In This Episode
- A federal grand jury investigating Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election results met on Thursday in Washington, D.C. and heard testimony from former Trump aide William Russell. The meeting comes after Trump this week revealed that he received a target letter from Special Counsel Jack Smith, informing him that he is the subject of the federal investigation.
- The 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup officially kicked off in Auckland, New Zealand on Thursday. This year’s tournament – the largest in its 32-year history – opened with a one-to-nothing win for New Zealand against Norway.
- And in headlines: Ukraine has started firing U.S.-supplied cluster munitions as part of its counteroffensive against Russia, Illinois has become the first state in the nation to eliminate cash bail, and a neighborhood in Florida is dealing with an invasion of lionhead rabbits.
- What A Day – YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/@whatadaypodcast
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Juanita Tolliver: It’s Friday, July 21st. I’m Juanita Tolliver.
Priyanka Aribindi: And I’m Priyanka Aribindi, and this is What A Day where we are actively investigating reports that Ariana Grande is dating SpongeBob SquarePants.
Juanita Tolliver: I feel like, first off, I didn’t even know that was a Broadway show. So there’s that. And then second, when I thought it was about the cartoon, I was like, Oh, so we’re going to Bikini Bottom, are we? [laughing]
Priyanka Aribindi: I guess.
Juanita Tolliver: Like vibes.
Priyanka Aribindi: I guess she got a ticket. [laugh] [music break]
Juanita Tolliver: On today’s show, Illinois has become the first state in the nation to eliminate cash bail. Plus, a neighborhood in Florida is dealing with an adorable invasion.
Priyanka Aribindi: But first, the waiting game continues when it comes to former President Donald Trump’s second federal indictment. There were rumblings earlier this week that the indictment from special counsel Jack Smith over Trump’s efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election could have come down yesterday. As of our recording time at 9:30 p.m. Eastern on Thursday, however, that has not yet happened. But it’s likely that those new criminal charges against Trump are coming soon, as he, of course, continues his bid for the White House in 2024. So back on Tuesday, Trump revealed that he had received what is known as a target letter from Special Counsel Smith, informing him that he is the subject of a federal investigation that is typically followed by an indictment. If we look back to his first federal indictment, a.k.a. the one over the classified documents earlier this summer, it took about three weeks for the DOJ to formally announce the charges against Trump. So if that is any indication, we still have some time to wait it out here. Nothing out of the ordinary.
Juanita Tolliver: Right.
Priyanka Aribindi: It just didn’t happen. And that’s fine.
Juanita Tolliver: Completely fine. And we honestly shouldn’t be listening to Trump anyway. Every time he’s like, they’re finna arrest me, lies. Hasn’t happened.
Priyanka Aribindi: The old man who cried wolf. [laughter] I suppose.
Juanita Tolliver: So what else do we know about what’s happening at this point with the case?
Priyanka Aribindi: So we do have a few new details. So yesterday, a former Trump aide, William Russell, gave testimony before a DC grand jury as part of this investigation. Before Trump left the White House, Russell served as a special assistant, and then he continued to work with Trump as a personal aide afterwards. According to reporting by The Washington Post, he has previously appeared before this grand jury. So it’s not his first go around. But the fact that they’re still hearing testimony and that they called him back indicates that the DOJ may still be ironing some things out here. They’re not fully done with him yet. Also, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported on Wednesday that the DOJ actually subpoenaed the Georgia secretary of state’s Office for surveillance and security footage from Atlanta’s State Farm Arena. That is one of the locations where votes in the 2020 election were being counted. It’s an example that is frequently cited by election deniers as you know a location where fraud took place. The subpoena was dated for the end of May, and it is an indicator that there will be an overlap between this investigation and the grand jury in Georgia’s investigation. As a reminder, you know we’re still expecting that fourth Trump indictment out of Georgia, likely by mid-August. So, you know, just a steady stream of indictments for the summer. Um. I’m thinking like cool for the summer.
Juanita Tolliver: Demi Lovato!
Priyanka Aribindi: A little bit.
Juanita Tolliver: Yes!
Priyanka Aribindi: I’m thinking like indictment girl summer. Like, we’ll workshop this a little bit. We’re a little late to it, but I think we’ll get there. [laugh]
Juanita Tolliver: Also, when I think of the fact that William Russell is testifying again before the grand jury, it’s like I feel like the DOJ is asking him, is there anything else you want to tell us before we do this? Because, sir.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah.
Juanita Tolliver: [laugh] So that’s the news from the Northern Hemisphere. Let’s go to the southern hemisphere, where the Women’s World Cup kicked off with a stunning Haka in Auckland, New Zealand, and an historic win for New Zealand as they beat Norway one – nil. It’s New Zealand’s very first World Cup match win since the tournament began 32 years ago, and the energy and emotion of the sold out home crowd at Eden Park matched the moment. It was also an exciting opening day for their co-host nation Australia, as the Matildas defeated Ireland one – nil. And I’m so excited for these teams to get the shine and the celebrations that they 100% deserve. And you better believe that the whole world is also watching to see how Team USA performs as the two time reigning World Cup champs. And this will be futbol superstar Megan Rapinoe final tournament before she retires at the end of the year. So it’s a thrilling time, especially for the younger players on the team who are competing for the very first time at the World Cup.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yes, I love it. Is a shot of excitement in this otherwise very hot–
Juanita Tolliver: Right?
Priyanka Aribindi: –very monotonous summer. So thank you for giving us something like positive and exciting to look forward to. Soccer, futbol, whatever you call it, it is so much fun to watch. So what are some matches that we should be aware of that we should know about going in to the tournament?
Juanita Tolliver: All right. So there’s a huge time zone difference here, but we’re going to be playing catch up today as Nigeria and Canada are kicking off at the time of our recording. There’s also the Philippines versus Switzerland and Spain versus Croatia happening overnight. But don’t you worry, the United States is set to take on Vietnam tonight at 9:00 Eastern. So–
Priyanka Aribindi: Ooh!
Juanita Tolliver: I’m glad that timing works out. Also, I got to give a special shout out to the Philippines and Vietnam for making their World Cup debuts. This is huge for those countries.
Priyanka Aribindi: So exciting.
Juanita Tolliver: I would also love it even more if American employers adopted the Brazilian approach here because they’re shifting work schedules for people so that they can stay up as late as they want to and watch the matches live. According to reports, during the World Cup, civil servants can report to work up to 2 hours after the final whistle. And honestly, I’m here for that consideration. Like, yes.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, that’s kind of fun. You know, I haven’t thought about it much before, but like when you think about American sporting tournaments or like things that, you know, we watch, it’s like I get this image of people watching like March Madness on their computers–
Juanita Tolliver: 100%.
Priyanka Aribindi: –in the office and like trying to hide–
Juanita Tolliver: 100%.
Priyanka Aribindi: –the tab. Like–
Juanita Tolliver: Or not trying.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. Or they’re just doing it in the open. But like, people want to be watching this.
Juanita Tolliver: Yeah.
Priyanka Aribindi: We’re just kind of confined by our schedules. But it would be so great if, you know, there was more of an effort around, like carving out this time for something so fun and exciting and positive for us to all get behind.
Juanita Tolliver: Right.
Priyanka Aribindi: Anyways, have a lot of suggestions for the powers that be there. But while everything is going smoothly on the pitch, I’ve definitely seen some troubling reports of things happening outside. So what is going on? Tell us everything that’s happening.
Juanita Tolliver: Yeah, it’s pretty dark. Very early on opening day, there was a deadly shooting at a construction site in Auckland and it’s got everyone on high alert as shootings are extremely rare in New Zealand. After the incident, New Zealand police ultimately determined that the shooting did not pose a national security risk. And the Women’s World Cup opening ceremony and first match proceeded as planned, though additional security was deployed throughout Auckland and some fan events were canceled. Now the other major story surrounding the start of the World Cup is that earlier this week, FIFA president Gianni Infantino announced that the organization cannot guarantee that player federations will pay the negotiated $30,000 fee per player. Honestly, it feels like a slap in the face when we know pay equity between men and women futbol players is non-existent. And then to wait until the start of the tournament when all these teams have flown in to announce that you don’t have mechanisms in place to ensure that women are paid, what they were promised is messy.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, that I mean, that’s absolutely crazy, and infuriating to be like, you know, this was negotiated upon. Everyone agreed.
Juanita Tolliver: Right.
Priyanka Aribindi: But the part where they’re saying like, you know, they can’t guarantee that the player federations will pay. I mean, they shouldn’t be allowed to show up if they can’t guarantee like you’re in charge, you make the rules.
Juanita Tolliver: Right. Regulate this, please. Ultimately, Infantino stressed that FIFA is an association of associations, and while they send the payments to the various associations for each country, they have no way of making sure those payments make it to the players. He blamed it on residency and tax policy. And that warrants a massive side eye because yeah yikes. In the illustrious words of the one Rihanna. B– better have my money. Pay me what you owe me immediately.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yes.
Juanita Tolliver: Period. Like, that’s it. [laughing] Especially when the Women’s World Cup is set to generate half a billion dollars in revenue. There’s no excuses.
Priyanka Aribindi: Totally.
Juanita Tolliver: Of course, we will follow the money and bring you more on all of this soon, But that’s the latest for now. We’ll be back after some ads. [music break]
Juanita Tolliver: Let’s get to some headlines.
Juanita Tolliver: Ukraine has started firing cluster munitions supplied by the United States as part of its counter offensive against Russia. According to Ukrainian officials who spoke to The Washington Post, the controversial weapons are being deployed in southeastern Ukraine to try to break up well-established Russian positions. And they’re also expected to be used near the occupied city of Bakhmut. The Biden administration announced its decision to supply the weapons earlier this month, a move that was criticized by human rights groups and even some Democrats. That’s because the weapons, which are banned in over 120 countries are designed to explode mid-air over targets, scattering smaller bomblets over a wide area while using less ammunition. However, the small bomblets can fail to detonate and could explode years later if they’re picked up or handled by a civilian. It’s giving landmines in the eighties and nineties, right? Like I feel like we’re–
Priyanka Aribindi: –seriously.
Juanita Tolliver: –we’re repearting history.
Priyanka Aribindi: We’ve done this before.
Juanita Tolliver: Yeah.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah.
Juanita Tolliver: And learned absolutely nothing, apparently. Russian President Vladimir Putin recently said he’d consider using the Kremlin’s own supply of cluster munitions if they’re used on Russian troops. But according to the United Nations, Russia has already used cluster munitions in Ukraine at least 24 times since the beginning of the invasion last year. So there’s that.
Priyanka Aribindi: Just a heads up. This headline mentions miscarriages and pregnancy loss, so feel free to skip ahead a bit if you need to. A group of women and two doctors are suing the state of Texas over its abortion ban, asking officials to clarify what qualifies as a medical exception to the rule. On Wednesday, four women testified in court about how they were denied abortion care, even after learning that their pregnancies were not viable. They took the stand to tell their heart wrenching stories about the physical and emotional harm that they have endured as a result. One woman spoke about how she was forced to carry a pregnancy to term, even after finding out that there was no chance that her baby would be born alive. Another woman said that she nearly died from septic shock after doctors refused to provide an abortion when her water broke at 18 weeks. Take a listen to Ashley Brandt, one of the four women who testified on Wednesday.
[clip of Ashley Brandt] I don’t feel safe to have children in Texas anymore. I know that it was very clear that my health didn’t really matter, but my daughter’s health certainly mattered and that was heartbreaking.
Juanita Tolliver: Oh, my God. That’s just a sad truth, but also heartbreaking that she has to recount that again. Like, oh, my God.
Priyanka Aribindi: Right. Like, how many times are you going to listen to people describe the worst things that have ever happened to them before they even begin to pay attention? Like, I feel like we know the answer to that.
Juanita Tolliver: Right.
Priyanka Aribindi: They’re never going to. Testimony continued yesterday from two out-of-state doctors who call the Texas abortion laws confusing and dehumanizing for pregnant patients. I feel like that is just the tip of the iceberg of things you can call these awful laws.
Juanita Tolliver: Florida’s Board of Education unanimously approved a new set of standards, if you can call them that, for how Black history should be taught in the state’s public schools. The new standards outlined benchmarks for teachers, including one that requires lessons for middle schoolers to include, quote, “how slaves developed skills, which in some instances could be applied for their personal benefit.” Let me just rewind to the concept of being an enslaved person. There is no personal benefit at all.
Priyanka Aribindi: What?
Juanita Tolliver: Period. Instructors are also told to explain that Black people were perpetrators as well as victims of horrific events like race massacres, like come on. The guidelines follow Florida’s controversial education law that requires lessons on race to be taught in a so-called objective manner. Translation, straight up lies.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah.
Juanita Tolliver: As you can imagine, the framework has drawn the ire of the statewide teachers union and even the vice president herself.
[clip of Vice Presiden Kamala Harris] They insult us in an attempt to gaslight us, and we will not stand for it.
Juanita Tolliver: I mean, not a single lie detected. That’s exactly what’s happening here. And Vice President Harris is even traveling to Florida today to put these new guidelines on blast up close and in person. And we’re here for it, like call that out every single time, because this is clearly the trend among Republicans across the country. So call it out.
Priyanka Aribindi: If nothing happens that this goes unchecked, this is what kids will learn and grow up thinking, because that’s what happens in school. You believe like what they tell you. You think they’re telling you the truth.
Juanita Tolliver: Exactly.
Priyanka Aribindi: Anyways, let’s switch gears to some surprisingly good news in the world of criminal justice. Earlier this week, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled in favor of eliminating the state’s cash bail system, making it the first state in the nation to fully do so. This means that no one except defendants who are considered a threat to the public will be detained in Illinois jails before their trial simply because they can’t afford the cost of bail. The ruling overturned a lower court’s finding that eliminating cash bail somehow violates the state’s constitution. Not really buying that. And the effort to challenge cash bail in Illinois in the first place stems from a measure adopted in 2021, which was meant to revamp the state’s criminal justice system following the police murder of George Floyd. The new law will go into effect starting September 18th.
Juanita Tolliver: I mean, that date can’t come soon enough and Illinois first, I feel like that meme. Who’s next? [?]
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, exactly.
Juanita Tolliver: Like literally more of this please.
Priyanka Aribindi: More! I see the TikToks already. [laughter]
Juanita Tolliver: And finally, a story on a different kind of bad bunny y’all.
Priyanka Aribindi: Bye. [laughter]
Juanita Tolliver: I committed, though. I committed.
Priyanka Aribindi: You did. You did. [laughter]
Juanita Tolliver: Dozens of rabbits have invaded Wilton Manors, Florida, a community just north of Fort Lauderdale. It started two years ago when a resident let her lionhead rabbits loose after she moved out of the neighborhood. So homegirl fled the scene. Wow.
Priyanka Aribindi: My God.
Juanita Tolliver: Leading to a now estimated population of 60 to 100 lionheads hopping around the suburbs, I guess at it like rabbits. Here you go.
Priyanka Aribindi: God. [laughter]
Juanita Tolliver: Residents have mixed feelings about their furry neighbors. Some say they enjoy the bunnies presence, while others complain about the rabbits digging holes, chewing wiring, and basically pooping everywhere. Like reasonable complaints. Some of them, I guess. [laughter] And according to The Washington Post, some neighbors have allegedly threatened to go so far as to shoot the rabbits to keep them in check. Now, that’s too far.
Priyanka Aribindi: Okay. Yeah, there’s there’s a line.
Juanita Tolliver: Where’s PETA? I need PETA immediately to be down in this neighborhood because, no.
Priyanka Aribindi: Oh, my God. If PETA gets over there, Wilton Manors just belongs to the bunnies now like– [laughter]
Juanita Tolliver: Check. [laughing] Back in April, the city commission met to discuss how to deal with the state’s latest invasive species, though the city has disputed earlier reports that they voted to trap and kill the bunnies. Yikes. Still, Wilton Manors is now giving bunny supporters time to raise money to help relocate the critters, including Alicia Griggs, a resident who has made it her mission to save the rabbits by leading fundraising efforts for a rescue group to capture, neuter, vaccinate, and rehome them. As of our record time on Thursday evening, Griggs has already raised more than $18,000 for the effort.
Priyanka Aribindi: Okay, there’s a lot going on here, um but what sticks out to me, $18,000? I feels like there are a lot of people in the comment section of that GoFundMe who would like happily adopt a bunny.
Juanita Tolliver: Okay, here’s the thing. Think about the audience down in Wilton Manors, Florida, Florida, the retirement capital of the country. Right. Like these are older people with resources who are like, yeah, I’ll help the bunnies. [laughing]
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah everybody gets uh maybe it should be like a welcome gift to the community. We should–
Juanita Tolliver: Oh!
Priyanka Aribindi: –get the bunnies off the streets.
Juanita Tolliver: It’s giving Oprah.
Priyanka Aribindi: Everyone gets a bunny.
Juanita Tolliver: You get a bunny.
Priyanka Aribindi: You get it yeah exactly.
Juanita Tolliver: You get a bunny. [laughter]
Priyanka Aribindi: I think we have some creative solutions, and I think someone has an extra 18 grand.
Juanita Tolliver: Clearly. Alicia Griggs. Call me friend. [laughing] And–
Priyanka Aribindi: Don’t sue us. Please don’t.
Juanita Tolliver: And those are the headlines. [laughing]
Juanita Tolliver: That’s all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe. Leave a review, save a couple of bunnies from Florida, and tell your friends to listen.
Priyanka Aribindi: And if you’re into reading and not just timelines of Donald Trump’s legal troubles like me, every single day, basically. 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 go Team USA.
Juanita Tolliver: I am so hyped for them you know they’re gonna turn up.
Priyanka Aribindi: Feels good that you can get behind USA.
Juanita Tolliver: Right.
Priyanka Aribindi: Finally. [laugh]
Juanita Tolliver: I mean imagine because otherwise I’m like, no I’m not from here. I don’t go here. [laugh] I don’t know her.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah pick a random country that you’re suddenly like, yeah, I’m all in on on them. Sure.
Juanita Tolliver: Deadass. [laughing] [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.