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Developing now, Friday, Dec. 21, 2018

  • The chances of a government shutdown late Friday appear likely as the House on Thursday approved a spending bill that includes $5.7 billion for President Trump's border wall - a measure that is certain to fail in the Senate
  • Defense Secretary Jim Mattis will step down in February after two years in the Trump administration. Some reports suggest policy differences, especially over Syria and Afghanistan, directly led to Mattis' resignation
  • President Trump is considering a 'significant' withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, a senior official told FOX News
  • In an exclusive interview with FOX News, Republican Sen. Susan Collins details the series of serious threats she and her staff received over her vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court
  • Earlier this week, U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams targeted e-cigarettes and warned that parents and teachers must aggressively counter the dramatic rise in teen vaping. FOX News medical correspondent Dr. Marc Siegel explains what can be done


THE LEAD STORY – TRUMP STANDS UP FOR WALL - AND SHUTDOWN CLOCK TICKS: The House of Representatives on Thursday approved a bill that would fund most of the federal government through early February -- and provide $5.7 billion for President Trump's long-promised border wall, increasing the chances of a partial government shutdown ...  The vote came hours after Trump told House GOP leaders that he would not sign a Senate-passed package that does not provide money for the barrier. Eight Republicans joined all 177 voting Democrats to oppose the measure, which passed 217-185.

The bill now goes to the Senate, where it is certain to fall short of the 60 votes needed for passage since the chamber's 49 Democrats are against funding the wall. That, in turn, makes it more likely that parts of the federal government, including nine of 15 Cabinet-level departments and dozens of agencies, will cease operations at midnight Friday. - Reported by Samuel Chamberlain

DID CLASHES OVER SYRIA, AFGHANISTAN PUSH MATTIS OUT? - President Trump said Thursday evening that Defense Secretary James Mattis will be retiring in February, in a shock announcement adding to the list of the president's outgoing Cabinet members after his second year in office ... Mattis will step down "with distinction" after serving in his role for two years, the president said on Twitter.

In his resignation letter to the president, Mattis wrote, "Because you have the right to have a Secretary of Defense whose views are better aligned with yours on these and other subjects, I believe it is right for me to step down from my position." This sparked reports that concern over Trump's plans to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria and Afghanistan directly led to Mattis' resignation. A senior U.S. defense official told Fox News that Mattis was not pushed out of his role and this was not a forced resignation.

A source with knowledge of the resignation tells FOX News that Mattis came to the White House Thursday with his resignation letter already drawn up and that while he spoke to the President Trump about Syria, the writing had been on the wall far before the Syria decision. The real precipitating event, one source said, was when the president named Army Chief of Staff Mark Milley to be in line to succeed General Joe Dunford as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Mattis had been campaigning for Air Force Chief of Staff General David Goldfein to be the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.  Like Dunford and John Kelly, Goldfein was tightly aligned with Mattis, but Milley was independent. Trump wanted a more independent chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

A source tells FOX News that two early candidates being considered to replace Mattis are: General Jack Keane, a FOX News contributor, and U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark.- Reported by John Roberts and Elizabeth Zwirz

SYRIA NOW, AFGHANISTAN NEXT?: President Trump is seriously considering a “significant drawdown” of U.S. troops who are stationed in Afghanistan, a senior U.S. official told FOX News on Thursday ... The potential maneuver would involve more than 3,000 U.S. troops getting pulled out, the source said. There are 15,000 troops currently on the ground in Afghanistan ... The development was first reported by the Wall Street Journal, which added that the withdrawal could take place in the coming weeks. A separate official said that the morale in meetings at the Pentagon has never been worse than in recent days. Trump on Wednesday declared, via Twitter, victory over the Islamic State group, and that the U.S. would be pulling all 2,000 troops from Syria — surprising many within the Department of Defense. - Reported by Jennifer Griffin and Nicole Darrah

EXCLUSIVE: COLLINS SAYS KAVANAUGH FOES DIDN’T INTIMIDATE HER: U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, has revealed that the abuse she and her staff suffered over her vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court "was unlike anything I've seen in all the years that I've been privileged to serve in the Senate" ... "There were protests at my home for six weeks in a row, protests at my home here in Washington, death threats, threats of sexual assault against me and my staff," Collins told Fox News' Martha MacCallum in an exclusive interview that aired Thursday evening on "The Story." "But, what I'll never understand is why anyone would think that I would be intimidated by those tactics and that they would be successful in converting me or causing me to vote against Judge Kavanaugh."

Collins provided the crucial yes vote for Kavanaugh's confirmation, explaining her reasoning in an Oct. 5 Senate floor speech that climaxed a weeks-long battle centering on sexual-assault allegations against the federal judge dating from his high school days. At the time, Collins cited "the lack of corroborating evidence" of the claims against Kavanaugh by Christine Blasey Ford. - Reported by Samuel Chamberlain

TARGETING TEEN VAPING EPIDEMIC: In an advisory Tuesday, Surgeon General Jerome Adams said parents, teachers, health professionals and government officials must take "aggressive steps" to keep children from using e-cigarettes ... Federal officials are scrambling to reverse a recent explosion in teen vaping that public health officials fear could undermine decades of declines in tobacco use. An estimated 3.6 million U.S. teens are now using e-cigarettes, according to the latest government statistics.

In an op-ed on FoxNews.com, Dr. Marc Siegel explains what should be done to address the growing teen vaping epidemic. He writes, "Studying the long-term health effects of e-cigarettes is clearly one important step. Providing and promoting alternatives without nicotine is another. Treatment options for those with so-called “nicotine use disorder” are limited and need to expand."

"Research must focus on a better understanding of how nicotine affects the brain and what to do about it," he continues. "Addictive personality is a real phenomenon and genetic research can help us determine who is most at risk. Quitting vaping is not the same thing as quitting tobacco smoking, especially since e-cigarettes are also used as a smoking cessation tool for physicians, myself included, who are trying to wean recalcitrant smokers off tobacco."


BUILD THAT WALL - "I will not surrender this nation to the whims of criminal organizations who prey on the vulnerable [and] spread human misery and suffering ... This massive drug and human inflow must be stopped." – President Trump, explaining why he will not back down from his demand for a border wall, during a ceremony celebrating the passage of the 2018 farm bill. WATCH

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Report: Carlos Ghosn re-arrested on suspicion of shifting personal losses to Nissan.
Dow falls below 23K as Nasdaq nears bear market.
Crumbling crude is flashing a warning sign.
Mnuchin: Market reaction to Fed rate hike 'completely overblown.' 
Amazon's gamble on Whole Foods might not pay off.
This is the best day to buy a house.


On FOX News:

FOX & Friends, 6 a.m. ET: Special guests include: Former acting ICE Director Thomas Homan; Diamond & Silk; former White House press secretary Sean Spicer. Plus, a closer look at National Ugly Christmas Sweater Day.

On FOX Business:

Mornings with Maria, 6 a.m. ET: Special guests include: U.S. Rep. John Garamendi, D-Calif.; Alicia Levine, chief strategist at BNY Mellon Investment Management; Mercedes Schlapp, White House director of strategic communications; Karl Rove, former senior adviser to President George W. Bush.

Varney & Co., 9 a.m. ET: Special guests include: Kevin Hassett, chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers; Sean Spicer, former White House press secretary; Kayleigh McEnany, RNC spokeswoman.

Cavuto: Coast to Coast, Noon ET: Gerald Storch, former chairman and CEO of Toys R Us, Inc.

Making Money with Charles Payne, 2 p.m. ET: Hitha Herzog, retail analyst; U.S. Rep. French Hill, R-Ark.; Mitch Roschelle, PwC partner and business development leader; Jose Aristimuño, Democratic strategist; Lindsey Bell, investment strategist with CFRA Research.

Countdown to the Closing Bell with Liz Claman, 3 p.m. ET: Rob Thummel, Tortoise Capital portfolio manager; Ed Mills, public policy analyst at Raymond James & Associates, Inc.

After the Bell with Melissa Francis and Connell McShane, 4 p.m. ET: Steve Forbes, Forbes Media chairman; U.S. Rep. Tom Rice, R-S.C.

On FOX News Radio:

The FOX News Rundown podcast: The Dow, Nasdaq and S&P 500 dropped again Thursday, a day after the Federal Reserve decided to raise interest rates for the fourth time this year, continuing a rocky month on Wall Street. U.S. Treasuring Secretary Steve Mnuchin explains why he calls the market reaction "overblown." Are you prepared for that big family Christmas get-together at the dinner table but want to avoid arguments about politics? Dr. Ivan Misner shares tips on keeping the peace this holiday season. Plus, commentary by "FOX News Sunday" host Chris Wallace.

Want the FOX News Rundown sent straight to your mobile device? Subscribe through Apple Podcasts, Google Play, and Stitcher.

The Brian Kilmeade Show, 9 a.m. ET: Karl Rove on the looming government shutdown and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis' resignation, and Trump's decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria; FOX Business' Lauren Simonetti on the volatile market; Shannon Bream and Chris Stirewalt on the top headlines of the day.

The Todd Starnes Show, Noon ET: Todd Starnes speaks with White House Director of Strategic Communications Mercedes Schlapp as the clock to a government shutdown ticks away.

The Tom Shillue Show, 3 p.m. ET: Comedian Jim Gaffigan joins Tom Shillue to discuss how he deals with holiday stress and how he turned his family's health scare into a comedy special.

On FOX News Weekend: 

Cavuto Live, Saturday, 10 a.m. ET: Brian Kolfage, triple-amputee Air Force veteran, on his GoFundMe page to raise $1 billion for a border wall. U.S. Rep Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., on the government shutdown showdown. Andrew McCarthy, former chief assistant U.S. attorney in the Southern District of New York, on Democrats demanding William Barr, Trump's pick for U.S. attorney general, recuse himself from Mueller probe. Plus, market pros on whether the worst is over or yet to come in the market sell-off.

FOX News Sunday, Sunday, 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.ET: An exclusive interview with Ohio Gov. John Kasich.

"Charles Krauthammer: Making His Point," 10 p.m. ET: Daniel Krauthammer, son of longtime Fox News commentator Charles Krauthammer, tells the story behind finishing his late father's final book.

1988:  A terrorist bomb explodes aboard a Pam Am Boeing 747 over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing 270 people and sending wreckage crashing to the ground.
1937: The first Dr. Seuss book, "And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street," is published by Vanguard Press.
1913: The first newspaper crossword puzzle, billed as a "Word-Cross Puzzle," is published in the New York World.
1891: The first basketball game, devised by James Naismith, is believed to have been played at the International YMCA Training School in Springfield, Mass. (The final score in this experimental game was 1-0.)

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