In This Episode
- The January 6th House committee held its fourth hearing on Tuesday, and we learned more about the effort to overturn the election by former President Donald Trump himself as well as two Republican congressmen. Arizona’s House of Representatives Speaker Rusty Bowers testified that the pressure applied by Trump and his team was continuous, and that they weren’t taking no for an answer.
- It’s been a month since the Robb Elementary School shooting in Uvalde, Texas, but we’re still learning more about how responding officers allowed so much time to pass before entering the classroom and shooting the gunman. Steve McCraw, head of the Texas Department of Public Safety, testified to a state Senate committee that the police response was an “abject failure.”
- And in headlines: Colombia elected its first leftist president, healthcare providers began giving the first dose of COVID vaccines to young children, and the Supreme Court ruled that Maine can’t exclude religious schools from state funding.
- Donate to Crooked Media’s Pride Fund – https://crooked.com/pride/
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Gideon Resnick: It’s Wednesday, June 22nd. I’m Gideon Resnick.
Priyanka Aribindi: And I am Priyanka Aribindi, and this is What A Day, reminding the losers of tonight’s Westminster Dog Show finale that they are all good boys in our eyes.
Gideon Resnick: Yes, good boys, doggos, so on and so forth–these titles carry more weight than Best in Show.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. At the end of the day, these dogs are probably just happy that it’s over, though I can’t say the same for myself.
Gideon Resnick: On today’s show, a top Texas law enforcement official testified that the police response to the Uvalde mass shooting was a, quote, “abject failure.” Plus, young kids were finally eligible for COVID vaccines yesterday, and we hear how exciting that was for two WAD toddlers–or waddlers.
Priyanka Aribindi: I am obsessed with this name. I think that it is some of our best work yet.
Gideon Resnick: It’s going to stay.
Priyanka Aribindi: But first, let’s give you a quick update from the latest January 6th House hearing. Tuesday was hearing number four and we learned lots of new details about the effort to overturn the election by former President Donald Trump himself and two Republican congressmen, Representative Andy Biggs of Arizona and Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, so this is a pretty big day. Let’s talk a little bit more about those details. How did we learn all of this?
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, there were three Republican officials who testified yesterday. They included Georgia’s Secretary of State, Brad Raffensperger, his deputy, and Arizona House of Representatives Speaker Rusty Bowers. Bowers revealed that he received calls about overturning the election from Congressman Biggs, as well as Trump and his former attorney, Rudy Giuliani. According to Bowers, Giuliani admitted that he had not found any evidence of widespread fraud, but that he did try to use party loyalty to get Bowers to overturn the results. Bowers didn’t do this. Here is what he said to the committee:
[clip of Rusty Bowers] And I said, “You’re asking me to do something that’s never been done in history, the history of the United States, and I’m going to put my state through that without sufficient proof, and that’s going to be good enough with me. That I would, I would put us through that, my state, that I swore to uphold, both in Constitution and in law? No, sir.’
Priyanka Aribindi: The committee also saw a video of RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel’s deposition. She testified that Trump and conservative lawyer John Eastman personally called her about helping assemble nonexistent electors using very similar tactics.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah. And so another big thing we should take away from this is that Trump and his allies kind of kept this pressure up, even though election workers were getting death threats and facing violence because of these very false claims they were espousing. So what did we hear about that?
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, all of the witnesses who appeared before the committee yesterday talked about this. Bowers in particular had emotional testimony about protests outside of his home and the impacts that they had on his wife and his daughter. He spoke about friends he had who turned on him because of what they were hearing, you know, the former President’s lies. And he described that the pressure was continuous, it wasn’t like a one-and-done phone call. Trump and his team really weren’t taking no for an answer, and they were pretty relentless. Later in the day, the committee also heard from Shaye Moss and her mother, Ruby Freeman, who were both election workers in Atlanta during the 2020 election. Rudy Giuliani released a video claiming that the two of them were colluding to commit voter fraud–totally not true–but as a result, they faced a deluge of death threats and hateful messages, and really terrifying encounters in their own home, people trying to break in and threaten them. Shaye Moss described how she is still terrified to leave her home to this day, or even do something as simple as using her real name to order food. These people are just really terrified still for what these people put them through. Those are kind of the big takeaways from yesterday’s hearing, number four, by the January 6th House committee. The next one is scheduled for tomorrow at 1 p.m. Eastern. As always, you can check out the live group thread by Crooked hosts reacting to it in real time. It’s kind of a great way to make sense of what’s happening. That will be on YouTube.com / CrookedMedia, if you want to follow along.
Gideon Resnick: We are going to turn to some news now about the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. So it’s been four weeks since 19 children and two teachers were killed there, yet we’re still learning more details about the timeline of the day and how responding officers allowed so much time to pass before entering the classroom and shooting the gunman.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, this is because yesterday a State Senate committee held the first public hearing on school safety, police training, and more. What did we learn from that?
Gideon Resnick: Yeah. So Steve McCraw, the director of the Texas Department of Public Safety or DPS, testified here. That department oversees statewide law enforcement. And he had this really blistering assessment of the response by Uvalde police. This is a long clip, but worth the listen.
[clip of Steve McCraw] There’s compelling evidence that the law enforcement response to the attack at Robb Elementary was an abject failure and antithetical to everything we’ve learned over the last two decades since the Columbine massacre. Three minutes after the subject entered the west building, there was a sufficient number of armed officers wearing body armor to isolate, distract, and neutralize the subject. The only thing stopping a hallway of dedicated officers from entering room 111 and 112 was the on-scene commander, who decided to place the lives of officers before the lives of children. The officers had weapons, the children had none. The officers had body armor, the children had none.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. So this is pretty shocking. Pretty disturbing to hear. Upsetting. What else did he have to say?
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, so in addition to saying the entire response was a, quote, “abject failure” McCraw also contested this prior point we had heard about the classroom purportedly having been locked. He said that officers on scene effectively wasted time while waiting for a key to the door without even checking if they could, in fact, open it. McCraw said that the door could not, in fact, even be locked from the inside, and, quote, “I don’t believe, based on the information that we have right now, that the door was ever secured.” So to recap here, the head of Texas DPS said during this committee hearing that there were enough officers on the scene to have stopped the gunman within 3 minutes of him arriving–that’s according to this evidence that he has–however, they didn’t check whether the classroom door was unlocked, and instead did not make it into the room for more than an hour. Over that span, there were reportedly a number of 911 calls from students inside the room.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, so these new details are incredibly infuriating if you are a person listening to this and operating with a reasonable expectation that, like, maybe they have a job to do and maybe they would do it. There’s clearly an incredibly strong indictment of the police response here. And once again, a change in the timeline that we have been told by officials–this has been happening several times since this happened. What else did McCraw say went wrong, and how did he back all of this up?
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, so over the course of this hearing, he walked the committee through this detailed timeline with maps and poster boards. Much of it confirmed prior reporting from The New York Times, including the following that I’m pulling from their write-up of this hearing. So for one thing, in addition to the fact that officers were there within minutes, a school district officer had informed others that his wife, a teacher, was shot but still alive in the classroom, a fact that indicates how time was of the essence. Every second was important. Shields that could have helped officers enter the classroom arrived on scene almost an hour before they went into the room. Separately, McCraw said that the school district police chief, Pete Arredondo, did not have a radio with him. Other radios, apparently belonging to other police, were not working in the school, and some diagrams that were used to plan the response were also apparently wrong as well.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, this is like, I don’t even know what more to say. It’s just incredibly upsetting.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah. And McCraw placed much of the blame on Arredondo, saying that he had, quote, “decided to put the lives of officers ahead of the lives of children” as we heard in that clip. McCraw said that Arredondo was the on-scene commander, even as Arredondo has previously said that he didn’t consider himself in charge that day.
Priyanka Aribindi: Okay, so this all comes after McCraw’s own department stopped holding public hearings on the shooting after details he and Governor Greg Abbott shared turned out to be wrong.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah. So on that point, you know, to demonstrate how much the public line has changed from basically every official in Texas at certain points, here is Abbott in his first press conference after the shooting:
[clip of Gov. Greg Abbott] But the reality is, as horrible as what happened, it could have been worse. The reason it was not worse is because law enforcement officials did what they do. They showed amazing courage by running toward gunfire for the singular purpose of trying to save lives.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah. And yet now we have this guy from DPS, you know, excoriating law enforcement. So anyway, days later, Abbott said that he was, quote, “misled” about what happened, but this is another example of that sort of journalistic skepticism necessary when considering these accounts that we get from law enforcement.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. And that quote from Greg Abbott, there’s not a single part of that that still holds up. And I know that he’s, you know, since walked it back, but just like you’re saying, the information here has changed so many times and it is just completely infuriating. What comes next after all of this? Like, where do we go from here?
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, there are other overlapping investigations. There’s a three-person investigative committee in the Texas House conducting their own investigation with a report expected next month. They actually, according to The Washington Post, were speaking to Arredondo in closed-door testimony yesterday. Then the Department of Justice is also conducting its own investigation at the federal level. So we will presumably be hearing more on all of this soon.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, I mean, I hope. I really hope we get to the bottom of this at some point. It really sounds like some people did majorly mishandle this in the biggest way. Lastly, there was some movement on the federal gun legislation that Congress was working on. What did we find out there?
Gideon Resnick: Yesterday, the Senate released a final draft of what is hopefully going to lead to some kind of gun reform, including enhanced background checks and resources for states to implement red flag laws. We’ll get into more about the specifics soon, but it’s anticipated to come up for a vote before the July 4th recess, maybe as early as this week, actually. More on all of that soon, but that is the latest for now. Let’s get to some headlines.
Gideon Resnick: Colombia made history on Sunday when voters elected the country’s first leftist president. Gustavo Petro, a former guerilla fighter who once fought the Colombian state, shocked the world when he beat out his conservative opponent, Rodolfo Hernandez, for the presidency. Petro ran on a fiercely progressive platform advocating for free college, taxes for big landowners, and economic reform. Petro’s election brings an end to his country’s long track record of conservative leadership. Colombia now joins a number of other traditionally conservative Latin American countries that have elected leftist anti-establishment leaders in recent years–a shift that’s been largely driven by how the pandemic has devastated economies and led to spikes in poverty. Petro will replace the current conservative president, Ivan Duque, on August 7th. And human rights activist Francia Marquez is set to be his vice president, and will be the first Black person to serve in that role. After the election results were announced on Sunday night, Petro addressed supporters in Bogota, the country’s capital, and said of his victory, quote, “Real change is coming. This is another Colombia.”
Priyanka Aribindi: Kids and antibodies are due for a playdate! Yesterday, health care providers across the U.S. began giving the first dose of COVID vaccines to children between six months and five years old. This comes after the FDA and CDC both gave the green light to authorize Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech shots for this age group last weekend. And it brings a huge relief to parents who haven’t been able to protect their children against the virus. Here is one dad, U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy on CNN Tuesday morning:
[clip of SG Dr. Vivek Murthy] We now have every age group, six months and above in a country, which is now eligible. And I’ll tell you, as a dad of a four-year old, this is a big deal for my family as well.
Priyanka Aribindi: But to really grasp the impact of this news, we had to talk to the true experts, the toddlers and the babies themselves. Here is what 15-month old Tyler told us–he is the nephew of our producer, Jazzi Marine. Let’s give it a listen:
[woman’s voice] Are you excited to get vaccinated?
[woman’s voice] Do you know what a vaccine is?
Gideon Resnick: Listen, if he doesn’t know, how could he be excited? This is a fair point he’s making.
Priyanka Aribindi: It’s true. That’s very healthy skepticism. And here is Max, the three and a half-year old nephew of our head writer Jon Millstein. He gave us the information we should all know about this medicine that we’ve put into our bodies.
[Jon Millstein] Tell me what a vaccine is.
[Max] Vaccine is where you go to see someone doing a movie.
[Jon Millstein] A vaccine is where you go to see someone doing the movies?
Gideon Resnick: Listen, maybe for some people, right? We don’t know.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah.
Gideon Resnick: Max could be right. You could see a movie. You could get a vaccine in the same place.
Priyanka Aribindi: Max sounds interested. Unsure about Tyler. Jury’s out there. We’ll follow up later. But it seems like, you know, we’re half and half at the moment.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, that’s a good 50%. We will take it. The conservative Supreme Court gave us a pro-Bible ruling yesterday before the really bad pro-Bible ruling. They said the state of Maine cannot exclude religious schools from state funding. For context, Maine has a unique tuition assistance program that covers the cost of attendance for students at public schools and a handful of non-religious private schools. The court argued in yesterday’s ruling that excluding religious schools from state aid goes against the First Amendment, and that if Maine uses taxpayer money to fund non-religious private schools, it must do the same for religious ones. The court’s decision goes against decades of precedent, where justices have traditionally sided with state constitutions, most of which do not allow states to use taxpayer money for religious schools. But religious schools across the country seeking state aid could use Tuesday’s ruling as leverage to create programs that are similar to Maine’s. The vote was 6 to 3 and unsurprisingly, along ideological lines with the court’s three liberal justices dissenting. Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote in her dissent that the court, quote, “continues to dismantle the wall of separation between church and state that the framers fought to build” and that the rulings consequences, quote, “must not be understated.”
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, this does not sound good. I can think of a lot of things that could use taxpayer money before religious schools. I don’t know. That’s just me. Your disposable snowshoes aren’t welcome in Canada anymore because the country announced on Monday that it will ban companies from making and importing single-use plastics by the end of this year–oh my God, that is so soon! They are ruthlessly efficient up there. This is part of a major effort to combat plastic waste and to fight climate change. Starting this December, there’ll be regulations on things like grocery store bags, straws, and Styrofoam takeout containers and plastic utensils, which means it’s time to pick your lucky poutine fork and stick with it for the rest of your life. The government will only make a few exceptions that include items used for medical reasons. They’ll also let businesses keep selling single-use plastics until the end of 2023, if and only if they have them stockpiled already so that stuff doesn’t get thrown out unnecessarily. Canada joins the United Kingdom, members of the EU, and several other countries in implementing these types of bans. Meanwhile, here in the U.S., we still rank as the world’s leading contributor of plastic waste, according to a congressional report last year. Clearly grasping the urgency of the problem, our government announced its own gradual ban on single-use plastic earlier this year, but only on public lands and national parks, and not until 2032–um, doesn’t really seem like that will be making that much of a dent for quite a while. So, cool.
Gideon Resnick: It’s a good thing nothing will change between now and then. That’s the good news there.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. Cool.
Gideon Resnick: And those are the headlines. We’ll be back after some ads with an analysis of what could be the best anti-capitalist dance song of the summer.
Priyanka Aribindi: Just could be.
Gideon Resnick: It is Wednesday WAD squad, and for today’s temp check, we are talking about the latest shock wave to the U.S. labor movement. No, it is not that an Apple store in Maryland became the first one to unionize this weekend, though that was important. It was the release yesterday of the first single from Beyoncé’s upcoming album, Renaissance. Here is a small taste of “Break My Soul.”
Priyanka Aribindi: It’s about how much we allowed to play without getting sued.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah. We were getting right to the cusp. In addition to sampling vocals from New Orleans, bounce legend Big Freedia over a beat that turns work from home into work from the club, the song includes Beyoncé’s full endorsement of the great resignation. She sings, quote, “Now, I just fell in love and I just quit my job.” While Big Freedia tells us, quote, “Release your job, release the time.” Overall, the song carries a message of empowerment and resilience, but its “release your job” message contrasts strongly with the self-help advice of a different billionaire millennial icon, Kim Kardashian, who a few months ago told us this:
[clip of Kim Kardashian] Get your fucking ass up and work. It seems like nobody wants to work these days.
Priyanka Aribindi: Why is that set to piano?
Gideon Resnick: I don’t know. It’s perplexing every time. So Priyanka, a lot of big ideas here, but how are you responding to Beyoncé’s single and its message?
Priyanka Aribindi: Love Beyoncé. Fun little bop. I mean, it’s only been out for like, what, a day? I’m liking it so far. I think this is real big summer bop potential. Love the message. I mean, if you’re in a stable work situation, maybe don’t quit your job unless you absolutely have to, but, you know, I’m going to side with Beyoncé’s because I think it’s a better vibe and I think the background music is a lot better than Kim’s. I don’t know how she got stuck with piano. It’s got to be Beyoncé for me. Gideon, what is your take on this?
Gideon Resnick: It’s clearly Beyoncé.
Priyanka Aribindi: Clearly.
Gideon Resnick: I’m very excited for the like deejay that at some point is going to be clever enough to do a drop that involves both of these. I just want to say, at that point, when that deejay does that, I would like there to be a small credit to yours truly, who conceived of this very idea of mashing these two statements together. Beyoncé wins here. There’s a reason Big Freedia is not collaborating with Kim Kardashian.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. And one of these has been received a hell of a lot better than the other one. Just a note.
Gideon Resnick: It’s true. Just like that, we have checked our temps. They are hot because we are dancing to anti-capitalist jams.
Priyanka Aribindi: We’ve worked up a sweat.
Gideon Resnick: Definitely. That is all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe. leave a review, avoid disposable snow shoes, and tell your friends to listen.
Priyanka Aribindi: And if you’re into reading, and not just Beyoncé lyrics whenever guidance is needed like me, What A Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at Crooked.com/subscribe. I’m Priyanka Aribindi.
Gideon Resnick: I’m Gideon Resnick.
[together] Are you’re still the best in our show, dogs!
Gideon Resnick: That’s right.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, you are. No contest. That is why we don’t host a dog show, because everyone would be a winner. You know how many trophies we have to make? So many.
Gideon Resnick: I don’t have that many hands to hand that out.
Priyanka Aribindi: No. All that single-use plastic? Please. I know they allow it here, there are no rules, but like, we’re not about that.
Gideon Resnick: Public lands are where the dog show takes place, so we can’t do it. Sorry.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, we can’t.
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.
Gideon Resnick: Good news. WAD squad, Crooked coffee is officially here. Our first blend, What a Morning, is available in medium and dark roast They are both so delicious. I am a dark roast person myself but either will get you going for the day, no questions asked. Crooked coffee is specialty grade, ethically sourced, and small batch roasted to perfection. Plus we’re donating a portion of the proceeds to Register Her to help millions of women across the country vote. Go to Crooked.com/coffee to get your Crooked coffee now.
Priyanka Aribindi: Hey, What A Day listeners, in order to support our show, we need the help of some great advertisers. And we want to make sure that those advertisers are ones that you’ll actually want to hear about and get those discounts, but we need to learn a little bit more about you to make that possible. So go to podsurvey dot com/WhatADay and take a quick anonymous survey that will help us get to know you a little better. That way we can bring on advertisers that you won’t want to skip. Once you’ve completed a quick survey, you can enter for a chance to win a $100 Amazon gift card. Terms and conditions apply. Again, that is podsurvey dot com/WhatADay w h a t a d a y Thank you so much for your help. We really appreciate it.