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Trump attacks impeachment inquiry, uses graphic language to belittle Bidens at Minnesota rally; protests get violent
President Trump unloaded on Joe and Hunter Biden over their Ukrainian business dealings in Minneapolis on Thursday evening -- at one point bringing the crowd to its feet by charging that Biden's only useful trait as vice president was his preternatural ability to "kiss Barack Obama's a--." Trump cited a new report in the Washington Examiner that the whistleblower at the center of Democrats' impeachment push had worked with Biden.
The whistleblower's anti-Trump attorney, Mark Zaid, acknowledged earlier in the week that his client had "contact" with current presidential contenders "from both parties."
Outside the Target Center, the site of Trump's rally, was a chaotic scene. Scores of Trump supporters, as well as pro-impeachment demonstrators, lined up hours before the event. At least one protester was photographed pouring milk on his face to counter the effects of pepper spray, as the chaos unfolded -- with pro-Trump hats being lit on fire, as some demonstrators harassed police and assaulted Trump supporters, chanting "Lock him up!" Click here for more on our top story.
Ukraine diplomat expected to testify in impeachment inquiry
Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. envoy to Kiev and someone President Trump has privately called "bad news," is scheduled to sit for a potentially explosive transcribed interview with lawmakers and staff on Capitol Hill on Friday as Democrats intensify their impeachment inquiry. However, after the White House blocked U.S. Ambassador to the E.U. Gordon Sondland from testifying shortly before his planned appearance on Tuesday, it remained unclear whether Yovanovitch would appear at all.
The White House announced this week it would not comply at all with what it called Democrats' "unconstitutional" proceedings. Trump and his surrogates have painted Yovanovitch as a rogue State Department employee with an anti-Trump political bias.
Other developments in the Trump impeachment inquiry: Energy Secretary Rick Perry on Thursday became the latest Trump administration official to be subpoenaed in connection with the House impeachment inquiry, as a trio of House Democratic committee chairmen requested documents relating to Ukraine. According to multiple reports, the White House gave a politically appointed official the authority to keep nearly $400 million in aid to Ukraine on hold after long-serving budget-staff members questioned the legality of delaying the funds, a shift that House Democrats are investigating.
Giuliani associates make first court appearance after arrest for campaign finance violations
Two associates of Rudy Giuliani made their initial appearance before a federal judge Thursday, less than 24 hours after they were arrested on campaign finance violations while trying to board an international flight with one-way tickets at Dulles International Airport outside Washington. Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman appeared in federal court in Alexandria, Va., to face a four-count indictment alleging that they, along with two other co-defendants, conspired to violate a ban on foreign donations and contributions in connection with federal and state elections.
Parnas and Fruman were reportedly involved in Giuliani's efforts to urge Ukrainian officials to investigate Joe Biden and his family. House Democrats on Thursday subpoenaed them both as part of the impeachment inquiry. Trump said Thursday he didn't know Parnas or Fruman and hadn't spoken with Giuliani about them – although photos posted online confirmed that the president and son Donald Trump Jr. had at least briefly met the pair.
Explosion reported on Iranian oil tanker off coast of Saudi Arabia
An explosion was reported Friday on an Iranian oil tanker about 60 miles off the coast of Saudi Arabia in what was being eyed as a “terrorist attack.” The tanker, which is owned by the National Iranian Oil Co., suffered serious damage, the semi-official ISNA news agency reported, according to Reuters. The tanker was located on the Red Sea near the port in Jeddah.
There was no immediate acknowledgment from the kingdom amid heightened tensions across the Middle East. The reported explosion comes approximately a month after the U.S. alleged Iranian involvement in attacks on oil tankers near the Strait of Hormuz, something denied by Tehran. Oil prices started rising immediately following reports of the explosion.
Liz Cheney, others in GOP spearhead bid to sanction Turkey for Syria invasion
House GOP Conference Chairwoman Liz Cheney, R.-Wyo., along with 20 Republican colleagues, said Thursday that legislation would be introduced to sanction Turkey for its military offensive against U.S.-backed Kurdish forces in northern Syria. The announcement came as Turkey’s Defense Ministry reported Thursday that more than 150 Kurdish forces have been mowed down since the assault began Wednesday.
Advertisers unhappy over new Lauer allegations but may not bolt NBC's 'Today'
Blockbuster rape allegations against former "Today" show host Matt Lauer and coverup accusations against NBC News executives may displease advertisers but probably won’t scare them off, ad industry insiders say. “I don’t think that advertisers are going to be happy," said Eric Schiffer, CEO of Patriarch Group and Digitalmarketing.com. "But I don’t see mass exodus out of NBC because of what was perhaps a poorly managed set of circumstances.”
Journalist Ronan Farrow’s forthcoming book, “Catch & Kill,” reportedly includes allegations that Lauer – who was fired in November 2017 - raped a colleague while covering the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. NBC is facing new questions about the firing -- what managers knew and when they knew it -- as well as a possible quid-pro-quo negotiation with film producer Harvey Weinstein, who is nearing a trial in his own sexual assault case. "Today" brings in more than $500 million a year for NBCUniversal and its parent Comcast.
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SOME PARTING WORDS
The "Special Report" All-Star panel takes on the arrest of Giuliani associates tied to efforts to persuade Ukrainian officials to investigate the Bidens.
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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 on Monday morning.