In This Episode
- President Biden will travel to Israel tomorrow. The high-stakes visit is meant to be a show of solidarity with Israel – while also sending a message to other countries in the region to keep the conflict with Hamas from escalating. The announcement also comes amid a continued push to deliver humanitarian aid to Gaza.
- The federal government has reached a deal with the ACLU over the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy that separated thousands of migrant families. If approved, those families will be allowed to remain in the U.S. for three years, and will receive housing and legal aid to apply for asylum.
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Josie Duffy Rice: It’s Tuesday, October 17th. I’m Jose Duffy Rice.
Tre’vell Anderson: And I’m Tre’vell Anderson. And this is What a Day.
Josie Duffy Rice: On today’s show. A federal judge slapped Donald Trump with a gag order in his election interference case. Plus, House Republicans will try to elect a new speaker this afternoon.
Tre’vell Anderson: But first, a quick update on the unfolding conflict between Israel and Hamas. As of our record time, Israel has not yet made good on its threat to invade Gaza. While the escalation of violence remains anticipated, death toll numbers have been updated. To date, more than 1400 people have been killed in Israel and almost 4000 injured. Meanwhile, in Gaza, where innocent people still don’t have water because Israel cut off their access to it ten days ago, more than 2800 people have been killed and 10,850 wounded. That’s according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health. Israel also now puts the number of hostages taken by Hamas at almost 200, about 50 more than previously reported. And another update on those hostages. On Monday night, Hamas released its first video of one of the captives. It shows 21 year old Mia Shem, who is a French Israeli dual national. She was captured by Hamas last week, along with many others during a desert rave early on in the initial assault. At least 260 people were killed at that gathering. In the minute long video, she is shown being treated for a wound on her arm and she tells the camera she’s in Gaza, but without any specifics. It ends with her pleading in Hebrew to be returned to her family as quickly as possible. We can also share that, according to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who’s been flying throughout the region and meeting with various world leaders. The United States and Israel, quote, “have agreed to develop a plan that will enable humanitarian aid from donor nations and multilateral organizations to reach civilians in Gaza.” As we mentioned on yesterday’s show, the U.S. has been trying to serve as a mediator of sorts in this situation, with the Biden administration really trying to thread the needle of supporting its political and military ally, Israel, while advocating for the safety of all civilians and to provide humanitarian aid for those in Gaza. Take a listen to President Biden on 60 Minutes over the weekend before the agreement was announced Monday evening.
[clip of 60 minutes host] You would like to see a humanitarian corridor that allows some of the 2 million Gazans out of the area?
[clip of President Joe Biden] Yes.
[clip of 60 minutes host] You would like to see humanitarian supplies brought into Gaza?
[clip of President Joe Biden] Yes.
[clip of 60 minutes host] So you do not agree with the Israeli total siege of the Gaza Strip?
[clip of President Joe Biden] I’m confident that Israel is going to act under the measure of the rules of war.
[clip of 60 minutes host] Would you support Israeli occupation of Gaza at this point?
[clip of President Joe Biden] I think it’d be a big mistake.
[clip of 60 minutes host] Do you believe that Hamas must be eliminated entirely?
[clip of President Joe Biden] Yes, I do. But there needs to be a Palestinian Authority. There needs to be a path to a Palestinian state.
Josie Duffy Rice: Seems like a pretty significant change of tone from just even a few days ago.
Tre’vell Anderson: Mm hmm. Mm hmm.
Josie Duffy Rice: I have been hearing something about President Biden perhaps going to Israel. Can you tell us about that?
Tre’vell Anderson: Yes. So Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has invited President Biden to visit Israel. And just before we sat down to record this show, Antony Blinken confirmed that Biden will travel to Israel tomorrow. According to The New York Times, the visit would be a huge show of support in such a divisive and polarizing situation, and it would signal to Israel’s rivals in the region, including Iran, Syria and Hezbollah, that Israel has the power of the United States behind it, which, you know, perhaps isn’t the idea we want swirling in folks’ minds, while they also say that they don’t want this to become a regional war.
Josie Duffy Rice: Mm hmm.
Tre’vell Anderson: The Times also asserts that a trip would, quote, “also tie Mr. Biden and the United States to the bloodshed in Gaza.” Mind you, over the weekend, the U.S. announced that it was sending a second aircraft carrier strike group to the Eastern Mediterranean to, quote, “deter hostile actions against Israel or any efforts towards widening this war.” That paired with how the U.S. government has operated throughout this 75 year conflict. Some would say that the U.S. is already connected to the violence, death and destruction in the region. We, of course, will continue monitoring this issue as the conflict continues. And we will keep you all posted.
Josie Duffy Rice: Thank you so much for that Tre’vell, now in news about the American border. Yesterday, the federal government reached a settlement with thousands of families that were separated at the southern border under the Trump administration. The agreement is the culmination of a yearslong class action lawsuit brought by the ACLU that was intended to account for the harm caused by the Trump administration’s family separation policy in 2017 and 2018. It also sets out new limitations on the federal government’s ability to separate families moving forward.
Tre’vell Anderson: This sounds like good news.
Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah.
Tre’vell Anderson: Um. Welcomed good news considering.
Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah.
Tre’vell Anderson: So let’s start with the settlement itself. Who was part of this class action lawsuit?
Josie Duffy Rice: So the settlement covers about 5000 children and their families currently, which is a lot of people, obviously. But it’s not every single family that was separated under the policy. However, yesterday’s agreement allows for the number of people covered to grow, so in theory, it could cover more families over time. And these are families that experienced the harms of family separation. I think many of us remember what we heard during that time, right? According to the ACLU, it includes children who were babies and toddlers who were ripped from their parents arms with little or no warning. Children who are often sent to facilities thousands of miles away from their parents and in some cases stayed separated for over a year. And the ACLU notes that, quote, “The government’s care and tracking of the separated children was so deficient that when a federal court finally ordered the government to reunify families, government officials were unable to identify which child belonged to which parent.” So the harms of this policy were truly immeasurable. Just destroyed families for years.
Tre’vell Anderson: Mm hmm. Yeah. And now what does this settlement actually do? Right. Because there’s no real way to repair that harm, obviously.
Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah, exactly. There’s not really a way to, like, fix this, but yesterday’s agreement is as close as an attempt as we’ve had so far. It’s not a traditional monetary settlement the way we often think of class action lawsuits. In this case, basically the government is granting these families, quote, “a pathway to seek asylum” and “permission to live and work legally in the United States while they await a decision on their asylum claim.” So it’s worth noting that this agreement was already in place as like a temporary policy, but now it’s permanent. So it’s important, definitely. But the conditions that it sets out are actually already in place as we speak. The settlement also provides benefits to members of the class action, like work authorization, housing and legal assistance, some medical services. So it also kind of gives them tools to move forward as they have temporary permission to live in the United States.
Tre’vell Anderson: Mm hmm. Now, you mentioned that there’s no monetary part of this lawsuit, but I seem to remember that that was on the table at some point. What happened there?
Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah, it was for a while the lawyers for these families and DOJ lawyers were discussing the potential of financial payment to these families who had been harmed under this policy. But those negotiations collapsed in October of 2021 due to someone leaking that each family could possibly receive up to $450,000. Not all of the families, but that was sort of like the maximum discussed amount, and that number had not been settled. But someone leaked it and the Republicans immediately made it a huge, huge, huge political issue which led the Biden administration to pull out of financial negotiations entirely. So these families will not see any money because it was kind of too touchy politically. And I think the Biden administration thought it wouldn’t go over well with voters. Right. It’s worth pointing out that, like I’d love to ask Republicans how much I’d have to pay them to have their babies taken from them and sent away to a random facility without their knowledge and without them knowing if they’d ever see them again. I think most of them would say a number way higher than $450,000. I certainly would. That’s permanent trauma for both those children and those parents. However, you know, the party of family values, they don’t see it that way. They don’t actually think keeping families together is that important when it’s not the families that they like.
Tre’vell Anderson: Surprise, surprise.
Josie Duffy Rice: Mm hmm.
Tre’vell Anderson: You also mentioned that the settlement sets out new limitations of family separation moving forward. What does that look like?
Josie Duffy Rice: Basically, the zero tolerance policy of separating families who enter the U.S. illegally automatically is prohibited for the near future. So for the next eight years, except in, quote, “limited circumstances,” the U.S.. supposedly cannot separate families just for entering the U.S. without permission, according to a DOJ official, quote, “The fact that someone enters the United States unlawfully is not a basis for future separations. It’s only if someone has committed a serious felony offense.” This really might be the most significant part of this agreement. Right. Because it’s basically saying for the next approximately two presidential administrations, this can’t happen anymore. However, here’s the trick. If Trump becomes president again or someone else becomes president who wants to override this, they can just override it. It’s an agreement by the executive branch. Congress didn’t have to approve it. It’s not really like a guarantee of anything. It’s sets a standard. But that standard can kind of quickly be destroyed.
Tre’vell Anderson: Mm hmm.
Josie Duffy Rice: So it is significant if it holds for the next eight years, but it could easily not.
Tre’vell Anderson: Right. And we will see shortly, I’m sure, whether or not it holds or not.
Josie Duffy Rice: Right.
Tre’vell Anderson: Now, all of those families that were separated, have they been reunited yet?
Josie Duffy Rice: They actually haven’t. At least not all of them. The family reunification task force that was set up a few years ago has spent years trying to identify and track down members of separated families in hopes of reuniting them. And that has meant a lot of work, a lot of time, a lot of tracking people to different countries who were deported, a lot of trying to connect, you know, people where there’s no record that they’re actually connected. And of the families that they identified, the Department of Homeland Security says there are at least 85 children still waiting to be reunited with their families.
Tre’vell Anderson: Wow.
Josie Duffy Rice: And then there are another approximately 300 whose family reunification status is unclear. They’re not really sure where it stands right now. So that’s a lot of families when we consider that this policy was enacted five years ago. Right. I mean, that’s a lot of people who still–
Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah.
Josie Duffy Rice: –are not connected to their families because we decided to take them from their parents suddenly at the border. And we weren’t really accountable for that. It’s pretty devastating. And that is the latest for now. [music break]
Josie Duffy Rice: Let’s get to some headlines.
Josie Duffy Rice: A Chicago area landlord has been charged with a hate crime, murder and attempted murder for allegedly stabbing a six year old boy to death and seriously wounding his mother because they’re Palestinian Muslims. Officials also say it was linked to the recent violence in Israel and Gaza. According to investigators, the 71 year old attacked both victims who were his tenants in their home Saturday morning. The little boy, Wadea Al-Fayoume, had just celebrated his birthday. He was laid to rest yesterday. His mother is in serious condition. Wadea’s uncle Mahmoud Yousef had this to say during a press conference before the boy’s funeral.
[clip of Mahmoud Yousef] I just want to tell the whole world that we live in a country called USA. We’re not in a war and we’re not bringing war here too.
Josie Duffy Rice: Meanwhile, the Justice Department has opened a federal hate crime investigation. President Biden also issued a statement condemning the attack late Sunday, saying, quote, “As Americans, we must come together and reject Islamophobia and all forms of bigotry and hatred. There is no place in America for hate against anyone.”
Tre’vell Anderson: Two Swedish nationals were shot and killed in Belgium’s capital of Brussels yesterday evening, and officials have raised the country’s terror alert to its highest level. Police said a suspect fired gunshots near the city center shortly after 7 p.m. local time. A third person was also injured by the gunfire. As of our record time Monday evening, the suspect is still at large. It all happened as the Belgium, Sweden, Euro 2024 qualifier soccer match was taking place a few miles away, but was halted at halftime after news of the attack. Investigators are working to verify a video posted on social media that may have shown the gunman armed with an assault style rifle. Many countries in Europe have been on edge in recent days as the war between Israel and Hamas has escalated and have responded with heightened security measures. It’s not yet clear if the victims in Brussels were targeted because of their nationality. But tensions have been building in Sweden for years as far right anti-immigrant groups have repeatedly staged Quran burning rallies, which has sparked widespread anger in many Muslim majority countries.
Josie Duffy Rice: The judge overseeing Trump’s federal election interference case issued a partial gag order against the former president, banning him from making statements about potential witnesses or making disparaging comments about the prosecutors. In layman’s terms, be less unhinged, shut your trap, and also stay in your damn lane. But in nice legal language, U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan said that despite the fact that Trump is running for president again, that quote “does not give him carte blanche to vilify public servants who are simply doing their job.” Chutkan also promised to sanction Trump if he violates the order and that she’d elaborate what that means in a written order to come. It’s a significant development in Trump’s ongoing legal saga because it raises the prospect that he could actually be punished for violating the order. Chutkan also scheduled his trial to begin on March 4th and emphasized that the date for that would not change. And surprise, Trump said on Truth Social that he plans to appeal that order. Look I am always saying stuff about prosecutors, so in that sense I get what Trump’s up to. [laughter] However, I highly recommend not doing it about one that’s actually trying you as we speak. Just terrible idea.
Tre’vell Anderson: Terrible idea. The House of Representatives will vote today to hopefully elect a new speaker this afternoon after Kevin McCarthy was ousted from the position earlier this month. We told you yesterday that Republican Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio has been working to win over some skeptics in his own party. At least 55 of his fellow Republicans said last week that they would not support Jordan’s bid. As of yesterday, it looked like a few of those holdouts had changed their minds. But it’s still not clear if Jordan, one of the founding members of the far right House Freedom Caucus, will clear the 217 vote threshold he needs to win. Since former Speaker Kevin McCarthy was voted off the job. Lawmakers haven’t been able to pass any legislation over the past two weeks. If lawmakers adjourn for the day without electing a new permanent speaker. That impasse will only continue ahead of another potential government shutdown. The deadline to get that taken care of is exactly one month from today. Here’s hoping the GOP can get its shit together so everyone can get back to doing their jobs already.
Josie Duffy Rice: Honestly, is there a better example of failing up than Jim Jordan maybe being Speaker of the House? [laughter] The most ugh just really truly odious guy.
Tre’vell Anderson: Just wild.
Josie Duffy Rice: And finally, in a stunning turn of events, the Biden reelection campaign just opened an account on everyone’s least favorite social media platform. No, not X. Truth Social. In an effort to troll former President Donald Trump and his supporters. The campaign, which uses the handle @BidenHQ, posted its first truth yesterday. Is that what they call them? Truths?
Tre’vell Anderson: That is what they call them.
Josie Duffy Rice: It says right out the gate, quote, “Well, let’s see how this goes. Converts welcome.”
Tre’vell Anderson: Mm mm.
Josie Duffy Rice: He has to do the capitals, he has to capitalize every other word. He has to do the Trump to fit in. The Biden campaign also announced the move on X, formerly known as Twitter, writing quote, “We just joined Truth Social mostly because we thought it would be very funny. Follow us there for truths and retruths or whatever they call them.” Biden’s social media team has been known to poke fun at the former president and the Republican Party from official accounts. Whether it be promoting official Let’s Go Brandon merch on insta or clapping back at the GOP on X. For what it’s worth, the Biden campaign only follows Trump on Truth Social. [laugh] That’s funny. Just following one person and that it’s Donald Trump is funny. When asked what Trump thought of the move, Steven Cheung, a campaign spokesperson for the former president, told Fox News, quote, “Crooked Joe Biden and his team are finally acknowledging that Truth Social is hot as a pistol and the only place where real news happens.” He also said that Biden HQ will be, quote, “ratioed to oblivion.” That’s probably true. He probably will get ratioed on Truth Social.
Tre’vell Anderson: But does it matter? I just kind of wish–
Josie Duffy Rice: It doesn’t matter.
Tre’vell Anderson: –they would have hired some no name person to do a parody account on Truth Social.
Josie Duffy Rice: Mmmm.
Tre’vell Anderson: And it not be officially connected to, you know, the president of the United States.
Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah.
Tre’vell Anderson: I don’t know. Maybe that’s just me and my old school ways of doing things. I don’t know. But–
Josie Duffy Rice: No, that’s a good point.
Tre’vell Anderson: This does not sound like the own that they think it is.
Josie Duffy Rice: I just don’t feel like they should be putting another dollar in that man’s pocket.
Tre’vell Anderson: My God.
Josie Duffy Rice: Don’t he own it? I’m not going to join something that Donald Trump’s owns. He might need the money to pay his legal bills so maybe they’re doing a public service. [laughter] And those are the headlines.
Tre’vell Anderson: [AD BREAK]
Josie Duffy Rice: That’s all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe. Leave a review and tell your friends to listen.
Tre’vell Anderson: And if you’re into reading, What a Day is also a nightly newsletter, check it out and subscribe at Crooked.com/subscribe. I’m Tre’vell Anderson.
Josie Duffy Rice: And I’m Josie Duffy Rice. [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.