Bob's Discount Bribery Scandal | Crooked Media
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September 24, 2023
What A Day
Bob's Discount Bribery Scandal

In This Episode

  • New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez is facing calls from fellow Democrats to resign, as he faces federal bribery charges – the second time he’s been prosecuted for alleged corruption in the past 10 years. Menendez is accused of accepting cash, gold, and other gifts to secretly help Egypt’s government.
  • It’s been a cliffhanger weekend for Hollywood, as the Writers Guild of America announced late Sunday evening that a tentative deal has been reached with the major studios to end the ongoing writers strike.
  • And in headlines: a Colorado judge issued an order barring “threats or intimidation” over a lawsuit to keep Donald Trump off the state’s primary ballot, the Labor Department is investigating two major food companies over the use of child labor, and a NASA spacecraft delivered a long-awaited asteroid sample back to Earth.


Show Notes:



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Tre’vell Anderson: It’s Monday, September 25th. I’m Tre’vell Anderson. 


Josie Duffy Rice: And I’m Josie Duffy Rice and this is What a Day where we are ready to take on the first days of fall. Even though it’s like still 80 degrees outside, pretty much everywhere. Although it was very beautiful in Atlanta this weekend. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Very beautiful. 


Josie Duffy Rice: And hot. 


Tre’vell Anderson: But global warming is real. 


Josie Duffy Rice: It is real. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Climate change is real. 


Josie Duffy Rice: It is real. It’s true. [music break]


Tre’vell Anderson: On today’s show, yet another judge has drawn the line against any threats from Donald Trump. Plus, NASA just got a very special delivery from Space. 


Josie Duffy Rice: But first, New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez was indicted in federal court on Friday on bribery charges. In what is yet another corruption scandal for the Senator. Menendez, the Democratic chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and his wife, Nadine, are accused of taking hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes, including bars of gold, in exchange for support from the senator. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Bars of gold? Are you kidding me? [laughing]


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah. The bars of gold part is like [questioning sound] not great. 


Tre’vell Anderson: You know, that’s interesting. Okay, so can you tell us more about these charges? 


Josie Duffy Rice: Basically, Nadine Menendez allegedly was passing messages between an American Egyptian businessman named Wael Hana and her senator husband, and she arranged meetings and dinners with Egyptian officials and Menendez starting way back in 2018. And eventually, like these, Egyptian officials started making requests related to like military sales and financing and some other things. And in exchange, they put Nadine on their payroll, even though Nadine wasn’t really doing work. [laughter] And then there were like some other things happening too. Right? Like Menendez allegedly involved himself in this investigation by the New Jersey attorney general’s office in an attempt to persuade a prosecutor to go easy on two associates of this guy who had given Menendez a Mercedes Benz convertible. Among other things, Menendez accepted cash, gold bars, literal bars of gold, as we discussed, mortgage payments, the car and other things. And apparently, the day after returning from Egypt a few years ago, Menendez googled how much is a gold bar worth? Which [laughter] doesn’t look great for someone accused of accepting gold bars. 


Tre’vell Anderson: What happens now that he’s been indicted? 


Josie Duffy Rice: Great question. This is not his first rodeo being accused of corruption and he’s survived some past scandals. But this one is looking like it’s going to be a tough one to push through on. There is like a lot of increasing pressure for him to resign. Senator John Fetterman has called for him to step down. New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has called for him to step down. And there are a lot of others who haven’t like actually made that call. But they’ve said this doesn’t look good. We’re not comfortable. They’re getting there. Right? There is not, at this point, a full throated defense of this guy coming from any elected official. Menendez, in a statement said, quote, “I’m not going anywhere,” but he has resigned as chair of the Foreign Relations Committee. And in the meantime, he faces a trial and prison time if he’s convicted of these charges. I do want to say these are allegations set forward by prosecutors. And AUSA’s have a history of making pretty salacious allegations that even when they’re not proven, kind of seem to sort of stay as like the public record. So we’ll see. Maybe there’s something more to the story. I don’t know. Um. You know me. I don’t love to take prosecutors at face value or whatever they just start throwing out willy nilly about people. But I do think it doesn’t look great. Menendez is supposed to hold a press conference later today. The expectation is that he’s going to remain defiant. He’s going to say he’s not going to resign. He may even announce he’s running for reelection, which would be bold. That’s kind of where things stand right now. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Uh yi yi. They keep us busy those politicians. What can I say? 


Josie Duffy Rice: They really do. 


Tre’vell Anderson: All right. Now on to a quick update regarding the Hollywood writers strike. This past weekend, the Writers Guild of America and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, or AMPTP, were at the bargaining table every single day trying to come to an agreement to end the strike. The industry has basically grinded to a halt with both the writers and actors striking. But shortly after we went to record the show Sunday night, we got word that a deal has, in fact, been reached. Here’s what we know now. The tentative agreement would raise base pay and residual payments for writers, and it also addresses some of their concerns about AI. However, the details are still pretty scarce, but that’s what we know now as of 10:30 p.m. Eastern. So I should probably start with a disclaimer, which is that everything I’m about to say has come from anonymous sources close to the negotiations, speaking to various news outlets. So some of these things, you know, we kind of have to take with a grain of salt just because you never really know what interests these people might be representing. That said, according to reports Saturday night, the studios presented their, quote, “last, best and final offer to the Guild.” This came after, as I mentioned, back to back meetings starting Wednesday of last week. These meetings, by the way, were actually attended by top studio executives. So Disney’s Bob Iger, Warner Brothers, Discovery’s David Zaslav, Netflix’s Ted Sarandos, and NBC Universal’s Donna Langley, which is believed to be a sign that every party was committed to, you know, really hashing things out. Now we don’t exactly know the tenets of this supposed last, best and final offer. But when this type of language starts getting used in negotiations, it typically signals that the offering side is likely not going to further engage in negotiations, at least not in a significant way. 


Josie Duffy Rice: So it’s been almost five months since the writers went on strike and the actors started striking a few months ago in July. And we know this has has had like an economic impact, right? What has that impact been? What has this meant overall? 


Tre’vell Anderson: Economists estimate that there’s been a nationwide impact of more than $5 billion dollars with related industries like restaurants, service firms and prop shops feeling the ripple effects. In New York specifically, the disruption of just 11 major productions that were filming there and had to stop has incurred a loss of $1.3 billion dollars and 17,000 jobs. That’s according to Empire State Development. So the strikes have been, you know, hella costly, which is another reason basically everyone connected to the industry is waiting on pins and needles for a solution to this. 


Josie Duffy Rice: How soon do things go back into production? When do people get back in the writers rooms? Like when do things go back to normal? 


Tre’vell Anderson: So that’s not quite clear because even though we have this tentative deal now on paper, the actual members of the WGA have to vote to ratify it. And then once that happens, the actors still need their new contract. Of course, some of the things that the actors are fighting for mirror what the writers are fighting for. So in theory, this writers contract will help ease talks for an actors contract. But it really is too soon to tell when the industry will return to some semblance of normal, but trust it cannot come soon enough. That’s the latest for now. We’ve got to keep the lights on over here. So we’re going to take a quick break to pay some bills and we’ll be back in a moment. [music break] 




Tre’vell Anderson: Now let’s wrap up with some headlines. 


[sung] Headlines. 


Tre’vell Anderson: If you need more proof that we no longer live in normal times, another judge has essentially told Donald Trump and his allies to shut the fuck up or face the consequences. This comes from Colorado District Judge Sarah B. Wallace, who is overseeing a lawsuit that seeks to keep Trump off the state’s 2024 presidential primary ballot. In a nutshell, the protective order handed down Friday bars any parties from making threats against or trying to intimidate the folks involved in the case. And by any parties that also means the former president himself. Wallace said it was necessary because, quote, “I 100% understand everybody’s concerns for the parties, the lawyers and frankly, myself and my staff based on what we’ve seen in other cases.” Listen, I’m glad Miss Sarah is paying attention. Okay. Scott Gessler, who is representing Trump and once served as Colorado’s Secretary of state, argued against the order, saying existing laws are enough to keep things civil. But let’s face it, it’s a little hard to take Trump or his people at their word these days. To give you all a quick refresher, the suit argues that under the 14th Amendment, Trump cannot be on the ballot in Colorado because of his involvement in the January 6th attack on the Capitol and his efforts to decertify the results of the 2020 election. Naturally, Trump’s legal team is already trying to dismiss the suit. But assuming it moves forward, both sides are scheduled to make their case on October 30th. However, things will need to move fast. The deadline to finalize Colorado’s presidential primary ballot is January 5th, and it’s very likely that this case will end up before the U.S. Supreme Court. So I guess lucky us Josie. 


Josie Duffy Rice: It sounds like it’s going to be a blast. [laughter] Not to get Shakespearian about a weather story, but Ophelia has fallen into a depression. [laughter] Get it? Oh, my God. That is so junior year lit joke. I love it. [laughter] And by that, I am talking about the former tropical storm that made landfall over North Carolina over the weekend. It brought heavy rain and significant storm surge to coastal areas of the state, though meteorologists say the system is slowly losing strength. That’s great news. Ophelia is expected to keep losing power as it moves north through Virginia and Washington, D.C., before swinging back out to the ocean later this afternoon. But while Ophelia is working through her issues, meteorologists are turning their attention to a trio of new weather disturbances. Tropical Storm Phillipe, which is slowly churning west from the southeastern Atlantic and two separate unnamed systems developing in the Gulf of Mexico. Though forecasters say there’s a low chance that they will develop into anything dangerous. 


Tre’vell Anderson: And an update on a story we told you about back in May. The Labor Department is investigating. Tyson Foods and Perdue farms over allegations that they allowed migrant children to work in their slaughterhouses. That’s according to The New York Times, which last week reported that migrant children as young as 13 were working overnight shifts for contractors at plants in Virginia. That work included cleaning blood, grease and meat scraps with pressure hoses and even acid. Needless to say, slaughterhouses and meat processing plants are considered some of the most dangerous places to work in the country. In an interview with the Times, the Labor Department’s chief legal officer said, quote, “We are long past the day when brands can say that they don’t know that they have child labor in their supply chain.” For their part, representatives for both companies told the newspaper they were unaware of any minors working at their Virginia plants, adding that they would cooperate with any investigations and were not trying to avoid accountability. 


Josie Duffy Rice: And finally, in some truly out of this world news. 


[clip from NASA] Touchdown, I repeat. [?] has touched down. 


Josie Duffy Rice: The first ever samples that NASA has taken straight from an asteroid landed safely on Earth yesterday. It all went down literally when the Osiris-rex spacecraft made its long awaited return to Earth’s orbit and released a capsule full of rocks and dust from the asteroid known as Bennu into the Utah desert on Sunday morning. Scientists will use those samples to learn more about Earth’s formation and even the origin of life on our planet. And that’s because Bennu is estimated to be around four and a half billion years old, roughly the same age as Earth. Twins. And we should note that this was all years in the making. NASA’s first launched Osiris-rex into space back in 2016, and it reached Bennu two years later. That’s when scientists discovered that Bennu is actually a loose collection of rubble held together by like gravity and a little hope. The spacecraft itself was also riding on some of that hope because it had to gather its samples on its own before turning around for its return trip to Earth in 2021. As for the samples collected from Bennu. They’re on their way to Houston for further analysis, and researchers plan to reveal their initial findings to the public next month. Meanwhile, Osiris-rex is jetting off to its next mission. It’s going to head to another nearby asteroid and is expected to reach it by 2029. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Why not explore other asteroids to teach us about how Earth came to be? Not like it’ll be here for much longer. 


Josie Duffy Rice: We’re all going to be dead by 2029. [laughter] Osiris-rex is going to come back to nothing. 


Tre’vell Anderson: And those are the headlines. [music break] That’s all for today. If you like this show, make sure you subscribe, leave a review, use a VPN and clear your browser cache if you’re searching for gold prices and tell your friends to listen. 


Josie Duffy Rice: And if you’re into reading and not just insane demands from major Hollywood studios like me, What a Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at I’m Josie Duffy Rice.


Tre’vell Anderson: I’m Tre’vell Anderson. 


[spoken together] And see you never Osiris-Rex. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Listen can you imagine it returning to earth and there literally is nothing here? 


Josie Duffy Rice: They’re like, anybody here?


Tre’vell Anderson: [laughing] Well, stay tuned. [music break]


Josie Duffy Rice: What a Day is a production of Crooked Media. It’s recorded and mixed by Bill Lancz. Our show’s producer is Itxy Quintanilla. Raven Yamamoto and Natalie Bettendorf are our associate producers and our senior producer is Lita Martinez. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.