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September 28, 2023
What A Day
Shut Up Or Shut Down

In This Episode

  • Republicans held their first hearing Thursday in their impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden. The six-hour hearing before the House Oversight Committee tried to make the case that the president benefitted from his son’s business dealings – even though the Republicans’ own witnesses said they didn’t have any evidence to prove it.
  • Meanwhile, the U.S. government notified federal workers that a shutdown is on the horizon if Congress doesn’t reach a deal by 12:01 a.m. ET Sunday. The disruption could impact millions of government employees and military families, and affect many critical services.
  • And in headlines: Donald Trump’s civil fraud trial in New York is set to start on Monday, California will raise the minimum wage for fast food workers, and Netflix has rolled the credits on its DVD-by-mail service.


Show Notes:



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Tre’vell Anderson: It’s Friday, September 29th. I’m Tre’vell Anderson.


Priyanka Aribindi: And I’m Priyanka Aribindi and this is What a Day where we are looking forward to making a field trip to the skyscraper formerly known as Trump Tower. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Yes, they’re going to have to rename it Tish James Tower once Donald’s fraud trial is over. And I’m looking forward to the new sign. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, I’ll visit it once to see the sign, maybe, but I can’t say I’ll be ever going back. [laughter] [music break]


Tre’vell Anderson: On today’s show, California will raise the minimum wage for fast food workers. Plus, we bid a fond farewell to Netflix’s DVD by mail service. 


Priyanka Aribindi: But first, as we careen towards a government shutdown, the GOP led House Oversight Committee apparently has some bigger concerns. Yesterday, the committee held its first hearing in its impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden and his family’s business dealings. The hearing was filled with a panel of Republican picked witnesses who get this say that there isn’t actually any evidence of a crime committed by the president. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Oh, so they’re they’re playing in our faces legitimately–


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. 


Tre’vell Anderson: –is what you’re telling me. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Mm hmm. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Wow. Okay. So before we get to that, can you remind us why we’re even here again? 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yes, absolutely. It appears that Republicans are bored with governing. I don’t really know. As a reminder, they accused Biden of corruption. They allege that he was involved with or profited from his family’s foreign business dealings. By family, they mean Hunter Biden, his son and his brother, and that he was influenced by these dealings when making policy decisions. The president’s son, Hunter, and his work overseas have become the real focal point for Republicans here. But again, there is no direct evidence to support any of his claims, not one. As I said earlier, the three witnesses who Republicans actually picked to testify in front of the panel said that there was not enough evidence to accuse Biden of corruption or to impeach him. While it was going down, some senior GOP aides were actually venting to CNN reporters about how dumb it was to pick witnesses that refute their own case. So really, not off to such a good start over there. But again, while Republicans devote precious time and energy to this sideshow, time is running out to keep the government open and funded something that we will get more into very shortly but has actual consequences for millions of Americans. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Yes, we will get into that. Before that, though. What did the House Democrats on this committee have to say about all of this? 


Priyanka Aribindi: I mean, House Democrats are pissed. They, much like the witnesses, pointed out that there is no evidence here showing any wrongdoing by President Biden. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez emphasized that this didn’t even meet the threshold for an impeachment inquiry to be opened. During the impeachments of President Clinton and President Trump, there were full House floor votes to open those inquiries. That is notably not the case this time around. That has not happened. It is just this committee who has brought this. She called the whole thing an embarrassment to the time and people of this country, which quite frankly, that is like a nice way to put it. Democratic Representative Jasmine Crockett of Dallas, Texas, had the real standout reaction to the information that was presented. Take a listen to her. 


[clip of Jasmine Crockett] But I will tell you what the president has been guilty of. He has unfortunately been guilty of loving his child unconditionally. And that is the only evidence that they have brought forward. And honestly, I hope and pray that my parents love me half as much as he loves his child. Until they find some evidence, we need to get back to the people’s work, which means keeping this government open so that people don’t go hungry in the streets of the United States. And I will yield. 


Tre’vell Anderson: I know. That’s right. [laughing] Okay, Jasmine. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, she really said it all. That’s all we’ve learned from this evidence. That’s all we’ve learned through all of this. President Biden is a is an amazing father, is an amazing, devoted father. And there is real work here that these people are ignoring while they do this. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Absolutely. And speaking of that real work that they are ignoring. Let’s talk a little bit more about this shutdown. On Thursday, the US government notified federal workers that a shutdown is on the horizon if a deal isn’t reached by Congress by 12:01 a.m. Eastern on Sunday. So that’s less than two days away as you all are hearing this. The tldr of this is that far right Republicans in the House, with the backing of Speaker Kevin McCarthy, are basically holding the government hostage as they try to satisfy some of their conservative demands. If a shutdown does happen, it will be the third government shutdown in ten years. The previous two were in 2013 and 2018 and like this impending one, we have Republicans to blame for it. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Right. So if a shutdown happens, can you just remind us of some of the very immediate effects of that happening? 


Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah. So firstly, there’s roughly 2 million federal workers. Think TSA folks, park rangers, people who call you about not paying your taxes, as well as 1.3 million active duty military personnel that would be impacted. So, you know, not a small number of people. Perhaps the biggest impact is that so many folks won’t get their checks. They won’t be able to pay their bills or take care of their families. And some folks will be furloughed and sent home with no idea of when they can return to work. But others still have to go to work knowing that they won’t be paid. Of course, everyone will get back pay once all of this is rectified. But that you know doesn’t help the imminent issues people will have to deal with, especially folks who are living paycheck to paycheck. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Totally. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Also, government programs that help lower income and other folks in need like SNAP and WIC could be impacted. You would still be able to go to national parks, but they won’t be cleaning the bathrooms or maintaining the trails, for example. And those congressional staffers that are working on that impeachment inquiry you just mentioned, Priyanka, they also won’t get paid, but will still have to go to work. And just to put a point on this, you know, a government shutdown would have an outsized impact on Black communities especially, though we only make up about 13% of the total U.S. population. We are nearly 20% of the federal workforce. And so this would become, you know, yet another example of what I call a historically Black phrase, that when white folks catch a cold, Black folks get pneumonia. A government shutdown is not great for literally anyone, but especially not Black people and communities of color that are already disadvantaged in so many ways. Fortunately, though, right, things like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid and the Postal Service won’t be immediately impacted. 


Priyanka Aribindi: You know, that is fortunate. But I want to circle back to that emphasis you made. And thank you so much for pointing that out. The Black community and communities of color, low income communities especially face this as an outsized impact. That’s not something that we discuss when this comes up in the news, when, you know, people are playing politics with the budget and–


Tre’vell Anderson: Right. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Oh, they ran out of time. Like there are very real lives affected by this. And if you don’t feel the impacts of a government shutdown directly, consider yourself very, very fortunate. Many, many people are not privileged enough to be in that position and feel this impact from the minute it starts. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Absolutely. 


Priyanka Aribindi: So what do we know about where things stand as of now as we head into the weekend? What’s the vibe here? 


Tre’vell Anderson: The House is expected to vote on a GOP stopgap bill today, but it’s not expected to pass. That’s because the Republicans want to cut government spending in ways that President Biden and the Democrats just simply won’t accept. Then there are also other measures that are being discussed that would similarly be short term solutions, while a longer one is worked out. But, you know, the girls are fighting over there in the Republican Party anyway, so those bills also likely won’t pass. Meanwhile, in the Senate, they have their own plans. They even voted to advance a short term funding bill earlier this week. But again, the Republicans in the House don’t yet see it for such a compromise. I hope everyone sees how really the Republicans and I should say a particular group of Republicans are like holding things hostage. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Absolutely. 


Tre’vell Anderson: And again, like clockwork, it is the American people who are having to deal with these consequences. Now, a miracle could happen over the weekend. Hell, technically one could have happened already, as you all are listening to this episode. But this is the latest for now as we went to record around 9:30 p.m. Eastern Thursday night. We will be back on Monday, of course, with any necessary updates. [music break] Let’s get to some headlines. 


[sung] Headlines. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Starting with the continuation of Donald Trump’s many legal woes. His civil fraud trial is set to start on Monday in Manhattan. That’s the case we told you about earlier this week where Trump, his sons, Don Jr and Eric and his namesake company were found liable for fraud by overvaluing Trump’s assets and inflating his net worth by billions of dollars. An appeals court yesterday rejected Trump’s last ditch effort to delay the trial. He had the audacity to even sue the judge overseeing the case two weeks ago, which is really wild if you ask me. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Wild. 


Tre’vell Anderson: He and his team are pulling out everything they can.


Priyanka Aribindi: Didn’t know you’re allowed to do that but alright.


Tre’vell Anderson: [laugh] Right? It’s really wild. His legal team tried to argue that the judge ignored an earlier appeals court decision and that some of the accusations brought by New York Attorney General Letitia James were too old to be considered at trial. And so you might want to stock up on popcorn this weekend because Trump himself, three of his adult children and some of his closest advisers are listed as possible witnesses. So, you know, they could be called up to take the stand. We can only hope. 


Priyanka Aribindi: You know, it’ll be fun, but someone I will be missing. You say three of his adult children. There is a fourth, there are five children in total. [laughter] It’s always number four is getting forgotten. Poor Tiffany. Since the beginning, it was always her. Justice for Tiffany in this moment. 


Tre’vell Anderson: She probably likes it that way, though. 


Priyanka Aribindi: She probably does. She probably doesn’t [laughter] want to take the stand and good for her. Smart enough to not get wrapped into this. Or maybe just lucky enough. The Donald Trump School of Legal maneuvering is once again outdoing itself. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Mm hmm mm hmm. 


Priyanka Aribindi: President Biden recently declared a federal emergency in Louisiana as the state battles an ongoing intrusion of saltwater in the Mississippi River. The lack of rainfall from a long drought this summer means that the amount of freshwater in the river has declined. So saltwater from the Gulf of Mexico that would ordinarily get flushed out has actually rushed farther upstream and has contaminated the drinking water supply for communities south of New Orleans. And without any substantial rain in the forecast, officials are scrambling to stop the saltwater surge before it infiltrates water treatment plants that many residents depend on. That has led to skyrocketing demand for bottled water in New Orleans as residents there brace for the possibility that they, too, might lose access to drinkable water. New Orleans faced a similar threat back in 1988, but more recently, we saw this play out in Jackson, Mississippi, just last year. And with climate change making these crises more and more frequent. It’s also costing a lot of money. FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell said last week that after a record breaking year of disasters, the agency’s emergency relief fund is almost tapped out. The looming government shutdown is not helping either, and we are still in the peak of Atlantic hurricane season. I don’t know how else to say this. We are in the bad place. We are the little dog in the burning room that is us. 


Tre’vell Anderson: That is absolutely us. Shifting gears a bit to highlight a major win for food service workers. Yesterday, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed legislation that would raise the minimum wage for fast food workers in the state to $20 an hour, the highest base salary in the industry. Since the beginning of the COVID pandemic, California has seen over 450 fast food workers strike to push back against low wages and poor working conditions. When the pay bump takes effect next April, full time fast food workers can expect to make around $41,000 a year. That is up from the current average annual salary of about $34,000 a year. Activists who fought for the bill say that many of these workers are the primary breadwinners for their families. And this is just the beginning. The law also creates a special council with the power to increase fast food industry wages through 2029 and to ensure they keep up with inflation. Meanwhile, over in New York City, a judge ruled that food delivery companies must bump up what they pay their workers to nearly $18 an hour. Earlier this year, we talked about how delivery workers for companies like DoorDash, Uber Eats and GrubHub are considered independent contractors, meaning they aren’t entitled to a state or federal minimum wage. City officials passed legislation to remedy that, but the apps sued to block it, claiming that paying their workers higher wages would hurt business, which is a very interesting way of saying the quiet part out loud that you don’t care about your workers and you only really care about your bottom line. Yikes. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Thursday’s ruling clears the way for the new minimum wage starting next month. 


Priyanka Aribindi: And speaking of fair compensation, the union representing striking actors will meet with Hollywood studios again on Monday to resume negotiations for a new labor contract. This will be the first time that SAG-AFTRA and the studios have met since the strike began in July. The upcoming sit down comes less than a week after the Writers Guild of America reached a tentative deal to end its own months long work stoppage. The hope here is that actors will also get their fair share from the big production companies as well. SAG-AFTRA put out a statement on Wednesday encouraging people to continue supporting its members on the picket lines as the union returns to the bargaining table. In the meantime, SAG is already gearing up for another potential labor battle. The union voted earlier this week to authorize another walkout to demand better working conditions for video game voice actors and motion capture performers at ten major game studios. 


Tre’vell Anderson: I love that, like everyone in the industry in this moment is like they’re basically playing a game of tag team. It’s like, okay, writers. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Totally. 


Tre’vell Anderson: You go first, then it’s the actors [snapping], you’re next, next is coming the voice game actors and motion capture performers. Great. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Love it. 


Tre’vell Anderson: The stunt folks were talking a few weeks ago about coming together as well. Everybody deserves– 


Priyanka Aribindi: Everybody. 


Tre’vell Anderson: –their rights to be paid what they should be paid and absolutely keep it coming. I love this [?]. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Totally. And I mean, if these production companies want productions to happen, this is just what they have to do. The cause of doing business is paying people [laughing] who work to make your business happen. It’s just it’s really not that complicated. 


Tre’vell Anderson: It’s really that simple. And those are the headlines. We’ll be back after some ads. 




Tre’vell Anderson: It’s Friday, WAD Squad. And today we’re doing a segment called WAD Remembers where we bid a fond farewell to something that’s not a person but has still enriched our lives and is about to be gone forever. This time around it’s Netflix’s DVD by mail service. The final red and white envelopes are being mailed out today. And as a parting gift, whoever is still watching anything on DVDs in the year 2023 will be able to keep the discs. For what exactly we may never know, but in its heyday, the DVD service boasted more than 20 million subscribers. And according to Netflix, over 5 billion DVDs were shipped across the country since the service first started back in 1998. But by this year, fewer than a million Netflix mail subscribers remained. So after 25 years, the company says it’s time to roll the credits. And we’d like to say a few words. Priyanka, take it away. 


Priyanka Aribindi: [sentimental piano music plays] This is sad. I will admit it is sadder for other people [laughter] than it is for me, I was a Blockbuster girl. We were a Blockbuster family. We did not do the mail in movie thing that was a little too newfangled for us. But this is sad. It really feels like we’re losing, losing a relic of uh childhood and early teens and such. Also, though, very surprising that there are around a million families with DVD– 


Tre’vell Anderson: That’s a lot. 


Priyanka Aribindi: –players like that is impressive. Didn’t really know you could get a DVD player. Wouldn’t know how to do that. Perplexed. Puzzled. I do think it’s sweet that they get to keep a little memento, their little DVDs. They don’t have to give them back. Anyways, Tre’vell. Do you have any fond memories of using the Netflix mailing service that you’d like to share? 


Tre’vell Anderson: So I’ve never used the Netflix mailing service but– 


Priyanka Aribindi: You and me both. 


Tre’vell Anderson: A confession. I do own a DVD player. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Whoa.


Tre’vell Anderson: [laughing] Well, just I just have never thrown it away. I also have a very big like CD rom case full of DVDs that–


Priyanka Aribindi: Wow. 


Tre’vell Anderson: –are just collecting dust on the shelf, to be clear. But they’re there. You never know when you are going to need to dust off your copy of the Lifetime original movie, Life is but a fairy tale, you know, starring Fantasia Barrino. 


Priyanka Aribindi: I didn’t know they made DVDs of those. [laughter] That is impressive. Didn’t know the Lifetime movies went to disc. 


Tre’vell Anderson: [laughing] I know, but they do. 


Priyanka Aribindi: I thought it was like the Lion King. You know. 


Tre’vell Anderson: [laughing] I’m just saying, you know, you got to keep these things at minimum for nostalgia purposes. Maybe I’ll never pull out my actual DVD player, but, like, I feel good being able to say, you know, I remember when we had these little CDs and that’s how we watched movies. 


Priyanka Aribindi: I get it. I feel like if I had one, I wouldn’t be like running to get rid of it. But since I don’t, I don’t miss it. You know what I mean? 


Tre’vell Anderson: Right. I get it. I get it.


Priyanka Aribindi: Anyways RIP. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Yes. Rest in Peace to Netflix’s DVD by mail service. [sigh] It was good to know you. What a time. What a time to be alive. [piano music stops] And that was WAD remembers. And may we remember the red and white envelopes alongside the blue and yellow blockbuster ticket logo forever more. [music break]




Tre’vell Anderson: That is all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe. Leave a review. Pray that Republicans somehow get their shit together and tell your friends to listen. 


Priyanka Aribindi: And if you are into reading and not just Representative Jasmine Crockett’s bio like me, What a Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at I’m Priyanka Aribindi.


Tre’vell Anderson: I’m Tre’vell Anderson. 


[spoken together] And godspeed little red envelopes. 


Tre’vell Anderson: In the words of the great songwriter, although we’ve come to the end of the road. Dot, dot, dot. 


Priyanka Aribindi: And then what? [laughter] 


Tre’vell Anderson: It’s a song. You don’t know that song, Priyanka? 


Priyanka Aribindi: No. 


Tre’vell Anderson: [starts singing] Although we’ve come to the end of the road. I can’t let, [stops singing] okay.


Priyanka Aribindi: Oh, I thought it just ended there. [laughter] I was like, wait, what? [laughter] [music break] 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.