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November 30, 2022
What A Day
Full Hakeem Ahead

In This Episode

  • House Democrats voted unanimously Wednesday to make New York Congressman Hakeem Jeffries their new leader – making him the first Black person to lead a party in Congress.
  • Meanwhile, the House passed legislation that would force rail companies and labor unions to accept a tentative deal to avert a nationwide rail strike — and while progressives pushed for a separate bill to guarantee paid sick leave, it faces an uncertain future in the Senate.
  • And in headlines: the FDA is reportedly planning to allow more queer men to donate blood, a House panel finally has access to former President Trump’s federal tax returns, and the French baguette was added to UNESCO’s cultural heritage list.


Show Notes:



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Priyanka Aribindi: It’s Thursday, December 1st. I’m Priyanka Aribindi. 


Juanita Tolliver: And I’m Juanita Tolliver and this is What A Day reminding you to proceed with extreme caution if you eat Thanksgiving leftovers on any day after today. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, listen, we finished with that after the weekend was over. 


Juanita Tolliver: Also, how good was your food if you have leftovers at this point. I’m questioning the quality. 


Priyanka Aribindi: I mean, Juanita’s coming for you a little bit, but I’m kind of with her. [laughter] [music break] On today’s show, a House committee finally has its hands on Donald Trump’s tax returns. Never thought we’d see the day. 


Juanita Tolliver: Girl. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Plus, carb lovers rejoice because the French baguette was granted World Heritage status. 


Juanita Tolliver: But first, y’all, we’ve got a Black history announcement. Make way for Democratic leader elect Hakeem Jeffries. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Woo! 


Juanita Tolliver: Yesterday on Shirley Chisholm’s birthday, no less. Representative Jeffries was unanimously elected Democratic leader, becoming the first Black person to ever lead a party in Congress. And I am hyped. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, it’s really exciting. 


Juanita Tolliver: It’s so exciting. And I love that Representative Jeffries gave Shirley Chisholm a shout out in his remarks as she was the first member of Congress that he was ever aware of. So it’s a historic moment, and it’s also a bit of an expected moment, as Jeffries has been groomed for this ascension for years. Remember, he has served in leadership since 2018. And almost immediately after Speaker Pelosi made her floor speech stepping down as speaker in November, she, along with Representatives Clyburn and Hoyer, threw their support behind the 52 year old representative for New York’s 17th District and Brooklyn. Representative Jeffries has developed a reputation as a no nonsense member who clearly loves hip hop and stands at the ready to call out the asinine, cruel behavior of Republicans. No one can forget him quoting Biggie during the first impeachment proceedings or the way he lit up right wing Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas after Roe v Wade was overturned. 


Priyanka Aribindi: So who else will be joining him in Democratic leadership for the next Congress? 


Juanita Tolliver: Rounding out Democrats leadership team are Representative Katherine Clarke of Massachusetts, who was elected to serve as Democratic whip, and Representative Pete Aguilar of California, a friend of WAD who will serve as the Democratic Caucus chair. And what’s also history making about this trio is that this is the first time that the top three leadership positions for either party in either chamber are exclusively held by people of color and women. 


Priyanka Aribindi: That’s huge. 


Juanita Tolliver: This transition also marks a generational shift as the previous slate of Democratic leaders were all 80 plus years old. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Mm hmm. 


Juanita Tolliver: And Speaker Pelosi noted that this shift, quote, “reflects the vibrancy and diversity of our great nation, and they will reinvigorate our caucus with their new energy, ideas and perspectives.” 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, it seems like people, you know, within the house are excited about this. It seems like– 


Juanita Tolliver: Right. 


Priyanka Aribindi: –This is exactly what I mean if you think back to 2020 primary season, which is like a cursed time to think back to but like– 


Juanita Tolliver: Girl. 


Priyanka Aribindi: –was what a–


Juanita Tolliver: I don’t want to. 


Priyanka Aribindi: –lot of people wanted out of their government. So exciting things and everyone seems like happy about this. So what should we– 


Juanita Tolliver: Right. 


Priyanka Aribindi: –be expecting from this new leadership team? 


Juanita Tolliver: So Democrats are gonna be the source of accountability in the next Congress, and we can expect Democratic leadership to fight the fight against Republicans. Representative Jeffries made it clear in his remarks yesterday that he and Democrats are committed to combating the divisive, extremist agenda that we know is going to come from House Republicans, as well as to find ways to help the American people as the minority party in the House. And Jeffries also said that he is ready to, quote, “extend the hand of partnership whenever and wherever possible to get things done for everyday Americans.” So he’ll definitely be keeping an eye on opportunities to pick off a few of those disgruntled Republicans to get their support for substantive legislation. 


Priyanka Aribindi: I wish him the best of luck. [laughter] It is in everyone’s interest that we wish him the best of luck. I don’t know how successful he’ll be in that. 


Juanita Tolliver: Right. 


Priyanka Aribindi: I don’t think that’s any fault of his. 


Juanita Tolliver: At all. It’s also important to note that it’s not all roses within the Democratic caucus, as there has been some friction in the past between Jeffries and other progressive Democrats. Jeffries has stated in previous interviews how he has drawn a line between himself and more left leaning progressives saying he will, quote, “never bend the knee.” 


Priyanka Aribindi: Hmm. 


Juanita Tolliver: So we should keep an eye on how those tensions play out in the next Congress, especially around committee assignments and the policy priorities or goals Democrats set. Honestly, though, I think the harmful, destructive agenda of Republicans will be more than enough to keep Democrats unified completely for the next two years. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, certainly not something I’m particularly worried about. 


Juanita Tolliver: Right. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Especially in this next Congress. In other major news out of this Congress still, the House passed legislation that would force a tentative rail labor agreement to ultimately avoid a nationwide rail strike. This followed calls on Congress from the White House earlier this week to take action. And now it heads to the Senate where Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has promised that it will be passed quickly. 


Juanita Tolliver: I know we talked about stuff passing the smell test earlier and this shit stinks Priyanka like it stinks for the workers. It stinks for these rail workers. But give us some background here. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, happily. Because, like, you all might be hearing strike possibly averted. Like good news. And we’re here to tell you that that I don’t know. It’s not, as we said, not all roses. So freight companies and their unions have had disputes over pay and working conditions for a while now, you might remember us talking about this on the show earlier this year. A strike was previously averted back in September when President Biden announced a tentative deal. But four of the 12 unions that represent rail workers, represent almost half of them in this country, rejected that agreement in recent weeks. So the prospect of a rail strike has come back to the forefront recently. And if those workers walk off the job, it would be a huge, huge deal. 


Juanita Tolliver: Massive. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. It would not only affect commuters, people who use rail to travel, that might be like the primary way that you and I are thinking about rail. But I mean, it’s hugely important to the infrastructure of our country. I mean, it would affect the country’s energy supply, our drinking water, as well as the transportation of goods. President Biden said that a rail shutdown would devastate our economy and it’s estimated to cost the American economy $2 billion dollars a day. So massive, massive impacts if that happened. The deal struck back in September included pay raises for union members, but one of the biggest sticking points has been over paid sick time. Rail workers have been pushing for paid sick days, which they currently do not receive at all in any form. And many union workers voted against the initial deal because it only included one paid sick day for the entire year. I should note that in addition to the legislation that the House passed yesterday, lawmakers also passed a separate bill to provide seven days of paid sick leave to rail workers. But it’s unclear yet whether or not the Senate will also be on board with that which, you know, we would need to actually see that. 


Juanita Tolliver: Right. Like it’s a good effort by House Democrats. We know what they’re trying to do. It mirrors some of their previous efforts around getting paid sick leave and family medical leave. But we– 


Priyanka Aribindi: Right. 


Juanita Tolliver: –know Republicans are hard pressed and completely opposed to this type of paid leave for any workers. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. 


Juanita Tolliver: We saw it earlier this year when, again, Democrats tried to pass it through the House. But I feel like these rail workers are right to reject one day to take care of their basic health or even their families. It’s like people forget that COVID is actually still a thing, but here we are. 


Priyanka Aribindi: If you worked full time, would you want more than one paid sick day? I would. 


Juanita Tolliver: Come on. 


Priyanka Aribindi: I don’t know. Just think about that. 


Juanita Tolliver: Plain and simple. 


Priyanka Aribindi: If you would answer one way, like, why should the rail workers– 


Juanita Tolliver: Right. 


Priyanka Aribindi: –have to answer differently? 


Juanita Tolliver: This is literally about dignity of work and basic human rights. That’s what it comes down to to me. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Totally. 


Juanita Tolliver: And for everyone wondering why the government is so involved in this, can you explain? 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, no, because I too was wondering when we first started talking about this, like, why are they in the middle of this with the rail companies? I don’t get it. But because of the Railway Labor Act of 1926, Congress actually has the power to intervene in a railway strike, to stop a strike, and to force the railroad companies and their unions to adopt a new labor contract. Because back then the railways were deemed so critical to the American economy that Congress could literally intervene and make them work whether or not they wanted to be working. Biden himself has said that he is reluctant to override these union’s votes against the previous deal. It’s definitely not the best look. 


Juanita Tolliver: It’s not pro-union Biden, he promised pro-union stuff. This ain’t it. 


Priyanka Aribindi: That’s not. Yeah, exactly. So I get why he’s like, I don’t feel great about this. Of course, this is also happening as the rail industry has made record profits. They made 21 plus billion dollars in the first three quarters of this year. It’s not like they don’t have money and they can’t afford to do this kind of stuff. But the administration’s argument for getting involved is just how devastating a strike would be for the rest of the economy. The unions obviously aren’t too happy about the idea of having an agreement forced on them and being denied their right to strike. It’s unclear if the paid sick leave bill that was passed by the House, and Senator Bernie Sanders is championing in the Senate will end up changing their minds. But it’s also unclear that it will even pass the Senate and it’ll be much of a factor there. 


Juanita Tolliver: Right. When I look at this entire thing, it’s just literally capitalism doing what capitalism does. Coins and corporations come before the people and it comes before workers and it’s disgusting. But I got to say, I appreciate Senator Sanders who’s calling for a basic roll call vote on the seven days of paid leave before they take up the first part of the deal, which would force this agreement on to the workers. But let’s be real. It’s an empty effort because Republicans want workers to lose and they’re so committed to it, they’re going to vote against this every single time. And we all know why, Republicans put corporations and corporate greed over anybody else. So here we are. 


Priyanka Aribindi: So there is no timeline yet on the Senate vote, but something does need to happen before December 9th. That is the deadline for the unions and railways to reach an agreement before workers said that they will go on strike. We’ll obviously keep you updated on this. More on all of this very soon. But that is the latest for now. [music break] Let’s get to some headlines. 


[sung] Headlines. 


Juanita Tolliver: We have an update on the ongoing water contamination crisis on the Hawaiian island of Oahu. To refresh your memory. Last November, thousands of gallons of jet fuel leaked from underground tanks at the U.S. Navy’s Red Hill storage facility. It leaked into the local water supply, leaving thousands of residents at a military base near Pearl Harbor without safe drinking water for months. Local activists have long called on the Navy to permanently close Red Hill and defuel its tanks, which sit right above one of the island’s main aquifers. The Navy finally started that process last month, but on Tuesday night, over a thousand gallons of toxic firefighting foam leaked from the facility and into the above ground soil. State and military officials said the spill hasn’t impacted the drinking water supply, but there’s renewed concern that it could further delay the shutdown and pose even more health risks. Hawaii’s health department is currently investigating Tuesday’s leak. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Isis acknowledged yesterday that its most recent leader, Abu [al-]Hassan al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi was recently killed in combat. This comes after the U.S. military said that Al-Qurayshi was killed in Syria in October. So it’s not clear why the extremist group announced his death just now. Isis also said that it has picked a new leader, but he may not want that promotion. Al-Qurayshi only held the leadership position for nine months before his death, making him the second Islamic State leader to be killed this year. 


Juanita Tolliver: The FDA could soon implement a new screening process to allow more queer men to give blood. Right now, the agency does allow gay and bisexual men to give blood, but only if they abstain from sex with other men for at least three months. An official familiar with the proposed plan told The Wall Street Journal the FDA may lift that rule as long as they’re in a monogamous relationship and haven’t had any new sexual partners in three months. The exact details are still being worked out. LGBTQ+ advocates have long fought to end the ban on queer men donating blood, which started in the eighties at the height of the AIDS epidemic. The new plan comes amid an ongoing blood shortage in the U.S. that has only worsened during the COVID 19 pandemic. 


Priyanka Aribindi: In a massive win for CNN circa 2017. The House finally obtained six years worth of former President Trump’s federal income tax returns. The Supreme Court ordered the IRS to hand them over last week, turning down Trump’s request to block their release. This marks the end to what seemed like a never ending crusade by Democrats, who are probably experiencing a sinking realization that now they have to read a ton of tax returns. They could still catch a break. The House committee granted access to these returns, hasn’t said how quickly it expects to get these documents, and Republicans are expected to drop the requests for them when they take control of the chamber in January. So, yeah, they might be off the hook, but not exactly for the best reasons.


Juanita Tolliver: This feels like a massive flashback because I remember a time when these were the most incriminating documents we could have had on Trump, and there’s so– 


Priyanka Aribindi: What a time. 


Juanita Tolliver: –much worse– 


Priyanka Aribindi: What a time. 


Juanita Tolliver: –shit right now, that was basic that was like–


Priyanka Aribindi: So basic. 


Juanita Tolliver: –grade school level problems.


Priyanka Aribindi: We didn’t even know. We didn’t even know. 


Juanita Tolliver: And the world is honoring the long history of one of the longest breads. French baguettes have been added to the UN’s Intangible Cultural Heritage List, ensuring the protection of the iconic crunchy loaf for many years to come. This comes amid a continuous decline in the number of traditional French bakeries, with hundreds closing every year. Experts from UNESCO, the UN’s Heritage Agency said the decision was made to recognize that a baguette is more than just a baguette. It represents the daily ritual of baking in France. Not to mention it’s the thing you hit the ball with in the beloved sport of French baseball. France’s government celebrated the news by saying it plans to support programs and scholarships to train bakers and create a National Baguette Day called the Open Bake House Day. One, I fully support this. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Love it. 


Juanita Tolliver: Two, baguettes on the [?] in France are chef’s kiss and three, yes preserve this. It is truly a novelty. 


Priyanka Aribindi: I love everything about this, but now I’m just getting hung up a little bit on French baseball. I feel like if the baguette is the bat, I think butter has to be the ball. Yes? 


Juanita Tolliver: Oh, my God. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Does that work? 


Juanita Tolliver: Yes. 


Priyanka Aribindi: I’m into it. And those are the headlines. We’ll be back after some ads to keep up with the very expensive divorce proceedings of the West-Kardashians. 


Juanita Tolliver: Da da da. [laughter]. 




Priyanka Aribindi: It is Thursday WAD squad and today we are doing a segment where we visit the last place justice can be served in America, a place where the law is administered by people with no professional legal experience, apart from knowing parts of Legally Blond by heart, a place called the Podcasters Court. [gavel sound] Juanita, I’m going to tell you about a recent thing that happened in our nation’s courts, and you get to evaluate it on its merits. Are you ready? 


Juanita Tolliver: I mean, is it hard to get into Harvard or something? [laughter]


Priyanka Aribindi: In the span of about seven days, the rapper formerly known as Kanye West has lost out on a presidential running mate in Donald Trump and a life running mate in Kim Kardashian. 


Juanita Tolliver: Gag. 


Priyanka Aribindi: His divorce from Kardashian was finalized this week, according to multiple sources, almost two years after Kardashian filed for it in February of 2021. The split wasn’t easy by any means. Ye cycled through at least five divorce lawyers while Kim stuck with one, the same high powered Hollywood attorney who many think is the basis for Scarlett Johansson’s lawyer in Marriage Story. Kim and Ye will divide up their assets, including 21 properties, according to their prenup. They have agreed to joint custody of their four children. And if you want to know how much it costs to grow up as a Kardashian-West, Ye will reportedly pay Kim $200,000 a month in child support payments on top of one half of the kid’s medical, educational and security expenses, which probably increased because he keeps telling everybody where those kids go to school. So, Juanita, based on your knowledge of big celebrity break up law. What are your thoughts on this settlement? 


Juanita Tolliver: If the kids have primary residency with Kim, sure. 


Priyanka Aribindi: You’re going a–


Juanita Tolliver: Sure. 


Priyanka Aribindi: –Legal route. 


Juanita Tolliver: But here’s the thing, though, 50K per kids, I come back to the question of what is the lifestyle to which they have become accustomed that requires $50,000 per month, per kid. That makes no– 


Priyanka Aribindi: I don’t know. Those–


Juanita Tolliver: –sense to me. 


Priyanka Aribindi: –those seats on Kim Air seem kind of expensive. Like–


Juanita Tolliver: Girl. 


Priyanka Aribindi: –I feel like that might be what they’re going towards. [laughing]


Juanita Tolliver: I guess. But what I come back to the fact that Kanye got got. He wrote Gold Digger, he knew what was up and did it anyway. Like, it’s sickening, but I have no sympathy for him. 


Priyanka Aribindi: I get that she’s getting the child support probably because as you said, like they’re living in what is her house now. 


Juanita Tolliver: Yeah. 


Priyanka Aribindi: But– 


Juanita Tolliver: The concrete block, yeah. 


Priyanka Aribindi: I think she has more money than him, like he just lost– 


Juanita Tolliver: It’s not about that, though. It’s not about that though.


Priyanka Aribindi: No, no. Totally. But, like, I don’t think she’s a gold digger. Like, I think she’s getting this money because she’s legally– 


Juanita Tolliver: Um. I mean.


Priyanka Aribindi: -entitled to it.


Juanita Tolliver: She came up in plenty of ways because of Kanye. He was her access– 


Priyanka Aribindi: Sure. 


Juanita Tolliver: –point to fashion. He was her access– 


Priyanka Aribindi: That’s true. 


Juanita Tolliver: –point to Black culture. She is a culture vulture gal. So he– 


Priyanka Aribindi: That is true. 


Juanita Tolliver: –gave her an entree to a lot of her deals that make her have coin. So I– 


Priyanka Aribindi: That’s fair. 


Juanita Tolliver: –disagree. 


Priyanka Aribindi: That’s fair. 


Juanita Tolliver: And let’s be real. 


Priyanka Aribindi: That is fair. 


Juanita Tolliver: Let’s be real. I’m not on Kanye’s side. He ain’t shit like I just need to be clear about that. The way he harassed and verbally abused this woman, like, unacceptable. It’s wrong. He ain’t shit, but he gave Kim validation that took her to new heights that Kris Jenner never could have. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, that’s fair. The last ten years of her life would look very different had she not been in that relationship, though I am now kind of like this is also happening, he just lost like one and a half billion dollars in like the last like couple months, like this man, like–


Juanita Tolliver: Yeah. 


Priyanka Aribindi: He’s not [?] poor.


Juanita Tolliver: But that’s a small chunk. That’s a small chunk. The royalty checks are still coming. 


Priyanka Aribindi: It’s just– 


Juanita Tolliver: If there is going to be a massive decline in his earnings, then the judge will modify that number. It’ll go from $50K per kid per month, probably down to $40K per kid per month. Right? [laughing]


Priyanka Aribindi: Wow. I thought you were going to cut him a break. I thought you were going to say 25. Nope. Just 40. 


Juanita Tolliver: No. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Just 40. 


Juanita Tolliver: He got money money, as Quinta would say. He got money money. [laughter]


Priyanka Aribindi: That was the podcasters court. [gavel sound] This court is adjourned. [music break]




Juanita Tolliver: That’s all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe, leave a review. Hire the lawyer from Marriage Story if you need to, and tell your friends to listen. 


Priyanka Aribindi: And if you’re into reading and not just the crib notes on Trump’s tax returns like me, What A Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at Crooked.com/subscribe. 


Juanita Tolliver: I’m Juanita Tolliver.


Priyanka Aribindi: I’m Priyanka Aribindi. 


[spoken together] And we never doubted you French baguette. 


Juanita Tolliver: Not for one second. What did we call it Priyanka? Butterball is coming– 


Priyanka Aribindi: Butterball. 


Juanita Tolliver: -to a town in France near you. 


Priyanka Aribindi: When’s Butterball getting added to the intangible cultural list? 


Juanita Tolliver: Put it on there. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Put it on there. [music break] What A Day is a production of Crooked Media. It’s recorded and mixed by Bill Lancz. Jazzi Marine and Raven Yamamoto are our associate producers. Our head writer is Jon Millstein and our executive producer is Lita Martinez. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.