January 21, 2020

Rudy Giuliani is "heartbroken" over recent comments made by his former associate Lev Parnas, who says he worked closely with Giuliani in Ukraine as part of an attempt to find damaging information about former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter.

Speaking to Fox News host Laura Ingraham on Monday night, Giuliani, President Trump's personal lawyer, said he was once "close to" Parnas, but was "misled by him." In October, Parnas and his business partner Igor Fruman were arrested and charged with campaign finance violations. Last week, Parnas made several public accusations against Giuliani, President Trump, and Attorney General William Barr, implicating all of them in the Ukraine scheme that is central to Trump's impeachment.

While Fruman did not cooperate with House impeachment investigators, Parnas did, turning over documents and other materials. Parnas said while he was in Ukraine trying to find dirt on the Bidens, he "wouldn't do anything without the consent of Rudy Giuliani and the president." Giuliani, a former U.S. attorney, refuted this, saying Parnas "in very large part did not tell the truth" and "lied stupidly."

Giuliani told Ingraham he would not discuss all of Parnas' accusations, but did deny ever talking about his Ukraine investigation with Barr and said Parnas' account of a meeting during a 2018 White House Hanukkah party was a lie. In November, CNN reported that Parnas told two people close to him that during the celebration, Trump let Parnas and Fruman know he wanted them to go on a "secret mission" to Ukraine to investigate the Bidens. Giuliani said this was "absolutely untrue," as they were never pulled into a private meeting.

Parnas posted a photo taken at the party on social media, showing him posing with Trump, Giuliani, Fruman, and Vice President Mike Pence. Trump has repeatedly denied knowing Parnas; Parnas has promised to keep releasing pictures of the two of them together. Catherine Garcia

12:51 p.m.

The new horror sequel Brahms: The Boy II is, according to critics, pretty bad — and you can apparently thank Jared Kushner memes for its existence.

Director William Brent Bell in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter on Friday explained that the creepy doll sequel, a follow-up to his 2016 film The Boy, got off the ground specifically because there were so many memes comparing the doll to Kushner.

"That's when Lakeshore called me and said, you know, 'this is really taking on a life of its own now in the zeitgeist of pop culture," Bell explained. "You want to think about an idea for a sequel?'"

Bell further explained to UPI that producer Gary Lucchesi called him "after about six months" of The Boy-related Kushner memes proliferating online, as this proved that "the doll is still hanging around, so we have something that interested people." It was, evidently, memes first, sequel idea second.

Given the follow-up's dismal 8 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes, there may be a lesson to be learned here: be careful when you meme. You may just inadvertently spawn a terrible horror movie. Brendan Morrow

11:50 a.m.

Attorney Gloria Allred would like Prince Andrew to give the FBI a ring.

Allred, who represents some of late sex offender Jeffrey Epstein's accusers, has reportedly paid to have a bus drive around London with an ad putting Prince Andrew on blast after prosecutors said he hasn't been cooperating with their Epstein investigation.

"If you see this man please ask him to call the FBI to answer their questions," an ad reads on the bus, which was seen driving near Buckingham Palace not long after Prince Andrew's birthday, The Wrap reports.

Last month, Geoffrey Berman, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that Prince Andrew has provided "zero cooperation" as they continue to investigate Epstein's co-conspirators. Virginia Roberts Giuffre has claimed Epstein forced her to have sex with Prince Andrew when she was 17, a claim he has denied. He stepped back from public duties after his ties to Epstein came under scrutiny and after a widely-panned interview in which he said Epstein "conducted himself in a manner unbecoming."

When he decided to step back in November, Prince Andrew said he was "willing to help any appropriate law enforcement agency with their investigations, if required." Allred in a press conference on Friday urged him to do just that, per The Guardian, saying, "I implore you, Prince Andrew. You must do the right thing and stop shaming your family — the Queen, your children. If you have done nothing wrong then just talk to the FBI."

11:32 a.m.

It's not that unusual to find bears wandering around towns and cities across the U.S., especially when those cities are right next to the hills where those bears live. But one not-so-unusually lumbering around Monrovia, California, on Thursday and Friday has sparked some atypical curiosity in the bear-friendly city.

The large, nameless bear has been spotted slowly making his way through yards and blocking traffic since Thursday night, not doing much besides sniffing out trash.

Nothing fazed the bear — not even a man getting way too close with his cell phone or some barking dogs behind a fence.

The bear eventually fell asleep in someone's backyard, reporter for local station KNX1070 Craig Fiegener learned from the California Fish and Wildlife Department. Officials from the department were planning to sneak into the yard, extend the bear's nap with a tranquilizer dart, and then return him to the woods where he belongs. Kathryn Krawczyk

10:26 a.m.

The search is on for a rebellious White House official — even though President Trump insists he knows who that person is.

Since an anonymous senior administration official first wrote a New York Times op-ed detailing an internal resistance in the White House, Trump's closest advisers — and Trump himself — have been trying to find out his or her identity. Top trade adviser Peter Navarro — for some reason — is now apparently leading the charge in blaming Deputy National Security Adviser Victoria Coates, but wouldn't confirm that reporting in a Friday interview with CNN.

The idea that Coates is Anonymous has been swirling in and out of the White House for weeks now as their book nears publication, Politico reports. Navarro wouldn't say he believed Coates was Anonymous when talking to CNN on Friday, but suggested "suspects are everywhere" before attacking the "so-called senior administration officials" apparently opposing Trump's agenda. Coates received a promotion from National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien back in November to become the deputy she is now.

It's unclear why a trade adviser is engaging in such political counter-espionage. It's also unclear why there needs to be a hunt at all, seeing as just on Tuesday, Trump said he knew who Anonymous was but "can't tell you" their identity. Kathryn Krawczyk

8:29 a.m.

The mayor of the South Korean city of Daegu urged the city's 2.5 million people to stay home after a concentration of coronavirus cases broke out at a church where a woman continued attending services after developing symptoms, The Guardian reports. The number of cases linked to the churchgoer reached 49, nearly half of South Korea's new cases.

"We are in an unprecedented crisis," said the mayor, Kwon Young-jin. Schools in the city reportedly are considering delaying the start of the spring term, currently scheduled for early March. South Korea on Thursday reported its first death from the virus, the ninth outside of mainland China. The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the man died in a hospital and posthumously tested positive for coronavirus. Harold Maass

8:28 a.m.

Almost immediately after his Oscars victory, Joaquin Phoenix gave a cow and her calf what they deserve.

The Joker star, who has been a vegan since the age of 3, during his Academy Award acceptance speech earlier this month railed against the fact that "we feel entitled to artificially inseminate a cow, and when she gives birth, we steal her baby ... and then we take her milk that's intended for a calf and we put it in our coffee and our cereal."

But besides just using his platform at the Oscars to advocate for this issue, Phoenix was ready to take action literally the next day, when he visited a slaughterhouse in Pico Rivera, California, TMZ reports.

In a video, Phoenix is seen appearing deeply skeptical while talking to the president of the company that owns the slaughterhouse and ends up with the opportunity to rescue a cow and her calf, who are taken to a sanctuary. The actor ends up promising to send the slaughterhouse CEO photos of the cow and the calf in their new life, photos the public's certainly going to want a copy of after the heartwarming video.

Phoenix in a statement promised he'll continue to "fight for the liberation of all animals who suffer in these oppressive systems."

Throughout the 2020 awards season, Phoenix had been both advocating for issues he cares about in acceptance speeches but subsequently taking action as well. CNN notes he comforted pigs on their way to a slaughterhouse the day of his Screen Actors Guild Awards win, and just days after winning a Golden Globe, he joined Jane Fonda and got arrested at her climate change protests in Washington, D.C.

Phoenix said at the time, "I think sometimes we wonder what can we do in this fight against climate change, and there's something that you can do today, right now, and tomorrow, by making a choice about what you consume."Brendan Morrow

8:16 a.m.

Members of the U.S. women's national soccer team are requesting $66 million in damages under their gender discrimination lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation, according to papers filed late Thursday in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles. The trial in the case is scheduled to start in early May.

Players on the women's national team filed the lawsuit last March saying the fact that their players on the men's team were paid more reflected institutionalized gender discrimination. U.S. Soccer said in a statement that the women players "are paid differently because they specifically asked for and negotiated a completely different contract than the men's national team," one that "provides significant additional benefits" the men don't get, including guaranteed annual salaries and paid child-care assistance, The Associated Press reports. Harold Maass

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