FOX NEWS FIRST: Suspense in Pennsylvania over closely watched election; Behind Trump's firing of Rex Tillerson

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Developing now, Wednesday, March 14, 2018

  • Pennsylvania’s special House election was too close to call, but Democrat Conor Lamb declared victory over Republican Rick Saccone. A final tally is expected Wednesday
  • Famed theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking dies at age 76
  • Why did President Trump fire Secretary of State Rex Tillerson? Observers say North Korea and a lack of chemistry between Trump and Tillerson were deciding factors
  • Thousands of students across the country are expected to stage walkouts in protest of gun violence Wednesday, one month after the Parkland, Fla., massacre
  • The widow of the gunman who killed 49 people at an Orlando, Fla., nightclub in 2016 goes on trial Wednesday 

THE LEAD STORY – SUSPENSE IN PENNSYLVANIA: Though the race remained too close to call, Democrat Conor Lamb declared victory over Republican Rick Saccone in a Pennsylvania special House election seen as a possible bellwether for the November midterm elections ... The Associated Press has not called the race. Unofficial returns showed Lamb with a narrow lead over Saccone as absentee ballots were still being counted. Some absentee ballots were not expected to be tallied until Wednesday morning, and the final result could be decided by a recount. None of this stopped Lamb from claiming victory and thanking his supporters. "It took a little longer than we thought, but we did it," he said. "Mission accepted." Meanwhile, Saccone vowed his campaign would work through Wednesday. Still, the unofficial results show Lamb riding a wave of Democratic enthusiasm in a district that President Donald Trump won 16 months ago by 20 points. Whatever the official outcome, Tuesday's election may have already raised Democratic hopes of taking back the House in November.

REMEMBERING STEPHEN HAWKING: Stephen Hawking, who defied amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) to become the most influential theoretical physicist of his time, has died at age 76, a family spokesman said ... Hawking died peacefully at his home in Cambridge, England. Although he was incapacitated physically, Hawking managed to write books, including the best seller "A Brief History of Time," teach physics and mathematics, deliver speeches and even float in zero gravity, all while working in the fields of cosmology and quantum gravity. He was not modest about what he wanted to do. "My goal is simple," he once said. "It is a complete understanding of the universe, why it is as it is and why it exists at all."

BEHIND TILLERSON'S REX-IT - ANALYSIS FROM DEFENSE STUDIES EXPERT HARRY KAZIANIS: When it comes to the fine art of diplomacy one thing trumps all else – chemistry between the president and his secretary of state. President Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson didn’t have it. And so now Tillerson is out of a job ...  Beltway foreign policy experts might be flabbergasted that President Trump announced Tuesday that he has fired Tillerson and wants to replace him with CIA Director Mike Pompeo. But it seems pretty clear that the president and Tillerson never had the chemistry to make this marriage work in the first place. The president said Tuesday morning that he and Tillerson disagreed on too many issues to work well together. “We were not really thinking the same,” the president told reporters. “Really, it was a different mind-set, a different thinking.” 

Pompeo will need to be confirmed by the Senate to take over as secretary of state. Before heading the CIA he was a Republican member of Congress from Kansas. The president said he was nominating Dr. Gina Haspel, Pompeo’s deputy at the CIA, to succeed him as the next director. The move to oust Tillerson makes sense. With the diplomatic storm that is coming, Trump needs the right team to guide him through some tough challenges ahead. In the next few months, the Trump administration has some pretty big national security challenges it must tackle. Most pressing of all: what to do about North Korea?

A NATIONAL SCHOOL WALKOUT, IN HONOR OF PARKLAND: From Maine to Hawaii, thousands of students planned to stage walkouts Wednesday to protest gun violence, one month after the deadly shooting inside a high school in Parkland, Fla. ... Organizers say nearly 3,000 walkouts are set in the biggest demonstration yet of the student activism that has emerged following the massacre of 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Students from the elementary to college level are taking up the call in a variety of ways. Some planned roadside rallies to honor shooting victims and protest violence. Others were to hold demonstrations in school gyms or on football fields. In Massachusetts and Ohio, students said they'll head to the Statehouse to lobby for new gun regulations. The coordinated walkout was organized by Empower, the youth wing of the Women's March, which brought thousands to Washington, D.C., last year. The group urged students to leave class at 10 a.m. local time for 17 minutes — one minute for each victim in the Florida shooting.

WHAT DID THE WIDOW OF THE PULSE NIGHTCLUB SHOOTER KNOW?:  Either she knew her husband planned to shoot and kill dozens of people at Pulse nightclub, or she didn’t. That’s the essence of Noor Salmon’s trial, beginning with opening statements in federal court Wednesday in downtown Orlando, Fla. ... Nearly two years since 49 people were slaughtered inside the nightclub by her husband, Omar Mateen, with his Sig Saur semi-automatic rifle, the widow’s trial will be the only criminal prosecution for what was, at the time, the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history. In the early morning hours of June 12, 2016, after killing dozens and holding survivors hostage in the gay club’s restrooms, police shot and killed Mateen. Police said he had pledged his allegiance to ISIS and told negotiators during the hostage negotiations that his attack on Pulse was triggered by a U.S. air strike the month before that had killed Abu Wahid, an Islamic State leader. A federal jury was seated Monday afternoon and opening statements were set to begin Wednesday morning. Salmon is charged with aiding a terrorist organization and lying to investigators. She faces up to life in prison.



'COLLUSION ILLUSION': "The tail is wagging the donkey ... There is no 'there' there." –  Geraldo Rivera, on "Hannity," slamming Democrats for not accepting the House Intelligence Committee finding that there is no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. WATCH

'HOW DARE YOU CALL THEM COWARDLY': "ICE went in there and removed these people from the community. So that's far from terrorizing. We're protecting people, we're protecting the American public." – Acting ICE Director Thomas Homan, on "Varney & Co.," firing back at House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who accused the Trump administration and ICE agents of carrying out "cowardly attacks" on illegal immigrants. WATCH



West Virginia governor fires education secretary, wife of Sen. Joe Manchin.

Rep. Adam Schiff blasts panel Republicans for 'prematurely' shutting down Russia probe.

Manafort 'faces very real possibility' of life in prison, court order says.



NBC News' Lester Holt sees ratings plummet amid fallout from North Korea trip, anti-Trump attitude.

Joy Behar finally publicly apologizes for anti-Christian comments.

Evening newscasts barely mention House Intel findings of 'no evidence of collusion.'



U.S. appeals court upholds Texas law targeting sanctuary cities.

San Francisco ICE spokesman quits amid dispute over illegal immigrants evading arrest.

NFL’s Kirk Cousins to sign rare fully guaranteed contract worth $84M: reports.



Dog dies on United flight after attendant allegedly forced passenger to put carrier in overhead bin | Dog death United's latest black eye

Dick's may lose customers over gun policies, CEO warns.

Volkswagen challenges Tesla, orders $25B in batteries as electric car push accelerates.



John Stossel: Many things are essential to the U.S. - International trade is the best way to ensure we have them.

California could use more Trumpism.

Trump is reorganizing the public land Leviathan - and DC bureaucrats are not happy.



'Game of Thrones' spin-offs facing serious budget questions as executives tease Season 8 deaths.

Matt Damon and Ben Affleck adopt inclusion riders at their production company after Oscars spotlight.

Richard Simmons ordered to pay $130G to National Enquirer, Radar Online.



This is the rarest, most valuable U.S. bills collection on the planet.

Elvis Presley's big blue Mercedes-Benz is for sale.

150 million-year-old dinosaur could probably fly, new research suggests.



On Fox News:

Fox & Friends, 6 a.m. ET: A look at the political fallout from the special election in Pennsylvania's 18th Congressional District with Sen. Marco Rubio and Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers; Tomi Lahren sounds off on President Trump getting a firsthand look at border wall prototypes in California.

The Story with Martha MacCallum, 7 p.m. ET: Rachael Denhollander, first accuser of disgraced USA gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar, reveals how she is taking on child sex abuse with the evangelical community.

Tucker Carlson Tonight, 8 p.m. ET:  TV host Mike Rowe gives his analysis on why young men seem to be falling behind in Part 2 of Tucker's special "Men in America" series.

Hannity, 9 p.m. ET: "Life, Liberty & Levin" host Mark Levin takes on Trump's firing of Tillerson, the Pennsylvania special election and its implications and more.

On Fox Business:

Mornings with Maria, 6 a.m. ET: Guests include: Bob Nardelli, former Home Depot CEO; Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, former defense and economic Minister under German Chancellor Angela Merkel; Rep. Roger Williams; Ian Bremmer, Eurasia Group president; Linda McMahon, administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Varney & Co., 9 a.m. ET: Kayleigh McEnany, RNC spokeswoman; Scott Hamilton, Olympic gold medalist and author of "Finish First: Winning Changes Everything!"; House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady; Ed Rendell, former governor of Pennsylvania.

Cavuto: Coast to Coast, Noon ET: Bill Simon, former Walmart president and CEO.

On Fox News Radio:

The Fox News Rundown podcastPresident Trump fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Tuesday. Fox News' Rich Edson and two former Trump advisers, discuss Tillerson’s sudden departure and Mike Pompeo, whom Trump has nominated to take Tillerson's place. The president also examined border wall prototypes Tuesday, during his first trip to California as president. Fox News' Jessica Rosenthal was there and breaks it down. Plus, commentary by Fox News medical correspondent Dr. Marc Siegel.

Want the Fox News Rundown sent straight to your mobile device? Subscribe through Apple PodcastsGoogle Play, and Stitcher.

The Brian Kilmeade Show, 9 a.m. ET: David Avella on the special election in Pennsylvania; Rep. Matt Gaetz on the House Intel Committee's findings in the Russia investigation; Charles Hurt on Rex Tillerson's firing; former U.S. Solicitor General Ted Olson on the Mark Sokolow vs PLO terror case.



2008: Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama denounces inflammatory remarks from his pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, who had railed against the United States and accused its leaders of bringing on the Sept. 11 attacks by spreading terrorism. 

1964: A jury in Dallas finds Jack Ruby guilty of murdering Lee Harvey Oswald, the accused assassin of President John F. Kennedy, and sentences him to death. (Both the conviction and death sentence would be overturned, but Ruby died before he could be retried.)

1794: Eli Whitney receives a patent for his cotton gin, an invention that revolutionizes America's cotton industry.

Fox News First is compiled by Fox News' Bryan Robinson. Thank you for joining us! Enjoy your day! We'll see you in your inbox first thing Thursday morning.