In This Episode
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis admitted to having a personal relationship with Nathan Wade, the prosecutor she hired to handle the election interference case against Donald Trump. Meanwhile, the federal case against Trump is being delayed, and the Supreme Court is set to hear oral arguments on Thursday deciding whether he can be left off the ballot in Colorado for his role in the January 6th insurrection.
Police in the city of Dearborn, Michigan were on high alert this weekend after an opinion piece published by the Wall Street Journal called the city “America’s Jihad Capital.” Dearborn Mayor Abdullah Hammoud said on Saturday that he was ramping up police presence across all places of worship and major infrastructure points. President Joe Biden even weighed in on Sunday in a post on X, writing, “Americans know that blaming a group of people based on the words of a small few is wrong.”
And in headlines: Senators released the long-awaited $118 billion border deal and foreign aid package, President Joe Biden won the South Carolina Democratic primary over the weekend, and almost a hundred people have been killed by the wildfires raging in Chile’s Pacific Coast.
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Tre’vell Anderson: It’s Monday, February 5th. I’m Tre’vell Anderson.
Josie Duffy Rice: And I’m Josie Duffy Rice and this is What a Day, the podcast that is absolutely tuning into Wendy Williams’ new lifetime documentary.
Tre’vell Anderson: Yes, it’s not out until later this month, but the trailer dropped over the weekend. It’s going to give me all the information I have been looking for about what’s been going on with her. The culture has been hurting ever since she left that purple chair.
Josie Duffy Rice: It looks intense.
Tre’vell Anderson: We’ll be tuned in. [music break] On today’s show, Senate Republicans and Democrats have released the long awaited $118 billion dollar border deal and foreign aid package. Plus, President Joe Biden won the South Carolina Democratic primary over the weekend.
Josie Duffy Rice: But first, the latest on Trump’s legal troubles. Fulton County DA Fani Willis has admitted to having a personal relationship with Nathan Wade, the prosecutor she hired to handle the election interference case against Trump. As we’ve discussed on the show, weeks ago a lawyer for one of Trump’s co-defendants filed a motion alleging that Willis and Wade had a, quote, “improper clandestine personal relationship” and that Wade was paid an excessive salary and then used those funds to take Willis on fancy vacations, among other things. Last Friday in a response filing, Willis finally admitted to the relationship but denied that either of them benefited from it financially.
Tre’vell Anderson: This is a very messy situation, Josie. Now that we know this, what does it mean for the case? I think that’s the main thing on most folks’ minds, right?
Josie Duffy Rice: It’s so messy. It’s so ridiculous to even let this happen. But it’s unclear at this point what it means for the case. Willis, of course, says that this should not disqualify her from prosecuting Trump, but Trump and his co-defendants say otherwise um naturally. A Fulton County judge will hear both sides in a hearing set for February 15th. But either way, it’s really not good. And the fact that the DA seemingly failed to disclose the relationship feeds the perception that she has acted unethically whether or not that is technically the case.
Tre’vell Anderson: Right. And we know that Trump and everyone else on that side of things are going to use every excuse possible, right, to try to get this case thrown out. Meanwhile, as expected, the federal case against Trump is being delayed. Can you tell us more about that?
Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah. So this is related to the federal case against Trump on charges that he plotted to overturn the 2020 election. Judge Tanya Chutkan has hinted for weeks now that she was going to have to delay the trial. And now she’s made it official. The trial was supposed to begin March 4th, but the judge has said the proceedings will go forth quote, “if and when Trump’s claims of immunity are decided.” That question about immunity is currently in front of the US Court of Appeals for the D.C. circuit. They heard oral arguments in the case on January 9th and have yet to return a decision. But you can assume that the decision will be appealed either way. So it could be a while before Trump goes to trial in federal court if it ends up happening at all.
Tre’vell Anderson: So Fani Willis’s Georgia case is up in the air. Special counsel Jack Smith’s federal case is up in the air, and the question of Trump’s immunity against these charges is up in the air. So many things up in the air. What about the question of whether or not states will be able to remove Trump from the ballot? Where is that?
Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah, well, that’s also up in the air. Just you saying that made me realize this man has a federal district court case, federal appellate court case, Supreme court case, Georgia case, New York case. You know, [laugh] a lot going on.
Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah.
Josie Duffy Rice: And the question of whether or not states can remove him from the ballot is also up in the air. What we know, though, is that the Supreme Court is involved now. So they’re going to hear oral arguments on Thursday regarding whether or not Trump can be left off the ballot in Colorado because of his role in what happened on January 6th. SCOTUSblog calls this the Supreme Court’s, quote, “biggest election case since its ruling nearly 25 years ago in Bush v Gore.” And given the current makeup of the court, I would not get my hopes up that Trump’s removal from the ballot will stand. But we will see. And either way, the like ruling there is going to have implications far beyond just this situation.
Tre’vell Anderson: Listen, so many unprecedented times happening [sigh] all at once. Okay. It’s so much.
Josie Duffy Rice: Yup.
Tre’vell Anderson: Now on to a story out of Michigan. Police in the city of Dearborn were on high alert this weekend after an opinion piece recently published by the Wall Street Journal called the city, quote, “America’s jihad capital.” On Saturday, Dearborn Mayor Abdullah Hammoud tweeted that he was ramping up police presence across all places of worship and major infrastructure points as a quote, “direct result of the inflammatory Wall Street Journal opinion piece that has led to an alarming increase in bigoted and Islamophobic rhetoric online targeting the city of Dearborn.”
Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah, I saw this pretty wild piece. It’s pretty bad, even for the Wall Street Journal, which often publishes some pretty bad stuff. So tell us a little bit more about the piece.
Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah, so the opinion article was written by Steven Stalinsky, who is executive director of an organization called the Middle East Media Research Institute. Now, a quick Google about this Middle East Media Research Institute easily reveals a host of criticisms that this group has received over the years. Especially since 9/11 for how they routinely negatively portray Arab and Muslim people and how they’re basically a pro-Israel advocacy group masked as an unbiased one. That’s important context that perhaps the editorial page editor at the Journal might have wanted to know in advance, because this article basically does just that. It paints this suburb of Detroit as a ground zero of sorts for pro-Hamas sentiment, which is already inflammatory because it conflates being in favor of a free Palestine with being pro-Hamas, which is not necessarily the case. But when you also find out that Dearborn has one of the largest Arab-American and Muslim communities in the country, hopefully you can put two and two together to see the problem here. And what’s worse about this moment in particular is, as we’ve noted since Hamas’s October 7th attack on Israel, instances of anti-Semitism and Islamophobia have increased across the globe. The reality is that the Wall Street Journal was hella irresponsible in publishing this piece, and it’s yet another example of the ways that the press can be wielded as a tool of conservative agendas to do harm to historically excluded and already marginalized communities. Of course, advocacy groups, including the Council on American-Islamic relations and the Arab American Anti-Discrimination Committee condemned the article, and even President Biden called out the sentiment of the op ed.
Josie Duffy Rice: I know that Biden was actually campaigning in Michigan last week in the Detroit area. What did he have to say while he was there?
Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah, he and his team have been in the area campaigning. He took to the app formerly known as Twitter Sunday to say, quote, “Americans know that blaming a group of people based on the words of a small few is wrong. That’s exactly what can lead to Islamophobia and anti-Arab hate. And it shouldn’t happen to the residents of Dearborn or any American town.” Thankfully, as of Sunday afternoon, there were no reports of any negative activity in Dearborn. And in related news, there was a different story published by the New York Times’ columnist Thomas Friedman over the weekend that is also eyebrow raising, to say the least. Under the headline, quote, “Understanding the Middle East through the Animal Kingdom,” this man basically likens the U.S. and Israel to the kings of the jungle and Iran to a parasitoid wasp, and Hamas and Hezbollah apparently are the eggs that the wasp lays in the caterpillars that are Lebanon, Yemen, Syria and Iraq. I saw someone online called it an unhinged metaphor. I’m personally inclined to agree, largely because I thought we stopped comparing human beings to animals and insects a while ago Josie.
Josie Duffy Rice: It’s so wild to write that and then think you should publish it. At what point are you using the animal kingdom and referring to people as insects that you’re like, you know what? This isn’t the move. [laughter] This isn’t going to translate.
Tre’vell Anderson: Listen, he was click clacking on his keyboard and he thought he was eating.
Josie Duffy Rice: Sure was.
With it, okay?
Josie Duffy Rice: He sure did. And this is a reminder that the editorial board of the New York Times should not be a tenured position.
Tre’vell Anderson: Well, there you go.
Josie Duffy Rice: You should stick around for a few years, and then you should move it on out, because you only have so many takes.
Tre’vell Anderson: And this was a bad one.
Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah.
Tre’vell Anderson: To say the least.
You have infinite takes perhaps, but you shouldn’t. [laughter] Is the bottom line.
Tre’vell Anderson: That is the latest for now. We will be back after some ads. [music break]
Josie Duffy Rice: Now let’s wrap up with some headlines.
Josie Duffy Rice: After months of talks, Senate Republicans and Democrats released the long awaited $118 billion dollar border deal and foreign aid package yesterday. The 370 page bill includes billions of dollars in aid to Ukraine, Israel and the Indo-Pacific. It also includes $10 billion dollars in humanitarian aid to civilians in Gaza, the West Bank and Ukraine. On the border front the package would expand detention capacity and make it harder for migrants to claim asylum. It would also give the president the authority to effectively shut down the border when attempted border crossings reach above 5000 people daily for a five day average. We discussed this last week Tre’vell about how just generally ridiculous that measure is. The future of the bill is unclear, but House Speaker Mike Johnson has already said that the bill would be dead on arrival once it reaches the House. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said he plans to hold the first procedural vote on the bill as soon as this Wednesday.
Tre’vell Anderson: President Joe Biden easily won the South Carolina Democratic primary on Saturday, giving him his first official primary victory of the 2024 campaign. He picked up 96% of the vote and now gets 55 delegates. Marianne Williamson and Dean Phillips were the other two names on the ballot, and each picked up less than 3000 votes, but turnout was notably low. Only 4% of registered voters showed up statewide. That’s one of the smallest turnouts in the last few presidential primaries for Democrats, although those races were definitely more competitive than this year’s. In 2020, around 16% of registered voters showed up to the polls for the South Carolina primary. And last week on WAD, our co-host Juanita Tolliver chatted with Jaime Harrison about the importance of this primary and what it means in the broader agenda for the party. So if you haven’t listened yet, you better cue it up right after this episode. We’ll be sure to include it in our show notes as well. The Republican primary for South Carolina takes place later this month on February 24th.
Josie Duffy Rice: The United States and Britain launched another round of airstrikes on Yemen on Saturday, hitting 36 Houthi targets. This comes after Washington said that it struck 85 targets in Syria and Iraq on Friday, and after a drone strike killed three American troops in Jordan last weekend. The move marks yet another escalation of tensions in the Middle East by the US. You’ll remember that the Houthi rebels have been targeting ships in the Red Sea since November to show solidarity with Palestinians amid Israel’s assault on Gaza. But the militia has since expanded its attacks to American and British ships, and has been conducting near-daily missile or drone strikes in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden. Mohammed al-Bukhaiti, a Houthi official, responded to the most recent attacks in a post online, writing that the militia will not stop targeting Israel until the country pulls out of Gaza. He wrote, quote, “American British aggression against Yemen will not go unanswered and we will meet escalation with escalation.”
Tre’vell Anderson: As of our record time on Sunday evening. Almost 100 people have been killed by the wildfires raging in Chile’s Pacific coast right now, and hundreds more people are missing. There are over 150 active fires across the country, and thousands of homes have been destroyed. Firefighters have controlled a majority of those and are still battling the rest. CNN reported that at least one person has been detained in connection to the fires, and officials have said that they are investigating if these fires were intentionally started. Chile’s president, Gabriel Boric, said that the fires in the Valparaiso Region have been the worst disaster in the country since the 2010 earthquake that killed over 400 and displaced 1.5 million people. All of this is happening amid abnormally high temperatures in Chile for this time of year and during the climate phenomenon known as El Niño, which has intensified drought conditions. Meanwhile, here in the United States, an atmospheric river is sweeping across California. Heavy rains and high winds started yesterday and will continue through today. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency for Southern California in particular, as coastal and valley areas could see as much as eight inches of rain.
Josie Duffy Rice: And turning back to Maui, where the community continues to recover from the deadly West Maui wildfires. A small local restaurant became the first business to officially reopen on Lahaina’s Front Street nearly six months after the disaster. Māla Ocean Center began welcoming visitors back on Thursday. When the fires first broke out, co-owners Javier Barberi and Caleb Hopkins were sure that the center would not survive. Hopkins told Hawaii News Now that he and his family had to evacuate Lahaina on August 8th. And even though he lost his home in the flames, Hopkins came back to the town the very next day to check on the restaurant. He and Barberi were shocked to see that the building, which they believe is more than a century old, was still standing. Take a listen to what Barberi told Hawaii News Now about their decision to reopen.
[clip of Javier Barberi] I know some people might not be ready to come down here, and that’s totally fine. Um. But there is a sense of coming in here and having a meal and re-feeling all of the great feelings you had. It’s healing me, and hopefully it can heal others as well.
Josie Duffy Rice: Barberi and Hopkins say everyone is welcomed back to the center. They just ask that guests refrain from asking staff about the fires out of respect for the loss that they’ve suffered.
Tre’vell Anderson: And finally, the 66th Annual Grammy Awards took place last night at the Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles. At the time of our recording at 9:30 p.m. eastern, the show was still going on, but we did have some early winners. Starting in the world of R&B, SZA won the Grammy for Best Progressive R&B album for her hit S.O.S., she was the most nominated artist of the night with nine nods. Singer songwriter Victoria Monét was right behind her with seven nominations, and she went home with at least two trophies, including the one for best R&B album. We love to see it. This is the first time Monét has been nominated for a Grammy as a lead performer, but in the past, she’s received nods for her behind the scenes work on hit songs like “Do It” by Chloe and Halle, as well as a hit album you might know called “Thank You, next” by Ariana Grande. And then in the pop music categories, Miley Cyrus took home her first ever Grammy for Best Pop Solo Performance with her song Flowers. The moment was decades in the making ever since Cyrus first joined the music industry as a teenager. Long live Hannah Montana, okay? And finally, in the alternative genre, Phoebe Bridgers, Julien Baker and Lucy Dacus, the indie trio otherwise known as Boygenius. They took home at least three Grammys, including the one for Best Alternative Music album. Their win comes just a day after the group announced that the project would be going on an indefinite hiatus, so make sure you are checking on your gay friends. They’re probably not doing okay. I hear that Boygenius is all the rage, okay?
Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah, I mean unpopular opinion, but I think taking a break is a noble thing to do. Take your time.
Tre’vell Anderson: I don’t know, Josie. Mary Mary been on break for about a decade it feel like.
Josie Duffy Rice: That’s true.
Tre’vell Anderson: And–
Josie Duffy Rice: You got to come back. You got to come back.
Tre’vell Anderson: You know what I mean? [laughing]
Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah. We need a calendar. We need a date.
Tre’vell Anderson: Just something.
Josie Duffy Rice: But as long as it’s just a quick break, we’ll take it. [laughter]
Tre’vell Anderson: And those are the headlines.
Josie Duffy Rice: Two more things before we go. One, we highly recommend checking out Strict Scrutiny’s bonus pod that was released on Friday with people’s champion E. Jean Carroll. She and her lawyer, Robbie Kaplan join hosts Leah, Melissa, and Kate to talk about her most recent trial win against Trump. You can listen to this episode out now, only on the Strict Scrutiny feed.
Tre’vell Anderson: And two, as you all know, my book Historically Black Phrases is NAACP Image Award nominated. [cheer from Josie] And now my coauthor, Jarrett Hill, and I have turned that book into a live game show rooted in trivia about Black culture. And we’re going on tour for Black History Month starting this week. You can catch us in Washington DC, in Atlanta, in New York City, and of course, Los Angeles. We’ve got some fun contestants. Some audience members will get a chance to play for cash prizes. It’ll be a good old time in the making. A fabulous celebration of our wonderful contributions to history and culture. Tickets and more information can be found at HistoricallyBlackPhrases.com/live. I hope to see some of you there. [music break] And that is all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe. Leave a review, mark your calendars for Wendy Williams’ new documentary, okay, and tell your friends to listen.
Josie Duffy Rice: And if you’re into reading and not just Historically Black Phrases by Tre’vell Anderson and Jarrett Hill like me, What a Day is also a nightly newsletter, so 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 we miss you Wendy.
Tre’vell Anderson: I have never wanted somebody to tell me to grab a snack and come on back so bad. Okay?
Josie Duffy Rice: Look Wendy, we want you to get all the help you need, and we need you so if we can make those two things work together. That would be great.
Tre’vell Anderson: Absolutely. [music break]
Josie Duffy Rice: 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 showrunner is Leo Duran. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.