FOX NEWS FIRST: Mystery deepens in search for Iowa college student; Facebook fuels new election meddling fears

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Developing now, Wednesday, August 1, 2018

  • Friends of a missing University of Iowa student say she had been planning to attend a wedding in the Dominican Republic this week, as baffled investigators continue to look for clues
  • Facebook announced Tuesday it had uncovered 'sophisticated' attempts to influence U.S. politics ahead of the November midterms, elevating concerns about Russia and possible election tampering      
  • The federal fraud trial of former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort began Tuesday as prosecutors focused on his lavish lifestyle; Wednesday will be the first full day of testimony
  • A federal judge has issued a temporary restraining order on the blueprints on untraceable and undetectable 3D-printed plastic guns
  • Embattled CBS CEO Les Moonves could address the sexual harassment allegations against him in a company earnings call this Thursday, FOX Business has learned 

THE LEAD STORY – An Iowa college student who vanished two weeks ago had been planning to travel to the Dominican Republic this week for a wedding, friends said ... Mollie Tibbetts, 20, was supposed to accompany her boyfriend Dalton Jack to his brother Blake’s wedding to his fiancée, Aimee Houghton, Blake said.Blake had jokingly suggested to his brother that he propose to Tibbetts, his high school sweetheart, during the trip.

Tibbetts was last seen jogging on the evening of July 18 in Brooklyn, a small Iowa town where the University of Iowa student had been living this summer with the brothers.

At a news conference Tuesday, Kevin Winker, director of investigative operations for the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, said investigators haven't drawn any conclusions about what happened to Tibbetts other than that disappearing on her own "is not consistent with her past." He said dozens of investigators from his agency, the FBI and local law enforcement are working on the case, and that they haven't ruled out any possibilities and are checking out every lead they receive.

ELECTION MEDDLING, THE SEQUEL? - Facebook says it has uncovered "sophisticated" efforts, possibly linked to Russia, to influence American politics in advance of the U.S. midterm elections ... The company said in a blog post that it removed 32 accounts from Facebook and Instagram because they were involved in "coordinated" political behavior and appeared to be fake.

Facebook did not explicitly say that the effort was aimed at influencing the midterm elections in November, but the timing of the suspicious activity would be consistent with such an attempt. The company, which said it is in the early stages of its investigation, held briefings in the House and Senate this week.

Facebook said it doesn't know who is behind the efforts, but said there may be connections to Russia. The company said it has found some connections between the accounts it removed and the accounts connected to Russia's Internet Research Agency that it removed before and after the 2016 U.S. presidential elections.

LIFESTYLES OF THE RICH AND INFAMOUS: Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort's lavish lifestyle was front-and-center during opening arguments in his fraud trial, as prosecutors said he lied to put his money ahead of the law, while defense attorneys -- and even the presiding judge -- reminded jurors that exorbitant wealth, in itself, is not a crime ... Prosecutors also called their first witness in the case: former Bernie Sanders campaign adviser Tad Devine, who worked closely with Manafort on several elections in Ukraine, including the successful 2010 presidential campaign of since-deposed pro-Russian leader Viktor Yanukovych. 

Devine, under cross-examination by Manafort attorney Richard Wesley, confirmed that Manafort's former business partner Rick Gates handled most of Manafort's day-to-day business operations. The admission was significant because defense attorney Thomas Zehnle said in his opening statement that Manafort relied on others to keep track of the millions of dollars he was earning from his Ukrainian political work, and had misplaced his trust in Gates, who cut a deal with prosecutors and is expected to testify in the trial. 

3D-PRINTED GUNS FIRE BLANKS - FOR NOW: A federal judge in Seattle issued a restraining order Tuesday afternoon temporarily stopping the release of blueprints to make untraceable and undetectable 3D-printed plastic guns ... U.S. District Judge Robert Lasnik issued the order a day after eight states sued the government to block a settlement reached by the Trump administration last month allowing a Texas-based company, Defense Distributed, to resume online-sharing of blueprints for the 3D firearms. 

The company was set to allow downloads on Wednesday, although blueprints have been posted since Friday. The temporary restraining order blocks the release until the next scheduled hearing on Aug. 10.

FOX BUSINESS EXCLUSIVE - MOONVES NOT HIDING FROM SCANDAL: CBS honcho Les Moonves is planning to speak on the company's earnings call on Thursday, the latest indication that the embattled CEO plans to maintain a public profile amid an internal investigation into sexual misconduct allegations, the FOX Business Network's Charles Gasparino has learned ...  The news, after first being reported by FOX Business, spiked shares of CBS as much as 2.28 percent in early afternoon trading Tuesday. Shares of CBS ended the day at $52.67, up 2.71 percent in New York Stock Exchange composite trading.

The company still may decide at the last minute to pull Moonves, handing over the duties to the other two executives who deal with analysts' questions during earnings calls: Chief Operating Officer Joseph Ianiello and Adam Townsend, investor relations chief, a CBS insider said. But the plan, as of now, is to allow Moonves to appear on the call and take analysts' questions.

 

AS SEEN ON FOX NEWS 

LIBERAL HOLLYWOOD VOICES: "They have nothing to say, and when you have nothing to run on, Hollywood celebrities are a good mouthpiece to send it out." – Radio host Michael Knowles, on "FOX & Friends," arguing that celebrities are becoming political spokespeople because Democrats have nothing to say. WATCH

THANK YOU, PRESIDENT TRUMP: "I won't let him down, there is no way. This country is a country of second chances. I love America, and I believe that as the president sees what has taken place with me, that he is going to follow up and do some other things for other people." – Alice Marie Johnson, the woman whose life sentence was commuted by President Trump on "Hannity," giving thanks to the president and reflecting on her new opportunities. WATCH

 

TRENDING

Dem governor flees to $7M Italian vacation home as political, personal problems mount.

Painting of Trump team 'Crossing the Swamp' touches off social media frenzy.

Pizza delivery guy asks to play family's piano, wows with Beethoven sonata.

 

THE SWAMP

Democrat who resigned after masturbation allegation may be planning political comeback: report.

Trump slams 'total joke' Koch brothers, taking on mega-donor network.

The Brian Kilmeade Show: Allen West will run for political office again.

Oregon candidate slammed for vulgar tweet on Melania Trump.

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly says he will stay through 2020 at president's request.

 

ACROSS THE NATION

'Calexit' supporters revamp campaign with plan to convert half of California into 'autonomous Native American nation.'

Massachusetts town's entire four-person police department quits over 'unsafe working conditions.'

Carr Fire prompts accidental evacuation of California town, sheriff reveals.

 

MINDING YOUR BUSINESS

Trump to propose 25-percent tariff on $200 billion of Chinese imports.

U.S. workers see biggest pay, benefit increase in 10 years.

Tesla Model 3 production, Elon Musk Q&A in earnings spotlight.

Kennedy: Trump sounds like Bernie Sanders when he irrationally attacks the Koch brothers.

Apple beats earnings estimates as iPhone sales climb.

Bank warns of impending market correction.

 

FOX NEWS OPINION

John Stossel: Are looney liberals and smug celebrities about to put an end to tipping?

Marc Thiessen: Trump, Putin, NATO and the Montenegro question.

Harry J. Kazianis: Kim vs. Trump: North Korea's leaders have never kept their word on nukes

 

HOLLYWOOD SQUARED

FOX News takes biggest bite out of basic cable in July, including 'Shark Week.'

Sex predator law challenged by Bill Cosby to get court review.

Netflix won’t air documentary on Louis Farrakhan after 'internal miscommunication.'

 

DID YOU HEAR ABOUT THIS?

Orcas pass around calf's body in mourning ritual one week after its death, report says.

Photographers on Skomer Island are crushing puffins to death while trying to take pictures, wardens say.

Life on Mars: Amazing models reveal what it could look like.

 

STAY TUNED

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Check out 'FOX News Update,' our new Facebook-exclusive news program  hosted by Shepard Smith, Carley Shimkus and Abby Huntsman!

On FOX News: 

FOX & Friends, 6 a.m. ET: Special guests include: Tomi Lahren and Michelle Malkin. Plus, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar on giving relief to Americans facing high premiums; a look at how Florida is cracking down on school safety with dozens of armed guards in the aftermath of the Parkland massacre; and an in-depth look at the return of the remains of service members who served in the Korean War.

The Story with Martha MacCallum, 7 p.m. ET - Meet Sarah Smith, the Democratic socialist who wants to be Seattle's Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

On FOX Business:

Mornings with Maria, 6 a.m. ET: Special guests include: Steve Presley, Nestle USA CEO; Steve MacMillan, Hologic CEO; Adam Putnam, Republican candidate for governor and Florida's commissioner of agriculture; Alan Dershowitz.

Varney & Co., 9 a.m. ET: Michael Bellaman, Associated Builders and Contractors CEO; Brad Blakeman, former deputy assistant to President George W. Bush;  Texas Lt Gov. Dan Patrick; Art Laffer, former economist under President Reagan.

Cavuto: Coast to Coast, Noon ET: Amber Smith, former Pentagon official; John Hannah, former national security adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney.

Countdown to the Closing Bell, 3 p.m. ET: Joe Lieberman, former U.S. senator from Connecticut and Democratic VP nominee; Steve Joyce, Dine Brands Global CEO.

After the Bell, 4 p.m. ET: Mike Sievert, T-Mobile president; Sen. John Hoeven. 

The Evening Edit, 5 p.m. ET: Christian Whiton, former Trump State Department senior adviser; Marc Lotter, former special Assistant to President Trump; Ned Ryun, American Majority founder and CEO.

On FOX News Radio:

The FOX News Rundown podcast: On Tuesday, a judge ordered a temporary restraining order to stop the release of downloadable blueprints for 3D-printed guns, though thousands had already downloaded the content. Josh Blackman represents Defense Distributed, the company releasing the blueprints, and he joins the podcast says this is a free speech issue, not a gun rights issue. In addition, Sam Bieler, who has been writing about 3D-printed guns since 2013, gives perspective.

The first case to be prosecuted from special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russia meddling in the 2016 election began Tuesday with the trial of former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort. Judge Napolitano weighs in. Plus commentary by National Review senior editor Jonah Goldberg.

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: Special guests include: Ainsley Earhardt; Jonathan Swan; Rep. Scott. 

 

#OnThisDay

1981: MTV makes its debut.

1971: Former Beatle George Harrison leads the Concert for Bangladesh in New York City.

1966: Charles Whitman kills 16 people at the University of Texas, Austin, before being slain by police.

1936:  The Olympics opens in Berlin with a ceremony presided over by Adolf Hitler.

1907: The U.S. Army Signal Corps establishes an aeronautical division, the forerunner of the U.S. Air Force.

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.