December 3, 2019

Rudy Giuliani probably can't explain this one away with a butt dial.

Throughout 2019, President Trump's lawyer — who doesn't have a White House job — received multiple calls from the White House's Office of Management and Budget, phone records obtained by the House Intelligence Committee reveal. It's unclear exactly who from the office was calling Giuliani in the specified cases, but the calls did come noticeably close to Giuliani's other communications surrounding Ukraine.

Several calls from the White House and the OMB to Giuliani happened on April 12, 23, and 24, the phone records show, with one OMB call on the 24th lasting more than 13 minutes. And on either side on most of those calls, records show Giuliani received calls from or called Lev Parnas, one of the two indicted operatives he sent to Ukraine to dig up damaging information on the Bidens.

Giuliani received another 13-minute call from the OMB months later, on August 8. He spent several hours calling and texting back and forth with a White House number and the White House situation room, as well as an unknown number, the phone records show.

All of this happened just a day after Ambassador Kurt Volker texted Giuliani about his recent meeting with Ukrainian presidential aide Andriy Yermak and a "visit" they discussed. Volker then received a text from Yermak about a potential "meeting date" — a subject on which Volker said he asked Giuliani to "weigh in." Kathryn Krawczyk

4:21 p.m.

Former Vice President Joe Biden isn't afraid to reach across the aisle during this national crisis.

In a press gaggle on Wednesday, Kellyanne Conway, a counselor to President Trump, snapped at Biden's apparent "criticism" of the Trump administration's response to the coronavirus. "Why doesn’t Vice President Biden call the White House today and offer some support?" Conway questioned — and so Biden offered to do so.

"I think it's really disappointing to have President Obama's number two ... out there, criticizing, instead of saying 'hey, here is what we did that we thought was effective,' Conway said Wednesday. She repeated the criticism on Fox News and in a tweet, even though Biden had offered up both his and former President Barack Obama's advice on MSNBC Tuesday night.

Biden's deputy campaign manager fired back with another statement on Wednesday, saying Biden "has been extending his advice for months" — Fox News agreed that was true. "The Obama-Biden administration even wrote a literal playbook for pandemic response, but unfortunately Trump's administration left it on the shelf," the statement continued.

Now, the ball is in Trump's court. Kathryn Krawczyk

4:16 p.m.

Yet another big movie is clearing out of 2020 completely.

Universal announced Wednesday its animated sequel Minions: The Rise of Gru, which was originally set for release this summer, has been delayed one year and will now hit theaters in July 2021, per The Hollywood Reporter.

It had previously been announced that Minions would not make its previously-scheduled release date because Illumination's studio in Paris was forced to temporarily close amid the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, though it was unclear at the time whether the film could still hit theaters sometime in 2020. The first Minions, a Despicable Me prequel, took in more than $1 billion worldwide in 2015 and was one of the highest-grossing films of that year.

This is just the latest example of a major 2020 film being delayed all the way until next year because of the coronavirus pandemic after Sony on Tuesday delayed Ghostbusters: Afterlife, which was scheduled to hit theaters this July, to March 2021. Universal also previously moved the ninth Fast & Furious film from May 2020 to April 2021, while Disney postponed Black Widow indefinitely.

The summer movie season typically brings in major business for Hollywood, but fewer and fewer films remain on the calendar for that period this year as theaters throughout the United States remain largely closed in accordance with social distancing guidelines. A rare blockbuster to be postponed to another date this summer was Wonder Woman 1984, as Warner Bros. moved the DC sequel from June to August 2020 in hopes theaters would widely reopen by then.

Whether they will, and whether audiences will quickly return if they do, isn't clear. AMC Entertainment CEO Adam Aron on Tuesday told CNBC he "would love to think" there can still be a summer movie season this year, but as far as when the chain's theaters can begin resuming operations, he said at this time, "nobody knows." Brendan Morrow

3:24 p.m.

Experts are now convinced a February Champions League soccer game between the Italian club Atalanta and the Spanish club Valencia was at the forefront of an explosion of COVID-19 cases in Italy's Lombardy region, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in Europe, The Wall Street Journal reports.

More than 40,000 people crammed into San Siro stadium in Milan to watch the contest, a 4-1 victory for Atalanta. Then, two weeks later Bergamo, where Atalanta is based, experienced a major spike in cases, with scientists pinpointing the match as a crucial petri dish. "Two weeks after Feb. 19, there was an incredible explosion of cases," said Dr. Francesco Le Foche, an immunologist in charge of infectious diseases at Policlinico Umberto I in Rome. "The match played a huge role in disseminating coronavirus throughout Lombardy and in Bergamo in particular."

To put it in perspective, 35 percent of Valencia's traveling squad tested positive for the virus after the team returned to Spain. Only one Atalanta player tested positive, but the club has published death notices on its website for five people linked to the virus who were close to the club within the last two weeks, all of whom were present for Atalanta's victory over Valencia.

The match shows the type of role sporting events can play in furthering the spread of the virus, further explaining why nearly every professional league has shut down operations, and casting doubt on whether some sports will come back at all this year. Read more at The Wall Street Journal. Tim O'Donnell

3:16 p.m.

Everyone wants to write the great coronavirus anthem but — apologies to Bono — there can only be one John Mayer.

On his Instagram Live program this weekend, Mayer premiered a parody song called "Drone Shot of My Yacht," in which he skewers billionaires sitting out the pandemic on their luxury boats. It was such a hit, Mayer then reposted a minute-long version later in the week, Variety reports:

"This weekend's 'Not Now' goes to David Geffen, who posted an Instagram photo of himself on his boat saying he was isolated in the Grenadines," Mayer had told fans of his inspiration. "And I gotta tell you, I don't know where the Grenadines are. The most offensive thing to me in this post is assuming that I know where the Grenadines are." Jeva Lange

3:10 p.m.

The effects of the coronavirus shutdown are being felt everywhere, even in the Earth's crust.

The decrease in activity and transportation have led to a noticeable drop in seismic noise — the usual "hum of vibrations in the planet's crust." This quietude could help seismologists detect smaller earthquakes and more closely monitor volcanic activity, Nature reports.

Moving vehicles and industrial machinery usually cause vibrations that can get in the way of researchers looking to detect signals at the same frequency. A drop in activity of this size is typically only seen briefly at Christmastime, Thomas Lecocq, a seismologist at the Royal Observatory of Belgium in Brussels, told Nature.

"There's a big chance indeed it could lead to better measurements," Lecocq said. This includes a better chance at finding the locations of aftershocks, said Andy Frassetto, a seismologist at the Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology. During the shutdown, seismologists are hoping to "squeeze a little more information on those events," he said. Read more at Nature. Taylor Watson

3:04 p.m.

Florida is getting a statewide stay-at-home order after its governor previously held off on taking the step.

Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) announced Wednesday he's issuing a stay-at-home order for all of Florida that will go into effect at midnight on Thursday and last for at least 30 days amid the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, NBC News reports.

In a press conference, DeSantis said he's ordering Floridians statewide to "limit movements and personal interactions outside the home to only those necessary to obtain or provide essential services or conduct essential activities." It "makes sense to make this move now," he added.

Florida had previously been among the last large U.S. states without a statewide stay-at-home order, and DeSantis was under mounting pressure to issue one; he previously ordered residents of Broward, Miami-Dade, Palm Beach and Monroe counties to stay at home, The Hill reports. The state has confirmed almost 7,000 coronavirus cases.

On Tuesday, DeSantis said that President Trump and his coronavirus task force "has not recommended" that he issue a statewide stay-at-home order but that if they did, "obviously that would be something that would carry a lot of weight with me." His announcement Wednesday came after he spoke over the phone with Trump, who recently extended the federal government's social distancing guidelines until the end of April, The New York Times reports.

"When the president did the 30-day extension, to me, that was, 'People aren't just going to back to work,'" DeSantis said Wednesday, per the Times. "That's a national pause button."

Asked in an appearance on Today on Wednesday about whether Florida should have a stay-at-home order, U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams responded by describing the current federal social distancing guidelines as amounting to a "national stay-at-home order."

Brendan Morrow

2:23 p.m.

This year, tax season is for everyone.

President Trump approved a COVID-19 congressional spending package last week that would grant $1,200 individual checks to Americans making up to $75,000 each year; the benefits start to phase out after that threshold. But to access that check, Americans will have to file some kind of tax return even if they usually don't have to, IRS guidelines say.

Some social security recipients, senior citizens, low-income taxpayers, veterans, and people with disabilities are exempt from filing their taxes every year. Those exempt people most likely took in far less money than the coronavirus stimulus threshold and are counting on getting additional checks. But to do so, they'll have to file at least a simple tax return, and the IRS is recommending they do so as soon as possible.

But if those Americans are unfamiliar with filing taxes, the IRS's requirement could create even more problems, Seth Hanlon, a fellow at the progressive Center for American Progress, noted on Twitter. Filing programs for senior citizens such as Volunteer Income Tax Assistance and Tax Counseling for the Elderly have been shut down during the coronavirus crisis, and instead of calling the IRS for help, the agency recommends people with questions simply keep checking its website for updates.

Overall, it's unclear why this tax filing requirement is even necessary, seeing as the CARES Act spending package specifically allows the Treasury Department to use social security benefit information to figure out who's eligible for the payment. Kathryn Krawczyk

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