Biden’s Plan To Get Brittney Griner Home | Crooked Media
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July 27, 2022
What A Day
Biden’s Plan To Get Brittney Griner Home

In This Episode

  • The U.S. announced Wednesday that it has officially proposed a deal to Russia for the release of WNBA star Brittney Griner as well as former Marine Paul Whelan. Griner also got the chance to speak for herself in court during her trial.
  • The Federal Reserve raised interest rates by 0.75% on Wednesday, continuing its efforts to bring down inflation without causing a recession. This is the fourth rate increase this year, and it comes as inflation continues to hit record levels.
  • And in headlines: the suspect in the Fourth of July parade shooting near Chicago was indicted, President Joe Biden and China’s President Xi Jinping will talk one-on-one today, and over 780,000 doses of the monkeypox vaccine will soon be available in the U.S.


Show Notes:



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Priyanka Aribindi: It’s Thursday, July 28th. I’m Priyanka Aribindi.


Tre’vell Anderson: And I’m Tre’vell Anderson, and this is What A Day, where we are trying hard as hell to not listen to the leak of Beyonce’s album before it officially comes out on Friday.


Priyanka Aribindi: Queen B wants us to wait, so I’m going to wait.


Tre’vell Anderson: I personally like Track 12. The whole album is fire, though. Sorry, Beyoncé. You’ll be all right, girl.


Priyanka Aribindi: Let it be known. I did not. I did not listen to it. Do not come for me. On today’s show, the Federal Reserve hiked interest rates again because of inflation. Plus, there is a campaign against Instagram’s TikTok’ish makeover.


Tre’vell Anderson: But first today, another major update in Brittney Griner’s case in Russia. The U.S. has officially proposed a deal for the WNBA star’s release, as well as the release of Paul Wheelan. He’s a corporate security exec from Michigan who was sentenced in 2020 to 16 years in Russian prison on espionage charges. Here is Secretary of State Antony Blinken, yesterday:


[clip of Sec. State Antony Blinken] We put a substantial proposal on the table weeks ago to facilitate the release. Our governments have communicated repeatedly and directly on that proposal.


Tre’vell Anderson: But Russia has not yet responded to it. Blinken statement, however, is the first public acknowledgment of concrete action the U.S. government has taken to try to get Brittney, in particular, home.


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. Here is hoping that it works. So what does this potential deal entail exactly?


Tre’vell Anderson: Well we don’t have explicit confirmation from the State Department of this, but experts have suggested that a trade might be the best option. And CNN cited several government sources that said in exchange for Griner and Wheelan, the U.S. will hand over Viktor Bout. He’s a Russian arms dealer once known as the, quote unquote, “merchant of death.”


Priyanka Aribindi: Excuse me. No, no! We like no part of that.


Tre’vell Anderson: Well, Bout was sentenced to 25 years in U.S. prison in 2012 on charges that he schemed to illegally sell millions of dollars in weapons. Russia has apparently expressed interest in his release for years. So that would be trading a basketball player and Marine for an arms dealer. Sounds a little uneven, but that is where we’re at.


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, not how that works, I think, but fine. Brittney Griner finally got the chance to speak for herself in court yesterday as well. What did she have to say?


Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah. So she recounted what happened leading to her arrest at the Moscow airport in February. She says she went through passport control, after which an officer and his dog had her open her bag where authorities found two vape cartridges containing hashish oil–a reminder that marijuana products are illegal in Russia, but as I mentioned earlier this week, it was less than a gram total. Her passport was taken. She signed some documents that she needed Google Translate to understand. Though, there was an interpreter, they did not explain what she was signing and she was never read any rights. In her testimony, she again took responsibility for the cartridges in her luggage, but reiterated that it was not her intention to break any laws. Now the wait continues. Her next hearing is scheduled for Tuesday. And meanwhile, Secretary of State Antony Blinken has a planned call with his Russian counterpart set for this week to discuss the proposal and other measures related to Ukraine. It’ll be the first communication between them since Russia invaded Ukraine.


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, and hopefully it is successful. Another story we are covering has to do with the Federal Reserve. They raised interest rates by three quarters of a percentage point yesterday, continuing their efforts to bring down inflation without causing a recession. This hike was big. It was the fourth rate increase this year and the second consecutive one of this size, and it comes as inflation continues to hit record levels.


Tre’vell Anderson: So for those of us who hear what you’re saying, but maybe we don’t REALLY hear what you’re saying, can you put it in some more lay terms, explain it to us?


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, I hear you. Definitely can. So the Fed has been raising rates over the course of this year to help stabilize inflation and the rising prices that we as consumers have been seeing everywhere, but inflation hasn’t been responding yet. It’s still been rising. So they have continued to raise interest rates. And the more that these rates rise, the more expensive it becomes to borrow money. So a very immediate example of how this will impact people is with credit card debt, you’ll be charged more in interest on debt than you would have been charged earlier this year for that same amount, so it will become more expensive for consumers to carry credit card debt. Housing is another area that’s been affected. It’s already become more expensive to get a mortgage, so housing demand has started to decrease. The goal of doing all of this is slowing markets and consumer spending, in order to get prices to settle and to stop rising, but obviously, if people need to borrow money for anything, that becomes much more difficult and expensive to do.


Tre’vell Anderson: Gotcha. So I need to stop swiping my credit card.


Priyanka Aribindi: Definitely, yes.


Tre’vell Anderson: But Beyoncé is coming, so I don’t know.


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, no that, spend all the money you want on Beyoncé. That is the one thing that is worth it.


Tre’vell Anderson: Well, there’s also been lots of talk about a possible recession over the past few months. What should we make of that?


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, so the R-word, I feel like we have been scared to say it a little bit. People are definitely concerned about a recession. Officials in the Biden administration seem to be downplaying those fears a little bit. Fed Chairman Jerome Powell described that reasoning when he was asked about this yesterday during a press conference. Take a listen to this excerpt.


[clip of Jerome Powell] I do not think the US is currently in a recession. There are just too many areas of the economy that are performing too well. And of course I would point to the labor market–the unemployment rate at near a 50-year low at 3.6%, all of the wage measures that we track are running very strong. So this is a very strong labor market. It doesn’t make sense that the economy would be in recession with this kind of thing happening.


Tre’vell Anderson: Okay. But my gas is still $6 a gallon. Help me out.


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. Yeah. The way he’s speaking kind of does make it seem like we got no problems. But as he said, there are definitely indicators but aren’t consistent with a recession, but not everybody shares that view. The International Monetary Fund, or IMF, warned earlier this week that we could all be heading towards a global recession. That’s because the war between Russia and Ukraine, inflation, and the pandemic continue to slow the global economy. But to bring this back to all of us at home, we wanted to open the floor to all of you. If you have questions about a possible recession, what to know, how to prepare yourself, how you should be thinking about jobs, housing, saving, spending, what have you, we want to get you answers. So if you’ve a question, record yourself on your phone and then email it to us at WAD @Crooked dot com. We’ll bring an expert on the show soon to get you answers ASAP.


Tre’vell Anderson: Yes. Help us. Help you.


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, we like that. More on all of us very soon. But that is the latest for now. We’ll be back after some ads.


[ad break]


Priyanka Aribindi: Let’s wrap up with some headlines.


[sung] Headlines.


Priyanka Aribindi: A federal judge sentenced former Minneapolis police officers Tou Thao and J. Alexander Keung to prison on Wednesday for violating George Floyd’s civil rights. Thao will serve three and a half years, while Keung will serve an even three. This comes after another officer in the case, Thomas Lane, was sentenced to two and a half years in prison last week for the same offense. Back in February, all three men were found guilty in federal court for failing to provide Floyd with needed medical care while former officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on Floyd’s neck.


Tre’vell Anderson: The suspect in the 4th of July parade shooting near Chicago that left seven people dead was indicted by a grand jury on Wednesday. The man faces a total of 117 felony charges, including ones for first degree murder, attempted murder, and aggravated battery. And he is set to appear in court next week to be arraigned.


Priyanka Aribindi: President Joe Biden and China’s President Xi Jinping are scheduled for a one-on-one talk today, the first time in four months. Originally on the table were topics like North Korea and the war in Ukraine, but now there is a new item on the agenda: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s plan to visit Taiwan. Pelosi will reportedly fly there sometime in the coming weeks, and if she does, she’d be the highest ranking U.S. official to go since 1997. However, China has warned of, quote unquote, “serious consequences” if she goes because it sees Taiwan as a breakaway province. At the same time, the Pentagon told the Associated Press that it will step up military movements in the area if Pelosi decides to fly there, but behind the scenes, CNN reports that White House officials are trying to convince her not to go. Now, there is a lot to get into here, but listen to the latest episode of Pod Save The World, where Tommy and Ben break down this story even more. If you’re looking for my opinion, I think Nancy has got to stay because Paul Pelosi cannot be trusted to be on his own. Do not leave that man home alone, Nancy. Please keep a watchful eye on your husband. Thank you.


Tre’vell Anderson: The Department of Health and Human Services announced on Wednesday that over 780,000 doses of the monkeypox vaccine will soon be available in the U.S.. The CDC said that over a million, quote, “men who have sex with other men” are currently eligible to get vaccinated for the virus. But as of last week, only 300,000 doses have actually been delivered to local clinics. The Biden administration said that federal officials will announce today where those vaccines will go, and hopefully you won’t have to wait 3 hours and 17 minutes to get your vaccine like I did.


Priyanka Aribindi: Republican Congressman and eighth-tier Batman villain Matt Gaetz continues to be a fundraising wizard, but this time it’s for abortion rights–congratulations, Matt Gaetz, welcome to the Resistance. Insert any other joke, I guess. Gaetz rightfully receives a ton of online criticism after saying in a speech last week that abortion protesters were short, overweight, and resembled thumbs–whatever that means. In response, 19-year old abortion activist Olivia, Julianna–currently the coolest person in the world–tweeted at Gaetz, Actually, I’m 5′ 11″, 6’4″ in heels. I wear them so these small men like you are reminded of your place. Yes! Matt Gaetz, having been burned beyond all recognition, then shared a picture of Juliana in an effort to body shame her. Julianna responded with a fundraising plea that, as of our recording at 9:30 p.m. Eastern on Wednesday night, has raised over $400,000 for the nonprofit “Gen-Z for Change”, specifically their abortion fund, which splits donations across states where services are most needed. We’ll link to her fundraiser in our show notes. Donate! Show Matt Gaetz his place in the world.


Tre’vell Anderson: Instagram is getting a makeover or at least more make up tutorials: the company announced recently that it’s changing its focus from photos to video ala TikTok. Those most affected by the change–professional photographers, small business owners, and the extremely online–have coalesced in a futile attempt to pause the passage of time. But then criticism broke into the mainstream Monday, when Kylie Jenner and Kim Kardashian shared a viral post that reads, quote, “Make Instagram, Instagram again.” We just want to see cute photos of our friends.” Kardashians, we hear you. It is so much harder to Photoshop a video.


Priyanka Aribindi: Fact.


Tre’vell Anderson: Instagram responded Tuesday with a statement about why it is changing its platform with a–you guessed it–video. In the video, head of Instagram, Adam Mosseri, displaying the energy of the head of NZIVM trying to convince you to join his inner circle, tries to explain that the thing we don’t want is exactly the thing he’s gonna give us anyway. TikTok 2.


Priyanka Aribindi: You know what? I might be actually okay with it if I still just got likes on my shit. Like that would be fine. If that still happened, cool.


Tre’vell Anderson: That’s all you need.


Priyanka Aribindi: That’s all I care about.


Tre’vell Anderson: I don’t want this. I’ll leave it at that.


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. Yeah. And those are the headlines. That is all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe, leave a review, get a monkeypox vaccine if you’re eligible, and tell your friends to listen.


Tre’vell Anderson: And if you’re into reading, and not just tweets owning Matt Gaetz like mem What A Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at I’m Tre’vell Anderson.


Priyanka Aribindi: I’m Priyanka Aribindi.


[together] And send your cute photos directly to us because Instagram won’t let us see them!


Tre’vell Anderson: Yes, they hate your animal photos.


Priyanka Aribindi: They hate your animal pics. They hate my vacation pictures.


Tre’vell Anderson: They wanted to get you back to the show so quickly.


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. They were like, Please get back to your job. We can’t see you having fun. 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.