Will Comey firing add to GOP's load of liabilities?

A coalition of two progressive groups will launch a paid advertising campaign targeting Republican lawmakers Friday, in another sign that President Trump's firing of FBI Director James Comey could have immediate political repercussions for his party. The groups, End Citizens United and Every Voice, plan to target eight moderate Republican senators — including Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Jeff Flake (Arizona), and Pat Toomey (Pennsylvania) — demanding an independent investigation into whether Trump colluded with Russia to influence the U.S. election. In an interview with NBC's Lester Holt, Trump revealed that he planned to fire Comey even before meeting with top-ranking Justice Department officials, contradicting the White House's assertions made the day before.

Four teams move toward the Stanley Cup

The march to the Stanley Cup has hit its halfway point with four teams still standing as conference finals begin. The Anaheim Ducks and the Nashville Predators face off Friday  in the Western Conference finals in Anaheim (9 p.m. ET, NBCSN). After four years of agony and over a decade of fruitless Game 7s, the Ducks were finally the victors of a winner-take-all game, beating the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday. Now they face a daunting obstacle from playoffs past: Nashville's Pekka Rinne, a 6-foot-5 Finnish goalie with a knack for stopping the Ducks. In the East, the Pittsburgh Penguins host the Ottawa Senators on Saturday.

Parents of U.S. teen killed by Hamas to sue charity group

More than two decades after their son was killed by Hamas in Israel, an American couple will file suit Friday in their relentless effort to crush groups that fund terror. David Boim, a yeshiva student, was fatally shot in May 1996 after two men drove up to his West Bank bus stop and started shooting. Years later, Stanley and Joyce Boim won a $156 million judgment after suing a group of U.S.-based Palestinian charities linked to Hamas, claiming they could be held responsible for their son's death under federal anti-terror laws. The American Muslims for Palestine (AMP), the target of the latest litigation, denies the group has anything to do with terrorism and calls the claim "Islamophobia."

Another big department store chain announces earnings

J.C. Penney will report its first quarter earnings on Friday, the latest retailer to report how it's faring as shoppers increasingly shift their shopping away from brick and mortar stores to Amazon and other online sellers. The department store's report will reveal whether its multipronged strategy — which includes shuttering underperforming stores, pushing athletic wear and other new products — and offering home installation services has begun to pay off. In addition to e-commerce sites, J.C. Penney is also being challenged by fast-fashion rivals like H&M and discounters such as T.J. Maxx, which are wooing away customers.

Pence campaigns for GOP candidate in special election for Montana house seat

Vice President Pence is set to visit Billings, Mont., on Friday to help fellow Republican Greg Gianforte stump for votes ahead of the state's special election to fill an open U.S. House seat. Political parties and independent groups have unleashed more than $20 million in federal races so far this year, an early preview of the massive spending that will buffet the 2018 midterm House contests.  Since Democrats only need 24 seats to retake the chamber, Republicans have moved early to protect their majority in the House  Dems hope they can capitalize on President Trump’s near-record unpopularity and a contentious vote this month in the House to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Bonus: Harry Styles begins solo musical career

First it was Zayn Malik, now it's Harry Styles' turn. The former member of boyband One Direction embarks on his own solo journey Friday with the release of his self-titled debut album. Styles premiered one of the tracks from the album, Sweet Creature, last week and it sent fans into online hysterics.  USA TODAY's Maeve McDermott recently talked to the British pop star and discussed what helped inspire his "songs about stories."