/Clinton, and now the facts are pouring out. DO SOMETHING!,” Trump also said.

FoxNews.com

Released JFK Assassination Documents Reveal New Info

The highly-anticipated release of long-secret documents detailing the investigation into the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy have provided fresh fodder to fuel conspiracy theories surrounding the controversial death of the former commander in chief.

President Trump on Thursday released the trove of records, however, the collection was incomplete, with some records being held back. Trump cited “potentially irreversible harm” to national security if he were to allow all records to come out now. He placed the remaining files under a six-month review, but released 2,891 others, racing to honor a deadline mandating their release.

On Nov. 22, 1963, Kennedy was shot and killed in Dallas by, authorities contend, a lone gunman, Lee Harvey Oswald.

FILE - In this Nov. 22, 1963 file photo, President John F. Kennedy waves from his car in a motorcade in Dallas. Riding with Kennedy are First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, right, Nellie Connally, second from left, and her husband, Texas Gov. John Connally, far left.  President Donald Trump, on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017,  says he plans to release thousands of never-seen government documents related to President John F. Kennedy's assassination.  (AP Photo/Jim Altgens, File)

John F. Kennedy waves from his car during the motorcade in Dallas before he was shot and killed.  (AP)

But a segment of the public never bought into the official explanation of Kennedy’s assassination, citing video clips, interviews and science experiments in an attempt to prove Oswald, who was himself assassinated two days after Kennedy, did not act alone.

JFK FILES: FROM 2ND SHOOTER TO MEXICO TRIP, TOP QUESTIONS ASSASSINATION DOCUMENTS COULD ANSWER

The files released Thursday show the aftermath of Kennedy’s death included then FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover venting his frustration about Oswald’s killing at the hands of Jack Ruby, bellowing that the shooting would cause the public to suspect a conspiracy, NBC News reported.

“There is nothing further on the Oswald case except that he is dead,” Hoover said. “The thing I am concerned about, and so is [deputy attorney general] Mr. Katzenbach, is having something issued so we can convince the public that Oswald is the real assassin.”

Hoover reported the FBI received a call from the Dallas office stating the caller was part of a cabal “organized to kill Oswald.”

Hoover said he relayed that warning to Dallas police and was assured Oswald would be protected. However, Oswald was shot dead the next day by Jack Ruby.

“Oswald having been killed today after our warnings to the Dallas Police Department was inexcusable,” Hoover said. “It will allow, I am afraid, a lot of civil rights people to raise a lot of hell because he was handcuffed and had no weapon. There are bound to be some elements of our society who will holler their heads off that his civil rights were violated — which they were.”

FILE - In this Nov. 23, 1963, file photo, surrounded by detectives, Lee Harvey Oswald talks to the media as he is led down a corridor of the Dallas police station for another round of questioning in connection with the assassination of U.S. President John F. Kennedy. President Donald Trump is caught in a push-pull on new details of Kennedy’s assassination, jammed between students of the killing who want every scrap of information and intelligence agencies that are said to be counseling restraint.  How that plays out should be known on Oct. 26, 2017, when long-secret files are expected to be released. (AP Photo)

Authorities say Lee Harvey Oswald was the lone gunman responsible for John F. Kennedy’s death.  (AP)

Hoover suggested that “instead of a Presidential Commission, we can do it with a Justice Department report based on an FBI report.”

Hoover’s suggestion went nowhere. President Lyndon B. Johnson established the Warren Commission to investigate the assassination the following week.

JFK FILES: ‘BIG NEWS’ COMING, BRITISH REPORTER WAS TOLD BEFORE SHOTS FIRED 

In 1964, the Warren Commission concluded Oswald and Ruby acted alone in their assasinations. No other blame was put on other organizations, actors or foreign governments.

Johnson was mentioned in the files as well. The Soviet Union believed Kennedy’s vice president was behind the assassination, the New York Post reported. The Societs also feared they would be blamed for the slaying and attacked in retaliation.

In a Dec. 1, 1966 FBI memo, sources said the KGB, the world’s largest “spy and state-security machine” claimed they had “possession of data purporting to indicate President Johnson was responsible for the assassination of the late President John F. Kennedy.”

The memo, titled: “REACTION OF SOVIET AND COMMUNIST PARTY OFFICIALS TO JFK ASSASSINATION” was sent to Hoover.

Part of a file, dated Nov. 24, 1963, quoting FBI director J. Edgar Hoover as he talks about the death of Lee Harvey Oswald, released for the first time on Thursday, Oct. 26, 2017,  is photographed in Washington. The public is getting a look at thousands of secret government files related to President John F. Kennedy's assassination, but hundreds of other documents will remain under wraps for now. The government was required by Thursday to release the final batch of files related to Kennedy's assassination in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963. But President Donald Trump delayed the release of some of the files, citing security concerns. (AP Photo/Jon Elswick)

The files on President John F. Kennedy’s killing were released on Oct 26, 2017.  (AP)

“KGB headquarters indicated that in view of this information, it was necessary for the Soviet Government to know the existing personal relationship between President Johnson and the Kennedy family, particularly that between President Johnson and Robert and ‘Ted’ Kennedy,” the document stated.

The Soviet Union also feared the U.S. would use the assassination to bolster “anti-Soviet sentiment and even lead to an attack.”

Oswald lived in the Soviet Union for three years and married a woman from there. He reportedly had ties to the KGB while in America.

Johnson also believed in conspiracy theories himself, the New York Post reported. Richard Helms, the CIA director under Johnson, said the former president said he believed Kennedy was killed in retaliation for the assassination of South Vietnam President Ngo Dinh Diem.

Diem was arrested and killed by a CIA-backed coup in Vietnam in 1963.

The files also showed that a British reporter with the Cambridge News received an anonymous phone call prior to the assassination, alerting the reporter to “some big news.”

“The caller said only that the Cambridge News reporter should call the American Embassy in London for some big news and then hung up,” reads the document from former CIA Deputy Director James Angleton.

The reporter, who was not identified in the Nov. 26, 1963, report, “never received a call of this kind before and MI5 said that he is known to them as a sound and loyal person with no security record.” (MI5 is Britain’s Security Service, similar to the CIA in the United States.)

After Kennedy’s death, the reporter told Cambridge police about the call and they informed M15.

This image provided by the Warren commission, shows Warren Commission Exhibit No. 697, President John F. Kennedy at the extreme right on rear seat of his limousine during Dallas, motorcade on Nov. 22, 1963. His wife, Jacqueline, beside him, Gov. John Connally of Texas and his wife were on jump seats in front of the president. President Donald Trump is caught in a push-pull on new details of Kennedy’s assassination, jammed between students of the killing who want every scrap of information and intelligence agencies that are said to be counseling restraint.  How that plays out should be known on Oct. 26, 2017, when long-secret files are expected to be released. (Warren Commission via AP)

A British reporter said he received a phone call promising ‘big news’ prior to the assassination.  (AP)

Despite the new details unleashed by the files, some felt the bath did not have the “smoking gun” many have urged for following the mysterious death. The full record will still be kept from the public for at least six months – and longer if agencies make a persuasive enough case for continued secrecy.

FoxNews.com/The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Fox News Finally Reveals Why They Fired Bill O’Reilly Amid Story About O’Reilly Settlement

Fox News over the weekend revealed the reason network executives ultimately made the decision to dismiss star host Bill O’Reilly in April. The revelation came in response to a bombshell New York Times story.

What did the story say?

The Times’ story rocked the political world Saturday because it reported the dollar amount that O’Reilly paid to settle sexual harassment accusations levied by Lis Wiehl, one of six woman to levy sexual misconduct accusations against O’Reilly. The settlement was finalized in January.

The amount? $32 million.

The story really rattled cages because it reported Fox News renewed O’Reilly’s contract — for $25 million per year for four years — after O’Reilly reached a settlement with Wiehl. The Times’ reported Fox executives knew of the settlement, but not the details, and made a calculated business decision to renew O’Reilly’s contract, which came after Megyn Kelly departed the network, as part of an effort to revitalize the network after it was rocked by the Roger Ailes scandal.

Network executives later made the decision to fire O’Reilly in April because details about the January settlement were slated to become public, according to the Times.

What did Fox reveal?

According to a statement obtained by CNN, Fox News knew of the January settlement, but did not know of the settlement amount.

The Fox spokesman also explained that new conditions were placed in O’Reilly’s contract that said the company could dismiss him should new or additional information surface regarding the sexual misconduct allegations. The company then exercised that new clause in April.

The spokesman said:

When the company renewed Bill O’Reilly’s contract in February, it knew that a sexual harassment lawsuit had been threatened against him by Lis Wiehl, but was informed by Mr. O’Reilly that he had settled the matter personally, on financial terms that he and Ms. Wiehl had agreed were confidential and not disclosed to the company.

“His new contract, which was made at a time typical for renewals of multi-year talent contracts, added protections for the company specifically aimed at harassment, including that Mr. O’Reilly could be dismissed if the company was made aware of other allegations or if additional relevant information was obtained in a company investigation. The company subsequently acted based on the terms of this contract.

How did O’Reilly respond?

In an interview with the Times, O’Reilly maintained his innocence.

“I never mistreated anyone,” he said. “It’s politically and financially motivated, and we can prove it with shocking information, but I’m not going to sit here in a courtroom for a year and a half and let my kids get beaten up every single day of their lives by a tabloid press that would sit there, and you know it.”

Mark Fabiani, an O’Reilly spokesman, elaborated in a statement that the Times, in its latest story, has “maliciously smeared” O’Reilly by choosing to rely on “unsubstantiated allegations, anonymous sources and incomplete, leaked or stolen documents” instead of concrete, provable facts.

Fabiani also said the story is intended to “embarrass Bill O’Reilly and to keep him from competing in the marketplace.”

 

NY Times Refuses to Publish Document in Latest ‘Smear Piece’ on Bill O’Reilly

The New York Times published a bombshell exposé on Bill O’Reilly Saturday that made public the details of a sexual misconduct settlement O’Reilly inked with a former Fox News employee in January. Though the Times reported the flashy dollar figure, they left out some important facts.

What did they leave out?

Though it was never supposed to become public, O’Reilly agreed to pay former Fox News legal analyst Lis Wiehl $32 million to settle sexual harassment allegations she brought against him. O’Reilly has denied any wrongdoing.

However, as part of the settlement, Wiehl signed an affidavit rescinding her misconduct allegations against O’Reilly. TheBlaze was sent a copy of the signed document.

One of the points Wiehl legally agreed to was: “At the end of 2016, I hired counsel who prepared a draft complaint asserting claims against Bill O’Reilly. We have since resolved all of our issues. I would no longer make the allegations contained in the draft complaint.

The other three signed statements in the affidavit were:

  • That Wiehl has known O’Reilly for more than 18 years, and on occasion, had provided him with legal counsel
  • That while Wiehl acted as O’Reilly’s counsel, he often forwarded to Wiehl explicit emails that he received from others. Wiehl said she had no complaint about the emails.
  • That Wiehl reached an agreement with Fox News to terminate her employment and that she had no complaints against the network

What did O’Reilly say about it?

According to O’Reilly’s team, the Times had a copy of the affidavit. Still, the newspaper didn’t publish the legal document nor did they explain what Wiehl agreed to when she signed it. O’Reilly allegedly also provided the Times with “love letters,” though the Times neither published nor mentioned these.

O’Reilly called the Times’ story a “smear piece” that only serves to discredit and “embarrass” him.

When will O’Reilly discuss the story in detail?

O’Reilly announced on social media Saturday that he plans to discuss the story in detail with his followers on Monday.

O’Reilly will be on Glenn Beck’s national radio program Monday morning to discuss the story.

See the affidavit yourself:

Lis Wiehl affidavit by Chris Enloe on Scribd

Wacko MSNBC Host Rachel Maddow Called Out Even by Liberals for Crazy Anti-Trump Conspiracy

MSNBC star Rachel Maddow’s latest anti-Trump conspiracy theory was so outlandish that even the dependably liberal HuffPost criticized it as “so flimsy that it could be debunked by a quick glance at a map.”

On Thursday evening, “The Rachel Maddow Show” opened with a somber 25-minute diatribe that attempted to connect the tragic ambush attack that killed four American soldiers in Niger to the latest version of President Trump’s proposed travel ban, which included the nation of Chad. Maddow essentially claimed that the inclusion of Chad, which recently pulled its troops out of Niger, in the revised travel ban resulted in extremist attacks such as the one that left four Americans dead.

The HuffPost, which is so anti-Trump that it refused to even cover him in the political section during the early stages of his campaign, published a story headlined, “What the hell was this Rachel Maddow segment?” The MSNBC host proclaimed that Chad’s pullout from Niger “had an immediate effect in emboldening ISIS attacks,” but the HuffPost easily shot down her theory.

Colby College Department of Government assistant professor Laura Seay told the HuffPost that “any expert” would have said Maddow’s conspiracy theory was “crazy” and the pullout of Chadian troops isn’t necessarily related to the Trump’s travel ban.

“Everybody that I know is appalled by this. I would like to think that Maddow’s researchers are more responsible,” Seay told the HuffPost.

A combination photo of U.S. Army Special Forces Sergeant Jeremiah Johnson (L to R), U.S. Special Forces Sgt. Bryan Black, U.S. Special Forces Sgt. Dustin Wright and U.S. Special Forces Sgt. La David Johnson killed in Niger, West Africa on October 4, 2017, in these handout photos released October 18, 2017.  Courtesy U.S. Army Special Operations Command/Handout via REUTERS   ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY - RC177C557C30

U.S. Special Forces Sgt. Dustin Wright, left, and U.S. Special Forces Sgt. La David Johnson were killed in Niger Oct. 4.  (U.S. Army Special Operations Command)

While the MSNBC host called the tragic attack on American troops “absolutely baffling,” Seay said it was actually “almost inevitable,” because it’s such a remote and hostile area.

“The attacks that have increased can be traced back to militant group Boko Haram, which is based just across the border in Nigeria,” the HuffPost reported, citing the Council on Foreign Relations and accounts from local residents.

“The Rachel Maddow Show” declined to comment to HuffPost but the host addressed the situation on Friday night’s episode.

A combination photo of U.S. Army Special Forces Sergeant Jeremiah Johnson (L to R), U.S. Special Forces Sgt. Bryan Black, U.S. Special Forces Sgt. Dustin Wright and U.S. Special Forces Sgt. La David Johnson killed in Niger, West Africa on October 4, 2017, in these handout photos released October 18, 2017.  Courtesy U.S. Army Special Operations Command/Handout via REUTERS   ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY - RC177C557C30

U.S. Army Special Forces Sergeant Jeremiah Johnson, left, and U.S. Special Forces Sgt. Bryan Black were killed in Niger Oct. 4  (U.S. Army Special Operations Command)

“Over the course of the day today, lots of people have been very upset with me for reporting that last night, which is fine. I didn’t know you cared. But the upset over my reporting doesn’t mean that anything I reported wasn’t true,” Maddow said. “Everything I reported was true.”

Maddow continued: “Now, this doesn’t mean that Chad withdrawing their troops was necessarily the cause of what happened to those U.S. troops who were ambushed. That ambush is being described by the Pentagon as a shock.”

The HuffPost’s Willa Frej wrote that Maddow built “myths” using unrelated or unreliable information and “reduced the story so thoroughly that it lost any semblance of the larger truth.”

Maddow has seen increased viewership as the triggered left tunes in to watch her condemn Trump on a nightly basis, but it seems the MSNBC host this time went too far for one of the most liberal publications in America.

By Brian Flood. Follow him on Twitter at @briansflood.

Recording Released of Trump’s Call to Gold Star Wife-Trump’s Critics Proved Wrong

BREAKING: Gold Star Widow Releases Audio Of Phone Call With Trump

Gold star widow Natasha De Alencar released audio on Friday morning of the phone conversation she had with President Trump after it was revealed her husband had died in combat, according to The Daily Caller.

“I am so sorry to hear about the whole situation. What a horrible thing, except that he’s an unbelievable hero,” Trump told her.

Check it out:

Trump also told the widow if she is ever in Washington D.C. that she is welcome in the Oval Office.

“If you’re around Washington, you come over and see me in the Oval Office,” he said. “You just come over and see me because you are just the kind of family … this is what we want.”

“Say hello to your children, and tell them your father he was a great hero that I respected,” Trump said. “Just tell them I said your father was a great hero.”

Here’s the clip:

The call was released after Gen. James Kelly addressed the press on Thursday, saying that he thought at least the lives of soldiers who’d died for Americans’ freedoms should remain sacred in this country.

Kelly made his remarks after Congresswoman Frederica Wilson told press she had secretly listened in on the president’s phone call with a Gold Star widow and that he’d told her her husband “knew what he signed up for.”

Fake News: Nearly Half Say Media Fabricates Stories about Trump

Now this is depressing.

We all know the media’s credibility has sunk to new depths. That’s been showing up in the polls for years, and has been exacerbated in the Trump era.

Now a Morning Consult/Politico survey out yesterday says that nearly half of voters—46 percent–believe major news organizations fabricate stories about Trump. Another 37 percent do not.

In short, the president’s constant “fake news” attacks are working.

But think about the impact of that finding. These people aren’t saying that news organizations are running unfair stories about Trump, or inaccurate stories about Trump. They’re saying the news outlets make stuff up about Trump.

There is, not surprisingly, a gargantuan partisan divide on this question. The Morning Consult poll (an online survey, which is less than ideal) says 20 percent of Democrats believe there are fabricated stories about Trump, while 65 percent disagree.

But 76 percent of Republicans say there are fabricated stories, while just 11 percent disagree. (Among independents, 44 percent say stories are fabricated.)

I have done a substantial amount of reporting over the years on fabricating and plagiarizing journalists. I exposed the made-up reporting of Jayson Blair at the New York Times and Jack Kelley at USA Today. Fraudulent journalism does happen. But it is extremely rare.

There’s a lot of unfair reporting out there. But those who think mainstream outlets routinely concoct stories about Trump are either registering their disapproval of the coverage or literally believe the stories are “fake” and “fiction,” as the president sometimes tweets.

By the way, in light of Trump suggesting scrutiny of TV licenses, the poll says 51 percent think the federal government shouldn’t have the power to revoke broadcast licenses of fabricating networks—not exactly a ringing endorsement.

Meanwhile, the Pew Research Center found that one in six news stories about Trump during his first 100 days include one of his tweets. One out of six. That’s extraordinary evidence of how the president uses 140-character messages to drive the news agenda.

But the reporting was hardly neutral. In examining more than 3,000 stories across 24 media outlets, Pew found that those with Trumpian tweets “were more likely than others to have an overall negative assessment of him or his administration.”

Some 54 percent of the stories that included a presidential tweet “had a negative assessment, 12 percentage points higher than stories that did not contain any of his tweets.” What’s more, “stories with at least one of the president’s tweets were more likely to include a direct refutation by the reporter of something the president or a member of his administration said–whether it was a refutation of the tweet itself, a statement related to the issue referenced in the tweet or another statement altogether in the story.”

Trump supporters would say this shows the media trying to knock down much of what the president says. Trump detractors would say this is fact-checking the president.

But whether it’s fair or unfair, it’s not fabricated.

Howard Kurtz is a Fox News analyst and the host of “MediaBuzz” (Sundays 11 a.m.). He is the author of five books and is based in Washington. Follow him at @HowardKurtz. Click here for more information on Howard Kurtz. 

Trump Blasts Comey, Obama DOJ: Explosive Hillary-Russia Uranium Report

President Trump declared on Twitter Wednesday that James Comey “totally protected Hillary Clinton,” after the FBI confirmed the former bureau boss drafted a statement on the private email case two months before it was over.

In a series of tweets, Trump also swiped at the Justice Department, seeming to suggest they review what he called an apparent “fix.”

“Wow, FBI confirms report that James Comey drafted letter exonerating Crooked Hillary Clinton long before investigation was complete,” Trump tweeted. “Many people not interviewed, including Hillary Clinton herself. Comey stated under oath that he didn’t do this –obviously a fix? Where is Justice Dept?”

He followed up: “As it has turned out, James Comey lied and leaked and totally protected Hillary Clinton. He was the best thing that ever happened to her!”

GOWDY WANTS COMEY TO TESTIFY AGAIN

The flurry of tweets was in reference to the FBI releasing documents this week that prove Comey began drafting a statement regarding the Clinton email investigation months before he interviewed her and other key witnesses. The document release was titled “Drafts of Director Comeys July 5, 2016 Statement Regarding Email Server Investigation Part 01 of 01.”

The release bolstered critics’ claims that Comey was drafting an “exoneration statement” well before ending the case and recommending against criminal charges.

The contents of the newly released emails, however, were largely unclear as the majority of the document was redacted. The records, that are now public, show the email titled “Midyear Exam—UNCLASSIFIED” was sent by Comey on May 2, 2016 to FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, General Counsel James Baker and James Rybicki, chief of staff and senior counselor.

Trump’s Wednesday challenge to the Justice Department regarding the matter was a throwback to his summer criticism of the nation’s top law enforcement official, Attorney General Jeff Sessions. While Trump had been at odds with one of his earliest supporters over the decision to recuse in the Russia probe, Trump in recent weeks has dialed down that criticism.

The existence of the Comey documents was first brought to light by Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., after they reviewed transcripts with top Comey aides who alluded to the email’s existence.

The Judiciary Committee penned a letter on Aug. 30 to newly appointed FBI Director Christopher Wray noting their findings, saying that “it appears that in April or early May of 2016, Mr. Comey had already decided he would issue a statement exonerating Secretary Clinton. That was long before FBI agents finished their work.”

“The outcome of an investigation should not be prejudged while FBI agents are still hard at work trying to gather the facts,” the letter stated.

The existence of these documents raised questions over Comey’s June 2017 Senate testimony regarding his decision to go public with findings in the Clinton email investigation. Comey noted former Attorney General Loretta Lynch’s involvement in the probe, including her controversial meeting with former President Bill Clinton days before his wife was interviewed.

Last week, the FBI said it uncovered 30 pages of documents related to that controversial 2016 tarmac meeting.

Brooke Singman is a Politics Reporter for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter at @brookefoxnews.

Obama Judge Blocks Latest Trump Travel Ban

A federal judge in Hawaii has blocked President Trump’s revised travel ban – just hours before it was expected to go into effect across the United States.

Tuesday’s decision from U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson in Honolulu stops the administration’s third attempt to indefinitely ban entry into the country by most nationals of Libya, Syria, Iran, Yemen, Somalia, Chad and North Korea. The ban would also prevent some Venezuelan government officials and their families.

“Today’s dangerously flawed district court order undercuts the President’s efforts to keep the American people safe and enforce minimum security standards for entry into the United States,” the White House said in a statement. “The Department of Justice will vigorously defend the President’s lawful action.”

Watson, who was appointed by former President Barack Obama, found Trump’s executive order “suffers from precisely the same maladies as its predecessor.”

The judge said the new restrictions ignore a federal appeals court ruling that found Trump’s previous ban exceeds the scope of his authority. The latest version “plainly discriminates based on nationality in the manner that the 9th Circuit has found antithetical to … the founding principles of this nation,” Watson wrote.

The government has said the new policy was based on an objective assessment of each country’s security situation and willingness to share information with the U.S.

Hawaii argued in court documents that the updated ban is a continuation of Trump’s “promise to exclude Muslims from the United States” despite the addition of two non-majority Muslim countries.

Other courts are weighing challenges to the latest travel restrictions.

In Maryland, the American Civil Liberties Union and other groups are seeking to block the visa and entry restrictions in the president’s latest proclamation.

Washington state, Massachusetts, California, Oregon, New York and Maryland have challenged the policy before U.S. District Judge James Robart in Seattle, who struck down Trump’s initial ban in January.

That policy led to chaos and confusion at airports nationwide and triggered several lawsuits, including one from Hawaii.

When Trump revised the ban, state Attorney General Doug Chin changed the lawsuit to challenge that version. In March, Watson agreed with Hawaii that it amounted to discrimination based on nationality and religion.

A subsequent U.S. Supreme Court ruling allowed the administration to partially reinstate that 90-day ban on visitors from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen and a 120-day ban on all refugees.

But it said the policy didn’t apply to refugees and travelers with a “bona fide relationship” with a person or entity in the U.S.

Hawaii then successfully challenged the federal government’s definition of which family members would be allowed into the country. Watson ordered the government not to enforce the ban on close relatives such as grandparents, grandchildren, uncles and aunts.

The judge’s order Tuesday prevents acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson from implementing the latest travel ban.

Watson said he would set an expedited hearing to determine whether the temporary restraining order should be extended.

FoxNews.com/The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Bowe Bergdahl Pleads Guilty to Desertion

Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl pleaded guilty Monday to charges he endangered comrades by walking away from his post in Afghanistan in 2009 — the court case wrapping up just three years after a stunning Rose Garden spectacle in which former President Barack Obama, flanked by Bergdahl’s parents, triumphantly announced the soldier’s release from captivity.

Bergdahl was released in May 2014 after a highly-criticized deal in which five Taliban terrorists were set free. At the time, Obama administration officials said Bergdahl had “served with honor and distinction.”

The U.S. Army said Bergdahl asked to enter his plea before the military judge at Fort Bragg. The Associated Press previously reported that he’s expected to plead guilty to charges of desertion and misbehavior before the enemy.

It’s not clear if Bergdahl, 31, has a deal with prosecutors to limit his punishment, or if he’s simply pleading guilty in hopes of leniency from the judge, Army Col. Jeffery R. Nance. The misbehavior charge carries a maximum penalty of life in prison, while the desertion charge is punishable by up to five years.

Bergdahl’s lawyers are expected to reveal in court Monday whether there’s a plea agreement in place to cap his punishment, or if he’s pleading guilty without such a deal in what’s known colloquially as a “naked plea.” In either scenario, his punishment won’t be known until after the judge holds the sentencing hearing that’s expected to start on Oct. 23. Bergdahl, who’s from Hailey, Idaho, previously chose to have his case heard by a judge alone, rather than a jury.

A naked plea would be a risky move, Eric Carpenter, an assistant law professor at Florida International University and a former Army defense attorney and prosecutor, told Task & Purpose.

“It can backfire,” Carpenter said. “If he doesn’t have a deal, they could go in there and enter this naked plea and come out with a life sentence.”

Guilty pleas would bring the highly politicized saga closer to an end eight years after Bergdahl’s disappearance in Afghanistan set off search missions by scores of his fellow service members. President Obama was criticized by Republicans for the 2014 Taliban prisoner swap that brought Bergdahl home, while President Donald Trump harshly criticized Bergdahl on the campaign trail.

Serious wounds to service members who searched for Bergdahl are expected to play a role in his sentencing. While guilty pleas would allow him to avoid a trial, he’d still face a sentencing hearing in late October. Bergdahl’s five years of captivity by the Taliban and its allies also will likely play a role in what punishment he receives.

At one point during his captivity, Bergdahl converted to Islam, fraternized openly with his captors and declared himself a “mujahid,” or warrior for Islam, Fox News reported in 2014, citing secret documents prepared on the basis of a purported eyewitness account.

The reports indicate that Bergdahl’s relations with his Haqqani captors morphed over time, from periods of hostility, where he was treated very much like a hostage, to periods where, as one source told Fox News, “he became much more of an accepted fellow” than is popularly understood. He even reportedly was allowed to carry a gun at times.

The documents show that Bergdahl at one point escaped his captors for five days and was kept, upon his re-capture, in a metal cage, like an animal. In addition, the reports detail discussions of prisoner swaps and other attempts at a negotiated resolution to the case that appear to have commenced as early as the fall of 2009.

Legal scholars have said that several pretrial rulings against the defense have given prosecutors leverage to pursue stiff punishment against Bergdahl, The Associated Press reported. Perhaps most significant was the judge’s decision in June to allow evidence of serious wounds to service members who searched for Bergdahl at the sentencing phase. The judge ruled that a Navy SEAL and an Army National Guard sergeant wouldn’t have wound up in separate firefights that left them wounded if they hadn’t been searching for Bergdahl.

The defense also was rebuffed in an effort to prove President Donald Trump had unfairly swayed the case with scathing criticism of Bergdahl, including suggestions of harsh punishment. The judge wrote in a February ruling that Trump’s campaign-trail comments were “disturbing and disappointing” but did not constitute unlawful command influence by the soon-to-be commander in chief.

“We may as well go back to kangaroo courts and lynch mobs that got what they wanted,” Bergdahl said to a British filmmaker in 2016 when asked about trials, according to an interview obtained by ABC News. “The people who want to hang me, you’re never going to convince those people.”

Defense attorneys have acknowledged that Bergdahl walked off his base without authorization. Bergdahl himself told a general during a preliminary investigation that he left intending to cause alarm and draw attention to what he saw as problems with his unit. He was soon captured.

But the defense team has argued that Bergdahl can’t be held responsible for a long chain of events that included many decisions by others on how to conduct the searches.

Bergdahl has been assigned to desk duty at a Texas Army base while his case unfolds.

FoxNews.com/The Associated Press contributed to this report.