Fox First: Russian fighter jet crashes near its aircraft carrier in E Mediterranean Sea, US officials

Per Lucas Tomlinson

A Russian fighter jet crashed in the Mediterranean Sea shortly after launching from its aircraft carrier near the coast of Syria Sunday, two US officials tell Fox News.

Three Russian MiG-29 fighter jets took off from their Soviet-era aircraft carrier, Admiral Kuznetsov, and flew in the direction of Syria.  But once airborne, one of the Russian jets appeared to have mechanical difficulties and turned around in the direction of the aircraft carrier.  The Russian jet splashed down in the water while attempting to land.  A Russian rescue helicopter picked up a parachute and the pilot.  The status of the pilot is not clear to U.S. intelligence officials.

The MiG-29 was designed in the late 70s to counter the US Air Force’s F-15 and F-16.  It entered service in the early 1980s.

The news of the crash comes a day after Russian state-media said it is preparing its long range Tu-95 and Tu-160 long-range bombers for imminent strike missions in Syria.  

The Russian Tu-95 “Bear” and Tu-160 “Blackjack,” according to their NATO call signs, have been operating in Syria since 2015 and are based at Engels Air Force base in southern Russia near Kazakhstan.  The Blackjack is a supersonic variable-sweep wing long range bomber.   The Blackjack is a more advanced bomber than its 1950s-era Bear counterpart, which is propeller driven.  


DHS Secy Johnson: Updated U.S. terrorism bulletin to remain largely unchanged

Reporting via Matt Dean:

On the latest National Terrorism Advisory System bulletin which DHS will release tomorrow, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson read from the bulletin saying that DHS's basic assessment is that not much has changed from the last assessment. DHS remains concerned about homegrown violent extremists and their ability to attack the U.S. homeland with little or no notice. Johnson added that the most recent events in NYC and NJ reinforce this assessment and noted that the public continues to be of utmost importance in identifying and mitigating threats. 

On election cybersecurity and cyber events that occurred over the course of the election, Johnson said that there were "minor incidents here and there" but nothing significant. He repeated that he and the intelligence community have a great deal of confidence in the security of election infrastructure. Johnson also reiterated his joint statement with DNI Clapper in October attributing certain politically motivated hacking of U.S. interests back to the Russian government. 

On the issue of immigration and border security and how the incoming administration might grapple with these issues, Johnson said that it is already DHS's priority to remove convicted criminals and to deport those apprehended at the border. He added that through his time at DHS ICE's enforcement and removal force has focused more on criminals, noting fewer deportations but that a higher percentage of those deported are convicted criminals. 

Asked to react to Trump's position that would result in the deportation of roughly 3 million people, Johnson attempted to put that figure into perspective saying that that's "the population of Chicago - a lot of people." He added that with anything  you do of that magnitude, "you've got to get funding from Congress." Johnson added that "right now, we're focused on public safety threats."

Fox News Electoral Scorecard

The debates were detrimental to Trump, but he’s improved his standing since then and the recent bad news for Clinton only boosts his chances further. The renewed FBI probe into Clinton’s emails may have helped turn the tide for Trump, but he remains underwater in the fight for electoral votes. Clinton is still seen as leading in enough states to get her above 270. Yet, while Trump still has only a narrow path to victory, the last week has certainly made the race more competitive.

The Fox News Decision Team is moving Florida, the biggest prize among the battleground states, from Lean Democratic to Toss Up. The race is now neck-and-neck in the state with some polls showing Trump leading and some showing Clinton ahead. Florida is a must-win state for Trump and he now has a real shot at victory in the Sunshine State. Clinton’s support in the polls has held fairly constant, but Trump has added a couple of points to his average over the last week. It shouldn’t surprise anyone when we’re talking about a state that is so often hot, but the last week of this election season looks to have brought a dead-heat race for Florida and its 29 electoral votes.

We’re shifting Nevada from Lean Democrat to Toss Up. Some recent polling shows the state tightening as we enter the final days of the race. Clinton probably still maintains a slim edge in the Silver State, but the outcome is now more uncertain. About half a million Nevadans have already voted. Democrats currently have an eight-point advantage among those showing up to vote early and those who’ve mailed back their absentee ballots. Local political experts think it looks a lot like 2012 and that could be bad news for Trump – Obama won by almost seven points in 2012. But Republicans made up some ground yesterday in the early vote.  In the end, boosting Republican turnout is essential if Trump is to win big in Nevada.

North Carolina shifts from Toss Up to Lean Democratic. The polls have long been tight in North Carolina, but Clinton has led in 21 of the last 23 polls listed by RealClearPolitics.  Only one Republican pollster has shown Trump leading in the state since mid-September. Romney won here in 2012, but Clinton is seen as having the advantage this year, in part because of her superior ground organization. Trump isn’t giving up on North Carolina – it would be hard for him to win without its 15 electoral votes. Both Trump and Clinton are expected to appear in the state on Thursday. A number of high-profile surrogates from both sides will appear in North Carolina this week, but it’s difficult for Trump to compete with Clinton’s firepower on that front – both President Obama and Vice President Biden are headed to the state.

We’re moving Alaska from Solid Republican to Lean Republican. Alaska is a notoriously hard state to poll. What little recent polling there is doesn’t paint a clear picture for the race.  Some polls show Trump with a narrowing lead and one recent Democratic poll even had Clinton up in the state. We still think Trump has a lead, but there is uncertainty about this state where support for Trump has long been weak. Alaska is a more diverse state than many realize, more than 35 percent of the state is nonwhite, most of that being the large Native American population. In October, both of Alaska's Republican U.S. senators, Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, pulled their support for Trump and said he should step aside. Just keep in mind that no Democratic presidential candidate has won Alaska since Lyndon Johnson did so in the 1964 landslide.

If Clinton wins the states we’ve rated Solid Democrat along with the states we see as leaning in her direction she’d have 287 electoral votes. A presidential candidate needs only 270 Electoral Votes to win the presidency so Clinton currently holds a clear advantage. If Trump wins the Solid Republican states along with the states currently seen as leaning in his direction he’d come away with 174 electoral votes. The Toss-Up states, not currently in either candidate’s column, hold only another 77 electoral votes. Winning the toss-up states wouldn’t be enough for Trump, he’d have to win back one or more of the states currently leaning Democratic to reach 270.

The 2016 Scorecard map shows whether we think the state is solidly in a candidate’s column, leaning toward one candidate, or currently a toss-up state.  The solid states are not currently thought to be competitive, the leaning states are still competitive but one candidate appears to have an edge, and the toss-up states are races where neither candidate has a clear advantage.

Adelson pours $25 million into WH race, more may be coming

Per Ed Henry

Fox News has learned that billionaire Sheldon Adelson just committed $25 million dollars to an anti-Hillary Clinton Super PAC to try and help tilt the presidential race and down ballot House and Senate races to Republicans, and there are indications the casino magnate will pony up even more by the end of the week.

Two senior Republican sources familiar with the donation described it to Fox as a “massive” amount of money to be spent during the final week of the presidential race and is a sign that Adelson, who has largely been on the sidelines after initially suggesting he would give $100 million to help Donald Trump, is now going all in on the Republican nominee.

The money will benefit Future 45, a Super PAC launched by the Ricketts family in Chicago, founders of TD Ameritrade. The group has recently been running a television ad in battlegrounds comparing Clinton to Richard Nixon, calling her a “secretive, paranoid politician who destroyed 30,000 pieces of evidence.”

The Republican sources said the contribution was made in the last few days as the FBI re-ignited its investigation of Clinton’s email server, and could spark other big GOP donors – who may have thought the Democratic nominee was coasting to victory just days ago -- to step up their support of Trump in the final days.

Most importantly, one source familiar with the Adelson contribution revealed he is considering pouring as much as another $25 million dollars into the race before Election Day on November 8.

The first major contribution came as Trump visited Adelson’s Venetian resort and casino in Las Vegas for a rally with supporters on Sunday. Trump praised Adelson and his wife, Miriam, without any reference to the money that went to the Super PAC.

“I’d like to thank the owner of this great hotel, and his incredible wife – she’s an incredible woman – Sheldon Adelson,” Trump said to cheers. “Really incredible people and they’ve been so supportive and we appreciate it.”

This is a startling turnaround for the Ricketts and Adelson. The Ricketts initially spent millions trying to stop Trump from getting the Republican nomination, after backing Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker in the GOP primaries.


Ash Carter "concerned" about Iranian-backed forces in Mosul operation, spox

Per Lucas Tomlinson

US Defense Secretary Ash Carter is “concerned” about Iranian-backed forces participating in the operation to retake Mosul from the Islamic State, a Pentagon spokesman told reporters in a press briefing Monday.

“Of course he's concerned and he's seen from past history what some of these forces have done,” said Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook.  “At this moment, our support continues to be through the government of Iraq and Prime Minister Abadi.” 

In July, the United Nations blamed Shia-militias for abducting hundreds of Sunni refugees fleeing Fallujah after ISIS was pushed out of the city. 

One of the groups which says it is taking part in the Mosul operation is Kata'ib Hizballah, which the U.S. State Department declared a terrorist organization in 2009.

In the past week, photos have appeared around Mosul of shadowy Iranian Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani, who runs a special forces unit of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard.  The US military’s top military officer, Gen. Joe Dunford told Congress last year Soleimani is responsible for killing about 500 American troops in Iraq.  

Cook said the US-led coalition would not be supporting any Iranian-backed Shia militias, but said a “multi-sectarian approach” would be applied to Sunni-majority Mosul. 

“This fight needs to in essence address some of the divisions that led to the rise of ISIL in the first place,” Cook said.

Sunni power Turkey has deployed hundreds of troops outside Mosul without permission of the Shia-government of Iraq in recent months.  The Turkish government says it will protect ethnic Turkmen around Mosul, including Tal Afar, where the Iranian-backed forces say they are headed.

There are reports that Shia-militias have destroyed Sunni mosques in western Iraq in the past few days.

Fox News Electoral Scorecard

Clinton has a commanding lead in Fox News’ 2016 Electoral Scorecard. Clinton is campaigning from a position of strength and she’s now maneuvering to press her advantage. Early voting has started in a lot of states and the Clinton camp is hoping to translate increased enthusiasm among Clinton voters into victories in more states.

The Fox News Decision Team is moving our rating for Iowa from Lean Republican to Toss Up. Iowa is still typically a blue state in presidential elections – it has gone Democratic in six of the last seven elections. President Obama won Iowa in 2008 and 2012, and the most recent Republican to win the state was President George W. Bush in 2004.  This year, Iowa has looked to be the state most likely to flip from Democratic to Republican.  Iowa has a large number of white voters without college degrees, the base of Trump’s support.  That’s a big reason we’ve long seen the state leaning in his direction, but the polling data is now mixed enough and Clinton’s ground team is active enough for us to now call Iowa a Toss Up.

We’re moving Indiana from Solid Republican to Lean Republican. Trump's vice presidential running mate, Gov. Mike Pence, might be the state’s sitting governor, but that doesn’t mean Republicans are assured a victory in Indiana.  Remember that Obama eked out a narrow victory in the state in 2008. That was the first time a Democrat had carried the state since 1964. While we still see Trump as favored in Indiana, he only has a single-digit lead in the polls.  Clinton is starting to air ads in the state as she tries to pick off a few typically Republican states and, in the process, help elect several down-ballot Democrats.

Maine’s 2nd Congressional District goes from Lean GOP to Toss Up in our ratings. Trump and Clinton have been battling over one electoral vote in rural northern Maine. Trump was long thought to have a lead in this large, densely-wooded district, but recent polling – what little there is – suggests a tight race. Maine splits two of its Electoral College votes between its two congressional districts, but only one of those districts, the 2nd District, appears competitive. A Trump victory in ME-2 would be the first time in state history that Maine’s electoral votes didn’t go to just one candidate.

Trump might have vowed to keep us in suspense as to whether he’ll accept the results of the election, but the outcome of the three debates is clear – Trump’s performance hurt him among undecided voters. If Republican voters start coming home over the next two weeks to shore up their candidate then some of the Lean Democratic states could go back to being Toss-Ups. For the moment, Trump has slipped well behind in the race for electoral votes.

If Clinton wins the states we’ve rated Solid Democrat along with the states we see as leaning in her direction she’d have 307 electoral votes. A presidential candidate needs only 270 Electoral Votes to win the presidency so Clinton currently holds a considerable advantage. If Trump wins the Solid Republican states along with the states currently seen as leaning in his direction he’d come away with 174 electoral votes. The Toss-Up states, not currently in either candidate’s column, hold only another 57 electoral votes. Winning the toss-up states wouldn’t be enough for Trump, he’d have to turn the tide and win back more than one of the states currently leaning Democratic to reach 270.

The 2016 Scorecard map shows whether we think the state is solidly in a candidate’s column, leaning toward one candidate, or currently a toss-up state.  The solid states are not currently thought to be competitive, the leaning states are still competitive but one candidate appears to have an edge, and the toss-up states are races where neither candidate has a clear advantage.


America's Election HQ - How We Fight

Nearly a generation into the War on Terror what is America's place in the world?  What is the purpose of our military? Do we need more ships, more guns, more planes... or more humility?  Are we the indispensable nation that saves the world from rising threats? Or are we just one nation among many?

We have the largest fighting force on Earth, but many experts believe our preparedness is lower than it's been since the War on Terror began 15 years ago.  How We Fight examines the military's rules of engagement-do they work on today's battlefields, fought without clear borders, and against an enemy that doesn't wear a uniform?  Some fear the military is too concerned with policies designed to ensure social justice within the ranks, while missing the bigger picture-the military's purpose is to fight, and kill, if necessary, and anything that gets in the way of that undermines our strength.

In How We Fight Bret Baier speaks with a remarkable cast of characters, including military experts General David Petraeus, General John Kelly, Defense Secretary Ash Carter, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, and former CIA Director Jim Woolsey.  We also bring you major political figures Republican Senator Tom Cotton - a former platoon leader with the 101st Airborne Division in Iraq, Ambassador Dennis Ross Senior Middle East Advisor to Presidents George H.W. Bush, Clinton and Obama, and Republican Congressman Mike Pompeo who graduated first in his class from West Point. You will also hear from President Obama's former CIA Director and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and Chuck Hagel, President Obama's Secretary of Defense from 2013 to 2015.  In another Fox News exclusive, former Green Beret Matt Golsteyn speaks for the first time about his ordeal of going from war hero, to accused war criminal.

In a dangerous world Americans need to ask some tough questions about their military.  How We Fight asks and provides answers to those questions. 

Anchored by Bret Baier - How We Fight - Premieres October 29th at 8PM ET  

UN Security Council Syria emergency meeting

By Jonathan Wachtel

The UN Security Council is holding a closed emergency meeting on Syria after UN envoy, Staffan de Mistura, warned Thursday that the lives of some 275,000 people are hanging in the balance as the Russian and Syrian government air bombardment of Aleppo continues unabated.

“In maximum two months, two-and-a-half months, the city of eastern Aleppo may be totally destroyed,” de Mistura said. The Kremlin says Russian fighter jets are “assisting Syria’s armed forces in the fight against terrorism,” while de Mistura, who is briefing the Security Council today via video link in Geneva, has implored Russia to halt its airstrikes to end the terrible suffering of Aleppo’s residents and allow a few hundred jihadi fighters holed up in the city to leave. “If you decide to leave with dignity… I am personally ready to physically accompany you,” de Mistura said, urging former Al-Nusra Front fighters in eastern Aleppo to leave in a deal that would end the brutal air campaign against the city and its residents.

Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, said on Russia’s Channel One news that Moscow is “ready to urge” the Syrian government to agree to De Mistura’s proposal to allow the Al-Nusra fighters out of eastern Aleppo in exchange for a temporary cessation of hostilities.

On Monday, Secretary of State John Kerry announced that the United States ended talks with Moscow on Syria over Russia’s stepped up air campaign in Aleppo. Moscow and Washington accuse each other of breaking a fragile ceasefire last month. Russia has since deployed advanced S-300 and S-400 surface-to-air-missiles to Syria. And yesterday, a Russian defense ministry spokesman warned that any US aircraft attempting to launch strikes may be shot down by the Russia air defenses.

Security Council members are discussing a French-drafted resolution that demands a ceasefire in Aleppo. Fox News saw an initial draft of the resolution which called for the suspension of all aerial military activity over the war-torn city. The measure also called for the delivery of humanitarian aid and the establishment of a mechanism to monitor the ceasefire.

Russia’s Ambassador to the UN, Vitaly Churkin, said earlier this week that the resolution in its current form “has no chance of working,” essentially threatening to veto. Moscow’s deployment of advanced air defenses in Syria is viewed by Western diplomats as a move that would deter any attempt by the West to impose a no-fly zone over Syria, a long-standing appeal by Syria’s opposition.

France may call for a vote on its draft resolution as early as Friday. Russia’s UN, Vitaly Churkin, said a short time ago outside the Security Council that “the French draft contains elements that we think are harmful,” hinting Moscow’s intention to veto.  

Pentagon identiefies Green Beret killed in Afghanistan

The Pentagon has identified the U.S. Army Green Beret killed in eastern Afghanistan while on a foot patrol with Afghan forces in Nangarhar Province.

Staff Sgt. Adam S. Thomas, 31, of Tacoma Park, Maryland was part of the 10th Special Forces Group based out of Ft. Carson, Colorado.

Thomas was killed Tuesday when a roadside bomb detonated near his patrol during a counterterrorism mission against an ISIS-affiliated group, according to the Pentagon.

That same day, Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook was asked by Fox News if Thomas was killed in combat.  Cook called it a “combat situation.”

Thomas is the second special forces soldier killed in action inside Afghanistan since late August, the third overall in 2016. 

Late last month the top US commander in Afghanistan said there were roughly 1,300 ISIS-affiliated fighters in eastern Afghanistan.  Most are former Pakistani Taliban who have switched allegiances, according to Gen. John Nicholson during a press conference.

Nicholson said the Taliban control 10 percent of Afghanistan and contest up to 25 percent of the country, 15 years after the 9/11 attacks.

On Oct. 7, 2001, the US military began airstrikes against the Taliban, the start of the longest war in American history. 

US mil: 18 ISIS leaders killed in airstrikes in past month//500-800k refugees expected in Mosul

By Lucas Tomlinson

18 ISIS leaders have been killed in Iraq and Syria in the past month, a Baghdad-based US military spokesman told reporters at the Pentagon Thursday. 

Fox News had reported last week on Special Report that over a dozen ISIS leaders had been killed in Mosul ahead of the expected ground operation next month in Iraq’s second largest city. Some of the ISIS leaders are Chechens who hold a “special place” with the terror group, said Col. John Dorrian, a spokesman for the US-led coalition.

One of the critical tasks facing the Iraqi government in retaking Mosul from ISIS is the handling the expected 500-800,000 refugees expected to pour out of Mosul after ISIS is defeated, said Dorrian. He said the screening of the refugees is one of the most important components of the Mosul operation, saying it’s a conversation the US-led coalition has with the Iraqis “every day.”   Dorrian said the screening process must be done under the “command and control” of the Iraqi government.

In June, following the liberation of Fallujah by Iraqi forces, hundreds of Iraqi Sunni refugees fleeing the city were reportedly abducted and later killed by Iranian-backed forces outside the city, including Kataaib Hezbollah, which was designated a terrorist organization by the State Department in 2009 for attacking US forces in Iraq. 

The United Nations said in July that 900 Iraqi refugees who left Fallujah were missing and at least 50 had been executed and blamed Iraqi Shia militias, many backed by Iran.

Some of these Iranian-backed forces are now located on the outskirts of Mosul, according to US officials.  

Dorrian said the 615 troops going to Iraq that the defense secretary announced Wednesday would be the last increase needed to help the Iraqis take Mosul.

“We believe this is all the force we will need to liberate Mosul,” he said.

Dorrian said a sizable number of the new US troops going to Iraq are intelligence personnel that will be needed to sift through terabytes of information ISIS is expected to leave behind when they either flee the city or are killed.  

When the ISIS supply hub of Manbij was liberated near Syria’s border with Turkey, 20 terabytes of information was recovered by US-backed forces, said Dorian calling it a “treasure trove” of information about ISIS that has since been shared with western intelligence agencies including those in Europe.

When asked why some troops are going to a remote airbase in western Iraq’s Anbar province, Dorrian said the goal is to turn al-Asad airbase located northwest of Ramadi into a 24/7 airport to fly drones and support Iraqi military aircraft.  At the moment, the airbase can only support day time operations, he said.



Coming Up

A month into their terms, President Trump and VP Pence's roles come into sharper focus.

Tonight's All-Star Panel

  • Laura Ingraham @IngrahamAngle
  • Mara Liasson @MaraLiasson
  • Stephen Hayes @stephenfhayes

Premium Podcasts

Missed the All-Star Panel on Special Report with Bret Baier? You can now get a daily audio podcast of Fox News Channel's Special Report All-Star Panel.

Monthly Subscription
Yearly Subscription