In This Episode
- As Israeli troops enter Gaza City and the Palestinian death toll crosses 9,000 lives, the U.S. is pushing more heavily for a pause in the war between Israel and Hamas. That push comes as Secretary of State Antony Blinken is expected to urge Israeli officials to agree to a humanitarian pause, and after Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois became the first member of the Senate to publicly support a ceasefire in the war.
- The GOP-led House and their new speaker, Mike Johnson, passed a bill on Thursday that would provide $14.3 billion dollars in military aid to Israel but not to Ukraine. The bill is dead on arrival in the Senate, and President Biden has also threatened to veto the House legislation. Next, the Senate is expected to craft its own bipartisan bill.
- And in headlines: a former Memphis police officer charged in Tyre Nichols’ death pleaded guilty to two federal charges, a jury found FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried guilty on all seven counts including fraud and money laundering, and family and friends are mourning the passing of progressive attorney and healthcare activist Ady Barkan.
- What A Day – YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/@whatadaypodcast
Crooked Coffee is officially here. Our first blend, What A Morning, is available in medium and dark roasts. Wake up with your own bag at crooked.com/coffee.
Follow us on Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/crookedmedia/
Tre’vell Anderson: It’s Friday November 3rd. I’m Tre’vell Anderson.
Priyanka Aribindi: And I’m Priyanka Aribindi and this is What a Day.
Tre’vell Anderson: On today’s show, a former Memphis police officer charged in Tyre Nichols’ death has changed his plea. Plus, tributes are pouring in for an activist who never stopped fighting.
Priyanka Aribindi: But first, as Israeli troops enter Gaza City and the Palestinian death toll crosses 9000 lives. The U.S. is pushing more heavily for a pause in the war between Israel and Hamas.
Tre’vell Anderson: Okay. What are the latest updates on the ground there?
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, so yesterday the Israeli Defense Forces or IDF encircled Gaza City as part of their ongoing ground invasion of the Palestinian territory. According to an IDF spokesperson, troops along with armored vehicles and aircraft, are attacking Hamas command centers, rocket launch positions and infrastructure in the area. They are also reportedly engaging in, quote, “face to face battles with members of Hamas.” Meanwhile, in southern Gaza, there was a second round of border crossings into Egypt for foreign nationals and injured Palestinians. Yesterday, 340 foreign passport holders, along with 21 wounded Palestinians and 21 people escorting them, were able to exit Gaza while 45 aid trucks were allowed to enter. That number includes 74 Americans, according to National Security Council spokesman John Kirby. Though there was some evidence that not all of the Americans who were expected to cross yesterday were actually able to make it out of Gaza. Many had family members who weren’t allowed to cross through the border, so they chose to stay behind with them. According to the State Department, at least 400 U.S. citizens, along with 600 of their family members who were stuck in Gaza, had expressed their desires to leave.
Tre’vell Anderson: And on yesterday’s show, you and Juanita discussed President Biden’s new comments calling for a humanitarian pause in the fighting. Obviously, I know a lot of people have been calling for some version of a pause or a full cease fire for some time now. What more do we know on that front?
Priyanka Aribindi: Yes. So Secretary Antony Blinken is actually back in the Middle East today and he is expected to try and urge Israeli officials to agree to this kind of humanitarian pause in order to get more aid into Gaza and get more people and hopefully the hostages who were taken by Hamas out of Gaza and into safety. Before boarding the plane yesterday, Blinken told reporters this:
[clip of Antony Blinken] We’ve seen in recent days Palestinian civilians continuing to bear the brunt of this action. And it’s important that the United States is committed to making sure everything possible is done to protect civilians.
Priyanka Aribindi: These comments were preceded by, of course, the reiteration that Israel has the right to defend itself, etc.. what we’ve heard from Blinken and Biden for a few weeks now, but this addition is relatively new. I mean, there has been an emphasis on following the laws of war. But, you know, it seems like they have a new focus on this. So that is good.
Tre’vell Anderson: Mm hmm.
Priyanka Aribindi: He went on to reiterate that they will be discussing concrete steps to do so. So hopefully we have more to report on that in the coming days. Blinken’s visit comes as international criticism of Israel’s war effort continues to grow, especially after the repeated strikes on Jabalia, a densely populated area that is home to Gaza’s largest refugee camp. The second strike on the area on Wednesday damaged a school that was operated by the U.N. and was being used as a shelter. That strike killed 20 more people and injured five others. And in the past few days, the tone has shifted some in Congress as well. Earlier this week, Senators Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and others sent President Biden a letter about their concerns about the humanitarian toll here. That was, of course, a private letter. But yesterday, Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois became the first member of the Senate to publicly support a cease fire in the war between Israel and Hamas. Take a listen to his exchange with Poppy Harlow on CNN.
[clip of CNN’s Poppy Harlow] I think a lot of people listening to people in power, President, you, Secretary Blinken calling for a humanitarian pause are asking themselves why is that different from a cease fire? Two years ago, 2021, during an escalation of violence between Israel and Gaza, you called for a cease fire and you said you, quote, “couldn’t disagree more with Netanyahu’s policies,” quote, “when it came to the treatment of Palestinians.” Is a ceasefire needed now?
[clip of Senator Dick Durbin] I think it is, at least in the context of both sides agreeing. For example, the release of those who have been kidnapped should be part of this, immediate release. That should be the beginning of it. And effort should be made to engage in conversation between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Let’s face it, this has gone on for decades. Whatever the rationale from the beginning, it has now reached an intolerable level. We need to have a resolution in the Middle East that gives some promise for the future.
Priyanka Aribindi: We, of course, will continue to keep you updated about all of this in the coming weeks.
Tre’vell Anderson: And speaking of congress, lawmakers are seemingly no closer to agreeing on an aid package to support Israel. And surprise, surprise, the Republicans have a big reason to do with that. The GOP led House and their new speaker election denier Mike Johnson, passed a bill yesterday that would provide $14.3 billion dollars in military aid to Israel and Israel only. But they tied the aid to domestic spending cuts, which would involve slashing an IRS tax enforcement initiative, which was a key part of President Biden’s prized inflation reduction act. And they passed this bill 226 to 196 on mostly party lines. Knowing good and well that it would be D.O.A. dead on arrival in the Senate. How did they know that, you might ask? Because they were told that. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer basically said, check yourself before you wreck yourself before the House voted and President Biden even said he would veto the bill if it somehow made it through the Senate and arrived at his desk.
Priyanka Aribindi: To show up before Americans and say, hey, here we can provide funding for Israel. But to do so, we actually need to make sure that the IRS doesn’t have money to go after people who don’t pay their fair share of taxes. Specifically rich people is absolutely crazy. I mean, if they want to go out there and say that, be my guest. I don’t think that’s a very popular position. But wild to think 226 people in Congress thought that was a good idea.
Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah, and this is a good place to remind y’all that Biden actually asked Congress a couple weeks ago to approve an aid package in the amount of $106 billion dollars. But that package wasn’t just for Israel like this one from the House. Biden hoped to support Israel in their war with Hamas and Ukraine and Russia’s war with them while extending humanitarian support for those in Gaza. His plan also aimed to help Taiwan and bolster security along the US-Mexico border. So it basically was like a party pack of aid. He really hoped that by linking all of these issues that various parties care so much about together, that it would have bipartisan support. And here we are, wishful thinking as often seems to be the case dealing with these people.
Priyanka Aribindi: We will not be allowed to have any nice things, anything that is needed for a lot of people around the world. Absolutely no, the Republicans will not have it. So what happens now?
Tre’vell Anderson: Like I mentioned, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer basically told House Republicans to pump their brakes and they didn’t listen. He called their plan, quote, “totally unserious and woefully inadequate.” I should say right now that unserious is my favorite word as of late.
Priyanka Aribindi: What a way to dress someone down. Totally unserious.
Tre’vell Anderson: So good.
Priyanka Aribindi: How do you show your face?
Tre’vell Anderson: Chuck Schumer also called their plan a joke. But it’s not just the Dems that are giving side eyes here. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, for example, has also said that he wants a package that would include aid to Ukraine. And so now we can likely expect the Senate to craft its own bill, hopefully one that is bipartisan in nature with aid for Israel and Ukraine, as well as humanitarian support for Gaza. If they do that, according to the New York Times, the two chambers would basically be locked in a staring contest to see who budges first to approve the other’s version of the bill. A dispute that definitely could extend for weeks, further delaying aid. Not to mention they still got to do that small thing called funding the government before the November 17th deadline. So, you know.
Priyanka Aribindi: Right.
Tre’vell Anderson: Time is of the essence, to say the least. Not that they care. It does not seem like–
Priyanka Aribindi: Tick tock.
Tre’vell Anderson: –they move quickly at all.
Priyanka Aribindi: They never do.
Tre’vell Anderson: But that is the latest for now. More after this quick break. [music break]
Tre’vell Anderson: Let’s get to some headlines.
Tre’vell Anderson: A former Memphis police officer charged in the fatal beating of Tyre Nichols changed his plea yesterday. As part of a deal with prosecutors, Desmond Mills Junior pleaded guilty to two federal charges, along with state charges in connection with Nichols’ death. Nichols was beaten by a group of Memphis police officers, including some who were part of a now defunct specialized crime unit after he was pulled over on January 7th. He died three days later. His arrest was captured on police bodycam and surveillance video and sparked protests around the country. Mills is the first of the five former officers accused in Nichols’ death that have admitted any culpability so far. Prosecutors are recommending that he spend up to 15 years in prison and he will be sentenced on May 22nd. As part of the deal, Mills agreed to testify against the other four former officers in state court. He could later be called on for information in the federal case against them, which is also set to begin in May. If the other four officers are convicted in federal court, they could face life behind bars.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, Tyre Nichols’s death was a tragedy. And unfortunately, these people seeing justice or whatever comes of this will not undo that.
Tre’vell Anderson: Mm hmm.
Priyanka Aribindi: Donald Trump’s civil fraud trial continues in New York. And yesterday his son Eric took the stand a day after his brother Don Jr gave his testimony. Just a all star lineup here. Both denied having any involvement and knowing about their dad’s, shall we say, creative bookkeeping, which New York Attorney General Letitia James says illegally inflated his net worth. Don Jr, who is the executive vice president of the Trump Organization, a title he only has because of his name, mainly stuck to the script and claimed that he had no involvement with any evaluation of the family business. But in typical little brother fashion, Eric managed to serve up some drama. Though he is also executive vice president for the company. Ooh, they didn’t want to make them fight, so he gave them the same title. Love it. No one’s smart enough to do succession here but like [laughing] [indistinct words]. He also swore under oath that he never knew about any fishy financial statements and at one point angrily said, quote, “I pour concrete, I operate properties. I don’t focus on appraisals.” Pick the lie there. [laughing] Which one do you think? [laughter] You’re under oath sir, I don’t. I don’t know if you can say things like that. But prosecutors had some emails on hand that appear to show otherwise. He will continue his testimony tomorrow. Meanwhile, their sister Ivanka is expected to take the stand next week. But you know who is not there? Tiffany. Just notably absent. Just reaping the benefits of her dad, forgetting about her. Once again, it’s paid off for her–
Tre’vell Anderson: Listen.
Priyanka Aribindi: –in the long run. So good for her.
Tre’vell Anderson: She is minding her business and doing just fine, not being wrapped up in this foolishness. Okay.
Priyanka Aribindi: Good for her.
Tre’vell Anderson: And in another Manhattan courtroom shortly before we sat down to record the show, a jury found FTX founder, Sam Bankman-Fried, guilty on all seven counts of fraud, money laundering and conspiracy against him. As a reminder, he was accused of taking deposits from customers on the now bankrupt cryptocurrency exchange and siphoning an estimated $10 billion dollars to pay for the money he lost from his hedge fund, not to mention paying for the lavish lifestyle he built for himself in the Bahamas. He faces a maximum of 110 years in prison, though he is expected to appeal. His sentencing is set for March 28th.
Priyanka Aribindi: And finally, friends and family are mourning the passing of progressive attorney and health care activist Ady Barkan. His wife, Rachel Scarborough King announced his death from ALS late Wednesday. He was just 39 years old. Barkan was a fierce advocate for many social justice issues, from protecting workers rights to ending mass incarceration. But he became best known for being a fierce champion for health care reform. Barkan was diagnosed with ALS in 2016, shortly after the birth of his first child, and chronicled his struggle to get the lifesaving care he needed to battle the terminal disease, which later left him unable to walk or to speak. He was thrust into the spotlight in 2017 when he confronted then Senator Jeff Flake on a plane, urging him to vote no on a bill that would slash billions of dollars for Medicare funding.
[clip of Ady Barkan] You can be an American hero.
Priyanka Aribindi: Though Barkan couldn’t sway Flake’s vote, that didn’t stop him from fighting for health care as a human right. He went on to co-found the aptly named campaign, Be a Hero, which is dedicated to backing progressive candidates for elected office. As his condition progressed, he later told The New York Times, quote, “That’s the paradox of my situation. As my voice has gotten weaker, more people have heard my message. As I lost the ability to walk. More people have followed in my footsteps.” Ady was truly inspiring and just tenacious in his fight for so many things. Just an incredible person. I know our friend Josie Duffy Rice started her career working under Ady and has only amazing things to say about him. I’m familiar with his work through Pod Save America, where he appeared a few times over the years and always was just in awe of him and the way that he stood up for what he believed in with so much determination. It really, really was inspiring. We lost a good one.
Tre’vell Anderson: Absolutely. Rest in peace.
Priyanka Aribindi: And those are the headlines.
Tre’vell Anderson: And today is our final show with our senior producer, Lita Martínez. She’s led the WAD Squad for over a year through breaking news and political mayhem, and now she’s off on a new adventure.
Priyanka Aribindi: And of course, the WAD Squad had some parting words to share.
Juanita Tolliver: Lita my friend, I am going to miss you so much, and it’s been an absolute pleasure working with you on some very fun interviews and material for What a Day. You have been a delight, darling.
Raven Yamamoto: Lita, thank you so much for everything you have given WAD. I will totally miss seeing you all the time on Zoom. I’ll miss seeing Maggie. I’ll miss kiking about Drag Race with you and sharing our only correct opinions about who should have won which season. Team Sasha Colby forever. It’s been real. I’m so excited to see what you do next.
[clip of unspecified WAD team member] Lita. Thank you for reminding us that when the news sucks, we can always just blame the news gods and our good friend Donald Trump.
[clip of unspecified WAD team member] Lita. I’ll really miss how whenever I brought up an obscure topic or hobby, you always seemed to also have a very thorough and deep understanding of it. Sometimes it really feels like we’re kindred spirits in a way, and so I will really miss having somebody else on the zoom who has any idea what the hell I’m talking about.
Priyanka Aribindi: Lita. Thank you so much for everything you have done for all of us and for everybody who listens to this show. I maintain that you are the chillest person who has ever worked in Daily News. It is amazing. We love you Lita, and Maggie. Maggie, our mascot. We love you too.
Tre’vell Anderson: Lita, I see you finally got them freedom papers. Hopefully you use them for something good, like sitting on a beach somewhere, ignoring the daily news grind.
[clip of unspecified WAD team member] Lita, thank you for being our fearless leader through it all. From breaking news to indictments to debates and so much more. You’ve been there to guide us through the highs and the lows, and we’ll miss you and Maggie’s pug snores so much.
Leo Duran: Hey, Lita, it’s Leo Duran, your predecessor on WAD. And what I’m going to miss most about you is that I think you were the only other person on Slack other than me who’d regularly make jokes to Simpsons seasons three through ten. The best Simpsons seasons. Well, I’ll miss you. Good luck.
Josie Duffy Rice: Our dear Lita, we are so sorry to see you go. We’re going to miss you so much. We’re so grateful for the leadership you’ve shown us this year, for your incredible ability to roll with the punches. And we are so grateful for Maggie. We’re going to miss Maggie a lot, too. So thank you so much for everything you’ve done. Don’t forget about us. And we’re always here.
Priyanka Aribindi: Lita from our whole team here on What a Day. Thank you so much for everything you have put into this show. You’ve given it your all. We’ve had so much fun with you. If you couldn’t tell from that montage and we are going to miss you so much.
Tre’vell Anderson: Absolutely. And we are all wishing you the best on your new chapter. You will always be a part of the WAD Squad. [music break] That is all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe. Leave a review and tell your friends to listen.
Priyanka Aribindi: What a Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at Crooked.com/subscribe. I’m Priyanka Aribindi.
Tre’vell Anderson: And I’m Tre’vell Anderson.
Priyanka Aribindi: 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]