In This Episode
- Two more leaders of the Proud Boys were sentenced yesterday for their roles in the January 6th insurrection. Joe Biggs was sentenced to 17 years in prison while Zachary Rehl was sentenced to 15 years. Plus, Donald Trump pleaded not guilty on Thursday in the Georgia criminal case where he’s accused of racketeering in his efforts to upend the 2020 presidential election results in the state.
- Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas officially disclosed yesterday that Republican megadonor Harlan Crow footed the bill for his private jet trips in 2022 to both attend a speech in Texas and to vacation at Crow’s home in the Adirondacks. With this disclosure, he also included a statement defending his travel with Crow.
- And in headlines: at least 74 people died and more than 50 were injured after a fire broke out in Johannesburg, South Africa, federal student loans will once again start accruing interest, and Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour is coming to a movie theater near you this October.
- WAD is taking a break for Labor Day. We’ll be back on Tuesday, September 5th.
- What A Day – YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/@whatadaypodcast
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Tre’vell Anderson: It’s Friday, September 1st. I’m Tre’vell Anderson.
Priyanka Aribindi: And I’m Priyanka Aribindi and this is What A Day where at least one of us already has a ticket for Taylor’s Eras Tour when it comes to movie theaters.
Tre’vell Anderson: And another host is saving their money for when Beyonce does it.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. You can make your guess about who is who in that situation. [laughter] But let me just say, like these tickets, they’re movie prices so I can spring for both. [laughter] [music break] On today’s show, Clarence Thomas has formally disclosed what we already knew, his billionaire friend Harlan Crow, paid for some of his vacations. Plus, in Texas, several new laws go into effect today, including one that restricts trans health care.
Tre’vell Anderson: But first, yet another update on white men who were never taught how to lose gracefully. Two more leaders of the Proud Boys were sentenced yesterday for their roles in the January 6th insurrection, convicted of several charges, including the likes of seditious conspiracy and the destruction of government property. Joe Biggs was sentenced to 17 years in prison while Zachary Rehl was sentenced to 15 years. Now, I know we’re supposed to be prison abolitionists and whatnot, so we’re not supposed to applaud this form of accountability. But as the 11th Commandment states, if thou fucketh around, thou shalt findeth out.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah I believe that is a direct quote, actually. [laughter] So tell us, how do these sentences compare with the others that have been handed down to insurrectionists so far?
Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah. So Biggs’ 17 year sentence, is currently the second longest prison sentence that’s come down, the longest being Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes, who got 18 years. Interestingly enough, though, the prosecution wanted almost double the 17 years, 33 to be exact, because they argued that Biggs and his co-defendants, quote, “intentionally positioned themselves at the vanguard of political violence in this country.” But District Judge Timothy Kelly opted for the lower yet still significant sentence, saying that he did not want to, quote, “minimize the violence that did occur, but that he had to also be conscious of the other sentences that were given to the other domestic terrorists as to not create large or unwarranted disparities.”
Priyanka Aribindi: Got it. Okay.
Tre’vell Anderson: And speaking of white men who were never taught how to lose gracefully, I’ve also got a quick update on a couple of Donald Trump’s legal woes. First up, the case in Georgia, where he’s accused of racketeering in his efforts to upend the 2020 presidential election results in the state. Trump has officially pleaded not guilty, so that’s four for four regarding all of his indictments. And he’s also asked the judge to sever his case from the 18 other co-defendants under the guise that his team won’t have enough time to appropriately prep for the case by October 23rd, which is when DA Fani Willis has asked for the trial to be set for. Of course, this is a move that, if approved, will allow Trump’s team to delay proceedings.
Priyanka Aribindi: Right. And we all know that that is what they are after. While we’re talking about the Georgia case, there have also been talks about Republicans who are trying to investigate D.A. Willis’ decision to bring this case to trial in the first place. What is the latest on that little endeavor?
Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah, so Republican Governor Kemp actually addressed this in a press conference yesterday, saying that he will not be calling for a special session to investigate her. Let’s take a listen.
[clip of Brian Kemp} We are now seeing what happens when prosecutors move forward with highly charged indictments and trials in the middle of an election. Simply put, it sews distrust and provides easy pickings for those who see the district attorney’s action as guided by politics. But let me be clear. We have a law in the state of Georgia that clearly outlines the legal steps that can be taken if constituents believe their local prosecutors are violating their oath by engaging in unethical or illegal behavior. Up to this point, I have not seen any evidence that D.A. Willis’ actions or lack thereof warrant action by the Prosecuting Attorney Oversight Commission. But that will ultimately be a decision that the commission will make, regardless, in my mind, a special session of the General Assembly to end run around this law is not feasible and may ultimately prove to be unconstitutional.
Tre’vell Anderson: So he’s basically saying that even though he feels like Fani’s decision is politically motivated, that she’s not done anything illegal or unethical. So, you know, maybe people will now just let this Black woman do her job.
Priyanka Aribindi: You know, probably not. But–
Tre’vell Anderson: [laughing] Right.
Priyanka Aribindi: I feel like when you have Brian Kemp putting it like that. You’ve got to know that there’s really, really no legs to stand on there. But anyways, there is also some news about how we’ll be able to follow this case. What do we know?
Tre’vell Anderson: Yes. So if you are interested in watching how this case unfolds, you may be happy to know that it will be broadcast live and in color on the YouTubes. Okay. So, you know, I guess we have that to look forward to.
Priyanka Aribindi: I, for one, certainly will not be watching that whole thing, but I will be watching the highlights. So I’m glad that we will have video evidence of it rather than just articles to rely on, because sometimes that gets a little tedious to follow, but a video that is forever. But anyways, the last update from Trump World has to do with the case that he faces in New York State. Fill us in. What’s going on there?
Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah, so that’s the case brought by Attorney General Letitia James that accuses him of financial fraud. He has asked the judge there to dismiss the case due to a recent appellate court decision that they believe narrows the scope of the case. Now, this gets a little technical, but basically his team says that Letitia’s allegation that Trump, his business and members of his family fraudulently boosted their net worth by between $812 million dollars and $2.2 billion dollars each year over the course of a decade that they can’t be tried because this appellate court has now placed limits on which loans in question can actually be considered by a court because he got them too long ago. So they’re trying to do everything that they can to basically, again, delay, delay, delay, or at least get it thrown out. Of course, we don’t yet know how the judge will rule on this, but this definitely could take a bit of the wind out of this case if the judge does buy it.
Priyanka Aribindi: All right. A lot of updates there. Feel like you might be eligible for hazard pay with that one Tre’vell. [laughter] But thank you so much for filling us in. But now switching gears for a little update from everybody’s least favorite Supreme Court justice. That is right, Justice Clarence Thomas. He officially disclosed yesterday that Republican megadonor Harlan Crow footed the bill for his private jet trips in 2022 to both attend a speech in Texas and to vacation at Crow’s home in the Adirondacks. These disclosures came as part of the annual reports that the justices were expected to submit in May of this year. Thomas requested an extension, so he is submitting his 90 days after the fact, which was yesterday. With this disclosure, he also included a statement, a move that is pretty unusual that actually defended his travel with Crow.
Tre’vell Anderson: Interesting. Okay.
Priyanka Aribindi: Very.
Tre’vell Anderson: We’re gonna get to that statement in a moment. But can you refresh our memories really quickly about the allegations against Thomas at this particular moment?
Priyanka Aribindi: Yes. So a series of reporting by ProPublica this year detailed that this man, Harlan Crow, treated Justice Thomas to several luxury vacations and trips on his private jet and super yacht. He also bought Clarence Thomas’ mother’s home in Savannah, Georgia, and covered a portion of Thomas’s great nephew’s private school tuition, none of which at all had been disclosed at any point by Clarence Thomas. The justice received similar kinds of perks from other wealthy people, but the ones involving Crow seem to be the most extensive and have garnered the most attention. All of this drummed up intense scrutiny and criticism, both of Justice Thomas and his colleague, Justice Samuel Alito, who has also been accused of accepting similar things. And of the court in general, because of the fact that these justices aren’t actually bound by official ethics rules or subject to any punishment for not disclosing this information. And in light of this reporting, that’s something that many people think needs to change.
Tre’vell Anderson: I might be in that number because–
Priyanka Aribindi: Certainly, certainly.
Tre’vell Anderson: This is absurd that there are no checks and balances. Right, for this type of behavior.
Priyanka Aribindi: I know for all the raving about the checks and balances, we do have very little going on right here.
Tre’vell Anderson: Right, right. Okay. So going back to this report that Thomas disclosed yesterday, you said that he included a statement. What did he have to say?
Priyanka Aribindi: He said of his decision to fly on Crow’s private jet that he was advised to avoid commercial travel after the leak of the Dobbs decision, which got rid of the constitutional right to an abortion. I understand why he would think that he is hated by the American public. I think that’s probably pretty accurate. [laughter] He also admitted that he, quote, “inadvertently omitted,” other information in past reports, including a life insurance policy for his conservative activist wife, Ginni Thomas, as well as a bank account that was valued at under $70,000 in 2018. He tried to defend himself over these glaring omissions, along with, you know, all the other trips and perks over the years saying that he, quote, “adhered to the then existing judicial regulations, as his colleagues had done, both in practice and in consultation with the judicial conference.” But something is telling me that he probably wasn’t consulting with RBG and company–
Tre’vell Anderson: Right.
Priyanka Aribindi: –about whether or not he should go on these luxury trips or have this political megadonor with a supervillain name, buy his mother a house and not report any of it. I don’t think that’s what people on the other side of the aisle or ideologically speaking, are doing exactly. Just a little thought I had. Obviously, we will continue to follow this story, but that is the latest for now. We’ll be back after some ads. [music break].
Priyanka Aribindi: Let’s get to some headlines.
Priyanka Aribindi: At least 74 people have died and more than 50 are injured after a fire broke out in a five story building in Johannesburg, South Africa. The fire broke out at around 1 a.m. on Thursday morning in the heart of Johannesburg’s central business district. And it took 3 hours to contain. An estimated 200 people were living in the building, which local authorities referred to as hijacked. Those are buildings that have been abandoned by landlords and taken over by gangs or other groups. These spaces are often then leased out to migrants or residents who don’t have the means to afford other forms of housing. However, that means that these buildings tend to be more informal settlements and don’t always meet basic safety requirements. After responding to the fire, rescue crews described shacks and other structures hung up in the rooms of a building and many people crammed into singular rooms. This likely made it more difficult for people to escape. Officials are still looking into the cause of the blaze.
Tre’vell Anderson: After more than three years, the student loan payment freeze is coming to an end. Boo, tomato, tomato, tomato.
Priyanka Aribindi: Tomato, tomato, throwing tomatoes.
Tre’vell Anderson: [laughing] Starting today, federal student loans will once again start accruing interest. And unless you refinanced, you can expect those interest rates to bounce back to the same rate they were before the pandemic. Monthly payments, however, won’t be due for another month starting in October, but you can expect to receive that bill at least 21 days beforehand. Of course, a lot has changed in the course of three years from finances to circumstances and beyond. And thankfully, there is some cushion in the first year after payments start up. The Biden administration is providing what’s called a quote on ramp period to help borrowers get back into the swing of making payments. During this period you won’t be penalized if you miss a payment and you also won’t be referred to debt collection agencies, considered delinquent, or placed in default. The on ramp period starts October 1st and continues through September of next year. The Biden administration also launched a more affordable, income driven repayment plan this summer. It’s called SAVE, and it adjusts your monthly payment based on your income and family size. Processing an application for the program can take about four weeks, so if you’re interested in enrolling, it might be a good idea to start looking into it right now.
Priyanka Aribindi: Now for some legislative news out of Texas, we’ll start with the bad. First, starting today, trans youth in the state will no longer be able to receive gender affirming care. That is because the Texas Supreme Court has allowed SB-14 to go into effect. The law prohibits trans kids from receiving puberty blockers, hormone therapy or transition surgeries, surgeries that experts say are rarely ever performed on minors in the first place. It also forces trans kids who are already receiving treatment to detransition, which is just a devastating thing to have to go through mentally, physically, for–
Tre’vell Anderson: Absolutely.
Priyanka Aribindi: –these children.
Tre’vell Anderson: It’s really bad.
Priyanka Aribindi: A state judge temporarily blocked the measure last week after deeming it unconstitutional, but the all-Republican high court lifted the injunction with no explanation. The good news is that a state judge blocked the so called Death Star bill that was slated to go into effect today. That Republican backed proposal would have barred local governments from enacting progressive policies that go against state law. But a judge struck it down because the law conflicts with a provision in Texas’ state constitution that allows cities to enact their own policies. State officials have already appealed Thursday’s ruling, but for now, blue cities and counties are free to do what they want.
Tre’vell Anderson: Biden is saying, show me the money to those people in the Capitol. The White House is pushing Congress to pass a short term spending bill that would help avoid a partial shutdown and keep the government funded. As of now, that money is set to run out at the end of September. The pressure has been building for months for lawmakers to pass a bill that would fund the government for the 2024 fiscal year. But both parties are vastly opposed on the specifics of that bill, especially House Republicans who are demanding spending cuts so large that Biden and the Democrats refuse to accept them. That’s why Biden is asking for what’s called a continuing resolution, a smaller bill that would buy Congress time to come to more of an agreement. When Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was asked about the ongoing appropriations process on Wednesday. Yes, the same press conference that he froze at, he said this:
[clip of Mitch McConnell] Honestly, it’s it’s a pretty big mess. Uh. [laughter]
Tre’vell Anderson: It’s a mess of you all’s own making.
Priyanka Aribindi: Right. Why is everyone laughing?
Tre’vell Anderson: Right.
Priyanka Aribindi: I don’t get it. Color me confused. Anyways. Finally, we have some good news for all of you swifties out there if you missed out on the Taylor Swift Eras tour during its North American run. There is still hope for you to experience it without emptying your entire bank account. The singer songwriter announced yesterday that a concert film of the billion dollar tour is coming to a movie theater near you this October. The movie titled Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour, will play on the big screen at AMC Theaters nationwide for a limited time in the fall. And Swift said, quote, “Era’s attire, friendship bracelet, singing and dancing are encouraged.” The announcement comes amid high demand for Swift’s worldwide tour. Ticket sales are expected to total up to $1.4 billion dollars or more by the end of next year when the tour is set to end. And you will remember that Ticketmaster’s website literally imploded last year because of how much traffic it got during just the pre-sale. Tickets for the Eras tour movie are now on sale for the same price as a normal movie ticket. Already got my ticket. Cannot wait. The film will debut in theaters on October 13th in the US, Canada and Mexico. See you there, Swifties. Why not? Why not relive it?
Tre’vell Anderson: I love that you and all of the other swifties out there will have this to recharge you.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah.
Tre’vell Anderson: I’m so glad for you all.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, Tre’vell’s honestly just glad that we’re off the streets for a few weekends in [laughing] October.
Tre’vell Anderson: Absolutely. Absolutely.
Priyanka Aribindi: The streets have been cleaned up of the Swifties. [laughter] I think those movie theaters will be a lovely place. It’ll be a fun time and sometimes it’s a long show, it’ll be nice to sit down, I feel like. [laughter] And those are the headlines.
Priyanka Aribindi: And last thing, we are taking a break for Labor Day. Shout out to our unionized fam out there. Thank you all for what you do. We will have a new episode for you all out on Tuesday, September 5th, so we will see you then. [music break]
Tre’vell Anderson: That is all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe. Leave a review. Have a great Labor Day weekend and tell your friends to listen.
Priyanka Aribindi: And if you are into reading and not just a statement defending billionaires who pay for your vacations 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 fund our labor day weekend Harlan.
Priyanka Aribindi: I’d like a paid vacation.
Tre’vell Anderson: Absolutely. I’d love to go to the Adirondacks.
Priyanka Aribindi: I don’t really feel the need to hang out with him there.
Tre’vell Anderson: Oh, no.
Priyanka Aribindi: But I think it’d be fun if we went.
Tre’vell Anderson: [laughing] Absolutely. He’s not invited to be clear.
Priyanka Aribindi: No, no.
Tre’vell Anderson: But he can foot the bill.
Priyanka Aribindi: We just want the jet and the mountain house. Thank you so much. [laughter] [music break]
Tre’vell Anderson: 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.