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March 28, 2023
What A Day
Pence and Sensibility

In This Episode

  • A federal judge ruled that former Vice President Mike Pence must testify in the Justice Department’s investigation of former President Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election. He will be expected to testify about any potential illegal acts committed by Trump.
  • At least 40 migrants died Monday night after a fire at a migrant detention center in Ciudad Juarez, a border city in northern Mexico. The blaze reportedly began during a protest by migrants, after they learned they would be deported.
  • And in headlines: former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried was charged with bribing Chinese officials, a Maryland court reinstated Adnan Syed’s murder conviction, and Dairy Queen dropped its new summer lineup.

 

Show Notes:

 

 

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TRANSCRIPT

 

Josie Duffy Rice: It is Wednesday, March 29th. I am Josie Duffy Rice. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: And I’m Juanita Tolliver and this is What A Day where now that we know season three of the White Lotus will be in Thailand, we’re already coming up with ways that Jennifer Coolidge can still be involved. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah, like maybe her character has an evil twin or even a good twin. Just spitballing. [laughter] On today’s show, a Maryland court reinstated Adnan Syed’s murder conviction. Plus, there’s a little something to look forward to this summer, assuming that you’re lactose tolerant. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Yes. Yes. Get those lactaids ready y’all. [laughing] But first, Department of Justice Special Counsel Jack Smith has scored yet another win in his federal grand jury investigations of Trump. On Tuesday, a federal judge ruled that former Vice President Mike Pence has to testify in the DOJ’s investigation of former President Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election. When I tell you that both Trump and Pence fought this DOJ subpoena with everything they had for very different reasons, of course, I’m not exaggerating. But Judge James Boasberg decided it’s time for Pence to spill the tea. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: This is why you should always be nice to your Vice President [laughter] because–

 

Juanita Tolliver: Trump was decidedly not. Okay. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: –they may be subpoenaed. Yeah, not a good set up here. Okay, so what specific testimony did the judge rule that Pence actually has to share? Does he have to share everything? Like, what’s the deal? 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Well, the ruling remains under seal, but according to multiple reports, Pence will have to testify about any potential illegal acts committed by the former president, including conversations he had with Donald Trump leading up to the violent insurrection on January 6th. So Trump can kiss that concept of executive privilege goodbye. I mean, first it was attorney client privilege that was, quote unquote, “pierced” and now it’s executive privilege. And Jack Smith is two for two at this point, based on the depositions and information collected by the January 6th Select Committee. We already know that Pence was getting pressed by Trump and his allies to interfere in the electoral vote count on the Hill, and we can surmise that those interactions will be part of his testimony. But that’s not all. The judge ruled that Pence does not have to testify about his own actions on January 6th, essentially agreeing with Pence’s attorneys that on that day he was acting as president of the Senate, not as vice president, and thus he’s protected under the Constitution, speech or debate clause that is meant for Congress members. So there may be holes around what Pence says about the day of the insurrection itself, but everything leading up to that is fair game, in other words. A win is a win. You know?

 

Josie Duffy Rice: It’s a win. This is also proof that the law is ridiculous because the idea that he was president of the Senate this day and vice president another day, that’s not how this works and– 

 

Juanita Tolliver: That part. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: –the law is made up. That’s my lesson from three years of law school. So how soon should we actually expect Pence to testify? Like, is this coming down the hatch ASAP? Or what do we got? 

 

Juanita Tolliver: It depends on Pence. It depends on his lawyers. When Pence was asked about the DOJ’s subpoena last month, he told ABC News, quote, “We’re going to respect the decisions of the court and that may take us to the highest court in the land.” So this man is willing to take it to the Supreme Court, even though they might not side with him. But considering how Judge Boasberg gave him some cover with the speech or debate clause portion of the ruling. Pence’s legal team may not have much to appeal since that was their primary argument. According to reports, Pence’s lawyers are evaluating whether or not they will appeal. But let’s be real. No matter what they decide, Special Counsel Smith isn’t going to let this go, and he will expedite the appeals process, just like we’ve seen him do successfully in recent weeks. Another thing Pence has got to be worried about right now is how badly Trump is going to punish him politically. We’ve got to keep in mind that Pence is still planning to launch a 2024 presidential campaign, and his strategy includes a very asinine play to attract Trump’s base. You know, some of the same folks who were in the armed crowd at the Capitol chanting, quote, “Hang Mike Pence.”. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Right. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Hang Mike Pence. Right. Like– 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Right. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: I remember that on January 6th. I don’t know if Mike Pence does, though. Well, if and when Pence does testify, you better believe that Trump will revive the target that he painted on Pence’s back that day and further ensure Pence’s political demise when it comes to any shot he thought he had for a realistic presidential run. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah, I have to say, I don’t think Mike Pence has that much to lose. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: [laughing] You’re like, just go for it anyway. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Just go for it. You’re not going to be president. It’s not going to happen. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Come to terms, you know?  

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah. And once people have stood in the Capitol and yelled for you to be hanged because your boss supported it. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Right. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Stop trying to save the last threads of dignity and or loyalty that you may have. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: But that’s the thing, Josie. He actually did the right thing on that day. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Right. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: On January 6th, he upheld and respected the electoral votes. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: He did the absolute bare minimum. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Okay. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: But he did do it. Agreed. Like it could have been worse. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Right. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: I mean, look, all of these people, it turns out, have no backbone. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Period. Oh my god, oh my god.

 

Josie Duffy Rice: You have people out here calling for you to be hanged? [laughter] How are you going to elect the guy who was, like, cool with people saying he should be hanged? 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Make it make sense. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Anyway, moving on to a very, very tragic story. At least 40 migrants died on Monday night after a fire at a migrant detention center in Ciudad Juarez, a border city in northern Mexico. The fire started around 10 p.m. local time during a protest by migrants awaiting deportation at the facility. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: This is beyond tragic. 40 people died. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: 40 people. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: How did the fire start in the first place? 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: So far, what we know is what U.S. and Mexican authorities have said, which is that some of the protesters lit their sleeping mats on fire because they were upset that they were facing deportation. These are the kind of authorities, I would say, take with a grain of salt or maybe three or four grains of salt. Other reports have said something different. They’ve said that the protest happened because according to the L.A. Times, dozens of people were crowded in a cell meant for just 50 people. And reportedly they didn’t have any access to drinking water. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Oh, no. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: So regardless of how it started, what is clear is that no one even attempted to help the people who were literally being set on fire. So there’s a harrowing video that was being shared on social media that shows security footage at the facility in the cell flames are visible. The cell is filling up quickly with smoke. Men are kicking the bars of the cell. And according to Reuters, at least three people walked by in what appear to be official uniforms. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: What? 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: And none of them do even a single thing to open the door. Nothing. And at the end of the video, there’s so much smoke that you can’t even see inside the cell anymore. The blame for how this fire got started, I think we’re still kind of unclear on the details. What we do know is that a lot of the harm was avoidable had someone taken steps– 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Right. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: –to address it and they didn’t. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: You know, like had a morsel of humanity within them to open up a locked cell that people were screaming and banging against as the fire grew around them. Like what the actual fuck? So this fire happened in Mexico, but it is related to U.S. border policy. Break that down for us. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah, it definitely is. Basically Biden. I mean, he’s really followed in Trump’s footsteps on a lot of the border policy, Right? He’s drastically narrowed the ways that people can seek asylum in the United States. As you all know, asylum is for people who face persecution in their country of origin. The protections for asylum used to be notable. They used to exist. But since the pandemic, it’s narrowed pretty drastically and that narrowing has gotten even narrower because of Title 42, which is ostensibly a public health measure that was put in place during the Trump administration at the beginning of the pandemic. That basically makes it impossible to seek asylum in the U.S.. President Biden has continued to employ Title 42 long after other pandemic restrictions have been lifted. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Right. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: And it’s just basically made it impossible to seek asylum in the US. So anyway, as a result, lots of migrants have been housed in facilities on Mexico’s side of the border. They want to get into the U.S. They’re kind of stuck in Mexico until hopefully they can get in the U.S., which again, we’re talking about years that this policy has been in place. And this is basically a way of getting around the existing regulations in the U.S. by a technicality, because these facilities on the Mexico side of the border. Right. So it means that often migrants are rounded up en masse. They’re stuck in awful living conditions. They’re left in limbo for months or longer, are separated from their families. It’s a terrible, terrible situation. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Yeah. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: It is worth noting that Title 42 is expected to expire in May, but the expectation is also that it’s going to be replaced by a comparably, if not equally restrictive transit ban, the same one as like Trump was a big fan of. Right. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Yikes. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: So it’s really not looking good in terms of future immigration policy at the border. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: I mean, when the headlines are gonna read that you’re on the same page as Trump, then something’s very wrong. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Yup. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: But let’s get back to the human side of things. What do we know about the victims of this deadly fire? 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: We actually don’t know too much yet. There is a lot of effort being done to try to connect them to their countries of origin, etc.. NPR reported the nationalities of all but one of the victims, which include 28 Guatemalans, 13 Hondurans, 12 Venezuelans, 12 Salvadorans, one Colombian and one Ecuadorian. And I think it’s also worth noting that almost 30 people were also significantly injured in this fire as well. So between 40 deaths, 30 serious injuries, it’s just an unimaginable tragedy. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: And the fact that almost 70 people were in a cell constructed for 50. So it’s showing some underlying issues and inhumane treatment at this facility writ large. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: And I can only hope there’s a broader investigation into this so that this can, one, be prevented. But two just improve the conditions, no one deserves to be treated this way, no matter what their situation is in terms of migrating or not. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: The idea of a cell for 50 people to begin with– 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Right. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: –is an outrageous concept. And to overcrowd a cell for 50 people. I mean, there aren’t words for the tragedy of this situation from top to bottom. So we’ll keep you posted on any response from the Biden administration. But in the meantime, that is the latest for now. [music break] Let’s get to some headlines. 

 

[sung] Headlines. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: The Senate Banking Committee yesterday held its first hearing on the recent banking crisis, which unraveled earlier this month with the sudden collapse of Silicon Valley Bank. Lawmakers grilled top banking regulators on what they knew about the bank’s problems and why officials didn’t step in sooner. The Federal Reserve’s vice chair of supervision, Michael Barr, laid it out in his opening remarks. He noted that Silicon Valley Bank was warned about its risk taking as early as 2021, but didn’t acknowledge those problems until it was too late, calling it, quote, “a textbook case of mismanagement.” Meanwhile, he and other regulators at the hearing agreed with Senator Elizabeth Warren’s assessment. 

 

[clip of Senator Elizabeth Warren] Executives at SVB and Signature took wild risks and must be held accountable for exploding their banks. But let’s be clear These collapses also represent a massive failure in supervision over our nation’s banks. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: That maps. And this will not be the last Congressional hearing about SVB’s implosion. The House Financial Services Committee will meet later today for a separate discussion looking into what went wrong. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Now let’s move from SVP to SBF, the former CEO of the failed crypto exchange, FTX. Sam Bankman-Fried was hit with yet another criminal charge on Tuesday, this time for allegedly bribing Chinese officials with $40 million dollars to unfreeze assets related to his crypto business. Federal prosecutors say he was trying to access one billion dollars in funds that belonged to FTX’s affiliated cryptocurrency hedge fund Alameda Research. But his accounts were frozen in 2021 amid a probe into one of Alameda’s trading counterparties. According to the indictment, SBF moved a huge chunk of crypto from Alameda’s main trading account, to a private wallet. And once he received confirmation that Alameda accounts in China were unfrozen, he transferred more money over to Chinese officials to complete the bribe. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: This is too much money for me to even process. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: It’s Monopoly money, Josie. [laughing]

 

Josie Duffy Rice: In a shocking and terrible new development in the story of Adnan Syed, the subject of the wildly popular Serial podcast. A Maryland court reinstated his murder conviction on Tuesday, just months after he was freed from prison. To refresh your memory a bit, Syed spent 23 years behind bars for the murder of his former high school girlfriend, Hae Min Lee. His conviction was overturned in a trial court hearing last year after prosecutors discovered new evidence in his case. But Young Lee, Hae Min Lee’s brother, appealed the decision, arguing that his rights were violated because he was not given enough notice to attend the hearing in person. Lee did attend the hearing by Zoom, and he was allowed to speak. But an appellate court ruled that that wasn’t enough. Trial court must now hold another hearing over whether to vacate Syed’s conviction and give Lee enough notice so that he can attend in person. The ruling does not mean that Syed will be immediately sent back to prison. The decision will give both sides 60 days to consider their next steps. Syed’s lawyer has already said she will appeal the decision to Maryland’s Supreme Court. I have to say. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Child. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: I have never seen anything like this. I’ve never, ever, ever seen a vacated conviction overturned because of something like someone being able to attend the hearing in person or on Zoom. This is a really shocking thing to happen in this case. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Doesn’t make sense to me. When I saw this headline, I did a double take because I’m like, what the actual fuck? 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Even if the brother’s rights were violated, that’s on the state. That is not on Adnan, right? 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Right. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Reinstating his conviction, which again, is such a rare, such a shocking and such an aggressive thing to do. I mean, it’s really just an unbelievable new misconduct by the state of Maryland, which has been committing misconduct in this case for 25 years, I would say. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: And finally, after an endless season of tornados, bomb cyclones and atmospheric rivers, we’re thrilled to report on a blizzard that won’t make your life harder. Yesterday, Dairy Queen announced they’ll be dropping new summer flavors for their signature blended ice cream treat and to commemorate their founding year of 1985, they’ll be offering their blizzards for $0.85 from April 10th to the 23rd for those who purchase through the DQ app. Inflation who? I mean, let’s go. 85 cents I’m so already. And if you thought I wasn’t going to give you a rundown of the summer blizzard lineup, you must be new around here. We’re talking about the return of the s’mores, cotton candy and chocolate dipped strawberry flavors, as well as the brand new peanut butter puppy chow and Oreo brookie blizzards. Buy the value pack of Lactaid y’all. Get ready. And long live the motherfucking queen. I’m in line. I’m ready to go. I’m upset I have to download the app, but I will do it for this. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: I am going to be in line right next to you. And look, I don’t even think these flavors sound that good. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: What? You’re not even enthralled by the s’mores. The oreo–

 

Josie Duffy Rice: No. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: –Brookie blizzard? 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: I’m kind of into the peanut butter puppy chow, but I don’t like that it has the name puppy chow in it. I’m just going to be honest. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Puppy chow. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: However, bad Blizzards where average blizzards are still incredible, so– 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Incredible. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: –don’t think that that will keep me from the line. It will not. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: I also feel like we got to give respect to, you know, the originals. Like my favorite. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Correct. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: The Twix blizzard. Like–

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Correct. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: A go to– 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Correct. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: –of caramel chocolatey goodness. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Correct. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: You know. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: You’re right. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: So I can’t wait. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Right. Honestly, Dairy Queen, if you’re listening, [laughter] please consider advertising with What A Day. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: We’d be on sugar high. Let’s be real. We’d be on a sugar high. [laughing]

 

Josie Duffy Rice: We would be on a sugar high. And those are the headlines. We’ll be back after a quick ad break. [music break. 

 

[AD BREAK] 

 

Juanita Tolliver: It’s Wednesday WAD squad. And for today’s temp check, we’re talking about the Jurassic Parkification of the alternative meat race. I am 100% the first person– 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Oh God. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: –to ever say that sentence in the history of man. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: I’m like gagging already this sounds horrible.

 

Josie Duffy Rice: You’re not going to like it. So Vow, an Australian food firm, has cultivated a mammoth meatball, and by that I do not mean mammoth in size. I mean it in animal. It was sprouted in a laboratory using cells from the long extinct species. Vow worked alongside bioengineers at the University of Queensland to create the mammoth muscle protein borrowing sequences of elephant DNA to fill in the gaps. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Elephant! 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: To fill in the gaps. And that was before using sheep stem cells to actually grow the meat in the laboratory. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Oh, my God. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: I know. It’s so intense. According to one of Vow’s founders, they, quote, “chose the wooly mammoth because it’s a symbol of diversity loss and a symbol of climate change.” While the aim of the project is to explore sustainable ways of sourcing meat for consumption, no one has actually tasted the meatball yet, mainly because they have no idea how our bodies would react to eating a long extinct protein. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Well, no shit. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah, and shit is the right word. There is not enough Pepto-Bismol in the world to prepare you for what may happen, but the company hopes to offer more, shall we say, palatable cultured meats like chicken and quail to consumers soon, which, unlike plant alternatives, will replicate the taste of conventional meat. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Ugh. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: So Juanita will you be eating a mammoth meatball to do your part in slowing climate change? Or what’s going on? 

 

Juanita Tolliver: I mean, did you not hear me gag ten times while you’re reading this? Like, what in the world? It sounds horrible. It’s giving–

 

Josie Duffy Rice: It’s awful. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: –you know, Mondo Burger nightmare. You got a little bit of sheep, a little bit of elephant, a little bit of mammoth, like making up this grotesque meat patty. Can you imagine? 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: I know. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Can you imagine? 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: No. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: No thank you. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: I’m very– [clapping]

 

Juanita Tolliver: Hard pass. Hard pass.

 

Josie Duffy Rice: –very, very, very, very upset about this on every level. I’m mad about the elephant DNA to fill in the gaps. I’m mad about the sheep stem cells, like you said. And also I’m mad about using the wooly mammoth as a symbol instead of just like using all the smarts you must have to do this in solving climate change. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Girl. But you know, that’s really boring to the people over at Vow in Australia. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Ugh. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: That’s too boring. You can’t solve the actual problem. Now, Josie. [laughing]

 

Josie Duffy Rice: I don’t need wooly mammoth meat, at the very least, like let’s get to the stuff that’s edible. But you know what? Their marketing plan worked because I will be thinking about this. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: We’re talking about it. [laughing]

 

Josie Duffy Rice: For the next ten to twenty years. I’m so upset. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: I feel like we also identified another potential uh advertiser in Pepto-Bismol. Nausea, heart diet, indigestion. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: That is true. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Upset stomach diarrhea. [laughing]

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Just like that. We’ve checked our temps and they are vomiting. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Ice cold, ice cold. [music break]

 

Josie Duffy Rice: That is all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe. Leave a review. Let sleeping mammoths lie and tell your friends to listen. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: And if you’re into reading and not just a countdown to the day I can buy a blizzard for less than a dollar. What A Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at Crooked.com/subscribe. I’m Juanita Tolliver.

 

Josie Duffy Rice: I’m Josie Duffy Rice. 

 

[sung] And it’s almost ice cream season. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: I mean, does it have a season? Because I’m going to eat the ice cream year round like– 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Honestly, I’m too old to be eating ice cream for breakfast and I feel it– 

 

Juanita Tolliver: No you’re not. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: –when I do it. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: You better let your inner child thrive. Take some Lactaid. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: That’s right. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: And keep it moving girl. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Thank you. I appreciate your support. Eat ice cream while you can. [music break]

 

Tre’vell Anderson: What A Day is a production of Crooked Media. It’s recorded and mixed by Bill Lancz. Raven Yamamoto is our associate producer. Our head writer is Jocey Coffman and our executive producer is Lita Martinez. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka. 

 

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