Fox News 2024-02-15 18:03:36


SOON: Trump prosecutor and lover’s relationship under the microscope

A former “good friend” of District Attorney Fani Willis testified Thursday that she has “no doubt” Willis and special prosecutor Nathan Wade had a “romantic” relationship starting in 2019, contradicting Willis’ statements in court. 

Robin Yeartie, a former Fulton County DA employee and self-described “good friend” of Willis, said Thursday she has “no doubt” Willis and Wade were in a romantic relationship starting in 2019 to when her and Willis last spoke in 2022. 

This contradicts Wills’ claims in court that she and Wade “have been professional associates and friends since 2019,” and “there was no personal relationship” between her and Wade in November 2021 at the time of Wade’s appointment. 

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“You have no doubt that their romantic relationship was in effect from 2019 until the last time you spoke with her?” attorney Ashleigh Merchant questioned. 

“No doubt,” Yeartie said.

Yeartie said that she and Willis met in college, and when she was employed in the district attorney’s office her and Willis were “good friends,” but had not spoken since 2022, after Yeartie resigned from her post. 

Yeartie testified that she knew Willis and Wade began their relationship shortly after meeting at a conference in Nov. 2019.

“And when I say personal – romantic,” Merchant probed. “I just want to make sure we don’t get in an argument over what personal and romantic is,” she said. 

EMBATTLED DA FANI WILLIS FACES 4TH ACCUSATION TO DISQUALIFY HER FROM THE TRUMP CASE

“Yes,” Yeartie responded. 

Yeartie was asked that since she saw Willis at work “every day”, that she had a chance to see Willis and Wade “interact on a personal level.” 

“And so from everything that you saw, heard, witnessed, is your understanding that they were in a romantic relationship, beginning in 2019?”

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“Yes,” she said. 

When asked by Steve Stadow, a lawyer for former President Donald Trump, Yeartie confirmed that she observed Willis and Wade “hugging” and “kissing” and showing “affection” prior to November first of 2021. 

Jeffrey Epstein accusers drop sex-trafficking surveillance bombshell in new lawsuit

A dozen of Jeffrey Epstein’s accusers have filed a lawsuit against the U.S. government alleging that the FBI failed to properly investigate the financier’s sex-trafficking crimes as far back as the 1990s.

“Jeffrey Epstein’s penchant for teenage girls was an open secret in the high society of Palm Beach, Florida and the Upper East Side of Manhattan which was disregarded by the FBI,” reads the lawsuit on behalf of 12 Jane Does. “Epstein orchestrated an illegal sex trafficking ring for the elite and the FBI failed to adequately investigate the abuse, failed to interview the victims, failed to investigate the crimes and did not follow routine procedure or offer victim assistance notwithstanding credible reports and tips.”

The lawsuit, filed Wednesday, alleges that all 12 women were victimized by Epstein and “co-conspirators” because of the FBI’s alleged past failures and that current FBI Director Christopher Wray has done nothing to “right that wrong,” as Tennessee Sen. Marsha Blackburn requested he do in a December 2023 hearing. 

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Epstein and unnamed co-conspirators allegedly abused young women and underage girls between 1996 and his death in 2019, according to the lawsuit. Citing police documents, it alleges that Epstein recruited girls between 14 and 16 as well as students at Palm Beach Community College for “sex-tinged sessions.”

We know the FBI seized a treasure trove of surveillance footage from Epstein’s Palm Beach home where he ran his operations. Why won’t they release those tapes or the flight logs I’ve been requesting for months?

— Sen. Marsha Blackburn

His so-called client list has remained a secret, although a federal judge overseeing a separate lawsuit allowed allegations against a number of wealthy people in his orbit to be unsealed last month, including business leaders, prominent politicians and Ivy League academics.

Read the civil complaint

Epstein himself allegedly threatened them with violence to prevent them from coming forward.

“Epstein said things like, ‘You’re going to die; I’m going to break your legs,'” according to the lawsuit.

Allegations of child sex trafficking emerged as early as 1996, according to the lawsuit, when Epstein accuser Maria Farmer told police in New York City and the FBI that she and her sister had been victims of Epstein and his accomplice and former lover, Ghislaine Maxwell.

But the FBI allegedly “‘hung up’ on her and did nothing to investigate the report,” according to the lawsuit.

Allegations continued to crop up until Epstein was arrested for having sex with a child prostitute in 2005. Even his bank, JP Morgan Chase, alerted the government of “suspicious transactions” around this time – however, that information remained secret for almost 20 years, according to the lawsuit. 

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The victims’ lawyers also took aim at the long delay before his prosecution and the lenient plea deal he reached with the Justice Department in 2008.

“Epstein served 13 months in jail, during which time he was allowed to leave for work release during the day,” the lawsuit reads. “He continued to sexually abuse victims during his work release in close proximity to those who were supposed to be monitoring him.”

Search warrants served in that case found evidence that Epstein had other victims – including a message book that contained some of their phone numbers. The lawsuit alleges they were never interviewed by the FBI.

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“The FBI’s repeated and continued failures, delays and inaction allowed Epstein and others to continue their sex trafficking conspiracy for almost 25 years,” lawyers for the Does alleged.

Two additional Does are expected to join the lawsuit.

Lawyers said the plaintiffs used pseudonyms to protect their identities because they are victims of sexual assault and because they are “at serious risk of retaliatory harm because the co-conspirators who participated in the Epstein sex-trafficking venture had — and continue to possess — tremendous wealth and power and have demonstrated a clear ability to cause serious harm.”

An FBI spokesperson said the bureau does not comment on pending litigation.

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Epstein died in a federal jail cell in New York in 2019 while awaiting trial on additional sex-trafficking charges. His death was officially ruled a suicide, however, his family and some experts say the evidence doesn’t add up.

Blackburn, a Republican, has separately demanded the FBI release unredacted records of Epstein’s flight logs, “black book” and other evidence from his estate. Illinois Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin has stalled her efforts for a congressional subpoena. 

“The FBI has long been aware of Jeffrey Epstein’s alleged human trafficking ring,” Blackburn told Fox News Digital Thursday. “Yet, they have failed to uphold their duty to the American people to properly investigate this horrific abuse and bring those who participated in it to justice. We know the FBI seized a treasure trove of surveillance footage from Epstein’s Palm Beach home where he ran his operations. Why won’t they release those tapes or the flight logs I’ve been requesting for months? Epstein’s countless victims deserve justice, and the FBI should be held accountable for shamelessly sweeping this under the rug.”

Florida paves way to stop crime seen in liberal states from coming to the Sunshine State

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has announced new legislation aimed at cracking down hard on retail theft so that crime waves seen in liberal states do not come to the Sunshine State.

In 2022, retailers across the country lost $112 billion to retail theft, with sharp increases in major cities like New York, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., whereas in Florida, shoplifting has decreased by 30% since DeSantis first took office, according to the Republican governor

DeSantis wants to keep the downward trend going, announcing on Tuesday that it will be a first-degree felony if a person commits theft with a firearm or has already had two or more prior convictions of retail theft, under his proposal. A first-degree felony in Florida is punishable by up to 30 years in prison and/or fines of up to $10,000.

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He also wants to make it a second-degree felony if criminals use social media to solicit others to participate in retail theft, while it will be a third-degree felony to commit retail theft with five or more individuals.

A second-degree felony in Florida carries up to 15 years in prison and/or fines up to $10,000, while a third-degree felony could jail criminals for up to five years and/or fines of up to $5,000.

His legislation will also tackle “porch piracy,” the stealing of delivery packages from private properties, which will become a third-degree felony if the package is valued between $40 and $100.

“If you commit a crime in Florida, you are going to be held accountable,” DeSantis said. “We will not tolerate retail crime, porch pirates and the lawlessness that they allow in California and New York.”

DeSantis, citing a national study by Forbes, said that around 41% of small business retailers said the value of items stolen in 2023 has increased compared to previous years.

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He said that 75% of small business retailers reported monthly losses between $500 and $2,500 due to theft, while 85% of small business retailers said they experience theft at least once a year, and just 5% of small business retailers report never experiencing theft.

Increasing prices (64%) was the most popular measure small business retailers reported implementing to reduce theft.

In high-crime states like New York, retailers lost more than $4 billion, while shoplifting has increased by 63% in New York City alone, he said. 

“Cities and states that have effectively legalized shoplifting have hurt their local businesses and created a culture of lawlessness that has harmed the quality of life,” DeSantis wrote on X, while announcing the legislation. “FL is a law-and-order state, and I look forward to working with the legislature to crack down on retail theft.”

Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Mark Glass welcomed the proposed legislation.

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“Governor DeSantis continues to strengthen Florida laws to fight organized retail theft, cracking down on the kind of professional shoplifting that we’ve seen plague other states,” Glass said.  

“He is ensuring Florida will stay safe for families, prosperous for our businesses and a paradise for our visitors.”

The legislation would have a good chance of becoming law, given the Florida state legislature has strong majorities in both the State Senate and the State House of Representatives.

White firefighters told they’ve caused ‘racial harm’ strictly due to skin color

A diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) program targeted at firefighters and medics in King County, Washington, was suspended after backlash from employees, according to a report Tuesday. 

“Critics, including several King County firefighters, challenged the training’s political undertones and its potential infringement on personal beliefs, particularly regarding gender identity,” radio host Jason Rantz revealed in a report. “The training’s failure could jeopardize participants’ EMT certifications, demanding acknowledgment of endless genders and an inherent racial bias among White staff.”

The report detailed instructions in the DEI training for white firefighters and medics to check their racist tendencies. 

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“The training, titled ‘Stronger Together: An introduction to anti-racism and gender inclusion,’ aimed to instill empathy, awareness, and dignity in patient care, yet its execution ignited pushback. It suggested White staff members inherently harbored ‘racist or sexist views’ and had caused ‘racial harm at some point.’ They were even told that they “cannot be ‘not racist.'”

A video of the training, provided by the “Jason Rantz Show,” described the practice of “anti-racism” as popularized by critical race theory (CRT) advocate Ibram X. Kendi. 

“Anti-racism describes ideas and policies that produce and sustain racism racial equity among racial groups,” a speaker, identified as Kendi but voiced by Se’von, tells trainees. “Anti-racism is a powerful collection of policies that leads to racial equity, and is substantiated by anti-racist ideas.” 

The speaker told listeners that a critical anti-racist practice was “holding yourself and your community accountable when you notice racism.” 

“It is important for White people to understand the distinction between being publicly shamed for a racist act vs. feeling internalized shame while being held accountable for racism,” one slide tells staff, according to Rantz. 

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The training, which included tests and quizzes, caused an uproar among employees. 

“Following feedback from numerous members expressing concerns about the test, and after consultations with several fire chiefs who echoed these concerns from their respective teams, we collectively decided to suspend this training through the SKCFTC (South King County Fire Training Consortium),” Renton Fire Chief Steve Heitman wrote in an email shared with the “Jason Rantz Show.” 

Heitman said that while he “wholeheartedly” supports DEI training, he was still concerned that some staff members would feel forced to say something that does not accord with their own views.

“What troubles me are certain test questions that might compel members to compromise their personal beliefs or values in order to pass, a requisite for EMT recertification,” Heitman said. “This potential conflict may place members in the difficult positions of choosing between their deeply held convictions and their professional roles as firefighters/EMTs.”

A few days later, Heitman and other chiefs sent an email describing a meeting that they had about the DEI training, per the report. 

Heitman said that “there was unanimous support from the Chiefs for training aimed at diversity and inclusion and its importance to what we do,” adding that it was not meant to be “divisive” but “may need some retooling to be more inclusive.”

A King County firefighter who spoke with the “Jason Rantz Show” said the training was just one recent example of the county inflicting politicized training on local employees. 

“King County has been doing this ‘anti-racist’ crap long before Ibram X Kendi came around,” the firefighter, speaking anonymously, said. 

“We’ve never had issues or problems providing care to people of different backgrounds in emergency scenarios, if you call 911 everyone gets the same care based on the given reason they called,” he said.

The Renton Regional Fire Authority did not respond to a request for comment from Fox News Digital. 

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Pioneering American skier believed to be dead in avalanche

Renowned American skier Katherine “Kasha” Rigby is believed to have died in an avalanche at a ski resort in southern Kosovo on Tuesday, according to reports.

The death of a 54-year-old female skier at the Ski Center in Brezovica, Kosovo, was first reported by Euronew.albania on Tuesday. Ferizaj region police spokesperson Kanun Veseli told Radio Free Europe that the victim was “a 54-year-old foreign citizen.”

While the report did not name the skier, Rigby’s friends and loved ones posted tributes on her Instagram account, which shows several pictures from the ski resort in Brezovica.

Ski Magazine reported that sources close to Rigby contacted the outlet about her death.

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In Backcountry Magazine’s report on Rigby’s apparent death, editor Adam Howard said she “embodied compassion and free spiritedness.” 

“The whole outdoor and ski world is just gutted to lose such a special soul,” Howard said.

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Rigby was an accomplished telemark skier who “aimed to redefine telemarking with her high-speed, hard-driving style,” according to Ski Magazine.

The Vermont-born skier was the first to achieve a telemark ski descent of Cho You, the sixth-highest mountain in the world located in the Himalayas, according to the magazines.

Rigby’s other accolades include multiple other notable ski descents, including from peaks in Russia, Ecuador and Lebanon, the magazines said.

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Rigby also competed on season three of National Geographic’s “Ultimate Survival Alaska” television reality competition in 2015.

Products ripped off Costco shelves across America because they could kill you

A deadly listeria outbreak tied to types of dairy products that infected people across nearly a dozen states prompted recalls from Costco, Walmart, Trader Joe’s and other major retailers.   

Federal health officials from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) along with local health officials are investigating the multistate outbreak of infections that have been linked to queso fresco and cotija cheese made by Rizo-López Foods. 

Cheese, cream and yogurt products have been impacted by nationwide recalls as a result. 

What to know about the listeria outbreak 

The CDC said infections with this particular outbreak strain have been reported since 2014. 

The agency investigated outbreaks in 2017 and 2021. However, while “epidemiologic evidence in previous investigations identified queso fresco and other similar cheeses as a potential source of the outbreak,” health officials said there wasn’t enough information to identify a specific brand.

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The CDC recently reopened the investigation after new illnesses were reported in December. 

A sample of Rizo Bros Aged Cotija tested positive for listeria monocytogenes during a sampling conducted by the Hawaii State Department of Health’s Food and Drug Branch in January 2024, the FDA said. 

Illnesses 

As of Feb. 6, two dozen people have been infected across 11 states from June 15, 2014, to Dec. 10, 2023. Health officials warned that the number of illnesses “is likely higher than the number reported,” given that some people recover without medical care.

Of the people with information available, 23 have been hospitalized, according to the CDC. Two people have died, one from California and another from Texas. 

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Of the 22 people interviewed by health officials, about 73% of them reported eating queso fresco, cotija or similar cheeses. 

Recalls 

A growing number of companies have issued recalls for products that include various types of cheeses, cream and yogurt such as blanco suave, cotija, Oaxaca, panel, queso creme, queso fresco, queso para freir, queso sec, requeson and ricotta.

The impacted products include salads and salad kits, tacos and taco kits, burritos, enchiladas, sandwiches, dressings, sauces and dips. 

To date, the FDA has already posted 112 products sold by major retailers, including Costo, Walmart, Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods, that have been recalled.

CDC CONCERNED WITH SPIKE IN ILLNESSES LINKED TO SOME TIANEPTINE PRODUCTS

Symptoms to watch out for

Listeria symptoms typically occur within two weeks of eating the affected food. Mild symptoms include a fever, muscle aches, nausea, tiredness, vomiting and diarrhea, according to the FDA. 

If the more severe form of listeriosis develops, patients can get a headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance and convulsions.  

Those who are pregnant, at least 65 years old, or have weak immune systems are most at risk of getting sick.

What should you do if you bought a recalled product?

Health officials said the recalled products should be thrown away or returned.

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Consumers also need to clean any surface, such as refrigerators or containers, that may have touched the recalled products, the CDC said. Health officials warned that the bacteria can “survive in the refrigerator and can easily spread to other foods and surfaces.”

If a person comes down with any symptoms after eating the recalled products, they should call a health care provider “right away,” officials said.

Liberal parents erupt over plan to integrate city’s Black and White schools

A plan to integrate two nearby Washington, D.C. schools with vastly different racial backgrounds is sparking fierce debate among parents in the predominantly liberal community.

Nearly 6 in 10 of the 500 children at Maury Elementary School are White. At Miner Elementary School, 80% of the kids are Black, many of whom are in foster care, receive public assistance, or are homeless. Enrollment at the school has been declining, according to The Washington Post.

District officials have put together a plan where children would spend their early education at one school and later transfer to the other. Their goal is to improve diversity at both institutions by pairing previously separate demographics together.

“From my perspective, there’s a lot of unknowns about what the quality of the school would look like,” Jonathan Rothwell, who has two children enrolled at Maury, said.

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He also worried that teachers would leave the school because of the integration, an issue brought up during a tense town hall meeting with Maury families back in November.

“A lot of parents are already satisfied with Maury, and this jeopardizes that satisfaction,” he added.

Maury parent-teacher association co-president Shavanna Miller was one of the people who spoke up at the town hall and said children can “fall through the cracks” when they move from one school to another.

“I think it’s not just because the children have to adjust their environment. I think it’s because a whole new set of adults needs to understand the kids, understand their family, understand their needs and how to best support them,” she said.

Some Maury parents admitted that they would consider leaving the area if the plan goes through.

The proposal has sparked in-person and online debate. Petitions for and against the plan have also cropped up, with typically liberal parents criticizing the impact integration could have on their child’s education journey,

Maury parents are concerned that the integration plan could bring down averages at a school that typically scores higher on standardized tests than Miner. Meanwhile, Miner parents are worried that the proposal could jeopardize programs that helped disadvantaged students, such as free eye exams and glasses.

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“As we’ve shared in our citywide community engagements, racially and socioeconomically diverse schools are one of the guiding principles of the study,” the office of D.C. Deputy Mayor for Education Paul Kihn said in a statement.

“We believe that all students and communities flourish when schools have diverse student bodies, provided that schools have, at a minimum, welcoming, affirming, and culturally and linguistically responsive environments for students and families.”

Officials stressed that they are in talks with parents and hosting dozens of meetings to quell concerns. The advisory committee will offer recommendations to D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser in March. She will then decide which recommendations should be put in place.

Some parents, such as Kiki Fox, support the proposal and think it would offer benefits to both schools.

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“Instead of just making one school better and one school more diverse, we can offer that to both,” Fox, a Miner parent, said. “It’s surprising to some of us that people aren’t able to think of the bigger picture, which is the fact that, yes, this could be disruptive for a lot of people for some time. I definitely understand that, but the benefits are going to be much further reaching for much longer.”

Miner parent Jeff Grietz also has hopes for the proposal and has released a petition for the measure that has added 300 signatures so far.

“It struck me as a way to lift students at both schools but, in particular, students at Miner. And hopefully, improve educational outcomes,” he said. 

Country music station forced to defend itself from Beyoncé super fans over new song

Beyoncé fans piled on a country music radio station after it initially refused to play one of her newest songs, forcing the station to respond.

An X post went viral on Tuesday after a man claimed that he reached out to Oklahoma’s KYKC country music station to request the pop singer’s country song “Texas Hold Em.” He posted the station’s response, highlighting its explanation that “we do not play Beyoncé.”

“I requested Texas Hold ‘Em at my local country radio station (KYKC) and after requesting, i received an email from the radio station stating ‘We do not play Beyoncé on KYKC as we are a country music station,’” the post read.

The X user tagged the “Bey Hive” fan account and added, “This station needs to be held accountable for their blatant racism and discrimination against Beyoncé.”

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After ongoing fan backlash, the station released a statement on Wednesday confirming its initial response but calling the situation a misunderstanding.

“We initially refused to play it in the same manner if someone requested us to play the Rolling Stones on our country station,” general manager Roger Harris said in a statement. “Fact is we play Beyoncé on TWO of our other stations and love her … she is an icon. We just didn’t know about the song … then when we found out about it, we tried to get the song … which we did and we have already played it 3 times on YKC, our country station. We also play her on 105.5, KXFC-FM and KADA-FM 0n 99.3.”

“But … finally we got our hands on it, and based on the fan support, we decided to air it,” he continued. “Truthfully, normally we would (usually) wait a while to see how the song performs on the charts and on bigger country stations than ours, as we are just the little guys.”

The station also responded to comments on its Facebook account, noting that it would begin playing the song after it took time to obtain a copy. The account also stated that Beyoncé’s management team called the station to thank them for their support.

In a comment to Fox News Digital, Harris reiterated the station’s love for the pop singer and its dedication to the audience and supporting good music.

“I have always just wanted to play any music if it was ‘good.’ Does it help, if it’s a ‘hit’? Yes, because radio listeners do want to hear recognizable, hit songs, and we do understand it’s hard for new artists or new artists wanting to break into a new area to do that in today’s rigid typecasting or music and artists. So we try to see all sides of it. In the long run, we just want to serve our marketplace and the community, and play good music,” Harris said.

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Whether other country music stations should play the song, he responded, “That really is an individual question to each station because they all have different markets and different type of music that they play.”

Fox News Digital also reached out to Beyoncé’s publicist for a comment.

Beyoncé surprised the world Sunday night after the Super Bowl by dropping the new singles “Texas Hold Em” and “16 Carriages” to preview her upcoming album “Renaissance Act II,” set to debut on March 29. In contrast to her previous “Renaissance” album, the upcoming “Act II” appears to have more of a country music influence.

She previously dabbled in the genre back in 2016 with the song “Daddy Lessons.” She also performed the song at the 50th anniversary of the Country Music Awards with the Dixie Chicks.

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Actress Kristen Stewart shocks with Rolling Stones cover that’s aimed to send ‘clear message’

“Twilight” star Kristen Stewart graced the latest cover of Rolling Stone in little more than a leather vest and a jock strap, telling the outlet she was going for the “gayest thing you’ve ever seen.”

Stewart, who came out as gay in a “Saturday Night Live” opening monologue in 2017, opted for doing the cover shoot in a way that flips the “gender script,” as Rolling Stone contributing editor Alex Morris described.

“She wants the cover image to send a clear message: hyper-sexualized, left of andro, and flipping the gender script,” Morris relayed to readers in an interview with the actress that provided a close look into her LGBTQ identity.

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Stewart, who is currently doing publicity for her new queer thriller film “Love Lies Bleeding,” spoke to Morris about wanting the Rolling Stone cover to portray her in the “gayest” light possible. 

“Now, I want to do the gayest f—ing thing you’ve ever seen in your life. If I could grow a little mustache, if I could grow a f—ing happy trail and unbutton my pants, I would,” she said. 

Claiming guys normally get this freedom, she added, “Guys — I’m sorry — but their f—ing pubes are shoved in my face constantly, and I’m like, ‘Ummmm, bring it in.’”

Stewart’s interview also delved into how it’s been for her being gay in Hollywood. She noted that compared to pioneers, like lesbian actress and her “Panic Room” co-star Jodie Foster, she’s had it easier. 

“And it goes: Jodie [Foster], me, boygenius [the band]. I’m in the middle. Do you know what I mean? Jodie had such a hard time and I’m not speaking for her — I am objectively analyzing the time and place in which she was being her, and that is not easy — I would say f—ing near-impossible if you wanted to continue doing what you love,” the actress said. 

She added, “For me, it wasn’t a problem. But that’s probably because of the sort of space that I inhabit and the parts that I’m attracted to and the filmmakers that are attracted to me and the audience that exists for those movies.”

Stewart acknowledged that if she wanted to take on even more “commercial” roles, maybe she would’ve had a harder time being gay in Hollywood. 

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The actress also commented about how younger people are even freer with their sexual identities than she was, noting that compared to them, she has a “millennial” awareness of gender conformity. 

“I look at these kiddos that are so chilling on all of those fronts, and can have [gender] be like an accessory, can actually play with the novelty of that — have [femininity] one day, not have it the next,” said Stewart.

Seeing things in this LGBTQ light has also led the actress to re-evaluate the movie franchise that made her a household name. In an interview with Variety last month, Stewart said that “Twilight” is “such a gay movie.”

“I can only see it now. I don’t think it necessarily started off that way, but I also think that the fact that I was there at all, it was percolating. It’s such a gay movie,” she said.

Stewart added that the film has a “very Gothic, gay inclination that I love.”

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