In This Episode
- The House Select Committee investigating January 6th is back in action with another hearing today. Dan Pfieffer, co-host of Crooked’s “Pod Save America,” gives us a refresher on what we’ve learned so far and what to watch for today.
- And in headlines: Russia is ramping up its attacks on eastern Ukraine, a Minnesota judge struck down most of the state’s abortion restrictions, and actress Lea Michele will replace Beanie Feldstein in the Broadway revival of “Funny Girl.”
- Crooked Coffee is officially here. Our first blend, What A Morning, is available in medium and dark roasts. Wake up with your own bag at crooked.com/coffee
- Vote Save America: Fuck Bans Action Plan – https://votesaveamerica.com/roe/
Follow us on Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/whataday/
Josie Duffy Rice: It’s Tuesday, July 12th. I’m Josie Duffy Rice.
Tre’vell Anderson: And I’m Tre’vell Anderson, and this is What A Day, here to tell space, You look real cute in them new pics from the James Webb telescope.
Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah, of course, you always look gorgeous, and you’re way more than a pretty space, but we wanted to talk to you up just for a second.
Tre’vell Anderson: Yes. Just take the compliment. Soak in it. You deserve it.
Josie Duffy Rice: You really do.
Tre’vell Anderson: On today’s show, a Minnesota judge struck down most of the state’s restrictions on abortion. Plus, an intense heat wave in Texas has pushed the state’s electricity grid to the brink, again.
Josie Duffy Rice: But first, the House Select Committee investigating January 6th is back to hold another hearing today. This is the Committee’s first public hearing since the end of June. We have been following it here on WAD, but we know that between then and now, there’s been a whole holiday, a lot of barbecues, and that gripping season finale of Stranger Things on your minds– do not tell me what happened, I haven’t seen it yet. So we’re here to talk about what to watch for today. But first, let’s catch you up.
Jon Millstein: Previously on the Insurrection Hearings.
[clip of Rep. Bennie Thompson] Thanks to everyone watching tonight for sharing part of your evening to learn the facts and causes of the events leading up to, and including, the violent attack on January 6th.
[speaker] I mean, I saw friends with blood all over their faces. I was slipping in people’s blood.
[clip of William Barr] I made it clear I did not agree with the idea of saying the election was stolen and putting out this stuff, which I told the president was bullshit.
[clip of Richard Donoghue] The president said, Just say the election was corrupt, and leave the rest to me and the Republican congressmen.
[clip of Ruby Freeman] Do you know how it feels to have the President of the United States to target you? There is nowhere I feel safe.
[clip of Cassidy Hutchinson] The President said something to the effect of: I’m the acting president, take me up to the Capitol now.
Tre’vell Anderson: Oh, wow.
Josie Duffy Rice: Oh, my God.
Tre’vell Anderson: Wow.
Josie Duffy Rice: That was gripping.
Tre’vell Anderson: Law and order has nothing on us, okay?
Josie Duffy Rice: truly.
Tre’vell Anderson: Shout out to the production team.
Josie Duffy Rice: So those were some of the greatest hits from the first six public hearings the Committee has held thus far. Tre’vell, what should we expect today?
Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah. So today’s theme, or at least one of them, is the role extremists played, specifically the relationships Trump and his allies had with far-right extremists, like the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers, leading up to that day, during, and after. We also know that on Friday, the Committee interviewed former Trump White House counsel Pat Cipollone behind closed doors. We should expect to see some video from that testimony, and learn more about who Trump planned to pardon following people’s attempts to overturn the 2020 election.
Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah, so it sounds like we can expect a lot from today’s hearing.
Tre’vell Anderson: Absolutely. And earlier I spoke with our special insurrection correspondent, Dan Pfeiffer, one of the hosts of Crooked’s Pod Save America and author of “Battling the Big Lie.” I started our pregame convo by asking Dan to give us a little refresher on what we learned before the break.
Dan Pfeiffer: The last thing that happened was the biggest of all the hearings. Cassidy Hutchinson, the special assistant to Mark Meadows, Trump’s chief of staff, testified. She was the first Trump insider to testify publicly and tell what happened on that day, and the lead up to it. It contained a ton of revelations about what Trump knew, what folks at the White House were trying to do, how intertwined they were with the actual plan to overturn the election and the organizers of the rally. And according to a lot of legal experts, gave all of the criminal investigators a lot that you could potentially build a criminal case on.
Tre’vell Anderson: Mm hmm. You just mentioned Cassidy Hutchinson. As a refresher for the folks, the Committee’s last session before the break was, like, hastily put together because they wanted to bring in Cassidy. But from reporting last weekend, we now know why it was sort of sudden. Can you tell people about that?
Dan Pfeiffer: Based on what we know, they sped this up because, 1, she wanted to get her story out there. She was feeling under tremendous pressure. She had security at her home. There was a very ominous point at the end of her hearing where Liz Cheney read two text exchanges from people sent to witnesses that had all the markings of Sopranos-style witness intimidation. We now know from reporting from Punchbowl News and others, that one of the recipients of that text was Cassidy Hutchinson. It was sent by an ally of Mark Meadows’. And so I think the Committee had this opportunity to get this testimony out. They didn’t want to wait because of the congressional recess. Had they not done this hearing a couple of weeks ago, they were going to have to wait until now. And given the pressure on her, the security risk to her and her family, rushing it seemed better than waiting, to the Committee.
Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah. So now what would you say was like the ending message of the Committee, you know, before the break? That thing that was supposed to get us to come back, right?
Dan Pfeiffer: Well, what Cassidy Hutchinson testified to is that Trump knew the following things: 1, that he lost the election; 2, that there was real potential for violence on that day; 3, the crowd there to see him at the Stop the Steal rally was armed; 4, donald Trump, told the organizers to bring down the magnetometers, to get the crowd with the weapons in so that he would have a larger crowd site, including saying essentially–I’m paraphrasing here–What are you worried about, they’re not here to hurt me. And then he told a crowd he knew to be violent and knew to be armed to march on the Capitol. And then, once they were marching on the Capitol, he poured gasoline on the fire via tweets, and according to Hutchinson’s testimony, not even not bothered by the rioters, but supportive of them, including the idea that Mike Pence should be hung. So all in all, it does not paint a particularly pretty picture of our former president.
Tre’vell Anderson: That’s assuming the picture was somehow pretty before.
Dan Pfeiffer: Yes. Yeah. “It’s even worse than we thought” is the real theme of the last five or six years? Yes.
Tre’vell Anderson: Right. Okay. So now where do you think they will pick back up once we start seeing the hearing this morning?
Dan Pfeiffer: So we know a little bit about today’s hearing. One is they’re going to focus on the violent militia groups that were involved in the organizing of the rally, in the assault on the Capitol. There will be testimony from a former high-level Oath Keeper. He was a spokesperson for the Oath Keepers, who had a close relationship with Stewart Rhodes, who is the head of the Oath Keepers. There are going to be a couple of participants, reportedly in the riot themselves, in the insurrection themselves, who will testify. And then I think perhaps most interestingly, and the thing we know the least about now, is this hearing is supposed to focus some of his time on what Trump was doing in the White House during the rally. This has been a big mystery. Was he ambivalent? Was he actively resisting efforts to help? Why did it take so long to get the National Guard and other reinforcements called in? It’s possible we’re going to know a lot more about that by the end of today.
Tre’vell Anderson: Gotcha. So now over the weekend, we also got some other news that Donald Trump’s close ally, Steve Bannon, has agreed to testify before the Committee. And yesterday, a federal judge denied his request to postpone his criminal contempt trial that was set to start in just a few days. Should we be excited about this, do you think if he testifies that this will just be a stunt of sorts?
Dan Pfeiffer: Yeah, I am very skeptical that Steve Bannon has any interest in being helpful to the Committee or to the country. What is noticeable is he agreed to testify after Donald Trump wrote a letter waiving executive privilege. Now, what is also notable is that Donald Trump’s attorney told the FBI that at no point had Donald Trump specifically exerted executive privilege over anything specific involving Bannon. And the idea that Bannon was covered by executive privilege was always absurd. Bannon left the White House in 2017, I think, so the idea that he was covered by executive privilege about what happened on January 6th is totally absurd. But it seems very clear the reason he is agreeing to testify is because he does not want to go to jail. The federal government is pursuing up to two years in prison and huge fines against Bannon. But the Department of Justice is also saying, The crime you committed was eight months ago when you refused to abide by the subpoena that was sent by Congress. Coming back eight months later and saying that you’re going to do that, that you will testify, does not obviate the crime you obviously had. So that does not seem to have any impact, at least on the criminal case. It is expected to start on Monday. So we’ll have to see where that goes. But I don’t think Steve Bannon is about to become the John Dean of this hearing, you know, sort of referring to the Nixon counsel who turned on Nixon, I think he’s just trying to stay out of jail for one day longer, which may be a fruitless endeavor on his part, given his long criminal past.
Tre’vell Anderson: Right. So what will you specifically be paying attention to in the upcoming hearings that we will have throughout this month? What is still outstanding for you?
Dan Pfeiffer: So some of the things that I’m looking for we might learn more about today. The first is the specific interactions and relationships between Trump, close Trump aides, and these right-wing militia groups, like the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys. There were some references in Cassidy Hutchinson’s testimony about Mark Meadows dialing into a meeting at the War Room at the Willard, where they were actively planning this. Some conversations with Roger Stone, who was very close to the Oath Keepers. The Oath Keepers were providing security for Roger Stone, the former Trump campaign aide, on the day of January 6th. And then what we really want to know, the big cliffhanger is: what is Merrick Garland going to do? Is someone going to jail, right? Is he going to charge Trump? And that could be months away. But these hearings are at least giving us a path of what that could look like were he to do so.
Tre’vell Anderson: And Josie, that was my conversation with Crooked’s own Dan Pfeiffer.
Josie Duffy Rice: Today’s hearing begins at 1 p.m. Eastern Time. Be sure to check out the live group thread by Crooked hosts reacting to it in real time. That’ll be on YouTube.com /CrookedMedia. And that is the latest for now. We’ll be back after some ads.
Josie Duffy Rice: Let’s get to some headlines.
Josie Duffy Rice: The war in Ukraine continues, and the most recent updates have been devastating, to say the least, now that Russia has begun targeting more residential areas in the country. On Saturday, a Russian rocket strike hit an apartment block in the eastern city of Chasiv Yar, killing at least 29 people and injuring several others. As we’re going to record on Monday at 9:30 p.m. Eastern, emergency workers were still trying to free people trapped under the wreckage. And just yesterday, a Russian missile strike hit a residential area in the city of Kharkiv, killing at least three people and injuring 28 others there. The youngest of the dead was 16-years old. Both attacks make it clear that Moscow is ramping up its attacks in eastern Ukraine, and hopes to take control of the embattled Donbas region, and according to Ukrainian officials, it seems that Moscow’s goal is to declare victory there before moving west.
Tre’vell Anderson: In some much-needed good news about abortion access, yesterday, a Minnesota court ruled that several of the state’s abortion restrictions violate its constitution. The ruling does away with Minnesota’s 24-hour waiting period and lifts the requirement for minors to inform both of their parents before seeking an abortion. It also allows people to seek abortions from providers outside of hospitals, and it throws out laws that would make performing the procedure a felony. Now, on a federal level, President Biden’s Department of Health and Human Services told health care providers that they must provide abortions to people whose lives would be at risk without the procedure. The new guidance is based on the idea that a federal law called the Emergency Medical Treatment and Act of Labor Act takes precedence over state-level abortion bans.
Josie Duffy Rice: For the first time ever, a pharmaceutical company is seeking FDA approval to sell its birth control pills over the counter, meaning you wouldn’t need a prescription to get them. The company in question, HRA Pharma, claims that the move is not related to the recent political attacks on reproductive rights, or the Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade, but if approved, the move would make birth control pills much more accessible as conservative states consider restricting access to contraceptives. The process might take a while, though. It could be up to a year until the FDA gives a green light. And the decision would only apply to HRA Pharma’s pills.
Tre’vell Anderson: Texas’s power grid is psyching itself up in the mirror again for another day of intense heat. Record breaking temps began on Sunday, hitting 113 degrees in some areas, and prompting ERCOT, the operator of the state’s grid, to ask Texans to conserve electricity between 2 and 8 p.m. yesterday. The idea is that by forgoing air conditioning and instead cooling off by conjuring a mental image of an ice cube, people can avoid blackouts. Notably, those blackouts wouldn’t be so prevalent in Texas if the state hadn’t pushed for energy independence and deregulation throughout the 20th century.
Josie Duffy Rice: Pretty bold of Texas politicians to ask Texans to think of the collective, you know. Just think about all of us. Just go without your air conditioning between 2 and 8. It’s really about all of us. Speaking of reasons, we need to apologize to Mother Nature: there’s an over-2000 acre wildfire burning in California’s Yosemite National Park right now–that is a very devastating sentence. The fire has entered Mariposa Grove, which is home to more than 500 giant sequoia trees, some of which are thought to be over 2000-years old. Fire crews seem optimistic that the sequoias will be protected. One of the largest ones has even been equipped with its own sprinkler system. And parts of the park that are relatively less on fire are still accessible to visitors.
Tre’vell Anderson: Personal sprinkler systems? We love to see it.
Josie Duffy Rice: I love it. I need one.
Tre’vell Anderson: Absolutely. And lastly, some drama in the world of drama yesterday, as actress Lea Michele was announced as the replacement for Beanie Feldstein in Broadway’s revival of Funny Girl. Feldstein announced on Instagram this Sunday that she’d leave the show early, citing a decision by the production to, quote, “take the show in a different direction”–never good, coded language there. Yesterday, it was revealed that that direction is straight towards Lea Michele, who has often expressed interest in starring in Funny Girl, but was initially passed over for the role in this revival. Part of what makes the Funny Girl recasting saga–or Funnygate, as we’re calling it–so controversial is Michele’s reputation. Multiple cast members on her old show, Glee, have accused her of racist and cruel behavior. In one case, she allegedly threatened to, quote, “shit in the wig” of her costar Samantha Wear, where responded to the casting announcement yesterday by tweeting in part, quote, “Yes, I’m Black. Yes, I was abused. Yes, my dreams were tainted. Yes, Broadway upholds whiteness.”
Josie Duffy Rice: I have a lot of questions about threatening to shit in someone’s wig, but I’m not going to ask them right now.
Tre’vell Anderson: It’s a lot.
Josie Duffy Rice: Because it’s not the time.
Tre’vell Anderson: It’s not the time.
Josie Duffy Rice: But we will be having a special episode of WAD later this week.
Tre’vell Anderson: I will just say, Lea Michele is going to sing her face off in this role.
Josie Duffy Rice: I know! It’s going to be really good.
Tre’vell Anderson: Listen, all of the Rachel Berry stans out there, this is for you, okay?
Josie Duffy Rice: I truly do love Beanie Feldstein, but you just can’t deny that Lea Michele is going to destroy this role, in a good way.
Tre’vell Anderson: Absolutely.
Josie Duffy Rice: And those are the headlines. That is all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe, leave a review, visualize an ice cube, and tell your friends to listen.
Tre’vell Anderson: And if you are into reading, and not just the lines for your new part in Funny Girl like me–I obviously have the starring role, What a Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out. Subscribe at Crooked.com/subscribe. I’m Tre’vell Anderson.
Josie Duffy Rice: I’m Josie Duffy Rice.
[together] And keep shining, space.
Tre’vell Anderson: Yes, we need you.
Josie Duffy Rice: Okay, so if you have the starring role, who am I? I haven’t seen Funny Girl so I don’t know.
Tre’vell Anderson: Me either. I’m no help.
Josie Duffy Rice: You’re like, all I know is I’m the star.
Tre’vell Anderson: I just know I’m the center of attention.
Josie Duffy Rice: I love it. I admire it. I support it. 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 producer is Leo Duran. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.