In This Episode
- In an unprecedented move led by far-right Republicans, Kevin McCarthy was voted out of his job as Speaker of the House. He later said he would not seek the position again, leaving the House GOP fractured and scrambling to find a new leader for their slim majority.
- The Supreme Court heard arguments in a major case against the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The fate of the agency, which was created in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, is on the line – though the justices appeared skeptical of the argument brought by payday lenders.
- And in headlines: Donald Trump was hit with a gag order in his civil fraud trial, Tennessee state Rep. Justin Jones filed a federal lawsuit against leaders of the state’s House of Representatives, and the entire run of “Mean Girls” is now on TikTok.
- Sixth & I: Roxane Gay in conversation with Juanita Tolliver – https://www.sixthandi.org/event/roxane-gay/
- What A Day – YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/@whatadaypodcast
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Priyanka Aribindi: It’s Wednesday, October 4th. I’m Priyanka Aribindi.
Juanita Tolliver: And I’m Juanita Tolliver. And this is What a Day where we would like a word with whoever started the shrugging Kevin James meme.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. We got to know why do you have so many photos of Kevin James on your phone? It’s a little weird.
Juanita Tolliver: I’m just being real. I have no idea who this man is. Kevin James this is the first time I’m hearing that name. Sorry to this man.
Priyanka Aribindi: Oh. Sorry to this man. [laughter] [music break] On today’s show, Donald Trump has been hit with a gag order in his civil fraud trial for doxing a court clerk. Plus, get in, losers. There is another way to watch Mean Girls.
Juanita Tolliver: But first:
[clip of Steve Womack] The office of Speaker of the House of the United States House of Representatives is hereby declared vacant.
Juanita Tolliver: October 3rd is no longer just Mean Girls day. It’s also the day now former Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy got the boot after he told Florida man Representative Matt Gaetz to, quote, “bring it on.” And it was also exactly nine months to the day that the many rounds of voting started that eventually put McCarthy into the role. So wild start, wild finish. You know.
Priyanka Aribindi: Just poetic, really. So set the scene on the House floor for us. How did this go down?
Juanita Tolliver: In a word, shambles. The House Republican Conference was in pure shambles as they spent hours bashing each other in debate, which included Matt Gaetz speaking from Democratic microphones because McCarthy and his allies blocked him from the GOP side.
Priyanka Aribindi: Great.
Juanita Tolliver: And in the end, eight Republicans voted to oust McCarthy. It’s like they wanted to turn back time all the way to January 2023, when the GOP took 15 separate votes to pick a speaker in the first place. Meanwhile, prior to the vote, the entire What a Day team was chanting this right along with Democratic Representative Maxwell Frost.
[clip of Johnniqua Charles’ song You about to lose yo job] You about to lose yo job.
Juanita Tolliver: I love that song. Beat is tight, every bit of it. [laughter]
Priyanka Aribindi: That’s not even the one I’m familiar with. Wow. Like are there multiple versions?
Juanita Tolliver: You said remix! [laughter]
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, wow. Learning so much. Anyways, back to Kevin McCarthy. How did we even get to this point? Give us the backstory here.
Juanita Tolliver: Plain and simple. McCarthy brought us here. He’s the one who empowered every single member of the GOP House conference when he negotiated away every bit of his power back in January. He’s the one who encouraged their antics during the debt limit fight, the sham impeachment investigation and the government funding fight just last week. And when I say he negotiated away his power, I am not exaggerating. In an effort to become speaker of the House, McCarthy agreed that it would only take one Republican member to call for a motion to vacate, which made it ridiculously easy to fire him, just like Republicans did yesterday.
Priyanka Aribindi: Hmm. So what were Democrats up to while the Republican House conference was busy tearing itself apart?
Juanita Tolliver: It was a classic split screen situation because while this was going on, Senate Democrats and Vice President Kamala Harris swore in now Senator Laphonza Butler as the third Black woman to serve in the upper chamber, you know.
Priyanka Aribindi: Love it.
Juanita Tolliver: Making some casual history. And on the House side, Democrats stayed completely united in this mess. They made it clear that they would not be the ones to help McCarthy and the best summarization of that position came from Progressive Caucus chair Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal. Take a listen.
[clip of Pramila Jayapal] Just let Republicans deal with their own problems. I mean, they can let them wallow in their pigsty of incompetence and inability to govern. This is a Republican problem. They supposedly have the majority. They should be able to pick their own speaker. Our speaker is Hakeem Jeffries.
Juanita Tolliver: She said wallow in your pigsty of incompetence like.
Priyanka Aribindi: Love it.
Juanita Tolliver: I’m here for it. Representative Jayapal went on to add this too.
[clip of Pramila Jayapal] Nobody trusts Kevin McCarthy. And why should we? He has broken his commitment over and over again. And it’s not just the deal with President Biden. It’s not just the Ukraine funding, which apparently was also a deal. But then it wasn’t a deal on, you know, unless we secure the border. It’s also going back to January 6th. And I think for a lot of us, we were here. It is still deeply emotional for us because it is about our country. It’s about why we came to Congress.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, they have absolutely no reason to trust this uh snake of a man. So I’m glad that they did not do anything to help him out here in a situation of their own making. You know.
Juanita Tolliver: Right.
Priyanka Aribindi: Republicans made this chaos and they have to live with it.
Juanita Tolliver: Right.
Priyanka Aribindi: That means be responsible to the American people for it.
Juanita Tolliver: I didn’t detect a single lie in what Representative Jayapal said. And politically, this makes 100% sense because getting McCarthy out was the move for Democrats as they wanted to emphasize all of the chaos and all of the disruptions that come when Republicans are elected and when they hold a majority in the House. So you better believe that all that footage from yesterday will be all over ads in 2024.
Priyanka Aribindi: Absolutely as it should be. So what happens next? Where do Republicans go from here?
Juanita Tolliver: Once again, Republicans have brought Congress into uncharted territory. And in terms of next steps, McCarthy’s emergency contact, Representative Patrick McHenry will step in as speaker Pro Tempe to handle votes for a new speaker and implement House rules and apparently ask Nancy Pelosi to vacate her hidden office because his petty knows no bounds. And Kevin McCarthy made a statement to the Republican conference that he will not attempt to run for speaker of the House again. So homie is done done done like done.
Priyanka Aribindi: I mean, as he should be, he’s lost that vote enough times like you probably should thrown in the towel ten times ago. But sure.
Juanita Tolliver: And considering that Gaetz didn’t do any intentional planning or give this any forethought, the Republican conference has no clear succession plan, so get ready for them to go around and around in circles next Wednesday when they hold elections to choose the next speaker, because there are no clear alternatives within their conference who at this moment have nearly unanimous support to become the next speaker. I mean, I’ve heard some whispers about Steve Scalise, but we have no idea if he has near unanimous support right now. And of course, that’s horrible news for things that have to get done, like government funding, which is set to run out again in about 40 days. So we’re not even back to where we started on government funding. We’re worse off than we were last week.
Priyanka Aribindi: Got it. Okay. To wrap that up, Republicans uh totally rudderless, [laughter] utterly unprepared to lead the country at no plan at all and completely disorganized. So that just is how they’re doing this ladies and gents, listening to this from home. Anyways, thank you Juanita for that update. Very helpful. Switching now to some news from elsewhere in Washington. The Supreme Court, as we told you earlier this week, started their new term. And to kick things off yesterday, they heard arguments in a major case against the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Juanita Tolliver: Yeah, I feel like anyone coming for the CFPB is bad news. So–
Priyanka Aribindi: Yup.
Juanita Tolliver: Before we get into the case, can you walk us through what the CFPB does?
Priyanka Aribindi: Yes. So the CFPB was created in 2011 after the 2008 financial crisis in order to protect consumers. It’s very aptly named. It was proposed and led originally by now Senator Elizabeth Warren with the goal of protecting people from predatory or dishonest practices by banks and other financial institutions, and also to serve as the central agency overseeing consumer protection. Previously, that wasn’t the main focus or area of authority of any federal agency, so they kind of were created to step up and fill that role. It has regulatory authority over banks, security firms, credit unions, debt collectors and other companies in the financial sector that operate in the US. So it’s really important work, but not everybody is happy with them. Turns out that taking advantage of uh lowly consumers like us is pretty profitable business wise, so people not so thrilled. This case against the CFPB was brought by perhaps the worst of them all, payday lenders, which basically make money off of people who need short term loans of relatively small amounts usually by charging them really egregious fees and interest.
Juanita Tolliver: Yeah, you’ll probably recognize this on some of those apps that are like, Hey, you want to get paid now or you want to transfer that money now here’s like a 10% fee, right? Like, that’s what we’re talking about.
Priyanka Aribindi: Totally.
Juanita Tolliver: And these systems thrive off of people living paycheck to paycheck, which is wild at this moment with the economy that we have right now. So it’s clearly a problem.
Priyanka Aribindi: Totally.
Juanita Tolliver: It’s another trademark of capitalism that we need to deal with.
Priyanka Aribindi: Totally. The main goal of these payday lenders is to exploit poor people.
Juanita Tolliver: Right.
Priyanka Aribindi: So obviously the CFPB is not okay with that. They’re trying to protect consumers, especially the poor ones in our community. So anyways, the lenders here challenged a rule by the CFPB that limited some of their ability to do these exploitative practices and charge these fees. And they have actually lost repeatedly in their previous attempts to challenge the rule in court. But through one federal appeals court, the Fifth Circuit, which you might know out of Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas, they were able to get a ruling in their favor that said that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s funding is unconstitutional. Stick with me here. It’s a little a little complex, but I’ll walk you through their argument. Basically, they’re saying that because the CFPB gets money from the Federal Reserve, which is funded by bank fees, banks are the same institutions that are being regulated by the CFPB. They’re saying that’s not okay. They argue that the agency should be funded through annual appropriations by Congress. And the fact that it’s not, they say, is unconstitutional.
Juanita Tolliver: All right. So walk us through some of the potential consequences of a decision against the CFPB here.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. So if the court sides with the payday lenders, the consequences could be huge. Not only would it threaten the vital work of the CFPB, it could eliminate the critical regulations that it has established over the last decade plus. Even groups that you might not expect, like mortgage bankers, homebuilders and realtors associations have all kind of come out of the woodwork here to warn that ruling against the CFPB could push the housing market in this country into chaos. A decision like that could also threaten other federal agencies that aren’t funded via annual appropriations by Congress, like the Federal Reserve or even Social Security and Medicare. So some really huge negative potential consequences here for everybody if the court sides against the CFPB.
Juanita Tolliver: Yeah, and looking at the right leaning constitution of the current Supreme Court, I’m not getting my hopes up because we know they love to throw out precedent and make decisions that are horrible for regular people.
Priyanka Aribindi: They do.
Juanita Tolliver: But how did the justices respond to the arguments yesterday?
Priyanka Aribindi: For once it’s always surprising when something goes our way. The justices actually seem pretty skeptical about this idea that the CFPB–
Juanita Tolliver: Really?
Priyanka Aribindi: –is funded unconstitutionally. Even Justices Kavanaugh and Thomas were not seeming to buy it. The ultimate ruling here isn’t out until June of next year, so we won’t see an official end to this for a little while. But for now, we can be maybe perhaps cautiously optimistic or maybe just not completely terrified that we will be [laughing] [?]–
Juanita Tolliver: Okay.
Priyanka Aribindi: –these protections. Maybe just won’t freak out quite yet anyways. We will continue to follow this case. And, you know, the rest of the ones that the Supreme Court is hearing. But that is the latest for now. We’ll be back after some ads. [music break].
Priyanka Aribindi: Let’s wrap up with some headlines.
Priyanka Aribindi: The New York judge overseeing Donald Trump’s civil fraud trial imposed a gag order yesterday after Trump attacked a court clerk in a social media post. That means that everybody involved in the case is barred from posting or speaking publicly about court staff, which honestly probably a great idea. Judge Arthur Engoron issued the order after the former president posted a photo of the clerk with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer claiming she was, quote, “Schumer’s girlfriend” and even linked to an Instagram account apparently connected to her. This is the former president of the United States with millions and millions of rabid crazy fans. That’s not great. The post was then recirculated a few minutes later in a Trump campaign fundraising email. So not just on Truth Social here, just going to millions more. The original post was later deleted after Judge Engoron ordered it taken down. He even said in the courtroom, quote, “Personal attacks on members of my court staff are unacceptable, inappropriate, and I will not tolerate them in any circumstances.” Earlier this year, the judge overseeing the separate criminal case against him in Manhattan issued a protective order which bars Trump from getting any information about who works for D.A. Alvin Bragg until a jury is seated for that case.
Juanita Tolliver: And in another New York City courtroom, in a separate financial crimes trial. Jury selection started yesterday in the fraud trial of Sam Bankman-Fried, the founder of now bankrupt cryptocurrency exchange, FTX. He’s accused of misleading investors and lenders and stealing billions of dollars from FTX customers to bankroll his hedge fund, purchase real estate and make big political contributions. Prosecutors have called it one of the largest financial fraud cases in U.S. history and that’s a hell of a lot of stealing after someone like Bernie Madoff set records.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, seriously.
Juanita Tolliver: Jury selection will continue today and both sides are also expected to give opening arguments. If convicted on all the counts against him, Bankman-Fried could face more than 100 years in prison. The trial is expected to last up to six weeks.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, I mean, between this man, Donald trump, the New York court rooms are booked and busy.
Juanita Tolliver: Hot mess.
Priyanka Aribindi: A member of the Tennessee three has filed a federal lawsuit against the leaders of the state’s House of Representatives. Justin Jones, who represents the Nashville area, says that his constitutional right to free speech was violated earlier this year when he was expelled and repeatedly censured in the state House. You’ll remember that Jones and two of his colleagues staged a gun control demonstration on the House floor back in April, and he and Representative Justin Pearson were later expelled from the chamber over it, drawing heavy backlash across the country. He and Pearson were eventually reappointed and reelected during a special election. But in August, Jones was censored by Republicans again during a special legislative session about gun violence. As part of the damages Jones is seeking, he wants to be reinstated to his old committee assignments and have his other pre-expulsion benefits restored, as obviously should have happened already like–
Juanita Tolliver: Right.
Priyanka Aribindi: It makes a lot of sense that if it didn’t happen. Yeah, I would be pissed too.
Juanita Tolliver: If you’re still mourning the old days of paying $9.99 a month for Netflix or mooching off your friends mom’s account with their password. We’ve got another reason for you to grieve. According to a report from the Wall Street Journal, Netflix plans to raise the subscription price of its ad free service again. Once the Hollywood actors strike ends like they want us to pay for these new residual fees and stuff like, it’s ridiculous. It’s ridiculous.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah.
Juanita Tolliver: It’s unclear exactly how much the price hike will be, but Netflix has been on this track for a bit. Remember that the streaming service cracked down on password sharing earlier this year and tacked on an extra $7.99 per month just to share your account with someone outside your household. And since this is reportedly tied to whenever a new labor deal is inked with actors, SAG-AFTRA, the union representing them will go back to the bargaining table with the studios later today.
Priyanka Aribindi: Jeez. Okay, Netflix, How much do you think we are willing to pay for another season of Love is Blind like–
Juanita Tolliver: Y’all finna get canceled.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah.
Juanita Tolliver: Look after the Crown drops the final season of the Crown. Cut.
Priyanka Aribindi: I’m out.
Juanita Tolliver: Cut.
Priyanka Aribindi: Done. Donezo. And finally, it is Wednesday. We are wearing pink. And also here to tell you that Paramount Pictures uploaded the entire run of Mean Girls to TikTok for free. The company posted the film in 23 parts to the short form video platform on Tuesday, October 3rd. Naturally, if you know you know why this date is significant, and if you haven’t seen this 2004 gem, you can scroll through it 3 minutes at a time right from your phone. And while this isn’t the first movie that has gone up on TikTok, I’m pretty sure it is by, you know, posted by Paramount. Like normally it’s just random TikTok users doing this. The move is drawing criticism from screenwriters who are voting this week to ratify their new contract with major studios. One of their chief demands was to revamp how writers get residual pay when their shows or movies are watched repeatedly on streaming platforms. That was ultimately met under the tentative agreement that they recently reached. But some writers are saying that posting an entire movie to TikTok could be a way for studios to avoid paying writers while still profiting off of their work. For what it’s worth, the Mean Girls TikTok account has already racked up hundreds of thousands of views collectively. All right, Paramount, you’ve got to stop trying to make fetch happen here and pay these writers if you’re going to put shit on TikTok that was written by writers, better make sure they are getting paid for that.
Juanita Tolliver: Yeah, pay the writers. Also, justice for Gretchen Weiner. Fetch should have happened just the way fugly did. I think they’re equal par. They’re good. They’re good. But also I feel like I can hear the lawyers already responding to the writers being like, well, TikTok is not a streaming platform or some other type of B.S. like that, you know?
Priyanka Aribindi: No, no. Blow it up. Get what you need, blow it up if you don’t. And those are the headlines.
Priyanka Aribindi: That is all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe. Leave a review. Apply to the newest job opening in the House of Representatives. Check the LinkedIn on that one and tell your friends to listen.
Juanita Tolliver: And if you’re into reading and not just the Netflix terms of service like me, What a Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at Crooked.com/subscribe. I’m Juanita Tolliver.
Priyanka Aribindi: I’m Priyanka Aribindi.
[spoken together] And justice for Gretchen Weiners.
Juanita Tolliver: Just so you all know, I said Gretchen Whitmer earlier, but definitely justice for Gretchen Wiener. [laugh]
Priyanka Aribindi: Wait Juanita, it’s Gretchen Weiners, with an S.
Juanita Tolliver: [laugh] Is it? [laughing]
Priyanka Aribindi: I didn’t want to correct you earlier, but it is, but it is.
Juanita Tolliver: You got to call that stuff.
Priyanka Aribindi: I’m sorry. I’m sorry. [music break]
Juanita Tolliver: 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 and our senior producer is Lita Martinez. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.