Indictments Come In Threes | Crooked Media
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July 18, 2023
What A Day
Indictments Come In Threes

In This Episode

  • Former President Donald Trump said Tuesday he received another “target letter” from the Justice Department, this time, saying he could face a federal indictment over his bid to overturn the results of the 2020 election. While the exact charges were not immediately clear, it indicates that Trump could soon face his third criminal indictment this year.
  • Alabama Republicans on Monday proposed a redrawn Congressional map that ignores a Supreme Court mandate to create a second majority-Black district. Lawmakers have until Friday to adopt a new map that doesn’t dilute the power of Black voters.
  • And in headlines: Michigan’s attorney general announced charges for 16 alleged “fake electors” for Donald Trump, SAG-AFTRA said internet influencers need to think twice before they hype-up any upcoming movies or shows, and the FDA approved a new antibody to protect newborn babies from RSV.

 

Show Notes:

 

 

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TRANSCRIPT

 

Priyanka Aribindi: It’s Wednesday, July 19th. I’m Priyanka Aribindi. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: And I’m Juanita Tolliver and this is What A Day imploring our own moms to please, please don’t try to call in to our show with advice. Please. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Well, honestly, I think we are so far from [laughter] Jesse Watters and his content. I feel like if our moms called into the show, it actually might be fun. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Judy, I know you’re listening. Hey, Mom. I’ll call you when we’re done. Okay? [laughter]

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Hi mom! I hope you’re listening. [music break]

 

Juanita Tolliver: On today’s show. Michigan’s attorney general announced charges for 16 people accused of being fake electors for Donald Trump after the 2020 election. Plus, even Internet stars are being affected by the SAG-AFTRA strike. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: But first, former President Donald Trump faces a second possible federal indictment. This time it is over his efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election. Trump took to Truth Social yesterday to say that he received a target letter from Special Counsel Jack Smith of the Justice Department. Target letters are typically given to subjects in a criminal investigation to let them know that they are facing a potential indictment. It’s not yet clear what charges he could face in the case. This has also been an extensive investigation, and we don’t know what aspects the charges relate to or even how many of them there will be. But it does look like we are heading into round three of Trump indictments just this year. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: I feel like we need some theme music, like [sung] dum dum dum. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Seriously. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Like the drama, like and honestly, I only wish his diehard supporters actually cared about all of his crime-ing but– 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Right. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Here we go. Let’s backtrack for a minute, because you mentioned this is round three. Take us back through the other two. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Yes. I mean, if this is feeling like déjà vu to you back at home, you are not wrong. Trump received another target letter from the same special counsel Smith just earlier this year as part of the investigation into his alleged mishandling of classified documents. That was followed up by his indictment on 37 criminal counts, to which he pleaded not guilty. That was his first federal indictment. But prior to that, he was also indicted earlier this year by the Manhattan district attorney over falsifying business records. Just to keep everyone up to speed here. I know there are a lot a lot of tangents to go down, but in terms of the comparison, it’s a little bit easier for Trump and his allies to play off the classified documents case as more of a dispute over paperwork. I mean, it doesn’t look that way exactly to us or to people who are paying close attention. But it could be played off that way. It’s how they’re dealing with it. But I think this case will be a little bit harder to downplay in that way. Trying to overturn the results of an election is a big deal. It’s something that all of us watched on January 6th. It’s a little more salient, I think, in my opinion, than the documents case, though. I mean, if you saw the picture of the documents in the bathroom, I guess that is [laughter] also salient as well. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Yikes. Like I’m literally looking at this like anybody who has sense knows that this is more than a paperwork dispute. But–

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Yes. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: I can guess how these Republicans are responding, including other 2024 contenders. So how have they been reacting to this news so far? 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: They have been pretty predictable in their response. Republicans in Congress have been pedaling this faux outrage. They say that Trump is being unfairly targeted. It’s politically motivated, all of the usual hits. They’re all coming out. This includes the people who directly after January 6th were furious and were angry at Trump and were denouncing him for, you know, his responsibility in what happened. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Shaking their feeble fists at Trump– 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Okay. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: They uh they have all come crawling back. His main competition for the Republican nomination at the moment is coming from Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. He gave actually a pretty muted response to all of this, saying he couldn’t comment on it because he hadn’t seen it and that one of his priorities in office is ending the weaponization of the DOJ. So, I mean, not really going after Trump at all there I mean. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Nope. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Basically offering the same thing that pretty much everyone else is saying, even the people running against him aren’t trying to take him to task for this. Trump, of course, is furious, but he has also turned around and made this a fundraising opportunity for his presidential campaign. The last time he was indicted in June, his poll numbers and his fundraising got a bump. So we unfortunately have a little bit of that to look forward to. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: I feel like only in today’s GOP can two federal indictments lead to fundraising booms. Like, yikes. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, seriously– 

 

Juanita Tolliver: But– 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: –and wild. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: This isn’t even the last of the indictment talk around Trump. Can you give us an update about the investigation out of Georgia about Trump’s election interference there? 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, seriously, you are right. Three indictments might not be enough here. That indictment could come in mid August, as Fulton County D.A. Fani Willis has indicated. But there could be overlap between that case and this one. Similar matter is being covered. So that will definitely be something to look out for. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Yeah, I feel like this is going to be the feature of the summer. Like how many indictments will Trump get before Labor Day? You know, like– 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Seriously. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: –that’s the count? [laugh]

 

Priyanka Aribindi: A little bit. I mean, and he’s going month for month at this point. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: In the worst way, making the worst news. Other bad news in today’s edition of your racism is showing, Alabama Republican lawmakers have advanced a redrawn congressional map that blatantly ignores one of the few decent decisions to come out of the Supreme Court this past term. To create a second majority Black congressional district. Back in June, the Supreme Court voted five four to affirm a three judge panel’s ruling that the current Alabama congressional map likely violated the Voting Rights Act as it featured only one Black majority district out of seven. In a state where 27% of the population is, you guessed it, Black. Now, in spite of that ruling, Republicans in the state have advanced a new proposed map earlier this week that fails to include the two required majority Black districts. It’s giving defiance it’s giving George Wallace. It’s giving yet another effort to silence Black voters. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: It’s giving baffling because it’s like they got very clear instructions and they just didn’t follow it. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Yeah. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Very bizarre. But what did state Republicans actually change in the map if they didn’t add a second majority Black district like they were supposed to like everyone agreed on. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Girl. They did the absolute least in this proposed map. And they made a district that is comprised of 42% of Black voters. Now, I know Alabama ranks 40th in the nation on math, but these Republicans know that 42% does not constitute a majority. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Right. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: I think one hypothesis that has been circulating in the media is that the Republicans are attempting to test the enforcement of the decision and the requirements of the court’s directive. Honestly, I think they’re just playing in our faces right now as they– 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Seriously. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: –attempt to continue to disenfranchize Black voters by ignoring this ruling. And that’s not a new concept in Alabama at all. To be clear, Alabama has a rep for ignoring Supreme Court rulings related to race. It’s like they have their very own playbook of how to harm Black people. And that’s why I mentioned George Wallace earlier, because he was that hateful white supremacist governor of the state who declared, quote, “segregation forever,” when Brown v Board of Education was decided. Not to mention Alabama is home to Shelby County, you know, the same Shelby County at the center of the 2013 case that gutted the Voting Rights Act. And this latest move from Alabama Republicans is strikingly consistent in terms of the state’s legacy of denying Black people civil rights. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Seriously. So how have state Democrats and voting rights advocates been responding to what’s going on here? I mean, I can’t imagine they’re taking any of this well, as they shouldn’t be. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Right? They’re essentially saying that the math ain’t mathing. Democratic State Senator Vivian Davis Figures of Mobile, told the Associated Press that the court was clear that the state should create a second majority Black district or something close to it. She added, “42% is not close to 50. In my opinion, 48, 49 is close to 50.” Democratic State Representative Chris England told reporters, quote, “The map that we adopted, nobody had any input on. There was no public input on it. Not subject to a public hearing. And now it’s going to be the map of choice.” And Deuel Ross, a lawyer for the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, who argued the case before the Supreme Court, said they will challenge the proposal if it is enacted by the Alabama legislature, telling AP quote, “Any plan with a low Black voting age population does not appear to comply with the court’s instruction.” So people are ready to push back and fight this because the voters who sued and won before the Supreme Court proposed a second district where Black residents are 50.5% of the population. Nothing less than that. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Nothing less. That is what they should get. So what can we expect next regarding this Alabama map? 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Well, the state Republicans have until Friday to adopt a new redrawn map, and they’re showing no signs of backing down from the map that they voted out of the committee along party lines earlier this week. So at present, the map still only includes one majority Black district. And given that Republicans control the state House, this map will likely receive another party line vote by Friday. So we should all be on the lookout for another legal challenge if and when that vote happens. But that’s the latest for now. We’ll be back after some ads. [music break]. 

 

[AD BREAK]

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Let’s get to some headlines. 

 

[sung] Headlines. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Michigan’s attorney general yesterday announced felony charges against 16 people who allegedly acted as fake electors following the 2020 presidential election. They are accused of signing documents falsely stating that they were, quote, “duly elected and qualified electors” and declared that former President Donald Trump had won Michigan in the election. Of course, we all know he did not. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Go figure. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: The group includes Meshawn Maddock, a Trump ally and former co-chair of the Michigan Republican Party, as well as Republican National Committee member Kathy Berden. Each of the 16 defendants face eight felony counts, including conspiracy to commit election fraud and forgery. And if convicted, could spend up to 14 years in prison. So you could say this is the finding out phase of their [laughter] very well thought out plan. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: I love it. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Seriously. The news came a few hours after Trump said he was notified by the Justice Department that he is a target of their investigation into his bid to overturn the results of the 2020 election. In addition to Michigan, so-called alternate electors, as Trump’s allies like to call them, also tried to swing the results in six other states. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: They are coming for them. This is my favorite song. I love the sound of these charges. Keep them coming. [laughing]

 

Priyanka Aribindi: It’s what they deserve. So I don’t feel bad. I don’t feel bad one bit.

 

Juanita Tolliver: Nope. An American soldier is now believed to be in North Korean custody after the Pentagon said he, quote, “willfully and without authorization, crossed the demilitarized zone separating North and South Korea.” According to officials, Private Second Class Travis King was supposed to board a flight back to the U.S. on Monday to face disciplinary charges after he spent two months in a South Korean prison for assault. Even though military officials took him to the Seoul airport, King managed to ditch his escort and ended up joining a group of tourists headed to visit the heavily guarded border with North Korea, which is over an hour and a half away. King arrived at the border village of Panmunjom Tuesday afternoon and, according to witnesses, suddenly bolted across the border. He’s the first American known to be detained in North Korea in nearly five years. And his detention comes amid heightened tensions between the U.S. and North Korea, especially as North Korea has been testing increasingly more powerful long range ballistic missiles in recent weeks, including one that landed in the ocean near Japan just yesterday. Yikes. This is–

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Okay. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: –escalating.

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Big yikes in many ways about this headline. I, this guy. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Also his escort, like how you lose somebody in the airport? 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Clearly, he very much chose to do this. Like this wasn’t– 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Yeah. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: –like it happened by accident. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Yeah. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Which is why I’m like, uh you good? I don’t know of any disciplinary action that he would be facing would be worse than whatever he’s facing over there. So unsure why he made that choice. [sigh] Texas State Troopers working for Governor Greg Abbott’s border security initiative were given instructions to push migrants back into the Rio Grande and even deny them water in the extreme heat. That is according to an email obtained and reviewed by the Houston Chronicle. The message reported multiple instances of migrants getting caught or injured by razor wire that has been strung for miles along the Texas border city of Eagle Pass, as well as a wall of floating buoys installed in the Rio Grande to act as a border barrier. We’ll spare you all the details, But in his email, the officer detailed four incidents in just one day where migrants were seriously hurt or stuck in the wire. The trooper also went on to describe the so-called deterrence as traps, saying that they could force migrants into a situation where they are more likely to drown. This is um, as a reminder, human beings that are being discussed at every point in here, it is horrific. In the email, the trooper also called for policy changes to better protect migrants safety, including removing the razor wire wrapped barrels in the river and ending the orders to withhold water, writing, quote, “I believe we have stepped over a line into the inhumane.” 

 

Juanita Tolliver: This is the line?

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: This? 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: I believe the line is pretty far back there. You uh crossed that a while ago. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: I mean, I’m thinking of people on horseback with whips hitting migrants. But okay. Also, when your own state troopers are like, governor, you’ve gone too far, like, really? But this is who Republicans keep electing, you know, the xenophobic extremist idiots who want to harm people and target pregnant people and babies and push them back into a river. Okay. The union representing striking Hollywood actors says Internet influencers need to think twice before they hype up any upcoming movies or shows this summer. Under new strike guidance issued this week, SAG-AFTRA says influencers, even if they’re not members of the union, should not accept any promotional work from the studios for the duration of the walkout. For those who don’t know, SAG has allowed social media content creators to join the Guild since 2021. But nonunion creators who hope to join the union someday could be barred if they cross the digital picket line by producing any branded content for studios or streaming platforms, which are reportedly turning toward influencers to do their PR for them, since actors and writers cannot. The guidance, which was released on Monday ahead of San Diego Comic-Con, also specifies that content creators shouldn’t even cosplay in characters from movies or shows made by the major studios. So whether or not you got a SAG card, you’ll have to wait to show off your sick Barbie look like instead, maybe join the picket line? Consider doing that. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Seriously. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: However, the union says that influencers can still fulfill any existing contracts they’ve signed with brands, but they can’t enter any new agreements in the meantime. Listen people, do not violate the digital picket line. Go and support these actors and writers because that’s the best thing to do. Support workers, period. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: R. T. R. T. And finally, the Food and Drug Administration has approved a new antibody to protect newborn babies from RSV. The drug, which will be sold under the name Beyfortus, isn’t a vaccine, nor is it the name of a transformer. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Whoa. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Apparently it is a ready made antibody that binds to the virus to keep it from infecting healthy cells. RSV is a relatively common virus that infects breathing passages that can turn into pneumonia and other serious problems in the most severe cases. It is the leading cause of hospitalization for babies under a year old in the U.S. every year. And up until now, children were generally forced to fight off infections on their own. Last fall and winter RSV cases swamped emergency rooms, leaving parents on higher alert of the virus. Dr. John Farley, director of the infectious diseases office in the FDA’s drug division, said that the drug’s approval, quote, “addresses the great need for products to help reduce the impact of RSV disease on children, families and the health care system.” This is an exciting development, I think, especially– 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Yeah. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: –for those parents of really young kids. Last year felt like everyone was going through it. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Yeah. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: So hopefully this makes the season a bit easier for everybody. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Yeah, protect the babies. Hopefully more research is going so they can get something for toddlers, too, because this is a big deal and– 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: We know it’s going to be ridiculous this fall, just like it was last fall. So cheers for more. You know, this is great, antibodies. Yay! [laugh]

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Yes. Cheers to science. Thank you to everyone you made this happen. And those are the headlines. 

 

[AD BREAK]

 

Juanita Tolliver: That’s all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe, leave a review, throw some bombastic side eye towards Alabama. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Yup. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: And tell your friends to listen. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: And if you’re into reading and not just target letters from the Department of Justice like me. What A Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at Crooked.com/subscribe. I’m Priyanka Aribindi.

 

Juanita Tolliver: I’m Juanita Tolliver. 

 

[spoken together] And save the Barbie cosplay for later. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Unless you’re like a regular person, you’re allowed to do it. It’s just the influencers. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Yes, just the influencers. Regular people can still go to the movies, but let’s just wait for all that other stuff until they decide to pay writers and actors. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Because that’s the goal. [music break]

 

Priyanka Aribindi: 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. Our intern is Ryan Cochran, and our senior producer is Lita Martinez. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.