In This Episode
- A federal judge has delayed approval for Hunter Biden’s plea deal with the Justice Department over tax and gun charges. The agreement the president’s son reached with prosecutors unexpectedly fell apart Wednesday, after the judge raised concerns about some of its conditions.
- Former Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani admitted in court documents that he made ‘false’ and defamatory statements about two former Georgia election workers. The pair have sued him for defamation, after he claimed they tampered with ballots during the 2020 presidential election count.
- And in headlines: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell insists he’s ‘fine’ after he abruptly froze during a news conference on Capitol Hill, Congress held a rare bipartisan hearing on UFOs, and the Federal Reserve raised interest rates to a 22-year high.
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Priyanka Aribindi: It’s Thursday, July 27th. I’m Priyanka Aribindi.
Juanita Tolliver: And I’m Juanita Tolliver and this is What A Day where we salute the agents of chaos behind Love Island, USA for bringing Ariana Madix to the villa.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, I cannot think of anything better than appearing on the very show that your cheating ex refused to watch with you because the show invites you on.
Juanita Tolliver: That was a major red flag that he wouldn’t watch with her because this is my definition of quality time. [music break]
Priyanka Aribindi: On today’s show, there are new questions about Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s health after an alarming moment on Capitol Hill. Plus, the ocean water in south Florida may have set a new temperature record.
Juanita Tolliver: But first, a U.S. district judge has delayed approval for Hunter Biden’s plea deal with the Justice Department over tax and gun charges. But it’s not for the reason congressional Republicans had hoped for when they filed a last minute amicus brief earlier this week. Instead, the agreement fell apart after prosecutors and the defense team couldn’t agree to the implications of the previously set plea deal. And after the judge raised concerns about the diversion program associated with the gun charges, there was even a dramatic moment when one of the defense attorneys was overheard saying, then we’ll rip it up. Referring to the plea deal as the disagreement came to a head.
Priyanka Aribindi: Wow. Okay. Dramatic here. What specific concerns did the judge have?
Juanita Tolliver: So last month, Hunter Biden agreed to plead guilty to two misdemeanor tax offenses and one felony firearms charge for behavior that stemmed from a point in his life when he was struggling with addiction issues. Both legal teams were confident in the agreement up until the hearing yesterday, when Judge Maryellen Noreika questioned the logic and implications of the plea deal. Specifically, the judge had concerns about the gun charges plea deal requiring her to act as an arbiter if Hunter Biden violated the terms during the next 24 months, as that is an atypical requirement for the judiciary. She was also concerned that the terms of the agreement of the gun charges would override the terms of the tax charges. And she questioned if there were additional charges coming down the pike, including failing to register as a foreign agent. This sparked yet another disagreement between counsel as the defense team argued that the agreement would prohibit additional charges, while the prosecutors, of course, disagreed. Long story short, the hearing was expected to only last for one hour, but it lasted for three hours and concluded with Hunter Biden entering a not guilty plea.
Priyanka Aribindi: Okay, got it. So a lot more happened than anticipated here. But what comes next from all of this?
Juanita Tolliver: Well, the judge has essentially told counsel for both sides to get it together, to reach terms that they both actually agree to and to provide her with more information within the next few weeks. Ultimately, when and if they reach a new agreement, then Hunter Biden will amend his plea and accept that new plea deal. In terms of a comment from the president about all of this, the White House press secretary, Karine Jean-Pierre, told reporters yesterday, quote, “Hunter Biden is a private citizen and this was a personal matter for him,” she said. She added that the president and the first lady love their son and continue to support him, as well as the fact that this case was handled independently by the Department of Justice. And that fully tracks with how President Biden has been explicitly clear that the DOJ operates independently from the White House.
Priyanka Aribindi: Totally.
Juanita Tolliver: In contrast, we can fully expect House Republicans to continue to latch onto this case like a leach because this is what they have deemed to be the most politically harmful story against President Biden. Their argument is that there shouldn’t be, quote, “two justice systems.” Meanwhile, Donald Trump is the first and only former president to face federal criminal charges and has multiple indictments that could be announced within the next few weeks. But naturally, Hunter Biden is the political story that they want to amplify. So there’s that.
Priyanka Aribindi: Got it. Okay. Zero equivalence I’m seeing between those two situations.
Juanita Tolliver: Zero.
Priyanka Aribindi: It doesn’t feel like Hunter Biden is like, not facing consequen– like it feels like the legal system is working as intended. But thank you so much for filling us in on this, because this is one of those topics that they’ve spoken about very differently depending on like what corner of the Internet and what people you’re talking to. So it’s really helpful to hear the facts. Pivoting to some other news. Former Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani officially conceded that he made false and defamatory statements about two former election workers in Georgia back in 2020. This admission came as part of a defamation suit against Giuliani brought by the two election workers in question, Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss. And it was made in a two page statement filed in federal court just before midnight on Tuesday. In it, Giuliani said that he quote, “does not contest that his statements were false,” and said that he made statements that, quote, “carry meaning that is defamatory per say.”
Juanita Tolliver: Oh, my God. That’s oozing in legal talk for, yeah, I said it and I’m not sorry. Look, all I keep thinking about is Shaye Moss’s testimony before the January 6th Select Committee and that harrowing 911 call recording that Ruby Freeman made when people were literally banging on her door about this.
Priyanka Aribindi: Right.
Juanita Tolliver: So I’m just going to file this in the box of white men ruining Black women’s lives and not really caring at all.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. I mean, if what Rudy is saying sounds like the most half assed apology you have ever heard, you are actually wrong, because he didn’t actually apologize.
Juanita Tolliver: That part.
Priyanka Aribindi: At all. His statement is actually quite complicated. But first, I want to rewind and give you all some context. Giuliani was originally sued for defamation by Freeman and Moss back in 2021. Both women were counting ballots in Fulton County, Georgia, during the 2020 election. Afterwards, Giuliani and then Trump and the right wing news organization OAN, boosted conspiracy theories claiming that these women manipulated ballots. This is part of their election fraud, their narrative of the big lie, all things that we know to be false. But because of these conspiracy theories that Giuliani elevated, Freeman and Moss, as you said, became the targets of incredible amounts of harassment. You probably recognize their names. Both of them testified before the January 6th committee in June of 2022. They described how those accusations completely upended their lives. OAN ended up settling with the women last year, but Giuliani’s lawsuit is still ongoing. That is what this is a part of. So in his statement, Giuliani says that despite his admission that he made false and defamatory statements, this does not affect his argument in the defamation lawsuit that, quote, “his statements are constitutionally protected statements or opinions,” and that they did not result in, quote, “any damages to the plaintiffs.” That is a wild quote.
Juanita Tolliver: Seriously?
Priyanka Aribindi: Obviously, the plaintiffs would beg to differ, as would anybody who, like, heard the January 6th committee testimony. Pretty harrowing to me.
Juanita Tolliver: Right. Shaye Moss literally said she didn’t even want to go to the grocery store, no less–
Priyanka Aribindi: Right.
Juanita Tolliver: –have her mother say her name in public for fear of the harm that would come to them. Also, did Giuliani like copy and paste this from Alex Jones or something? Because that’s what it’s giving right now. Why’d he even make this statement if he’s just going to follow up with this kind of legal jujitsu, then?
Priyanka Aribindi: I mean, it’s a good question. His lawyer is stressing that despite this statement, Giuliani is not actually admitting to the defamation that he is being sued for. Instead, he claims that Giuliani is actually just trying to speed up the litigation through a, quote, “legal maneuver.” You know, the famous legal maneuver in which you actually admit to doing the crime that you are accused of. Don’t have my resident legal adviser, Josie.
Juanita Tolliver: Still sounds wrong. [laughter]
Priyanka Aribindi: [hesitant sounds] I don’t know. But basically, it is looking like Giuliani doesn’t want to or isn’t able to produce records of his exchanges with President Trump regarding this conspiracy and is making this statement to get the court to move past the discovery portion of this case into the actual legal argument. Apparently, he thinks he has a shot when it comes to those. So going to be very interesting to see how that plays out.
Juanita Tolliver: I’m sure not well, but put a big nice bow on all of this for us. How does it all relate back to Trump’s legal issues?
Priyanka Aribindi: Yes. I mean, these were conspiracy theories that via Rudy Giuliani, Trump parroted that made these women the targets of his rabid fans and supporters. As of now, we are still waiting on the DOJ’s second indictment against Trump over his attempts to interfere with the 2020 election. Those are charges that may actually relate to some of the claims we are discussing now. I mean, interfering with the 2020 election kind of has a little something to do with, you know, making these false claims that people are meddling in the election by tampering with ballots, claims that are not true.
Juanita Tolliver: Ding, ding, ding.
Priyanka Aribindi: We’re also expecting an indictment from Georgia sometime next month. So we are staying busy here. Giuliani was actually named as a target in that Georgia probe last year. He was interviewed by prosecutors in Fulton County as part of that. He was also reportedly interviewed by the special counsel’s office as part of the federal investigation that we are all sitting here expecting an indictment from. So Giuliani is playing a pretty significant role in everything that is going on. Obviously, we are still waiting for that indictment to come down and the related charges. As soon as that happens, we’ll be sure to bring you all of that news. But this is the latest for now. We’ll be back after some ads. [music break].
Priyanka Aribindi: Let’s wrap up with some headlines.
[clip of Mitch McConnell] This week in good bipartisan cooperation and a string of uh– [sound of worried murmuring]
Priyanka Aribindi: You just heard Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell abruptly freeze during his weekly leadership news conference on Capitol Hill yesterday. The 81 year old was quickly escorted to his office without any explanation. McConnell returned to the podium a few minutes later, insisted that he was fine and went on to answer questions. An aide later said that he was feeling lightheaded. McConnell was briefly hospitalized back in March after suffering a concussion and a broken rib from a fall at a private fundraising dinner in Washington. Wyoming Senator John Barrasso, who was at McConnell’s side at the time and was an orthopedic surgeon before entering politics, told reporters afterwards that he’s been concerned about McConnell’s health ever since his injury.
Juanita Tolliver: They say the truth is out there, though it remains to be seen if we got any closer to it yesterday, following a rare bipartisan hearing on UFOs, as though our earthly concerns are, you know, not enough to take up all the time and attention of Congress, but okay.
Priyanka Aribindi: Apparently not. More on our plate. Bring it on.
Juanita Tolliver: David Grusch, a former intelligence official turned whistleblower, testified before House lawmakers that the U.S. government is in possession of what he called, quote, “non-human bodies,” [laugh] and has been hiding a program to capture and reverse engineer UFOs. It’s giving Area 51 it’s giving Independence Day, literally line for line.
Priyanka Aribindi: What is going on? I don’t like it.
Juanita Tolliver: The Pentagon has naturally denied his claims. Grusch served for 14 years as an intelligence officer in the Air Force and National Geospatial Intelligence Agency and appeared alongside two former fighter pilots who claim they’ve had firsthand encounters with unidentified aircraft. They asked the committee to demand more transparency from the military to investigate encounters with UFOs, noting that systems to report such incidents are inadequate because of the stigma around them, aside from the far out possibility that any of this involves extraterrestrial life. Red flag in my mind, wow. The hearing stems from growing interest from lawmakers about how the armed forces investigate these reports, while most sightings end up being confirmed as airborne trash, balloons, or even weather phenomena, there’s still the very real possibility that some of these things could be drones or other aircraft from foreign adversaries. I mean, we saw that with the Chinese surveillance balloons popping up in different corners of the country, collecting data with their cameras, etc., etc..
Priyanka Aribindi: I mean, are you saying that it’s not a very real possibility that these are aliens?
Juanita Tolliver: Remains to be seen.
Priyanka Aribindi: I don’t know if we have enough information. Anyways, stop us if you’ve heard this one before. But the Federal Reserve hiked interest rates again yesterday by a quarter of a percentage point, the last time the benchmark index was this high, Destiny’s Child Survivor was at the top of the charts.
Juanita Tolliver: Hey!
Priyanka Aribindi: And Buffy the Vampire Slayer was still on TV, a different time.
Juanita Tolliver: Okay. Shout out to Destiny’s Child and their long standing career. Okay. [laughter]
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. Shout out to Destiny’s Child. Possibly the only part of that that we would like to go back to.
Juanita Tolliver: Yes.
Priyanka Aribindi: This latest rate increase comes after the Fed took a short break following 15 months of consecutive increases. As we told you before. All of this is part of the central bank’s ongoing effort to fight inflation. And while there are some signs that we aren’t heading towards a recession, like many economists had feared earlier this year, the Fed doesn’t seem convinced. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said yesterday that there is more work to be done to bring down the cost of consumer goods and that the Fed is prepared to raise rates again if necessary. Feels like real déjà vu, honestly.
Juanita Tolliver: Mmm. Two transgender Tennesseans have sued Vanderbilt University Medical Center for turning over their medical records to the state’s attorney general. The anonymous plaintiffs say the move violated their right to privacy, adding they were two out of 100 patients whose records were handed over to state officials. A representative for Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti said the records request was part of what they call a run of the mill probe into possible medical billing fraud at Vanderbilt. But according to court filings, the AG’s office specifically asked for a list of people who had visited the University Hospital’s Transgender Health Clinic. It’s giving targeted action. Vanderbilt says it was required by law to comply with the request. But even so, the hospital waited months before they even told patients their information was shared. So not only did they violate the patient’s privacy and rights and protections there, but they sat on it for months, like not knowing what the government was doing with this information. Meanwhile, the patients who filed the suit say they’re, quote, “terrified for their physical safety,” given how lawmakers in Tennessee and elsewhere have consistently targeted the trans community with bans and restrictions on gender affirming care for youth and adults, and goodness. I’d be terrified for my safety too, if I was in their position.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. These people have been failed by every part here. I mean, of course there’s the hospital turning over the records and not telling them for so long.
Juanita Tolliver: Right.
Priyanka Aribindi: But the AG’s office blatantly lied about the way they sought these records, which I don’t know. What’s the punishment for doing that? I don’t know how you hold someone accountable other than voting. But that seems like a big thing to lie to the public about.
Juanita Tolliver: 100%.
Priyanka Aribindi: And finally, spare a thought, if you can, for folks in Florida as they sweat through the grueling heat wave that has enveloped much of the U.S.. But many Floridians can no longer count on a trip to the beach to cool off. According to meteorologists, seawater temperatures at the southernmost tip of the state have hit triple digits. That is the water temperature, people, not even just the outdoors. A buoy at Manatee Bay, which is 40 miles south of Miami, read 101.1 degrees Fahrenheit on Monday evening after registering just over 100 degrees the night before. That is about the same temperature as a hot tub for reference.
Juanita Tolliver: Oh, my goodness.
Priyanka Aribindi: That is really fucking crazy. While some scientists are hesitant to confirm the reading, it is already raising alarms because that could set a new global temperature record for ocean water. That is also bad news for Florida’s already threatened coral reefs, which serve as the foundation for marine ecosystems. And while Governor Ron DeSantis told Fox earlier this year that he rejects what he likes to call, quote, “the politicization of weather,” we would like to hold him to that. Because warmer ocean temperatures can make hurricanes much, much stronger. Feels like as the governor of Florida, that’s something you should actively be working against.
Juanita Tolliver: Oh, but Priyanka, he’s not the governor of Florida. He’s a Republican primary candidate. And, you know, that’s the exclusive lane he’s existing in. Like, forget what Florida is going through. He doesn’t care about Florida.
Priyanka Aribindi: Got it, you’re just going to fail all your people.
Juanita Tolliver: Or 100 degree water.
Priyanka Aribindi: Totally.
Juanita Tolliver: Exactly right.
Priyanka Aribindi: Totally.
Juanita Tolliver: It’s very on brand for him, you know.
Priyanka Aribindi: And those are the headlines.
Juanita Tolliver: That’s all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe. Leave a review. Reminisce on the cultural achievements of the early 2000s and tell your friends to listen.
Priyanka Aribindi: And if you’re into reading and not just non apologies from Rudy Giuliani like me, What A Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at Crooked.com/subscribe. I’m Priyanka Aribindi.
Juanita Tolliver: I’m Juanita Tolliver.
[spoken together] And the truth is out there.
Juanita Tolliver: I mean, maybe if it comes in the form of ET. Like ET was a dope alien, like I would vibe with ET.
Priyanka Aribindi: ET or Stitch. Fucking love–
Juanita Tolliver: I have never seen–
Priyanka Aribindi: –Stitch.
Juanita Tolliver: –Lilo and Stitch.
Priyanka Aribindi: Stitch is very cute.
Juanita Tolliver: I love a friendly alien.
Priyanka Aribindi: We love him.
Juanita Tolliver: Those are the only ones welcome. [laughter] [music break]
Priyanka Aribindi: What A Day is a production of Crooked Media. It’s recorded and mixed by Bill Lancz, our show’s producer is Itxy Quintanilla. Raven Yamamoto and Natalie Bettendorf are our associate producers. Our intern is Ryan Cochran, and our senior producer is Lita Martinez. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.