In This Episode
- We’re about halfway through the January 6th committee hearings scheduled for this month. Yesterday, the committee focused on former President Trump’s efforts to pressure then Vice President Pence to not certify the 2020 election results. Dan Pfeiffer, co-host of Pod Save America, joins us to discuss what we learned from the new evidence the committee presented.
- In headlines: the Abbott baby formula plant in Michigan shut down again, Pakistan’s government asked citizens to lower their tea consumption, and Netflix settled a lawsuit with the legendary comedian Mo’Nique.
- And we hear from some of you, our listeners, about how you plan to celebrate Juneteenth, the day commemorating the emancipation of enslaved Black people in America.
- WAD will be taking off to celebrate Juneteenth, and will be back with a new episode on Wednesday, June 22nd.
- Sing Sing Family Collective – https://bit.ly/3N18jHt
- Donate to Crooked Media’s Pride Fund – https://crooked.com/pride/
- Sign up for Crooked Coffee’s launch on June 21st – http://go.crooked.com/coffee-wad
Follow us on Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/whataday/
Gideon Resnick: It’s Friday, June 17th. I’m Gideon Resnick.
Tre’vell Anderson: And I’m Tre’vell Anderson, and this is What A Day, where we’re thanking Beyoncé for waiting to announce a new album until she knew we really needed it.
Gideon Resnick: Yes. Any other time in the last like two or three years could have been okay as well. Probably needed at that point too, but I’ll take it here. This is good.
Tre’vell Anderson: We will take it when we can get it, Okay?
Gideon Resnick: That’s it. That’s all we have to say. On today’s show, a baby formula plant in Michigan shuts down again, but this time because of severe storms and flooding. Plus, we hear how you are celebrating this Juneteenth weekend.
Tre’vell Anderson: But first, we’re basically at the halfway point in the House hearings on January 6th. Yesterday was the third out of seven expected hearings this month by the January 6th committee. They continue to reveal findings from their investigation so we want to recap what we know now.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, and so much of what they talked about yesterday focused on former President Trump’s efforts to pressure his then-Vice President, Mike Pence to not certify election results showing that he had lost. And Committee Member Representative Pete Aguilar went as far as to say this.
[Rep. Pete Aguilar] Donald Trump knew he lost the 2020 election, but he could not bring himself to participate in the peaceful transfer of power. So he latched on to a scheme that, once again, he knew was illegal. And when the Vice President refused to go along with it, he unleashed a violent mob against him.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah. And another primary focus of the hearing on Thursday was the conservative lawyer, John Eastman, who was advising Trump throughout this. The committee argued that Eastman knew that this strategy was illegal and that, in fact, he had sought a presidential pardon at some point.
Tre’vell Anderson: Retired conservative federal judge J. Michael Luttig, who had told Pence apparently not to listen to Trump, testified before the committee, too. He spoke rather deliberately and slowly during the hearing, and said in part that if Pence had followed through, it would have, quote, “plunged America into what I believe would have been tantamount to a revolution within a constitutional crisis.”
Gideon Resnick: Yeah. So then then one final takeaway from yesterday, Representative Bennie Thompson, the Chairman of the committee, said that the panel is going to invite Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, to testify. That comes after revelations that she had apparently been emailing with Eastman about efforts to overturn the election.
Tre’vell Anderson: They always leave a paper trail. For more on the hearing and what we found out, we have with us Pod Save America’s Dan Pfeiffer again. He is the author of the new book, “Battling the Big Lie: How Fox, Facebook, and the MAGA Media are Destroying America.” Dan, welcome back to What A Day.
Dan Pfeiffer: Thanks for having me. I’m glad to be here.
Tre’vell Anderson: Glad to have you with us. All right, let’s jump into it. What stood out to you most in Thursday’s hearing?
Dan Pfeiffer: If we can get beyond some of the optical things that got Twitter obsessed, like Michael Luttig’s very deliberate speaking style, I mean, what was very notable here, and you had to really dig through some pretty esoteric conversations about specific provisions of the 12th Amendment, the Electoral Counts Act, but was the fact that Donald Trump and John Eastman both knew that what they were proposing was illegal and unconstitutional and dishonest, and they were doing it anyway. And the results of that unconstitutional, dishonest, allegedly criminal activity was the violence on January 6th. It was a specific effort to tie the bad-faith pressure campaign on Mike Pence with the resultant assault on the Capitol.
Gideon Resnick: So to that point, a lot of the hearing also focused on Trump’s pressuring of former Vice President Pence to not certify the election results. Pence, of course, refused. Here is Representative Pete Aguilar, rereading a passage from the book, “Peril” written by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa about Trump’s last days in office.
[Rep. Pete Aguilar] “The Vice President is reported to have said, ‘No, look, I’ve read this, and I don’t see a way to do it. We’ve exhausted every option. I’ve done everything I could and then some to find a way around this. It’s simply not possible.’ To which the President says, ‘No, no, no, you don’t understand, Mike. You can do this. I don’t want to be your friend anymore. If you don’t do this.'”
Gideon Resnick: Yeah. So what other new information emerged?
Dan Pfeiffer: Well, a couple of things. A lot of what was in the hearing has been sort of referenced obliquely in various reports in some of these books. There are a couple of things that are notable in here that are sort of kind of maybe half known. One from the hearing was that Trump and Pence had met privately. Pence had communicated that he did not believe he had this authority to overturn the election, and then Trump put out a statement afterwards completely lying about what Pence had told him. Jason Miller, Trump’s Communications Director, testified that essentially everyone knew that was a lie when they did it. And I would say Miller seemed confused by the idea that anyone was questioning that you would just put out a dishonest statement from the President. That was very notable. Also notable was that John Eastman continued to push for the insurrection after January 6th, and went from arguing that the Electoral Council Act was unconstitutional and therefore the Vice President not need to adhere to it, to then using minor violations of the Electoral Counts Act on the day of certification as an argument to send it back to the States again. So there was this incredible, persistent dishonesty and bad faith that ran through the whole thing.
Tre’vell Anderson: So you mentioned John Eastman. He’s the conservative lawyer who was advising Trump on this, I guess we can call it a strategy? What more did we find out in particular about how integral his role was to all of this? And what do you think is the significance of this confirmed information that we now have?
Dan Pfeiffer: Eastman was the central driver of this part of the insurrection. He was pushing this. He was the one primarily advising Trump more than any of Trump’s other attorneys. Eastman is a formerly well-respected card-carrying member of the conservative legal establishment broad, was different than the bunch of cranks who were around Trump generally in this period, right? Rudy Giuliani, the MyPillow guy–John Eastman was a Federalist Society member, right-wing legal person in good standing with the establishment, and so he really moved this process forward. What is very clear now is that he did it knowing what he was pushing for was illegal, unconstitutional. He took the Fifth Amendment 100 times in his appearance before the committee. We now know he asked for a pardon after January 6th, which means that he’s well aware that what he did is criminal activity for which he could be prosecuted. There is a broader thing about John Eastman, because there is this tendency, I think, to take the people who believe the Big Lie to be sort of, you know, MAGA goofballs and grifters, and these you know, just people who don’t know any better–like the MyPillow guy, right? But John Eastman is a real person who knew better and was doing it anyway. And that is the attitude that’s fueling the 2024 version of what they tried to do in 2020, is real people with real standing who know what they are doing is illegal, but they have justified that to themselves based on an apocalyptic view of change in America. And that’s one of the takeaways for me from this hearing is there are a lot more John Eastman’s out there, and they’re going to get a lot more help next time around.
Tre’vell Anderson: Speaking of Eastman, the night before yesterday’s hearing began, emails obtained by the January 6th Committee revealed specific correspondence between him and Ginni Thomas. She is the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. That revelation led to the committee saying that they want to interview her. Her name has been brought up a few different times as it relates to the election and the insurrection and all of that. How big of a deal is this?
Dan Pfeiffer: Well, it appears now that the committee said they’re going to try to talk to her. I was just speaking with Congresswoman Elaine Luria, who said that she had heard during the hearing that Ginni Thomas said she would speak to the committee. So that may be happening in short order. I mean, Ginni Thomas is, she is the Kevin Bacon of the insurrection. Like every, every wing of this is connected to her, right? And so, it it like, she was lobbying legislators to do fake electors, she’s speaking to Mark Meadows, I mean, she’s now talking to John Eastman. I mean, so she’s at the center of all of this. And there is this gigantic question about, not what conversations that Ginni Thomas had with John Eastman, is what conversations that Ginni Thomas have with Clarence Thomas about these things. Because there’s two problems here. One, there’s a gigantic conflict of interest for Justice Thomas, who is likely going to probably have to rule on some cases involving either criminal liability for people involved in January 6th, future insurrections–by any normal standard, he would have to recuse himself from those. The Supreme Court operates, ironically enough, above the law, and there are no actual standards by which conflicts of interest rules apply. And then there is the further question, sort of what does she know and what light can she shed on some of these conversations, because she was, spoke to so many people and is sort of the connective tissue of what was happening here.
Gideon Resnick: Gotcha. And I want to go back to something you were talking about a moment before, which is sort of this idea that a lot of Thursday’s hearings seem to be spent on establishing that various parties knew what they were doing was wrong in real time, like as they were doing it. So what could that conceivably mean for the outcomes here, and why is that important for this committee to elicit from these hearings?
Dan Pfeiffer: There are two dimensions, I think we have to look at this in. One is the legal and one is the political. And so on the legal side, ultimately, this committee has no power to hold Trump legally accountable. Our belief and understanding and hope is that the Justice Department is involved in an equally aggressive, independent investigation into these very same matters. But nonetheless, the committee has sort of charges off that we are going to make the case that, in a legal fashion for criminal activity from those involved, including the former president. Two parts of the fact pattern they think are important is, one, Trump knew that he lost the election and pushed the lies anyway. That is an attempt to defraud. And the second is that he knew what he was doing when it came to trying to pressure Mike Pence into committing a crime, and he knew that he was doing that at the time. They were trying to establish knowledge from Trump. I think it’s pretty clear that they have done that beyond any doubt. The second arm is political. The committee is trying to talk about what happened, and what is happening in America. And they’re doing it in primetime. You’re do something in prime time, you’re trying to persuade people. And I think what they’re trying to persuade people of, is that there is no sincerity here, there is no integrity here. This was a group of criminals knowingly engaging in a criminal conspiracy to overturn an election. And that is an important thing for people to understand, not just about the people involved in that conspiracy then, but all of the Republicans who are abiding by that conspiracy now.
Gideon Resnick: Well, Dan, thank you so much again for your time and for walking everybody through this. We really appreciate it.
Dan Pfeiffer: Thanks for having me.
Gideon Resnick: We’ll, of course, continue to cover the hearings. The next one is scheduled for this coming Tuesday, so more on all of this very soon. But that is the latest for now. Let’s get to some headlines.
Gideon Resnick: During their first wartime visit to Kiev, the leaders of the three largest economies in the European Union backed Ukraine’s efforts to join the EU. The leaders that were present were French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, who traveled together by train. Now this pledge is coming amid some questions about the rest of Europe’s commitment to Ukraine, with criticism reportedly mounting that Macron specifically had been pushing for a cease fire. The leader sought to dispel those notions yesterday thought. The European Commission is reportedly going to make an official recommendation today regarding Ukraine’s application. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy praised what the other leaders had to say, but told the press as well, quote, “We expect new supplies, especially heavy weapons, modern rocket artillery, and missile defense systems.” The support from these countries and the commission will certainly help Ukraine’s bid, but in order to become a member, the country needs the support of all 27 member states.
Tre’vell Anderson: The Abbott baby formula plant in Sturgis, Michigan, that’s been the center of the nationwide baby formula shortage, shut down again yesterday, but this time it wasn’t for contamination-related reasons, according to a statement from the company, severe storms in the area caused flooding in parts of the facility earlier this week, forcing it to stop production. The Abbott plant had just resumed operations on June 4th after being shut down for months amid widespread bacterial contamination in products. That scandal prompted Abbott to take its formula off the shelves, putting a huge strain on parents across the country who were desperate to feed their children. Abbott Nutrition said on Wednesday that it would need a few weeks to assess the damage and re-sanitize the Michigan plant before resuming production. But FDA commissioner Robert Califf said that the shutdown likely won’t worsen the current formula shortage because of increased imports and production by other manufacturers.
Gideon Resnick: It’s a good thing there will never be more extreme weather.
Tre’vell Anderson: Of course not.
Gideon Resnick: That this was just an isolated incident. No other building in our country will flood. Okay. I don’t mean to joke. This is all very serious and it makes me quite angry. Pakistan’s government considered all the cuts that could be made to rescue its economy and landed on the little things that make life worth living. The country’s Planning Minister asked citizens this week to lower their consumption of tea, a drink the Pakistani people are thought to consume three times a day on average. The reason for singling out tea is that it is imported and it costs the country about $600 million annually from its currency reserves. The global economic crisis that we are all witnessing is severe in Pakistan, with inflation elevated, food prices soaring, frequent power outages, and the rupee at record lows. The country has already banned imports of all non-essential luxury goods, but by early indications, people are not happy about being asked to cut back by one or two cups a day of their delicious boiled leaves. One journalist told NBC News, “The problem is Pakistani elites will impose heavy taxes on the masses and snatch our cup of tea and they will never leave their lavish life.” Tea-gate is notably coming just two months into the regime of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, who took over after the last PM was ousted in a no-confidence vote. I would very much not like to see any coffee or tea be revoked at any point. It would also make me mad, as well. I just want to express that solidarity.
Tre’vell Anderson: The streaming world’s most reliable source of bad decisions, Netflix, may have seen some of their actions catch up to them. On Wednesday, they settled a racial and sexual discrimination lawsuit with the legendary comedian Mo’Nique, who first rose to stardom on the Queens of Comedy in 2001. Mo’Nique’s allegations are pretty explosive. She says Netflix offered her a half a million dollars for a special in 2018, and when she pushed back and accused the company of underpaying Black women while offering eight-figure deals to comics like Chris Rock and Amy Schumer, Netflix pulled the offer entirely. Mo’Nique’s legal team alleged that Netflix’s decision to walk away was retaliation for her call out, and that had she demanded a higher offer without alleging discrimination, they might have stayed at the negotiating table and figured something out, as is standard practice in the industry. Netflix tried to get Mo’Nique’s case thrown out in 2019, but was unsuccessful. It’s not known how much the company settled for, though hopefully it takes just enough out of the budget to put the next Ricky Gervais or Dave Chappelle special out of reach financially. According to Mo’Nique’s lawyer, the suit was, quote, “amicably resolved”–and I would just like to say, as someone who counts Mo’Nique as their favorite actress, y’all need to stop playing in her face, please and thank you.
Gideon Resnick: Yes. Netflix, I know that you are listening, you listen every day. Pay attention to what Tre’vell is saying.
Tre’vell Anderson: Yes.
Gideon Resnick: Seriously. And those are the headlines. We’ll be back after some ads to hear how some of you, our listeners are planning on celebrating Juneteenth this weekend.
Gideon Resnick: It’s Friday WAD squad, and we’re going to wrap up the week by celebrating Juneteenth. So the holiday is coming up this Sunday, and of course, it is the day that we commemorate the emancipation of enslaved Black people in America.
Tre’vell Anderson: Yes, a quick history lesson here. In 1863, Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation to abolish slavery. But it wasn’t until two years later that one of the last groups of enslaved folks in Galveston, Texas, were informed. That was on June 19th, 1865. And the following year the first Juneteenth celebrations took place in Texas. And as of 2021, June 19th is now a federal holiday. So we ask you, the WAD, squad to tell us how you plan to celebrate Juneteenth. Our first response we have is from Annie.
[Annie] Hi WAD. This Juneteenth, I will be outside Sing Sing prison distributing free fruits and vegetables to families with loved ones on the inside. They can take them inside to their loved ones. They can bring them home, whatever they like. And this is through a really great grassroots group called Sing Sing Family Collective, which was actually co-founded by Joseph Wilson, who’s currently incarcerated, and his wonderful wife, Renee. And it’s just really great to have an opportunity to be in solidarity with people who are impacted by our carceral system, and I’m excited to spend my Juneteenth weekend this way. Nobody is free until everybody’s free. Thanks.
Gideon Resnick: Wow Good for you, Annie. That was great.
Tre’vell Anderson: Yes, we will be sure to link to Sing Sing Family in our show notes so you can check out and support their work. We also heard from this listener, Jeffrey.
[Jeffrey] Hey, What A Day. Yeah, to answer the question, this weekend, I’m going to take the time to finish reading Tracey Michae’l Lewis-Giggetts’ latest book, “Black Joy: Stories of Resistance, Resilience, and Restoration.” It’s a collection of essays of her thoughts regarding the Black experience. It’s really awesome and just gives me spirit during these hard times, to be truthful.
Gideon Resnick: That’s great. Wow, our listeners are very thoughtful people, and it makes me extremely happy. These are wonderful responses. I’m just thrilled for them.
Tre’vell Anderson: Well, hold off just right there, because my favorite thing that Jeffrey said is this:
[Jeffrey] Now, if I feel compelled, I might just, you know, go on Twitter and throw shade at companies that tweet Juneteenth celebrations that have like 1% of Black employees. I don’t know. I might do that. But anyway, in the words of Flo Mili, Imma keep it pretty, Black, and cute.
Gideon Resnick: Incredible. Jeffrey, you’re invited on WAD whenever you so please. Incredible stuff. We’ll be taking a long weekend ourselves to celebrate Juneteenth. We’ll be back with a new episode for you on Wednesday, June 22nd.
Tre’vell Anderson: One more thing before we go: celebrate Pride with us by checking out our brand new line of merch now at the Crooked store. As always, a portion of every order from our Pride collection is going to the Crooked Pride or Else Fund, which supports three incredible organizations that provide community-building, gender-affirming and lifesaving resources to the Queer and transgender community. Shop all Crooked merch at Cricket.com/Store.
Gideon Resnick: That is all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe, leave a review, pay Mo’Nique, and tell your friends to listen.
Tre’vell Anderson: Period. And if you are into reading, and not just tea leaves like me, What A Day is also a nightly newsletter, Check it out and subscribe at Crooked.com/subscribe. I’m Tre’vell Anderson.
Gideon Resnick: I’m Gideon Resnick.
[together] And stay back, Ricky Gervais and Dave Chappelle!
Gideon Resnick: Yeah.
Tre’vell Anderson: We don’t want know more.
Gideon Resnick: What A Day is a production of Crooked Media. It’s recorded and mixed by Bill Lancz. Jazzy Marine and Raven Yamamoto are our associate producers. Our head writer is Jon Millstein, and our executive producers are Leo Duran and me Gideon Resnick. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.