Could Biden Be Replaced? | Crooked Media
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June 30, 2024
What A Day
Could Biden Be Replaced?

In This Episode

  • The Biden campaign spent the weekend trying to contain the damage from the president’s devastating performance in Thursday night’s presidential debate. Biden acknowledged his lackluster showing during a campaign event in North Carolina on Friday. Still, it didn’t do much to end the sheer panic that has overtaken the Democratic Party and quiet the calls for him to leave the race ahead of the Democratic National Convention. Colby Itkowitz, national reporter for The Washington Post, explains what would happen if Biden were to step aside before the DNC in August.
  • Meanwhile, the Supreme Court kicked Democrats while they were down Friday morning. The justices issued a flurry of opinions limiting the ways government agencies can set regulations, allowing city officials to remove homeless encampments, and undermining a key charge used by prosecutors in hundreds of cases against January 6 rioters. The court is expected to wrap up its term today, meaning we expect a decision in the most significant case of the year — whether former President Donald Trump is immune from prosecution for his role in the insurrection.
  • And in headlines: France’s far-right political party won big in the country’s parliamentary elections Sunday, the U.S. dismantled the floating pier that the military built for aid delivery in Gaza, and Steve Bannon must turn himself into prison today after the Supreme Court rejected his appeal to delay his sentence.


Show Notes:



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Tre’vell Anderson: It’s Monday, July 1st. I’m Tre’vell Anderson. 


Josie Duffy Rice: And I’m Josie Duffy Rice and this is What a Day, the show that is getting dizzy from all the Democrat spin over the weekend. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Yes. In the words of singer songwriter Vivian Greene, I’m on an emotional rollercoaster, Josie. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Ugh. I’m in a tornado. I am in a tornado. [laughter] [music break] On today’s show, the Supreme Court is releasing its last round of decisions today. But we will tell you which ones you may have missed from last week. Plus, Steve Bannon heads to jail. 


Tre’vell Anderson: But first, the Biden campaign spent the weekend trying to contain the damage from the president’s performance in Thursday’s debate. Biden even acknowledged his devastating showing during a campaign event in North Carolina on Friday. 


[clip of President Joe Biden] I don’t walk as easy as I used to. I don’t speak as smoothly as I used to. I don’t debate as well as I used to. But I know what I do know. I know how to tell the truth. [cheers]


Tre’vell Anderson: But that didn’t do too much to end the sheer panic that has overtaken the Democratic Party. And really, anyone who does not want to see former President Donald Trump return to office. On Friday, the New York Times editorial board and more than half a dozen of the paper’s columnists called on Biden to step aside. So did a handful of columnists at The Atlantic, as well as MSNBC host Joe Scarborough. Even our very own Pod Save America guys said it was time for Democrats to seriously consider the merits of an open convention at the DNC in mid-August. 


[clip from Pod Save America] For the same sense of decency and empathy and patriotism that led Joe Biden to run. I believe this is a moment to at least have a big, open conversation about whether the best thing he can do for America to end his presidency as the success it deserves to be, is whether or not he should step aside. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah. So this is obviously a major turning point in this campaign. So what have the Biden campaign and other top Democrats said about all of this, about these calls for the president to step down? 


Tre’vell Anderson: Well, so far, they’re adamant that Biden will not leave the race. A Biden campaign official said Friday there were no internal conversations, quote unquote, “whatsoever” about Biden stepping aside. And in a fundraising email Saturday night, the Biden campaign even sent out talking points to help supporters push back against the, quote, “bedwetting brigade” of people calling for Biden to drop out. 


Josie Duffy Rice: That feels like a weird way to frame the pretty justified panic that I think people feel right now. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah, and at the same time, the big names within the party spent the last few days recasting Biden’s performance. Former President Barack Obama said on X Friday that, quote, “bad debate nights happen,” but that Biden’s performance didn’t change the stakes of the race. And former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries also hit the Sunday talk shows to make the same argument. And privately, Biden met with his family Sunday at Camp David. The New York Times reported that they encouraged him to stay in the race and keep fighting. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Did any of these high ranking Democrats acknowledge the anxiety that this debate performance has created? It sounds like they’re just sort of dismissing it, saying, no big deal, playing it down. But we all experienced that. 


Tre’vell Anderson: We saw what we saw. Yeah.


Josie Duffy Rice: We saw what we saw. Yeah. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Well, Maryland Congressman Jamie Raskin did. He said on MSNBC Sunday that there are discussions within the party about what to do next. 


[clip of Jamie Raskin] Obviously, there was a big problem with Joe Biden’s debate performance, and there’s also just a tremendous reservoir of affection and love for Joe Biden in our party. And so this makes it, a difficult situation for everybody. But there are very honest and serious and rigorous conversations taking place at every level of our party. Um. Because it is a political party and we have differences in point of view. 


Tre’vell Anderson: So to get a better sense of what options Democrats actually have, I spoke with Colby Itkowitz. She covers national politics for the Washington Post and recently co-wrote a piece about whether Biden could be replaced at the DNC. I started by asking her whether this conversation is coming too late with the convention less than two months away. 


Colby Itkowitz: Logistically and legally, it’s actually quite easy in terms of he’s not the nominee yet because there hasn’t been a convention. No ballots have actually been printed, and so you could quite easily replace him. However, politically it’s a nightmare because there’s no clear successor, there’s no clear person who everyone in the Democratic Party would rally around if Biden were to step aside. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Right. And the campaign is so far adamant that he won’t step down. But for the sake of argument here. Okay, do some world envision building with me here? 


Colby Itkowitz: Yeah. Happy to. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Let’s say that he does decide to leave the race. What happens to the delegates that he’s won so far in the primaries? 


Colby Itkowitz: Yeah, it’s a great question. And so he’s won obviously, the lion’s share of the delegates. And those delegates would be free to vote for anyone they wanted to vote for on the convention floor. And so what would likely happen in that scenario is you would have a handful or more of Democrats, a lot of them, these up and coming stars like Gretchen Whitmer and Gavin Newsom and Josh Shapiro start jockeying for that top spot. And you would have a kind of mini primary, but the only people’s votes they were going to be uh seeking were these delegates. So there’d be a lot of private conversations, just private campaigning, kind of outside of the public view. And so then what would happen is on the convention floor, you would have the delegates openly vote. It would be an open convention, which we have not had in this country in decades. And so you might have several rounds of balloting where until they come up with a consensus candidate, it would be for political journalists would be the most fun we’ve ever had. Um. But it would also be a total free for all and a mess. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah. I mean, is there a world where if Biden, for example, pledged the delegates to say Vice President Harris, would they be, like, bound to vote for her in that case? 


Colby Itkowitz: Not at all. So you can imagine a scenario where the Democratic Party feels that the right thing to do is to coalesce around the vice president. And you could see a scenario where the president would also feel that way. And so he steps aside and says, you know, let Kamala Harris lead the ticket. And I want all my delegates to support her. They would not be bound to do so. I imagine a good number of them would if he asked them to, but you would have a lot of others who would say, well, I’m not convinced that she can beat Donald Trump. There’s been a lot of evidence that she, you know, struggles on a national stage. I mean, her primary campaign in 2020 was a disaster. And so there are going to be some delegates who are going to say, you know, I want someone who I think actually has a shot at beating Donald Trump. That’s the most important objective here. And so they could go and vote for whoever what they want for that top spot. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah. I mean, actually, who are some of the other names. You mentioned, California Governor Gavin Newsom, you mentioned Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro. I feel like John Q. Public might think that Vice President Harris would be the obvious next person. 


Colby Itkowitz: Yeah. 


Tre’vell Anderson: You know, but there’s so many other names. 


Colby Itkowitz: One that we should not forget is Pete Buttigieg, who actually did have a successful primary run in 2020, winning the Iowa caucuses, coming out of nowhere as a small town mayor from Indiana. He is now, has a high level position in the Biden administration. He’d be a natural person to kind of accelerate to that top spot. In fact, about, I don’t know, maybe eight months ago, I was up in New Hampshire right before the primaries, talking to Democrats. When you asked them who they wanted to see run in 2028, I was amazed how many people said Pete Buttigieg. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Interesting. 


Colby Itkowitz: Yeah. Very interesting. Right. So Josh Shapiro, like a lot of these people don’t have national name ID yet. They have not been road tested on the national stage. Kamala Harris has. Pete Buttigieg has. The people that have run before in a primary. And so to pick someone who hasn’t kind of been vetted or tested with only a couple months until the actual election would be a major risk. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Right. Okay. So we’ve been talking a lot about the process, right, of potentially replacing Biden if he drops out, what an open convention would look like in Chicago in August when they convene. But I want to talk a bit about the politics of this for a moment, because, as you already mentioned, it would be very messy if we kind of went down this road and Biden in 2021 as like the consensus candidate right, of a party that was basically fractured. Could any of these names that we’ve just kind of thrown out there, who could be potential candidates, fit that same mold, serve in that same kind of same role? 


Colby Itkowitz: It’s such a good question, because I think what Biden was able to do in 2020, first of all, he was the vice president to Barack Obama. He’s been in politics for decades, and he has long established ties with various bases of the Democratic Party, whether it be the African-American community, whether it be kind of the white working class community. And he was able to kind of coalesce all of these various factions together. And we just don’t know yet if some of these other candidates would be able to do that. Democrats need every bit of their coalition to turn out in order to win. They can’t let any of that slip because the margins for victory are so, so small. And whoever is going to win this presidential election in November, no matter who it is, is going to win very narrowly. I mean, I think everyone kind of understands that to be true. And so you can’t afford to lose anybody. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Right. Now you have written about a scenario that is very unlikely, but still not out of the question, which is where Biden refuses to step aside and someone challenges him at the convention. What exactly would that look like? 


Colby Itkowitz: Yeah. What’s so interesting is that the primary process, what happens is, is that, you know, you win a primary and then those delegates from that state then go and vote for whoever won their states primary at the convention. But it turns out they don’t have to. They’re expected to. And that’s the language in the rules, is they’re expected to reflect the preference of the primary in their state, but they could potentially revolt if they wanted to and vote for someone else. And so there is a scenario highly, highly unlikely that someone comes along and starts lobbying and campaigning some of these delegates and trying to get them to turn against Biden and challenging the president on the convention floor. I would be shocked if something like that happened, or if it happened by someone who actually had the ability to peel off those voters. And you have to note that, like, there is not a single Democratic leader who is backed away from Biden at this point. There’s a lot of murmuring, a lot of whispering among Democrats. But at the highest levels of the Democratic Party, the message that we’re all hearing is Biden is our guy. We’re sticking with Biden. And, you know, we just have to move forward from Thursday night. 


Tre’vell Anderson: That was my conversation with Colby Itkowitz, national political reporter for The Washington Post. We’ll link to her work in our show notes. This is obviously a story that is going to keep developing over the next few days and weeks, so we will keep an eye on it. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Thanks, Tre’vell. And with all of last week’s debate talk, you may have missed some big Supreme Court decisions, many of which were held until this very last week of the term. As predicted, the court made some disastrous rulings, including one that could impact the way government as we know it operates. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Okay, so before we get to that big bad one there, let’s start with the others. The court issued a ruling in the EMTALA abortion case, which we of course covered when it was argued months ago. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah. So that’s the case where Idaho refused to comply with the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act, a federal law which requires hospitals to provide abortion care when the mother’s health is at serious risk. Idaho said they would not comply because they would not, quote, “turn emergency rooms into federal abortion enclaves,” which is a patently bananas way to talk about emergency medical care. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah, this case had Idaho doctors in a very tough position. If they provided abortion care, they were violating state law. And if they didn’t, they were violating federal law. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah. And that’s what you always want, your doctors to be confused about whether or not they can legally provide you care. So in this case, the court actually didn’t rule on the merits of the case. Instead, they sent it back to the lower courts for consideration. And this is temporarily good news for people who may need emergency abortion care in Idaho, because it means that for the moment, that care is legal. But long term it’s basically just the court punting. And as Justice Jackson seemed to hint at her dissent, it seems pretty likely that the conservative justices are only avoiding this question right now because a high stakes election is on the horizon, and they know that it’s harder for Republicans to get elected when they curtail access to abortion. Right. Because that’s very unpopular. In her dissent, Jackson warned of, quote, “storm clouds that loom ahead” for people who believe in the right to abortion and said that the majority was, quote, “squandering its chance to bring clarity and certainty to this tragic situation.” 


Tre’vell Anderson: And there was also a big decision in another case that we covered, Grants Pass v Johnson. This was the case that considered whether cities and states could essentially make it a crime to be homeless. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah. So this case considered an anti-camping ordinance passed by the city of Grants Pass, Oregon, which made it illegal to sleep on public property, and that was meant to punish unhoused people, right? The city had said that explicitly when they passed that law. And a lower court found that unless the city provided enough shelter beds for everybody, then they couldn’t punish people for sleeping outside. It was cruel and unusual punishment. But the Supreme Court rejected that argument, and they basically ruled last week that you can punish poor people for being poor. No problem. This is yet another example of the courts seeing a major structural problem and deciding that instead of solving that problem, they’re going to punish people who the system has failed because we actually know how to help unhoused people. Right? We need more housing. We need that housing to be cheaper. That is by and far the number one reason that people are homeless. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Right. 


Josie Duffy Rice: But the court said instead we’ll just jail them. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Right. 


Josie Duffy Rice: That’s fine. 


Tre’vell Anderson: And now to the big bad one that you just forecasted there. Tell us about the last decision, the one that you said could affect how government as we know it operates. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah. So on Friday, in a case called Loper Bright Enterprises versus Raimondo, the court overruled their 1984 decision in Chevron versus Natural Resources Defense Council. That case, the 1984 one, had created the Chevron doctrine, which basically said that when Congress passes a law that includes any ambiguity, a court has to defer to the relevant agencies interpretation of that ambiguity. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Okay, that sounds really in the weeds, but we have talked about why it matters on the show. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Explain to us again what this means in practice. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Okay. So think about agencies like the Food and Drug Administration, the FDA or the Environmental Protection Agency, the EPA. So when Congress passes a law that says milk must be sufficiently pasteurized to be sold or meat has to be considered safe from bacteria or cars emit too much CO2. These agencies are tasked with determining what sufficiently or safe or too much actually means, and this actually ends up determining a lot of federal law. But in their Friday ruling, the court decided that instead of courts deferring to agencies interpretation, courts should just now defer to their own interpretation of ambiguities in the law. And this is, bar none, a disaster, truly. Because the reason that Chevron deference existed is because unlike Congress, and unlike courts, agencies are staffed by experts. People who work at the FDA or the EPA know about food safety. They know about the environment. They know the technology and the science and the issue well enough to actually determine how best to keep people safe. They are able to help Congress achieve their desired outcome. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Right? That’s literally the point of having these agencies, because Congress and courts can’t know everything or possibly determine every regulation. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Exactly. And so now federal courts are going to be able to decide, you know what? Even though the experts tell me that this amount of lead is safe in water, I think it should be higher. I think we should be allowed to have more lead in water. Courts are basically now going to be making law in everything from workplace safety standards to drug prices to food contamination. These are really important issues about safety and how we move through the world. Right? And the court has basically now said experts don’t need to be involved in that. We’ll do it ourselves. As Kagan said in her dissent, quote “in one fell swoop, the majority today gives itself exclusive power over every open issue.” And this is just like another catastrophic decision from this court, right? The losers here are not just agency experts, but they are people like you and me who want to be kept safe by their government. And the winners are the courts. And in specifically the Supreme Court itself, they have basically granted themselves an enormous amount of power. They’re now the last word on a lot of these questions, which they have absolutely no expertise to be the last word on. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Whoo, everybody take a deep breath with me. Thank you so much for that breakdown, Josie. That’s the latest for now. We’ll get to some headlines in a moment. But if you like our show, make sure to subscribe and share it with your friends. We’ll be back after some ads. [music break]




Josie Duffy Rice: Now let’s wrap up with some headlines. 


[sung] Headlines. 


Josie Duffy Rice: France’s far right political party, the National Rally, won big in the country’s parliamentary elections on Sunday with 34% of the vote. This puts the National rally ahead of French President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist party, which only scored about 20%. The National Rally is known for its anti-immigrant, Islamophobic and anti-Semitic policies, and France’s left and centrist parties hope to unite and keep the National Rally out of power. But if the party gains more ground in the next round of voting, it could choose the country’s next prime minister. Voters will return to the polls on July 7th for the next round of voting. 


Tre’vell Anderson: The U.S. has dismantled the floating pier that its military built for aid delivery in Gaza, with no plans to rebuild it. Officials said that the pier, which was completed on May 17th, was removed because of weather conditions and security concerns. The use of the pier has been plagued by issues since its opening, and it hasn’t been operational since June 9th. It was intended to significantly increase the amount of aid reaching a Palestinian civilian population that’s in desperate need of food, medicine and other essential supplies because of Israel’s war in Gaza. But the project has turned out to be much less effective than the U.S. had pledged. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Three consecutive suicide bombings in northern Nigeria killed 18 people and wounded at least 30. After targeting a wedding, a funeral, and a hospital over the weekend. So far, no one has claimed responsibility for the attacks, which all seem to have been carried out by women. But Islamist militancy has been a long standing problem in the Nigerian state of Borno, headlined by the actions of the notorious terrorist group Boko Haram. In recent years, the Nigerian government has been able to beat back the militants to a considerable degree. But attacks like these show that the conflict is far from over. 


Tre’vell Anderson: And finally, Steve Bannon must turn himself into prison today after the Supreme Court rejected his appeal to delay his sentence. The ex-adviser to former President Donald Trump was convicted of contempt of Congress back in 2022, when he refused to comply with the federal investigation into the January 6th riots. Bannon was sentenced to four months in federal prison. He filed an emergency appeal earlier this month with the Supreme Court to avoid jail time. But the justices refused to hear his case. 


Josie Duffy Rice: And those are the headlines. 




Tre’vell Anderson: That is all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe. Leave a review. Support organizations working to end homelessness and tell your friends to listen. 


Josie Duffy Rice: And if you are into reading and not just think pieces about what’s next for the Democrats like me, What a Day is also a nightly newsletter, so check it out and subscribe at I’m Josie Duffy Rice. 


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


[spoken together] And bye bye Bannon. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Have a great time. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Not have a great time. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Look you know I don’t get joy out of people going to prison as a rule but. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Dot dot dot. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Don’t have a lot of energy to waste on that one. [music break]


Tre’vell Anderson: What a Day is a production of Crooked Media. It’s recorded and mixed by Bill Lancz. Our associate producers are Raven Yamamoto and Natalie Bettendorf. We had production help today from Michell Eloy, Greg Walters, and Julia Claire. Our showrunner is Erica Morrison and our executive producer is Adriene Hill. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.