FOX NEWS FIRST: Hand recount ordered in Florida as accusations fly; WikiLeaks founder Assange could be charged in U.S.

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Developing now, Friday, Nov. 16, 2018

  • A hand recount was underway in Florida's bitter battle for the U.S. Senate between Republican Gov. Rick Scott and incumbent Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson. Embattled Broward County official Brenda Snipes is embroiled in a new controversy after her county submitted its machine recount numbers a few minutes late, invalidating the entire tally
  • President Trump is expected to visit California over the weekend to assess the damage to areas ravaged by wildfires over the past week, the White House said. Authorities say the death toll from the Camp Fire is now up to 63, with 631 people unaccounted for
  • The Justice Department is preparing to prosecute WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and is increasingly confident he could face trial in a U.S. court, according to a report
  • A federal judge is expected to announce Friday whether he will order the Trump administration to restore CNN correspondent Jim Acosta's White House press credentials while a lawsuit goes forward
  • North Korea has tested an 'ultramodern tactical weapon' under the observation of Kim Jong Un, state media reported on Friday
  • TUNE IN: President Trump will sit down for an exclusive, wide-ranging interview with Chris Wallace for this weekend's 'FOX News Sunday' at 2 p.m. ET and 7 p.m. ET on FOX News Channel

THE LEAD STORY - RECOUNT MADNESS: A legally-required hand recount in Florida's battle over a U.S. Senate seat is under way after an initial review of the machine ballots showed Republican Gov. Rick Scott and incumbent Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson separated by less than 13,000 votes ... Under Florida state law, a manual recount is required if the margin of victory between the candidates is less than 0.25 percent. But the manual recount does not come without controversy. All eyes are once again locked on Broward County and its troubled supervisor of elections, Brenda Snipes.

An official said her county had uploaded the results of its recount two minutes after the state’s 3 p.m. ET deadline – making its machine recount tally void. Instead, Broward County's results from last Tuesday’s election will stand until manual recount totals come in Sunday at noon.

GOP Senate candidate Rick Scott's campaign charged Snipes intentionally submitted late results so that they would be invalidated. In the recount, Nelson lost more votes than Scott -- meaning Scott would have seen a net gain of 779 votes if Snipes hadn't been late. Thursday’s mistake in Broward is just the latest in a series of missteps for the largely Democratic county. - Reported by Barnini Chakraborty (@Barnini on Twitter) and Gregg Re (@gregg_re on Twitter)

TRUMP TO VISIT CALIFORNIA - President Trump is expected to travel to California over the weekend amid the wildfires that have ravaged both ends of the state, the White House revealed ... The president on Saturday will visit those who've been affected by the flames, White House deputy press secretary Lindsay Walters said. The Camp Fire burning in Northern California has killed at least 63 people, Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea said Thursday night; 631 people were unaccounted for. The blaze, which is 40 percent contained, has burned through 140,000 acres and destroyed more than 8,700 homes since it erupted Nov. 8, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. - Reported by Elizabeth Zwirz

DOJ READY TO CHARGE ASSANGE? - WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is reportedly facing the prospect of prosecution by the U.S. Justice Department ... A variety of potential charges have been talked about recently among U.S. prosecutors, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday, citing sources familiar with the details. And while those potential charges have yet to be determined, it’s possible that they could include the Espionage Act, the Journal reported. The Washington Post reported Thursday that Assange has already been charged and that prosecutors inadvertently revealed the development in an unsealed court filing.

  • Why is this important? - Russia Special Counsel Robert Mueller is believed to be close to ending his investigation. WikiLeaks is facing a federal grand jury investigation over its publication of American diplomatic and military secrets stemming from the war in Iraq. The website also gained attention amid the 2016 presidential election when Russian spies allegedly gave WikiLeaks emails from Hillary Clinton’s campaign in a bid to help elect then-candidate Donald Trump. Assange has denied getting the files from the Russian government or backing the Trump campaign.
  • Assange has been holed up inside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London since 2012 when British courts ordered him extradited to Sweden to face questioning in a sexual assault case. That case has been dropped, but WikiLeaks supporters have claimed that Assange fears being extradited to the United States if he leaves the embassy.  - Reported by Elizabeth Zwirz

NEW DEVELOPMENT EXPECTED IN CNN-TRUMP ADMINISTRATION CASE -  A federal judge is expected to announce Friday whether he will order the Trump administration to restore the White House press credentials of CNN reporter Jim Acosta while a lawsuit over its revocation goes forward ... U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Kelly, an appointee of President Trump, has scheduled a hearing for Friday morning to announce his decision. CNN has asked the judge for an order that would force the White House to immediately hand back the credentials that give Acosta access to the White House complex for press briefings and other events. CNN wants Acosta's credentials restored while a lawsuit over the revocation remains in litigation. CNN sued the Trump administration after the White House revoked Acosta's press access following a contentious exchange with President Trump during a news conference last week. - Reported by FOX News and the Associated Press

NORTH KOREA TESTS NEW WEAPON -  North Korean leader Kim Jong Un observed the successful test of an unspecified "newly developed ultramodern tactical weapon," state media reported Friday, in an apparent bid to apply pressures on the United States and South Korea amid a stalemated nuclear diplomacy ... It didn't appear to be a nuclear device or a long-range missiles targeting the mainland U.S., a string of which last year had many fearing war before the North turned to engagement and diplomacy early this year. Still, any mention of weapons testing could influence the direction of currently stalled diplomacy between Washington and Pyongyang that's meant to rid the North of its nuclear weapons. - Reported by the Associated Press

'FOX NEWS SUNDAY' EXCLUSIVE: WALLACE INTERVIEWING TRUMP - President Trump will sit down with Chris Wallace for an interview that will air this weekend on "FOX News Sunday" ... The exclusive interview will be Wallace's first with Trump since he took office. Wallace will talk to the president about his domestic and foreign policy agendas following the midterm elections, where Democrats took control of the House of Representatives and much more. Catch the interview this Sunday at 2 p.m. ET and 7 p.m. ET on FOX News Channel.  Also check your local FOX broadcast network listings for the "FOX News Sunday" air time in your area. - The FOX News Insider

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SHARING THE BLAME GAME IN FLORIDA - "She was brought in by [former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush] because the person before her was a disaster.  I hold him [Florida Gov. Rick Scott] fully accountable for the state of the voting system in Florida today. It's on him, and poor Ron DeSantis better clean it up in the next two years."  – A.B. Stoddard, associate editor of RealClear Politics, giving her taking the recount chaos in Florida and the focus on Broward County Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes. WATCH

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The Brian Kilmeade Show, 9 a.m. ET: The latest in the Florida recount, CNN's lawsuit against the Trump administration, the migrant caravans and Nancy Pelosi's potential battle with fellow Democrats to become House speaker will be the topics of debate with the following guests: Jonathan Turley, Geraldo Rivera, Robert Merry, Jason Chaffetz, and Shannon Bream.

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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.