Plane crash kills 16 service members in Mississippi

Reporting by Jonathan Serrie 

Investigators are trying to determine what caused the firey crash of a Marine Corps KC-130T plane late Monday afternoon.

The plane, used for mid-flight refueling operations and delivering troops, cargo and supplies, was part of the Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron stationed at Stewart Air National Guard Base in New York. It had taken off from the Marine Corps Air Station in Cherry Point, NC Monday and was carrying equipment and personnel to a Naval Air facility El Centro in California.

The plane disappeared from radar while over Mississippi, crashing in a soybean field near Greenwood.

There were no reports of injuries on the ground, but the Marines confirm all 16 service members on board the aircraft died in the crash. They include 15 Marines and one Navy Corpsman.

"Every resource we can pull from will be used to determine what happened," Major Andrew Aranda told reporters a couple miles from the crash site.

This morning, President Donald Trump tweeted: “marine plane crash in Mississippi is heartbreaking. Melania and I send our deepest condolences to all!”

The commander of the Marine Forces Reserve offered his sympathies to the victim’s loved ones.

In a statement, Lt. General Rex McMillian said, “The Marines and sailor involved in this incident were among our finest. They dedicated their lives to our core values of honor, courage, and commitment. They will never be forgotten.”

The Marines are withholding the names of the service members who died in the crash until they finish notifying their families.

Trump's son met with Russian lawyer during campaign

Reporting by Kevin Corke

The story is either the most direct suggestions to date of a possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia OR it was simply a meeting set up under false pretenses to pitch an agenda item that had nothing to do with the campaign itself.

Like his father, Donald Trump Jr. took to Twitter today to fire back at suggestions that by taking a meeting with a Russian lawyer for the purpose of getting dirt on the Clinton campaign and the DNC during the 2016 race mean that his team had somehow colluded with the Kremlin.

“Obviously I’m the first person a campaign to ever take a meeting to hear info about an opponent…went nowhere but had to listen.”

White House officials say the president only learned about the meeting a few days ago.

Critics argue the fact that campaign operatives Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort were there is highly unethical—or worse.

“We do not get our opposition research from spies…this borders on treason if it is not itself treason,” said former Bush Administration ethics lawyer Richard Painter.

Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff said, “There’s no reason for this Russian government advocate to be meeting with Paul Manfort or with Mr. Kushner or the president’s son if it wasn’t about the campaign and Russia policy.”

In a statement, Mr. Trump Jr. discounted the meeting with Natalia Veselnitskya, writing ““After pleasantries were exchanged the woman stated that she had information that individuals connected to Russia were funding the Democratic National Committee and supporting Ms. Clinton. Her statements were vague, ambiguous and made no sense. No details or supporting information was provided or even offered. It quickly became clear that she had no meaningful information.”

When asked about the lawyer, Putin spokesman, Dmitiry Peskov, said “We don’t know who she is as we obviously cannot track all the Russian lawyers in the country and abroad.”

The latest Russia saga managed to momentarily knock the White House off message following a G20 that saw the president deliver a powerful speech in Poland, but steer clear of sanctions talk.

Trump Tweet: “Sanctions were not discussed at my meeting with President Putin. Nothing will be done until the Ukrainian and Syrian problems are solved!”

That appeared to contradict Secretary of Stae Rex Tillerson who said the president did tell Putin that Congress was pushing for more sanctions.

The president also lashed out at critics of his daughter Ivanka who momentarily filled the president’s seat while he conducted a meeting on the sidelines at the G20 Summit.

Trump Tweet: “If Chelsea Clinton were asked to hold the seat for her mother, as her mother gave our country away, the Fake News would say CHELSEA FOR PRES!”

The tweet drew this response from Chelsea Clinton on Twitter:” Good morning Mr. President. It would never have occurred to my mother or my father to ask me. Were you giving our country away? Hoping not.”

The Trump outside legal team says it believes Veselnitskya was associated with Fusion GPS—an opposition research firm backed by Democrats that also commissioned the widely debunked Steele dossier that claimed to have damaging information about the president.

Senators return to Capitol Hill facing penalty of tension over healthcare reform

Reporting by Mike Emanuel

Senators return to Capitol Hill facing penalty of tension over healthcare reform.

Fox News has learned there is a new timeline—getting an updated text of the bill to senators by Thursday, CBO score as soon as Monday, and a vote late next week.

Republican Senator Pat Toomey appeared on America’s Newsroom:

“Most folks that we are having trouble with do want to get to a yes. They do want to support most of the bill. There are people who are not quite there yet.”

At least ten GOP senators are opposed to the original Republican proposal. With 52 Republicans, there can only be two no votes to pass a bill with Vice President Pence serving as the tiebreaker.

And now several Republicans have declared the original bill dead, but Majority Leader Mitch McConnell hasn’t given up.

Republican Senator Bill Cassidy:

“He is trying to rework, to get something to work that will pass. But the original version, ten folks opposing…that’s not gonna pass.”

President Trump issued a warning this morning on Twitter:

“I cannot imagine that Congress would dare to leave Washington without a beautiful new healthcare bill fully approved and ready to go!”

There is also pressure on Republican senators at town hall events in their home states.

On the other side of the aisle, Senator Bernie Sanders is trying to move the healthcare debate to the left.

“As soon as we defeat this disastrous bill, I’ll introduce Medicare for all single payer system.”

McConnell wanted a healthcare bill complete by late June. Now there’s fear that more healthcare delays could sidetrack other issues like infrastructure, raising the debt limit and even tax reform.

If McConnell wants to get something like tax reform through, he may soon be forced to abandon healthcare. That’s because Republicans want to use the same filibuster-proof process for tax reform that they’re currently using for healthcare. The problem is, McConnell can’t use the same maneuver for two bills at the same time.

Some newer lawmakers are calling for reducing or dropping the August recess—likely worried about facing their constituents with very few points on the board.

Trump on Comey: That is so illegal!

Reporting by Catherine Herridge

A legal source close to the matter tells Fox News the Fired FBI Director James Comey’s memos documenting his conversations with President Trump are considered government records and some of the material contained classified information as first reported by The Hill newspaper.

All FBI employees sign employment agreements that block the unauthorized storage or sharing of government records.

Comey justified his actions to a Senate panel last month.

Senator Blunt: “So you didn’t consider your memo or your sense of that conversation to be a government document? You consider it to be somehow your own personal document     that you could share with the media as you wanted to?

Comey: Correct. I understood this to be my recollection, recorded, of my conversation with the president. As a private citizen, I felt free to share that. I thought it very important     to get it out.

Writing in a tweet, President Trump said, “James Comey leaked classified information to the media. That is so illegal!”

Kellyanne Conway went even further on Fox and Friends.

“The boy scout-choir boy defense doesn’t hold up here…by handing over, admitting under oath, handing over classified information through quote private recollection it doesn’t matter what he calls it. It matters what it is.”

A year ago this month, then Director Comey publicly chastised Hillary Clinton and her team for their careless handling of highly classified information and the use of a personal server for government business.

A Columbia Law School professor also tells Fox News that he never gave reporters hard copies of the Comey memos, and none of the memos had classification markings. But Comey could be criticized over retroactive classification—the same issue that damaged Clinton’s campaign.

State Department: China can do a whole lot more to bring pressure to North Korea

Reporting by Rich Edson

President Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping will meet again tomorrow. President Trump said they made tremendous progress in their first meeting three months ago. Since then, this relationship has yielded disappointment.

China is the centerpiece of what the Trump administration calls its pressure campaign to isolate North Korea and force it to abandon its nuclear programs.

North Korea has continued developing its weapons programs, successfully testing for the first time—and on the 4th of July—an intercontinental ballistic missile.

State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert says they believe China can do more.

“I think we view it as there’s a lot of work left to be done. We’re still somewhat early on it the overall pressure campaign against North Korea. We continue to believe that China can do a whole lot more to try to bring additional pressure to North Korea.”

China accounts for about 90% of North Korea’s trade and Chinese government data shows that relationship grew nearly 40% in this year’s first three months compared to the same period last year.

Following North Korea’s latest launch, President Trump tweeted, “Trade between China and North Korea grew almost 40% in the first quarter. So much for China working with us—but we had to give it a try!”

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says China initially took significant action against North Korea, then paused. Last week, the Treasury Department sanctioned Chinese companies conducting business in North Korea.

“The sanctions action that was taken here just in the last week to 10 days certainly got their attention in terms of their understanding our resolve,” Tillerson said.

The State Department refuses to comment on additional penalties the U.S. may initiate against Chinese businesses.

Despite the U.S. disappointment with China, President Trump says his administration will continue to convince President Xi to confront North Korea.

China also continues floating a solution—the U.S. and South Korea suspend their joint military exercises, North Korea surrenders its weapons programs. The U.S. has rejected that approach, claiming its military exercises are defensive, and North Korea’s weapons programs are illegal.

 

Trump and Putin come face to face

Reporting by James Rosen

Of all that hangs on the handshake between President Trump and President Putin, nothing is more consequential than the Syrian civil war, now it in its seventh year, with more than 400,000 lives lost.

Shored up by Russian air strikes and Iranian-backed militias, the regime of Syrian dictator Bashar Al-Assad has driven US backed rebels from much of the territory they once controlled.

While the US led coalition force has gutted the self-proclaimed caliphate of the terror group ISIS “Jabhat Fateh Al-Sham.” The Al-Qaeda offshoot formerly known as Al-Nusrah, remains a potent force.

Virtually entire cities have been obliterated, five million Syrians have fled to neighboring countries, and more than six million still in the country have been forced from their homes.

In Europe this week, President Trump called on the Kremlin to jettison Assad.

“We urge Russia to cease its destabilizing activities in Ukraine and elsewhere, and its support for hostile regimes—including Syria and Iran—and to instead join the community of responsible nations…”

The State Department said the US is open, with Russian assistance, to creating no-fly zones in Syria.

Part of a preview of the Trump-Putin dialogue offered Thursday by spokesperson Heather Nauert.

“We believe that Russia has a special responsibility. They have unique leverage over the Syrian regime and so we’re going to continue to put pressure on them to ask them to do more…”

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson hailed the two presidents’ agreement on a cease-fire zone in Southwest Syria as the “first indication” that Washington and the Kremlin can work together in-theater.

Charles Lister, Middle East Institute Senior Fellow says he has seen this movie before.

“The previous de-escalation zones that Russia claimed to have negotiated for different parts of Syria included one for southern Syria…but after Russia negotiated that de-escalation zone in southern Syria, we saw the largest escalation in Assad regime bombing in southern Syria for nearly three years. So …Russia doesn’t have the necessary leverage in Syria over Assad or over Iran to actually bring forward these agreements and make them genuinely durable.” 

Blockade continues as Qatar rejects demands

Reporting by Rich Edson

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, The United Arab Emirates and Bahrain want Qatar to cut its support for the Muslim Brotherhood, close the Al Jazeera Network, and eject the Turkish military presence in Qatar. These are just a few of more than a dozen demands Arab neighbors want Qatar to agree to in exchange for ending their month long blockade and isolation campaign.

In a meeting in Cairo following Qatar’s rejection of their terms, the four Arab nations announced no new sanctions against Qatar even though its “continued interference in the affairs of the Arab States and its support for extremism and terrorism and the consequent threats to the security of the region.”

Qatar denies it supports terrorism and says its Arab adversaries label their political opponents as terrorists to silence them.

The United States says Qatar has improved in fighting terrorist financing, though it must continue addressing the problem.

President Trump has sided with Saudi Arabia and its allies against Qatar, while Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has taken a more measured approach—trying to broker an agreement to end the dispute, as the State Department acknowledges this crisis could take much longer to resolve.

State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert, “It could drag on for months. It could possibly even intensify. The secretary will remain engaged. He’s been very engaged and he’s made himself available to all sides of this matter. We continue to stay in close contact with all of them and will continue to do so.”

A State Department official says Secretary Tillerson will continue discussions with the feuding allies as he travels through Europe. The official says the secretary spoke yesterday with Saudi Arabia’s new Crown Prince.

Qatar says it is persisting through the blockade. Its ally Turkey is shipping goods as Saudi Arabia has closed Qatar’s only land border.

Kuwait also tries to broker an end to the conflict as both sides remain defiant.

The opioid epidemic

Reporting by Jonathan Serrie

If you suffer from pain, the chances a doctor prescribes you an opioid depends in large part on where you live.

A new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that prescribing practices are so inconsistent, residents in some counties are prescribed six times more opioid painkillers than those in other counties.

CDC Acting Director Dr. Anne Schuchat tells Fox News, “states like Ohio, Kentucky and Florida have been the most successful in using state policies to change prescribing and start to reduce some of the problems.”

In 2010, the amount of opioids prescribed in the U.S. peaked at a figure equivalent to 782 milligrams of morphine per person.

By 2015, that figure had actually dropped to 640—still more than three times as high as it was in 1999.

That concerns public health officials, politicians and law enforcement authorities as they try to curb an epidemic of opioid abuse that led to more than 33,000 deaths in 2015.

“Even though there is improvement in prescribing in today’s report, we still see too many given too much for too long. And that causes risk for families around the country.”

Some states are taking action to catch people who are abusing opioids. A new Georgia law requires pharmacists to report all controlled substance prescriptions they fill to a monitoring database within 24 hours.

The Trump administration says conquering the opioid epidemic is a priority. The President touted it on the campaign trail and now Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price is on an opioid crisis listening tour stopping today in Chattanooga, TN.

"The conversation that is going on right now in the United States Senate as it relates to health reform and moving in a better direction is to provide more resources for the opioid crisis," Price said during his Chattanooga visit. "Resources are absolutely imperative for solving this issue, but they are not the only thing. We want to make sure that the monies we provide are used in a way that makes sure that the greatest number of individuals realize recovery and move into an addiction recovery."

Federal health officials are urging physicians to explore other pain management options for their patients and prescribe opioids only when the benefits are expected to outweigh the risks.

 

Criticism over source of CNN/Trump meme

Howie Kurtz

The individual behind the wrestling video tweeted last week by President Trump, who’s seen tackling a man with a photo shopped CNN logo, has apologized, but the story behind that apology has sparked new criticism of CNN.

The network, saying the video endangers journalists, tracked down its creator who first posted it on the online message board Reddit. CNN is not disclosing his identity which triggered a Twitter uproar and an on-air debate.

The Story by CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski says CNN is not publishing “Han****Solo’s” name because he is a private citizen who has issued an extensive statement of apology, showed his remorse by saying he has taken down all of his offending posts, and because he said he is not going to repeat his ugly behavior on social media again. CNN reserves the right to publish his identity should any of that change.

Donald Trump Jr. accused the network of bullying the man, tweeting: If only @CNN spend as much time tracking down info on IRS targeting, Fast & Furious, Iran deal etc. as they did a meme writer! #CNNBlackmail.

A network spokesman said today, “CNN decided not to publish the name of the Reddit user out of concern for his safety. Any assertion that the network blackmailed or coerced him is false.”

 CNN said the man apologized and deleted his account before speaking to its reporter and that the network explained the withholding of his identity to be completely transparent.

“CNN never made any deal, of any kind, with the user.”

The Reddit user posted an apology for “the posts made that were racist, bigoted, and anti-Semitic. I am in no way this kind of person…the meme was created purely as satire. It was not meant to be a call to violence against CNN or any other news affiliation.”

North Korea missile launch

Jennifer Griffin

A senior US official tells Fox News the US watched North Koreans prepare a liquid-fueled 2-stage ICBM missile in advance of the recent launch Tuesday.

A Pentagon spokesman said the 37-minutes flight time was the longest to date for a North Korean ballistic missile. Despite reports a mobile launcher was used, the missile was only transported to the launch pad, not fired from the vehicle.

Kim Jong -un taunted the US after watching the successful launch.

The Korean Central News Agency reported, “he said American bastards would not be very happy with this gift sent on the July 4 anniversary,” adding that he had no plans to negotiate.

North Korean media said the missile could carry a “large-sized heavy nuclear warhead,” and despite “extreme overload and vibration the nuclear warhead detonation control device successfully worked.” If true, experts say the North Koreans have cleared another hurdle.

Late yesterday, the Pentagon responded to the test by releasing video of American Army and South Korean military unites near Seoul testing short range surface-to-surface missiles which can travel up to 200 miles. Seoul, with its 10 million residents is only 35 miles from the DMZ, or border. North Korea has thousands of artillery units pointed at South Korea’s capital as a deterrent.

When asked why the Pentagon did not shoot the missile down a spokesman said the US military did not employ an elaborate missile defense shield because it did not threaten the US homeland, adding it did put at risk commercial airlines and shipping in the region.

US officials are also worried because the two stage missile was able to reenter the Earth’s atmosphere and now has the range to hit the state of Alaska.

The US has dozens of interceptor missiles at bases in Alaska and California to shoot down a rogue North Korean missile in outer space. The THAAD missile defense system based in South Korea could also be used. But the THAAD, which faced protests when it was installed at a golf course in Seoul, only has two out of six missile interceptors and South Korea is blocking the US from sending more.

The US Navy also has one less tool in its defense shield arsenal after the USS Fitzgerald collided last month with a cargo ship near Japan. The Fitzgerald had advances radar and missiles that could be used to shoot down a ballistic missile.

The Navy’s last test to shoot down a missile from a warship on June 22, 2017 failed when the missile missed the target, but carried out a successful intercept of a mock ICBM fired from the Marshall Islands earlier this year. 

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