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September 20, 2023
What A Day
Some Assembly Required

In This Episode

  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addressed the U.N. General Assembly yesterday, framing Russia’s aggression in Ukraine as a “genocide.” He’s also hoping to shore up support in Washington this week, amid skepticism from Republicans over whether to send Ukraine another $24 billion in aid.
  • A New York City daycare owner and one of her relatives face federal charges after four children in her care fell ill – and one died – after they were exposed to fentanyl. Prosecutors say a kilogram of the drug was kept on top of kids’ play mats.
  • And in headlines: House Republicans failed to advance their own defense spending bill, Azerbaijan launched a military operation in a contested Armenian enclave; plus, WAD associate producer Raven Yamamoto breaks down the latest controversy involving Colorado Representative Lauren Boebert.


Show Notes:



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Priyanka Aribindi: It’s Wednesday, September 20th. I’m Priyanka Aribindi. 


Juanita Tolliver: And I’m Juanita Tolliver. And this is What a Day, the Daily News podcast with the strictest mandatory dress code in the industry. 


Priyanka Aribindi: That is right. We do not allow hard pants in this zone. [laughter] It is soft pants only. You are not getting away with your outside clothes here. 


Juanita Tolliver: Yeah. [music break] On today’s show, far right Republicans dealt an embarrassing blow to House Speaker Kevin McCarthy in the fight over federal spending. Plus, we explain why bears are having a moment in the news. And it’s not even Fat Bear week yet. 


Priyanka Aribindi: But first, the U.N. General Assembly gathered in New York City yesterday for its 78th session, where once again Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was top of mind. 


Juanita Tolliver: All right, Priyanka, tell us all about what happened there. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addressed the body for the second year in a row, framing Russia’s aggression in Ukraine as a, quote, “genocide,” referring to the kidnapping of Ukrainian children and the weaponization of food blockades and energy access. He also warned that Russia’s threat is worldwide and wouldn’t stop in Ukraine. Take a listen to Zelensky in his own words. 


[clip of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky] Ukraine is doing everything to ensure that after Russian aggression, no one in the world will dare to attack any nation. Weaponization must be restrained. War crimes must be punished. Deported people must come back home and the occupier must return to their own land. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Zelensky was not alone in his condemnation of Russia. He was joined by President Biden, who asserted that the United States continues to stand with the people of Ukraine. 


Juanita Tolliver: Yeah. Speaking of what is the latest in terms of U.S. aid for Ukraine? 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yes. So Zelensky actually is not just here for this U.N. meeting. He’s actually heading to D.C. on Thursday for a trip that was coordinated with the Biden administration. It’s part of an effort to drum up more support to ensure more aid for Ukraine. President Biden has asked Congress to approve an additional $24 billion dollars to that end. And while party leaders say that the majority of Congress continues to support helping Ukraine, there’s a growing number of Republicans who are ready to cut it off. They are over this conflict. They have the privilege and uh the luxury of wanting to opt out and feeling like they can, if only all the people of Ukraine and Russia could be so lucky. 


Juanita Tolliver: Because I was like, Putin’s not over it. So come on. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Right, right. It turns out that in the 18 plus months since this conflict has started, many Americans are actually now feeling the same way. According to a new CNN poll. 55% of Americans say that Congress should not authorize any additional funding to help Ukraine. 45% say that Congress should. And 51% of Americans say that the U.S. has already done enough to help in this situation, while 48% believe that the U.S. should do more. Obviously, the latter much closer. But those numbers did not look nearly the same six months ago. The additional funding that President Biden wants Congress to approve as part of an emergency spending package, because, of course, this also is happening as Republicans threaten to shut down the government. It is to put it succinctly a total mess, but it is expected to be approved. But what follows this, you know, what aid Ukraine receives, how much, if any at all, is all kind of up in the air as of now. 


Juanita Tolliver: Yeah, considering how much of a loser McCarthy is, I think we’re in for a big L on this. Um. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yes. 


Juanita Tolliver: Not looking forward to the hot mess, as you so aptly put it, Priyanka, that’s happening with Republicans in the House. 


Priyanka Aribindi: You and I both. 


Juanita Tolliver: Meanwhile, uptown, a New York city daycare owner is now facing federal charges after four children fell ill and one child later died after they were exposed to opioids while in her care. Now investigators are alleging that the drugs were stored on top of children’s play mats, the same mats where the children took naps. The children who suffered from acute opioid intoxication included an eight month old, a one year old and a two year old. And the toddler who passed away last Friday was one year old Nicholas Dominici. This is beyond tragic and knowing how deadly fentanyl is for adults, I can’t imagine the heartbreak that these families must be feeling right now, especially Nicholas’ family. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Tragic, heartbreaking and also completely outrageous. I mean. 


Juanita Tolliver: Right. 


Priyanka Aribindi: You’re saying that these really serious drugs were being stored on top of the same places that little kids I mean, basically babies are playing like for what reason? That is just so beyond me. But what charges have been filed against this daycare owner so far? What’s going on? 


Juanita Tolliver: So far, the daycare owner, Grei Mendez, and a family acquaintance who was residing at the Bronx home daycare, Carlisto Brito, were both charged with conspiracy to distribute narcotics, resulting in death and possession with intent to distribute narcotics resulting in death, in the Southern District of New York. An attorney for Mendez told NBC News that she had no idea there were drugs in the building, and she called 911 when she saw something was wrong with the kids. But this is where the plot thickens, because the Drug Enforcement Agency noted in the complaint that a kilo of fentanyl was found in a hallway closet at the daycare and 911 was not in fact the first call Mendez made when she realized something was wrong with the babies. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Okay, um that does not look good to absolutely anybody. So who did Mendez call first, if not 911? And what else have investigators found? 


Juanita Tolliver: According to the complaint that was unsealed yesterday, Mendez made three calls before calling 911. First to another daycare employee, then to her husband twice. After the calls, court documents revealed that Mendez deleted more than 20,000 encrypted messages from conversations with her husband. Of course, because nothing is ever actually encrypted, investigators were able to review the messages. And Mendez essentially told her husband that the police were asking her questions and to hire an attorney. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Oh, my God. Okay. Clearly has never watched an episode of Law and Order. The phones, you’re being watched. 


Juanita Tolliver: Always. 


Priyanka Aribindi: You got to know that if you are finding yourself wrapped up in a crime, that’s the first place they’re going to go. So what are you doing? This is just wild. 


Juanita Tolliver: In addition to the phones, surveillance cameras also captured her husband arriving at the daycare and leaving through a back alley with multiple bags before first responders arrived on the scene. It’s unclear what was in the bags, but investigators believe he was taking materials from the scene. Interestingly enough, Mendez’s husband left behind three kilo presses in the home daycare, including one in Brito’s bedroom. A Kilo press is like a device used to press drugs and powders into brick shapes. And yeah, the DEA found all of that. Unfortunately, childcare inspectors didn’t find any of this during a surprise inspection earlier this month, though, the New York City health commissioner noted, quote, “One of the things my childcare inspectors are not trained to do is look for fentanyl. But maybe we need to start.” 


Priyanka Aribindi: And what do we know about Mendez’s husband’s whereabouts as of now? 


Juanita Tolliver: Ooh, we do not know. And Damian Williams, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, said at a news conference yesterday that authorities are still searching for Mendez’s husband and that quote, “Those drugs came from somewhere. We’re going to make sure we get it all the way back to the source.” And the commitment here is clear as prosecutors across the country are more frequently charging adults for exposing children to fentanyl and other drugs. And these cases have been on the rise since the onset of the pandemic. We’ll keep following this very wild and heart breaking story and bringing you updates. But that’s the latest for now. [music break] 


Priyanka Aribindi: Let’s get to some headlines. 


[sung] Headlines. 


Priyanka Aribindi: With less than two weeks to go before we reach a potential government shutdown. House Republicans failed to advance their own party’s defense spending bill yesterday. That came after five hard line Republicans voted against the measure in a close procedural vote. They joined House Democrats to oppose the bill, which included several rider clauses that would limit abortion access, transgender medical treatment and diversity and inclusion programs. But the GOP defectors didn’t have some life altering experience at Burning Man. They aren’t suddenly uh great people. They voted against it to demand steeper spending cuts. Following the vote. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy told reporters, quote, “Look, the one thing you’re going to learn about me, I like a challenge. I don’t like this big challenge, but we are just going to keep doing it until we can make it.” 


Juanita Tolliver: Spoken like a true loser. [laughing]


Priyanka Aribindi: You don’t have to give a comment to every single person who asks. You can just keep your mouth shut and keep it moving. It’s fine. Anyways, on top of all of this, House Republicans have still not been able to come to an agreement on a short term funding measure that would temporarily keep the government afloat past the September 30th deadline. Congress has until that date to get a bill on President Biden’s desk to be signed into law. 


Juanita Tolliver: It’s looking bleak. 


Priyanka Aribindi: I’m not holding my breath for these people. 


Juanita Tolliver: Azerbaijan launched what its defense officials call, quote unquote, “anti-terrorist activities” in the contested Nagorno-Karabakh region yesterday. The region is a mountainous, disputed territory that is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, but is home to a mostly ethnic Armenian population who has resisted Azerbaijani rule for more than a century. Armenian state news reported that at least five people were killed and 80 others were injured by artillery, missile and drone strikes. Most of the areas targeted are also where Russian peacekeepers have been stationed since 2020 as part of a ceasefire deal to end the 44 day war between Azerbaijan and Armenia. Both countries were part of the former Soviet Union, and in the three decades since its collapse, there have been two wars between them. And this recent escalation is raising concern that a third conflict is not far off. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Now on to some happier for us news. Rudy Giuliani’s financial woes, always fun for us here at WAD. A former lawyer for Giuliani, who was also one of his longtime friends, apparently at one point, sued America’s mayor this week for failing to pay up $1.36 million dollars in legal fees. The complaint was filed by his attorney and perhaps ex friend Robert J. Costello and his law firm, alleging that Rudy has only paid a fraction of what he owes for legal services provided from 2019 through July of this year. That includes the unenviable task of representing Giuliani in multiple cases against him, including his alleged involvement in Donald Trump’s attempt to overturn the 2020 election. According to the New York Times, this also comes as Giuliani owes nearly $3 million dollars to Costello and other law firms. Let’s not forget that he was spotted at a bail bond agency in Atlanta after he– 


Juanita Tolliver: Yikes. 


Priyanka Aribindi: –and 18 others, including Trump, were indicted in the Georgia election interference case. So legal fees here are racking up and the IOUs are not gonna cut it. 


Juanita Tolliver: And if you need more proof that bears are assimilating into society, they’re doing two of the most American things you can think of. Eating Krispy Kreme donuts and going to Disney World. Two bears on an Alaska military base were recently caught on camera raiding a Krispy Kreme donut van while it was parked during a delivery run outside of a convenience store. The bears munched on donut holes and pastries, tuning out the silly humans who banged on the van to shoo them away. Separately, on Monday, a black bear was spotted in a tree near the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad ride at Disney World. The theme park said wildlife officials were able to safely capture and transport the bear. But as goofy as the sighting sounds, it’s important to remember that these and other animals are facing a lot of pressure due to human driven habitat loss and climate change. So let’s cut them some slack, but do not give them a donut. I repeat, do not give them a donut. People, please. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, I have some questions here. I understand the urge to go to Disney World, the happiest place on earth. [laughter] So, like, of course, this little bear wanted to go. Much respect. The Krispy Kreme situation, though. What are they doing banging on the van to try to get them to go? That’s their van now, if there are bears inside my van eating the donuts, those are their donuts. That is their van. [laugh] Leave them alone. And those are the headlines. We’ll be back after some ads for an in-depth discussion about Lauren Boebert’s love for the arts. 




Priyanka Aribindi: It is Wednesday WAD squad. And for today’s temp check, we are covering a story that just keeps on giving. Beetlejuice gate. That is of course, the seemingly never ending saga of Colorado Representative Lauren Boebert, who was 86’ed from a performance of Beetlejuice, the musical in Denver. We told you about this last week and that she and an unnamed guest of hers were escorted out for being a nuisance during the show. Multiple people complained that the pair was just straight up annoying, being loud, vaping. Boebert initially denied all of it, but new surveillance footage released over the weekend shows otherwise. 


Juanita Tolliver: Yeah, I love when a camera’s involved, but still we have several questions that remain unanswered. Who was the guy she was with? And since when is someone like Lauren Boebert been into musical theater? To get us up to speed we asked WAD’s resident Tea Spiller Raven Yamamoto to give us the lowdown on all the updates from the past few days. Raven, welcome back, friend. 


Raven Yamamoto: Thank you for having me back. I will say if you told me that I was going to be on the Boebert beat when I started this job, [laughter] I might not have taken the offer, but we’re here. Duty calls. 


Juanita Tolliver: Here we are. 


Priyanka Aribindi: We are here. We couldn’t be happier to have someone who is so read in to this situation here with us today. So thank you so much. So let us start with the new surveillance video that just dropped. What have we learned here? And will our retinas ever be the same? 


Raven Yamamoto: Oh, man. I sure don’t think so. But so last week when we talked about this on the show, we only had like a little bit of the surveillance footage from the theater, but it was only from the outside. It was just of Miss Lauren and her guest being escorted out of the building. We didn’t see what was going down inside. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Right. 


Raven Yamamoto: So the theater released more surveillance footage over the weekend where you can clearly see Boebert and her guest doing everything that her campaign initially denied. Right. So like singing and laughing super loudly during the performance, snapping photos and videos, some of them with her camera flash on, by the way. 


Juanita Tolliver: Eew. 


Raven Yamamoto: Like classic boomer move and blowing a fat cloud of vape smoke during the intermission. I can’t make this up. 


Priyanka Aribindi: You really can’t. 


Raven Yamamoto: And in the video, you can even see a pregnant woman in the row behind her tap Boebert on the shoulder asking her to stop, to which Boebert just seems to shrug off and like not care about. I should also add vaping is officially not cool now okay. Like after seeing that– [laughter]


Priyanka Aribindi: No. It’s over. 


Raven Yamamoto: –clip. [laughing]


Priyanka Aribindi: It’s gone now, it’s done. 


Raven Yamamoto: It’s done. Like forget DARE, forget just say no. Put that clip in a Juul ad, no one will ever buy one ever again. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Never. 


Raven Yamamoto: But the cameras also caught Boebert and her quote unquote “guest” getting how you say frisky uh–


Juanita Tolliver: Eew. 


Raven Yamamoto: –in the audience. [laughter] I think groping is the word most people are using to describe it, but I think that’s a little tame for what was actually going on. Um. If you watch it, you can see that they’re definitely in each other’s business. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Oh, yes, they are. 


Juanita Tolliver: And there were kids. There were kids sitting all around them watching every bit of this. So. gross. So gross. 


Raven Yamamoto: On the Lord’s day, no less, Juanita and Priyanka. [laughter]


Priyanka Aribindi: Yup. 


Raven Yamamoto: Like this was a Sunday show on the Lord’s Day, doing this in the theater and in the dress she was wearing as well. 


Juanita Tolliver: Yeah. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, there’s a lot going on. 


Juanita Tolliver: All right. So when that extended footage was released, [laughter] how did Boebert respond to all of this? 


Raven Yamamoto: Yeah. Um. So she put out this statement apologizing for her behavior because how can you not like we all saw what happened, but it was in a really weird way. So she put out this statement that said, quote, “There’s no perfect blueprint for going through a public and difficult divorce, which over the past few months has made for a challenging personal time for me and my entire family. I’ve tried to handle it with strength and grace as best I can, but I simply fell short of my values on Sunday. That’s unacceptable. And I’m sorry.” So, you know, she’s basically saying I’m in a hoe phase right now after this divorce. [laugh] I’m really sorry you guys had to see that. But am I sorry that I did it? I don’t know. So that’s just how I interpreted it. 


Juanita Tolliver: Absolutely not. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. 


Juanita Tolliver: And here’s the thing, she’s 1,000% allowed to have a hoe phase. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. 


Juanita Tolliver: Plenty of people around the world have a hoe phase. We just don’t do it in front of ten year olds. You know. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. 


Raven Yamamoto: I’m so pro hoe phase. Yeah, we’re progressive here. We’re so pro that. But not like this. 


Priyanka Aribindi: And listen, Lauren, like there’s a whole party of people who uh support you doing whatever you want to do with whoever you want to do it with. 


Juanita Tolliver: Imagine. 


Priyanka Aribindi: By yourself. 


Raven Yamamoto: Oh my God. [laughter]


Priyanka Aribindi: –with in your own business. Okay. But let’s circle back to the situation at hand here. Who was this man? Clearly, he is not an innocent bystander in the situation. He’s an active participant, some might say a little too active. [laughter] What do we know about him? 


Raven Yamamoto: Yeah. So once we learned that this guy was Boebert’s squeeze for the night, we found out that he’s not only a registered Democrat, but a registered Democrat who owns a gay friendly bar in Aspen. 


Juanita Tolliver: When I tell you I’m screaming, what? 


Raven Yamamoto: The guy’s name is Quinn Gallagher, and he’s the co-owner of the Hooch Craft Cocktail bar. Great name for a bar, if you ask me. I would absolutely visit that establishment on my next visit. But it’s a venue that’s known to host drag shows from time to time as well so regulars weren’t super happy to hear that the owner of their favorite bar was on a date with Ms. Boebert. Given how she feels about drag shows, drag performers, gay people, you know, she’s just not a fan. 


Juanita Tolliver: Right. 


Priyanka Aribindi: No. 


Raven Yamamoto: So people actually ended up review bombing the bar once they found out about all of this. And my personal favorite review was left from this guy on Facebook who wrote, quote, “Apparently whatever core values co-owner Quinn Gallagher claims to possess were thrown out the window when he met trailer trash Queen Lauren Boebert.” 


Juanita Tolliver: Oh. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Oof. 


Juanita Tolliver: Drag her. Drag her for filth. [laugh] 


Raven Yamamoto: Just. [sigh] Shakespearean. Yes.


Priyanka Aribindi: Yes, drag her, drag him, drag everybody. This is, [laughter] it’s just bad. 


Juanita Tolliver: All right. I’m not invested at all, Raven, clearly, but–


Raven Yamamoto: Oh, yeah? 


Juanita Tolliver: Are these people still together? 


Priyanka Aribindi: Listen Juanita, I’m invested. [laughter]


Raven Yamamoto: So they’re definitely over. Here’s what Boebert told TMZ as a treat. 


[clip of Lauren Boebert] Ultimately, all future date nights have been canceled. And um I learned to check party affiliations um before you go on a date. Uh. But all in all, um you know, it was a, it was mostly a lovely time. And, you know, I’ve taken responsibility for my actions. Love to know how the the musical ended. And I encourage people to go and see it. But um yeah. It was a great time back in the district, seeing voters. 


Raven Yamamoto: Seeing voters. 


Juanita Tolliver: Wait so the groping would have been more appropriate if it was a Republican? [laughter] Like is that the message here? 


Priyanka Aribindi: She said overall, she had a great time. Like what? 


Juanita Tolliver: It was a great night. 


Raven Yamamoto: A lovely time, visiting voters, guys. Do you ever just visit voters like that? [laughter]


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. 


Juanita Tolliver: I mean, you know, blowing vape smoke in a constituent’s pregnant face, like there you go. [laughing]


Priyanka Aribindi: I don’t know if I’ll ever be done personally processing this event, but it really has been a gift, I would say a gift to me who just was starved for something to uh live for. So thank you so much to Lauren Boebert and her lovely date for this. Just like that, we have checked our temperatures. Feeling a little queasy, to be honest. [laughter]


Raven Yamamoto: Nauseous 


Priyanka Aribindi: I don’t know about you guys. 


Raven Yamamoto: Sick. Yeah. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Just a little nauseous. Yes. [music break]




Priyanka Aribindi: That is all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe. Leave a review. Support your local theater without being gross and tell your friends to listen. 


Juanita Tolliver: And if you’re into reading and not just reading Rudy Giuliani’s list of former friends like me, What a Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at I’m Juanita Tolliver.


Priyanka Aribindi: I’m Priyanka Aribindi.


[spoken together] And put the vape down Boebert. 


Juanita Tolliver: Ugh, you horrible, horrible human [laughing] like [?]–


Priyanka Aribindi: I wonder if she’s like as a PR move is going to circle back and like go with her family to see the play and be like, I actually was invested on seeing the end. It was so good and I support the arts. 


Juanita Tolliver: If she was going to be fully her authentic self, she’d show up with whoever the new man is and like, repeat the shenanigans. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yes, run it back. Just round two date night. [music break] 


Juanita Tolliver: 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. [music break]