Republicans Impeach Homeland Secretary Mayorkas | Crooked Media
SEE POD SAVE AMERICA, LOVETT OR LEAVE IT & STRICT SCRUTINY LIVE SEE POD SAVE AMERICA, LOVETT OR LEAVE IT & STRICT SCRUTINY LIVE
February 13, 2024
What A Day
Republicans Impeach Homeland Secretary Mayorkas

In This Episode

  • House Republicans impeached Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas on Tuesday in a 214-213 vote. Meanwhile in New York, Democrat Tom Suozzi won the special election to replace ousted Republican Congressman George Santos, and Pennsylvania voters elected Democrat Jim Prokopiak in Tuesday’s state House special election.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention may loosen Covid isolation requirements. Under newly proposed guidelines, Americans who test positive for Covid would no longer be advised to isolate for five days. Instead, they plan to recommend that people use their symptoms to determine when they should end their isolation.
  • And in headlines: the Senate passed a $95 billion bill with aid for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan, the death toll from last year’s West Maui wildfires reached 101 on Tuesday, and Meghan Markle teamed up with Lemonada Media for a new podcast.

 

Show Notes:

 

 

TRANSCRIPT

 

Priyanka Aribindi: It’s Wednesday, February 14th. I’m Priyanka Aribindi.

 

Juanita Tolliver: And I’m Juanita Tolliver and this is What a Day. The pod that agrees with Al Roker, give kids snow days! 

 

[clip of Al Roker] Just give them the day off people! 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Right period. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Wow. He’s fired up. Even though an epic snowstorm in the northeast shut down schools yesterday, New York City still held remote classes?

 

Juanita Tolliver: Listen to Al Roker. Let the kids play. Let them go to Central Park and sled. Okay?

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Truly. [music break] On today’s show, we’ll talk about how that snowstorm put a damper on turnout in some key local races. Plus, the CDC might shorten how many days you need to isolate after contracting Covid. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: But first, Republicans have finally gotten their way and impeached Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas yesterday. This was their rushed second attempt to impeach Mayorkas for, quote, “willfully refusing to enforce border laws and breaching the public trust.” And, of course, Republicans didn’t present a single piece of evidence to back up this claim. The final vote count was 214 to 213. And while there was no dramatic entrance from a member in post-surgical hospital scrubs like the first time around, there was the return of Republican Representative Steve Scalise, who had been away from Capitol Hill for the past six weeks for stem cell treatments related to his ongoing battle with cancer. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Wow. I, I mean, like this is a lot to take in. They fully impeach this man who did absolutely nothing wrong. They actually went through with it. So. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Yeah. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: What does this all mean for Secretary Mayorkas? 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Honestly not much. While Mayorkas is now the first sitting cabinet member to be impeached since 1876, it won’t disrupt his day to day work. As far as next steps, this partisan display will move from the House to the Senate, where it will need a two thirds majority vote to convict Mayorkas, which is highly unlikely since Democrats hold a majority there. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Right. There was some concern about this vote even happening yesterday given the snow storm. Tell us more about that. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Yeah. Given the extremely tight margin for House Republicans, they feared that the vote could have been upended by members missing flights as a snow storm swept through the northeast region of the United States and disrupted travel throughout the day. But unfortunately, Republicans had the numbers to move forward with this impeachment effort, even as Republican Representatives Tom McClintock of California, Ken Buck of Colorado and Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin all voted no with Democrats for the second time. In fact, when it comes to Gallagher, days after he cast the first no vote last week, he announced that he wouldn’t seek reelection. Before yesterday’s vote, Democratic Representative Dan Goldman of New York commented on MSNBC that this move showed how far gone the GOP is. Take a listen. 

 

[clip of Representative Dan Goldman] Mike Gallagher, two days after he made that vote, announced that he would not be running for reelection. Because there is no place in this Republican Party for someone who wants to do the right thing, not whatever the thing that the party wants. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Truly. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Right. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: And this is not the first time that we’ve seen this either. One lone Republican decides to stand up, do the right thing, and very shortly afterwards they’re like, nevermind, I am leaving this job. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Right. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: I cannot do this because they know, they know they’ll be punished for it. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Right. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: It’s so insane. You mentioned that this vote was rushed. Why were Republicans in such a hurry with this? 

 

Juanita Tolliver: So House Republicans squeezed in this vote yesterday afternoon so that it could be done before polls closed in the New York third Congressional District special election. That’s the one to replace ousted former Representative George Santos, and Republicans knew that Democrats could pick up the seat and further reduce their tiny margin of control, which they did. Democratic candidate and former representative Tom Suozzi won last night, which was especially great since the snowstorm likely disrupted voter turnout as the New York Board of Elections reported turnout numbers that lagged behind the 2022 election. It’s also important to keep in mind that the outcome of this race didn’t just impact House Republicans margin, but it is also an indicator for how issues like abortion rights and protecting democracy mobilize and motivate voters, issues that we know the Biden-Harris reelection campaign is centering in their messaging. So this one in New York three is a big boost for Democrats heading into November 2024. By the way, in other election news, state Democrats secured a win in Pennsylvania, where voters elected Jim Prokopiak in Pennsylvania’s special election yesterday, giving Dems a 102 to 100 House majority. We love to see it. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Absolutely. Some news to celebrate. Thank you so much for that update, Juanita. Now we’re going to switch over to some Covid news. The centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or the CDC is considering new guidance specifically loosening Covid isolation requirements. Under these newly proposed guidelines, Americans who test positive for Covid would no longer be advised to isolate for five days. Instead, they plan to recommend that people use their symptoms to determine when they should end their isolation. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: All this makes me deeply uncomfortable because one, I don’t trust people to do anything right for the public good. Like I’m just having massive flashbacks from 2020 about how this can all be deeply harmful to everyone. So we should all get ready for another surge, I guess. So what would they suggest people use to determine when they can go back into the world? 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: So this new proposal suggests that if people have been fever free without the aid of medications for 24 hours, and if their symptoms are mild and improving, they could go back to their regular routines right away. It’s not yet clear what, if any, guidance on masking will come along with this update, how long that will last. So we have a lot to look out for. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: I am freaking out. So they’re saying, hey, go back in public even though you have Covid and maybe don’t even wear a mask. Wow. I just don’t know what to make of all of this because it feels like we have learned no lessons. So why is the CDC considering updating their recommendations right now anyway? 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: I mean, it’s a good question Juanita.

 

Juanita Tolliver: [laughter] You’re like yeah, why? 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: None of the science around how infectious Covid is has changed at all. So let’s just start there. But part of it has to do with changing attitudes and practices around Covid nationwide. Many people no longer consider Covid to be the threat that they once did, and many people also have some level of immunity due to either getting vaccinated or getting sick, or some combination of both over the past few years. There is a desire by some officials and experts to make recommendations that are a little more realistic for people to actually follow. The new guidelines would put the CDC’s recommendations for Covid right in line with what they recommend people to do to avoid spreading RSV or the flu, indicating that Covid is another one of these respiratory illnesses, which anecdotally, I know is the way that a lot of people think about it. But Covid still poses major risks to vulnerable populations like people over 65 and those who are immunocompromised. According to CDC data, around 20,000 people are still hospitalized with Covid every single week, and 2300 Americans a week are dying of it. In those over 65, deaths from Covid are 2 to 4 times more common than deaths from the flu, and the long term risks are far greater. As many as 7% of Americans have reported long term lingering Covid symptoms like fatigue, brain fog, difficulty breathing, and joint pain. Even healthy young people with strong immune systems can get long Covid. It can arise after just mild symptoms from Covid, and at this time, there is still no known treatment or cure for it. I wanted to check in with our resident expert, Dr. Abdul El-Sayed, he’s an epidemiologist and the host of America Dissected, about all of this. Take a listen to a little of what he had to say. 

 

[clip of Dr. Abdul El-Sayed] So ultimately, I don’t see any scientific justification for why we would do this. This seems to be focused on what employers seem to want. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Name it. 

 

Dr. Abdul El-Sayed: And I worry that it’s just a bit premature, considering the fact that we’re coming out of a season with a pretty bad Covid surge. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: One thing you can always expect Abdul El-Sayed to do is keep it 100, and I appreciate him emphasizing that this is all about economics. This is all about capitalism, not health care and public safety. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. Some of what else he told me was that if we’re really trying to do that, sending workers back to work where they can infect other people if they’re sick is not exactly an effective strategy either. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Not a long term play at all. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Not that we should be centering work in what we’re doing here, but it’s not the best long term play either. But anyways, if this new guidance is adopted, it would be the first time that the CDC has loosened Covid recommendations since 2021, when they brought that isolation period down from ten days to five. This latest guidance would follow similar updates in Oregon and California, and is similar to what health officials from other states are moving towards as well. The Washington Post reported that California’s state epidemiologist, Erica Pan, pointed out that workers who don’t get sick leave or who can’t work from home if they or their kids test positive for Covid, faced a disproportionate burden under the previous policy. And that the strict requirements for isolation actually disincentivized people from taking Covid tests. And in Oregon, where they changed their policy to something similar last May, the data doesn’t show any disproportionate increases in community transmission or severity since the update. Elsewhere around the world, many other countries like the U.K., Denmark, Finland and Australia lowered their isolation recommendations back in 2022, and many of those same countries also decided that young kids don’t need Covid booster shots because they are very unlikely to get seriously ill from Covid. That is different than the US’s policy, though many parents choose not to do that for their children. Still, the CDC is not expected to release their new guidance on Covid isolation in the US until April. So this is not final yet, but we will continue to keep you updated as we learn more. That is the latest for now. We’ll be back after some ads. [music break]

 

[AD BREAK] 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Let’s get to some headlines. 

 

[sung] Headlines. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: The Senate finally passed a $95 billion dollar bill with aid for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan yesterday morning. 22 Republicans joined Democrats to vote in favor of it, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. All in all, the bill includes $60 billion dollars for Ukraine, more than $14 billion dollars for Israel, $8 billion dollars for support in the Indo-Pacific. Plus $9 billion dollars for humanitarian aid, primarily for Gaza and Israel and Ukraine. Now the bill heads to the House, where its chances of passing look pretty slim. Speaker Mike Johnson told reporters yesterday that he’s not planning to put the bill on the House floor. Trump also mocked the bill and said that aid from the U.S. should be structured as a loan because, of course, he is obsessed with people paying bills. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Of course. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Even though he doesn’t pay his own bills. But here we are. And Biden isn’t happy about all of this pushback. He said in a televised statement yesterday that the bill would pass if it was on the floor of the House. 

 

[clip of President Joe Biden] So I call the speaker to let the full House speak it’s mind and not allow a minority of most extreme voices in the House to block this bill, even from being voted on. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: I mean, right, here’s the sad part though. I feel like people are already holding this over Mike Johnson’s head and say, if you bring up this bill, we will oust you just like we did the last guy. So we’ll see how this goes. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Truly the most cursed position in politics. Turning to the Middle East, a U.N. official yesterday sounded the alarm and warned that an Israeli ground invasion in Gaza’s southernmost city of Rafah could lead to a, quote, “slaughter in Gaza.” As we’ve discussed on the show, Rafah is the city along the Egyptian border where more than 1 million Palestinians have sought refuge, many without enough water, food and medicine. A wave of Israeli airstrikes there killed dozens of Palestinians on Monday, and Israeli forces signaled plans for a ground offensive in the city. UN relief chief Martin Griffiths warned in a statement on Tuesday of the dangerous consequences of a ground invasion in the city, writing, quote, “the government of Israel cannot continue to ignore these calls. History will not be kind. This war must end.” Meanwhile, negotiations toward another cease fire and hostage deal in the Israel-Hamas War continued in Cairo yesterday. President Biden said earlier this week that negotiators were working to reach an agreement that would free remaining hostages in Gaza and stop fighting for at least six weeks. Take a listen to what White House spokesperson John Kirby told reporters yesterday when asked about any progress. 

 

[clip of John Kirby] We’re glad that these discussions are ongoing and as I’ve said before, they’ve been constructive and they’ve been moving in the right direction. But I don’t have a specific update for you today, and I wouldn’t want to get ahead of discussions. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: The death toll from last year’s West Maui wildfires reached 101 on Tuesday, when Maui police identified another victim of the disaster. Paul Kaspryzcki was a 76 year old resident of Lahaina. He is one of the final three people unaccounted for, and this comes just weeks after Maui police formed the island’s first ever quote, “cold case detail.” To find out what happened to Kaspryzcki and the two people who are still missing, according to their database. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Now to some labor news. Paramount global announced yesterday that it’s laying off hundreds of staffers worldwide. According to Variety, the company’s CEO, Bob Bakish, announced the cuts in an internal memo to employees. While the memo didn’t specify the exact number of layoffs, several news outlets report that the number could be around 800 employees, or around 3% of the company’s global staff. Meanwhile, Disneyland character workers and parade performers in California hope to unionize with Actors Equity Association, a group of performers who bring characters like Mickey Mouse and Cinderella to life, announced their intent to unionize yesterday. They are calling for increased wages, more stable scheduling, and better safety conditions, among other things. The group, called Magic United, started circulating union cards to some 1700 workers last week, and the group hopes to get voluntary recognition from Disney. Most of the workers at Disneyland Resort in SoCal already have labor unions. But the parade performers and character actors are one of the rare groups that are not yet unionized. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: And finally, Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, is teaming up with Lemonada Media for a new podcast. If you’re thinking to yourself, wait, didn’t Meghan already have a podcast deal with a different company? You’d be right. You might remember that Archewell Audio, Markle and her husband, Prince Harry’s production company, landed an exclusive deal with Spotify in 2022 for Markle’s Archetypes podcast. It was one of Spotify’s most popular shows, with more than 10 million downloads across the globe. But the two parties split in June last year. The Duke and Duchess kept the rights to Archetypes, which is hey, write these contracts right, y’all. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Seriously. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Keep control. So in addition to developing a new show with the Royals, Lemonada Media will also rerelease the first season of Archetypes on all streaming platforms as a part of the new deal. In a written statement, Lemonada wrote, quote, “we are beyond honored that Meghan has trusted us to help democratize,” democratize emphasis on that word, “access to Archetypes, and that so many more people around the world will have access to this series soon.” Okay, I just got to react to democratize because that word has heavy meaning in a moment where our national democracy is directly under attack every single day. So wow.

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, it’s definitely a choice, and maybe not one that I would use to describe putting your podcast on Apple Music. [laughter]

 

Juanita Tolliver: Yes. [laughing]

 

Priyanka Aribindi: But you know, that’s exciting for Meghan. New career opportunities. They also redid their website. They’re rebranding. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Oh? 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Will I listen to the first episode of whatever this new project is? Sure I will. [laughter] Of course. I can’t help it. I can’t help it. I just need to be honest with you. I will do it and we’ll see. I’m intrigued. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: I appreciate your honesty. 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, give us a snow day and tell your friends to listen. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: And if you are into reading and not just Mickey’s union slogans 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 happy birthday Henry!

 

Priyanka Aribindi: That goes out to our audio engineer Bill, his son Henry. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Yay! 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Henry’s turning four years old and we couldn’t be more excited. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Henry’s a sweetie pie. We’re so excited for Henry’s birthday. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: He’s adorable. [laugh] [music break]

 

Juanita Tolliver: 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 showrunner is Leo Duran. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.