FOX NEWS FIRST: Trump rejects left's blame game in synagogue massacre, bomb mailings; Mueller probe at key phase

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Developing now, Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2018

  • In an exclusive, wide-ranging interview with FOX News' Laura Ingraham, President Trump embraced being a 'nationalist' and rejected the left's attempts to blame him for last week's bomb mailings and the synagogue shooting massacre
  • A week before the midterm elections, FOX News' Power Rankings have shifted in two closely-watched states: Texas and New Jersey
  • President Trump and first lady Melania Trump are scheduled to visit Pittsburgh on Tuesday to offer comfort after the synagogue massacre that left 11 people dead
  • A second caravan of Central American migrants crossed from Guatemala into Mexico on Monday as U.S. officials announced 5,200 troops would be deployed to the southern border. Trump told FOX News the migrants were 'wasting their time.'
  • Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation is said to be entering a critical phase as his team is expected to announce its findings shortly after the midterms
  • State Department spokeswoman - and former FOX News host - Heather Nauert is a leading candidate to replace Nikki Haley as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, sources told FOX News

THE LEAD STORY - FOX NEWS EXCLUSIVE: TRUMP STRIKES BACK - President Trump staunchly defended his status as a nationalist and rejected any responsibility for last week's apparent pipe bomb mailings or the deadly shooting Saturday at a synagogue, in an exclusive interview with Fox News' Laura Ingraham Monday night ... Cesar Sayoc, who allegedly sent explosive devices to CNN and several  top Democrats, among others, "was insane a long time before," Trump told "The Ingraham Angle." "You look at his medical records. He was insane for a long time," Trump added. He went on to deny strenuously that he had any connections to anti-Semitism in the wake of Saturday's deadly shooting at a synagogue in Pittsburgh. The president has noted that his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and daughter Ivanka are Jewish.

"I just received an award from the State of Israel from [Prime Minister] Bibi Netanyahu, thanking me because I moved the [U.S.] Embassy to Jerusalem, making Jerusalem the capital of Israel and I just did that -- now how many presidents said they were going to do it and they never did it?" Trump said. Trump accused major media outlets, including The Washington Post, of hypocrisy, saying they didn't blame Bernie Sanders for the attempted assassination of several lawmakers at a Republican congressional baseball practice last year. That attack, which nearly killed House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., and wounded several others, was carried out by left-wing gunman James Hodgkinson, who had worked on Sanders' 2016 presidential campaign.

FOX NEWS POWER RANKINGS: TEXAS AND NEW JERSEY ACT ALIKE - Excerpt courtesy of FOX News Political Editor Chris Stirewalt and his FOX News Halftime Report - We we offer a pair of changes to the FOX News Power Rankings. As always, you can see all our rankings here, but today please consider a couple of long shots that might see incumbents coming up short: New Jersey and Texas ... The races look remarkably similar from a distance. Both feature incumbents who are less popular than their parties in their respective states and both have seen an avalanche of spending against them not nearly commensurate with their competitiveness relative to other contests. Fortunately, we have more and better polling in these states than in many other Senate contests. And in both cases, the incumbents lead by an average of about 7 points in the three most recent, methodologically sound polls, and both incumbents are getting, on average, more than half of the vote.

  1. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, leads Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-Texas, 51.3 percent to 44.6 percent. 
  2. Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., leads businessman Bob Hugin 50.3 percent to 43.3 percent.

Given the margins of the abundant polling, electoral composition of the states and the political climate, we had been content to call both of these races “likely.” But there’s something else to consider: Both Texas and New Jersey fit well into the “blue wave” and “red wall” scenarios quite well. CLICK HERE to read the rest of the report.

COMFORTER-IN-CHIEF: White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders announced plans for President Trump and first lady Melania Trump to visit Pittsburgh on Tuesday after the weekend synagogue massacre that left 11 people dead, while pushing back on what she called the “outrageous” notion the president deserves blame due to his tone ... “Tomorrow [Tuesday] the president and first lady will travel to Pennsylvania to express the support of the American people and grieve with the Pittsburgh community,” Sanders said during Monday’s press briefing. Sanders did not specifically detail where Trump will visit or with whom he will meet. In heated exchanges with reporters, Sanders then pushed back on the argument the president’s rhetoric could have influenced the synagogue shooter, as well as the person who sent numerous pipe bombs in the mail to prominent Democratic figures. She called the suggestion “outrageous.”

TROOPS TO THE BORDER: Hundreds of Central American migrants crossed a river from Guatemala into Mexico on Monday, defying a heavy federal police presence while following in the footsteps of a thousand-strong caravan making its way toward the U.S. border ... A low-flying police helicopter hovered overhead as the migrants waded in large groups through the Suchiate River’s murky waters, apparently trying to use the downdraft from its rotors to discourage them. Guatemala’s Noti7 channel reported that one man drowned and aired video of a man dragging a seemingly lifeless body from the river. Once on the Mexican side the migrants were surrounded and escorted by officers as sirens wailed.

In southern Mexico, the original, larger caravan resumed its advance, still at least 1,000 miles or farther from their goal of reaching the United States, as FOX News previously reported, as the Pentagon announced it would send some 5,200 active-duty troops to “harden” the U.S.-Mexico border. The reinforcements headed to the U.S.-Mexico border are support troops – not combat troops – and will include three engineering battalions with "heavy equipment", as well as aviation and medical personnel. President Trump told "The Ingraham Angle" on Monday evening that the caravans are "wasting their time" and vowed, "They are not coming in."

TURNING POINT FOR MUELLER PROBE: Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation is nearing a critical phase -- as the looming midterms could clear the way for a final set of twists and turns in the long-running probe ... Key sentencing dates are on the horizon. Mueller's team is widely expected to issue findings soon after the Nov. 6 elections. And the case could yet hold some surprises, given the recent statements of central players. For one, George Papadopoulos, the former Trump aide sentenced to two weeks in prison after pleading guilty to lying to the FBI, has been on a Twitter tear complaining about the investigation. He told “Fox & Friends” last week he’s even “considering withdrawing my agreement” with the government after learning “certain information.” Whether Papadopoulos truly has information damaging to the probe remains to be seen. But the expectations are that Mueller is nearing the final phase of the investigation into Russian meddling and potential collusion with Trump campaign associates in the 2016 presidential election.

THE FRONT-RUNNER? - State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert is a "leading contender" to replace Nikki Haley as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, two sources familiar with the selection process told FOX News on Monday ... Nauert, a former FOX News host, met with President Trump in the Oval Office earlier Monday, though it is not known if they discussed the position. Several other officials have been named as potential candidates, including U.S. Ambassador to France Jamie McCourt. Haley, the former governor of South Carolina, surprised many observers earlier this month when she announced she would leave the post of U.N. envoy by the end of this year.


'HOW FREE SPEECH DIES' - "The America of cable news and social media, of CNN and Twitter. In that America, political operatives rush to the scene of human tragedy hoping to leverage it for political gain. They make snap judgements on the basis of incomplete evidence in order to implicate their opponents in crimes they didn’t commit. They use fear and rage to accomplish what reasoned argument never could. They commit moral blackmail."  – Tucker Carlson, in his opening monologue on "Tucker Carlson Tonight," arguing that a different "type" of America was proven to exist following the massacre at a Pennsylvania synagogue over the weekend. WATCH

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FOX & Friends, 6 a.m. ET: The latest on the migrant caravan from Central America as it moves through Mexico toward the U.S. border. Is Hillary Clinton leaving the door open for a 2020 presidential bid? FOX News Talk Radio host Tom Shillue weighs in. Turning Point USA communications director Candace Owen on the launch of the "Blexit" movement. Why "Dilbert" creator Scott Adams is predicting a huge midterm turnout by Republicans. And Diamond & Silk tackle the top headlines of the day.

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The Brian Kilmeade Show, 9 a.m. ET: The countdown to the midterms will be discussed with: Allen West, former Florida congressman; U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci, R-Ohio; and historian and commentator Doug Wead.

2002: Jam Master Jay (Jason Mizell), DJ with the groundbreaking hip-hop group Run-DMC, was killed in a shooting in New York City at age 37.

1975: The New York Daily News ran the headline "Ford to City: Drop Dead," a day after President Gerald R. Ford said he would veto any proposed federal bailout of New York City.

1974: "Rumble in the Jungle" - Muhammad Ali knocked out George Foreman in the eighth round of a 15-round bout in Kinshasa, Zaire, to regain his world heavyweight title.

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.