In This Episode
- Tennessee House Republicans voted to expel two of three Democratic lawmakers for “disorderly behavior,” after leading a demonstration inside the state Capitol against gun violence. It marks the first time in state history that any House member has been removed for violating the chamber’s rules on decorum.
- In a bombshell report, the nonprofit newsroom ProPublica found that U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has been treated to lavish gifts and vacations by a GOP mega donor for years. The revelations have prompted calls from progressive lawmakers to impeach Thomas for violating federal ethics laws.
- And in headlines: Idaho has made it illegal to help pregnant minors travel out-of-state for an abortion without their parents’ consent, the Supreme Court made its first decision on transgender athletes, and Sean “Diddy” Combs said he’s still paying Sting for sampling ‘Every Breath You Take.’
- Vote Save America: Vote Save Tennessee – https://secure.actblue.com/donate/vsatn
- ProPublica: Clarence Thomas and the Billionaire – https://www.propublica.org/article/clarence-thomas-scotus-undisclosed-luxury-travel-gifts-crow
- Abortion Finder: Find Verified Abortion Care & Support in the U.S. – https://www.abortionfinder.org/
- Drag March LA: RSVP – https://tinyurl.com/ykxe6naa
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Tre’vell Anderson: It’s Friday, April 7th. I’m Tre’vell Anderson.
Priyanka Aribindi: And I’m Priyanka Aribindi. And this is What A Day where we hope we all get to have a good Friday.
Tre’vell Anderson: Whether the Romans sentence you for a crime or it’s one of those free donut days at the office. Find your happiness.
Priyanka Aribindi: [laugh] For everyone’s sake, let’s hope your day errs more towards the latter. I for one, I’d love a donut. [music break]
Tre’vell Anderson: On today’s show, the Supreme Court issued its first decision regarding transgender athletes. Plus, Diddy is still paying big bucks for a sample he used in the nineties.
Priyanka Aribindi: Okay. Going to dig into that a little more because I’m very curious. But first, Tennessee’s Republican led state House voted yesterday to expel Representatives Justin Jones and Justin Pearson. They represented the Nashville and Memphis areas, respectively. They are two of the three Democratic lawmakers, two Black men, I may add, who stopped house proceedings last week to join protesters who were demanding gun control following the deadly Covenant School shooting in Nashville, Tennessee. Gloria Johnson, the third lawmaker in question who represents Knoxville, narrowly held on to her seat after the attempt to expel her failed by just one vote. Take a listen to the protesters who gathered at Tennessee State House ahead of this vote.
[clip of protesters gathered at the Tennessee State House] Free free free, free the Tennessee three! Free free free, free the Tennessee three!
Tre’vell Anderson: You know, it’s kind of wild that, like, people have to, like, get together and, like, protest such an action like this. It’s absurd that they would even consider a vote for this particular reason to expel these people. Um. And I know we’ll jump in to in a moment the fact that the two Black guys–
Priyanka Aribindi: Oh yeah.
Tre’vell Anderson: –got expelled and not the white woman.
Priyanka Aribindi: Mm hmm.
Tre’vell Anderson: To get us started, talk to us about how we even got here into this mess.
Priyanka Aribindi: Definitely. There is a lot and I will unfold all of it for you. So all three of these Democratic lawmakers led a demonstration through the Tennessee State Capitol last week calling for gun reform in the wake of the Covenant School shooting. That shooting killed three children and three adults in Nashville. Republicans hold a supermajority in both chambers of the Tennessee General Assembly. They not only resisted those calls for action from their colleagues, from their constituents, they proceeded to seek retaliation against their colleagues participation in the demonstrations in the most anti-democratic way they possibly could by voting to expel them from the chamber. According to the GOP majority and the Tennessee House Speaker. These Democrats allegedly violated decorum rules and were leading a, quote, “insurrection”, which A.) absolutely not the case. And B.) Is a word that Republicans are determined to make us regret reintroducing into the collective lexicon.
Tre’vell Anderson: Listen.
Priyanka Aribindi: It will be uh completely bastardized, will not mean anything once they are done with it.
Tre’vell Anderson: I already regret it. Okay. I already regret it.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yes, we all do. We all take it back. It goes without saying these days. This, of course, completely unprecedented. They basically voted to kick out their colleagues for expressing basic rights that Americans have because they don’t agree with them. County and city officials will choose the delegates to serve in the vacant seats left by Pearson and Jones until the next scheduled election in August 2024. So–
Tre’vell Anderson: Wow.
Priyanka Aribindi: –this is a really long vacancy for these people who were democratically elected, who were kicked out in this way that is very not democratic. Also incredibly important to note here, as you hit on, Jones and Pearson were the two youngest Black lawmakers in the General Assembly. Johnson, who is white, told reporters that the difference in outcome between herself and her colleagues, quote, “might have something to do with the color of our skin.”
Tre’vell Anderson: Which, you know.
Priyanka Aribindi: She’s absolutely right there.
Tre’vell Anderson: And it just goes to show us that, like they’re not really hiding anymore.
Priyanka Aribindi: No.
Tre’vell Anderson: If you kow what I mean.
Priyanka Aribindi: Oh no.
Tre’vell Anderson: Like, it’s very—
Priyanka Aribindi: This is so blatant.
Tre’vell Anderson: –blatant, very obvious. That makes it even even worse to me.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yes. It’s so brazen.
Tre’vell Anderson: Yes, it’s very frustrating.
Priyanka Aribindi: I want to play this clip from Representative Jones. It really highlights the hypocrisy and the injustice of what’s happening here.
[clip of Justin Jones] Let’s talk about expulsion. For years one of your colleagues who was an admitted child molester sat in this chamber. No expulsion. One member sits in this chamber who was found guilty of domestic violence. No expulsion. We had a former speaker sit in this chamber who is now under federal investigation. No expulsion. We have a member still under federal investigation. No expulsion. We had a member pee in another member’s chair in this chamber. No expulsion.
Tre’vell Anderson: Wait, now, hold on, y’all peeing in people’s chairs in the chamber?
Priyanka Aribindi: Yup.
Tre’vell Anderson: What is going on?
Priyanka Aribindi: And no expulsion. No expulsion. But for leading a peaceful protest, calling for action on gun reform. You’re going to kick these people out of their jobs.
Tre’vell Anderson: That’s another thing, right? They used the language of insurrection. But let’s note that what happened on January 6th is not what happened here. Right. Like the violence–
Priyanka Aribindi: Did they storm the Capitol–
Tre’vell Anderson: Exactly.
Priyanka Aribindi: –with guns, like–
Tre’vell Anderson: Exactly.
Priyanka Aribindi: –try and take a shit on Nancy Pelosi’s desk. Like, I don’t know.
Tre’vell Anderson: This is wild.
Priyanka Aribindi: Not what I saw.
Tre’vell Anderson: This is super wild. Okay, so what are the consequences here?
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. So these three lawmakers represent over 210,000 constituents. That is a lot of Tennesseans whose voices will not be heard in the ways that they voted for them to be heard. That is like number one top of the list, like these people are democratically elected. They have been kicked out in the least democratic way possible. This also, of course, could embolden other state legislatures with Republican supermajorities to pull the same kind of shit. Basically, any time they disagree with their Democratic colleagues. This is an idea that will now be in their head, counting down the minutes until another state tries this because you know they will. And Representative Jones, for his part, had this to say ahead of the vote to expel him, quote, “My prayer to you is that even if you expel me, that you still act to address the crisis of mass shootings, because if I’m expelled from here, I’ll be back out there with the people every week demanding that you act.” It’s amazing to me that in the face of this, his commitment to this is still so unwavering.
Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah.
Priyanka Aribindi: But if you’re sitting here mad as hell like we are, our friends at Vote Save America are on it. Visit VoteSaveAmerica.com to learn more about how you can help fight back. Because we’re not just going to take this. This isn’t okay.
Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah, it definitely is not. Thanks for hitting on that Priyanka. Now on to another story, a huge one from ProPublica. Yesterday, the nonprofit news outlet dropped a pretty revealing story about Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, who apparently has been accepting, you know, many, many luxury vacations from billionaire Republican donor Harlan Crow for over 20 years. Now, this is an issue because Justice Thomas has never disclosed these very expensive trips, which he is legally required to do as a public servant.
Priyanka Aribindi: There’s just so much to dig into here. But first, I want to start at the beginning. Who is this Harlan Crow character? What a name he has got. Tell us a little more about this man. [laugh]
Tre’vell Anderson: What a name is absolutely right. Okay. [laugh] So Mr. Crow is apparently a real estate magnate from Dallas. And apparently, you know, he’s just got too much money on his hands that he decides to funnel into conservative candidates and causes. He’s publicly disclosed over $10 million dollars in political contributions. But the true value is likely many, many, many, many times more than that, as he’s already basically told The New York Times before that he only discloses what he’s legally required to disclose, which is a perfect way of saying, oh, yes, I be giving a lot of money to a lot of these causes. But, you know, I don’t have to say that I give money to these people, so I won’t.
Priyanka Aribindi: Who else is going on the vacations? I want to know.
Tre’vell Anderson: Questions that need answers. Absolutely. Crow also helped found the influential anti-tax conservative group Club for Growth, and he sits on the board of trustees for the American Enterprise Institute, which is a conservative think tank. And he’d like us to believe that he and Clarence and Clarence’s wife Ginni, are just besties, you know, living their Cheetah Girls fantasy all over the world. Crow told ProPublica in a statement about all of this, quote, “The hospitality we have extended to the Thomases over the years is no different from the hospitality we have extended to our many other dear friends.”
Priyanka Aribindi: Red flag. Who are these people?
Tre’vell Anderson: Exactly. Exactly right? Because the cost of literally just one trip that Clarence and Ginni took with Crow to Indonesia, this one was from 2019 would have been over $500,000. I don’t know about your vacations that you’re taking, Priyanka. But mine couldn’t even fathom that price tag.
Priyanka Aribindi: No, no.
Tre’vell Anderson: Okay. And I like nice things. I want to be clear.
Priyanka Aribindi: I yeah, I’m with you on there. Like, not even in your wildest dreams of a lengthy vacation are you spending $500,000? That’s–
Tre’vell Anderson: It’s absurd.
Priyanka Aribindi: –crazy.
Tre’vell Anderson: It’s absurd.
Priyanka Aribindi: On one trip.
Tre’vell Anderson: It’s absurd. But they didn’t even have to pay it, right? Because Crow owns the private plane and the private yacht that they used on their various excursions. So, you know, that’s some very–
Priyanka Aribindi: Great.
Tre’vell Anderson: –expensive hospitality, if you ask me.
Priyanka Aribindi: Incredibly so. I mean, he says there are no different than the other dear friends, which like we need a list here. [laughter] How many other influential Republicans in office are going to be on that list of dear friends.
Tre’vell Anderson: Listen.
Priyanka Aribindi: I’m curious. You mentioned, though, that Clarence Thomas should have disclosed these trips. I mean, not simply because he should have a conscience. I don’t think he does. Uh. There is some official reasons, though. So can you please break those down for us? [laughing]
Tre’vell Anderson: Yes. The official reason being that there was a law passed after the Watergate scandal in the 1970s that requires justices, judges, members of Congress and federal officials to disclose most gifts totaling more than $415. The fact that Justice Thomas did not. Experts are saying, is a violation of federal ethics law and the fact that he didn’t disclose almost two decades worth of trips that at least one of which totaled at least $500,000 is even more questionable. Right. But as we know, this isn’t the first time that Clarence Thomas’s ethics have been in question.
Priyanka Aribindi: Certainly not.
Tre’vell Anderson: Just last year, folks were saying that he should have recused himself from any 2020 election cases that the court might hear after news of his wife’s text messages about the election to Trump officials came to light. She was trying to get people to overturn votes in their states. It was really wild.
Priyanka Aribindi: Just fully unhinged. The most embarrassing spousal behavior [laughter] we’ve seen in a long time. Crazy.
Tre’vell Anderson: Right?
Priyanka Aribindi: Like we thought Adam Levine–
Tre’vell Anderson: It was really wild.
Priyanka Aribindi: Adam Levine and the texts were bad. Oh, no. [laughter] This is crazy. This takes the cake of embarrassing texts for your spouse to send.
Tre’vell Anderson: This was absolutely worse right. Not to mention Anita Hill. Listen, Come on, now.
Priyanka Aribindi: It’s been out there for so long.
Tre’vell Anderson: Know your history. Google it if you don’t know what I’m talking about. Okay. And so because of all of this, right. A number of folks on the other side of the aisle have already begun calling for accountability, including but not limited to impeachment. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted, quote, “This is beyond party or partizanship. This degree of corruption is shocking, almost cartoonish. Thomas must be impeached, barring some dramatic change. This is what the Roberts court will be known for rank, corruption, erosion of democracy and the stripping of human rights.”
Priyanka Aribindi: I mean I don’t spend much time on Twitter these days, and I feel like I got to log on so I can retweet the shit out of that because every single part of that, fact. Can he actually be impeached? Like, what will actually happen here? Will he ever see accountability?
Tre’vell Anderson: Accountability seems to evade this particular generation of [laughter] Republican leadership. And maybe previous generations of Republican leadership as well. But technically, yes, he can be impeached. But a Supreme Court justice hasn’t been impeached since 1804. Just to let you all know how long ago that was, the Emancipation Proclamation wasn’t signed until 1863, almost 60 years after the last justice was impeached. So, you know, do with that info what you will about the likelihood of this actually happening.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. Mm.
Tre’vell Anderson: Even though he technically can be impeached on top of that, it’s something that ultimately the House would have to make the first move on. And with the Republicans in control, it’s even more unlikely that we will see that type of accountability. So don’t hold your breath. Priyanka about this.
Priyanka Aribindi: He might not see accountability in that way and that’s not fine. It just it might not happen. But I will say he’s taking very White Lotus-esque vacations. [laughter] And um it’s kind of giving Tanya like if Clarence Thomas ends up on the side of a yacht screaming, these gays are trying to murder me, topples into the water. Spoiler alert. I’m not that mad, that’d feel alright.
Tre’vell Anderson: Listen, we have to right the wrongs in the world somehow.
Priyanka Aribindi: Somehow.
Tre’vell Anderson: You know.
Priyanka Aribindi: Somehow and it’s his–
Tre’vell Anderson: Shout out to White Lotus.
Priyanka Aribindi: –fault for taking these vacations in the era of White Lotus. [laughter] You just can’t do it. Sorry.
Tre’vell Anderson: Absolutely. And I’m sure we will be talking about this story in the weeks to come. But that is the latest for now. We’re going to pay some bills and be back after a short break. [music break].
Tre’vell Anderson: Let’s get to some headlines.
Tre’vell Anderson: Idaho has become the first state in the country to ban so-called abortion trafficking under a law signed by Republican Governor Brad Little on Wednesday. Anyone who helps a minor cross state lines to get an abortion without their parent’s consent could be charged with a felony. It comes less than a year after Idaho banned the procedures in virtually all cases and would even punish adults who helped pregnant young people obtain abortion pills. It doesn’t, however, stop pregnant adults from seeking out-of-state abortions. The law is set to take effect next month, though a regional Planned Parenthood branch that covers the state has vowed to challenge it in court. But it does help to know your neighbors. California, Oregon and Washington State last year joined forces to declare themselves a multi-state safe haven for abortion access. And another totally unrelated fact, people of any age can come to California for an abortion plus, you don’t need permission from anyone to get the procedure, and you can get help with paying for your travel expenses. You can even stick around and go to Disneyland if you want. But you know, you didn’t hear that from us. Okay.
Priyanka Aribindi: How scary to be a young person in Idaho.
Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah.
Priyanka Aribindi: This is terrible. And all over the country where this is happening, it’s really, really terrible.
Tre’vell Anderson: Not great.
Priyanka Aribindi: You heard us talk about the controversy surrounding Justice Clarence Thomas earlier, but the Supreme Court managed to do the bare minimum towards one good thing yesterday. In a 7 to 2 ruling, the high court rejected West Virginia’s effort to stop a 12 year old transgender girl from running track with other girls on her team. The issue is over a state law signed in 2021 which bars trans athletes from middle school all the way through college from participating on female teams. It’s been in legal limbo as an appeals court susses out whether or not the law is even constitutional. But West Virginia’s attorney general decided to take it all the way up to the Supreme Court, arguing that it’s somehow urgently needed to, quote, “protect female athletes from athletes assigned male at birth,” which um, unless they’re being attacked, doesn’t seem like they need protection.
Tre’vell Anderson: And they’re not.
Priyanka Aribindi: I’m a little confused. I feel like we’re all confused. Nevertheless, the girl’s lawyers say she’s competed in girls track and field for the past three seasons, bothering absolutely nobody in the process. And note that she’s the only known trans girl in the entire state who is just trying to get into some damn sports. Listen, they’re not doing drugs. They’re not playing video games all day. I feel like we should be encouraging this behavior anyways. The case marks the first time that the Supreme Court has weighed in on the issue of transgender athletes. But it won’t be the final word. It just means the West Virginia law can’t be enforced while the legal battle plays out. And we just keep it that way. I mean, Clarence Thomas, make up for those vacations.
Tre’vell Anderson: I know, right?
Priyanka Aribindi: Do some good votes. And maybe. [laughter] Maybe we’ll forget about it.
Tre’vell Anderson: We can only hope. Okay.
Priyanka Aribindi: That’s our um bargain.
Tre’vell Anderson: [laughing] It’s tax season, y’all. And Uncle Sam is busy using our dollars to give one of its most scrutinized agencies a much needed facelift. Yesterday, the IRS unveiled its ten year $80 billion dollar plan to overhaul its tax collection operations. The massive infusion of cash, which was included in last year’s Inflation Reduction Act, will target some of President Biden’s biggest economic goals, attempting to recoup the estimated $7 trillion dollars of uncollected tax revenue and reinvest that money towards popular democratic positions like fighting climate change and curbing prescription drug prices. According to Daniel I. Werfel, the IRS’s new commissioner. The agency will start by, quote, “hiring the accountants, attorneys and data scientists needed to pursue the high income and high wealth individuals, complex partnerships and large corporations that are not paying the taxes they owe.” Additionally, the IRS hopes to improve its customer service and complete the process of digitizing its collection of paper returns.
Priyanka Aribindi: [clip of Every Breath You Take by the Police plays] And that’s about as much of Every Breath You Take by The Police that we are going to play at risk of bankrupting WAD in perpetuity. Yesterday, in a tweet, Sean Diddy Combs claims that he pays The Police’s Sting $5,000 per day because of his unlicensed use of the song in his 1997 chart topping hit, I’ll Be Missing You. Diddy’s disclosure came after a clip of Sting’s 2018 appearance on the morning radio show The Breakfast Club resurfaced, in which Sting claimed that the amount was $2,000 a day, that Diddy would be paying it for the rest of his life, and that the artists have become good friends ever since. I mean, who among us doesn’t become good pals with someone we owe $2,000-$5000 to every single day of our lives. Apparently, when Diddy released the track dedicated to his friend Biggie Smalls two months after the rap icon’s murder, he did so without crediting Sting or asking for permission. Maybe that wouldn’t have been as big of a deal if Diddy’s rendition didn’t end up dominating the charts for 11 weeks after its release. 11 weeks? Was it worth a lifetime of five grand payments? Not sure. Sting ended up suing Diddy at the time, eventually getting a writing credit and granting the song his blessing, but still $5,000 every single day. If these two are actually friends, there is a nonzero chance that these two incredibly wealthy men are fucking with us. But if it is true, we’re going to lightly suggest that Diddy Google how to know if I’m in a fin dom relationship and just see if anything resonates there.
Tre’vell Anderson: It is super wild to have to pay somebody $5,000 a day.
Priyanka Aribindi: Wild, crazy.
Tre’vell Anderson: But that also means that Diddy is probably making a lot of money off of that song.
Priyanka Aribindi: One would hope.
Tre’vell Anderson: You’re absolutely right. Also, he’s laughing about it on Twitter, basically in that tweet. So it’s like, oh, that’s a drop in the bucket for Diddy. He’s like $5,000. That’s nothing. Ha ha ha ha.
Priyanka Aribindi: I know, that’s his morning coffee. But my big question here is like the IRS here is out here saying that they can examine complex partnerships. This sounds like one [laughter] if I’ve ever heard of one before. I just feel like the IRS might want to do some poking around. This feels like a weird arrangement.
Tre’vell Anderson: They’ve got some work to do, honey. Okay.
Priyanka Aribindi: Truly.
Tre’vell Anderson: And those are the headlines. Heads up, WAD squad. We’ll be taking a short break for the Easter holiday, but we’ll be back with a new episode on Tuesday, April 11th. And by the way, if you’re in the L.A. area this weekend, we want to let you know about a very special event coming up this Sunday from our friends at the Los Angeles LGBT Center. They are teaming up with dozens of civil rights groups and faith organizations to host Drag March L.A., a free all ages rally against the onslaught of anti LGBTQ legislation we’re seeing across the country. It will also feature live performances from RuPaul’s Drag Race alumns Carrie Colby and Honey Davenport and a resource fair to connect you with more ways to fight for everyone’s right to privacy, bodily autonomy and freedom of expression. We’ll drop a link with more information in our show notes.
Priyanka Aribindi: And we want to give a special shout out to our crooked colleagues who will be covering the march, including Lovett or Leave It head writer Halle Kiefer. She also co-hosts Ruined, the newest addition to the Crooked Family. It’s a podcast for horror buffs and scaredy cats alike. Halle and her squeamish friend Alison Leiby unpack a different horror movie every week. So if you’re too scared to watch, don’t worry, because Halle will gladly ruin it for you. New episodes of Ruined drop every Tuesday wherever you get your podcasts. [music break]
Tre’vell Anderson: That’s all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe, leave a review, support your local Sting by buying a bottle of Ciroc and tell your friends to listen.
Priyanka Aribindi: And if you’re into reading and not just how many student loans $7 trillion dollars can forgive like me, What A Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at Crooked.com/subscribe. I’m Priyanka Aribindi.
Tre’vell Anderson: I’m Tre’vell Anderson.
[spoken together] And we’ll be missing you.
Priyanka Aribindi: But not to the tune of the song.
Tre’vell Anderson: Such a great song.
Priyanka Aribindi: Because we don’t want to get sued. [laughter] We do not have that kind of cash. So sorry.
Tre’vell Anderson: We don’t honey.
Priyanka Aribindi: The IRS will not be auditing us. We do not make the cut.
Tre’vell Anderson: I don’t need them knocking on my door, honey. Okay.
Priyanka Aribindi: Uh uh. No, no, no. [music break]
Tre’vell Anderson: What A Day is a production of Crooked Media. It’s recorded and mixed by Bill Lancz. Raven Yamamoto is our associate producer. Our head writer is Jocey Coffman and our executive producer is Lita Martinez. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.