In This Episode
- The whirlwind saga to choose the next House speaker continues. After three rounds of secret votes late Tuesday night, House Republicans nominated Rep. Mike Johnson as their latest contender. The move came after Rep. Tom Emmer dropped out of the race just hours after he was selected as the GOP’s speaker designee.
- One of the two Israeli hostages recently released by Hamas told reporters she “went through hell,” during her two weeks in captivity. More than 200 others are still being held by the militant group. Meanwhile, Israel has continued its bombardment of Gaza, despite calls from UN Secretary General António Guterres for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire.
- And in headlines: former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows was reportedly granted immunity by special counsel Jack Smith, more than three dozen attorneys general are going after Instagram’s parent company for features they say are hurting kids, and the United Auto Workers union once again expanded its ongoing strike.
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Priyanka Aribindi: It’s Wednesday, October 25th. I’m Priyanka Aribindi.
Juanita Tolliver: And I’m Juanita Tolliver and this is What a Day.
Priyanka Aribindi: On today’s show, even more of Donald Trump’s allies are turning against him. Plus, a bipartisan group of attorneys general are going after Instagram’s parent company for features that they say are hurting kids.
Juanita Tolliver: But first, another one bites the dust. And this time it was in record time. Republican Representative Tom Emmer dropped out of the House speaker race mere hours after he was selected as the speaker designee by the Republican Conference. Seriously, Emmer only had the spot for 4 hours, like till the minute, and it feels like every single day is a new opportunity for the Republican Party to show the world exactly how unserious they are about their job, about democracy, Congress, leadership, you know, all that stuff.
Priyanka Aribindi: Absolutely, totally unserious, forcing us to learn uh names of people we have no business knowing.
Juanita Tolliver: That part.
Priyanka Aribindi: Very unnecessary. So what exactly took Emmer down so fast here?
Juanita Tolliver: Well, we got two things. His vote to certify the 2020 election and a Truth Social post from Donald Trump. Here’s what Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene had to say about rejecting Emmer.
[clip of Marjorie Taylor Greene] Couldn’t support him for Speaker of the House. Um uh. His voting record is what turned me. He had voted against President Trump’s ban on transgenders in the military. He voted for the Democrats gay marriage bill that opens up uh churches and other places for lawsuits if they use their faith and [?] against it. He was for the national popular vote um at one time. And that’s that’s not a movement I can support.
[clip of unknown reporter interviewing Greene] How much did Emmer’s vote to certify the 2020 election have to do with the opposition against him?
[clip of Marjorie Taylor Greene] Well, it played a big role for me.
Juanita Tolliver: So we’ve got a lack of transphobia, a lack of homophobia, and a lack of an effort to overturn an election as the reasons why Greene and 25 other House Republicans couldn’t bring themselves to support Emmer.
Priyanka Aribindi: Got it. He was not crazy enough. Heard you–
Juanita Tolliver: Right.
Priyanka Aribindi: –loud and clear. Loud and clear.
Juanita Tolliver: And shortly after Emmer was named the speaker designate, Trump got to trumping and posted about how much of a RINO Emmer is, that is a Republican in name only, and how Emmer has flip flopped on supporting Trump all in the midst of his civil trial in New York. Trump went on to claim that Emmer was only now saying that he is pro-Trump because that’s what it takes to win. Some Republicans have cited Trump’s post as the death knell for Emmer’s short lived quest to be the next speaker.
Priyanka Aribindi: Okay, so if not, Emmer, who is up next here?
Juanita Tolliver: I mean, if only Hip Hop Harry was with us.
[clip of Hip Hop Harry] Who’s next?
Priyanka Aribindi: Who is next? It’s the million dollar question.
Juanita Tolliver: As of our record time at 10 p.m. Eastern. House Republicans just wrapped their third secret vote, and the next speaker designee is Representative Mike Johnson, an election denier who fits all of the unhinged qualities that Marjorie Taylor Greene is looking for. It’s unclear if Johnson will have a clear path to 217 in a House floor vote, as 33 votes on the second ballot were cast for none other than ousted felled former speaker Kevin McCarthy. The drama is brewing, but the full House will reconvene today at noon Eastern and we’ll see how close Representative Johnson can get to 217 or if he even makes it to floor vote.
Priyanka Aribindi: All right.
Juanita Tolliver: There are still a lot of hurdles to overcome in this process that have the potential to delay government funding and funding requests from President Biden related to Israel, Ukraine and more.
Priyanka Aribindi: Right. I mean, has the White House weighed in on this latest debacle? You know, what have we heard from them about what’s going on with House Republicans?
Juanita Tolliver: So the White House is placing all of the blame for impending funding requests delays and a potential government shutdown on November 17th, right at the feet of House Republicans. In a statement, a White House spokesperson said, quote, “Now the House GOP is mired in seemingly endless fingerpointing and competitions to take the most extreme positions imaginable. They also added, quote, “Now we’re 24 days from a House Republican shutdown,” and quote, “Only they can help themselves.” And I mean no lies detected like this is on them.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, only they can help themselves. I have very little faith in their ability to do that, as evidenced by the last few weeks. But anyways, thank you so much for keeping up with all that chaos for us, Juanita. Switching now to the latest updates out of Israel and Gaza. Yesterday, in an address to the United Nations Security Council, U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres called for an immediate humanitarian cease fire in the war between Israel and Hamas. Guterres said, quote, “The grievances of the Palestinian people cannot justify the appalling attacks by Hamas. And those appalling attacks cannot justify the collective punishment of the Palestinian people.” He went on to emphasize that the risk of the war spreading through the region continues to increase and that aid in Gaza is so desperately needed. This follows another sharp increase in the death toll in Gaza, according to the Gaza Health Ministry more than 5700 people have been killed since the start of this war, and nearly half of those casualties are children. They added that Tuesday was the highest single day death toll in Gaza since this war began, with over 700 people killed. As we’ve noted before, these figures are coming from an agency that is controlled by Hamas. It is not possible to independently verify them at this time. But we do know that the airstrikes have intensified in recent days. And Egyptian officials say that this bombardment has held up critical aid from being able to be delivered to civilians in Gaza.
Juanita Tolliver: So what is the response been so far to that statement calling for a cease fire?
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, there was a pretty immediate and fierce backlash from Israeli officials who take issue with a cease fire and in particular a part of Guterres’s statement that said it was important to recognize that, quote, “the attacks by Hamas did not happen in a vacuum.” Israel’s ambassador to the U.N., Gilad Erdan, called on Guterres to resign. The UN’s call for a cease fire is also at odds with the Biden administration’s current stance. Last night, White House spokesman John F. Kirby said, quote, “A cease fire right now really only benefits Hamas.” He added, quote, “It is ugly and it’s going to be messy and innocent civilians are going to be hurt going forward. I wish I could tell you something different.”
Juanita Tolliver: I mean, what a heartbreaking quote, but also a heartbreaking like situation. So turning to updates on the hostages held by Hamas. On yesterday’s show, we discussed the release of two elderly women who were held. Have there been any updates on that front?
Priyanka Aribindi: So as of our recording time, a total of only four hostages have been released so far, meaning that over 200 people are still after 18 days being held captive by Hamas. The vast majority of these people are civilians. One of the women who was released on Monday, 85 year old Yocheved Lifshitz, described the ordeal she was put through at a news conference yesterday, calling it a, quote, “hell that we never knew before and never thought we would experience.” She is the first hostage to speak publicly about her experience. She described being forced onto a motorcycle and beaten with sticks. Once in Gaza, she was held with four other people. She said that the hostages she was with were given a single meal per day and were held in clean conditions and received medical care. Her 83 year old husband is still being held in Gaza. She spoke to reporters with the help of her daughter and expressed frustration with the Israeli government’s lack of defense against this attack. Take a listen.
[clip of Yocheved Lifshitz’s daughter] She’s saying that many, many people, a swarm of people came through the fence, the defense costs two and a half billion shekls, and it didn’t help, even a little bit.
Juanita Tolliver: Wow. It sounds like there are definitely a lot of questions that I’m sure she and her family are not the only ones asking about the defenses that have been globally–
Priyanka Aribindi: Right.
Juanita Tolliver: –celebrated and recognized that Israel has had for years. So I know our friends at Pod Save the World spoke earlier with Abby Onn, she is an American living in Israel who had five of her missing family members confirmed as hostages since Hamas’s attack. Since then, she learned that two of them were killed. Can you tell us more about what she shared?
Priyanka Aribindi: Yes. It is a really unfathomable loss, aside from the horror and the grief. Something that stood out to me was actually her response when asked how she feels about the way the Israeli government has been handling the return of the hostages and the communications with her as a person whose family members are being held. It actually echoed some of what Yocheved Lifshitz, the hostage who was released earlier this week, had to say as well. Take a listen.
[clip of Alyona Minkovski] How do you feel about the way that the Israeli government has been handling this situation? Um. Do you feel that they are placing enough emphasis on on the return of the hostages? Obviously, there have been a lot of airstrikes, right, retaliatory actions taken by Gaza and obviously take anything that Hamas says with a grain of salt. But they claim that potentially up to 20 hostages have been killed already due to airstrikes.
[clip of Abbey Onn] Right. Right. I can say easily that the military and government are above my pay grade. Right. Two and a half weeks ago, I was the CEO of a nonprofit, and I don’t truly understand it, but I know what I think I know is that Israel was not well prepared. Something broke, whether it was government or military, that allowed this attack to happen at this scale and the cataloging of what happened, the cataloging of close to 2000 bodies and doing those DNA checks and finding places for those bodies, it feels awful to even talk about. But it’s true. While you’re preparing for some sort of response, the greatest terror attack Israel has seen. The most number of Jews killed since the Holocaust. There has to be a response. But we as the families continue to advocate for the return of hostages before anything escalates.
Priyanka Aribindi: Thank you so much to pod Save the World producer Alyona Minkovski for speaking with Abbey and for sharing this conversation with us. I encourage you all to listen to more of what she had to say on Pod Save the World. That is the latest for now. We will, of course, keep up with the situation as the days and weeks continue. We’ll be back after a short break for some ads. [music break]
Priyanka Aribindi: Let’s get to some headlines.
Priyanka Aribindi: We told you earlier to get some popcorn as more of Donald Trump’s allies flipped on him. But now you might want to pair that with your adult beverage of choice. That is because Trump’s former White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, was reportedly granted immunity by special counsel Jack Smith in the federal election interference case. According to ABC News, which cited sources, Meadows has met with Smith’s team multiple times this year, including once to testify before a federal grand jury. ABC reports that Meadows told federal investigators that Trump was being, quote, “dishonest” when he first claimed victory in the 2020 election only hours after polls had closed. Meadows is also reported to have told Smith’s team that he reportedly warned Trump that any allegations of voting fraud were unfounded. Meanwhile, over in Georgia, where Meadows was charged alongside Trump and 17 others in that state’s election interference case, another former Trump lawyer has reached a plea deal. Jenna Ellis pleaded guilty yesterday to one felony charge for her role in the alleged efforts to overturn Trump’s election loss in the state. That makes her the fourth defendant and the third lawyer connected to Trump to enter a plea deal in the sweeping case.
Juanita Tolliver: An off duty Alaska Airlines pilot has been charged in federal court for allegedly trying to shut down the engines of a passenger plane mid-flight. It happened on Sunday as the Horizon air jet was flying from Washington State to San Francisco. The off duty pilot, identified as 44 year old Joseph Emerson, was sitting behind the pilot and first officer when he reportedly tried to cut the fuel to the plane’s engines. Fortunately, the flight crew quickly stopped and subdued him until the plane made an emergency landing in Portland, according to the FBI. Emerson told investigators he had fallen into a depression six months prior and mentioned taking psychedelic mushrooms for the first time. It’s not clear if he was actually under the influence during the incident. He pleaded not guilty yesterday to over 160 state charges, including 83 felony counts of attempted murder. I’m just glad everybody survived this also can you imagine–
Priyanka Aribindi: Seriously.
Juanita Tolliver: –the scuffle in the cockpit? Like that’s a small space and they had to take him down.
Priyanka Aribindi: Oh, yeah. No, no, no. None of this sounds good. Not even to mention the slander against mushrooms, regardless of the stances here that people may have. Throwing mushrooms under the bus for, like, the most absurd shit. I feel like it’s happened a lot.
Juanita Tolliver: Oof.
Priyanka Aribindi: And it’s weird. It’s weird. The United Auto Workers Union has expanded its ongoing strike once again, this time walking off the job at GM’s most lucrative SUV plant in Texas. The union said yesterday that 5000 workers walked off the job at the Arlington Assembly plant, where nearly all of GM’s full size SUVs are put together. It comes a day after 6800 workers went on strike at a Stellantis plant outside Detroit. It is the company’s largest and also produces the very lucrative RAM line of trucks. This brings the total number of autoworkers on the picket lines to over 46,000. That is about a third of the union’s members at those companies. The latest walkout also coincided with GM posting better than expected earnings in the third quarter, despite the strike which started on September 15th. GM recently offered the union a 23% pay increase through 2028, along with cost of living adjustments, which is a big increase from their original proposals. But the union has previously said that GM and its rivals can afford much more than that.
Juanita Tolliver: I mean.
Priyanka Aribindi: Probably not great that this is coming after these results either.
Juanita Tolliver: Right. These results, Q3 earnings report. I think the chant should be show me the money, You know, a little Jerry Maguire. More than three dozen states are taking tech giant META to court for allegedly designing addictive features on its platforms and harming children’s mental health. That’s according to a joint federal lawsuit filed by 33 states yesterday. Nine additional attorneys general are suing the company from their respective states. The bipartisan group says that META, the owner of Facebook and Instagram, intentionally designed its products to keep younger users on them for longer and to keep coming back. The suit also accuses META of falsely representing certain products features as safe and unlawfully collecting personal data from children under 13 years old without their parents consent. All of this follows multiple state investigations stemming from a bombshell Wall Street Journal report in 2021. That report found that META’s own researchers knew about the harms of Instagram for teens, especially young girls. For its part, META said in a statement that it’s, quote, “disappointed that these attorneys general took this path.” Oh, no, not accountability. Oh, no. Not lawsuits.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah.
Juanita Tolliver: For us doing wrong.
Priyanka Aribindi: We have no sympathy for that.
Juanita Tolliver: Right. We do not care about your disappointment.
Priyanka Aribindi: You know what you did–
Juanita Tolliver: Come on!
Priyanka Aribindi: –was wrong. I’m sorry. If you want to be upset about it. That’s fine. Just we don’t have to feel bad for you.
Juanita Tolliver: At all.
Priyanka Aribindi: We just don’t. And finally, an update on a story that we have been following very closely here on the show. The mayor of Maui announced yesterday that all of West Maui, aside from the Lahaina wildfire burn zones, will reopen to tourists on November 1st. Going against widespread calls to keep the region closed off as the island recovers. This comes after the northern part of the region was reopened to visitors earlier this month, drawing heavy backlash from victims of the wildfires and local activists, many of whom feel that it’s too soon. Thousands of Lahaina residents are still displaced after losing their homes in the flames and are struggling to make ends meet for their families in the wake of the disaster. Governor Joshua Green initially said that the rest of West Maui would reopen to tourists in three gradual phases after it was estimated that the state’s economy would lose nearly $2 billion dollars in revenue from the fires. But yesterday’s announcement from the island’s mayor indicates that the state is now expediting that process. Experts estimate that it could take a decade for West Maui to fully recover from the deadly wildfires that broke out in early August. That effort would cost the entirety of Maui County’s annual budget, which is something they could not afford to pay all at once. A delegation of state lawmakers and nonprofit leaders will travel to D.C. this week to meet with White House officials to ask the Biden administration for more relief funding as a result.
Juanita Tolliver: Yeah, this feels icky. It feels wrong, especially as residents are still struggling and it feels motivated by money, like purely about some economic gains here. And that’s not okay.
Priyanka Aribindi: Totally.
Juanita Tolliver: The last thing someone who has lost their home needs to hear about is some annoying tourist disrespecting land that is really struggling to recover. Like you said, what, ten years before West Maui fully recovers? Like–
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah.
Juanita Tolliver: This doesn’t feel like the right move.
Priyanka Aribindi: It doesn’t feel good. And those are the headlines.
Priyanka Aribindi: That is all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe. Leave a review and tell your friends to listen.
Juanita Tolliver: What a Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at Crooked.com/subscribe. I’m Juanita Tolliver.
Priyanka Aribindi: And I’m Priyanka Aribindi. [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.