In This Episode
- Abortion providers across the country are rushing to figure out their next steps in light of this week’s news about abortion and the Supreme Court. Plus, we share some of our listeners’ stories about how Roe has helped them and what it would mean to them if it were overturned.
- In headlines: The Federal Reserve is raising interest rates again, New Mexico officials are struggling to contain seven massive wildfires, and comedian Dave Chapelle was attacked on-stage by an audience member during his comedy set in L.A.
- And a lot of news has recently come out that paints a pretty bad picture of Trump’s inner circle and Republican lawmakers around the insurrection. California Congressman Pete Aguilar, a member of the House January 6th Committee, joins us to discuss what the panel’s next steps are.
- Crooked’s Strict Scrutiny: “What the SCOTUS leak could mean for abortion” – https://crooked.com/podcast-series/strict-scrutiny/
- Donate to abortion funds, take action and more via Vote Save America – votesaveamerica.com/roe
Follow us on Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/whataday/
Gideon Resnick: It’s Thursday, May 5th. I’m Gideon Resnick.
Priyanka Aribindi: And I’m Priyanka Aribindi, and this is What A Day where we’re sending strength to Dolly Parton as she reluctantly accepts admission into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Gideon Resnick: Yes, she opposed her nomination, but fate had other ideas.
Priyanka Aribindi: Dolly is simply winning too much. We really hope she’s okay.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah. We’re sending her all of our thoughts.
Priyanka Aribindi: In this troubling time.
Gideon Resnick: It’s a difficult time for Dolly. On today’s show, the Federal Reserve announced the biggest increase to the interest rate in over 20 years. Plus, we preview the upcoming January 6th investigative hearings with committee member Pete Aguilar.
[clip of Pete Aguilar] Now that we are winding down on the investigative side of our activities, we’re to the point where we feel we can share what we have learned.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, stick around for that later in the show.
Priyanka Aribindi: But first, how abortion providers across the country are reacting to this week’s news about abortion and the Supreme Court. Here is one of them, Shannon Brewer. She is the director of the only abortion clinic in Mississippi.
[clip of Shannon Brewer] I’m frustrated with the fact that people think that if you ban abortion, then that means people aren’t going to have abortions. That’s not the case at all. I’m frustrated that the people that are going to be affected the most are the women who need it the most, women who have the means financially to obtain an abortion in other states, travel, you know, anywhere they want to go — those people won’t be affected. Those people can still have an abortion.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. Brewer was speaking with ABC News podcast “Start Here” in that clip, she runs Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the facility that’s at the center of the Supreme Court case in which Roe v Wade appears poised to be overturned. And she is among many across the country who have been figuring out next steps in the last couple of days. Gideon, what can you tell us about what else she has said?
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, so Brewer also spoke to NBC News and said that for now, the clinic is going to keep operating as usual, but that she also has these plans to potentially relocate to New Mexico in the event that Jackson Women’s Health has to close down. And as you might expect, Brewer also said that the clinic had been busy already dealing with the fallout of Texas law SB8, which banned abortions as early as six weeks of pregnancy. That alone, Brewer said, has resulted in them seeing more patients. Even before this draft opinion was leaked. And this, of course, goes well beyond just one state or one clinic. There’s reporting we’ll link to about the strain on the last abortion clinic in Huntsville, Alabama. Plus, there’s another story that the only clinic in the entire state of North Dakota reminded patients recently that their appointments are still standing at the moment. So a lot of stress, a lot of anxiety in all these places.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. And there are so many ramifications of this that we probably can’t even comprehend at this point. But Gideon, across our northern border, this news about the Supreme Court has caused waves even in Canada. Can you talk a little bit about that? Because that didn’t occur to me at all.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, so we didn’t really get around to this. But on Tuesday, Karina Gould, the Minister of Families, Children, and Social Development in Canada, talked about how a potential overruling of Roe would have big impacts on both Americans and Canadians potentially. Here’s what she told the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. in an interview on Tuesday when asked about whether the country would treat Americans coming across to seek abortions:
[clip of Karina Could] I don’t see why we would not. I mean, if people come here and need access, certainly that’s a service that would be provided. We want to make sure that we’re still able to provide those services as needed to Canadian women.
Gideon Resnick: But at the same time, if the US overturns ROE, it could potentially affect Canadians’ access to abortions in some limited cases to, for example, the entire province of New Brunswick does not have a single clinic. There is sort of uneven coverage. And historically, some people have had to travel from Canada to the U.S. for abortion services. According to The Washington Post. Ontario referred about two dozen patients a year to the U.S. before the pandemic temporarily closed the borders. So just another example of the enormity of all of this.
Priyanka Aribindi: Wow, yeah, I had no idea. Let’s also talk about some more responses that we’ve heard from leaders of several states when it comes to protecting reproductive rights.
Gideon Resnick: Yes. So all this is really happening quite quickly, but a few things worth highlighting. There were three Republican governors who lead, you know, blue states —dark blue to medium, I guess—in New England that said that they would protect the right to abortions in their respective states. They are Charlie Baker of Massachusetts, Phil Scott of Vermont, and Chris Sununu of New Hampshire, though Baker and Sununu have comparatively mixed records on reproductive rights that we can get into at another time. Then in Rhode Island, the state Supreme Court ruled in favor of a state law that was passed in 2019 that codifies Roe even in the event of it being overturned by the Supreme Court. Then at the federal level, The Washington Post also reported that the White House is talking about the likely limited options they have should that draft opinion become reality. One was whether Medicaid funding could be used to help people travel to states where they could get the care they needed if it wasn’t available to them in their states. It’s unclear really whether that is feasible or how serious that proposal could get, but I thought it was interesting in that report. Tomorrow we are going to hear directly from the Roe Fund in Oklahoma about how all of this is impacting them.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, we obviously will be on this and hearing a lot more about this in the coming days. But let’s turn now to our listeners, because we have heard a lot from a lot of you. Yesterday we asked our listeners to share their stories with us. We wanted to hear how Roe has impacted their lives, how it has helped them, what it would mean if it was overturned. And I wish you all could read the responses that we got. We received so many from so many people in all different kinds of circumstances. For one, people shared about unplanned pregnancies that would have derailed their lives and their ambitions for the future or kept them in bad relationships and circumstances. Here is one story we got: I would have had to drop out of graduate school if I hadn’t been able to access safe and legal abortion care. Instead, I was able to graduate and provide mental health to underserved populations for the better part of the last decade. I’m now ready to think about having a child, but I am terrified that I would have a nonviable pregnancy or a medical complication and be forced to carry the pregnancy anyways.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah. Wow. And another thing that we heard from many people involved is the health of themselves or the fetus.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. People also shared about pregnancies that were planned and that they hoped for, but heartbreakingly became unviable, and ectopic pregnancy that could have killed them to carry. Here is what one person wrote to us: at 15-weeks pregnant while living in Missouri in 2021, my baby was given a near-fatal diagnosis. My health was deteriorating, and I had no options other than to end my pregnancy. It was a devastating decision, but necessary for my health and my life. If Roe was not in place at the time, I would have had to travel to Illinois or another state to be able to have the critical care I needed. With the pending legislation in Missouri, had I needed to go out of state, I could have been criminally charged upon my return. It’s confusing and devastating that people in 2022 believe that my life and my health are less than, and that women don’t deserve the right to critical care and most importantly, choice regarding our own bodies.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, these are really telling the story in a way that I think is profound. We also heard from someone whose life was positively impacted by someone else’s abortion.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, we had quite a few stories like this, actually. Here is what this person said: my mom had an abortion when I was around three. She was 22 and recovering from her own mental health and substance abuse struggles and was in an abusive relationship with my biological father. She was already working multiple jobs to support us, and another dependent was not an option at that time in her life. Thankfully, she had access to a safe abortion through Planned Parenthood. I truly believe that her ability to make that choice significantly contributed to the life I have now.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, there are so many ripple effects on so many different people and lives and careers and everything in all of these stories. It’s a lot to think about when somebody is sharing something like this.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, and there are so many more than just those. Those are just a few that we picked out. We also heard from many who said that this was affecting their decisions about future pregnancies and their health care. There are older people and people with chronic conditions and genetic conditions who want to have a child but are scared to even try in states with major restrictions on abortion access because they’d be in a really impossible position if something were to go wrong with their pregnancies. There are other people who are struggling with the side effects of birth control medication who now aren’t sure whether or not they should stay on those medications because of this decision. There are so many reasons that people exercise their right to choice, and if it wasn’t already abundantly clear, the right to health care and bodily autonomy has a huge role in so many people’s lives. People, and I really should say we when I say this because I consider myself in this group, were angry and frustrated and scared and gutted over what’s happening in statehouses across the country and what could happen if Roe is overturned. I want to take a second to thank everybody who took the time to share their stories with us. You know, we only read a couple here, but I read every single one of the messages that you all sent in. They made me really emotional. I wish I had something a little more reassuring to say. It’s a really scary time for so many of us. But if you want to share your story too, please send us a DM on Instagram. We would love to hear from you. It’s really powerful to hear this on the show. You can make it as long or as short as you want. You can let us know if you want to stay anonymous, too. We will have more on all of this very soon, but that is the latest for now.
Gideon Resnick: Let’s get to some headlines.
Gideon Resnick: The Federal Reserve is raising interest rates again, this time with the largest increase since 2000. Fed Chair Jerome Powell announced the half percentage point raise yesterday, while also announcing that the Fed would withdraw support for the economy by decreasing the massive amount of money it invests in bonds. Done together, these two moves are intended to cool down the red-hot economy and to address soaring inflation without causing so much damage that they lead to a recession—recessions are bad. Higher interest rates will make it more expensive to borrow money for consumers and businesses. So there is going to be some pain in the short term no matter what, and rates are going to keep climbing, with this increase being the second of seven total hikes the Fed has forecast for the year. The causes of the historic inflation that we’re seeing today are pretty numerous, including COVID-related supply chain interruptions at home and abroad, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and increased consumer spending with lifted COVID restrictions. But for the Republicans who will seize on this issue from now until the midterms, inflation only has one cause and he is a 79-year old lifeguard-turned-president from Scranton, Pennsylvania, and he is mad at corn pop to this day.
Priyanka Aribindi: May we never forget corn pop.
Gideon Resnick: Never.
Priyanka Aribindi: New Mexico officials are struggling to contain seven massive wildfires burning through the state that have caused thousands of residents to evacuate and abandon their homes over the past few days. These fires have torn through over 350 square miles of land—for reference, that is about equal to the size of Dallas, Texas, which I didn’t know Dallas was that huge, but I do now. As we know, climate change has made wildfires more common nationwide, particularly in the Southwest, where there is currently a massive drought. Some of the damage in New Mexico can be blamed on a far less likely suspect: nominal ally of trees, grass, and the wilderness, the United States Forest Service. That agency lost containment of a controlled burn early last month, which merged with another fire and then tore through centuries-old villages in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, leading to evacuations. According to the emergency response team at trying to control the fires, over 15,000 more homes in New Mexico are at risk if the blazes continue to grow. The state’s governor, Michelle Lujan Grisham, said on Tuesday that she asked President Biden to provide federal disaster relief to her state’s residents in wake of the damage the fires have caused.
Gideon Resnick: We said we don’t want unprecedented anymore. We want precedented. I’m concerned that our wishes are not becoming true. So listen to us, gods of the news. All right. Anyway. Comedian Dave Chappelle was attacked on stage by an audience member Tuesday night during his comedy set for the Netflix Is a Joke Festival. Chappelle was performing at the Los Angeles Hollywood Bowl as a headliner for the event when a man sprinted onstage and tackled him to the ground. Security quickly detained and beat the man who charged at Chappelle and found that he was armed with what looked like a handgun, but instead of bullets, a blade comes out of the barrel when the trigger is pulled.
Priyanka Aribindi: Excuse me?
Gideon Resnick: Yeah. I don’t know. So, like a knife disguised as a handgun, if you can picture that.
Priyanka Aribindi: What?!
Gideon Resnick: The suspect was arrested by the LAPD and charged with felony assault with a deadly weapon. Here is Chappelle in the aftermath of the attack:
[clip of David Chappelle] Thank God, that [bleep] was clumsy.
Gideon Resnick: Okay. Chappelle wasn’t injured, and he managed to do some of his signature comedy that is quite literally just transphobia. Seconds after the attack, he jokes that his assailant, quote, “was a trans man.”
Priyanka Aribindi: I’m missing the funny part of that.
Gideon Resnick: I’m not sure I get it either. A representative for Chappelle said that the comedian is cooperating with the LAPD’s investigation of the incident.
Priyanka Aribindi: A surprising number of people seem cool with posting the fact that they are going to these specials that Chappelle is headlining on their Instagram stories. Like, maybe don’t advertise that at this point in time. Anyways. We may deliberate for hours annually before deciding to scam the U.S. government by writing off our, quote unquote, “Home Office” But it seems like TurboTax is a little less upstanding.
Gideon Resnick: Oh, yeah.
Priyanka Aribindi: The program’s parent company Intuit agreed to settle with attorneys general from all 50 states yesterday who allege that the company tricked people into using a paid version of its software when they were eligible for a free version. Intuit is set to pay $141 million, the bulk of which will be sent automatically to 4.4 million mostly low-income customers. The settlement follows a ProPublica investigation from 2019 that accused Intuit of using a variety of diabolical methods to make customers pay, like blocking the actually free TurboTax FreeFile from search engine results and using the word ‘free’ very loosely to label software like TurboTax Free Edition, which ended up costing many users money. New York attorney general and law MVP Letitia James led the investigation. For its part, Intuit admitted no wrongdoing, though it did agree to market its software more clearly in the future and stop making customers start over mid-tax filing if they switched from a paid product to a free one. It will also suspend its, quote, “free, free, free” ad campaign, seeing as it is false, false, false. Let’s hear a real radio spot for that campaign one last time while we reflect on the nature of brazen corporate deception:
[ad clip] Free, free, free, free, free, free, free, free, free! That’s right. TurboTax Free is free. Free. Free, free, free.
Gideon Resnick: I think we’re actually going to take that and use it for a WAD promos from now on. I just like that chord progression. I think it’s nice.
Priyanka Aribindi: Free, free, free, free.
Gideon Resnick: It wouldn’t be false advertising for us?
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, we are actually free.
Gideon Resnick: Correct. I do think that it is a sign that you may have messed up when all 50 state attorneys general agree on something together.
Priyanka Aribindi: Who can agree on virtually nothing else. They all come together to be like, Hey, guess what, you fucked up.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, they all said they were not into it.
Priyanka Aribindi: I see what you did there.
Gideon Resnick: Okay. All right. Thank you very much.
Priyanka Aribindi: I liked it. I don’t know what anyone else will think, but I liked it.
Gideon Resnick: Everyone’s going to be pissed. But that’s okay. And those are the headlines. We’ll be back after some ads.
Priyanka Aribindi: Welcome back, WAD squad. We are going to wrap up today by putting some important news on your radar: next month’s hearings by the January 6th House Committee. A lot of news has recently come out that paints a pretty bad picture of Trump’s inner circle and Republican lawmakers around the insurrection—although some of us have always seen them as pretty bad. The committee recently announced public hearings will be held in primetime in June. In preparation for that, the committee has been speaking to a number of high-profile people. Gideon, what can you tell us about those conversations?
Gideon Resnick: High profile is definitely right. On Tuesday, Donald Trump Jr. was interviewed by the house committee.
Priyanka Aribindi: Oh, God.
Gideon Resnick: He is the latest family member to speak with them. Also earlier this week, the panel sent letters to Republican representatives Ronny Jackson, Mo Brooks, and Andy Biggs, asking them to come in for interviews as well because they were all in close contact with the former president around that time.
Priyanka Aribindi: How miserable for them.
Gideon Resnick: This is all on top of some other news that we’ve mentioned on the show before. The New York Times reporting, for example, that House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy said that Trump bore some responsibility for the insurrection. Plus, CNN obtained over 2,300 text messages from Trump’s former chief of staff, Mark Meadows. So truly quite a bit of information and people and messages to sift through.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, I do not envy any of them or any of those jobs at all one bit. So, Gideon, in order to help our listeners digest the most important things to keep in mind before those hearings in June, you and Josie spoke with California Congressman Pete Aguilar earlier this week. What can you tell us about your conversation?
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, so Congressman Aguilar is a member of the House committee, and we were curious what the panel’s next steps are here, given everything I just said. But I started by asking him what the committee was able to take away, specifically from Mark Meadows’ text messages. It is worth mentioning that Meadows voluntarily provided the committee with them a while back, but they only recently became public.
Pete Aguilar You know, my take away is that, you know, Mark Meadows was at the center of this discussion and our job is to follow the facts and find out exactly what happened on January 5th and January 6th—the rallies that happened on the fifth that preceded the attempted insurrection on the sixth. And so in order to do that, we need to talk to people who were involved in and around the former president and the White House. And so clearly, he plays a role in that discussion, and we’re ensuring that we seek the truth. And that’s what we plan to do, and the text messages we have are in that context.
Gideon Resnick: Got it. And there’s been a lot of reporting and these sorts of leaks of audio clips, some of which that were surfaced last week, in fact, I think in The New York Times pertaining to Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. What would you hope to gain from speaking to him at this point?
Pete Aguilar Well, we want to talk to people who had interaction with the former president, and so Kevin McCarthy fits that bill. However, given the events of the past few weeks, I’m not certain that we could believe anything that he said. But I do think that it’s important that we ask, because there were a number of people who—and this is a public reporting—that had conversations with the former president during this time, either they said it previously or individuals around the president have said it. And so our job is to piece together minute by minute what was happening at 1600 Pennsylvania, and how it affected what was happening to the Capitol. And so clearly, Kevin McCarthy plays a role in that, and so we feel he should come before the committee and share what he knows.
Josie Duffy Rice: A CBS News article said, quote, “The committee has conducted nearly 935 depositions and interviews and received nearly 104,000 documents.” Astounding numbers. So how much closer does all of this information get the committee to an expectation that DOJ will indict people down the line?
Pete Aguilar Well, our job is to piece together the facts and to lay that out to the American public. House Resolution 503 that created our committee asks us to do just that, and it also asks us to focus on some legislative proposals that could help to ensure that an attack like this never happens on the Capitol. And so that’s what we have been focused on. To the extent that this information is helpful to the Department of Justice in the future with things that they are pursuing, that is up to them. I want accountability, and the Department of Justice plays a role in that but the resolution that created our committee talks about finding the facts and making sure that this doesn’t happen again, so we’re trying to stay true to that mission. And this isn’t being done in a bipartisan way, honestly, this is being done in a nonpartisan way. And we’re nine members who are working together each and every day to piece this together.
Gideon Resnick: I want to talk about some other recent news. The panel’s chair, Representative Bennie Thompson, said the committee will be holding eight public hearings next month. Worth mentioning, some of those are actually going to take place in primetime. Why did you decide on this?
Pete Aguilar We feel now that we are winding down on the investigative side of our activities and that now we’re to the point where we feel we can share what we have learned. Some details, as you mentioned the text messages, you know, have been made public, other details we have not been made public. And so we feel it’s important to share that. We don’t want this report to sit on a shelf somewhere. We want to be able to share these experiences. And thankfully, we also have audio recordings and video that we can play as part of these hearings. So these are going to be much more interactive and we will able to showcase in a multimedia way the information that we’ve received.
Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah. Thompson also said that the committee plans to release a full report in early fall. So between now and then, what should we expect and what do you kind of expect to see happen over the next few months?
Pete Aguilar Well, within the month of May, we’re going to be preparing for the hearings that we proposed in June. So we will be working as a group with the staff to present that out. And so that will occupy the entire month of June. And then we will get to the phase of actually writing the report. And so that piece will be incredibly important. And so that will take us through the early fall when we plan to release the interim report, and then there could be a more detailed final report at the end of the year.
Josie Duffy Rice: So if you do release a report in the fall like you expect to, what is your response to Republicans who say that this news will influence the midterm vote?
Pete Aguilar I would tell them that this is the most nonpartisan thing that I’ve done in my time in Congress and that this is about protecting our democracy. There is no more important thing that we could possibly do than to protect our democracy, so it shouldn’t matter what time of year a report was released. But for those who do want to level politics of this, I would just remind them the Senate and Mitch McConnell asked Republican senators to do him a personal favor and to vote against the creation of a 911-style commission, so when they did that—and by the way, the timeline on that would have ended and forced them to put out a public report out at the end of 2021, so if they were concerned about time lines and not wanting this to get close to the 2022 elections, they had an opportunity. They also had an opportunity to take elected officials out of this and to have outside experts weigh-in. And they chose not to for purely political purposes.
Gideon Resnick: I’m curious also, obviously, this work is ongoing, but there’s also lots of other work that’s happening in relation to election interference from the former president. Namely, on Monday, selections began for a special grand jury in Georgia that is directly related to Trump’s efforts to overturn the election in that state. When you see that, what, if any, impact does that have on your work?
Pete Aguilar Well, I think each and every time we win lawsuits—we also this week won a lawsuit that the Republican National Committee had sued the January 6th Committee, we won that lawsuit—each and every time that some of these outside legal proceedings implicate people in and around the president, as well as these lawsuits that the committee itself is winning, it really does show the importance of the work that we’re doing. So each time we win these cases, we think it’s a validation of the importance of the work that we’re undertaking, and so it helps us, it buoys our spirits and makes us even more committed to the job at hand, which is seeking the truth, telling the story, and making sure that this doesn’t happen again.
Gideon Resnick: So that was Josie’s and my conversation with Representative Pete Aguilar from earlier this week. We are going to keep you updated as more January 6th news unfolds. That is all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe, leave a review, define free, and tell your friends to listen.
Priyanka Aribindi: And if you’re into reading, and not just Dolly Parton’s name in the Rock Hall through tears like me, What A Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at Crooked.com/subscribe. I’m Priyanka Aribindi.
Gideon Resnick: I am Gideon Resnick.
[together] And free Dolly from the Rock Hall!
Gideon Resnick: She doesn’t like Eminem anyway. We have it on good authority. That was one of the main issues.
Priyanka Aribindi: In my opinion, like Dolly versus Eminem—someone’s paid a little more of their dues.
Gideon Resnick: Yes, I think there’s a clear winner.
Priyanka Aribindi: What’s the criteria here? I’d love to know.
Gideon Resnick: What A Day is a production of Crooked Media. It’s recorded and mixed by Bill Lancz. Jazzy Marine and Raven Yamamoto are our associate producers. Our head writer is Jon Millstein, and our executive producers are Leo Duran and me, Gideon Resnick. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.