Trump: I have no plans to fire Robert Mueller over Russia investigation

Dec 17, 2017 2

President Trump said Sunday night that he has no plans to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller, dispelling a “rumor” that he intends to get rid of Mueller in an apparent attempt to end the Justice Department’s Russia collusion probe.

“No, I don’t,” Trump told reporters who asked upon his return from presidential retreat Camp David whether he intends to fire Mueller.

The latest speculation started after Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., said in a local TV interview Friday that “the rumor on the Hill” was Trump was going to fire Mueller at the end of this week, after members leave Washington for Christmas break.

Mueller was appointed earlier this year as a Justice Department special counsel to determine whether Trump associates colluded with Moscow to influence the outcome of the 2016 White House race.

Trump’s brief denial followed legal counsel Ty Cobb saying earlier this weekend that Mueller will remain as special counsel.

“Mueller will not be fired,” Cobb told Fox News on Saturday.

The federal investigation and others in Congress have indeed been a drag on the Trump administration’s first-year political agenda, which had led to speculation that Trump wants to fire Mueller to conclude the probe.

Speier also suggested in the interview that firing Mueller would cause a constitutional crisis and trigger an impeachment effort.

Fox News’ Alex Pappas contributed to this report.

Prince Harry interviews Barack Obama about the future for BBC radio show

Dec 17, 2017 12

Britain’s Prince Harry has interviewed Barack Obama for a radio program in which the former U.S. president shared his memories of the day he left office and his hopes for the future.

Kensington Palace said Sunday the interview was recorded in Toronto in September during the Invictus Games, a sports event for injured military personnel that Harry championed.

The palace said the conversation featured Obama discussing his plans to cultivate the next generation of leadership through the Obama Foundation.

The interview was part of Harry’s guest editorship of the BBC’s Today program. In a video clip on the BBC website showing Harry and Obama warming up ahead of the chat, Obama joked: “Do I need a British accent?”

The interview will be broadcast on Dec. 27.

Sir Ian McKellen says he'd play Gandalf again in Amazon's 'Lord of the Rings' series if asked

Dec 17, 2017 16

With “Lord of the Rings” getting new life as a TV series at Amazon, one star from the films is volunteering his talent to the upcoming project, if the studio will have him.

Sir Ian McKellen, who played Gandalf the wizard in both the “Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit” trilogies of movies has said that he’s open to reprising his role as the titular character for the small screen on whatever Amazon’s project will look like. Appearing on BBC Radio 2’s “The Graham Norton Show,” the host asked if McKellen is annoyed by the prospect of another Gandalf being out there.

“What do you mean, another Gandalf?” the 78-year-old actor said, feigning indignation. “I haven’t said ‘yes,’ because I haven’t been asked, but are you suggesting someone else is going to play it? Gandalf is 7,000 years old, so I’ not too old for it.”

There you have it Middle Earthlings, it seems that the actor, who is currently appearing in the West End version of ‘The Exorcist,’ is open to reprising his role as Gandalf once again. However, it’s unclear at this time if there’s a place for him in the Amazon series, which is still in its very early stages.

As Entertainment Weekly reported last month, Amazon closed a multi-season production commitment to adapt the works of J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy epic “The Lord of the Rings” for TV. Amazon is reportedly working closely with the Tolkien Estate and Trust to make a worthy adaptation of his famed story.

No one from Amazon was immediately available for comment.

NBC silent on whether MSNBC's Chris Matthews could have faced other sexual harassment accusations

Dec 17, 2017 20

A day after it was revealed that NBC paid money to a female staffer in 1999 who accused MSNBC’s Chris Matthews of sexual harassment, the network kept mum Sunday about whether there were other women who had accused the long-time host of inappropriate behavior.

The Daily Caller first reported on the payment Saturday. The website reported that Matthew paid $40,000 to the woman who worked on his show “Hardball with Chris Matthews” as an assistant producer.

Representatives at NBC, CNBC and MSNBC did not respond to Fox News emails and calls Sunday requesting comment on whether other sexual harassment complaints had been filed against Matthews since the payout.

NBC News confirmed Sunday that Matthews was issued a reprimand in 1999 after the woman complained to CNBC executives.

An MSNBC spokesperson told NBC News that the execs were told that Matthews made inappropriate jokes and comments about the woman in front of others, that the matter was reviewed and it was determined the comments were inappropriate and made in poor taste but were never meant as propositions. The show was on CNBC before it was on MSNBC.

The MSNBC spokesperson declined to specify the amount of the payment citing confidentiality, NBC News reported.

Matthews didn’t respond to a request for comment from Fox News.

Matthews is the latest big name in media to be accused of sexual misconduct in the past few months.

Those revelations have been particularly bad at embattled NBC.

In November the network fired its biggest star, “Today” host Matt Lauer, after he was found to have engaged in “inappropriate sexual behavior” with a female colleague over a period of time beginning at the Sochi Olympics in 2014.

NBC also cut ties with political pundit Mark Halperin in October after he was accused of sexually harassing a dozen woman and senior vice president Matt Zimmerman for failing to report relationships he had with women who worked for him, the Daily Caller reported.

On Friday, Fox News reported that NBC News chairman Andy Lack and his embattled deputy, Noah Oppenheim, are scrambling to put new sexual harassment policies in place at NBC News, even as they resist bringing in an outside investigator to look into who knew what about Lauer’s behavior and who may have been covering up for him or enabling him.

Instead, Lack has told employees that the investigation would be handled in-house by NBC lawyers and human resources executives.

Both Lack and Oppenheim have longtime close ties to Lauer and have denied any knowledge of any sexual misconduct involving Lauer. The two execs have been under intense pressure over how they themselves have managed issues of sexual misconduct at NBC News.

NBC News has reported that there could be as many as eight women accusing Lauer of sexual misconduct.

After his firing, Lauer expressed “sorrow and regret for the pain I have caused,” while saying that some of what has been said about him is untrue or mischaracterized.  

Numerous ethics and journalism experts have told Fox News in the last two weeks that NBC needs to bring in an independent, outside investigator to answer all these questions and to apply scrutiny to Lack and Oppenheim themselves.

“It’s hard to see how an internal investigation that reports to senior executives would be viewed as complete and transparent when the conduct, or lack of conduct, of senior executives, such as Andrew Lack, necessarily should be an issue,” Cornell University law professor and Legal Insurrection founder William Jacobson has told Fox News.

NBC silent on whether MSNBC's Chris Matthews could face other sexual harassment accusations

Dec 17, 2017 19

A day after it was revealed that NBC paid money to a female staffer in 1999 who accused MSNBC’s Chris Matthews of sexual harassment, the network kept mum Sunday about whether there were other women who had accused the long-time host of inappropriate behavior.

The Daily Caller first reported on the payment Saturday. The website reported that Matthew paid $40,000 to the woman who worked on his show “Hardball with Chris Matthews” as an assistant producer.

Representatives at NBC, CNBC and MSNBC did not respond to Fox News emails and calls Sunday requesting comment on whether other sexual harassment complaints had been filed against Matthews since the payout.

NBC News confirmed Sunday that Matthews was issued a reprimand in 1999 after the woman complained to CNBC executives.

An MSNBC spokesperson told NBC News that the execs were told that Matthews made inappropriate jokes and comments about the woman in front of others, that the matter was reviewed and it was determined the comments were inappropriate and made in poor taste but were never meant as propositions. The show was on CNBC before it was on MSNBC.

The MSNBC spokesperson declined to specify the amount of the payment citing confidentiality, NBC News reported.

Matthews didn’t respond to a request for comment from Fox News.

Matthews is the latest big name in media to be accused of sexual misconduct in the past few months.

Those revelations have been particularly bad at embattled NBC.

In November the network fired its biggest star, “Today” host Matt Lauer, after he was found to have engaged in “inappropriate sexual behavior” with a female colleague over a period of time beginning at the Sochi Olympics in 2014.

NBC also cut ties with political pundit Mark Halperin in October after he was accused of sexually harassing a dozen woman and senior vice president Matt Zimmerman for failing to report relationships he had with women who worked for him, the Daily Caller reported.

On Friday, Fox News reported that NBC News chairman Andy Lack and his embattled deputy, Noah Oppenheim, are scrambling to put new sexual harassment policies in place at NBC News, even as they resist bringing in an outside investigator to look into who knew what about Lauer’s behavior and who may have been covering up for him or enabling him.

Instead, Lack has told employees that the investigation would be handled in-house by NBC lawyers and human resources executives.

Both Lack and Oppenheim have longtime close ties to Lauer and have denied any knowledge of any sexual misconduct involving Lauer. The two execs have been under intense pressure over how they themselves have managed issues of sexual misconduct at NBC News.

NBC News has reported that there could be as many as eight women accusing Lauer of sexual misconduct.

After his firing, Lauer expressed “sorrow and regret for the pain I have caused,” while saying that some of what has been said about him is untrue or mischaracterized.  

Numerous ethics and journalism experts have told Fox News in the last two weeks that NBC needs to bring in an independent, outside investigator to answer all these questions and to apply scrutiny to Lack and Oppenheim themselves.

“It’s hard to see how an internal investigation that reports to senior executives would be viewed as complete and transparent when the conduct, or lack of conduct, of senior executives, such as Andrew Lack, necessarily should be an issue,” Cornell University law professor and Legal Insurrection founder William Jacobson has told Fox News.

'A Prairie Home Companion' changes title following Garrison Keillor accusations

Dec 17, 2017 16

“A Prairie Home Companion” has been given a new name — “Live from Here” — in the wake of creator Garrison Keillor’s acrimonious split with Minnesota Public Radio.

Chris Thile, the mandolin virtuoso who has hosted the weekly variety show since Keillor’s retirement last year, announced the new name Saturday evening as the show opened a live performance in New York City.

MPR terminated its contracts with Keillor after it said it had received multiple allegations of improper conduct by Keillor. MPR has declined to give any details except to say the allegations involved treatment of one woman who had worked with Keillor when he was still with the show.

Keillor has said he accidentally touched a woman’s bare back while trying to console her.

Weinstein brothers stopped Mira Sorvino from being cast in 'Bad Santa,' director says

Dec 17, 2017 0

“Bad Santa” director Terry Zwigoff said the Weinstein brothers seemed to pressure him against casting Mira Sorvino in his movie, with the director’s claim coming just hours after fellow director Peter Jackson said he was also barred from hiring actress Ashley Judd — two new signs of retaliation against women who would go on to accuse Harvey Weinstein of sexual harassment.

“I was interested in casting Mira Sorvino in BAD SANTA, but every time I mentioned her over the phone to the Weinsteins, I’d hear a CLICK,” Zwigoff tweeted Friday. “What type of person just hangs up on you like that?! I guess we all know what type of person now.”

He added, “I’m really sorry Mira.”

Harvey Weinstein, through his lawyer, pushed back on Zwigoff’s claim in a statement to Entertainment Weekly.

“Mr. Weinstein denies speaking with Terry regarding casting. That was a Dimension film (Bob Weinstein) and Harvey had nothing to do with it,” Weinstein’s attorney said. Bob Weinstein, Harvey’s brother, founded the Dimension Films production company.

BIGGEST CELEBRITY LOSERS OF 2017: FROM HARVEY WEINSTEIN TO BEN AFFLECK

Zwigoff’s comment came just hours after Stuff, a New Zealand website, published an interview with Oscar-winning director Peter Jackson who said the Weinsteins told him not to hire Sorvino and Ashley Judd. Jackson called it a “smear campaign.”

“I recall Miramax telling us they were a nightmare to work with and we should avoid them at all costs. This was probably in 1998,” Jackson told Stuff. “At the time, we had no reason to question what these guys were telling us — but in hindsight, I realize that this was very likely the Miramax smear campaign in full swing.”

Reps for Harvey Weinstein also denied Jackson’s claims and said the Weinstein brothers “had no input in casting whatsoever” for “Lord of the Rings,” according to Entertainment Weekly. Weinstein also said he did not blacklist Sorvino and cited her work in “Mimic” as proof.

Sorvino tweeted on Friday shortly after the Stuff report came out that she “burst out crying” reading the article. 

“Just seeing this after I awoke, I burst out crying. There it is, confirmation that Harvey Weinstein derailed my career, something I suspected but was unsure. Thank you Peter Jackson for being honest. I’m just heartsick,” she tweeted.

Weinstein has been accused of sexual misconduct, including rape, by several women, prompting his own company to fire him. The disgraced movie mogul sought treatment and rehab outside of California. 

Katherine Lam is a breaking and trending news digital producer for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter at @bykatherinelam

Putin thanks Trump by phone for info that thwarted terror attack, WH confirms

Dec 17, 2017 0

Russian President Vladimir Putin called President Trump on Sunday to thank him for providing intelligence that helped thwart a planned terror attack in St. Petersburg, the White House says.

The call was confirmed to Fox News and other news outlets early Saturday afternoon by White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders, who later said the intelligence was a CIA tip related to a series of planned bombings.

Sanders later released a “readout” of the call that stated the leaders agreed while talking that the sharing of the tip “serves as an example of the positive things that can occur when our countries work together.”

She also said Putin thanked Central Intelligence Agency Director Mike Pompeo and the entire department. 

The Kremlin said Putin told Trump during the call that the information provided by the CIA also was sufficient to track down and detain a group of suspects that was planning to bomb the Kazan Cathedral and other sites in the city.

Sanders confirmed that suspects had been captured.

The Kremlin also said Russian law enforcement agencies will hand over any information they get about potential terror threats against the United States, as they have done in the past.

The conversation is the second phone call between the two leaders since Thursday.

Trump, since the start of his winning, 2016 presidential campaign, has spoken highly of Putin’s leadership style and has attempted to work with the Russian president on efforts to end the years-long Syria civil war.

However, the Trump presidential campaign is under several investigations into whether campaign associates colluded with Moscow to influence the race.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Jones supports DACA, says it’s time for GOP opponent Roy Moore to ‘move on’

Dec 17, 2017 2

Alabama Senator-elect Doug Jones gave qualified support Sunday to liberal-backed issues like continued protections for young illegal immigrants and not using taxpayer money for a U.S.-Mexico border wall, but suggested he wants to wait until being sworn in next month before taking on such “complicated” issues.

“Immigration is one of the toughest political footballs in the Senate,” Jones, a Democrat, told “Fox News Sunday.” “If there is comprehensive immigration, it will be complicated. But I will love to take a look at it.”

Jones on Tuesday narrowly won the Republican-held seat left open when Jeff Sessions became U.S. attorney general, despite President Trump warning conservative-leaning Alabama voters that Jones, if elected, would be a “puppet” for the liberal agenda of Congress’ top Democrats: Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, N.Y., and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Calif.

Despite saying comprehensive immigration reform is complicated, Jones said he supports the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which Trump is ending in March, and that he “hopes to see it extended.”

Trump earlier this month canceled a White House meeting with Pelosi and Schumer about end-of-year legislation, suggesting they had predetermined that extending so-called “DACA” protections had to be included.

Jones, a former federal prosecutor in Alabama, said Sunday that Trump called to congratulate him on his victory over Republican Roy Moore, whom Trump backed and whose campaign was derailed by allegations of past sexual misconduct.

“You say a lot of things during the heat of the campaign,” Jones said. “His call to me was very good. I’m looking forward to meeting him.”

“There is always the opportunity to find common ground,” Jones also said. “I hope it’s a message to Democrats and Republicans to find common ground.”

He declined to say how he would vote on the GOP-controlled Congress’ tax-reform plan, if Republicans waited until after he was seated in early January to cast a final vote.

“It’ a 500-page bill that just landed on people’s desks just the other day,” Jones said, with the final Capitol Hill votes expected this week. “So I haven’t had a real chance to look at that and study it. … That’s one of my biggest concerns about how things are going up there.”

Jones said he likes some aspects of the $1.46 trillion bill, including corporate and middle-class tax cuts.

” . . . I’ll leave all of the options on the table.”

– Alabama Senator-elect Doug Jones

“But my biggest concern is the process and that it’s going to increase the deficit by over a trillion dollars,” he said. “I don’t buy into the fact it will help grow the economy.”

Jones also suggested that Moore should stop disputing the outcome of the race.

“I think it’s time to move on,” Jones said. “I think he’s hurting the people of Alabama.”

Jones said he’s already made clear that he opposes building a wall because “I don’t think that’s an expense taxpayers should have to incur.”

However, he declined to say whether he’d vote to fund the wall in exchange for extending DACA protections.

“Let’s see how that shakes out,” he said. “It’s hard to talk in hypotheticals. … I’ll leave all of the options on the table.”

Preview: Short-handed Magic hit road, visit Pistons

Dec 17, 2017 2

TV: FOX Sports Florida

Time: Pregame coverage begins at 3:30 p.m.

CAN’T GET TO A TV? WATCH IT LIVE ON FOX SPORTS GO

Back-to-back road victories have the Detroit Pistons feeling a lot better about themselves. They’ll try to stretch their modest winning streak against an opponent missing some key players.

Detroit snapped a seven-game losing streak by defeating Atlanta on Thursday and Indiana on Friday. The Pistons return home for a Sunday afternoon matchup against the Orlando Magic, who have lost four straight and will likely be without their top scorers, forward Aaron Gordon and guard Evan Fournier.

The Pistons (16-13) outscored the Pacers 34-20 in the third quarter, then held off Indiana’s late charge for a 104-98 victory.

“At the start of the season we were one of the best defensive teams in the league, then we went on a seven-game losing streak and we kind of lost our edge, so we wanted to get back to the drawing board and get back to basics,” Detroit swingman Reggie Bullock said. “Everybody was happy in the locker room and now we’re off (Saturday) and we play again Sunday and we have to try to keep it up when we play back home.”

Orlando Magic on FOX Sports Florida

Bullock logged 33 minutes and scored 15 points, both season highs. He was inserted into the lineup at small forward three games ago in place of Stanley Johnson.

Detroit played without shooting guard Avery Bradley, who was a late scratch because of a right adductor strain. The Pistons are hopeful that Bradley can play against the Magic.

Without Bradley, the Pistons used a combination of Bullock, Johnson, rookie Luke Kennard and Langston Galloway at the wing positions.

“I would’ve taken a 15-point win but I think to be good you have to be able to win in different ways,” coach Stan Van Gundy said. “Some nights it’s a little tougher. We had a tough fourth quarter, and we were able to just grind it out.”

Van Gundy reached a milestone, notching his 500th coaching victory.

“Number one, it’s about this team coming off a seven-game losing streak and then going on the road in a back-to-back and winning both,” he said. “The other thing is it’s just a number, it’s pretty trivial. It’s no big deal.”

The absence of Gordon is a big deal for the Magic. He suffered a right calf strain in Orlando’s 95-88 home loss to Portland on Friday.

Gordon was enjoying a breakout season, averaging 18.3 points and 8.0 rebounds before suffering a concussion that forced him to miss two games. The game against the Trail Blazers was his first since he was cleared to play.

“He’s extremely frustrated that he had missed the last couple of games with the concussion,” coach Frank Vogel said. “I can assure you that he’s even more frustrated now.”

Without Gordon, the Magic (11-19) rely even more on 7-footer Nikola Vucevic (17.5 ppg, 9.5 rpg, 3.2 apg). He’ll match up against Detroit’s best player, Andre Drummond (14.0 ppg, 15.2 rpg, 3.9 apg), who has also become a bigger part of his team’s offense as a playmaker.

Fournier (18.3 ppg) is expected to miss his fifth consecutive game with a right ankle sprain.

“We’ve got plenty of capable guys in uniform to go out and compete and get W’s,” Vogel said. “That’s got to be the challenge for the Detroit game.”