In This Episode
- Former President Donald Trump has been indicted by a New York grand jury, making him the first U.S. president to face criminal charges. Harry Litman, senior legal affairs columnist for the LA Times and a former deputy assistant attorney general at the Department of Justice, tells us what we can expect in the coming days and weeks.
- And in headlines: an explosion in Saint Petersburg, Russia killed a prominent pro-war Russian military blogger, Mexican authorities arrested five people in connection to the fire that killed dozens of migrants at a detention facility in Ciudad Juárez, and a powerful storm system killed at least 32 people in seven states.
- What A Day – YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/@whatadaypodcast
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
Follow us on Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/crookedmedia/
Tre’vell Anderson: It’s Monday, April 3rd. I’m Tre’vell Anderson.
Josie Duffy Rice: And I’m Josie Duffy Rice. And this is What A Day where even though Pedro Pascal’s birthday was yesterday, we are still convinced this man does not age.
Tre’vell Anderson: If one thing can make you immortal, it’s becoming the Internet’s boyfriend.
Josie Duffy Rice: Every time someone posts a Pedro Pascal fan cam, he actually gets one day younger.
Tre’vell Anderson: Love that for him.
Josie Duffy Rice: Lesser known fact. The left will not tell you this. [laughter] [music break] On today’s show, the long goodbye has begun for our blue checkmarks on Twitter. Plus, paleontologists say the mighty T-Rex may have kept an actual stiff upper lip.
Tre’vell Anderson: No, thank you. Don’t want to hear that at all.
Josie Duffy Rice: Nope.
Tre’vell Anderson: But first.
[clip of unspecified Fox News reporter] We have just gotten word [gasp] former President Donald Trump has been indicted by a grand jury in New York.
Tre’vell Anderson: Oh, yes. You heard it there from the folks over at Fox News. Audible gasps included, that former reality TV star and twice impeached former President Donald Trump has been indicted by a New York grand jury. That happened late last week, making Trump the first president of these United States to face criminal charges. As we know, the Manhattan District Attorney’s office, led by Alvin Bragg, has been investigating Trump in connection with his alleged role in a hush money payment scheme to adult film actress Stormy Daniels. In exchange for her silence about an affair she says they had a decade earlier. The payment was around the 2016 presidential election. Well, after being indicted, Trump is expected to be arraigned on Tuesday, at which time we expect to find out the exact charges he’s facing because as of now, everything is under seal. But CNN has reported that he faces more than 30 counts related to business fraud.
Josie Duffy Rice: Oooh, why do I feel like we are at the beginning of a long hike?
Tre’vell Anderson: Because we are.
Josie Duffy Rice: And I didn’t sign up for this hike. [laughing] And I don’t like hiking.
Tre’vell Anderson: You better put on your boots, Josie.
Josie Duffy Rice: Oh, my God. They’re not even broken in. I was going to ask you, has Trump said anything? And then I remembered who we were talking about. So I’ll just ask, what has he said? Because I’m assuming he said things. He’s not known for his silence.
Tre’vell Anderson: He’s not an introvert, right?
Josie Duffy Rice: He’s not an introvert. He’s not an introvert.
Tre’vell Anderson: Well, he and his Republican colleagues are obviously calling it all a witch hunt. In a statement Thursday, Trump said, quote, “The American people realize exactly what the radical left Democrats are doing here. Everyone can see it. So our movement and our party, united and strong, will first defeat Alvin Bragg and then we will defeat Joe Biden. And we are going to throw every last one of these crooked Democrats out of office so we can make America great again.” So, you know, Trump being Trump as usual.
Josie Duffy Rice: He needs to learn the art of periods in sentences. But also I find something hilarious about this, hilarious and deeply depressing, which is that after being indicted, Trump’s lead over DeSantis grew significantly.
Tre’vell Anderson: Not good news.
Josie Duffy Rice: Not good news.
Tre’vell Anderson: But again, right. This entire situation is unprecedented. And I wanted to get a bit of info about what we might be able to expect in the coming days and weeks, maybe months. Who knows? So I spoke to Harry Litman, senior legal affairs columnist for the L.A. Times and a former deputy assistant attorney general at the Department of Justice. I started by asking him about what exactly we know and don’t know about how all of this will unfold.
Harry Litman: We know a lot, but not everything. First, we know what uh made Bragg pull the plug about a year ago so we can identify the areas that he wanted to shore up. I would say there are two. One is Michael Cohen’s credibility. And we know that there’s going to be a fair bit of corroboration that the grand jury has heard, and that will be part of the indictment. And then this gets a little legal. But you’ve heard this, that the basic charge will be a misdemeanor and it will be elevated to a felony because it’s done in the service of another crime. That’s the very first thing I’m going to turn to to see what that other crime might be. But that’s the overall contours. I think you’re hearing some of the pot shots from the right on the idea that this is just an accounting error, etc.. I think you’re going to see Bragg position it as more than just Stormy Daniels, which isn’t an accounting era anyway, but as a whole kind of scheme starting in 2015, ending with Trump in the White House. And it’s sort of the old it’s not the crime, it’s the cover up in the sense that the entire course of conduct is designed, if you think about it, to conceal the facts from the American people at the end of an election hotly contested, where he had already taken a hit on this very uh axis of former sexual assault victims. So that’s the third thing, is that’ll be more broad than just Stormy Daniels, at least in the narrative in the indictment.
Tre’vell Anderson: We also know, right, that Tuesday is supposed to be the day that Trump will turn himself in to face the arraignment. How do you expect that will go?
Harry Litman: As normal as possible, which is to say, not very [laughter] normal at all. You know, arraignments are normally pretty sleepy pedestrian affairs. But obviously, this is going to be, you know, covered live. My best guess it’ll be short and sweet. He shows up and gets printed and they should have a mug shot. They’re saying they’re not. But that would really, I think, be a mistake just to treat him specially in that way. He’ll come out at about 2:15. Mr. Trump, here are the charges. Are you aware of the charges? Yes. How do you plead? Not guilty. And that’ll basically be it. He’ll be spirited away and we’ll be in this whole period that could go many months or more of pretrial litigations, motions where he doesn’t have to physically appear.
Tre’vell Anderson: Now, you mentioned the other day on Twitter that because Trump has been trumping on social media and showing his behind, as my grandmother would say, [laughter] that there might also be a chance for, you know, a gag order or something, something to control how he is like publicly talking about all of this. What do you expect to kind of come in that direction?
Harry Litman: Yeah, I mean, that’s the really big question. And if not now, later, Trump doesn’t realize he’s just going by instinct, but he’s savaging both the court and the prosecutor by name. And they each have nuclear weapons they can use on him. So the court I think the court will be very circumspect, very cautious, but the point will come and it might be Tuesday when he enters a gag order, a very careful one that won’t keep him from campaigning, but he enters it and now we’re potentially off to the races because Trump violates it once. Okay, I’m serious, Mr. Trump twice. But a third time there comes a point where this has bottomed eventually by if you keep doing this, I’m going to hold you in contempt. And that means short but jail time, that’s got to be just a total nightmare for Trump. Just think about, you know, his hair, for starters. [laughter] But this is really threatening stuff. I mean, somebody honestly could get hurt or killed with his rhetoric. He said, how much more can American patriots take and the like? What Merchan the judge has to think about is the safety of the personnel in court. And second, not having the jury pool be too corrupted and he’s got the power to do it.
Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah, I mean, folks have already been pre celebrating Trump potentially going to jail on Twitter, but right, we still have to see this all play out in court. Right. I want to know from you what exactly does DA Bragg need to prove and what would you say are some of the challenges that he will likely face?
Harry Litman: I think it’s premature to be saying how difficult it is before people have even seen the charges. But I think it boils down to one fact thing and one legal thing. So on the facts, he’s got to prove that Trump basically did this to conceal the truth and is probably caught up in a tax violation, because if you remember, it was all designed to, quote unquote, “make Michael Cohen whole.” So there’s probably a lot of finagling and monkey business with the money. The question is, why did Trump do it? Now he’s tried to float the idea he was worried about Melania and it wasn’t had nothing to do with the campaign. I think that’s going to be blown out of the water, though. The very last witness he had that the grand jury heard David Pecker from The National Enquirer. We know they got together in 2015 thinking about the election, thinking women would come out of the woodwork. And it wasn’t just Stormy Daniels, by the way. Karen McDougal did come out of the woodwork. So you got to prove basically he’s trying to conceal and deceive. And that will be largely but not completely done through Michael Cohen. And I think the centerpiece of the trial for the Trump team will be to try to just completely cut Cohen to ribbons.
Tre’vell Anderson: As you’ve been watching this unfold, I wonder what’s the strongest indicator to you that Bragg actually has a solid case here, one that he presumably thinks he can win?
Harry Litman: A couple things. First, of course, he stepped away from it a year ago. So he’s not a guy who came into office looking to get Trump for any reason. Second, this is a case that when you embark on, it’s not an investigative grand jury, it’s really with an eye to bringing the cases. But this is for him. It would be a kamikaze mission if he doesn’t have the goods. Talk about a stress test for the criminal justice system and Bragg’s job is to, you know, wear blinders, do his best, and not talk in the public eye. So these things are going to be unanswered. I’ve tried to think of precedents in the country’s history. I can’t think of any. I think it’s going to be–
Tre’vell Anderson: Wow.
Harry Litman: –just a very crazy and stressful period and it’s going to last maybe a couple of years. When you think about the other charges that I do believe are in the wings.
Tre’vell Anderson: My last question for you, Donald Trump as we know is facing a plethora of legal challenges–
Harry Litman: Yeah.
Tre’vell Anderson: From the case pending against him in Georgia, to the Justice Department special counsel investigating his role in the January 6th insurrection and the discovery right of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago. We’ve talked about all of those on the show at length. Could this case, even if it doesn’t end in a conviction, make it more likely that Trump might face charges in these other investigations, wondering, you know, if we will see a domino effect, if you will–
Harry Litman: Yeah.
Tre’vell Anderson: –starting with this one and then with the others to come?
Harry Litman: It sure won’t make it harder for them to bring it. [laugh] You know, in theory, each of them Fani Willis, Jack Smith, have their own look out. But we’ve kind of crossed the Rubicon of sorts. So I got to think that it now it’s a plausible thing, even aside from the psychological kind of lifting of a barrier for Smith and Willis, they were already showing signs of getting close. And I actually think we’re focused on this case as the first I think might be first out of the box, but I don’t think it will be first to the finish line. I think that might be Mar-a-Lago and it might be coming soon. And that should be, among other things, a game changer for the dynamic we’ve been talking about, where people are calling this political. How much can you keep with that refrain as other charges come to the fore? And especially if Trump is acting like, excuse the expression, you know, a jackass. Will he continue to get all the support of the Rs? We really do have this plethora of things all over Trump. And don’t forget some of the civil cases, especially from the New York A.G., which won’t put him in jail but are kind of ruinous in their own right. [sigh] So he’s in the soup in many different ways. Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.
Tre’vell Anderson: That was my interview with Harry Litman, senior legal affairs columnist for the L.A. Times. As always, we will keep you updated on this as everything develops this week and in the weeks to come. It will be a lot of weeks, I’m sure, of us talking about this story.
Josie Duffy Rice: Oh my god. So many weeks.
Tre’vell Anderson: But that is the latest for now. [music break] Let’s get to some headlines.
Tre’vell Anderson: An explosion at a cafe in St. Petersburg, Russia, yesterday killed a prominent pro-war Russian military blogger and left at least 25 other people injured. It’s not immediately clear who was behind the blast, but Russian authorities are treating it as a homicide. According to one independent Russian news outlet. Vladlen Tatarsky was leading an event organized by a pro-Kremlin propaganda group and was handed a box containing a bust of himself shortly before the explosion. Tatarsky, whose real name is Maxim Fomin, was originally from the Donetsk region of Ukraine and had a massive online following in Russia for his support for the invasion and even blogged from the front lines of the conflict. Some Russian officials have blamed Ukraine for Tatarsky’s death, though an adviser to Ukraine’s president suggested the blast was the result of political infighting. This isn’t the first time that a public figure connected to the war has been killed on Russian soil. Last August, Darya Dugina, the daughter of an ultra nationalist adviser to Vladimir Putin, was killed in a car bomb attack outside Moscow.
Josie Duffy Rice: And to follow up on a story we told you about last week, Mexican authorities have arrested five people in connection to the fire that killed dozens of migrants at a detention facility in Ciudad Juarez. They include three Mexican immigration officials and two private security guards. The detainee accused of setting the fire will also face homicide charges. It is still not known if any of the victims of the blaze had been sent back to Mexico from the United States under Title 42. Meanwhile, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Friday said the tragedy, quote, “broke my soul” and paid a brief visit to the facility that same day. But he did not meet with migrants who have called for answers to the tragedy. Nor did he visit any of the surviving victims who are now in the hospital.
Tre’vell Anderson: At least 32 people in seven states were killed over the weekend after a powerful storm system tore a path of destruction across the Midwest, the South and the mid-Atlantic region. The severe weather spawned nearly 100 tornadoes, including a deadly twister that touched down late Friday near Little Rock, Arkansas. President Biden has already approved a request for federal disaster aid from Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders, even though Sanders tweeted shortly after she took office in January that, quote, “The meddling hand of big government creeping down from Washington, D.C., will be stopped cold at the Mississippi River,” as we know they always say these things until they–
Josie Duffy Rice: Truly.
Tre’vell Anderson: –themselves and their constituents need actual federal government help.
Josie Duffy Rice: I know it’s so depressing and infuriating. On Saturday, Twitter began removing their signature blue checkmarks from accounts that have refused to pony up for their new pay to play system. Since Elon Musk’s $44 billion takeover last October. The social media company has found itself desperately in need of cash, prompting the launch of Twitter Blue, which allows any user to pay $8 a month for the mark previously used as a verification badge. Meanwhile, business accounts have been asked to pay a subscription of $1,000 a month or else see the checkmarks on their account disappear. But as far as who’s being decommissioned first, things are looking a little personal. By Sunday morning, the flagship account for the New York Times found itself blue checkless hours after Musk had tweeted that their feed was, quote, “the Twitter equivalent of diarrhea.” Just a five year old he is. In this instance, it probably takes one to know one. The Times, The Washington Post, and even LeBron James all indicated last week that they have no plans to pay for the blue check subscription service.
Tre’vell Anderson: I, too, have no intention of paying.
Josie Duffy Rice: I was just about to say not a dimes coming out of this budget. Mm mmm.
Tre’vell Anderson: Listen. Okay. If you’re still reeling from the new age concept of be-feathered dinosaurs, hold on to your butts. According to a study published last Thursday, the T-Rex may have had lips. All the better to eat us with, my dear.
Josie Duffy Rice: No. Mmm mmm. [laughter] Mmm mmm mmm mmm mm mmm. I’m so upset.
Tre’vell Anderson: Well, the apex predator of the late Cretaceous era has been famously depicted as a toothy carnivore. Scientists have uncovered evidence suggesting that the tyrannosaurus likely hid its massive teeth behind a fleshy lip.
Josie Duffy Rice: No!
Tre’vell Anderson: Keeping the teeth moist and in perfect condition to swallow edmontosauruses whole. The previous school of thought evokes the exposed teeth look of modern crocodiles. While this imagining resembles something more like the Komodo dragon, however, some paleontologists have a bone to pick with this theory saying we can’t be certain until we find a fossil with the soft tissue still intact, which hasn’t happened yet. However, T-Rex’s having lips would explain why the dinosaurs were so mad all the time as chapstick wasn’t invented until the 1890s.
Josie Duffy Rice: Whatever you do, do not tell my son this fact. I have about exhausted every T-Rex fact on the planet and if he hears another one. I am adding two to three more years on my T-Rex information hold. And I’m not interested in it. I don’t want to know anything else about T-Rex’s.
Tre’vell Anderson: You’re not interested?
Josie Duffy Rice: Just picture a T-rex with lips. It’s so terrible. It makes me so uncomfortable.
Tre’vell Anderson: You know, it’s giving art. Josie it’s giving–
Josie Duffy Rice: It’s giving AI art. [laughter]
Tre’vell Anderson: And those are the headlines, we’ll be back after some ads to commemorate the first trial in history to declare anyone Gwynnocent. [music break]
Tre’vell Anderson: It’s Monday, WAD squad and today we’re doing a segment called WAD remembers where we bid a fond farewell to something that’s not a person but has still enriched our lives and is still about to be gone forever. On Friday, in a blow to retired optometrists everywhere, a Park City Utah jury deemed Gwyneth Paltrow officially Gwynnocent of colliding recklessly into 76 year old Terry Sanderson on a luxury ski slope in 2016. The trial and the accompanying live stream of every testimony was a parade of unseriousness, which, in addition to teaching us all about skiing right of way laws, showed us every shade of beige in Gwyneth Paltrow’s closet. After Goop’s name was cleared, she was awarded her $1 in damages and the trial was over before you could say bone broth breakfast. So we’d like to say a few words. Josie, take it away.
Josie Duffy Rice: Look, I was primed to be against Gwyneth [laughter] because I was annoyed about her bone broth breakfast. I’m annoyed about Goop. I’m annoyed that some times I’m interested in Goop, I’m annoyed. [laughter] But then this optometrist started talking about Qanon and that really just changed my mind. I was pro-Gwyneth. There’s nobody to root for, but I do really root for Gwyneth’s gray blazer. It was so cute and I would love for her to tell me where it is or else I’ll sue her.
Tre’vell Anderson: Then I guess she will sue you back for a dollar.
Josie Duffy Rice: A dollar and she’ll win.
Tre’vell Anderson: And win.
Josie Duffy Rice: Turns out. Yeah. Yeah.
Tre’vell Anderson: You know, Josie, this is my particular brand of, like, white women foolishness. Gwyneth Paltrow did not have to fight this.
Josie Duffy Rice: No.
Tre’vell Anderson: She could have gave a couple of dollars and kept it moving. But she said, you know what? Let’s go to court in Park City, Utah.
Josie Duffy Rice: She said, I am the underdog.
Tre’vell Anderson: Yes. [laughing]
Josie Duffy Rice: Kind of admire it.
Tre’vell Anderson: You know, what? We all got to admire something.
Josie Duffy Rice: We’ve all got, that is such a beautiful way of putting it. Life is tough right now. And you got to get your inspiration where you can. And mine came from Gwyneth blue blazer. Oh, gray blazer. Any blazer. I like her blazers.
Tre’vell Anderson: Any blazer.
Josie Duffy Rice: Any blazer.
Tre’vell Anderson: A blazer with a strong shoulder Josie?
Josie Duffy Rice: I love blazer with a strong shoulder.
Tre’vell Anderson: Is that your thing?
Josie Duffy Rice: I love the rich people in court. It’s just so good because I’m like, you’re wearing no logos. I know you’re so rich. I know that this blazer cost you a gazillion dollars and then walking out and whispering I wish you well to him is so rude and so beautiful.
Tre’vell Anderson: It was so great.
Josie Duffy Rice: It was so great.
Tre’vell Anderson: That’s true petty energy. And I love it.
Josie Duffy Rice: It was the pettiest thing ever. She thought about it for so long before she did it. I mean, what can you say.
Tre’vell Anderson: That was WAD Remembers, may we always remember that the right of way belongs to the downhill skier. The more you know.
Josie Duffy Rice: Who knew? [music break]
Tre’vell Anderson: That is all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe. Leave a review. Kiss the next T-Rex you see right on the lips and tell your friends to listen.
Josie Duffy Rice: And if you’re into reading and not just how to convert Pedro Pascal thirst into a renewable energy source like me, What A Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at Crooked.com/subscribe. I’m Josie Duffy Rice.
Tre’vell Anderson: I’m Tre’vell Anderson.
[spoken together] And shout out LSU Tigers.
Tre’vell Anderson: Yay! Sports ball.
Josie Duffy Rice: I liked the Tigers. I was a Caitlin Clark fan I was into her, but Tigers took it and I’m not mad.
Tre’vell Anderson: Listen, you know more than me. I have never heard either of those names. I barely know what a tiger is.
Josie Duffy Rice: Okay, well, my five year old son has you covered on what a tiger is. [laughter] Don’t you worry. [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.