This Ken Is On Trial | Crooked Media
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September 11, 2023
What A Day
This Ken Is On Trial

In This Episode

  • The 22nd anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attack was yesterday, and officials around the country memorialized the nearly 3,000 people who were killed. Roughly 40 percent of the victims remain unidentified, but officials recently used DNA testing to discover the identities of two more of those killed in the attack.
  • Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s impeachment trial continued into its fifth day Monday, when his former chief of staff testified that Paxton had an affair with a woman named Laura Olson. Paxton is only the third public official in Texas to be impeached, and if convicted he will be basically fired. A verdict could come down as soon as this week.
  • And in headlines: the FDA greenlit a new round of COVID-19 vaccines, thousands are feared dead in Libya after Storm Daniel hit the country, and strippers at Portland’s Magic Tavern Club voted to unionize.

 

Show Notes:

 

 

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TRANSCRIPT

 

Josie Duffy Rice: It’s Tuesday, September 12th. I’m Josie Duffy Rice.

 

Tre’vell Anderson: And I’m Tre’vell Anderson and this is What a Day, where we have one request for Smucker’s now that the company announced yesterday that it’ll buy Hostess.

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah. Fill those Twinkies with Smuckers Jam and the Ding Dongs with Jif peanut butter. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: A cinnamon roll with jam instead of icing perhaps? 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Yes. Yes. That’s brilliant. That’s bold. That’s new. That’s different. [laugh] I love it. [music break] On today’s show, an update on the impeachment trial against Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. Plus, striking writers are mad that Drew Barrymore taped episodes of her talk show. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: But first, yesterday marked the 22nd anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attack on the U.S. in which almost 3000 people were killed and thousands more were injured. 

 

[clip of President Joe Biden] I join you on this solemn day to renew our sacred vow. Never forget, never forget. We never forget. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: That was President Biden delivering remarks on a military base in Anchorage, Alaska, which is notable news insofar as he did not commemorate the tragedy at one of the actual attack sites, which include the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon or at the White House. This is the first time that a sitting president had not acknowledged the event from any of those places, which, of course, a number of folks said was a bad look. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah, I bet Republicans took that great. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Mm hmm. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Why wasn’t he at any of these places? 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: He just returned from the G-20 summit, which happened in New Delhi, India, and apparently just wasn’t able to make it back to the East Coast in time. That said, Vice President Kamala Harris, her husband Doug and first Lady Jill Biden, were all dispatched to various ceremonies to pay respects. One of the biggest ceremonies, of course, happened in New York City at the National September 11th Memorial. That’s where VP Harris joined New York Governor Kathy Hochul, New York City Mayor Eric Adams, among other current and former elected officials. That ceremony featured members of the families directly impacted by the attack. Reading out the names of those who died and paying tribute to their loved ones. We’re going to play an extended excerpt here. Please take a listen. [clip from ceremony begins to play]

 

Unidentified speaker number 1: John Leslie Albert. 

 

Unidentified speaker number 2: Peter Craig Alderman. 

 

Unidentified speaker number 1: And my sister Jody Tepegino Niccolo. [Spelling might be incorrect] Tower one 105th Floor, [?] Fitzgerald. We miss you, Jody. We love you. Your light still shines as bright as it ever did. Rest in peace. 

 

Unidentified speaker number 2: And my grandfather, Raymond Matthew Downey Senior, who tragically lost his life on that day with the many others. Poppy. Your hard work, dedication and perseverance for the FDNY will never be unnoticed. Your legacy will live on forever. Your beautiful wife, Rosalie, five kids, 16 grandchildren and one great grandchild all wish you were here today. But we know you are looking down on us. We miss you. We love you. And until we meet again, our hero forever. 

 

Unidentified speaker number 3: John J. Chara. 

 

Unidentified speaker number 4: Jeffrey Mark Chernoff. 

 

Unidentified speaker number 3: Swarna Chalasani. 

 

Unidentified speaker number 4: And my Uncle Christopher [?]. Our time together was special. So are the memories we made. Although you live in heaven now, those memories will never fade. I bow my head in silence and remember my uncle with love. And I know that you are in heaven watching from above. We miss you. Your family misses you very deeply. Rest in peace, uncle and God bless America. 

 

Unidentified speaker number 3: And my uncle Jamie Concepcion. We love you. We miss you very much. You were the one person in the family who can count on to help anybody. I hope you and Grandma are together in heaven. She didn’t get to say goodbye to you, and you didn’t say goodbye to her. But she followed you four days later to be with you. I hope you and both. I hope you both are together, watching over us. Amen. [clip from ceremony ends]

 

Josie Duffy Rice: That’s heartbreaking and also beautiful that every year, you know, people come and speak to their loved ones. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Mm hmm. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Speaking of some of the victims, officials have recently discovered the identities of two more people who were killed in the attack. Can you tell us about that? 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah. So as I mentioned before, almost 3000 people were killed in the attack, nearly all of whom were reported missing at the time. And death certificates were issued for all of them. But the city has been working to match the names of victims with actual remains from the site since 2001. Roughly 40% of the victims, or about 1100 people, remain unidentified. And so a couple of days before yesterday’s anniversary, New York City’s office of the chief medical examiner announced that due to advanced DNA testing, they’ve now identified a man and a woman as the 1,648th and 1,649th victims. Their names are being withheld from the press at the request of their families. About these identifications, Mayor Eric Adams said, quote, “We hope these new identifications can bring some measure of comfort to the families of these victims. And the ongoing efforts by the Office of Chief Medical examiner attests to the city’s unwavering commitment to reunite all the World Trade Center victims with their loved ones.” 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Gosh, I don’t think I realized that 40% of victims have not yet been identified. That’s 22 years later. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Mm hmm. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Just really unimaginable. Thank you so much for that, Tre’vell. We are going to move on to another issue we are covering. This one is in Texas. We are five days in on Ken Paxton’s impeachment trial. And it is the kind of messy chaos that we can all enjoy. Finally, the Republican attorney general has brought a little joy to our lives. I never thought this man would do it, and all it took was getting impeached. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: You know, that small thing, getting impeached. [laughing]

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Thank you for your service, Ken Paxton to my week, love it. [laughter]

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Finally and a decision in that case right could be reached as soon as this week. And it would be really historic if it happens, right? 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah, it really would be. I mean, I think of Texas as like a messy place politically, but he would only be the third public official in Texas to be impeached ever. And technically, he was impeached on Memorial Day weekend. Since then, he’s been suspended without pay from his job, but he hasn’t been convicted by the state Senate yet. So that’s why this impeachment trial is taking place. If he is convicted, he will basically be fired as attorney general. This isn’t like a regular trial in the court of law obviously, the state senators are the jurors, for one thing, but it does have major consequences if he is convicted of just one of the 20 articles of impeachment that have been brought against him. He doesn’t only lose his job, but he could be prohibited from ever holding office in the state of Texas again. Which sign me up, sold.

 

Tre’vell Anderson: I was about to say, that sounds like a positive to me. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: I am ready. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Mm hmm. So before you recap for us what happened during the trial, remind us how Paxton brought us this drama in the first place. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Arrogance and sloppiness. [laugh] It’s what gets them all right? Okay, so this all goes back to three years ago, October of 2020. That is when eight of the top officials in Paxton’s office, people he had handpicked to work under him, reached out to H.R., law enforcement, and Paxton himself, accusing him of breaking a number of laws. They allege that Paxton was, quote, “abusing the power of his office and authority at the expense of the public,” all in order to benefit himself and this developer named Nate Paul. Nate Paul had donated thousands to his campaign, and Paxton was trying to help the guy out. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Oh, my God. Okay, it sounds juicy already, but I know it gets more messy. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: It does. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: How exactly was he helping this guy Nate? 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Right. Well, various ways, allegedly. So, for example, he apparently pushed for a legal opinion out of his office that would have benefited Paul having to do with foreclosure sales. He also tried to have his office grant a public information request that Paul’s lawyers sent in to his office, even though it meant disclosing a sealed FBI affidavit against Paul, who you probably won’t be surprised to hear was under federal investigation at the time. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Of course. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: So Paxton’s trying to, like, break a couple of rules for this guy. Break more than a couple maybe and Paxton’s staff blows the whistle on him. And then the FBI promptly begins investigating Paxton too as well as Nate Paul. Two peas in a pod. Then Paxton fired the whistle blowers, calling them, quote, “rogue employees.” They promptly sued, and Paxton’s office agreed to settle for $3.3 million dollars. So among the lessons you should take from this, do not fire the whistle blowers. Everybody always does this. And it’s so dumb. So dumb. Anyway, Paxton promptly asked the Texas house to pay that $3.3 million dollars, and legislators were pretty mad about that, including Republicans. They didn’t want to pay that money. And so that settlement sparked a whole other investigation and led to this impeachment. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Kind of wild that he was like, yeah, we’re going to settle for $3.3 million dollars but government, will you pay for it, please? 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: It’s like so audacious. And yet every time you turn around, a police officer is shooting something or doing something and–

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Well. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: –the government is paying for them. So can’t really blame the guy for trying. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: You’re not wrong. [laugh] You’re you’re not wrong– 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: You know? 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: –at all. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Texas is paying all kinds of money for cops so.

 

Tre’vell Anderson: [laughing] Okay. So how exactly has the trial gone so far? 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: So the trial started last Tuesday. And keep in mind, he could have like gone quietly into the good night, but he wanted to go to trial, I guess. Which is really dumb. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Mmm hmm. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: So immediately he shows up on Tuesday, he tries to get the articles of impeachment dismissed. That is overwhelmingly denied. And he hasn’t shown up in the trial since like he was there the first day, hasn’t been back. By Friday, like only four prosecution witnesses had taken the stand. The Texas Tribune called the questioning of these witnesses frequently tedious and sometimes contentious, and so seemed to be kind of like in the weeds, people on the stand for a long time. And basically prosecutors have tried to make Paxton’s behavior look especially egregious. His defense attorneys have basically tried to claim that staff never even tried to get clarification or ask questions and that they didn’t really have any evidence. Also has been kind of trying to be like, didn’t Ken Paxton help you out in your career? Which I don’t feel like is totally the right angle to go with here. But anyway, so trial’s going on for a few days, but then yesterday is when things get a little juicy because his former chief of staff testified that Paxton had had an affair and he’d had an affair with this woman named Laura Olson. Here’s part of what that former chief of staff, Katherine “Missy” Cary said. 

 

[clip of Katherine “Missy” Cary] We talked about Ms. Olson again. 

 

[clip of  unspecified person in Ken Paxton trial] And did you learn that the affair was continuing? 

 

[clip of Katherine “Missy” Cary] Yes. 

 

[clip of  unspecified person in Ken Paxton trial] Did he tell you that? 

 

[clip of Katherine “Missy” Cary] Yes. 

 

[clip of  unspecified person in Ken Paxton trial] How did he tell you that? What kind of voice was he using? 

 

[clip of Katherine “Missy” Cary] He was frantically upset. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Once again, sloppy to frantically tell your employees that you’re still having an affair. But this is where it gets interesting. In 2020, Laura Olson, his side piece began working for guess who? 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Mmmmm. Nate Paul. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Yes. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Wow. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Nate Paul. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Wow. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: If you were wondering why Ken Paxton put it all on the line for this random dude, we might have some ideas. Allegedly–

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Wow. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: –put it all on the line. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Right. [laughing]

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Sorry. To be clear. So anyway, prosecutors allege that that’s why Paxton kept trying to do this guy these secret favors, right? Because he was frantically upsetly [SIC] love with this woman that worked for him. And obviously, like politicians having affairs, especially like Republican sanctimonious politicians having affairs, is not groundbreaking. But another part that’s crazy about this whole thing is that Paxton’s wife is a Texas state senator. So she’s right there in the trial listening to this whole thing about her husband having this affair that has maybe now led to him getting impeached. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Wow. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: And she can’t vote in this trial. She’s recused herself because obviously there’s a conflict of interest. But she’s just sitting there just hearing about it. And I would like to say to my husband, if he’s listening, if you make me sit through an impeachment trial of you [laughter] hearing about your affair, I will not be doing that. [laughter] I will not be doing that. Anyway, this trial is likely only going to get more outrageous. We, like you said, could have a verdict by the end of this week and we will keep you updated. But that is the latest for now. We’ll be back after some ads. [music break] 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Let’s get to some headlines. 

 

[sung] Headlines. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: The Food and Drug Administration gave the green light to a new round of COVID 19 vaccines yesterday, and the CDC is expected to issue recommendations today on who should get them. That means the updated vaccine could be available to most Americans as soon as the end of this week. So what is different about this shot? Well, the updated vaccine has been formulated to target the Omicron variant known as XBB 1.5. That is not the dominant variant anymore. But the FDA says the vaccine will still provide good protection against the COVID variants that are currently circulating. And as with previous versions, the updated shots are expected to protect folks from severe illness, from hospitalization or death, but not from mild infection. As we mentioned, a CDC advisory panel will meet today to recommend who should get the updated shots. And once they sign off on that, the Biden administration is expected to encourage folks to get both their COVID and flu shots in one go. If you’re on WAD, we are calling it the quick stick, a term coined by our friend Dr. Abdul El-Sayed last week. 

 

[clip of Dr. Abdul El-Sayed] Just go get your quick stick. It’s easy. It’s efficient. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Well, I would just like to say that I am totally ready for another shot. Absolutely. Thousands of people are feared dead after powerful storm Daniel hit Libya over the weekend. The storm, which swept through Greece, Turkey and Bulgaria last week, brought torrential rain and severe flooding after making landfall on Sunday. Waters burst through aging dams in the port city of Derna, where destruction seems to be the most severe. Two senior officials said yesterday that as many as 2000 people might be dead there because floodwaters wiped away entire neighborhoods and homes. But electricity and communications were down in the city, which made it hard to accurately assess the loss of life and true extent of the damage. The eastern cities of the country, including its second largest city of Benghazi, was also heavily impacted by Storm Daniel. After triggering floods in Greece. The storm became what’s known as a medicane, a tropical cyclone that can form over the Mediterranean Sea. Abnormally warm waters which are tied to human caused global warming intensified the storm. It’s expected to bring heavy rains and flooding into Egypt today before finally dissolving. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: The death toll from Morocco’s deadly earthquake has surpassed 2800. And survivors are continuing the long wait for government aid, particularly those in the more remote and rural parts of the country. They’re largely being left to fend for themselves in this recovery process. And many are running low on food and water while also facing electricity and telephone blackouts. They say the Moroccan government has been dangerously quiet and slow to respond to aid requests. So many residents are taking rescue efforts into their own hands. Meanwhile, a series of aftershock tremors continued after the initial quake and the immense rubble has made it difficult for rescue workers to get to certain areas. This is certainly true for those in the High Atlas Mountains, the epicenter of Saturday’s 6.8 quake, where debris has blocked the winding dirt paths that sometimes are the only way to access those villages. So far, Morocco has accepted international aid from Spain, Qatar, the UK and United Arab Emirates. The U.S. Embassy sent a team of disaster relief efforts to Morocco to see how the U.S. can best support the survivors. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: And now to Minnesota, where state officials there have ordered drinking water to be tested at Stillwater Prison. The move comes after about 100 inmates refused to return to their cells during a heat wave on September 3rd over concerns including poor water quality, lack of air conditioning and excessive heat, among other things. And according to the local newspaper Star Tribune, Cathy Stroud-Caldwell whose son is in prison, was told that water in the cells was rusty and inmates were using their socks to strain the water, which is absurd. Over the weekend, the state’s Department of Corrections released a statement saying that, quote, “Additional and more comprehensive water testing was ordered” to, quote, “assure staff and incarcerated individuals that the water is safe for drinking.” Meanwhile, the department said bottled water will be provided for staff and inmates while testing at the facility is being done. Also in prison news this time over in Louisiana. The state has until this Friday to remove incarcerated minors from the maximum security adult prison known as Angola, which is a former death row building. A federal judge last Friday ordered the youths to be removed after she ruled that the conditions at the facility were unconstitutional and that state officials failed to provide adequate schooling or mental health treatment to the young detainees. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: People can’t do anything about it. They just have to drink the rusty water. This is not uncommon across the country. The Drew Barrymore show resumed filming on Monday after CBS announced that the program would resume production without its writers. Uh don’t like that. And the Striking Writers Guild WGA is not happy about it at all. According to a statement from Barrymore, the daytime talk show will begin airing new episodes again this week, and it will not discuss or promote struck films or TV shows. This all comes after Barrymore declined an offer to host this year’s MTV movie and TV awards in May to show solidarity with writers. While the Drew Barrymore show isn’t technically part of the ongoing Hollywood writer and actors strike, the program depends on WGA members who are part of the strike right? Those are the writers. So naturally, striking writers showed up outside CBS studios in New York City to protest the show’s taping. Picketers waved signs with slogans like Drew the right thing for over 8 hours. And one of the actual writers for the Drew Barrymore show, Cristina Kinion, was there. She told The Washington Post, quote, “The reality is that, you know, you stand with the unions or you don’t, and everybody is allowed to make that decision for herself.” I love the energy of showing up to your employers and protesting outside. I just love it. Picket outside your employers, everybody. The WGA said that it will continue picketing the Drew Barrymore show until it stops filming. A new episode of the show is slated to air this Friday. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: And in other labor news. Strippers at Portland’s Magic Tavern Club voted to unionize on Thursday, making them the second ever unionized strip club in U.S. history. They’re now officially represented by the Actors Equity Association. And this comes after strippers from North Hollywood’s Star Garden Topless Dive Bar won their union election back in April, becoming the first to do so. Strippers at Magic Tavern have been on strike since April to protest working conditions they say are dangerous, including inadequate club security and cameras, as well as poorly maintained facilities. Many strippers have cited uneven flooring and wobbly poles as threats to their safety. They’ve also demanded that their employers offer performers contracts as soon as they’re hired. Once Actors Equity certifies the results of the Magic Tavern election, the union can officially begin bargaining for a new labor contract. Kate Shindle, the president of Actors Equity, said of the news quote, “I’m thrilled for these workers. They not only knew their rights, they knew they had to stick together and never let up.” I love the idea that strippers, exotic dancers, whatever you’re calling them, are organizing and they’re unionizing because why not? They deserve rights and protections like everyone else. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Absolutely. That’s a risky job. That can be a really tough job. And it’s amazing to see this happen. I would also like to say I’m in Atlanta. Some see it as the capital of strip clubs and if you need someone to walk the picket line with you. Call me up. [laughter] I would love to. That sounds great. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: And those are the headlines. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Two more things before we go. First, we want to hear from you, our listeners, about legislative attacks on LGBTQ+ rights. If you are a trans person living in a red state that has recently passed a ban on gender affirming care, or if someone you love has been personally affected by anti-LGBTQ+ legislation. We want to hear from you. Make your voice heard right here about the real harm that these laws have on people’s lives by sending us a voice note or a written response to Raven@crooked.com with your name, where you’re from, and how you’ve been impacted. And if you’d prefer to remain anonymous, just let us know. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: And second, as you all know, I am a fabulous authoress. I’ve got two book events coming up that I’d love to see y’all at. My new book Historically Black Phrases: From ‘I Ain’t One Of Your Lil Friends’ to ‘Who all gon be there?’” That comes out next week on September 19th. I’ll be having a book talk event in Los Angeles at the Reparations Club. And then next weekend, September 23rd, I’ll be in the Boston area with the All She Wrote bookstore doing a book talk about my first book that came out earlier this year, We See Each Other: A Black, Trans Journey Through TV & Film. Yes, she is busy. And yes, she would love to see all of y’all. There will be links to info about both of those in the show notes and I hope to see you there. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Look, Los Angeles is on one side of the country. Boston is on the other. That means everybody should be able to get to one or the other. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Mm hmm. [laughing]. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: And everybody listening needs to be in L.A. or Boston. It’s not that much to ask at all. [laughter] [music break] That is all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe. Leave a review boo on you Drew, and tell your friends to listen. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: And if you’re into reading and not just tipping strippers to help them pay union dues like me, What a Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at crooked.com/subscribe. I’m Tre’vell Anderson. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: I’m Josie Duffy Rice.

 

Tre’vell Anderson: And fill our Twinkies with jam Smuckers. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: That sounded. [laughter] I’m sorry. Did it not? It just felt it felt loaded. That’s all I’m going to say. [laughter] [sigh] [music break]

 

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

 

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