Fox News Exclusive: Defense secretary says Pentagon is watching China 'very carefully'

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Pentagon 'very carefully' watching China, it's 'No. 1 priority,' Defense Secretary Mark Esper tells Fox News
China is the Pentagon's “number one priority,” and the United States is watching Beijing "very carefully" in order to safeguard America, Defense Secretary Mark Esper told Fox News in his first interview since he was confirmed as Pentagon chief in July.

Esper told Fox News national security correspondent Jennifer Griffin that China has engaged in the “greatest theft of intellectual property in human history” and is also expanding its military to “push the United States out of [the Indo-Pacific] theater.” Click on the videos above to watch the interview. 

ICYMI: Budget agency predicts trillion-dollar deficits for years to come, as red ink explodes
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released a grim update Wednesday to its economic outlook for the next decade, predicting average national deficits of $1.2 trillion every year through 2029, due in large part to recent budget and border security bills. The CBO report noted that, as one of many repercussions from free-spending policies, federal debt held by the public is projected to reach rare heights, almost equaling the nation's Gross Domestic Product. “Its highest level since just after World War II,” the report says. The GDP itself is also expected to see a slowdown in growth in the coming years.

Democratic Presidential candidate Washington Gov. Jay Inslee participates in a climate change rally Friday, May 24, 2019, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Democratic Presidential candidate Washington Gov. Jay Inslee participates in a climate change rally Friday, May 24, 2019, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Jay Inslee, 2020 Dem who called Trump 'white nationalist,' drops out of race
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announced Wednesday night he's "withdrawing" from the 2020 presidential race, as the Democrat said "it's become clear" he didn't have a shot at winning the party’s nomination. The environmental activist had urged the Democratic National Committee (DNC) to host a debate centered exclusively on climate change – but failed to meet polling thresholds needed to participate. Inslee revealed his decision on MSNBC, saying it's become clear that he won't win. He has kept open the option of running for a third term as governor but didn't immediately say what his next step will be. Reportedly, Inslee will announce a run for a third term on Thursday.

North Carolina's Dem governor vetoes bill requiring state, local cooperation with ICE on illegal immigrants
Democratic North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper on Wednesday vetoed a proposal that would have made it mandatory for state and local law enforcement to comply with detainer requests from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Republicans blasted Cooper and said he is favoring the interests of illegal immigrants over basic public safety. Under the plan, sheriff’s offices and other law enforcement departments would have been required to hold detainees who are illegal immigrants until ICE personnel could come retrieve them. Those who did not honor the requests would have been subject to dismissal, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Bill Maher fires back after Tlaib suggests boycott of his show over Israel controversy
HBO “Real Time” host Bill Maher ridiculed Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., on Wednesday, suggesting the freshman congresswoman was childlike after she called for a boycott of his TV show. "Some people have one move only: boycott. Cancel. Make-go-away," Maher tweeted, apparently echoing phrases toddlers use. "But here’s the thing, the House voted 318 to 17 to condemn the #BDS movement, including 93% of Dems. Does Tlaib want to boycott 93% of her own party?" Maher's tweet appeared to refer to a July vote in which the House overwhelmingly approved a measure opposing the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel. Among the 17 who opposed the resolution were Reps. Tlaib, and Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., both of whom Israel blocked from entering the country due to their positions on BDS. Amid the controversy, Maher fiercely criticized the BDS movement on Friday. "BDS a bull---- purity test by people who want to appear woke but actually slept through history class," he said.

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#TheFlashback: CLICK HERE to find out what happened on "This Day in History."

SOME PARTING WORDS

Sean Hannity says there has never been a better friend and ally to the state of Israel than President Trump and weighs in on the controversy surrounding Israel and Democratic Reps. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib.

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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 Friday morning.