In This Episode
- The Supreme Court announced more rulings on Thursday — one of which dealt a huge blow to gun control advocates. The court struck down a New York State law that had a strict permitting process for people who wanted to carry concealed guns in public. Leah Litman, co-host of Crooked’s Strict Scrutiny, joins us to discuss what this ruling could mean for the rest of the country.
- The January 6th House committee held its final hearing of the month on Thursday. The focus was on how former President Donald Trump tried to weaponize the Justice Department to push the Big Lie. Brian Beutler, Crooked’s editor-in-chief, joins us to unpack what we learned from this last month of hearings.
- And in headlines: Ukraine took its first step toward joining the European Union, the Education Department will cancel $6 billion dollars of federal student loan debt, and Netflix laid off 300 employees.
- Crooked’s “Strict Scrutiny” – https://crooked.com/podcast-series/strict-scrutiny/
- Crooked’s “Positively Dreadful” – https://crooked.com/podcast-series/rubicon/
Donate to Crooked Media’s Pride Fund – https://crooked.com/pride/
Follow us on Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/whataday/
Gideon Resnick: It’s Friday, June 24th. I’m Gideon Resnick.
Tre’vell Anderson: And I’m Tre’vell Anderson. And this is what a day where we are looking to overturn the results of the latest Westminster Dog show because it should have been a 3,000 way tie.
Gideon Resnick: Yes, but Trumpet the bloodhound is the winner, declaring to the world that droopy faces are indeed back.
Tre’vell Anderson: Sorry, plastic surgeons. This year it’s all about enhancing your jowls.
Gideon Resnick: On today’s show, yesterday was the last House hearing on the insurrection until July. So we’re going to recap the biggest things to know from that. Plus, Amazon unveiled that it has found a way to make Alexa sound like one of your dead relatives.
Tre’vell Anderson: Does not sound like something I want. But first, yesterday was yet another Supreme Court Opinion Day. There were a few rulings that came out. But Gideon, can you tell us about the big one that had many people worried?
Gideon Resnick: Yes. So one of the cases the court ruled on had to do with gun control, an issue that is very relevant right now, to say the least. The court basically struck down a law in New York that had a strict permitting process for people who wanted to carry concealed guns in public. And the decision affects similar laws on the books in five other states: California, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, and New Jersey. Justice Clarence Thomas wrote the majority opinion for the ruling and said that New York’s law goes against the Second Amendment and that, quote, “An individual’s right to carry a handgun for self-defense outside the home is protected by the Constitution.”
Tre’vell Anderson: Hate that. Don’t like it. Don’t want it. What reactions are we seeing to this news, Gideon?
Gideon Resnick: Yeah. People are not pleased. So right after the ruling was announced, New York Governor Kathy Hochul talked about potentially introducing legislation to counteract the decision. You also heard some New York City officials sounding very concerned here, too. President Biden also urged states to introduce their own gun control measures in the wake of the ruling. But the decision also dealt a huge blow to gun control advocates who may finally have had hope that things were changing, especially now that the Senate passed a bipartisan gun control deal last night that now heads to the House.
Tre’vell Anderson: Right. And so you got to talk to one of Crooked’s in-house experts on the Supreme Court to break all of this down, right?
Gideon Resnick: Yes. So to learn more about what this ruling means, some of the other rulings that actually came out yesterday, I spoke with Leah Litman. She is a co-host of Crooked’s Strict Scrutiny podcast. And she started by saying that it seems the court would only be okay with a state’s concealed carry law if it was pretty lenient.
Leah Litman: The laws that the majority and Justice Kavanaugh and the Chief Justice separate opinion described as constitutional were jurisdictions that would automatically issue permits as long as an applicant satisfied, you know, fingerprinting to verify their identification, a background check, a mental health records check, and training in firearms handling. The court also said we’re not calling into question gun restrictions that apply in sensitive areas. And they said, you know, sensitive areas include courts and legislatures. Now, what else might constitute a sensitive area is open to question, but that could be another spot that, you know, states try to press on.
Gideon Resnick: The other line that we were hearing was that President Biden was urging states to pass gun control measures in the wake of this ruling. Is that going to kind of be the pathway here in order to not have any of those bills end up being invalidated by the language of this decision?
Leah Litman: I think it is very much worth trying to pass gun control restrictions given the epidemic of gun violence in this country and, you know, substantial evidence that certain kinds of gun control restrictions save lives. It is worth it to try to pass restrictions and hope that the court, you know, does stick with, you know, the suggestions in this opinion that it’s not going to invalidate any and all restrictions on gun ownership. But, you know, we can’t be confident that they will actually do that.
Gideon Resnick: Right. A lot of people were pointing this out, but, you know, yesterday’s ruling came down as the Senate was working to pass gun reform legislation at the federal level for the first time, you know, since I was a toddler, I guess.
Leah Litman: Like 30 years, yeah.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah. Like, I guess, what does that say about where the Supreme Court is as an institution that, you know, even the Senate is moving in a different direction at this moment?
Leah Litman: I mean, look, the Supreme Court is wildly, wildly out of step with the American public on so many different issues, and gun restrictions are definitely one of them. How far out of step they are remains to be seen. You know, the package of gun reforms that the Senate, you know, is taking up and passing, you know, are not particularly aggressive ones. And I would think they would satisfy, you know, even this more restrictive legal test that the court announced in this decision. But it’s, again, really difficult to say that this court is actually going to stick with what it said in prior cases, given its utter disregard for precedent in other areas.
Gideon Resnick: And on that topic of, you know, utter disregard for precedent, we’re waiting on the Supreme Court ruling that, you know, that will likely overturn Roe v. Wade. So in that case, the message would seem to be the court saying that states can decide what laws to implement and follow, essentially, even when you’re talking about restrictions of rights, while the one here seems to say that states cannot do that, right? So what does that say about the court? It seems like there’s like an intellectual and ideological inconsistency, at least, in that.
Leah Litman: You know, you’re completely right. You know, the court is going to be saying, well, let’s return the issue of abortion to the states and to the democratic process. At the same time, you know that they are saying states basically can’t attempt to restrict gun violence, and the court is severely burdening their efforts to do so. I mean, the opinion is just extremely sloppy, you know, even on its own terms. You know, on one hand, Justice Thomas’s majority says, in order to determine whether the gun control measure is constitutional, you have to ask whether it fits within the historical tradition of gun regulations, i.e., does it look like gun regulations that existed at the time of the founding, or the 1800s? But then, on the other hand, he’s like, But of course, the Second Amendment applies to weapons that didn’t exist at the time of the founding or in the 1800s. I mean, they’re literally saying, you know, in order to determine whether a restriction on assault rifles is constitutional, you ask, Is this similar to a kind of restriction that states enacted on muskets? Like, come on, it just shouldn’t be taken seriously, even on its own terms, because it just doesn’t hold up.
Gideon Resnick: Right. Yes. The world has moved on in many ways, and one of them is the way in which guns are manufactured. So there are obviously a lot more decisions the court issued yesterday. I am particularly interested in the case that pertained to Miranda rights. Could you briefly tell us what that was about, what the ruling was, and what ramifications that’s going to actually have?
Leah Litman: So that case was about whether individuals who are not provided their Miranda warnings when police are questioning them and then have statements they made introduced at their trial, whether those individuals can sue the police officers who failed to give them Miranda warnings. And what that does is it really undermines, you know, the remedies, the way we enforce our constitutional rights. Because basically, let’s say, you know, you have your un-warned, un-Mirandized statements introduced at your trial. You are convicted. A court, you know, reverses your conviction. You still don’t have a remedy, anything to, you know, compensate you for all of the harm that was done to you in the interim. And this decision says, you know, you can’t actually, again, sue the officers for that constitutional violation.
Gideon Resnick: And Tre’vell, that was my conversation with Leah Litman, a co-host of Crooked’s Strict Scrutiny podcast. You can be sure to check out their newest episode that dives deeper into yesterday’s rulings and the impact they’ll have. It is very good.
Tre’vell Anderson: Turning to another big news story we’re following, the June finale of the January 6th hearings–I like to call it the midseason finale. See what I did there? Yesterday was the fifth and final hearing before Congress’s July 4th recess. Just in case your vacation brain might forget all the important stuff over the holiday, we’re here to recap all the good stuff to remember.
Gideon Resnick: Yes, vacation brain–that will almost certainly not involve air travel this year. But, you know, good for you if that’s something in the cards. Okay, Tre’vell, what was the focus of this hearing?
Tre’vell Anderson: So the focus of this hearing was to paint the picture of former President Donald Trump trying to weaponize the Justice Department. The DOJ really isn’t supposed to do any personal bidding for the president, but Trump obviously didn’t care. The panel outlined how in the weeks leading up to January 6th, Trump increasingly sought support only from people who would push his lies and conspiracies. As a Republican and House Committee member Adam Kinzinger says here, he didn’t get the answers he wanted from former Attorney General Bill Barr or Barr’s replacement, Jeffrey Rosen.
[clip of Rep Adam Kinzinger] He didn’t accept it from Attorney General Barr, and he wouldn’t accept it from Mr. Rosen either. So he looked for another attorney general, his third in two weeks. He needed to find someone who was willing to ignore the facts. That is not the norm.
Tre’vell Anderson: Now, not present at yesterday’s hearing was another important Justice Department official, former acting Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Clark. Clark was an ally of Trump who wanted to use the Justice Department to push the big lie. Trump wanted Clark to take Rosen’s AG position, but thankfully that did not happen. Now, Clark did meet with the House Committee back in February, but he pleaded the Fifth Amendment to not incriminate himself more than 100 times. Although in more shocking news, on Wednesday, federal investigators actually raided Clark’s home. Authorities didn’t confirm why they were there, but several news outlets reported that it was tied to the Justice Department’s investigation into the effort to overturn the 2020 election results.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah. And so what other big developments came out of the hearing itself?
Tre’vell Anderson: Well, in other really shocking news–a whole lot of shocking news in case you couldn’t tell–multiple GOP members of Congress, including Matt Gaetz and Mo Brooks, asked the White House for pardons before and after January 6th, which just bolsters the argument that they knew what they were doing was wrong. To unpack this hearing, and really the last month of hearings, I spoke to Crooked’s Editor in Chief, Brian Beutler. Brian has a new podcast that airs today called “Positively Dreadful”, which tries to make sense out of our crazy news landscape and explores why we should stay engaged, even when it can be overwhelming at times. I started out by asking Brian what his biggest takeaway from yesterday’s hearing was.
Brian Beutler: Oh, gosh. For me, as somebody who follows this stuff really closely, I’m always looking out for new information, and so just the sheer number of House Republicans who understood that they were doing something illegal in trying to overturn the election and then went to the White House to request pardons, we got a full list of names of those members of Congress. The fact that this reached outside of the Justice Department, acting Defense Secretary at the time actually tried to investigate a crazy conspiracy theory about whether some guy in Italy had hacked voting machines and–crazy stuff, right? But Trump managed to get people outside the Justice Department actually involved in trying to get people to think that that was true.
Tre’vell Anderson: Right. And former acting deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue was one of the former senior DOJ officials who testified yesterday. He was asked about a meeting he had with Trump back in late December of 2020. According to notes taken by Donoghue that day, Trump wanted the DOJ to call the election corrupt. Here’s an exchange between Representative Kinzinger and Donoghue during the hearing:
[clip of Rep Adam Kinzinger] So let’s now put up the notes where you quote the president, as you’re speaking to that. He said the president said, “Just say the election was corrupt and leave the rest to me and the Republican congressmen.” So, Mr. Donoghue, that’s a direct quote from President Trump, correct?
[clip of Richard Donoghue] That’s an exact quote from the president, yes.
Tre’vell Anderson: So, Brian, from your vantage point, what should we make of that?
Brian Beutler: It’s sort of harrowing to hear an official of Trump’s Justice Department attest to it under oath in public, but I think the main takeaway is that it’s yet more evidence that Trump understood that what he was doing was a corrupt scheme. Forget whether he thought he truly won the election in some delusional sense or not, he knew that he had skipped into undertaking illegal means to get his way. Who cares whether he thought he was justified in some sense? He knew that he needed this letter to go out so that the public got a misimpression about the election so that he could then lean on Republicans in Congress to give the election to the loser of the election. And it’s a big piece of the puzzle that I think that the committee is trying to put together for prosecutors who are watching this and for investigators who are watching this, that there’s no defense Trump can offer for his actions that should discourage a well-constituted jury from finding Trump guilty of crimes.
Tre’vell Anderson: Mm hmm. And now you have a new podcast that’s available today, “Positively Dreadful” that’s all about taking a deeper dove into the news and explaining why we should stay engaged. In the context of the January 6th hearings, I’m wondering if you find that people are staying engaged. Right? That was seemingly one of the points of doing these public hearings, and if not, how can we get people, if we need to be getting people, to stay engaged on this.
Brian Beutler: Positively Dreadful is going to be a show about how the overall news environment we all inhabit–and that’s not just politics, it’s culture, it’s law, it’s tech–in all these realms, I think that there’s widespread disquiet about the direction things are heading in, particularly among younger generations. The January 6th hearings are this sort of great case in point, where even if, you know, you don’t have the power in your hands to say, expel Donald Trump from politics, expel the whole fascist movement behind him from politics, you can still rally huge numbers of people, big audiences, the whole Congress, the whole national media, with information that you dig up through just diligence, right? And it’s having effect. It’s reaching down to more voters than I think even the members of the committee thought it would. It’s making Republican voters, even ones who like Donald Trump, have second thoughts about whether they want him to be the nominee for the Republican Party in 2024. It’s creating chaos and dissent among Republicans who are all kind of at war with each other now, because the truth of what they were up to is coming to light. And so this won’t be the end of the story of America’s small ‘d’ democratic backsliding, but it’s an example of why having full understanding of what’s happened and what’s creating that kind of discomfort can be empowering, and can help improve the state of affairs going forward, even if things aren’t fixed and don’t feel like they’re going to be fixed for a while.
Tre’vell Anderson: You mentioned the Republicans, and I want to stay right there for a moment because there was a recent poll by Yahoo! News and YouGov survey conducted right after the first hearing a few weeks ago that said 59% of Republicans polled said that they don’t believe the January 6th attack was part of a conspiracy to overturn the election. And 61% said they believe Trump acted appropriately on January 6th. Again, that was just after the first hearing. But I’m wondering, and you kind of forecasted this a little bit, are we getting a sense that it’s having some sort of real impact on Republicans and their thoughts about how we got to this point?
Brian Beutler: I do. People are complicated and they’re stubborn, and there are going to be some number of people who never hear anything about what the committee did, or who hear about what the committee has unearthed, kind of know in their guts that maybe Trump was lying all along, but they’ll never be able to really admit it–but I think that they will understand that whether they can bring themselves to come to terms with what happened, that Trump is irrevocably stained by having orchestrated it and then gotten caught and then having all this information come out about it. And ultimately, I think that many of them–not all–are going to decide that they’d prefer the Republican Party to have a better shot in the election than to let Donald Trump maintain ownership of the GOP. And if his standing within the GOP dips low enough, someone else will end up taking it over. Now, that’s not to say that everything will be great because that person is also going to be heavily Trump-influenced figure, right? He’s had an indelible imprint on the party. But it’s better. And so I think that if the committee could make a small influence in that direction, it will have been all worth it.
Tre’vell Anderson: And Gideon, that was my conversation with Crooked’s, Editor in Chief, and host of the new podcast, Positively Dreadful, Brian Beutler. New episodes drop every Friday. Please be sure to check them out.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, we’re going to continue to follow these hearings as they start up again next month when the House gets back from recess on July 11th. But that is the latest for now. Let’s get to some headlines.
Gideon Resnick: Ukraine is now on the path to maybe one day becoming a part of the European Union. Yesterday, the 27 countries that make up the EU agreed that Ukraine, as well as nearby Moldova, can be potential new members of their club. The announcement was a rebuke to Russia, which has tried to stop Ukraine from making ties with the West for over a decade. And if Ukraine does indeed join, it would receive a bunch of economic benefits because of lower trade barriers and more. But this step is just one of many in a long process that could take years. Ukraine would have to make some democratic and economic changes to fulfill the EU’s requirements first. Also in news for Ukraine, it’s likely that it’ll be blocked from hosting next year’s Eurovision Song Contest. This annual music competition is one of the most watched shows in the world, and Ukraine earned the right to host in 2023 because it took home this year’s trophy. Last week, Eurovision’s organizer, the European Broadcasting Union, or EBU, said the safety risk is too high for Ukraine to host because of the ongoing war. Ukrainian officials were outraged and tried to plead their case, but yesterday the EBU issued a statement doubling down on its decision. At the moment, talks are underway for this year’s runner-up, the U.K., to host instead.
Tre’vell Anderson: Fish and chips for everyone, I guess.
Gideon Resnick: Exactly.
Tre’vell Anderson: Good news for everyone who got fooled by the shadiest higher education: the Education Department announced on Wednesday that it will wipe out $6 billion of federal student loan debt for some 200,000 borrowers. It’s a settlement that came out of a class action lawsuit by former students who said they were defrauded by the schools they attended, nearly all of those schools being for-profit colleges like The Dream Center and the University of Phoenix. The plaintiffs first filed their suit in 2019, and they argued that the then-Trump administration unfairly froze the federal program designed to forgive their debt, leading claims to stack up for years or be outright denied. Because Biden’s job of cleaning up Trump’s messes is never done, his Education Department said it will immediately approve thousands of applications that had been gathering dust. The head of the Project on Predatory Student Lending, which represented the plaintiffs, applauded the agreement and said in a statement that it was, quote, “momentous.” Meanwhile, we’re still waiting on the president to fulfill his campaign promise to help out all borrowers, i.e. me. About 43 million Americans have federal student loan debt, and it’s expected Biden will announce his own plan to help those folks sometime before August 31st, when the pause on student loan repayments ends.
Gideon Resnick: Ooof. Yeah. Need to hear something on that. 300 isn’t just the best movie on Netflix, it is also the number of people Netflix laid off this week, twice as many as were axed last month. I apologize for all of the news that delivered in that sentence. The laid-off employees represent 3% of their workforce and included employees from all levels, even some of the brilliant execs who caused the hemorrhaging of 200,000 subscribers in the first quarter and for the stock price to fall 70% this year. But in case that wasn’t reason enough for Netflix to be your least favorite streaming service, CEO Ted Sarandos confirmed that ads are coming to Netflix. Speaking at a marketing conference yesterday, he said the company would try to boost subscribers by introducing an ad-supported plan. Netflix’s monthly plans currently range from 9.99 to 19.99, and those customers who don’t mind watching commercials could get it for even less by the end of the year. Even after losing subscribers, Netflix is still way out in front of the next-most popular streamer, Disney+, which isn’t firing anyone unless you count whoever used to play Buzz Lightyear. I think he is long gone out of all things on Disney+. No longer the draw that he once was.
Tre’vell Anderson: Absolutely. He’ll be fine. Will be fine. It’s totally okay.
Gideon Resnick: 100%.
Tre’vell Anderson: Finally, some actual real world justice: Bruce’s Beach in the Los Angeles area could soon be handed back to the descendants of the Black family that had it stolen from them nearly 100 years ago. A history lesson real quick, Willa Bruce initially bought the beachfront property in 1912 and she built a beach resort open to Black members, which in turn inspired other Black families to buy lots in houses next door. Then in the 1920s, the KKK conspired with an equally threatening group, local real estate agents, to drive the Bruces off the land. Their scare tactics didn’t work, though–should have been more racist racists–but eventually the city helped them out and just illegally condemned the property and evicted the Bruces, citing the need for a public park, which they did not bother building for decades. Well, on Wednesday, L.A. County officials announced the new proposed plan to transfer the property back to the Bruce’s heirs. The county will give the beach to them, but then rent the property for nearly $1,000,000 over the next two years to keep it a public park. The lawyers representing the family hope that this potential deal could be used as a playbook for other municipalities throughout the country to award their own reparations of stolen land. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mitchell Beckloff, stated that this move will, quote, “strengthen governmental integrity, represents accountability in government, and works to eliminate structural racism and bias.” We’re looking forward to the vote and it will be just in time for summer, so shout out to them.
Gideon Resnick: I was going to say, regarding what the lawyers were saying, like this has to be in just so many places, even in like L.A. county alone, right? Like, I would love to find out how many other Bruce’s Beaches there are.
Tre’vell Anderson: Absolutely.
Gideon Resnick: Because that is just absolutely crazy. Those are the headlines. We are going to be back with a story about an overlap between technology and a Ouija board. And in the center of that Venn diagram, creepiness. That is after some ads.
Gideon Resnick: It’s Friday WAD squad, and for today’s temp check, we are talking about the latest technological breakthrough to creep the hell out of you: the nosiest roommate of all time, Amazon’s Alexa, will soon be able to recreate the sound of anyone’s voice after hearing just one minute of them talking. Optimistically ignoring all the terrifying implications of this technology, Amazon trumpets the fact that Alexa could recreate the voice of your deceased loved one. Do you like audiobooks? Well, how about listening to Harry Potter read by your deceased grandma? Honestly, I bet her Snape is incredible. She probably just kills it. And don’t forget to record your elderly parents, so they can recite traffic conditions upon command forever. According to Rohit Prasad, the Senior Vice President and Head Alexa, scientists, quote, “We are unquestionably living in the golden era of AI, where our dreams and science fiction are becoming a reality.” So Tre’vell a lot of ways that this one could go. Whose voice do you want Alexa to learn?
Tre’vell Anderson: I do not want Alexa to learn any family member’s voice. I’m sure somebody would love having memaw reading out, you know, traffic directions to them or the weather. And that’s cute for them, but as for me, I think I would go with like, give me Andre Leon Talley, actually, reading out whatever may be. I could go with that. What about you, Gideon?
Gideon Resnick: That’s an amazing answer. And I think really like in the safe zone of people that are not related to us. I think that’s where I draw the line. Like, if it’s a famous person right, then it’s totally fine–well, not totally fine, it’s still certifiably scary. But is it’s less weird than like hearing a relative. I think that’s a tremendous answer. I was also thinking of David Attenborough, the nature documentary guy. You know, he’s getting up there in the years. It would be really fun to, like, hear the weather as if we were entering, like, Jurassic Park, like, that would give a good start to the day. Either of those seem safer then, grandma, all due respect. Because that’s just scary.
Tre’vell Anderson: Absolutely. Absolutely.
Gideon Resnick: Either way, I don’t know that I will be trying this anytime soon. Just like that, we have checked our temps. They are ice-cold from fear of our technological future. But we’re doing okay. One more thing before we go: this upcoming week is going to be my last here at What A Day. Now, I realize that could make it sound like I’m dying, but I am not as far as I’m aware. Of course, these last, almost, three years have been a gift I will truly cherish forever and ever. With the Amazon Alexa that we just talked about, apparently that can be your gift as well. You can cherish it, too. So keep this recording, I guess. But really, I am deeply grateful for everyone who has been a part of all of this. I will save more sappiness and my chance to talk about this team like a proud and oversharing uncle for next week, but that is all for today. That is all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe, leave a review, make a plan to host next year’s Eurovision Song Contest, and tell your friends to listen.
Tre’vell Anderson: And if you’re into reading, What a Day is also a nightly newsletter. And if you’re not into reading, maybe Alexa can read it to you in your grandfather’s voice, question mark. Check it out and subscribe at Crooked.com/subscribe. I’m Tre’vell Anderson.
Gideon Resnick: I’m Gideon Resnick.
[together] And bloodhounds are beautiful too.
Gideon Resnick: That’s right. This is a charming dog.
Tre’vell Anderson: You know what? I’m going to have to take your word for it, love.
Gideon Resnick: I showed you the picture, didn’t I?
Tre’vell Anderson: I mean, I saw it, but I’m just going to let you be the voice here.
Gideon Resnick: Okay? All right. 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, with help today from Nick Turner, and our executive producers are Leo Duran and me, Gideon Resnick. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.
Hey, What A Day listeners, being a parent is very hard. Of course, it can also be incredibly rewarding and delightful. Childproof is a new podcast about how we can raise kids without losing track of ourselves in the process. Host Yasmeen Kahn, a journalist and mom, brings us conversations and stories with fellow parents and experts on how to navigate this whole parenting thing, especially the shifts that happen within ourselves because parents are growing too. Listen to Childproof wherever you find your favorite podcasts.
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