FOX NEWS FIRST: Pivotal day in Mueller probe; Comey on the hot seat; Clinton Foundation whistleblowers emerge

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Developing now, Friday, Dec. 7, 2018

  • Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office faces deadlines on Friday in two key cases in his Russia collision probe: Prosecutors must file sentencing recommendations in the cases of Michael Cohen, President Trump’s former attorney, and Paul Manafort, former Trump campaign chairman.
  • Fired FBI Director James Comey is expected to testify behind closed doors before House Republicans about the Hillary Clinton email investigation and alleged political bias in the agency
  • Whistleblowers have come forward with hundreds of pages documenting potential wrongdoing by the Clinton Foundation during Hillary Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state, a top Republican told FOX News
  • President Trump will nominate State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert to replace Nikki Haley as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, sources told FOX News
  • Former President George H.W. Bush was laid to rest Thursday as a special funeral train took his remains to their final resting place on the grounds of his presidential library and museum in College Station, Texas
  • A top executive at Huawei Technologies whose arrest has cast doubt on the trade truce between the U.S. and China will appear in court Friday for a bail hearing
  • Jurors are set to begin deliberations in the murder trial of a man accused of ramming his car into counterprotesters at the infamous August 2017 white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va.
  • Actor-comedian Kevin Hart withdrew from hosting next year’s Academy Awards late Thursday night after years-old homophobic tweets surfaced
  • Friday marks 77 years since the attack on Pearl Harbor, and for the first time, none of the remaining survivors from the USS Arizona are expected to attend annual ceremonies

THE LEAD STORY – MUELLER FACES TWO KEY DEADLINES: With multiple reports and other indications suggesting the long-running Russia probe that began in May 2017 is nearing its conclusion, Special Counsel Robert Mueller faces court-imposed Friday deadlines to file potentially revealing memos outlining how former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort allegedly broke his cooperation agreement with the government, as well as how former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen should be punished for lying to Congress in 2017 about an abandoned Trump real estate project in Moscow … The planned submissions are set to come just days after Mueller’s office submitted a heavily redacted sentencing memorandum indicating that fired national security adviser Michael Flynn had provided “substantial assistance” with several ongoing investigations and recommending no prison time. Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani called Mueller’s prosecutors “sick puppies” in the wake of that filing. – Reported by Gregg Re (@gregg_re on Twitter)

COMEY ON THE HOT SEAT: Meanwhile, fired FBI Director James Comey is slated to testify behind closed doors before the House Judiciary Committee on Friday … He dropped his longshot legal challenge to congressional Republicans’ subpoena earlier this week when they agreed to make public a transcript of his remarks. FOX News has confirmed that a key focus of questioning will be Comey’s decision to write the July 2016 statement recommending against filing criminal charges in the Hillary Clinton email probe before the former secretary of state was even interviewed, as well as the apparent political bias demonstrated in a slew of text messages and leaks by top FBI officials.

TALES FROM THE CLINTON FOUNDATION WHISTLEBLOWERS: Three people have come forward with hundreds of pages of evidence of potential wrongdoing by the Clinton Foundation, including misappropriation of funds and allegations of quid-pro-quo promises made to donors during Hillary Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state, Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., told Fox News on Thursday … Meadows, the leader of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, is also the chairman of the House Oversight Subcommittee on Government Operations. The panel is set to hold an investigative hearing next week on the status of the Foundation case.

The Clinton Foundation consistently has maintained that it is a charity, and never traded on Hillary Clinton’s position as America’s top diplomat, which she held from 2009-2013. Meadows’ claims came the day after a new report said an investigation referred to Justice Department prosecutors by Special Counsel Robert Mueller earlier this year into Clinton-linked Washington insider Tony Podesta and former Obama White House Counsel Greg Craig is heating up. – Reported by Samuel Chamberlain (@SChamberlainFOX on Twitter)

NAUERT IS TRUMP’S CHOICE: President Trump will tweet Friday morning that he is nominating State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert to be the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, replacing outgoing official Nikki Haley, multiple sources tell FOX News …  Back in October, Nauert, a former Fox News host, was believed to be a “leading contender” for the position, sources said at the time. Nauert was named as the State Department spokeswoman in April 2017. Haley unexpectedly announced her resignation plans in October and promised to serve in her role through the end of 2018. – Reported by John Roberts and Elizabeth Zwirz

FINAL FAREWELL TO BUSH 41: Former President George H.W. Bush was buried near his beloved wife Barbara and daughter Robin on the grounds of his presidential library and museum in College Station, Texas, after a special funeral train carried him to his final resting place … Former President George W. Bush and his family were among those in attendance at the ceremony, after which they boarded the train. During the funeral, the elder Bush – who died last Friday at age 94 – was remembered for his “decency, boundless kindness and consideration of others” by a longtime friend, former Secretary of State James Baker.

EXECUTIVE A SUSPECTED PAWN U.S.-CHINA TRADE TRUCE: Huawei Technologies Co.’s chief financial officer, detained by Canadian authorities for alleged violations of Iranian sanctions, is expected to appear in court for a bail hearing Friday as she faces extradition to the United States … Meng Wanzhou was arrested in Vancouver last Saturday at the request of the U.S. government. Her arrest comes amid a year-long U.S. government campaign against Huawei, a company it views as a national-security threat.

Some observers believe Meng’s arrest, which came the same day President Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping announced a truce in the U.S.-China trade war, was politically motivated. China, some experts say, could “take hostages” in retaliation against the United States.

CHARLOTTESVILLE DELIBERATIONS SET TO BEGIN: A Virginia jury is poised to begin deliberations on Friday in the trial of an Ohio man accused of driving his car into a group of counterprotesters – killing one and injuring dozens — at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville in August 2017 … James Alex Fields, Jr. is accused of first-degree murder and other felonies in connection with the crash, which came after police forced crowds at the rally to disband. That decision followed clashes between white nationalists who came to the town to protest plans to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, and counterdemonstrators who showed up to oppose the white nationalists. Prosecutor Nina-Alice Antony portrayed Fields to the jury as a hateful young man who idled in his car for more than a minute before backing up and then speeding into the crowd. – Reported by Samuel Chamberlain

CHANGE OF HART: Comedian Kevin Hart has announced he is stepping down from hosting the 2019 Academy Awards amid criticism over years-old tweets deemed anti-gay … Hart, 39, posted on Twitter early Friday an apology to the LGBTQ community for his past comments. “I have made the choice to step down from hosting this year’s Oscar’s….this is because I do not want to be a distraction on a night that should be celebrated by so many amazing talented artists. I sincerely apologize to the LGBTQ community for my insensitive words from my past,” Hart tweeted. – Reported by Louis Casiano

PEARL HARBOR SURVIVORS TO BE MISSED: For the first time, no USS Arizona survivors are expected to attend the annual commemoration of the attack on Pearl Harbor, the pivotal Dec. 7, 1941 day of “infamy” that pulled the U.S. into World War II … The handful of Arizona survivors — Lou Conter, Don Stratton, Ken Potts, Lonnie Cook and Lauren Bruner — are all in their 90s and now find travel to be difficult, according to Hawaii News Now. “This is the very first year” that no Arizona crew members will participate, Daniel Martinez, a historian with the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument, told the news outlet. – Reported by Amy Lieu

THE SOUNDBITE

A FINAL SHOW OF RESPECT – “They stood me up, and it was almost automatic … My left hand came up to my forehead without even being… planned.” – Former U.S. Sen. Bob Dole, on “Your World with Neil Cavuto,” on willing himself up from his wheelchair to salute former President George H.W. Bush. WATCH 
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STAY TUNED

On FOX News:
 
FOX & Friends, 6 a.m. ET: Jason Chaffetz previews James Comey’s closed-door hearing. Ana Quintana takes on the growing migrant crisis at the border. Diamond & Silk sound off on the top headlines of the day. Cirque Musica performs.

The Story with Martha MacCallum: U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla.

FOX News@Night, 11 p.m. ET: An interview with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko

On FOX Business:

Varney & Co., 9 a.m. ET: Special guests include: Larry Kudlow, director of the National Economic Council.

Making Money with Charles Payne, 2 p.m. ET: Michael Pillsbury, senior fellow and director of the Center for Chinese Strategy at the Hudson Institute.

Lou Dobbs Tonight, 7 p.m. ET: Gen. Jack Keane

On FOX News Radio:

The FOX News Rundown podcast: Paradise, Calif., residents who were forced to evacuate due to a wildfire were allowed back into their neighborhoods this week. Firefighter Jason Hawkins was among those who lost their home, and he discusses what it was like to continue his duties as Paradise Fire Apparatus engineer. In addition, California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones explains what residents should expect when they start to rebuild. U.S. stocks clawed back from deep deficits on Thursday after investor uncertainty over the status of the U.S.-China trade war caused all three major averages to drop early in the day. FOX Business’ Gerri Willis weighs in on the ramifications from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Plus, commentary by Hans von Spakovsky, senior legal fellow at the Heritage Foundation.

Want the FOX News Rundown sent straight to your mobile device? Subscribe through Apple Podcasts, Google Play, and Stitcher.

The Brian Kilmeade Show, 9 a.m. ET: Special guests include: country music star John Rich; Geraldo Rivera; and Thomas Kersting. Plus, part 2 of the look back at Brian Kilmeade’s interview with former President George H.W. Bush, with a flashback of Bush biographer Jon Meacham’s reflections on Bush 41.

The Tom Shillue Show, 3 p.m. ET: Comedian Jimmy Failla and Trump 2020 campaign advisory board member Madison Gesiotto join Tom Shillue to look back on the most important stories of the week!

On FOX News Weekend:

Cavuto Live, Saturday, 10 a.m. ET: House Ways and Means Committee chairman Kevin Brady and incoming Congressional Black Caucus chairwoman Karen Bass on the government shutdown showdown. U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., on new threats from Russia and new missile worries from North Korea.

Life, Liberty & Levin, Sunday, 10 p.m. ET: Host Mark Levin and House Majority Whip Steve Scalise discuss the congressman’s survival of an assassination attempt, being a Republican minority in the House in the new incoming Congress and the struggle to secure the U.S.-Mexico border.

#TheFlashback
 
1941: ‘The Day of Infamy’ – Japan launches a surprise attack on the U.S. Navy base at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii as part of its plan to conquer Southeast Asian territories; the raid, which claims some 2,400 American lives, prompts the United States to declare war against Japan the next day.

1972: America’s last moon mission to date is launched as Apollo 17 blasts off from Cape Canaveral, Fla.

1987: Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev sets foot on American soil for the first time, arriving for a Washington summit with President Ronald Reagan.

FOX News First is compiled by FOX News’ Bryan Robinson. Thank you for joining us! Enjoy your day and weekend! We’ll see you in your inbox first thing Monday morning.