In This Episode
- A federal judge in Texas held a hearing on Wednesday in a case that could block access to the widely-used abortion medication mifepristone — and suggested he may side with the anti-abortion advocates who want the drug taken off the market.
- Adult film actress Stormy Daniels met with New York prosecutors, who are investigating the hush money payments she received on behalf of former president Donald Trump in 2016. She agreed to be a witness and provide additional information about her affair with Trump.
- And in headlines: South Carolina Republicans are pushing a bill that would charge anyone getting an abortion with homicide, a major Nor’easter pummeled the East Coast, and a pro-Trump super PAC accused Florida Governor Ron DeSantis of violating state and federal election laws.
- What A Day: No Chill For Abortion Pills – https://crooked.com/podcast/no-chill-for-abortion-pills/
- What A Day – YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/@whatadaypodcast
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Priyanka Aribindi: It’s Thursday, March 16th. I’m Priyanka Aribindi.
Juanita Tolliver: And I’m Juanita Tolliver. And this is What A Day where now that Ted Lasso is back, it’s time for Americans to once again pretend we know anything about soccer.
Priyanka Aribindi: I don’t really know much of anything, to be honest. All I’ve retained from this show is that there are biscuits involved. [laughter] That’s my main takeaway.
Juanita Tolliver: AKA cookies, shortbread cookies that I have baked multiple times with a lot of butter. [music break] On today’s show, a major European lender is now caught up in the financial system’s crisis of confidence. Plus, America has a new top dog that is a certified mouth breather.
Priyanka Aribindi: But first, a federal judge in Amarillo, Texas, appears ready to block the widely used abortion medication, mifepristone.
Juanita Tolliver: Oh, my God. Cue the motherfucking gloom and doom Priyanka. Tell us more, what’s happened?
Priyanka Aribindi: This case centers around the FDA’s approval of Mifepristone, which happened over 20 years ago. For context, over half of the abortions in the United States are now done using this medication. First, you take the pill, Mifepristone. It stops the pregnancy from progressing. And then you take the second pill called Misoprostol that causes cramping and bleeding to empty the uterus. The FDA originally reviewed Mifepristone via an accelerated approval process, which was meant to fast track drugs for, quote, “serious or life threatening diseases.” The plaintiffs, an anti-abortion group, are arguing that Mifepristone shouldn’t have qualified for accelerated approval. And they also don’t approve of recent moves by the FDA to make the pills easier to get. They basically just want it pulled off of market. But on the other side, you have the Justice Department. They are defending the FDA’s approval. They’re touting Mifepristone’s history as both safe and effective. And they’re arguing that pregnancies can be serious and life threatening. So the drug did qualify for the accelerated approval. As you can imagine, if you speak to anybody with any kind of medical education, the American Medical Association, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the Department of Health and Human Services, all of them are saying that Mifepristone is a safe and effective medication for abortion, as well as for treating and managing miscarriages, 99.9% of people who take it have no adverse effects. It works just as intended. But during yesterday’s hearing, U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk asked questions that suggested that he’s open to the idea that the drug shouldn’t have been fast tracked and that he’s considering blocking it.
Juanita Tolliver: I mean, surprise, surprise, the same judge who tried to hide this hearing from the press and public is now consider blocking it and–
Priyanka Aribindi: Right.
Juanita Tolliver: –I just want to emphasize those rates of effectiveness. 99.9%. Like, I feel like that’s more effective and safer than Viagra. But okay, I know there’s more going on with this judge. Can you give us some more context on this guy?
Priyanka Aribindi: Totally. I mean, the plaintiffs here basically cherry picked this man, Judge Kacsmaryk. He is very conservative. He’s a Trump appointee. He’s previously sided with other plaintiffs who are trying to roll back reproductive or LGBTQ rights. And by filing in Amarillo, Texas, they all but ensured that he would be the one overseeing this case. And Judge Kacsmaryk has taken extraordinary measures to delay making the hearing date for this case public, as you mentioned. Normally, a hearing like this would immediately be put on the public court docket. Everyone can see when it’s scheduled for, they can show up, etc.. Not in this case, though. He originally wanted to wait until Tuesday night to announce that this hearing would happen on Wednesday morning. Amarillo is not particularly easy to get to if you don’t live there. So this would have made it very difficult for journalists or activists to get there in time for that hearing on Wednesday morning. He ended up scheduling the hearing on a phone call with the lawyers from both sides this past Friday, but he told them not to tell anyone about it, which is not only highly irregular, like that’s not normal. It also breaks his own principles about open courts. He outlined these principles in his own court’s rules, and then he is going and breaking them by trying to keep this a secret.
Juanita Tolliver: Look, all I got to say is thank you to the paralegal or staffer or lawyer who leaked this to the press. Thank you for letting us know what was up, because this judge clearly didn’t want us to. And I think we all have to brace ourselves for what type of decision he’s going to come out with next. But walk us through what happens now. What should we expect?
Priyanka Aribindi: Kacsmaryk ended yesterday’s hearing by saying he’d rule as soon as possible. He didn’t have a decision right away, but we could get one at any time. If he sides with the anti-abortion groups and issues a preliminary injunction that would temporarily restrict access to Mifepristone nationwide, that would be a huge, huge deal. I mean, as we said, that is how the majority of people in this country who have abortions have their abortion. That is how people in rural communities who don’t have access to health care that easily, who can’t just like waltz into their doctor’s office whenever they please, get an abortion. This would have huge and very lasting consequences. He hinted that he could also issue a more limited ruling. For example, Mifepristone might be able to stay on the market, but the restrictions that the Biden administration recently lifted would go back into place. But in either scenario, the decision would be appealed almost immediately. Many clinics that use Mifepristone, including Planned Parenthood, are already preparing to use Misoprostol on its own for medication abortions. Using Misoprostol on its own still works, but it is much more effective with the two drug combination.
Juanita Tolliver: And Priyanka, thank you so much for emphasizing the point about access. This is going to disproportionately harm Black and Brown people.
Priyanka Aribindi: Right.
Juanita Tolliver: People in low income communities, people in rural communities, people living with disabilities like this is what’s at stake. And I am frustrated by anyone who tries to pretend like our lives are not on the line with this decision. So brace yourselves, people.
Priyanka Aribindi: It’s a terrifying one if you’re not sitting here scared like you really should be.
Juanita Tolliver: Right. In other legal news, last week ended with former President Donald Trump being invited to appear before a grand jury in the Southern District of New York, which is investigating hush money payments made on his behalf just days before the 2016 election. That legal step may signal the end of the panel. But in a surprise appearance yesterday, Stormy Daniels herself, the adult film actress who received those payments, met with prosecutors and agreed to make herself available as a witness and to provide additional information about her affair with Donald Trump. Yes, people, this is giving Bravo levels of drama with a side of criminal investigation.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yes. Okay. Stormy Daniels, it’s been a minute.
Juanita Tolliver: Truly.
Priyanka Aribindi: This is really taking me back to 2017. What a time.
Juanita Tolliver: What a time.
Priyanka Aribindi: Uh. But anyways, [laugh] tell us what else is happening here?
Juanita Tolliver: So Stormy Daniels wasn’t the only big witness to cooperate this week, as Manhattan prosecutors have been examining whether any state laws were broken in connection with the payments. Michael Cohen, Trump’s former attorney and the middleman for this deal, spent Monday and Wednesday appearing before the New York grand jury. After wrapping up, Cohen told reporters, quote, “I’ve complied with every request that was asked of me by the district attorney’s office so they can review this case as best as they can.” And here’s what Cohen had to say about Trump. Take a listen.
[clip of Michael Cohen] Donald Trump needs to be held accountable for his dirty deeds if in fact, that’s the way that the facts play out. Plain and simple. This is not about him. This is about holding accountability, truth to power, and everything else in between.
[clip of unspecified news reporter] Michael. Michael! Michael–
[clip of unspecified news reporter 2] What do you make of Trump calling himself an extortion victim?
[clip of Michael Cohen] Again, I won’t comment on what he wants to call himself. Many of us call him many different things.
Juanita Tolliver: Donald Trump most certainly is not a victim of extortion like he truly tried it. But what is clear is that Michael Cohen wants Trump to be held accountable, especially since Cohen himself did time for being the facilitator in this hush money business. And let’s not–
Priyanka Aribindi: Right.
Juanita Tolliver: –forget that when Cohen was charged, federal prosecutors were clear that Cohen issued this payment in coordination with and at the direction of individual one, i.e., Donald Trump himself.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, I mean, that’s been out there for a while now. So what should we expect to happen next with this grand jury?
Juanita Tolliver: Now it comes down to the Manhattan district attorney, Alvin Braggs [correction: Bragg], to decide which charges to file based on all of the evidence his team has collected and whether or not they will be felony charges. And Braggs [correction: Bragg] has been clear in recent interviews that he is not scared to take on Trump because the team working on this investigation is the same team that charged the Trump Organization in the past. But one thing we should not expect is for Trump to show up to this grand jury. On Monday, his attorney, Joe Tacopina, made it clear that Trump would not appear for questioning. And then yesterday, Tacopina seemed to be doing more harm than good when discussing whether or not Trump lied about the hush money payment during an interview with MSNBC’s Ari Melber. Take a listen to this mess.
[clip of Ari Melber] That’s not a lie.
[clip of Joe Tacopina] Here’s why it [?].
[clip of Ari Melber] Did you know about this?
[clip of Joe Tacopina] Put the paper down.
[clip of Ari Melber] Did you did you–
[clip of Joe Tacopina] Put the paper down. Let me answer.
[clip of Ari Melber] Did you know about this? No, I don’t.
[clip of Joe Tacopina] We don’t need that. Here’s what, why is that a lie?
[clip of Ari Melber] Yeah.
[clip of Joe Tacopina] Because it was a confidential settlement. So if he acknowledged that, he would be violating the confidential settlement. So is it the truth? Of course it’s not the truth.
Juanita Tolliver: Of course it’s not the truth. And in that back and forth in the beginning, Tacopina was literally trying to reach across the desk and grab Ari’s pages from out of his hand. It was a mess. In what world is this a good or helpful defense attorney? Like, you literally just dug a deeper hole.
Priyanka Aribindi: I mean, yeah, we knew the options were uh running dry a bit, but clearly very, very slim pickings out there. But considering that Trump’s attorney is also running with, you know, this very weak argument that the payments weren’t actually illegal, what happens? What happens next if he’s indicted?
Juanita Tolliver: Well, expect a wildly historic and shameful moment that apparently would mean absolutely nothing in Trump’s mind.
Priyanka Aribindi: Right.
Juanita Tolliver: If Trump is indicted, he will be the first former president to ever face an indictment. And that in and of itself is massive. But Trump has already told reporters that no indictment because there are multiple grand juries happening simultaneously at the state and federal levels. But no indictment would distract Trump from his 2024 presidential campaign. Like this man knows no bounds, but I’m sure that voters will have just a thing or two to say about that. But nonetheless, while Trump is in la la land, we will most definitely keep you all up to date with what happens next with this grand jury. We’ll be right back after some ads. [music break].
Priyanka Aribindi: Let’s wrap up with some headlines.
Priyanka Aribindi: It has been a rough week for finance since the implosion of Silicon Valley Bank, but now another much larger lender could be on the brink. Shares of Credit Suisse, the second largest bank in Switzerland, plunged as much as 30% by the time global markets closed yesterday. The unraveling started on Tuesday when the bank admitted to significant errors in its financial reporting over the past two years, blaming its own internal accounting controls. Credit Suisse has been on shaky ground for some time now. The Wall Street Journal even called it, quote, “the problem child of European banking.”
Juanita Tolliver: Yikes.
Priyanka Aribindi: But this latest mishap was enough to compel its biggest investor, the Saudi National Bank, to announce that it won’t put up more cash to support it. That led to a rapid sell off that also spilled over to other European banks. Swiss regulators have since offered Credit Suisse a financial lifeline if things get worse, and while analysts say that the Credit Suisse crisis may not affect the American financial system as much as the SVB fiasco. There is widespread concern that it could lead to problems for the entire global economy. Very not good.
Juanita Tolliver: Major. Yikes. South Carolina Republicans are pushing a bill that would charge anyone getting an abortion with homicide, which means they could face the death penalty or a minimum of 30 years in prison. The legislation ominously called the South Carolina Prenatal Equal Protection Act, argues that unborn children should be considered people from the moment of fertilization?
Priyanka Aribindi: It’s not science but okay.
Juanita Tolliver: And if that’s not bad enough, the proposal offers little to no exceptions, even in cases of rape or incest. The bill was introduced in the state’s GOP led House back in January, but it has yet to be considered by its assigned committee.
Priyanka Aribindi: This kind of stuff will never stop being fucking crazy. Never will. A major nor’easter pummeled the East Coast from New York to Maine on Tuesday. Parts of the region were buried under as much as two feet of snow by Tuesday night. And strong winds with gusts of up to 60 miles an hour continued through yesterday afternoon. Oh, my God. Even as the storm moves out, officials across those states are still urging people to stay off of icy roads. And it’s also grounded or delayed thousands of flights. This is the strongest nor’easter that the region has seen during what has otherwise been a pretty mild winter. It does not sound good over there, everybody. Please stay warm. Stay safe.
Juanita Tolliver: A Nebraska state senator is being a royal pain in the ass to her colleagues, but it’s for a good cause. For the past three weeks, Senator Machaela Cavanaugh has used every opportunity to stall every single bill that has come before the legislature. Even the ones she likes to stop lawmakers from advancing a bill that would ban gender affirming care for trans youth. She managed to slow business to a crawl from submitting numerous amendments to bills to use up her full 8 hours of debate time. What she’s used to discuss just about everything from her favorite Girl Scout cookies to the plot of the animated movie Madagascar. And she’s not showing any signs of stopping either. Take a listen to what she had to say on February 24th when she began her epic filibuster.
[clip of Senator Machaela Cavanaugh] If this legislature collectively decides that legislating hate against children is our priority, then I am going to make it painful, painful for everyone. Because if you want to inflict pain upon our children, I am going to inflict pain upon this body.
Juanita Tolliver: I’m here for every ounce of pain she inflicts on this body.
Priyanka Aribindi: Truly.
Juanita Tolliver: Like keep it going, Machaela. It’s unclear if the strategy will keep the bill off the floor forever, but so far, Nebraska’s legislature has not passed a single bill and its legislative session is already halfway over. This strategy could prove effective in other GOP led states considering anti-trans bills. Just last week, Missouri’s Republican controlled legislature adjourned the first half of its session early after a days long standoff with Democratic senators who filibustered a gender affirming care ban for trans youth. I need this energy to be matched across the country. Immediately call Machaela Cavanaugh while she’s doing her filibuster and take notes because this is what it takes to protect trans kids and keep it going.
Priyanka Aribindi: Seriously, these people are heroes. If you are sick of raging against Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis, we are happy to report that this week they have decided to fight each other.
Juanita Tolliver: Bless.
Priyanka Aribindi: Unfortunately, it’s not a pay per view fight. That was what I was hoping for. [laughter] But the pro-Trump super PAC, Make America Great Again INC, filed a formal complaint yesterday against DeSantis, accusing the Florida governor of, get this, violating state and federal election laws.
Juanita Tolliver: The hypocrisy.
Priyanka Aribindi: So rich coming from Donald Trump. The 15 page complaint is asking the Florida Commission on ethics to investigate DeSantis for allegedly running a, quote, “shadow presidential campaign,” meaning he is illegally fundraising for a presidential run without stepping down from office. Also wild to me that there is a Florida Commission on ethics. What have they been doing? [laughter] The governor has yet to announce whether he is running in 2024. But he has been traveling the country for a book tour. Many see him as a front runner for the Republican nomination. Hate both of these guys but if they are going to keep up this level of petty drama, they’re going to at least need Andy Cohen to moderate these debates.
Juanita Tolliver: Yes! I’m so here for it. Televised Andy, reunion set up. Yes.
Priyanka Aribindi: You know, Andy is not getting anywhere near these people.
Juanita Tolliver: Oh, my gosh. Protect yourself, Andy. Don’t do it when the TV [laugh] offers come, don’t do it. [laughing] After 31 years of leading the pack, Labrador Retrievers are no longer the most popular purebred dog breed in the U.S. According to the American Kennel Club’s yearly survey, French bulldogs have now taken the top spot.
Priyanka Aribindi: Interesting.
Juanita Tolliver: The popularity of the scrunched face breed has visibly increased over recent years, claiming celebrity owners like Lady Gaga, Megan Thee Stallion and even Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. According to the nation’s oldest canine registry, which tracks the registration of 200 recognized dog breeds, one in seven dogs registered last year were French bulldogs. That’s huge.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. Wow.
Juanita Tolliver: Their prominence doesn’t come without controversy because of the breed’s distinctive, short, wrinkly snout, they’ve become even more prone to health problems as breeders have scrambled to capitalize on demand. In recent years, the British Veterinary Association has even lobbied against the promotion of French bulldogs in ads and greeting cards. But as you know, WAD is all about going straight to the source. So we sat down with one of the French Bulldogs that’s made its way into America’s heart over the years. He had this to say. [dog barking and breathing sounds]
Juanita Tolliver: Aw! [laughing] [more dog barking and breathing sounds] [laughter]
Priyanka Aribindi: Wow.
Juanita Tolliver: Well, that French bulldog clearly had a lot of breathing noises to contribute to this conversation. [laughing]
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah I can’t say I like a mouth breather. I don’t know, a little tough.
Juanita Tolliver: Mouth breather. But my other thing, I love French bulldogs. I think they’re super cute.
Priyanka Aribindi: They are cute.
Juanita Tolliver: I don’t think I could ever bring myself to clean like, the rolls in between their nose though. [laughing] It takes a lot of maintenance.
Priyanka Aribindi: I like them. No shade to French bulldog owners, French bulldog parents, whatever you like to refer to yourself as. [lauging] Listen, you love your dog. And I am not here to tell you that your perfect baby is anything but [laughter] so that’s all I’ve got to say.
Juanita Tolliver: You’re perfect, sweet baby. [laughing]
Priyanka Aribindi: Those are the headlines. [music break] That is all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe. Leave a review, catch a game of footy down by the pitch and tell your friends to listen. Oh my God.
Juanita Tolliver: And if you’re into reading and not just which dog breeds are most likely to live forever like me, 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 adopt. Don’t shop.
Juanita Tolliver: Y’all!
Priyanka Aribindi: I mean, but if you shopped, you’re also fine. We love your dogs.
Juanita Tolliver: Zero judgement.
Priyanka Aribindi: We love you. We have no problems with everybody.
Juanita Tolliver: Zero judgement.
Priyanka Aribindi: No beef.
Juanita Tolliver: We just love dogs.
Priyanka Aribindi: Don’t come for us. [laughter] [music break]
Juanita Tolliver: 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.