The 45th Pleads The 5th | Crooked Media
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August 10, 2022
What A Day
The 45th Pleads The 5th

In This Episode

  • Former President Donald Trump pleaded the Fifth Amendment during depositions for the civil case against him by New York state. The strategy could be advantageous for him since anything revealed could be used in the criminal case against Trump by Manhattan’s District Attorney.
  • Jury selection began Wednesday in Vanessa Bryant’s lawsuit against Los Angeles County. Vanessa Bryant is the widow of Kobe Bryant and the mother of Gianna Bryant, both of whom were killed in a helicopter crash in January of 2020. The suit claims that her rights were violated when some of the first responders, most notably L.A. Sheriff’s deputies, shared pictures of her family’s bodies.
  • And in headlines: Biden expands health care benefits for veterans, Sierra Leone imposes a nationwide curfew after deadly anti-government protests, and Elon Musk sells $7 billion in Tesla stock ahead of his Twitter trial.


Show Notes:


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Priyanka Aribindi: It’s Thursday, August 11th. I’m Priyanka Aribindi. 


Josie Duffy Rice: And I am Josie Duffy Rice. And this is What A Day. Where we’re waiting for inflation to cool off even more before we go to the grocery store to stock up on tons of vegetable oil. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Apparently, vegetable oil prices are even more affected than other foods, which didn’t realize based on the prices of absolutely everything else in my grocery store. 


Josie Duffy Rice: I noticed because I bought vegetable oil this week as a true American. On today’s show, we recap some of the important outcomes from Tuesday’s primaries. Plus, the trial begins over the pictures LA’s first responders took and shared of the helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant in 2020. 


Priyanka Aribindi: But first, yesterday, former President Donald Trump invoked his Fifth Amendment rights, declining to answer any questions aside from his own name. From New York Attorney General Letitia James’s office during a scheduled deposition. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah. Whose surprised? There have been so many Trump stories, lawsuits, investigations in the news over the past few days, years, decades, some may say. Can you tell us which part that this particular questioning fits into? 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yes. So there has been a lot to keep track of. But this is part of the three plus year long civil investigation by the New York attorney general into whether Trump and the Trump organization misled authorities about the value of their hotels, their golf clubs, and other assets. So Trump has been calling this a partizan witch hunt, you know, pretty much par for the course there. But this is not connected to the FBI search of his Mar-a-Lago home that happened earlier this week. That was done in search of classified documents that he reportedly brought with him after leaving the White House. But, of course, he’s claiming that all of this is part of a larger conspiracy against him. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah, of course. 


Priyanka Aribindi: No surprises. Yeah.


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah. You’re saying all the Trump buzzwords. 


Priyanka Aribindi: I really am. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Witch hunt, conspiracy. Okay, so tell us more about what happened yesterday. Like, how did this all go down? 


Priyanka Aribindi: Shortly after the questioning started, his office released a statement saying that he’d invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and not be answering any questions. You know, it was a day long interview. It seems that he pretty much declined every single question. And back in 2016, when he was campaigning, he basically said that if you were innocent, you know, why would you take the Fifth? But he seems to have had a change of heart. Clearly, in his statement yesterday, he said, quote, “Now, I know the answer to that question,” and doubled down on his witch hunt refrain. 


Josie Duffy Rice: I do not think Trump is innocent for a second. 


Priyanka Aribindi: No. 


Josie Duffy Rice: I do think that what he is going through right now is similar to what a lot of people go through, where they think that it can’t happen to them. And then it does. And that’s what makes you realize, like there is a reason for the Fifth Amendment. It’s interesting to see him talk about like, wow, law enforcement can be corrupt. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Like, no, shit. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah. 


Priyanka Aribindi: We’ve been having this conversation. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Right. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Pull up a chair. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Right. I don’t think that, like, he’s innocent and being railroaded, but I do find the kind of anti-law enforcement discussion very interesting coming from these– 


Priyanka Aribindi: –Yeah, from these people. 


Josie Duffy Rice: This is the same guy who told police to be meaner. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Right. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Remember he told police to be, like, harder on suspects. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Real change of heart when it’s him in the hot seat. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Real change of heart. 


Priyanka Aribindi: But, yeah, so this wasn’t really expected. You know, people thought he was going to talk. Some of his advisers told him to answer these questions, but there definitely could be an advantage to him keeping his mouth shut. While this investigation is civil uh, in the New York state, AG can’t file criminal charges against him. The Manhattan DA’s office has been conducting their own parallel criminal investigation. It’s about the same thing, you know, whether or not Trump inflated the values of his properties and if he said something potentially damning in this deposition, it could have counted against him there as well. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah, that makes sense. I mean, if I were Trump’s lawyer, I would tell him not to say a word. 


Priyanka Aribindi: A word. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Don’t say anything. I think like the public deserves to know. But if I were his legal adviser, I’d tell that man to be quiet. Okay. Keep us up to date with what’s going on at Mar-a-Lago. They were raided earlier this week by the FBI, do we have any more details on like what they were looking for and why they were raided right now? 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, so we actually have a few more details. So according to two senior government officials who spoke with Newsweek, they remained anonymous, that search of Mar-a-Lago was based on information that the FBI received directly from a confidential source who was able to identify which classified documents Trump is still hiding and even the location of those documents. So the officials also said that the search was timed for when Trump would be away from Mar-a- Lago because they didn’t want him to use it as some kind of photo-op or turn it into a media circus. It definitely has still become one, but I totally understand their instinct there. 


Josie Duffy Rice: We have like years of Trump legal drama ahead of us, if not decades. That makes me feel a lot of different ways, but somehow I feel we’ll be having this conversation about more depositions. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, we’ll be here for a while. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah, well, this will just keep going. Okay. So turning to another story we’re following. Jury selection began yesterday in Vanessa Bryant’s lawsuit against Los Angeles County. Vanessa Bryant, as you may know, is the widow of Kobe Bryant and the mother of Gianna Bryant. Both of whom were killed in a helicopter crash in January of 2020. The suit claims that the behavior of some of the first responders, most notably deputies and the sheriff’s department, violated Vanessa Bryant’s rights when they shared pictures of Kobe and Gianna as dead bodies. 


Priyanka Aribindi: I mean, like absolutely. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Right. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Disgusting. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Horrible. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Unfathomable behavior– 


Josie Duffy Rice: Absolutely. 


Priyanka Aribindi: By law enforcement officials. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Shocking, but not surprising I suppose. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Right. Exactly. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Can you tell us a little more about what these sheriff’s deputies allegedly did? 


Josie Duffy Rice: Two days after the crash. Joey Cruz, a deputy sheriff in L.A., was at a bar talking to a bartender. And you can see on the surveillance footage from the bar that he’s showing his phone to the bartender and then he’s like motioning in a way that, according to the L.A. Times, is meant to, quote, indicate the nature of the injuries. And then he leaves and the bartender tells this other guy who’s in the area about what he had just seen, he’s like, that was a sheriff’s deputy who showed me pictures of like Kobe Bryant dead basically. That man, Ralph Mendez, was so upset by what the deputy did that he contacted the sheriff’s department via their website and informed them that this deputy was going around showing random people pictures of dead people, including children. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Right. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Who had been killed in this horribly tragic accident. Right. Now, that was in addition to another deputy showing the photos to some video game buddies, which is in addition to what happened three weeks later when a captain with the L.A. County Fire Department showed photos of the crash to other firefighters at a banquet. At a banquet. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Very extremely weird behavior. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Extremely weird behavior. Not socialized properly. Just very strange. Now, one of those firefighter’s wives reported the firefighter. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Okay, so these photos are, they’re going around, they’re making the rounds. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Right. 


Priyanka Aribindi: And it’s very clear that this is not right. Like several people– 


Josie Duffy Rice: Right. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Like, are turning around from their conversations and are–


Josie Duffy Rice: Right! 


Priyanka Aribindi: Not only am I going to probably talk shit about this person and be like, this is crazy, I’m going to report them– 


Josie Duffy Rice: Immediately. 


Priyanka Aribindi: –to an authority because it’s that wrong. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Right. 


Priyanka Aribindi: So after the guy at the bar and after the firefighter’s wife report this behavior, what ends up happening? 


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah. So pretty much right away, the head of L.A. Sheriff’s Department, Alex Villanueva, he sees Mendez’s message and then Priyanka like he immediately takes accountability and the deputy is fired and everything is okay. No, that’s not what happened at all. I’m kidding. Obviously. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Absolutely. That would make way too much sense.


Josie Duffy Rice: So what actually happens is that Sheriff Villanueva reaches out to the deputy and two other deputies that work for him and tells them that if they delete the photos, there will be no consequences for their behavior. He doesn’t like ask who they sent them to. He doesn’t let the Bryants know that this is potentially going to leak. He doesn’t do any of that. He just says like, delete the photos from your phone and we don’t have to talk about it again. But according to the lawsuit, at least 28 deputies and 12 fire personnel received the message. And so many of those people did delete the pictures in their phone after they heard from their bosses. But there’s almost no telling how many people they had already sent it to. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Right. And they don’t have to delete anything off their phone. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Exactly. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Like they’re not in this workplace. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Right. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Like, what a terrible idea. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Right. 


Priyanka Aribindi: To enforce this rule. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Right. And you know, it’s curious Priyanka, many of the phones involved seem to have either been lost or replaced or erased. Isn’t that weird? Isn’t that funny how that happens? 


Priyanka Aribindi: Hmm. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Mm hmm. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Hmmmm. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah. 


Priyanka Aribindi: That’s suspicious. 


Josie Duffy Rice: I have questions. I have questions. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Many. Okay. So according to Vanessa Bryant, you know, what is the legal issue here? Is it illegal to share crime scene photos like this? 


Josie Duffy Rice: Well, it actually wasn’t at the time. Now it is illegal. There was a law passed in the fall of 2020 as a result of this that made it a misdemeanor if you’re a first responder to share photos. But at the time, it was not like a crime. But the trial that started yesterday is a civil suit. It’s not a criminal one. And so basically, Vanessa is saying, like the dissemination of these photos caused her enormous emotional distress and she wants the county to be held accountable for what they did. The sheriff, of course, claims that he did the right thing because Bryant has never seen these photos and they were never leaked. So, like, he’s sort of like all’s well that ends well, right? Um, they can’t have possibly caused her emotional distress. But as Bryant stated, quote, “For the rest of my life, one of two things will happen. Either close up photos of my husband’s and daughter’s bodies will go viral online, or I will continue to live in fear of that happening.” That says it all. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Right. I mean, this poor woman lost her husband. She lost her child. And now she has to spend the rest of her life wondering if she’s going to sign online one day and see their dead bodies, because some sheriff’s deputies, like, couldn’t behave like humans. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Saw a celebrity and took a photo. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Right. 


Priyanka Aribindi: It’s disgusting. I get a full body, like, shiver every time I see this. 


Josie Duffy Rice: I mean, and are these the people that you want patrolling your city that are, like, okay with, like taking photos of someone’s dead body, then showing them to a bartender, like, I don’t want you on my payroll. 


Priyanka Aribindi: No, absolutely not. And this is like far from the only misconduct that this office has seen lately. There is a lot going on here. So tell us more about what we’re dealing with, who these people are. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah, no, it’s not the only misconduct. And let me tell you something. We have discussed this before, but like we couldn’t cover all of the misconduct in this office. Right. There are not enough hours in the day. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, no, we don’t. We don’t have nearly enough time. 


Josie Duffy Rice: No, we don’t. The L.A. County Sheriff’s Office is the biggest sheriff’s office in the country, and it’s notoriously corrupt. It’s been that way for years, and it’s even worse under sheriff Villanueva, honestly. Um, he’s currently up for reelection. I have my thoughts about that election.


Priyanka Aribindi: Oh we all do. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah. 


Priyanka Aribindi: We all do. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah. Yeah. So just a couple of things that have gone wrong in that department recently. Just yesterday, a deputy was indicted for sexually assaulting four girls between the ages of seven and thirteen. And this is the same sheriff’s department that literally has gangs in the department. I mean, I’m not using that as a euphemism, like actual gangs in the LA sheriff’s department. Um, there was a terrifying report about this by the local news outlet Knock LA. And it’s just absolutely worth checking out that report. We’ll link to it in the show notes. It’s nauseating and just unbelievable. I would also recommend signing up for journalist Jessica Pishko’s newsletter on sheriffs. You can find it at It’s really the best thing out there covering this subject, and we’ll put a link to that in our show notes as well. So we’ll keep you up to date on this current trial as it proceeds and the countless myriad outrageous other things this department has been accused of. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Truly. 


Josie Duffy Rice: But that is the latest for now. And we’ll be back after some ads. 




Priyanka Aribindi: Let’s wrap up with some headlines. 


[sung] Headlines. 


Priyanka Aribindi: President Biden signed a bill yesterday that expands health care benefits for veterans who are exposed to toxic burn pits at military bases. This legislative victory is personal for Biden, who lost his son Beau to cancer years after he had been deployed to Iraq. This law is estimated to help over 3 million troops and ensures long term treatment for illnesses that veterans contracted from fiery pits created to dispose of chemicals, harmful toxins, and more. 


Josie Duffy Rice: The Justice Department charged an Iranian national for allegedly plotting to assassinate Trump’s former national security adviser, John Bolton. To refresh your memory, Bolton is a warmongering conservative who pushed for regime change in Iran while serving in the Trump administration. According to court papers unsealed yesterday. The plan was said to be in retaliation for the U.S. killing a high ranking Iranian commander in early 2020. The suspect was charged for plotting a murder in exchange for money and for helping plan a transnational killing. Here’s Bolton’s reaction to the plot and specifically the economics of it on The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer last night: 


[clip of Wolf Blitzer] The suspect put a $300,000 price tag on your head. What goes through your mind, Ambassador? Hearing the details of this plot as explained today in great detail by the U.S. Justice Department? 


[clip of John Bolton] Well, I was embarrassed at the low price. [laughter] I would have thought it would have been higher. But, you know, I guess uh maybe it was an exchange rate problem or something. 


Josie Duffy Rice: How depraved do you have to be to like immediately your first thought is just like, I’m not worth enough money. Honestly okay how little money would it have to be for that to be your first thought? 


Priyanka Aribindi: For me personally, wow. I’ve never thought about this. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Like. 


Priyanka Aribindi: I don’t know. 


Josie Duffy Rice: If it were less than $100, maybe that would be my first thought. That’s my, that’s my two cents. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Josie, you are worth more. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Thank you. 


Priyanka Aribindi: That is all I have to say on this topic. [laughing] All right. Serious headline coming up next, though, we are [breathing out] reining it in. The government of Sierra Leone imposed a nationwide curfew yesterday following two days of deadly clashes between anti-government protesters and police. People living in the West African nation have been unhappy with the rising cost of living. And on Wednesday, hundreds of demonstrators in the capital, Freetown, called for their president to resign, even though he still has ten months left in his term. As of our recording time on Wednesday night at 9:30 Eastern, Reuters reports that two police officers and one civilian have died. The curfew went into place starting at 3 p.m. local time. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Abortion will remain legal in Wyoming, while a lawsuit proceeds against the state’s so-called trigger law, which banned the procedure in most cases soon after Roe was overturned. A county district judge in the state granted a restraining order against the ban last month, citing the harm it could do to pregnant people and their doctors. That order expired yesterday, but the judge ruled to extend it. She also wrote that the lawsuit against the ban is likely to succeed since the ban appears to violate Wyoming’s constitution. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Well, good news for now.


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah, great news. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Primary elections were held on Tuesday in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Connecticut and the ancestral home of the nation’s most progressive ice creams, Vermont. 


Josie Duffy Rice: True. 


Priyanka Aribindi: A few takeaways in Wisconsin, lieutenant governor and recent PSA guest Mandela Barnes won the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate, setting him up to face Republican senator and misinformation super spreader Ron Johnson in November. Johnson’s seat is one of two Republican held Senate seats in a state won by Joe Biden. That is in play this year. It is currently rated as a toss up. Also in Wisconsin, we learned he’ll be going up against incumbent Democratic Governor Tony Evers. It is Trump endorsed businessman Tim Michels who beat out his Pence endorsed rival, Rebecca Kleefisch. Whether Evers or Michels wins in November will determine the future of voting access in the state with its Republican controlled legislature and conservative Supreme Court. In Minnesota, Representative and squad member Ilhan Omar beat out her moderate primary challenger, Don Samuels. The race was a little close for comfort, though, with Omar winning by just 3000 votes. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Elon Musk did the tech oligarch version of a fundraising bake sale late last week when he offloaded $7 billion of stock in Tesla. So he is prepared in case a judge forces him to buy Twitter for $44 billion. Too many billions, honestly. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Much too many. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Musk previously said he would never do this. He sold about eight and a half billion dollars worth of Tesla stock in April, but said he wouldn’t dip into the old electric car piggy bank any further to fund the Twitter deal. But his mind changed. This latest move, which happened on Friday but was reported yesterday, indicates Musk may not have the utmost confidence in his case against Twitter. He did say that if he’s able to wriggle his way out of the deal, he’ll buy back his Tesla stock. 


Priyanka Aribindi: You know, this feels like a womp, womp situation. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Like I really don’t feel that bad for him. You know, you brought this on yourself. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah. 


Priyanka Aribindi: You’re the one who started this whole mess. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Right. 


Priyanka Aribindi: So sell your stock. I don’t feel bad for you. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Honestly, anybody that has seven and a half billion dollars of stock to sell, I’m like ehh. 


Priyanka Aribindi: On top of the eight and a half billion that they already sold. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah. 


Priyanka Aribindi: I’m assuming he still has more.


Josie Duffy Rice: In their own company. I’m like blegh, I don’t care. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. No. Hard to have sympathy for him. He’s also just like not a great person. So there’s that, too. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Elon Musk struggling doesn’t make me sad. I don’t feel bad about it. 


Priyanka Aribindi: No. 


Josie Duffy Rice: You know. 


Priyanka Aribindi: I don’t feel bad. I’m not out here like taking pleasure in it, but like I’m not sitting here sad about it. 


Josie Duffy Rice: No, I’m not losing sleep. I’m not losing sleep. 


Priyanka Aribindi: There’s that. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah. 


Priyanka Aribindi: And those are the headlines. 


Josie Duffy Rice: One more thing before we go. I have a brand new newsletter on the way, I started it yesterday it is called The Unnamed. Yes, it’s name is The Unnamed. And it is all about the criminal justice system, the south, media, and more. So sign up now at [music break]


Priyanka Aribindi: That is all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe. Leave a review, buy cookies from Elon to help him buy Twitter. Don’t do that and tell your friends to listen. 


Josie Duffy Rice: And if you’re into reading and not just vegetable oil prices obsessively like me, What A Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at I’m Josie Duffy Rice. 


Priyanka Aribindi: I’m Priyanka Aribindi and. 


[spoken together] Know your worth in hitman terms. 


Priyanka Aribindi: What’s your price? 


Josie Duffy Rice: What’s your price? 


Priyanka Aribindi: Be sure you can name it. Think about that. 


Josie Duffy Rice: That’s true. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Take a second right now. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah. 


Priyanka Aribindi: In your car, doing your morning routine, wherever you are. 


Josie Duffy Rice: What are you worth? [music break]


Priyanka Aribindi: 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 Jon Millstein and our executive producer is Leo Duran. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.