In This Episode
- The FBI has arrested 21-year old Jack Teixeira, a member of the Massachusetts Air National Guard suspected of leaking classified government documents on Discord early last month. The materials revealed sensitive information about the war in Ukraine, and how the U.S. spies on some of its allies.
- A federal appeals court partially blocked the decision by a Texas judge to suspend the FDA’s approval of mifepristone, but with tightened restrictions. The Justice Department is now asking the Supreme Court to weigh in on the conflicting decisions over the abortion pill.
- And in headlines: President Biden announced a plan to expand healthcare access to DACA recipients, Missouri Republicans are threatening to defund public libraries in the state, and New York Mayor Eric Adams has appointed the city’s first-ever ‘rat czar.’
- Where Can I Get an Abortion? | U.S. Abortion Clinic Locator – https://www.abortionfinder.org/
- Vote Save America | Fuck Bans Action Plan – https://votesaveamerica.com/roe/
- What A Day – YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/@whatadaypodcast
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Tre’vell Anderson: It’s Friday, April 14th. I’m Tre’vell Anderson.
Priyanka Aribindi: And I’m Priyanka Aribindi and this is What A Day, where we have a few notes on Time’s list of the 100 most influential people of 2023.
Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah, first of all, they misspelled my name as Austin Butler. What’s up with that?
Priyanka Aribindi: Rude. Second of all, where the hell is M3gan? The robot doll. She is not going to be happy about this. [laughter] [music break] On today’s show, the Biden administration plans to expand health care access to DACA recipients. Plus, if you’ve applied to become New York City’s new rat czar, we regret to inform you that they have moved forward with another candidate.
Tre’vell Anderson: But first, we’ve got an update on that trove of classified documents that was floating on Discord that we mentioned on Tuesday’s show. The FBI has arrested the person they suspect is behind the leak. His name is Jack Teixeira, and he’s a 21 year old member of the Massachusetts Air National Guard. And he was arrested for the, quote, “alleged unauthorized removal, retention and transmission of classified national defense information.” As a quick reminder, photos of top secret governmental documents were posted on the messaging platform Discord early last month, but they only recently gained more attention after someone reposted a portion of the documents to the extremist paradise known as 4Chan. The classified documents revealed a whole lot of stuff, including that the U.S. has been spying on a number of its allies and that the government believes Israel’s intelligence agency is actually encouraging protests against the country’s new government. Other docs disclosed some of the weaknesses of Ukraine’s military operations, which prompted the country to make some alterations to whatever they had planned as the Russian invasion approaches the 14 month mark. And the docs also revealed that the U.S. has been intercepting Russian military communications channels.
Priyanka Aribindi: Okay, this is some serious shit that we’re talking about, like some very serious, very sensitive information that has been leaked. So I am very curious, what do we know about this person and why did he do this? Like, do we know why he wanted to leak this information? I’m so curious.
Tre’vell Anderson: So as I mentioned, Jack worked at the Massachusetts Air National Guard. He served in a junior position but had access to an internal Defense Department computer network for top secret information called the Joint Worldwide Intelligence Communications System. Very long name there. He was part of this discord group that started in the pandemic and is comprised of roughly two dozen mostly men and boys who are united in their mutual love of a different kind of holy trinity, God, guns and military gear.
Priyanka Aribindi: Big yikes.
Tre’vell Anderson: The others in the Discord group called Jack OG, which I can only assume is supposed to mean original gangster, which is a particular title for a 21 year old. But you know, what do I know?
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, all of this is uh disgusting to me. But please continue.
Tre’vell Anderson: I’m going to play for you a clip from an interview that The Washington Post did with a member of that Discord group where Teixeira allegedly posted the classified docs. The identity of the person speaking is hidden, but we know they’re a minor. Take a listen.
[clip of identity discolosed Discord member] He is not a Russian operative. He is not a Ukrainian operative. I’ll go as far to say he’s not even on the east side of the world. Any claims that he is a Russian operative or pro-Russian is categorically false. He is not interested in helping any foreign agencies with their attack on the US or other countries. He was a he was a young, charismatic man who loved nature, God, who loved shooting guns and and racing cars. He did have sort of a bossy attitude at some points, but it was more of a fatherly bossy. He did see himself as the leader of this group, and he ultimately he was the leader of this group. And he wanted us all to be sort of super soldiers to some degree and formed fit with God, well-armed stuff like that.
Priyanka Aribindi: Girl, what? [laughter] What was that? Yeah, that does not sound like a fun thing to be a part of. Anyways, he’s obviously facing years in prison if convicted. But what else do we know about the impact of this leak?
Tre’vell Anderson: One Biden administration source called the leak, quote, “an egregious betrayal of trust,” while also noting that much of the info in the docs is likely weeks old. Right. So the danger to national security and the security risks of allied operations like supporting Ukraine against Russia’s invasion is kind of still a bit unclear. We do know that the leak caused Ukraine to tweak some of their plans, as I mentioned earlier. But beyond that, the impact is still unfolding. We’re still kind of figuring that out. In the meantime, it’s expected that Jack will make an initial appearance in court today to begin you know answering those charges against him.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, Tre’vell thank you so much for walking us through that. In other news, the legal saga around the abortion pill mifepristone continues. Late Wednesday, a federal appeals court partially blocks the decision by a judge in Texas to suspend the FDA’s approval of mifepristone. This means mifepristone is still available for now, but the court order temporarily prevents it from being sent to patients via mail, which is how a lot of people get it these days. And it limits its approved use to the first seven weeks of a pregnancy, which is still quite early.
Tre’vell Anderson: Okay. So it’s still available. That’s great, I guess. But all of these new limitations and restrictions, what’s going on with that?
Priyanka Aribindi: So the restrictions are actually the ones that were in place on the drug prior to 2016. So in its ruling, the Fifth Circuit Court said that conservative groups had actually waited too long to challenge the FDA’s approval of Mifepristone. Mifepristone was approved back in 2000, has been around for 23 years, used very safely for all this time then. They basically said like you’re way too late on that. But the court said that the statute of limitations hadn’t expired on the regulatory changes that the FDA has made around this drug since 2016. So these relatively newer changes that have made it easier for people who need abortions to get them, you know, being able to get Mifepristone by mail, for example, not having to see a doctor or go in person to get the prescription, taking it later into a pregnancy are the things that they are restricting now. So very big deal, very big changes. You know, Mifepristone’s still available, but like a very tight grip on how and it’s really, really changing, especially, I would say, with the mail, like how people are going to be able to access this. The Biden administration, of course, finds this unacceptable. They are not okay with it. The DOJ immediately asked the Supreme Court to intervene and stop these restrictions to restore access to regular people.
Tre’vell Anderson: Gotcha. So now how might the court handle this? We know that they haven’t quite been on our side lately.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, I mean, this is the same conservative majority that took away Roe. So you would not be blamed if you were expecting the worst here. But The New York Times actually spoke to some legal experts recently who think that because of the sweeping way that the Texas decision was made to invalidate the FDA’s approval of the drug, that the Supreme Court justices might actually wait for a better case to weigh in in a more measured way. But all of these things that have been happening, the judge in Texas’s ruling. The ruling from a judge in Washington state in a separate case that directly contradicted the Texas decision. Now, this order saying that we can still have Mifepristone, but under these very different regulations, all of it is extremely confusing. If you are a person who needs an abortion right now and all of this is going to be especially complicated for people living in Florida, where the state’s Republican majority legislature yesterday passed a sweeping ban on abortions after the six week mark, and that includes its own restrictions on medication abortion. Governor Ron DeSantis said that he plans to sign it. No surprise there. And that could have a huge impact across the Deep South since many people in the region have come to Florida for abortions since Roe was overturned. Now, it could take some time before this gets worked out. Florida’s 15 week ban on abortion is still being challenged in state court. But with all of this legal drama unfolding, abortion providers nationwide have been preparing for all of the ways that these situations could play out. So if you or someone you know needs an abortion, don’t let all the chaos around these decisions stop you from seeking out that care. Abortionfinder.org is a great place to start if you need it. We’ll keep following this as it continues to unfold, but that is the latest for now. [music break]
Tre’vell Anderson: Let’s get to some headlines.
Tre’vell Anderson: Just one week after he pleaded not guilty to 34 criminal charges for falsifying business records, former President Donald Trump returned to New York yesterday to sit for a deposition in yet another high stakes legal case against him. This time it was for New York Attorney General Letitia James’s civil investigation into Trump, two of his children and the Trump Organization. The suit was filed late last year alleging that the Trump family business gave false financial statements to lenders for over a decade in order to enrich themselves. If the Trumps are found guilty, they’ll face a $250 million dollar fine and could be barred from running any business in the state of New York ever again, which is probably, you know, a win for all the New Yorkers out there. Thursday’s deposition comes after Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump, both of whom are also named in James’s lawsuit, were deposed by the attorney general last year as part of the probe. The Trumps deny any wrongdoing, of course they do. The case is set to go to trial in October.
Priyanka Aribindi: We will stay tuned for that one. President Biden has announced a plan to expand health care access to hundreds of thousands of immigrants known as Dreamers. Under the proposal, recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program or DACA, will be granted access to insurance coverage through the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid markets. DACA recipients are currently ineligible for government funded health care coverage. But the proposed rule change would expand the definition of, quote, “lawful presence” to include immigrants who are brought to the U.S. as children and are enrolled in DACA. In a statement released yesterday, the White House said, quote, “We recognize that every day counts and we expect to get the proposed rule done by the end of the month.” If finalized, the rule would make DACA recipients eligible for these programs for the first time. That’s a really exciting development.
Tre’vell Anderson: Absolutely. Fort Lauderdale and other cities in southern Florida have been inundated with severe flooding over the past few days following a series of intense thunderstorms in the region. The National Weather Service estimates that Fort Lauderdale alone saw over two feet of rain between Wednesday and Thursday, passing the city’s previous 24 hour rainfall record of about 15 inches. Footage from the area showed people wading through waist high water in the streets and the high flood waters made most roads impassable, trapping many residents in their homes. The Fort Lauderdale Hollywood Airport was also forced to suspend operations because of all the debris that was swept onto its runways. Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis told reporters, quote, “What we are seeing is a thousand year incident. No city could have planned for this.” As of our record time at 9:30 p.m. Eastern, there have been no reported injuries or deaths due to the severe weather. The Fort Lauderdale Hollywood Airport is scheduled to reopen today.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, that footage was so scary to watch. If you’re in this area, we hope you’re staying safe and that you are staying dry. Pack it up, everybody. Missouri has figured out the problem with everything and, yep, just what you suspected, it’s books. Republican lawmakers there are threatening to defund all public libraries in the state. Not usually what I’m used to hearing after the word defund. In a budget passed by Missouri’s Republican led House last week, all $4.5 million dollars in state funding allocated for public libraries would be eliminated. However, the good news, if you want to call it that, is that this proposal has not yet been finalized. And lawmakers in Missouri’s Senate have said that they plan to restore that funding, including Senator Lincoln Hough, the Republican chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, who told the Saint Louis Post-Dispatch, quote, “There is no way that money is not going back into the budget.” Hopefully, it all goes as planned. And we’ll be here to keep you posted on the latest developments. But it’s so crazy that they tried to do this in the first place.
Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah.
Priyanka Aribindi: That is nuts. I’m–
Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah.
Priyanka Aribindi: –so sorry to everyone in Missouri, your lawmakers, wackadoodles. Don’t know what to tell you.
Tre’vell Anderson: This just goes to show that the Republicans all across the country are all wild. No one’s exempt. Okay.
Priyanka Aribindi: Not one.
Tre’vell Anderson: Keep your eyes peeled. And finally, New York Mayor Eric Adams this week announced that the city has finally found its rat czar. The first ever city official responsible for curbing the proliferation of rats. In a job posting for the position, the city asked for candidates who were, quote, “highly motivated and somewhat bloodthirsty” and had a, quote, “swashbuckling attitude, crafty humor and general aura of badassery.” The person for the job is Kathy Corradi, a former elementary school teacher with a background in biology and urban sustainability. Corradi had this to say about her passion for eradicating rats.
[clip of Kathy Corradi] As New York City’s first director of rodent mitigation. I will bring a science and systems based approach to reducing New York City’s rat population. With a strong focus on cutting off the food, water, and shelter rats need to survive and ensure every New Yorker is prepared to take up this mantle in this fight.
Tre’vell Anderson: Thems is definitely fighting words, Kathy.
Priyanka Aribindi: We’re being mobilized.
Tre’vell Anderson: Listen. She is getting us together. Okay. Getting us information. So you better hug your ratatouilles and your pizza rats a little tighter tonight because Kathy Corradi is coming for them.
Priyanka Aribindi: But, Kathy, I don’t know if I want to be in the fight. I want to be far away from that shit. I’m so sorry. [laughter] This is your fight. That’s your job now, why are you trying to recruit me for this?
Tre’vell Anderson: Kathy says this is a team effort. Everyone has a role to play.
Priyanka Aribindi: I love the spirit Kathy, where’s the team’s paycheck? So sorry. I’m staying in my apartment. That’s your problem girl. [laughter]
Tre’vell Anderson: And those are the headlines. We’ll be back after some ads to ask some very important questions about one of the oldest members of Congress. [music break].
Tre’vell Anderson: It’s Friday WAD squad and it’s about damn time. That also means it’s time for a little segment we like to call rent free because no matter how many things are happening in the news and there’s always a lot, there’s always that one thing that ends up living rent free in your head.
Priyanka Aribindi: And we are here today with our very good friend, Crooked Associate editor Julia Claire. She is the brave soul behind our nightly newsletter. And you know, a thing or two about this phenomenon, right, Julia?
Julia Claire: I sure do. [laughter]
Priyanka Aribindi: So it’s been another busy news cycle. But if there is one thing of all the things, what’s that one that has been taking up too much of your brain space this week?
Julia Claire: If any of you follow me on Twitter and I hope to God you don’t, you will know that’s what’s been living rent free in my head is uh Senator Dianne Feinstein, my senator here in California. I didn’t do this intentionally, but uh I accidentally caused maybe a momentum to get her to resign. She’s not going to do it. She’s not gonna resign. But I did point out that at the time that I tweeted this a few days ago, she had missed 58 Senate votes. And she is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which means that basically the process by which uh the Biden administration can nominate and confirm judges to the federal courts has been suspended since she has been out sick and she’s also 89 years old. The main thing is that she’s given no indication of when she is going to return to the Senate.
Tre’vell Anderson: Mm hmm.
Julia Claire: So it just feels like we’re in this indefinite hell in which we can confirm no liberal judges to the federal bench at a time when the rights of trans people and people who can get pregnant are being rolled back and exterminated essentially by activist hard right federal judges because Trump pushed through hundreds of them in his one term.
Priyanka Aribindi: Totally.
Julia Claire: The Texas judge who issued the ruling invalidating the FDA’s 23 year approval of Mifepristone, the abortion pill, was one of those judges that Trump confirmed in his single term. The federal bench has lifetime appointments. It is an emergency that we are not able to confirm judges to the bench in these unfilled vacancies. I’m getting a lot of pushback calls for old DeiFei to resign.
Tre’vell Anderson: Why do you think people are pushing back?
Julia Claire: Using very much the same reasoning that a lot of people used when Ruth Bader Ginsburg was sick repeatedly and of very advanced age. She should have known how tenuous and vulnerable our democracy is, and she should have resigned and allowed herself to be replaced when President Obama was in office.
Priyanka Aribindi: You bring up a really salient and important point that it’s not just us being like, oh, get out of here because you’re old. Like the things that are being held up because of her absence are of critical importance. That is why people are like, hey, maybe we need to do this.
Julia Claire: Yeah I, and I know that it does look like I’m cyberbullying an elderly woman with shingles, but [laughter] I’m not. I promise I am not punching down here. Dianne Feinstein is one of the 100 most powerful people in the free world. Everyone’s going to say that I’m evil or whatever I like, we’re arguing about an 89 year old woman being in the Senate, and that’s all I’ll say. [laughter]
Priyanka Aribindi: And that’s all she’ll say. That is Crooked associate editor Julia Claire, thank you as always, Julia, for joining us and bringing this to our attention. We really appreciate it.
Julia Claire: I’m sorry. [laughing] [music break]
Tre’vell Anderson: That’s all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe, leave a review, pick a side in the war on rats and tell your friends to listen.
Priyanka Aribindi: And if you’re into reading and not just books at a public library like me, What A Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at Crooked.com/subscribe. I’m Priyanka Aribindi.
Tre’vell Anderson: I’m Tre’vell Anderson.
[spoken together] And we’ll fight for you Ratatouille.
Priyanka Aribindi: Perhaps my favorite of the little animated films, so I’ll always fight for Ratatouille. So sorry, Kathy. [laughter] [music break]
Tre’vell Anderson: What A Day is a production of Crooked Media. It’s recorded and mixed by Bill Lancz. Our producers are Itxy Quintanilla and Raven Yamamoto. Jocey Coffman is our head writer and our executive producer is Lita Martinez. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka. [music break]