In This Episode
- In August, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced the arrests of several people accused of illegally voting in the 2020 election. But newly released police body camera footage of those arrests debunk DeSantis’ claims of mass election fraud.
- Women-led protests in Iran following the death of Mahsa Amini are in their second month, and have become the biggest challenge to the Islamic Republic in a decade. Jasmin Ramsey, the deputy director of the Center for Human Rights in Iran, tells us what her group is hearing from activists and ordinary Iranians.
- And in headlines: Russian President Vladimir Putin declared martial law in four illegally annexed Ukrainian territories, British Prime Minister Liz Truss faced more calls to resign, and actress Anna May Wong will become the first Asian American to appear on U.S. currency.
- Center for Human Rights in Iran – https://iranhumanrights.org/
- Vote Save America: Every Last Vote – https://votesaveamerica.com/every-last-vote/
Crooked Coffee is officially here. Our first blend, What A Morning, is available in medium and dark roasts. Wake up with your own bag at crooked.com/coffee
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Priyanka Aribindi: It’s Thursday, October 20th. I’m Priyanka Aribindi.
Juanita Tolliver: And I’m Juanita Tolliver. And this is What A Day. Where we regret to inform you that there is a new story about James Corden being rude at a restaurant on the other side of the country this time.
Priyanka Aribindi: He is Mr. Worldwide in the absolute worst way possible.
Juanita Tolliver: You know, the guy who just goes around terrorizing servers and waitstaff and restaurant workers is not the brand you want to have.
Priyanka Aribindi: No. [music break] On today’s show, British Prime Minister Liz Truss faces more political turmoil. Plus, a Hollywood trailblazer will be the first Asian-American to appear on U.S. currency.
Juanita Tolliver: But first, with only 18 days until the midterm elections, voter fraud is front and center for Republicans, but not in the way that they usually like it to be. You know, the lies they tell about voter fraud, which was practically nonexistent in 2020, sans the Trump voters in the villages, you know, the white Florida retirees who all live in the same community and all admitted to voting more than once. Well, right now, Republicans are facing scrutiny and questions about their claims as video has been released of Florida police arresting people for alleged voter fraud under Governor Ron DeSantis’s direction. And separately, a judge has asserted that Trump lied about voter fraud in a previous lawsuit.
Priyanka Aribindi: Okay, so a lot is happening here. Can you give us a breakdown of, you know, this latest Republican farce about voter fraud?
Juanita Tolliver: All right. Let’s start in Florida. So DeSantis targeted and arrested 19 people in August for allegedly voting illegally in the 2020 election because they have criminal records. They’re being charged with felony voter fraud. And these arrests come after DeSantis set up the Orwellian Office of Election Crimes and Security. It’s really got a ring to it you know, the most heartbreaking of these videos is that the people being arrested are flat out dumbfounded about what’s happening to them.
Priyanka Aribindi: Right.
Juanita Tolliver: They’re afraid. They’re confused. They’re worried about their families. And it’s demonstrative of DeSantis’s cruel, shameful intentions, especially after Florida voters in 2018 overwhelmingly approved of constitutional Amendment four, because under this amendment, a person in Florida is eligible to register and vote if the person has completed all of the terms of their sentence related to any felony convictions except for murder or sexual assault. It’s that exception that seems to be the primary source of confusion for people. And in the footage of the arrests, you can hear people saying that no one told them they couldn’t vote.
Priyanka Aribindi: Okay. So let me get this straight. They registered to vote. They received voter registration cards just like any other voter. But nobody told them that they couldn’t vote. That kind of sounds like this was maybe Florida’s fault, and they probably shouldn’t have sent them that stuff or, like, made it seem like they could vote if they couldn’t. Why are they getting arrested? It feels like Florida fucked up.
Juanita Tolliver: Florida messed this up. That’s exactly right, Priyanka.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah.
Juanita Tolliver: And some of the people being arrested can be heard in the video saying that they were even encouraged to register to vote just in case. And if there were any issues with their eligibility, they were told that they just wouldn’t be issued a voter registration card. Listen to this statement from one of the arrests:
[clip of unspecified Florida man arrested] No one ever really explained all that much to me. I told the guys when they came out here. The guy there asked me, says, hey, are you registered to vote? I said no I’m a convicted felon, I’m pretty sure I can’t and he goes, Well, you still on probation? I said, No, I got off probation like a month ago. He goes well then you can probably go ahead and just fill out the form and you can vote and they’ll let, give you a card. If you can’t vote then you won’t. And I’m like, all right.
Juanita Tolliver: And like I mentioned, the state did issue them voter registration cards and no flags were raised. On top of all of that there is nothing on voter registration forms that notes the massive exception. And the Florida Department of State didn’t flag their ineligibility. Honestly, this should have been a simple situation of the state flagging their voter registration applications years ago and immediately communicating their ineligibility to vote based on their prior criminal records.
Priyanka Aribindi: Totally.
Juanita Tolliver: But instead, DeSantis has chosen to execute a series of harmful, cruel perp walks. The reality is that these people were confused about the changes in the laws and how it applied to them. And at every turn, DeSantis is doing the grimiest shit to shame and traumatize people who are doing their best to follow the rules. Now, one target for fraud DeSantis should be going after is prominent West Palm Beach criminal Donald J. Trump, who tried to commit election fraud in multiple states when he asked election officials to find votes, to stop counting votes, and claimed voter fraud was a rampant issue. But just yesterday, a judge determined that Trump lied about voter fraud allegations in Georgia.
Priyanka Aribindi: Okay, I bet this is surprising to absolutely nobody that Trump has lied yet again.
Juanita Tolliver: Zero surprise.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, but how did we figure that out?
Juanita Tolliver: All right. This revelation comes from the US District Court judge David Carter, who has been reviewing emails from attorney John Eastman, who helped Trump and his allies come up with schemes to overturn the 2020 election. After reviewing those emails, Judge Carter wrote in an opinion that emails from Eastman, quote, “showed that President Trump knew that specific numbers of voter fraud were wrong, but continued to tout those numbers both in court and to the public.” And that Eastman has to turn the emails over to the January 6th select committee because they’re a likely evidence of a crime. Apparently, Trump signed that affidavit that featured inflated voter fraud numbers in Fulton County, Georgia. And in doing so, Trump swore under oath that the numbers were correct when he knew otherwise. Now that these documents are headed to the January 6th Select Committee and most likely the Department of Justice too let’s see if Trump’s fraud leads to one of those, you know, chaotic, ridiculous perp walks. But since you all can’t see me, insert massive eyeroll and side eye to all of that. [laugh]
Priyanka Aribindi: Turning to news abroad though we have some updates from Iran. Yesterday, Iranian climber Elnaz Rekabi returned to Tehran and was greeted by hundreds of people cheering and chanting her name. Over the weekend, Rekabi climbed at an international competition in South Korea without her hijab, which very quickly led to concerns about her whereabouts and her safety afterwards. Rekabi’s actions came as protests in Iran following the death of Mahsa Amini are now in their second month. The women led protest movement has swept across the country to become the biggest challenge to the Iranian government in a decade.
Juanita Tolliver: Look, I’m glad that Elnaz got this warm reception of support like that is a strong showing, but I’m still concerned for her safety based on that fake, weird, confusing Instagram apology about her hijab just slipping off.
Priyanka Aribindi: Very weird.
Juanita Tolliver: But also she’s back on the ground in Iran and we know they could potentially imprison her at any moment.
Priyanka Aribindi: It’s certainly not safe. To hear more about what the protesters are experiencing and how the people of Iran are feeling as these protests continue. I spoke with Jasmin Ramsey. She is the deputy director of the Center for Human Rights in Iran, which is a nonprofit based in New York. I started by asking her what she’s hearing from people on the ground.
Jasmin Ramsey: Even before this current round of protests broke out on September 16th, in the summer many members of civil society were arrested which the judiciary chief called, if you can believe it, preventative arrests of um more than 92 members of civil society who were kind of yanked from their homes or on the street or where they’re working from and just thrown in jail.
Priyanka Aribindi: Wow.
Jasmin Ramsey: And this is part of a concentrated campaign to shut everyone up. And that’s, of course, alongside Internet disruptions.
Priyanka Aribindi: Right.
Jasmin Ramsey: Which have made it very difficult not just for us, but journalists around the world to reach sources inside Iran. So what we hear from people on the ground is immense anger at the ruthless repression by the state against protesters, many of whom are extremely young. We’re talking about women being at the forefront. Young girls and children. And these people also are among the more than 200 who are dead and have been killed–
Priyanka Aribindi: Right.
Jasmin Ramsey: –Since these protests broke out on September 16th.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, at this point, you know, we’ve seen a lot of videos of women in Iran burning their hijabs, cutting their hair. But this movement has gone beyond just women, beyond just young people. Can you explain, you know, who all is coming together in Iranian society to protest?
Jasmin Ramsey: Yeah, I think you can understand that by looking at two of the main sort of slogans that we hear chanted over and over again. The first one is Woman, Life, Freedom, which equates women’s rights with freedom and life, saying that it’s all equal on the same stance and death to the dictator. And in that case, people are saying that they don’t want to live in a country where a supreme leader sits on the top. So they’re really calling for fundamental social and political change, not just reform.
Priyanka Aribindi: Right.
Jasmin Ramsey: And uh as far as who’s joining, it’s all facets of society. So we saw the protests happen in small towns, in big cities. We see elderly people. We see young people. Everyone seems to be coming out and joining. And another thing that’s so interesting is clips that we see of just protesters, peaceful people being detained by security agents. Sometimes they’re heavily armed and sometimes they’re plainclothes agents and just people gathering around whoever is being detained and trying to free them from the grips of these security forces. So there’s really a collective movement that’s continuing to grow in Iran against these repressive state policies.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, this isn’t the first large protest movement that has swept across Iran in recent years even. There was the Green Movement in 2009, the bloody November protests in 2019. Can you explain a little bit about how this movement is different than ones in the past?
Jasmin Ramsey: Well, this movement is actually the culmination of a protest movement that’s really been growing in Iran for the last six years.
Priyanka Aribindi: Mhm.
Jasmin Ramsey: And this movement is defined by anti-state sentiment that people are opposing a state that acts with impunity.
Priyanka Aribindi: Right.
Jasmin Ramsey: And they’re calling for accountability. They’re calling for serious change across all levels. They don’t want this government that only exists for its own survival, which maims, kills and detains people that dare to peacefully oppose it.
Priyanka Aribindi: Right. Earlier this week on our show, we talked about the fire that erupted at Tehran’s notorious Evin prison. And while the exact circumstances of what caused it and what is happening are a little unclear. Can you tell us what protesters have been saying about this incident?
Jasmin Ramsey: What that speaks to is just trauma after trauma that people in Iran are enduring and they’ve been enduring for years and years. It’s going to be a long time before we actually know the facts of what happened there. And there’s just no way to investigate it because the Iranian government blocks independent media from reporting on anything. I mean, if you’re going to dare do that, they’re going to throw you in prison. People can die in a prison and there’s no legal recourse. There is no means of obtaining an independent investigation. Um. So this is what people are protesting against.
Priyanka Aribindi: I’m very curious about the sentiment that you are gathering from people. How do you think they are feeling? Are they feeling hopeful that these protests can enact change? Are they feeling more angry or more upset about what they’ve been subjected to? I just would love to know. I’m sure it’s a whole range of things, how people feel in this moment.
Jasmin Ramsey: It is a range. It’s very difficult to say what everyone is feeling. But one thing that we keep hearing over and over again is that people say things will never be the same after this. And there was a really powerful image that came out of Tehran uh shortly after Mahsa Amini, the young woman whose death sparked these protests.
Priyanka Aribindi: Right.
Jasmin Ramsey: And it said, After Masa, everything hangs by a hair. Referring not only to the fact that that young girl, you know, she died because allegedly she was showing her hair.
Priyanka Aribindi: Right.
Jasmin Ramsey: But also that things are hanging in the balance. There is a sense of people that change is so desperately needed and they’re really calling for international action–
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah.
Jasmin Ramsey: –To help them bring about this change.
Priyanka Aribindi: That was my conversation with Jasmin Ramsey, the deputy director of the Center for Human Rights in Iran. Her group also has some insights for what the international community should do to help the Iranian people. We’ll have a link to their website in our shownotes. Obviously, we will continue following these protests in the days and weeks to come, but that is the latest for now. We’ll be back after some ads.
Priyanka Aribindi: Let’s wrap up with some headlines.
Priyanka Aribindi: Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday declared martial law in four Ukrainian regions that were illegally claimed as part of Russia. These include the regions of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia, all of which Moscow annexed through sham referendums last month. Russian forces have recently suffered battlefield losses across these territories, and the declaration gives Putin’s military the power to arrest and detain civilians within their borders. Ukraine’s head of national security said that the decree could signal a, quote, “mass deportation of Ukrainians” and Russian military officials are set to assume control of those four Ukrainian territories starting today.
Juanita Tolliver: The escalations keep coming from Putin, and it makes me think about what he said earlier this week that this military escalation would only lasts for two weeks and that it would be ending after that. But like I bet you all then I stand firm in believing that this has no end in sight. And that’s really scary and troubling.
Priyanka Aribindi: Terrifying.
Juanita Tolliver: As we get further into the school year. Texas schools are sending parents DNA kits and encouraging them to store their children’s DNA in the event that they go, quote unquote, “missing”. The distribution of these kits is an initiative from the National Child Identification Program, which focuses on missing children at large. But the rollout comes less than six months after the Robb Elementary School shooting in Uvalde that left 19 children dead. As you might recall, the only way police could identify the children’s bodies was by matching their DNA to their parents. So even though the initiative isn’t directly linked to Uvalde, the timing here serves as a grim reminder of the massacre and the fact that assault weapons can still end up in the wrong hands of anybody else who wants to try to commit these violent crimes. They’re not addressing the root problem here.
Priyanka Aribindi: It really is just the worse reminder of what children in this country face every single day going to school, what families in this country face every single day, sending their children to school. And it really shouldn’t be like that.
Juanita Tolliver: Right.
Priyanka Aribindi: Donald Trump had more than one legal consequence for his actions yesterday. In addition to the John Eastman emails that we mentioned earlier, the former president also sat for a deposition as part of a defamation lawsuit by the writer E. Jean Carroll. Carroll claimed that Trump raped her in the mid 1990s. After Trump denied that claim in 2019 she sued him. The trial is scheduled for February 6th, and Carroll’s lawyers have said that she may file another lawsuit against Trump in November under a new New York law allowing sexual assault victims to take legal action outside of the statute of limitations.
Juanita Tolliver: Embattled British Prime Minister Liz Truss was forced to fire another high ranking member of her cabinet on Wednesday. And I I I question the word forced because she’s really picking these folks off one by one. Just hours after she was grilled by lawmakers for her failing economic plan. Truss’s home secretary got the chop after she used her personal email to send a government document to a member of parliament. And her ousting comes just a few days after Truss fired the chancellor behind her controversial tax plan that sank the value of the British pound. Members of Parliament have called for Truss to resign after a mere six weeks in power, which has got to be a record or something. And yesterday’s Q&A session in parliament was no different, with lawmakers literally booing her on the floor. Here’s one lawmaker listing every single one of Truss’s failures thus far with the support of his colleagues:
[clip of unspecified British lawmaker] Corporation tax cut gone. 20p tax cut gone. Economic credibility gone.
Priyanka Aribindi: It’s like call and repeat. Wow.
Juanita Tolliver: My feelings are hurt like I don’t know what she experienced in that moment, but my feelings are hurt from hearing that. But apparently she refused to back down and had this to say in response.
[clip of Liz Truss] Mr. Speaker, I am a fighter, not a quitter.
Juanita Tolliver: Miss ma’am, that was a pretty weak rebuttal when you got the whole room shouting at you.
Priyanka Aribindi: I like the cheers. Like I like that it gets rowdy in there. It kind of sounds fun.
Juanita Tolliver: I’m into the face to face engagement. But meanwhile, British families are still struggling to keep up with the rising cost of living. A new report found that food prices there soared last month, the highest cost the United Kingdom has seen in 40 years.
Priyanka Aribindi: We may be moving into a cashless society, but we are still celebrating cash representation wins. The late actress Anna May Wong appears on a quarter that starts shipping out on Monday, making her the first Asian-American to appear on U.S. currency. Wong became a movie star in the 1920s, enduring anti-Asian xenophobia that was rampant at that time. Racist casting meant that she often had to play the villain, but she fought for lead roles and for increased representation of Asian-Americans in film and in media.
Juanita Tolliver: This is a really exciting, bright spot, Priyanka. Like, I’m really excited to see this coin roll out.
Priyanka Aribindi: Listen, it’s rare that we have exciting news on the show. I will say I’m not really a cash person. I don’t really have cash and coins on me ever. But I think that’s going to have to change because this is really cool.
Juanita Tolliver: Y’all heard it here. Priyanka is going to go buy a roll of Anna May Wong quarters and I’m down for it. And a hearty we did it Joe to people tracking private jets on Twitter who just clipped their first set of billionaire wings. Luxury goods magnate and LVMH CEO Bernard Arnault announced this week that he sold his private jet and admitted that he did so because he was tired of environmentalists shaming him online. Arnault said he switched to simply renting private jets when he needs to fly. So he’s still going to fly private. So whether this will lower his CO2 emissions is unknown. But activists can take comfort in the fact that he has to spend more time readjusting his seat to get it just how he likes it. You know.
Priyanka Aribindi: Listen. This man could have gotten some props here. He could have just been like, yeah, I sold it, you guys did it and I–
Juanita Tolliver: Period.
Priyanka Aribindi: –Saw the error of my ways. But he had to sneak in like, don’t worry though, I’m [laughing] still going to be renting jet. Like, don’t tell people that. You would have gotten the credit. Everyone would have been happy.
Juanita Tolliver: Delivered by a true billionaire.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah.
Juanita Tolliver: Because it’s like. You think you got me, but you didn’t get me. I’m still doing my thing.
Priyanka Aribindi: Love that for you. And those are the headlines.
Priyanka Aribindi: That is all for today.
Juanita Tolliver: If you like the show, make sure you subscribe. Leave a review, enjoy the wonders of commercial air travel and tell your friends to give us a listen.
Priyanka Aribindi: And if you’re into reading and not just private plane trackers like me, What A Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at Crooked.com/subscribe.
Juanita Tolliver: I’m Juanita Tolliver.
Priyanka Aribindi: I’m Priyanka Aribindi.
[spoken together] And enjoy yourself for once James Corden.
Juanita Tolliver: Stop yelling at people.
Priyanka Aribindi: I’m going to amend that. I don’t really care if you’re enjoying yourself. I would just say chill the hell out.
Juanita Tolliver: Stop abusing restaurant workers.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. I don’t really care if you’re having fun or not. Just don’t abuse people. [laughter] [music break] What A Day is a production of Crooked Media. It’s recorded and mixed by Bill Lancz. Jazzi Marine and Raven Yamamoto are our associate producers. Our head writer is Jon Millstein and our executive producer is Lita Martinez. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.