December 19, 2018

Two years after the release of her book In Trump We Trust, Ann Coulter no longer trusts President Trump.

The conservative commentator went off on Trump Wednesday for appearing to back off his demand for $5 billion to fund his proposed border wall; the White House said earlier in the day it's open to signing a spending bill extending current budgets until February, whereas Trump had previously threatened to let the government shut down if he didn't get the border wall funding he wanted.

As a result, Coulter told The Daily Caller that either Trump "never intended" to build the wall at all, or he has "absolutely no idea how to get it done." Either way, if the wall isn't built, she concludes his presidency will have been a "joke" and he will have "scammed the American people," ultimately leaving "no legacy whatsoever." And at this point, she thinks it's pretty unlikely the wall gets built, saying "increasingly few" supporters believe him when he promises to do so.

Coulter also said that she won't vote for Trump in 2020 if there's no progress on the wall by then, as there would be no reason other than so "Ivanka [Trump] and Jared [Kushner] can make money," which "seems to be the main point of the presidency at this point." But she's not even sure Trump will make it that far. "My prediction is his support will evaporate and Trump will very likely not finish his term and definitely not be elected to a second term," she said, also forecasting that "no Republican will ever be elected president again." Brendan Morrow

1:52 p.m.

An era in the film industry has officially come to an end.

Disney is rebranding the 20th Century Fox film studio it purchased in its acquisition of Fox assets last year, Variety reports. Going forward, 20th Century Fox will instead be known as 20th Century Studios, and Disney will also rebrand Fox Searchlight Pictures as just Searchlight Pictures.

Audiences will start seeing these changes fairly soon, as The Call of the Wild will reportedly be released next month under the new 20th Century Studios branding, although the opening logo complete with that iconic fanfare will be kept unchanged other than the altered name being swapped in.

This decision, The New York Times notes, will mean that "consumers do not mistakenly think the movie studio has anything to do Rupert Murdoch's polarizing Fox News media empire." Indeed, an insider told Variety, "I think the Fox name means Murdoch, and that is toxic." Fox News was among the assets Disney didn't acquire in its $71 billion 21st Century Fox purchase, which gave it the rights to properties like Avatar, X-Men, and The Simpsons ahead of the launch of its streaming service, Disney+.

Still yet to be decided, according to Variety's report, is whether Disney will similarly rebrand 20th Century Fox Television and Fox 21 Television Studios, which produce shows like The Orville, This Is Us, and Pose. On TV, then, the Fox name lives on inside Disney — for now. Brendan Morrow

12:43 p.m.

Some major changes are apparently coming to Springfield.

Hank Azaria has revealed he'll longer voice Apu on The Simpsons, telling /Film, "All we know there is I won't be doing the voice anymore, unless there's someway to transition it or something."

The Simpsons faced renewed criticism over Apu since the release of the 2017 documentary The Problem with Apu, in which comedian Hari Kondabolu and others discuss the character who Kondabolu has described as "a white guy doing an impression of a white guy making fun of my father."

The documentary sparked a conversation about whether The Simpsons should write out the character some view as an offensive Indian stereotype, though others suggested keeping Apu but recasting Azaria with an Indian voice actor. Azaria, who also voices other characters on the show like Moe and Chief Wiggum, appeared to allude to that option Friday by referencing a possible "transition." But while Azaria said it's "up to them and they haven't sorted it out yet," he made clear that "I won't do the voice anymore," also saying, "We all made the decision together."

The Simpsons previously addressed the criticism over Apu in a meta 2018 episode, in which Lisa, looking directly at the camera, says, "Something that started decades ago and was applauded and inoffensive is now politically incorrect." She then looks at a picture of Apu and asks, "What can you do?" Marge and Lisa, again addressing the audience, promise this will be "dealt with at a later date," "if at all." That later date is evidently coming up.

Azaria previously expressed his willingness to step down from the role of Apu, saying on The Late Show, "the idea that anybody who is young or old, past or present, was bullied or teased based on the character of Apu, it just really makes me sad." No official announcement about the future of the character has been made. Brendan Morrow

10:51 a.m.

President Trump's impeachment defense team is getting the celebrity treatment.

As Trump prepares for House impeachment managers to share their case against him on Tuesday, he has reportedly tapped some big-name lawyers with impeachment and televised trial experience to defend him. Former Special Counsel Ken Starr, his successor Robert Ray, and famous defense lawyer Alan Dershowitz are all expected to join Trump's legal team, sources have told The New York Times, CNN, The Wall Street Journal, and other publications.

White House Counsel Pat Cipollone and Trump's lawyer Jay Sekulow are slated to lead Trump's impeachment defense, the Times says. Dershowitz "will present oral arguments at the Senate trial," the legal team said in a statement, while Starr and Ray "are expected to play a constitutional and historic role," CNN reports. Former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and Trump's personal counsel Jane Raskin will reportedly also be on the team.

Both Starr and Ray are known for their work during former President Bill Clinton's impeachment, with Starr serving as the independent counsel whose report led to Clinton's impeachment, and Ray eventually replacing Starr and finishing up the reports in Clinton's case. Dershowitz was on defense team for O.J. Simpson and gained notoriety in that televised trial. His reported appointment fits with Trump's desire to turn his impeachment into a "TV spectacle." Dershowitz was also recently questioned over his ties to Jeffrey Epstein, who was accused of running a sex trafficking ring. Kathryn Krawczyk

10:08 a.m.

Apparently Lara Trump didn't get the message about former Vice President Joe Biden's stutter.

Trump, who's married to President Trump's son Eric, decided to take a low blow at Biden during a Women for Trump event in Iowa on Thursday night. "I feel kind of sad for Joe Biden," she said, because "I'm supposed to want him to fail at every turn, but every time he comes on stage or they turn to him I'm like 'Joe can you get it out? Let's get the words out Joe.'"

Lara Trump probably should've heard by now that Biden worked to overcome the "debilitating stutter" he had as a child — a lesson former Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders learned when she mocked him for the same thing less than a month ago. Or perhaps she should've just followed first lady Melania Trump's "be best" advice and avoided sinking that low in the first place. Kathryn Krawczyk

9:40 a.m.

Eleven Americans were injured in Iran's recent missile strike on the Al Asad Air base in Iraq, which President Trump and the Pentagon previously said resulted in no injuries.

The military confirmed Thursday that 11 Americans were treated for concussions after Iran last week struck two Iraqi bases housing U.S. troops, The New York Times reports. "While no U.S. servicemembers were killed in the Jan. 8 Iranian attack on Al Asad air base, several were treated for concussion symptoms from the blast and are still being assessed," a United States Central Command spokesperson told the Times.

Trump last week said "the American people should be extremely grateful and happy," as "no Americans were harmed" in the attack. The attack on the two bases came in response to a Trump-authorized U.S. drone strike that killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani.

CNN notes that "concussions are not always apparent immediately after they've been suffered," and a defense official told CNN that the Pentagon previously indicating that there were no injuries "was the commander's assessment at the time" but "symptoms emerged days after the fact, and they were treated out of an abundance of caution."

With this in mind, CNN's Jim Sciutto observed that "the crux" of the story "is not the Pentagon mislead," as "these injuries emerged only after the fact," but rather "that the Iranian missile strike was a nearer miss than advertised." Brendan Morrow

8:09 a.m.

Guess who's back?

Eminem on Friday dropped the surprise album Music to be Murdered By, along with a music video for his song "Darkness" that advocates for gun reform while using imagery inspired by the Las Vegas shooting that left almost 60 people dead in 2017.

The disturbing video, which shows a gunman holed up in a Las Vegas hotel room and firing out the window, includes lyrics like "I'm a licensed owner with no prior convictions, so loss, the sky's the limit, so my supplies infinite."

The video ends with Eminem standing in front of a row of TV screens showing news reports of other mass shootings, pro-gun reform rallies, and President Trump, after which text on screen reads, "When will this end? When enough people care. Register to vote at Vote.gov. Make your voice heard and help change gun laws in America." The video also directs viewers to a website that highlights more information, including from the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

The title of the surprise album, Eminem's first since 2018, is inspired by Alfred Hitchcock, and it even features audio of Hitchcock throughout. Of course, it wouldn't be an Eminem release if some of the lyrics hadn't already ignited controversy, and one stirring outrage makes reference to the Manchester Arena bombing that killed 22 people at an Ariana Grande concert. "I'm contemplating yelling 'bombs away' on the game like I'm outside of an Ariana Grande concert waiting," Eminem raps on "Unaccommodating."

Watch the "Darkness" video from Eminem below. Brendan Morrow

7:26 a.m.

Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, led Friday prayers at a mosque in Tehran on Friday for the first time since 2012, trying to rally support among intertwined crises facing his government. On the foreign front, punishing U.S. sanctions have harmed Iran's economy and the Trump administration's killing of Iran's top general brought the U.S. and Tehran to the brink of war. Domestically, Iranians already angry over a hike in fuel prices took to the streets this week to demand justice and accountability for the Revolutionary Guard's downing of a Ukrainian jetliner, killing 176 people, most of them Iranian.

In nationally broadcast comments from inside the Mosalla mosque, Khamenei, 80, said the missiles fired on the Ukrainian jet were a "bitter accident" and defended the Revolutionary Guard, which reports directly to him. "Our enemies were as happy about the plane crash as we were sad," he said. "Happy that they had found something to question the Guard and the armed forces." He called President Trump, who has been encouraging the antigovernment protests, a "clown" who is only pretending to support Iran's people and would just as soon "push a poisonous dagger" into their backs.

Khamenei also addressed the missile strikes on two Iraqi bases hosting U.S. forces, calling the a "slap on the face" to the U.S. "The fact that Iran has the power to give such a slap to a world power shows the hand of God," he said, but pushing the U.S. military out of the Middle East would be the "real punishment" for America's "cowardly" killing of Gen. Qassem Soleimani, highlighting Soleimani's efficacy in battling the Islamic State. He added that the killing showed America's "terrorist nature."

"Leading Friday prayers in the capital is a symbolically significant act usually reserved for times when Iran's highest authority wishes to deliver an important message," BBC News reports, citing Mehdi Khalaji at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Peter Weber

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