FOX NEWS FIRST: Trump, ex-Obama officials battle over security clearance; Eric Holder 2020?

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Developing now, Tuesday, July 24, 2018

  • President Trump considering revoking the security clearances of six former, Obama-era, national security officials, and some critics are accusing him of using the intel community to retaliate against political foes
  • Satellite images reportedly suggest North Korea has begun dismantling its main rocket launch site, a possible sign of denuclearization
  • Voters in Georgia will go to the polls Tuesday to decide the GOP gubernatorial primary runoff election between Secretary of State Brian Kemp and Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle
  • A federal judge has agreed to delay the start of former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort's first trial, which could reveal embarrassing information about several Democratic political consultants
  • Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder says he is considering running for president and will make his decision in early 2019

THE LEAD STORY - A MATTER OF NATIONAL SECURITY OR REVENGE? - President Trump is looking into revoking the security clearances of several top Obama-era intelligence and law enforcement officials, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said Monday, accusing them of having "politicized" or "monetized" their public service ... She made the announcement at Monday's press briefing, after Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., called on the president to specifically revoke Trump critic and former CIA Director John Brennan's clearance. In an interview with Fox News' "The Story" Monday night, Paul told host Martha MacCallum that Brennan "should not get anywhere within 10,000 yards of the government. He should have a restraining order."

Sanders said Trump is also looking into the clearances for other former officials and Trump critics, including former FBI Director James Comey; former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe; former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper; former National Security Adviser Susan Rice and former CIA Director Michael Hayden (who also worked under President George W. Bush). Sanders said the former officials "politicized and in some cases actually monetized their public service and their security clearances in making baseless accusations of improper contact with Russia.” (Brennan is an analyst for NBC and MSNBC while Clapper has been working for CNN.)

Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff of California, a ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, tweeted that "politicizing security clearances to retaliate against former national security officials who criticize the President would set a terrible new precedent." Clapper said on CNN that Trump's idea was "kind of a petty way of retribution, I suppose, for speaking out against the president, which I think, on the part of all of us, are borne out of genuine concerns about President Trump." Hayden tweeted Monday that revoking his security clearance wouldn't "have any effect on what I say or write." And former Brennan deputy chief of staff Nick Shapiro said Brennan "hasn't made one penny off of his clearance" and "doesn't need a security clearance to speak out against the failings of Trump."

POTENTIAL SIGNS OF DE-NUCLEARIZATION IN NORTH KOREA: Satellite images show North Korea has begun dismantling its main satellite launch facility in an apparent confidence-building measure  amid concerns about the slow pace of progress in its promise to denuclearize, the Wall Street Journal reports ... North Korea, the Journal reports, has begun to demolish its rocket engine test stand and a related building at the Sohae Satellite Launching Station, the country’s primary rocket launch site for rockets since 2012, according to new imagery published Monday by North Korea-focused website 38 North. The move hasn’t yet been announced by North Korea’s state media, but is an alleged follow-up on a promise that President Donald Trump said was made during his June 12 summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore.

RUNOFF IN GEORGIA: Georgia's voters on Tuesday will select one of two Trump-supporting candidates as the Republican nominee for governor, capping off an electric race rocked by a slow burn of secretly recorded tapes and eye-catching advertising, as well as a sudden and unexpected endorsement by the president himself ... Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp and Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle are locked in a contentious primary runoff, with both vying to position themselves as the true Trump conservative. The two have emerged from a crowded field of candidates, though neither won more than 50 percent of an earlier vote to avoid the July 24 runoff. Trump unexpectedly weighed in on the race last week, tweeting his "full and total endorsement" for Kemp.

A TRIAL - AND RED FACES - DELAYED: The federal judge in the upcoming federal court trial for President Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort on Monday unsealed the names of five witnesses being granted immunity to testify, as he granted the defense’s request to delay the start of the trial ... Those witnesses are James Brennan, Donna Duggan, Conor O’Brien, Cindy Laporta and Dennis Raico. All are believed to work for financial institutions. U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III released those names as he granted the request of Manafort’s attorneys to delay the start of the trial. It had been scheduled to begin Wednesday in Alexandria, Va., but Ellis agreed to delay it until July 31.

Manafort, facing charges of bank and tax fraud related to his work in Ukraine. Though his trial will be closely watched for revelations about Trump’s campaign for the White House in 2016, Democrats may want to also brace themselves. Testimony could potentially reveal embarrassing information about several Democratic political consultants, including a top adviser to 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and others who have worked in lucrative elections both in the United States and abroad, court filings indicate.

HOLDER 2020 BREWING: Former attorney general Eric Holder is mulling a 2020 presidential run, saying on Monday he’ll make the decision “sometime early next year" ... “I'm thinking about it,” Holder, who ran the Justice Department from 2009 until 2015 under President Obama, told “Late Show” host Stephen Colbert. “What I've said is that I'd make a determination sometime early next year.” The former Obama administration official has been hyping up his potential 2020 run since April after he announced his attendance at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics’ annual “Politics & Eggs” event in June, an event that many former candidates once attended.


ATTORNEY GENERAL M.I.A.: "Jeff Sessions, where are you? Your nation needs you to do your job tonight." – Sean Hannity, in his "Opening Monologue" on "Hannity," saying that the fact the unverified Russia dossier produced by a former MI6 agent made up a large part of the FISA application to surveil former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page is the "biggest single scandal in American history." WATCH

MAINSTREAM MEDIA BEFUDDLED: "This confuses the media, as they keep saying that Trump is the worst thing to happen since 'The View.'" – Greg Gutfeld, on "The Five," observing that the media cannot believe President Trump's approval rating rose a small amount over the short term, in spite of the much-criticized summit with Vladimir Putin. WATCH


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FOX & Friends, 6 a.m. ET: A former student of Judge Brett Kavanaugh speaks out about Trump's Supreme Court nominee. Could facial recognition help make schools safer? A Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting survivor gives his take. Plus, insight from White House National Security Adviser John Bolton, Ben Shapiro and more.

Your World with Neil Cavuto, 4 p.m. ET: Don't miss Neil's must-see interview with Sen. Ted Cruz.

Special Report, 6 p.m. ET: Exclusive: Bret Baier will sit down with Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen.

Tucker Carlson Tonight, 8 p.m. ET: Tucker will have a brand-new investigation on the FAA.

On FOX Business:

Mornings with Maria, 6 a.m. ET: Special guests include: Greg Owens, Sherrill Manufacturing CEO; Matthew Roberts, Sherrill Manufacturing president; Rep. Jeb Hensarling.

Varney & Co., 9 a.m. ET: Sen. Joni Ernst; Sen. Tim Scott; Lawrence Jones, editor-in-chief; Mike Huckabee; Rep. Leonard Lance; David Rubin, former mayor of Shiloh, Israel; former UCF player Donald De La Haye.

Cavuto: Coast to Coast, Noon ET: Doug Kass, Seabreeze Partners Management, Inc.;  Sean Spicer, former White House press secretary and author of "The Briefing."

The Intelligence Report, 2 p.m. ET: Special guests include: Rep. Adam Kinzinger; Rep. Lee Zeldin; Todd Horwitz, chief market strategist of Bubbatrading.Com.

Countdown to the Closing Bell, 3 p.m. ET: Special guests include: Matthew Prince, Cloudflare CEO; Joel Trachtman, Tufts University professor of international law at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.

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The Brian Kilmeade Show, 9 a.m. ET: Charles Payne is filling in for Brian; Dave Nelson on looming Trump trade wars and the economy; Allen West on the latest with North Korea, Iran and Trump-security clearances controversy; Chris Stirewalt on the upcoming midterm elections, Trump mulling revoking security clearances of former top security officials; Rep Cathy McMorris Rogers on the midterms and tax reform 2.0.


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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 Wednesday morning.