Trump Trades In Lies, And On Nasdaq Starting Today | Crooked Media
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March 25, 2024
What A Day
Trump Trades In Lies, And On Nasdaq Starting Today

In This Episode

  • The United Nations Security Council passed a resolution on Monday calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza during the month of Ramadan. The United States abstained from the vote, allowing the resolution to pass. While it’s unclear how the ceasefire resolution will affect the trajectory of the war, it’s yet more evidence of the deteriorating relationship between the Biden Administration and the Israeli government.
  • The company that owns former President Donald Trump’s social media app Truth Social will begin trading on the Nasdaq exchange Tuesday under the symbol DJT. It’s thanks to a merger that could net Trump more than $3 billion. Crooked’s news editor Greg Walters explains the mechanics of the deal and what it means for the former president.
  • And in headlines: A New York Judge set an April 15th start date for Trump’s criminal trial over alleged hush money payments, the Supreme Court hears oral arguments in a case about access to the abortion drug mifepristone, and federal agents raided two mansions owned by Sean “Diddy” Combs.

 

Show Notes:

 

 

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TRANSCRIPT

 

Josie Duffy Rice: It’s Tuesday, March 26th. I’m Josie Duffy Rice. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: And I’m Trev’ell Andersen. And this is What a Day. The pod that would like to make a reservation for two at the world’s first SpongeBob themed restaurant, which was just announced yesterday. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Why is it in Sao Paulo, Brazil? It should be underwater, you know. I like my burgers sopping wet. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: I’m just learning how to swim, Josie. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Ugh. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Okay, give me a break. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: An underwater restaurant is my worst nightmare. [laughter] [music break]

 

Tre’vell Anderson: On today’s show, Trump’s Truth Social starts trading. And it could make him one of the richest people in the world. Plus, the Supreme Court weighs the future of the abortion medication mifepristone. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: But first, let’s explain yesterday’s big update on the war in Gaza. The United Nations Security Council passed a resolution calling for an immediate cease fire in Gaza during the month of Ramadan. In a historic move, the United States abstained from the vote, which allowed the resolution to pass, with the other 14 countries voting in favor. Even a simple abstention is basically unprecedented from the US, and it is likely to have a major impact on the war moving forward and definitely have an impact on the relationship between the US and Israel. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Very much so. So, Josie, it took months to get to this point, since in the past the US has stood in the way. Give us a little background here. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah. So this was the fourth official ceasefire resolution put forth to the Security Council since the war began in Gaza. The US vetoed the other three. This resolution calls for a ceasefire during Ramadan, which ends in about two weeks. So it’s not a very long ceasefire. It also calls for the release of all the Israeli hostages. But it does not make this ceasefire contingent on that hostage release. And this is a crucial shift for the US, which has previously demanded that a ceasefire would be dependent on a hostage release. In fact, just a few days ago, the US proposed a resolution that would have called for a, quote, “immediate and sustained cease fire,” yet contained a weaker but still existing connection between the cease fire and the hostage release. And the language in that proposed resolution was vetoed by both Russia and China. Look, a lot of people are going to say that this isn’t a big deal. The ceasefire is only about two weeks, and just because they abstained doesn’t really mean that the US has done anything to push back against Israel. And honestly, the Biden administration’s own take is that this is not a big deal, right? It’s not a major shift. And it’s absolutely true that this is like not the end of the war at all, but it is a really major change on the US’s position and a really major change on how the US is kind of engaging in this conflict. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah. Now, do we know what caused the Biden administration to abstain instead of vetoing again? 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah, it wasn’t just one thing. I mean, it’s very clear that the rift between Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and the Biden administration has really only grown over the past few months. And one recent reason for that is Israel’s planned ground invasion of Rafah. Just last week, the Biden administration warned Netanyahu against invading Rafah. And after his sixth trip to the region since October 7th, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said this: 

 

[clip of Secretary of State Antony Blinken] A major military operation in Rafah would be a mistake, something we don’t support. And it’s also not necessary. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: However, the US’s disapproval didn’t change Netanyahu’s plans really at all. Here he is speaking in a social media video just a few days ago. [clip of Netanyahu speaking plays then fades out quickly]

 

Josie Duffy Rice: He’s saying, I hope we will do it with the support of the US, but if we have to, we will do it alone. The other elephant in the room here is the pushback that Biden has gotten from his base. Israel’s military offensive is increasingly unpopular among an electorate that Biden needs in order to win this November. According to data for progress polling from late February, quote, “around two thirds of voters, 67%, including majorities of Democrats, Independents, and Republicans support the US calling for a permanent ceasefire and a de-escalation of violence in Gaza. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: And so it basically seems like this may be a major inflection point in the relationship between the US and Israel. But does this actually matter? Does this resolution by the UN mean there will be a ceasefire now? 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Well, it definitely doesn’t necessarily mean there will be a ceasefire now. As always, international law is kind of made up. It can’t really be officially enforced. And at this point, that’s not really what the U.S. is trying to do anyway. They’re not trying to like, sanction Israel. The point of this resolution is basically to pressure Israel to shift their position rather than force them or punish them if they refuse to, at least officially. But as for the question, does it actually matter? It really does, in part because Israel is not happy with the U.S. since they abstained from the vote. After the vote, Netanyahu said that they would not send an Israeli delegation to DC to discuss the quote, “operation in Rafah,” as was expected. In a statement, Netanyahu’s office called the US’s abstention, quote, “a retreat from the consistent American position since the beginning of the war” and said it, quote, “harms the war effort as well as the effort to liberate the hostages.” Meanwhile, the US is kind of trying to do the opposite, right? Like they’re trying to play down this abstention, trying to make it sound like it’s not a big deal. In a press briefing yesterday, State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller called the Israeli’s delegation canceled trip. 

 

[clip of Matthew Miller] It was a bit surprising and unfortunate. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: And basically they said that they thought Israel and the US were on the same page. And Miller said that the resolution was: 

 

[clip of Matthew Miller] Consistent with our long term, position, most importantly, that there should be a cease fire and that there should be a release of hostages, which is what we understood also to be the government of Israel’s position. So, it is a bit surprising and unfortunate that they are not going to apparently attend these meetings. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: But in truth, both the US and Israel actually knew that this was an important break, at least between Biden and Netanyahu, and possibly, though not definitely, between the US and Israel long term. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: So that’s the news about the Israel-Hamas war when it comes to the UN, what’s the latest from Congress on this? 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah, it’s going to be really important to watch what happens in Congress in the near future because of how much support the US gives Israel. And we’ve seen some sort of shifts in how some of Congress people are talking about this issue. Right. We heard from Schumer, which we talked about last week. And here’s Senator Raphael Warnock on the newest episode of Pod Save America. 

 

[clip of Senator Raphael Warnock] As we provide the resources for Israel, we have a right, and I think, a moral obligation to ensure that what happens with the resources, with the weapons is consistent with American values. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: So you can listen to more of that conversation in the latest Pod Save America, which is out now. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Thanks for that breakdown, Josie. And in other news, another day, another lifeline thrown to former President Donald Trump. In this case, an appeals court panel in New York yesterday reduced the massive fine Trump is facing in his civil fraud trial temporarily. You’ll remember that yesterday was the deadline for the former president to pony up nearly half a billion dollars to avoid having his assets seized by the state. Well, the appellate court judges said, at least for right now, Trump could just pay a portion of that fine, $175 million. If he can do that in the next week and a half, he can delay paying the rest of his fine while he appeals. After the decision, Trump said he’d put up the cash or a bond, quote, “very quickly,” but didn’t offer specifics. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Isn’t he supposed to get a ton of money soon? Truth social, I think is going public or something, his social media company. What’s going on with that? 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Right. So today, Trump Media and Technology Group, the company now behind Trump’s social media app Truth Social, will start trading on the Nasdaq exchange. That’s after it merged with another company already listed on the stock market last week. Trump media will trade under the stock symbol of, honestly, what else? DJT. Apparently a gold toilet wasn’t enough I guess. Anyway, the deal is supposed to net Trump something like $3 billion, at least on paper. It was enough that Bloomberg declared that Trump is suddenly worth more than $6 billion and one of the world’s top 500 richest people for the first time ever. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: That is so crazy. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Listen, I had a lot of questions myself. And so to try to make sense of this deal and what it means for Trump, I talked to Greg Walters. He’s our news editor here at crooked, and he’s been tracking the ups and downs of Trump’s business and legal affairs for years now, previously for Vice News. Greg said that Trump’s social media company uses a clever workaround to list itself on the stock market in the first place. 

 

Greg Walters: Basically, the way this works is that, you know, normally when companies go on the stock market, they have an IPO, an initial public offering where they sell their shares directly to the public. But in this case, there’s sort of a funky method that they’re using, which is that in theory, you have a company that is not listed on the stock market and a company that is already listed on the stock market that goes out in search of companies to buy, and that company buys the company that’s not listed, and then poof, the two of them together are now listed on the stock market. Now, in this case, you’ve got the company that’s not listed was Trump’s social media company, Truth Social. And the other company is called Digital World Acquisition Corp, or the memorable phrase DWAC. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Shout out to DWAC. [laughter] So those two companies have come together. That’s how he now has access to this money. It seems like through this deal, he somehow earned $3 billion. How exactly did that happen? 

 

Greg Walters: So Trump is going to be the owner of at least 58% of the combined new company, which is going to be called Trump Media and Technology Group. Corp. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Uh huh. 

 

Greg Walters: Trump superfans are bidding up the price of these shares, right? These are amateur investors. These are folks who are sitting around at home and thinking, wow, Trump is the greatest president in my lifetime or whatever. And like, I want to own a piece of his new business, or I want to support him and I want to put my money where my vote’s going to be. And so I’m buying these shares. So that’s a lot of people who are bidding up the value of these shares, or other people who are trying to kind of get in on the hype of those people. So that’s kind of like pushing up the stock market value of this company, even though the business that it’s doing is not exactly so robust. And here’s an example. According to the AP, Trump Media brought in just $3.4 million in revenue for the first nine months of last year, and it lost $49 million. Now that compares unfavorably to and I looked this up, an upscale pizza restaurant in San Francisco. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Wow. 

 

Greg Walters: So Tony’s Pizza Napoletana restaurant. I haven’t been there. I’m sure it’s delicious, but they raked in $13 million in revenue last year. You’re talking about a company that has revenue that’s just about a third of, like, a pretty good pizza place. You’re not talking about, you know, minting gajillions of dollars here. So you have a stock market valuation that has just run away from the actual underlying business of this company. And you got to ask yourself what’s doing that? And the answer kind of looks like hype about Trump. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Trump is on the hook, as we know, for hundreds of millions of dollars right now. Is he going to be able to sell these shares to pay his legal bills? 

 

Greg Walters: In the short term? Probably not. It’s not like this is cash in the bank. If he just wants to grab this money, he’s going to have to jump through some complicated hoops. He’s not technically supposed to sell any of these shares for like six months. Theoretically he could get a waiver from the board. I think there are even rules about him not being able to sell that much even if he gets the waiver, the board of course won’t be a problem. The board is like literally his son Don Jr and like some of his other super fans. So–

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Of course. 

 

Greg Walters: You can imagine them standing up to him and telling him, no, that’s not going to happen. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Right. 

 

Greg Walters: The other thing is, though, that he can’t exactly sell all these shares if the whole point of the company is that he’s involved, right? If he sells out, [laugh] why should they be worth anything? So that’s a problem. Another thing he could do, theoretically, is use the value of this company as collateral for a loan. But then you gotta ask yourself once again, what bank is going to want to touch that, because you have this company that is, as we just pointed out, earning less than a San Francisco pizza joint and spending a heck of a lot more. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Right. 

 

Greg Walters: It’s like he has this money and it’s real on paper, but actually using this money to get rid of his massive legal problems, to help pay for his campaign, to do any of these things that Trump wants to do, it’s going to be tricky. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: That was my conversation with Greg Walters, Crooked’s news editor, and that’s the latest for now. We’ll be back after some ads. [music break]

 

[AD BREAK]

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Let’s go to some headlines. 

 

[sung] Headlines. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: It wasn’t all good news for former President Donald Trump yesterday. A New York judge has set April 15th as the start date for Trump’s trial over alleged hush money payments he made to the adult film star Stormy Daniels in the run up to the 2016 election. The judge rejected Trump’s request for a longer delay. Trump is facing criminal trials in three other cases, one over his role in the January 6th insurrection, another for election interference in Georgia and another over handling of classified documents. But those cases have all been held up. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Boeing announced on Monday that its CEO, Dave Calhoun, plans to step down by the end of this year and that the company is overhauling its leadership amid concerns about the safety of its planes. As we’ve talked about on the show, Boeing has come under intense scrutiny, most recently after a panel blew off one of its 737 Max nine planes mid-flight back in January. Since that incident, the company has struggled to regain the confidence of federal authorities, major airlines, and travelers. The company will also replace its chairman, Larry Kellner, at the end of his term in May. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Access to the abortion pill, mifepristone, goes before the conservative led Supreme Court today. At issue is whether the FDA should limit the availability of the drug, including whether it should be available by mail. Mifepristone is now used in a majority of abortions in this country. Not at issue to us is the sketchy creds of the lead organization against the pill, the Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine. What a name. It was formed in 2022, decades after mifepristone was first approved. The FDA and the drug’s maker will argue that the alliance was not directly harmed by broader access to the drug and that the FDA was correct in making it more accessible. If the Supreme Court sides with the alliance, that would be a huge blow to reproductive rights and would limit access to the drug even in states where abortion is still legal. The use of mifepristone more than quadrupled in the six months after Roe fell. That info comes from new research in the Journal of the American Medical Association yesterday. The High Court will issue its ruling by early July, but there’s always time for you to take action on reproductive rights by heading to VoteSaveAmerica.com/fuck bans. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Authorities raided two mansions owned by Sean Diddy Combs yesterday, reportedly as part of a federal sex trafficking investigation, though officials have yet to confirm that. Fox 11 was the first to report that Homeland Security officials searched Combs’ residence in LA. Officials also searched his home in Miami. And this comes after four separate plaintiffs have sued Combs in civil court, accusing him of sexual assault, sex trafficking a minor, and more. Combs has denied the claims, but he did settle one of them filed by his ex-girlfriend Cassie or Casandra Ventura. Ventura’s lawyer released a statement yesterday about the raids, writing, quote, “hopefully this is the beginning of a process that will hold Mr. Combs responsible for his depraved conduct.” At the time of our recording at 9:30 p.m. eastern, Combs has yet to publicly comment on the matter. But if you want to hear more about the lawsuits and the impact they could have on the music industry, take a listen to last week’s episode of What a Day’s weekend show, How We Got Here, Why Hip Hop never had a MeToo moment hosted by yours truly. I’m not saying that my episode was the catalyst for these raids, but you know. [laughing]

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Finally, fans of the hugely popular anime and manga series Dragon Ball Z can go Super Saiyan. The world’s first Dragon Ball Z theme park was announced to be in development yesterday. It’ll span over 120 acres, which is bigger than Disney’s Magic Kingdom. Not so great, it’s going to be in Saudi Arabia, which is a country that doesn’t have the best reputation for human rights. Amnesty international, for example, says that migrant workers are regularly, quote, “abused and exploited.” So Americans hoping to go, maybe stick to the anime cons instead? I suggest DragonCon here in Atlanta. It’s a great time. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Look at you knowing about all of the cons and the cosplay stuff.

 

Josie Duffy Rice: I only know one con and have recently learned it’s cosplay, not co-splay. I probably should not say that publicly, but I do know about Dragon Con. I go every year. It’s really fun. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Shout out to y’all. Okay, shout out to all the anime and manga girls out there. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: I can’t recognize all the characters, but everybody’s having a great time and that’s what matters. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Absolutely. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: And those are the headlines. 

 

[AD BREAK]

 

Tre’vell Anderson: That is all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe. Leave a review. DJT sounds like a terrible EDM DJ and tell your friends to listen. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: And if you’re into reading and not just the dessert menu at the SpongeBob restaurant, “Bob Esponja” I’m sorry, I do not know Portuguese, like me, What a Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at crooked.com/subscribe. I’m Josie Duffy Rice. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: I’m Tre’vell Anderson. 

 

[spoken together] And Happy Birthday Bill! 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Bill, we adore you. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Bill is the person who edits the show everyone and makes us all sound fabulous. So shout out to him.

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Shout out to Bill. Also formerly the mascot for the Toledo Mud Hens. Huge deal. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Living history. [music break] What a Day is a production of Crooked Media. It’s recorded and mixed by Bill Lancz. Our associate producers are Raven Yamamoto and Natalie Bettendorf. We had production help today from Michell Eloy, Greg Walters, and Julia Claire, and our showrunner is Leo Duran. Adriene Hill is our executive producer. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka. 

 

[AD BREAK]