In This Episode
- Fani Willis, the Georgia prosecutor investigating Donald Trump’s alleged attempts to overturn the 2020 election results in that state, said criminal charges are “imminent.” During a hearing over whether to unseal a special grand jury’s final report on the matter, she argued it should remain secret – for now.
- The Senate Judiciary Committee held its highly anticipated hearing into Ticketmaster’s parent company, two months after the Taylor Swift ticket sale meltdown. Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar joins us to discuss why the fiasco goes beyond the live music market.
- And in headlines: the U.S. plans to send dozens of M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine, the man accused of killing 23 people at an El Paso Walmart in 2019 will plead guilty to federal hate crimes charges, and the Justice Department sued Google over its online ad business.
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Priyanka Aribindi: It’s Wednesday, January 25th. I’m Priyanka Aribindi.
Juanita Tolliver: And I’m Juanita Tolliver and this is What A Day where now that Panic at the Disco is disbanding. We’re looking forward to figuring out what else you can do at the disco.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, apparently you can dance at the disco. Wear great outfits at the disco. You can even get in a fight at the bathroom at the disco. A lot of options.
Juanita Tolliver: I feel like you’ve had experience with that Priyanka [laughing] but–
Priyanka Aribindi: None that I want to speak about publicly. [music break] On today’s show, the U.S. plans to take a big step towards arming Ukraine. Plus, classified documents were found at another former vice president’s home.
Juanita Tolliver: But first, yesterday during a hearing about whether or not to release a report by a special grand jury that covers this investigation into Trump’s and others’ attempts to interfere in the 2020 Georgia election results. Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis emphasized that, quote, “For future defendants to be treated fairly, it’s not appropriate at this time to have this report released.” She added, quote, “Decisions are imminent.” Duh duh duh.
Priyanka Aribindi: Okay. Yeah, I hear you with the duh duh duh. And what is happening here? Explain everything.
Juanita Tolliver: All right. So let’s rewind a little bit just to refresh folk’s memory. District Attorney Willis requested and convened the special Purpose Grand Jury eight months ago as part of an investigation that was based on a recorded call that Trump made to Georgia Secretary of State Raffensperger, asking him to find 11,780 votes specifically. And throughout this investigation, D.A. Willis has had to fight tooth and nail in court to get testimony from some of Trump’s closest allies, including Senator Lindsey Graham, Rudy Giuliani, Mark Meadows and others. We should also note that Trump was not subpoenaed by this special grand jury, nor did his lawyers participate in yesterday’s proceedings. According to reports, Trump’s legal team has not been engaged in this entire process at all. But the grand jury heard from a lot of other folks as D.A. Willis noted during the hearing, that a total of 75 witnesses appeared before the grand jury investigation. So there’s no telling what’s included in this report. With that in mind, it makes sense that not only does D.A. Willis want to keep the report under wraps, but she also made it clear that there could be more than one person facing a criminal indictment here. And that’s what made my ears perk up. Like who, in addition to Trump, could be facing charges?
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. Wow. Okay. That’s not something I had considered. Also did not realize she had talked to that many witnesses.
Juanita Tolliver: Girl.
Priyanka Aribindi: Who knows? Who knows what’s in here. Um. So what was the media’s argument in this hearing?
Juanita Tolliver: Well, the legal team representing a coalition of media organizations argued that it was in the public’s interest to release the findings and that while district attorneys or prosecutors are generally uncomfortable with having to release information as a case progresses, it’s not atypical in legal proceedings. And let’s be real. I want to know what’s in the grand jury’s report just as much as anyone else, but not at the expense of undermining the potential prosecution of Trump and his minions. Right?
Priyanka Aribindi: Totally. I feel like that’s been the argument in, you know, several of these proceedings that have been unfolding kind of around the country, that these people are coming forward and being like, we can’t be fully transparent with you because this is ongoing–
Juanita Tolliver: Right.
Priyanka Aribindi: –and that’s just not how this works. And it’s unfortunate for us because we want to know everything all the time and feel like we should.
Juanita Tolliver: Right.
Priyanka Aribindi: But sometimes there is a reason that we don’t.
Juanita Tolliver: Right. And after spending 90 minutes hearing from both sides. Judge Robert Mcburney noted that these are clearly extraordinary circumstances. And he said, quote, “There will be no rash decisions” and quote, “No one’s going to wake up with the court having disclosed the report on the front page of a newspaper.” If nothing more, the judge’s statement sounds like cues that he’s going to take his time making a decision and that he’s weighing how the release report could impact the witnesses and other people named in the report. Two critical factors to consider here.
Priyanka Aribindi: Got it. Okay. So what should we expect next here?
Juanita Tolliver: In a word, drama. All of the drama like drama as we play the waiting game about whether or not the report will be made public. Drama about when D.A. Willis will file charges, what those charges will be and whom she’ll be filing those charges against. And an extra dose of drama as Trump undoubtedly responds to all of this by posting on his replica of that bird app because, well, his legal team hasn’t been engaging in these proceedings, as I mentioned earlier. You know, that man has been lurking and watching every bit of this.
Priyanka Aribindi: Definitely.
Juanita Tolliver: And in the event that the judge decides to release the special grand jury’s report, it could be delayed until charges are announced and some details will most likely be redacted. Yet and still, the first thing folks should be on the lookout for when we do ultimately see the report is the list of recommended charges for Trump and his allies and the explicit evidence and testimony that backs it up. Since this grand jury exercise was exclusively focused on investigating, that evidence will be the meat of the report.
Priyanka Aribindi: Got it. Okay. So we know what to look out for when the time comes. Switching gears a little bit to other news. Yesterday, the Senate Judiciary Committee held its highly anticipated hearing about Ticketmaster. A mere two months after the company’s major Taylor Swift ticket sale fiasco. So for those of you who do not remember, back in November, tickets went on sale for Taylor Swift’s era’s tour, and the rollout was a nightmare in short, it was just a disaster.
Juanita Tolliver: Right.
Priyanka Aribindi: Ticketmaster had to stop sales before the official sale even started. It was you know after the pre-sale ended because its website crashed. Ticket prices skyrocketed. Did not even comprehend how this was happening. I don’t think they did really either. This also led to questions about Ticketmaster’s power in the live events industry. Swift’s tour definitely brought Ticketmaster and its many issues to the forefront for millions of her fans nationwide and people who might not otherwise be thinking about this stuff. But senators were interested in more than just the issues around that event. The CFO of Ticketmaster’s parent company Live Nation, appeared before the committee to answer questions about what went wrong, as well as the company’s 2010 acquisition of Ticketmaster, and whether or not that’s stifled competition in the industry. It was a real grilling and it also included many a cringey reference to Taylor Swift lyrics by senators on both sides of the aisle who I do not think listen to Taylor Swift’s music at all. One bit. Take a listen.
Juanita Tolliver: Oh, my gosh. I’m bracing myself.
[clip of unspecified senator] Ticketmaster ought to look in the mirror and say, I’m the problem. It’s me.
[clip of unspecified senator 2] Karma’s a relaxing thought. Aren’t you envious that for you, it’s not. That’s all I’ve got to say.
Juanita Tolliver: Oh, my God. Uh. What the hell was that? Like what?
Priyanka Aribindi: The words are so uncomfortable coming out of their mouths. It’s so bad.
Juanita Tolliver: Staffers, if you want to be cute and kitschy, rehearse the rhythm with your senator.
Priyanka Aribindi: Rehearse it.
Juanita Tolliver: Don’t send them out like this. Because this is what you get.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yes. Do not do this to your boss. I mean, unless you hate your boss, which they very well might.
Juanita Tolliver: I mean.
Priyanka Aribindi: No further comment on those. But with us to discuss the Ticketmaster meltdown today is Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota. She called for this hearing, along with Republican Senator Mike Lee. I started by asking her to discuss some of the biggest issues around Ticketmaster that the Senate Judiciary Committee has been looking into.
Amy Klobuchar: It’s not just Taylor Swift fans. It is Bad Bunny fans. It is all kinds of Springsteen fans who’ve experienced fiascos that have happened because there’s no one else to turn to. That’s the first problem. And the second thing is the fees. 27% average is added to these ticket prices, these fees to Ticketmaster, which is a huge monopoly. So think about it this way like a triangle with the consumer, the fan stuck in the middle. Ticketmaster does 70 to 80% of ticketing. They also do the promotion and then they own a bunch of arenas in the third corner, or for the arenas they don’t own. They say, Hey, you got to take a three, five, seven year contract with us so no one can compete. What that means is they have kind of this closed in monopoly of all parts of this. And so that’s why the Justice Department is reportedly looking at this right now. So this hearing was not just about throwing popcorn at a CEO, but I think the glory of today’s hearing was that this was a bipartisan hearing. You literally couldn’t tell which side was asking the questions unless you knew Ted Cruz’s voice and then you knew.
Priyanka Aribindi: Right.
Amy Klobuchar: But overall, if you close your eyes, you might not know because people were so united doing something about this concrete.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, it was very impressive and just different than what I have come to expect.
Amy Klobuchar: Well, and Senator Lee and I wanted it to be that way. As I noted at the end of the hearing, his daughter uh sent him a text uh when this all happened and said, Dad, if you don’t do something about it, I’m going to call Amy Klobuchar directly. [laugh] So, you know, if we get a little shot in our arms from these fans, like that is a great thing because it has been really hard to capture the attention of a very busy Congress on this.
Priyanka Aribindi: Right.
Amy Klobuchar: We get constant problems with lobbying against us from the big companies, particularly tech, and it makes it really hard to move on to antitrust. And I just feel a new kind of zip uh when it comes to antitrust. We’re excited about how it went and the prospects of actually doing something to help music fans at a time where people are just so excited to go to concerts again and it’s just the right thing to do.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, that’s fantastic. And I imagine incredibly popular with regular people, many millions of whom were affected recently by this. And being a part of this hearing today, what was your biggest takeaway, the biggest piece of new information that you walked away with.
Amy Klobuchar: How hard it is to get into this market as a competitor when you have a monopoly. So there’s got to be a way to decouple. That would be potentially the Justice Department looking at a breakup of some of these aspects of the business that shouldn’t have been allowed to combine in the first place. That’s one option and that’s going to be up to the Justice Department. But the other is us passing legislation and changes from Ticketmaster directly so uh Senator Lee and I are committed to working together on this, as are many others, and uh we were just excited it went so well.
Priyanka Aribindi: In your ideal world, what’s the outcome here that you are hoping for? What do you, do you have something that you want or you think is best for the consumers?
Amy Klobuchar: In my ideal world, I would actually reform the antitrust laws to get at these conservative court decisions that have really narrowed it. And that’s really our big problem. And where you’re seeing consolidation in every area from cat food to caskets. John Oliver once did a very funny piece on this. He said, If all this consolidation uh makes you want to die, good luck, because we now only have three casket companies left. They’ve all combined. And I had to call and go, actually, it’s down to two, because one bought the other.
Priyanka Aribindi: Oh, no.
Amy Klobuchar: So I just think this idea of reforming the antitrust laws, doing things specific for fans with Ticketmaster and doing things specific through the Justice Department is really, really important. That’s our first goal with regard to Ticketmaster. However, if you really want to just not have these repeat stories of this bad behavior, you’ve got to make it easier to bring antitrust and discriminatory context because it’s just going to get worse.
Priyanka Aribindi: That was my conversation with Senator Amy Klobuchar. We’ll be sure to keep following this story, and I will, of course, keep you posted on if I finally get my tickets to see Taylor Swift, I still don’t have them. Uh. But that is the latest for now. [music break] Let’s get to some headlines.
Priyanka Aribindi: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky fired a group of senior officials yesterday amid a growing corruption scandal that has implicated members of his government. This all comes after an infrastructure minister was arrested on Sunday. He is accused of embezzling $400,000 in government funds while facilitating contracts for critical equipments like power generators at inflated prices. In an address on Monday night, Zelensky announced that all government officials are now banned from traveling abroad unless it’s for official business, and that there would be more, quote unquote, “personnel changes” in the coming days. Meanwhile, the Biden administration is expected to announce plans today to send dozens of M-1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine just days after Washington argued against sending them. Germany will reportedly send a smaller number of its own tanks as well, following a lengthy debate with other NATO partners, Kiev has argued that it needs the equipment to further reclaim territory taken by Russian forces.
Juanita Tolliver: A timeline of events from Saturday’s mass shooting in Monterey Park shows that law enforcement took 5 hours to notify the public that the shooter was at large. According to authorities, the LA County Sheriff’s Department got the first call at 10 p.m. on Saturday night. Deputies in the area, most of whom were rookies with little experience, spent several minutes at the scene looking for the shooter who had already fled. It wasn’t until 3 a.m. the following morning that the department announced the initial death toll and that the gunman was still on the loose. The revelation has drawn criticism from public safety experts who are questioning why it took so long for deputies to put out some kind of public alert. L.A. County Sheriff Robert Luna defended the department’s approach to the shooting yesterday, but added that he would look into what they could have done better.
Priyanka Aribindi: The man responsible for the racist mass shooting at a Walmart in El Paso back in 2019 has agreed to plead guilty to federal hate crimes charges. The plea deal was announced yesterday. The gunman had previously pleaded not guilty to 90 charges against him back in 2020. But recently he asked the court for a rearraignment in exchange for federal prosecutors agreeing to not pursue the death penalty. The attack, which killed 23 people, was one of the deadliest mass shootings in modern U.S. history, and the FBI deemed it a domestic terrorist attack. Meanwhile, the suspect still faces separate charges in Texas.
Juanita Tolliver: We saw it coming, but as soon as we sat down to record the show at 9:30 eastern Tuesday night, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy unceremoniously booted California Representatives Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell from the House Intelligence Committee. He’s been telegraphing the power move for a while, which is meant to be payback for when Democrats in 2021 kicked Representatives Marjorie Taylor Greene and Paul Gosar off of their respective committee assignments for, well, posting dumb, dangerous shit on the Internet. Schiff, who led the prosecution in the impeachment of former President Trump, tweeted last night, quote, “This is petty political payback for investigating Donald Trump. If Kevin McCarthy thinks this will stop me, he will soon find out just how wrong he is.” What a mess.
Priyanka Aribindi: There is no no equivalence at all between Marjorie Taylor Greene and Paul Gosar and Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell.
Juanita Tolliver: Zero.
Priyanka Aribindi: The Department of Justice yesterday filed a major antitrust lawsuit against Google’s parent company, Alphabet, alleging that the tech behemoth illegally cornered the online advertising market in the U.S.. Eight other states also joined the suit, which claims that Google squeezed out its competitors over the years by forcing publishers and advertisers alike to use their tools. This is the second case that the DOJ has brought against Google in the last three years. Though the company has faced multiple complaints from regulators around the world for its allegedly anticompetitive business practices. Look at us using the word allegedly there. If this latest suit is successful, it could force Google to sell off its lucrative multibillion dollar ad business, which brings in more than 80% of its overall revenue. Meanwhile, all of us here will be getting some eerily specific targeted ads of our own because this headline is coming to you straight from a shared Google Doc.
Juanita Tolliver: Bing bong. [laughter]
Priyanka Aribindi: Bring it back. Bing bong. I haven’t heard that one in a while.
Juanita Tolliver: We learned yesterday that a lawyer for former Vice President Mike Pence discovered about a dozen classified documents at Pence’s home in Indiana. Don’t sweat it, Mike. Apparently, it happens to everyone.
Priyanka Aribindi: Seriously.
Juanita Tolliver: Last Monday, the former vice president hired independent counsel to review the records, which came from his time in the Trump administration. Reportedly, Pence was inspired to reflect on his personal collection of Trump era memorabilia after hearing the news about President Biden’s own documents snafu earlier this month. Pence’s staff informed the National Archive of the documents on the 18th, and they were collected by the FBI the evening of the 19th. As far as how Pence ended up with those classified materials. The recovered documents are said to have been inadvertently boxed and sent to Pence’s home at the end of the last administration. Like when you move apartments and your can opener ends up in the box with your DVDs, if you still own DVDs, no shade. Maybe we should all run our hand on our car seats and give a once over to our bedroom closets just to be safe. I mean, do you have documents, Priyanka?
Priyanka Aribindi: I mean, I don’t have a garage, so I don’t think I have classified documents. I think that’s the pre-rec to having them. But if you do, like, who knows what is in there? Just go in. It might be scary, but just check. It feels like it’s worth a once over.
Juanita Tolliver: And I’m literally looking at Republicans who had all that smoke for Biden over the past few weeks like taking shots like, oh, did you launch an investigation yet? Come for Pence. Keep that energy.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, exactly. And those are the headlines. We’ll be back after some ads. [music break]
Priyanka Aribindi: It’s Wednesday, WAD squad. And for today’s temp check, we are talking about the little golden statues and the beautiful movie stars that we give them to. On Tuesday morning, the Academy of Motion Arts and Sciences announced the nominees for the 95th Academy Awards. There were some pleasant surprises, like the sci fi action film, Everything Everywhere, all at once, leading the group with 11 nominations. Juanita is cheering in the background.
Juanita Tolliver: I’m so hype for right now. I’m so hype.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, but not not too much because, you know, there was also some business as usual. There was an all male crop for the best director category, you know.
Juanita Tolliver: Right.
Priyanka Aribindi: Still working out the kinks there. It can’t all be good. Well, personally, I think M3gan would have swept the entire thing had it been eligible. I’m curious about what someone who actually watches movies thinks about this. So Juanita, please give us your thoughts. What did you think about this list of nominations?
Juanita Tolliver: Look, I think it’s like you said Priyanka, there were some high highs, right? Like Angela Bassett all day, every day go win those awards–
Priyanka Aribindi: Love it.
Juanita Tolliver: –that Marvel has never, ever seen. And Michelle Yeoh, the whole team from–
Priyanka Aribindi: Love it.
Juanita Tolliver: –Everything Everywhere all at once. Yes. And if she wins best actress, she’ll be the first AAPI actress to ever win. And the second woman of color ever. Halle Berry was the first.
Priyanka Aribindi: That’s wild.
Juanita Tolliver: So history to be made there. And then Brian Tyree Henry. Oh, my gosh. His role in the Causeway, he killed it. And I just love him. I know him as paperboy in Atlanta, like most of you probably do. But I’m excited for him, too. Now, like you said, no women made it to the list of directors. I feel like they need a new category. Just call it woman directors, since we can’t get no shine any other way.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah.
Juanita Tolliver: But of course, the ridiculous snubs. Till not a single nomination. Woman king, not a single nomination. And I’m like–
Priyanka Aribindi: Not a single one.
Juanita Tolliver: Viola Davis and that entire cast showed the fuck out. So I just want the academy to know what signal this sends not only to women, but Black talent in general.
Priyanka Aribindi: Right.
Juanita Tolliver: It’s a big middle finger.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. You know, I don’t have, as I said, I don’t watch that many great movies. I watch movies. There just not good ones.
Juanita Tolliver: She said I saw M3gan.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah no no, I saw M3gan. It’s the I’ll be talking about it for the next six months. [laugh] Um. [laugh] But Juanita, if you had to make a list for me, like, what should I watch? Like, which of these nominees? Obviously Everything. Everywhere, all at once. But, like, what else do I got to watch just to be prepared?
Juanita Tolliver: Well, I think Causeway. Yes, of course. Uh. Wakanda Forever. Right. Those are the top two.
Priyanka Aribindi: Duh.
Juanita Tolliver: And then I’m actually going to recommend the movies that didn’t get nominated. Woman King.
Priyanka Aribindi: Oh!
Juanita Tolliver: Till.
Priyanka Aribindi: Okay! Great.
Juanita Tolliver: I want to shift focus there because they deserve attention.
Priyanka Aribindi: Love it.
Juanita Tolliver: They were global hits. And so it’s just like a punch in the face that they got no love.
Priyanka Aribindi: Listen. I’m in. Thank you for those recommendations. Just like that. We have checked our temps. They’re like they spike a little bit when we get excited, but like–
Juanita Tolliver: You know.
Priyanka Aribindi: –mostly mostly normal. Eh.
Juanita Tolliver: We level out. [laughing] [music break]
Priyanka Aribindi: That is all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe. Leave a review. Comb every inch of your apartment for state secrets. And tell your friends to listen.
Juanita Tolliver: And if you’re into reading and not just lists of Academy Award nominated movies you’ve never heard of, like Priyanka. What A Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at Crooked.com/subscribe. I’m Juanita Tolliver.
Priyanka Aribindi: I’m Priyanka Aribindi.
[spoken together] And it’s an honor to be nominated.
Priyanka Aribindi: I’m just practicing for our Webbys acceptance speech.
Juanita Tolliver: Girl.
Priyanka Aribindi: That is I think actually they might have to be a couple words.
Juanita Tolliver: Five words, but I love that you’re so committed.
Priyanka Aribindi: Okay, that’s a little. [laughter] I was, like, counting them on my fingers here being, like, how many words is that? Um. It’s an honor. It’s an honor, fam. That’s five.
Juanita Tolliver: Quick maths.
Priyanka Aribindi: That’s five. [laughter] [music break] What A Day is a production of Crooked Media. It’s recorded and mixed by Bill Lancz. Jazzi Marine and Raven Yamamoto are our associate producers. Our head writer is Jocey Coffman and our executive producer is Lita Martinez. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka. [music break]