In This Episode
- A Manhattan jury found former President Donald Trump liable for sexually abusing – and later defaming – writer E. Jean Carroll, ordering him to pay her a total of $5 million in damages. Though Trump has been accused of sexual misconduct by dozens of women over the years, Tuesday’s verdict in the civil case marks the first time he has faced legal repercussions for such allegations.
- New York Representative George Santos is facing criminal charges and could appear in federal court as soon as today. Santos has been the target of numerous investigations, including a federal probe that began last year about his 2022 campaign’s questionable finances.
- And in headlines: President Biden is considering using the 14th Amendment to end the debt default standoff, California Senator Dianne Feinstein is set to return to Washington after a nearly three-month absence, and health experts issued new guidance for mammogram screenings.
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Priyanka Aribindi: It’s Wednesday, May 10th. I’m Priyanka Aribindi.
Juanita Tolliver: And I’m Juanita Tolliver. And this is What A Day where we would like to wish Tucker Carlson all the worst in his endeavors on the Dying Bird app.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, honestly, I didn’t even know you could play a video on that site that was longer than 10 seconds. But apparently, if it is zoomed out enough, you can [laughter] you get like a full 3 minutes. Who knew? [music break]
Juanita Tolliver: On today’s show, President Biden said he’s now considering using the 14th Amendment to end the debt default showdown. Plus, Senator Dianne Feinstein is set to return to the Senate after a nearly three month absence.
Priyanka Aribindi: But first, a Manhattan jury found that former President Donald Trump sexually abused and defamed former magazine columnist E. Jean Carroll. He was ordered to pay her a total of $5 million dollars in damages. We’ve talked about this on WAD before. But as a reminder, this story involves sexual assault. So if you need to skip ahead, you are totally welcome to do so. This was a civil trial over an assault that took place in a New York City Department store during the mid-nineties. And it has been watched very, very closely by people who are seeking accountability for Trump in this arena. Trump has been the subject of multiple allegations of inappropriate behavior, of sexual harassment and sexual assault by at least 26 women. That is a massive amount.
Juanita Tolliver: It’s sickening.
Priyanka Aribindi: And yesterday marked the first time he faced any repercussions whatsoever for his actions.
Juanita Tolliver: Right. 26 women. Sexual harassment. Sexual assault. Over I don’t know how many years, but you’re right. This is the first time he’s been penalized for his behavior because, you know, Republicans are still lining up behind him at the polls. But can you walk us through Carroll’s allegations in this specific case?
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. So she has been very clear this entire time. She asserted that Trump raped her. And when she came forward and wrote about it several years later, he called her a liar. He said it didn’t happen and made several just disgusting comments about her. When her case finally made it to trial late last month. She gave at times very emotional testimony to the court about what happened to her and the six men and three women who made up the jury believed her. They took just a few hours to reach their unanimous verdict. That is very, very quick. I will note that they didn’t find that Carroll sufficiently proved that Trump raped her, as she alleged. But they did find that the institute constituted sexual abuse, which is a lesser charge under New York state law. They, of course, also found that he defamed her when he called her case a, quote, “complete con job and a hoax and a lie on Truth Social.” They found that Trump should pay nearly $3 million dollars in damages to Carroll for the defamation claim and around $2 million for her civil battery claim.
Juanita Tolliver: What has the reaction to this verdict been?
Priyanka Aribindi: So Carroll released a statement afterwards saying, quote, “I filed this lawsuit against Donald Trump to clear my name and to get my life back. Today, the world finally knows the truth.” That, however, is not how Trump is seeing it. After avoiding the trial in person, he took to Truth Social once again to say that he has no idea who Carroll is. He called the verdict a disgrace and quote, “a continuation of the greatest witch hunt of all time.” Predictably, this uh screed was all in caps. He also added that he will attempt to appeal the ruling. This also directly precedes a CNN town hall scheduled for tonight that Trump is supposed to be a part of. It’s been billed as the first major TV event of the 2024 presidential campaign cycle. Several people are calling for them to cancel it in light of this verdict. Others are hoping that he gets grilled on the subject, which he absolutely should be. But this is Donald Trump. Like he probably will end up defaming Carroll, saying a bunch of like toxic, abusive shit about her in this, like, unchecked town hall forum. And that should be enough to make the people who organized this and anyone you know who’s considering watching be really afraid of what could happen here. As of our recording time, the town hall is still going ahead as scheduled. We’ll keep you updated on what, if anything, comes of it. But I, for one, am not looking forward to hearing what he has to say.
Juanita Tolliver: I feel like when he walks on the stage, the intro needs to be that he has now been found liable for sexual abuse and defamation and also the organizer of January 6th like I just want people to run down everything. Tried to steal the 2020 election. This is who he is.
Priyanka Aribindi: If it’s not made extremely, extremely clear, then CNN has done a disservice if that is not abundantly clear from the get go.
Juanita Tolliver: Right. But how much do you want to bet he cancels like deadass a girl can dream? But I got a feeling. But in part two of failed Republicans in court, CNN was the first to report yesterday that Joanne the scammer, is facing federal charges and is due to appear in court in the eastern district of New York as early as today. And when I say Joanne, I’m obviously referring to the most infamous scammer currently occupying a seat in Congress, Representative George Santos of New York. [laugh] Like, of course.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yup.
Juanita Tolliver: Naturally, these charges supplement the local, state, international and congressional investigations that Santos has faced, all within his first four months as a member of Congress. Honestly, this has got to be some kind of a record or something, right? It’s giving historic in the worst possible way.
Priyanka Aribindi: Ugh. I know. Like, I don’t even want to say that because he’s like, probably proud of it, but [groan] it really is crazy. But, you know, break this down for us. What are the charges? What do we know here?
Juanita Tolliver: That’s the thing. The charges are sealed, which is absolutely no fun, but it’s also pretty damning. Like, what are they hiding from the public? How bad can it be? Nonetheless, we know that it’s federal criminal charges, so it’s likely going to be pretty dang gone bad. We also know that the federal government has been investigating Santos for months. Last December, it was reported by ABC News that prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney’s office in the Eastern District of New York began a federal probe into Santos’s finances, specifically revealing potentially false statements from campaign finance filings from his 2022 congressional race. While federal prosecutors didn’t confirm or deny the investigation at that point, we magically have these charges that were filed yesterday. Additionally, other federal entities have been looking into Santos’s finances and lies, including a Politico report back in February that two FBI agents contacted a man who accused Santos of allegedly stealing funds that were raised to save the man’s dying dog. So this could be about campaign finance violations, stealing from a man and his dying dog or any of the other lies Santos has told.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, like truly so many to pick from. But what does this mean for Santos’s seat in Congress, I feel like, is the big question here. [laughter]
Juanita Tolliver: Look, I don’t think it’s time for us to chant, you about to lose your job, just yet so hold your horses.
Priyanka Aribindi: Ugh. But I want to so bad.
Juanita Tolliver: [laughing] Especially since that decision is likely going to be up to the House Speaker, Kevin McCarthy and his extremely limited five seat majority. When asked about the charges and Santos’s future in Congress yesterday, McCarthy stated, quote, “I’ll look at the charges,” so don’t hold your breath y’all. The other factors at play here are how quickly court proceedings progress and what type of punishment Santos could face for these unknown criminal charges. Because if there is any jail time before the 2024 election, then McCarthy will be down a seat with his slim majority anyway. Of course, we’ll keep following all of the Santos legal drama just for you, but that’s the latest for now. We’ll be back after some ads. [music break]
Priyanka Aribindi: Let’s get to some headlines.
Priyanka Aribindi: First more devastating news following Saturday’s outlet mall shooting in Allen, Texas. Families and officials have shared the names of the eight victims who were killed. Among them were sisters, Daniela and Sophia Mendoza, who were just eight and eleven years old. Their mother, Ilda, was shot and remains hospitalized. Cindy and Kyu Cho, along with their three year old son James, were also killed. They were at the mall to exchange a birthday gift for their older son, William, who just turned six. I believe William was also struck by gunfire but survived. I believe he is the lone surviving member of his family at age six. The other victims include 20 year old Christian LaCour, a security guard who was working at the mall. 32 year old Elio Cumana-Rivas, who had recently moved to the U.S. from Venezuela, and 26 year old Aishwarya Thatikonda, a civil engineer from India. She would have turned 27 years old next week. Authorities say all eight of the weapons found with the shooter were purchased legally.
Juanita Tolliver: All I got to say is this ain’t the world I want to live in.
Priyanka Aribindi: No.
Juanita Tolliver: This ain’t the world I want to live in, where children are dying, where entire families are being murdered and all out of hate and access to guns. Right. Like it all comes back to that.
Priyanka Aribindi: It all does.
Juanita Tolliver: Moving on now to the standoff over the debt ceiling in Washington, where a meeting between President Biden and congressional leaders ended without an agreement to prevent the government from defaulting on its financial obligations. Despite the lack of progress to stop an unprecedented economic catastrophe, the president and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy both agreed to meet again on Friday. McCarthy told reporters after yesterday’s meeting he, quote, “didn’t see any new movement toward a resolution” and continued to insist on sweeping spending cuts as a condition to not defaulting on the government’s debt. President Biden, for his part, described the sit down as productive, but also said he is looking at whether to invoke the 14th Amendment to bypass the current debt ceiling limit. It would be a risky move and it could get tied up in legal issues that may take months to resolve and frankly, time ain’t on our side. The government could run out of money to repay its bills as early as June 1st.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, add this to the list of things that are stressing us out. After a nearly three month absence from the Senate, Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein of California is set to return to Washington today. Her return comes amid widespread calls from members of her own party to resign. Without her, Democrats have not been able to use their slim Senate majority to confirm Biden’s judicial nominees, a claim that Feinstein has disputed. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer recently tried to tap Maryland Senator Ben Cardin to temporarily fill in for her on the panel, but Republicans blocked the move. Feinstein, who is 89 years old, has missed 91 floor votes since coming down with shingles in mid-February.
Juanita Tolliver: Billionaire Harlan Crow is refusing to show us the receipts. As we’ve told you on the show before, Harlan Crow is the Republican megadonor who paid for lavish vacations for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas as previously reported by ProPublica. He was asked by Senate Finance Chair Ron Wyden late last month to detail all the gifts he gave to Justice Thomas over the past two decades. But in a letter sent to Senator Wyden Monday night, Crow’s attorney declined to answer, saying, quote, “We have serious concerns about the scope and authority for this inquiry.” Crow’s attorney also called the request a, quote, “attempt to tarnish the reputation of a sitting Supreme Court justice and his friend of many years.” In a statement released yesterday, Wyden said he was disappointed but unsurprised by Crow’s unwillingness to respond and said Crow was stonewalling the committee inquiry. Wyden said he’ll be sending a full response to Crow’s attorney in the coming days, emphasizing that, quote, “Nobody can expect to get away with waiving off Finance Committee oversight, no matter how wealthy or well-connected they may be.”
Priyanka Aribindi: The U.S. Preventative Services Task Force, an independent panel of health experts, has released new guidance for mammogram screenings. According to the Task Force cisgender women and everyone else assigned female at birth should start getting regular screenings as soon as they turn 40. That is a big change from the current guidelines, which recommend screenings every other year starting at age 50. The change comes amid new research showing a rise in breast cancer diagnoses among younger women. And the new guidance could also help Black women specifically who are more likely to develop breast cancer in their forties and are also more likely to die from the disease than white women of the same age. So if you’re in that age range, take a deep breath, call your doctor and be sure to wear a comfortable bra for your appointment. Embrace the squish, everybody. It’s a necessary evil. We have to do it and it saves lives.
Juanita Tolliver: Right? Save yourselves. Get that early prevention. My mom is a breast cancer survivor, and I’m so grateful that a regular mammogram caught it and we were able to get it treated. So go get squished y’all. I know you’re not going to like it, but just do it.
Priyanka Aribindi: Just do it. And those are the headlines. [music break] That is all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe. Leave a review. Find a billionaire to pay for your next vacation [laughter] and tell your friends to listen.
Juanita Tolliver: And if you’re into reading and not just the long list of George Santos’s aliases 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 embrace the squish.
Juanita Tolliver: Have you seen the machine though Priyanka like images because–
Priyanka Aribindi: Listen I haven’t. All I’ve heard is that it’s very safe and very good for you to do. [laughter] Nothing else.
Juanita Tolliver: She said we’re going to frame this positively.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yup.
Juanita Tolliver: Because yes, I appreciate that 100%.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yup. [laughter] [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 and Raven Yamamoto is our associate producer. Jocey Coffman is our head writer and our senior producer is Lita Martinez. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.