In This Episode
- Embattled UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that he’ll be stepping down after three years in office. This comes after many members of the government have lost confidence in his leadership over several scandals throughout his career.
- After 140 days in custody, WNBA star Britney Griner appeared before a Russian judge and pleaded guilty to the criminal charges against her. As charged, she faces up to 10 years in a Russian penal colony.
- And in headlines: Derek Chauvin was sentenced to 21 years in federal prison, former Theranos President Sunny Balwani was found guilty of fraud, and President Biden honored 17 Americans with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
- Vote Save America: Fuck Bans Action Plan – https://votesaveamerica.com/roe/
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Tre’vell Anderson: It’s Friday, July 8th. I’m Tre’vell Anderson.
Erin Ryan: And I’m Erin Ryan, and this is What A Day, encouraging listeners to come forward if they’re also a secret child of Elon Musk.
Tre’vell Anderson: We just found out that he has two more kids, but for all we know, there could be hundreds of you out there.
Erin Ryan: I have no idea how old he is, so this could apply to you if you’re anywhere between 1 and, I don’t know, 45-years old.
Tre’vell Anderson: On today’s show, we’ll explain the possible path to freedom for Brittney Griner, now that she pleaded guilty to the charges against her in Russian court. Plus, Jeff Bezos’s yacht is landlocked in the Netherlands.
Erin Ryan: But first, embattled U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced yesterday that he’ll be stepping down as head of the Conservative Party, and eventually moving out of 10 Downing Street entirely, after three years in office.
Tre’vell Anderson: Has it only been three years? It feels like an eternity. What finally got him at this point?
Erin Ryan: I honestly feel like I’ve aged 30 years during the three years that he’s been the Prime Minister. During his resignation speech, Johnson said that a, quote, “herd mentality from his party forced him out”, but if you ask literally anybody else, it was a verifiable pile up of unflattering stories, revealing a tangle of lies atop lies, that caused so many members of the U.K. government to lose confidence in him that he couldn’t possibly be an effective leader. So let’s recap some of the basics. Johnson, an ex-journalist and former mayor of London, had been at the head of the U.K. government through some rocky times, and maintained the support of his party and conservative U.K. voters through most of it, despite being a known liar. He was, after all, head Brexit cheerleader and famously tried to get away with secretly partying through the COVID lockdowns he enforced on regular Brits. But earlier this year, his party underperformed in local elections, and a month ago, he barely eked through a “no-confidence” vote from conservatives. What ultimately was the last straw that brought him down, however, was a sexual misconduct scandal involving a Johnson appointee named Chris Pincher.
Tre’vell Anderson: He must be very upset that somebody else’s foolishness is the reason he no longer is in power.
Erin Ryan: Yes! It’s true, because he’s had a whole career of foolishness, and now it’s somebody else. It’s sort of like, you know, give him some credit for what an idiot he’s been. Well, without getting too in the weeds, sexual harassment allegations against Pincher, the former conservative Member of Parliament, or MP, surfaced late last month. Johnson dragged his feet suspending Pincher, claiming he had no idea that the man was a sex creep when he appointed him to the position of deputy chief whip. But to quote Maury Povich, that was a lie. U.K. press found that Pincher had a decade-long trail of misconduct allegations against him, some of which it turns out Johnson knew about specifically before appointing him. Meanwhile, conservative U.K. politicians were appearing on TV to defend the prime minister’s lies, only to be embarrassed by news stories that turned them into liars. As all this was going down, dozens of MPs resigned in protest, while others in Johnson’s own party called for him to step aside. Johnson fought tooth and nail for his political life, but finally, at 9 a.m. local time on July 7th, that became untenable. Here’s the future former PM:
[clip of PM Boris Johnson] I know that there will be many people who are relieved and perhaps quite a few who will also be disappointed. And I want you to know how sad I am to be giving up the best job in the world, but thems the breaks.
Tre’vell Anderson: “Thems the breaks.” Put it on a T-shirt. I want it now. But I must say, he doesn’t sound very sorry.
Erin Ryan: No, he said, he’s sad, but he didn’t say he was sorry. And I don’t think that he is very sorry. While he says he’s stepping down from his party now, he says he won’t abandon his post right away. So the way it works in the U.K., his own party, the Conservatives, are in the majority, so they’ll have to vote in a new prime minister to replace him, and there’s no clear frontrunner in that race. So some observers say Johnson could be a lame-duck prime minister until the end of the summer, which many in his party don’t like at all.
Tre’vell Anderson: It’s kind of like breaking up with somebody, but you have three months left in your lease that neither of you wants to move out. It’s just, you know, an untenable situation. You know?
Erin Ryan: Untenable situation. Also, I’ve heard in London, it’s really hard to find an apartment, so I don’t blame him for wanting to hang on and just ride it out until the very end, even though he’s going to have to time bathroom breaks so that he’s not in there with any other British citizens. Yeah, so there’s a lot going on in this story and given the pace of it, there will likely be more on this in the coming days or hours, so we’ll be keeping an eye on it.
Tre’vell Anderson: Now to an update on the Russian trial of WNBA star Brittney Griner. As we mentioned on the show yesterday and for the last few months, Brittney Griner was first arrested in Russia back in February. Authorities at the Moscow airport found vape cartridges with cannabis oil in her luggage and accused the Olympic gold medalist of attempting to smuggle a, quote, “significant amount of drugs” into the country. Well, yesterday, after 140 days in custody, and on the second day of her trial, Griner appeared before a Russian judge and pleaded guilty to the charges. But she gave a disclaimer that she did not actually intend to break Russian law, that it was an accident. Here’s her lawyer, Alexander Boykov, speaking to the press after the hearing.
[clip of Alexander Boykov] She’s a responsible person and she admitted that it was hers, but she said that it was unintentionally brought to Russia because she was in a hurry as she was packing and it was just by accident that it ended up in her luggage.
Erin Ryan: What a nightmare. Literally, every time I have taken a big trip, that has been like my nightmare situation to accidentally pack something that I’m not supposed to bring to another country. Ugh, terrible. So how does a guilty plea impact her detainment?
Tre’vell Anderson: Well, it’s too soon to tell, really. As charged, Brittney Griner faces up to ten years in a Russian penal colony. While her lawyer told press that they are, quote, “hoping for the softest sentencing possible” what we know is that her guilty plea will likely accelerate her case’s conclusion, though, what exactly that conclusion is is not yet clear. Experts are saying that Griner’s best hope is that the Biden administration will secure her freedom and perhaps the freedom of other detained Americans in Russia, by orchestrating a trade. One such name has emerged as a possible candidate. That is Viktor Bout, a former Russian military officer who made a fortune in global arms trafficking before he was caught in a federal sting operation. He’s currently serving a 25-year prison sentence here in the U.S., but Russian officials have made it clear that they won’t even entertain such an idea until they’ve completed their formal judicial process. Which is partially why we haven’t seen much movement in the effort to get Brittney Griner back home.
Erin Ryan: There is something about that trade that feels uneven to me. We’re like, Give us back our national treasure WNBA player who can dunk, and will give you an international arms dealer?! Come on, that seems really unbalanced. Reports have said that this has all been complicated even further because of America’s support of Ukraine against Russia’s ongoing invasion. Can you explain how?
Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah, so the long and short of it is that the tension between the U.S. and Russia is at its worst level in decades, right now. We’ve covered at length how involved the U.S. government and its allies have become in the war, providing money, weapons, and allegedly, intel, to help the Ukrainians. And obviously, Russia is not happy about it, especially as many would say the war would not still be going on if Ukraine didn’t have such support. But because of that, it makes it kind of hard for, you know, Biden to call up Putin and make a deal, so there are really few options for the Biden administration left. Russia is also seemingly very tired of us all and our elected officials causing a stink about Brittney Griner. Their deputy foreign minister, Sergei Ryabkov, told Russian press yesterday, quote, “hype and publicity only gets in the way in this particular instance. This does not just distract from the case, but creates interference in the truest sense of the word. That’s why silence is needed here.”
Erin Ryan: From the beginning of this case, there has been so much confusion and conflicting information about whether it’s helpful or not for us to talk about this case. And I really hope she’s back in safety soon, not just because she shouldn’t be in prison–I really want to know what’s really going on behind the scenes here, because it seems like there’s a lot we don’t know.
Tre’vell Anderson: Absolutely. And as of now, Griner’s case is still ongoing. She told the court that she would have more to say on the next day of her trial, which is scheduled for next week on July 14th. In the meantime, the WNBA All-Star Game is happening this weekend in Chicago. Brittney Griner, who is a seven-time All-Star herself, has been named an honorary starter for the festivities. We know that the WNBA, those women are super involved and super active in letting you know how they feel about various social issues so I’m sure we will see some sort of displays there, but we will keep you all posted on any other developments with Brittney Griner. But that is the latest for now. Let’s get to some headlines.
Tre’vell Anderson: A damning new report on the Uvalde school shooting was released on Wednesday, and it revealed that the local police had multiple opportunities to stop the gunman. The Texas Department of Public Safety commissioned this report soon after the shooting occurred back in May, and it was in response to community members wanting to know why it took law enforcement so long to act that day. Well, the 26-page report includes this unsettling finding that an armed police officer watched the gunman walk toward the school but didn’t fire at the shooter because he was waiting for permission from a supervisor. This is one of many incidents that hadn’t been previously reported and is seen as a failure of the police to protect the 21 people, nearly all children, who were killed that day.
Erin Ryan: I feel like everything we learn about law enforcement response on that day points to the fact that a 26-page report could be condensed into a single page that says the police were really, really bad at their jobs. Really bad at their jobs. Now a couple of sentencing updates: a federal judge sentenced former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin to 21 years in prison yesterday for violating George Floyd’s civil rights. Chauvin is already serving jail time for murdering Floyd. Under a new plea deal, he will serve his federal and state sentences at the same time from a federal prison.
Tre’vell Anderson: Meanwhile, the country once again failed to support entrepreneurs, as former Theranos president, Sunny Balwani was found guilty on a dozen counts of conspiracy and fraud. Balwani could face up to 20 years in prison, and he’s expected to be sentenced in the fall. His former lover, and self-taught blood scientist, Elizabeth Holmes, was found guilty of fraud and conspiracy back in January, and she will be sentenced around the same time.
Erin Ryan: All I want to know is if this means there will be more episodes of The Dropout starring Amanda Seyfried and costarring Hysteria’s own Michaela Watkins. Because that show is awesome. I need there to be more of it.
Tre’vell Anderson: I need to check it out. I haven’t seen it yet.
Erin Ryan: Oh, my gosh. Please! She becomes her. Amanda Seyfried becomes Elizabeth Holmes. It is so good. So good. You gotta watch. The IRS announced yesterday that it has requested a full investigation into the audits of former FBI director James Comey and his deputy, Andrew McCabe. This news came after The New York Times reported earlier this week that both men were hit with intense and invasive tax audits during former President Trump’s term. Both of them, who are known enemies of Trump’s, were audited for the year 2017, and the Times’s report questioned how the audits might have been politically motivated, as well as how coincidental it was that both men were targeted, despite how the IRS claims that such audits are, quote unquote, “random.” For context, the odds of someone getting audited this intensely are one in 30,600. The IRS has denied that any foul play was involved in Comey and McCabe’s audits, and Trump claims he had no knowledge of the matter.
Tre’vell Anderson: You know what? As long as the audit is not coming my way, I’m okay with it. I hate to say it, but that’s how I feel.
Erin Ryan: That’s your truth. You have to say it.
Tre’vell Anderson: That is my truth. Exactly. On Thursday, President Biden honored 17 Americans with the nation’s highest civilian honor and also its heaviest necklace: The Presidential Medal of Freedom. Among the recipients are Olympic gymnast Simone Biles and U.S. women’s soccer star Megan Rapinoe, both of whom have fought for change and accountability in their respective sports. Other honorees include titans of the civil rights movement, like the late activist Diane Nash and lawyer Fred Gray. Also honored was intensive care nurse Sandra Lindsay. She was the first person to ever receive a COVID vaccine outside of clinical trials.
Erin Ryan: Tre’vell, I want to talk a little bit about the fact that you mentioned that this necklace is very heavy. I feel like putting it on Simone Biles is the only way to slow her down. Have you ever seen, like, a slow motion her like, in the air flipping? Like, she could really do some damage, unless we give her a very heavy necklace. So good on President Biden for getting out in front of that. So much for same day delivery. The city of Rotterdam in the Netherlands announced it will not help Amazon founder Jeff Bezos to receive his new half-billion dollar yacht by dismantling a historic bridge. Backing up a bit in February, the city considered dismantling a part of the nearly century-old bridge so that Bezos 400 foot yacht could sail out of the area where it was being constructed. Without modifications, the boat wouldn’t have been able to pass underneath without producing some kind of Evergiven, but vertical, scenario. Do you remember ever given?
Tre’vell Anderson: Unfortunately.
Erin Ryan: It’s the boat that got stuck in the Suez Canal and we were all like, The boat got stuck. It was like the simplest, easiest news story to understand of all time. Now the boat’s not stuck. Anyway, this would have been a vertical Evergiven scenario. Many Rotterdam residents objected to the planned disassembly, leading thousands of them to threaten boat vandalism on a Facebook event page titled “Throwing Eggs at Superyacht.” Jeff Bezos okay, there are better things to throw them eggs. Bigger things to throw than eggs. Smellier things to throw. Use your creativity. I know that there are great artists who come from the Netherlands, I know that the creative place–be more creative about what you’re throwing at a billionaire’s yacht. Last week, Local News reported that amid these objections, the yacht’s builder is no longer seeking a permit to dismantle the bridge. This leaves the big and lonely boat basically stranded–bad news for the boat, but good news for Bezos’s spaceship, which was in danger of becoming his second favorite toy. Tre’vell, is this a metaphor?
Tre’vell Anderson: It’s a sign of the times, Erin. Who knows what it really means, but everybody better watch out, I guess. And those are the headlines. We’ll be back after some ads with our thoughts about the new sport known as dry soccer.
Tre’vell Anderson: It’s Friday WAD squad, and for today’s temp check, we’re talking about a plan to make the most uneventful sport even less eventful. Qatar’s World Cup stadiums are set to be alcohol-free, according to a report yesterday from Reuters, in accordance with the ban on public alcohol consumption in the majority-Muslim country. Until now, the question of booze availability at this year’s games had been a matter of speculation. We now know that international attendees will only be able to buy alcohol at a nearby FIFA fan zone at certain times. Given the close ties between what British people call football and what British people call “getting pissed”, all this seems to make Qatar a less than ideal place to host the tournament. The fact that same sex-relationships are illegal in the country is another major con. So Erin, what’s your take on all of this?
Erin Ryan: So I think it’s pretty well established at this point that Qatar is the worst place possible to host the World Cup, and that it was picked for the World Cup because of like a deep tradition of corruption within FIFA and it’s bad. It’s a bad pick. But I will say that the silver lining here is that fans can rely on their ingenuity to figure out very inventive ways to smuggle alcohol in the stadium, like we used to do when I was in college and we were not allowed to have alcohol in the stadium. We would do things like put a container of alcohol in like the crevasses in our bodies, between our breasts, under our arms.
Tre’vell Anderson: The crevasses, I love that.
Erin Ryan: The crevasses, in boots, in creative shoes. So what do you think of all this?
Tre’vell Anderson: You know, I don’t know if I would encourage the folks to get creative in getting the alcohol into the stadium. You know, maybe this is just a great opportunity for some sober soccer viewing for once. Why not?
Erin Ryan: [laughs] Oh, man. I feel like a lot of people watching soccer sober would be like I have devoted decades of my life to the fandom of something that is not that interesting unless I’m imbibing. But you know what? That’s another topic for another day.
Tre’vell Anderson: Well, you know, I watch Ted Lasso sober, and I enjoyed it. That’s as close as I’m getting. And just like that, we’ve checked our temps. They’re super sober right now–shout out to all of the World Cup people.
Erin Ryan: Oh, man. Watching Ted Lasso sober. I mean, hugs are a drug on Ted Lasso. It’s all about hugs and lessons. One more thing before we go: it’s the last day of the Crooked’s summer warehouse sale. Right now get 15% off site-wide and up to 90% off new sale items. To stock up head to Crooked.com/subscribe store.
Tre’vell Anderson: That’s all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe, leave a review, become a professional blood scientist, and tell your friends to listen.
Erin Ryan: And if you are into reading, and not just the all-soda drink menu at the 2022 World Cup stadium like me, What A Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at Crooked.com/subscribe. I’m Erin Ryan.
Tre’vell Anderson: I’m Tre’vell Anderson.
[together] And good luck with your next boat, Mr. Bezos!
Tre’vell Anderson: I don’t know if he needs much luck, right?
Erin Ryan: Not need any! He is fine. He can have bad luck for the rest of his life and he is fine.
Tre’vell Anderson: And still be okay.
Erin Ryan: Yeah.
Tre’vell Anderson: What A Day is a production of Crooked Media. It’s recorded and mixed by Bill Lancz. Jason 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.