Trump's Unappealing Appeal | Crooked Media
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January 10, 2024
What A Day
Trump's Unappealing Appeal

In This Episode

  • Donald Trump was back in court on Tuesday for the federal case against him for trying to overturn the 2020 election. This time, however, Trump tried to make the argument that he cannot be charged at all. Plus, Trump on Monday requested that a Maine judge put a pause on deciding whether he should appear on the state’s ballot for now.
  • The Senate Judiciary Committee holds a hearing today about how artificial intelligence could impact journalism. One of the committee’s members – Sen. Amy Klobuchar – discusses a bill she introduced that protects local news. We’re joined by the Senator to discuss that bill and the larger effort to crack down on A.I.
  • And in headlines: The White House ordered cabinet secretaries to tell them if they might not be able to perform their duties, New York City started evicting migrant families that hit their 60-day shelter stay limit, and powerful storms swept across the country on Tuesday.


Show Notes:



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Juanita Tolliver: It’s Wednesday, January 10th. I’m Juanita Tolliver.


Priyanka Aribindi: And I’m Priyanka Aribindi and this is What a Day where we are saying sorry to Dean Phillips, who had absolutely no one show up to his campaign coffee event yesterday in New Hampshire. 


Juanita Tolliver: Are we saying sorry? I don’t think I’m saying sorry. 


Priyanka Aribindi: No, it was in the script, but we are not saying sorry. 


Juanita Tolliver: Maybe he could have gotten people there if he’d handed out lattes in those pink Stanley Cups that people are fighting over at Target. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Maybe, even then. [laughter] [music break] On today’s show, Senator Amy Klobuchar warns us about AI in journalism and elections. 


[clip of Senator Amy Klobuchar] This is really about keeping the First Amendment alive and local journalism alive. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Plus, scientists have made it official, 2023 was the hottest year ever on record. 


Juanita Tolliver: But first, Trump was back in court yesterday for the federal case against him for trying to overturn the 2020 election. This time, he was trying to say he shouldn’t be charged at all. His attorneys struggled through their oral arguments before a three judge panel in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. The appeals judges pressed Trump’s lawyer to defend his claim that Trump is entitled to absolute immunity from facing criminal charges for acts that fell under his official duties as president. In this case, they’re implying that Trump’s official duties included sending an armed mob to attack the Capitol on January 6th. I mean, just all in a day’s work, right Priyanka? 


Priyanka Aribindi: Apparently. 


Juanita Tolliver: Take a listen to how Judge Florence Pan checked Trump’s attorney, D. John Sauer, during oral arguments. 


[clip of Judge Florence Pan] I asked you a yes or no question. Could a president who ordered SEAL team six to assassinate a political rival, who was not impeached, he’d be subject to criminal prosecution? 


[clip of D. John Sauer] If he were impeached and convicted first. And so–


[clip of Judge Florence Pan] So your answer is is no. 


[clip of D. John Sauer] Is, my answer is qualified yes. There’s a political process that would have to occur under the structure of our Constitution, which would require impeachment and conviction by the Senate. In these exceptional cases, it has the OLC number itself points out from the Department of Justice you’d expect a speedy impeachment and conviction. 


Juanita Tolliver: Okay. One, you hear her tone, right? Judge Pan’s tone was like, full of skepticism, like she was not having it at all. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Absolutely not. 


Juanita Tolliver: And two, I’m just like, oh, wait, wait, you need Congress to impeach and convict before he could face any criminal charges for having Seal Team Six kill a political opponent? Like, what is this craziness? 


Priyanka Aribindi: What is this craziness? We won’t even get into his voice, which actually grew on me by the end of that clip. [laughing]


Juanita Tolliver: Did it? Did it? 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. No, it was kind of like gravelly and like it’s mysterious. I want to know his story. Anyways, what other reactions did the judges have to Trump’s legal arguments, and how did the DOJ perform in court? 


Juanita Tolliver: Well, the judges took turns poking holes in the arguments laid out by Trump’s legal team. Judge Pan told Trump’s attorney that, quote, “once you concede that presidents can be prosecuted under some circumstances, your separation of powers argument falls away.” Judge Karen LeCraft Henderson poked another hole in their arguments when she said, quote, “I think it’s paradoxical to say that his constitutional duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed allows him to violate criminal law.” Meanwhile, the DOJ attorneys reiterated that Trump’s actions to overturn the election, scheme with fake electors across the country, and attempt to force former Vice President Mike Pence to reject electoral votes, did not count as official duties. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, I mean, this does not seem like a tough day at work for those DOJ attorneys. That’s all–


Juanita Tolliver: Not at all. 


Priyanka Aribindi: –pretty straightforward. When should we expect a ruling in this case? 


Juanita Tolliver: It’s unclear when the appeals court judges will issue a ruling, but legal analysts are suggesting that the ruling will be issued pretty quickly, as the case was already on an expedited track and the judges had to review the relevant briefs before oral arguments. Also, no matter how the appeals court rules, we can expect either party to appeal this case to the Supreme Court immediately after an opinion is released, because this ruling will dictate whether or not prosecutors can proceed with their federal January 6th case. 


Priyanka Aribindi: And this isn’t the only court case that Trump has on his schedule this week. You know, tell us more about what else he is dealing with right now. 


Juanita Tolliver: So up in Maine, Trump requested that a state judge put a pause on deciding whether he should appear on the ballot for now. Trump wants to wait for the U.S. Supreme Court to issue a ruling in the Colorado ballot case, which would have national implications. Also in New York, closing arguments are set for Thursday, January 11th, in Trump’s civil fraud trial. As a reminder, the judge has already ruled in this case that Trump engaged in fraud behavior for years. So the next ruling will be related to the penalties for that fraud, which could include a $300 million dollar fine and a ban on Trump doing business in New York at all. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Okay, let’s just get that straight really quick. You said $300 million dollars, not three. 


Juanita Tolliver: Yes. 


Priyanka Aribindi: 300. 


Juanita Tolliver: $300 million dollars. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Okay. 


Juanita Tolliver: They are coming for all of this man’s money. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. Didn’t even know he had that much. To be honest, I thought he was lying about all of it. 


Juanita Tolliver: Right. And just to be clear, Trump is not required to show up at any of these court dates, but he will, because he views them as campaign opportunities that he can fundraise off of. And it’s all just a game to this man. 


Priyanka Aribindi: [sigh] That is true. But listen. 


Juanita Tolliver: Mm. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Those penalties, that fine and the ban on him doing business in New York. Kind of delicious kind of would love to see it. But anyways, thank you so much for that update. We’re going to turn now to a story about the controversy around the rise of artificial intelligence, specifically around reporting and even our elections. So today, the Senate Judiciary Committee is holding a hearing about how AI could impact journalism. One of the committee’s members, Senator Amy Klobuchar, will discuss a bill that she introduced that protects local news. That bill would make sure that local journalists are better compensated by platforms like Facebook and Google that make a profit from distributing their content. That way, they can keep making that content that is so vital for our understanding of what goes on in the world, uh, for years to come. The alternative is that some publications have actually been caught using ChatGPT to write up articles for free, rather than pay journalists to go get the story. 


Juanita Tolliver: No! 


Priyanka Aribindi: But we need those journalists, as I said, to keep us informed about what’s happening on the ground in states like Texas, Minnesota, all over. What is going on in your neighborhood, your town. That is their job. It is of vital importance. Otherwise, we’d have no idea what’s going on. And without protections, they’d have no idea if they still have jobs, because there just isn’t a lot of money in local news, funding in it, and there hasn’t been for quite some time. It’s been a real crisis. 


Juanita Tolliver: I also think this is a very relevant topic right now, especially as we see generative AI being used in political campaign ads ahead of this year’s election. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Absolutely. I mean, so many people have been talking about AI and their fears around it in so many different arenas, and we know how much of an impact misinformation specifically has on our election. So very right for the alarm bells to be going off when we talk about AI, especially in an election year. Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar introduced legislation last year to ban generative AI from being used in federal elections. She’s also behind the bill that supports local journalism being discussed today. I actually got a chance to speak with Senator Klobuchar yesterday about her bill and the larger effort to crack down on AI, and she told me that this issue is very personal to her because her late father was actually a local journalist in Minnesota. 


Amy Klobuchar: This is really about keeping the First Amendment alive and local journalism alive. My dad grew up in a hardscrabble iron ore mining town in northern Minnesota, started out in North Dakota in Bismarck, and then went to the Twin Cities, where he became a major columnist, sports columnist first and then major columnist for the Minneapolis Star Tribune. And he really believed that you tell the stories of people, and sometimes those stories are tragic, sometimes they’re sad, sometimes they’re funny. News organizations have a way of grabbing people by actually having real people tell their stories. Maybe it’s– 


Priyanka Aribindi: Right. 


Amy Klobuchar: –a quote, maybe it’s a whole interview. You just lose that fabric of life if you lose local news. And my dad wrote when he retired after being national newspaper columnist of the year, writing tens of thousands of columns and words he talked about when he asked himself, is it worth it? You know, was it worth it to be teargassed outside the Republican convention in Miami and outside in Chicago? Was it worth it, um, to keep a widow of a marine on the phone to hear the story while she sobbed? And at the end he said, God, yes, it was worth it because people have a right to know these stories. They have a right to know what’s happening. Our democracy depends on a free press. 


Priyanka Aribindi: I’m really curious to hear what you think about the challenges of doing this and trying to support and bolster journalism, especially after the past few years where you, I mean, it’s been happening for a while, but the erosion of trust in media, what we had with our last president and and politicians who, you know, demonize journalism and media. I imagine there’s a lot less public support for the people who do this really important work. How do you view that challenge as you approach this? 


Amy Klobuchar: Well, it is a huge challenge on the AI front. We’re going to have a this big hearing, um, because it’s really important that people know all the facts when it comes to journalism. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Right. 


Amy Klobuchar: All the misinformation out there, um, and also talk about other things we’re concerned about, like fake weather reporters who aren’t the real person. AI can produce that. So it’s not only having the content that’s been ripped off for a while, even before AI and false content, it is also actually having the people that are very trusted in communities, just like you saw what happened with Tom Hanks, with dental office or whatever it was, or what we’ve seen with some of the political ones. That’s another bill I have to stop the deep fakes. You can also see it with news leaders who people really trust. They trust their local TV news anchor who reports their news every day, what the crimes are, what’s happening, what the weather is. You could just imagine the mischief and that’s putting it lightly. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. 


Amy Klobuchar: That could occur if people are faking that they’re even the voice, uh, much less the face of these trusted news leaders. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Right. On that topic. And just zooming out a bit from journalism. Over the past year or so, there has been so much more fear around AI, the implications of this technology, so many different arenas, you know, what do we risk if we don’t step in to regulate its use, especially as we approach our next elections? 


Amy Klobuchar: I think people should see AI as some opportunities. Clearly, health care and the like. You’re going to be able to really get some, um, new innovations. But I think they should be also scared if we don’t put any guardrails in place. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Right. 


Amy Klobuchar: The first place to be scared is security. You don’t want people copying sensitive recipes for, uh, various weapons you don’t want to and nuclear capabilities. You don’t want them to be able to copy the blueprints of what’s going to happen, um, in some kind of war setting. The next part for the guardrails is on innovation. America has always been built on innovation, so we have a lot to lose if people are going to steal intellectual property and not just the images, but also the intellectual ideas. And then the final thing is just the democracy itself, and that’s political ads and making sure that, you know, if AI is used and then for some of them when you have a fake Elizabeth Warren, which happened this last year saying, hey, Republicans shouldn’t be able to vote. That’s not true. She didn’t say that, that wasn’t her. But there were hundreds of thousands of shares of this video. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Right. 


Amy Klobuchar: And so that’s why the images of politicians. Can you imagine if you have someone that pretends they’re Joe Biden, an image telling people there’s some kind of emergency going on. 


Priyanka Aribindi: It’s chaos.


Amy Klobuchar: We have to ban these things. You can’t just say at the end, by the way, this was created by AI. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Right. 


Amy Klobuchar: I just don’t think that’s enough. For some things that’s enough. Right. But not for these. When they’re faking that they’re the people. And so that’s going to be a big challenge to get that done. But that’s got to be part of the solution. 


Priyanka Aribindi: That was my conversation with Senator Amy Klobuchar. We’ll keep following this story. But that is the latest for now. We’ll be back after some ads. [music break]




Juanita Tolliver: Let’s get to some headlines. 


[sung] Headlines. 


Juanita Tolliver: The White House yesterday ordered cabinet secretaries to tell them if they might not be able to perform their duties. Yes, it’s normal for most people to call out sick to their bosses. But the administration had to speak up because, as we’ve reported, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin spent several days in the hospital last week without telling President Biden or his staff. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yikes. 


Juanita Tolliver: Walter Reed National Military Center announced on Tuesday it treated Austin for complications due to prostate cancer. Center officials also said he’s recovering well but remains in the hospital. But because of this ordeal, Axios reported that the White House is now reviewing protocols for how cabinet secretaries delegate powers when they are out. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, it makes sense to have some sort of protocol here, you know, wish Secretary Austin the best and a speedy recovery. But, um, it feels like high time maybe to review. 


Juanita Tolliver: Yeah. 


Priyanka Aribindi: [?] how that works. New York City started evicting migrant families yesterday that hit their 60 day shelter stay limit. You may remember that New York City Mayor Eric Adams announced that shelter cap last October. And yesterday, the first wave of about 40 families with children were supposed to check out of the Row, which is a hotel in Times Square that is serving as a shelter. If they had nowhere else to go. The families had to go to the Roosevelt Hotel about 15 minutes away, walking distance to reapply for shelter. That hotel is currently acting as the city’s main migrant intake center, and according to The New York Times, migrant families started arriving at the hotel yesterday, some with their children. Anthony Gomez told The Times that he and his wife, who is pregnant, were notified that they had to leave when they heard banging on their door a day prior, saying– 


Juanita Tolliver: Wow. 


Priyanka Aribindi: –quote, “they knocked on our door like they were police. We don’t know what happens now. We have no clue.” 


Juanita Tolliver: Wow. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Okay, so the heads up isn’t even there. It’s very abrupt. It sounds incredibly jarring and really scary. 


Juanita Tolliver: Yeah. 


Priyanka Aribindi: In total, officials said that around 4400 families have received the 60 day notices that will go into effect the next couple of weeks. 


Juanita Tolliver: Like it’s one thing to issue a notice. It’s another to scare the living daylights out of people who are already in a precarious situation and not treat them with basic humanity like, come on, get it together. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, seriously. 


Juanita Tolliver: We hope that they all find shelter ASAP because there’s severe weather all around the United States. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Right. 


Juanita Tolliver: Powerful storms swept across the country yesterday, causing tornadoes, blizzard conditions, heavy rain and snow, and at least three weather related deaths. Starting in the south, the National Weather Service said there’s been at least ten reports of tornadoes, severe thunderstorms and high winds tore through the Florida Panhandle yesterday and in Panama City Beach a reported tornado flattened buildings and ripped roofs off of some homes. In Alabama, an 81 year old woman was killed when her mobile home was pulled off of its foundation. Up north, heavy rain, strong winds and potential flooding hit the northeast and the Mid-Atlantic. In New York City, the forecasted high winds led the city to relocate nearly 2000 migrants from the tent shelter at Floyd Bennett Field. And over in the Pacific Northwest, a cold front brought heavy snow and blizzard conditions to the area, specifically the Cascades. And speaking of extreme weather, we’re here to officially report that last year was the hottest year on record. I mean, given all the coverage we did about record breaking heat last year, we’re really not all that surprised. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Nope. 


Juanita Tolliver: And now scientists have confirmed it. The European Union climate monitor announced yesterday that worldwide temperatures were 2.66°F higher than the second half of the 19th century. And that’s apparently a lot warmer than the last hottest year we experienced back in 2016. Y’all, we have been saying this. I feel like this is yet another weekly reminder. Climate change is real. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Right. 


Juanita Tolliver: Investments in climate mitigation are essential because if we don’t do anything, one, this extreme weather is going to continue and it’s going to get worse. And two, more and more people across the country are going to lose their lives as a result. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Right. Democrats are fronting $35 million dollars to get more voters of color out to support them in 2024. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee announced the initiative yesterday. Most of the spending will target Latino, Black, Asian-American, Pacific Islander and Native Hawaiian voters in key congressional districts. The money will be used for organizing, voter protection efforts and more, and the hope is that this cash will help reverse the trend of declining support for Democrats by communities of color. For instance, a CNBC poll last month showed Trump with a five point lead over Biden among Hispanic and Latino voters. Meanwhile, a survey from GenForward said two out of five Black Americans would either vote for Trump or someone else other than Biden. So yes, Democrats, if you want to win elections, you are going to need to start listening to and reaching out to more communities of color. Here’s hoping this infusion of cash helps you start. 


Juanita Tolliver: Yeah, we love an investment. We love an early investment, no less. Like spend that money yesterday actually. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yes, please. 


Juanita Tolliver: And talk to these voters. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. 


Juanita Tolliver: And finally, a belated happy 40th birthday to Kim Jong–Un. I mean, at least we think. Despite being a world figure, the bday of the North Korean dictator is a complete mystery. The country has never celebrated nor acknowledged it officially. It’s believed to be on January 8th because back in 2014, the NBA’s Dennis Rodman sang him Happy Birthday at a public event. Of course, Dennis Rodman is– 


Priyanka Aribindi: It’s bizarre. 


Juanita Tolliver: –all up in this. 


Priyanka Aribindi: [laughter] Great. Great. 


Juanita Tolliver: Also, around this time of year, in 2020, then President Trump wished Kim a happy birthday. Of course he did in one of his love letters. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Right. 


Juanita Tolliver: Right. Mhm. But if he was born on January 8th, that makes him a Capricorn. And a Capricorn can be ambitious, persistent, unforgiving and relentless. So does Kim sound like a Capricorn to you, Priyanka? 


Priyanka Aribindi: Listen, I’m gonna avoid insulting all the lovely Capricorns who listen to our program and say that he does not check the boxes. 


Juanita Tolliver: Yeah, we will not lump you in with this authoritarian dictator. 


Priyanka Aribindi: No no. 


Juanita Tolliver: In an isolated nation. 


Priyanka Aribindi: No. 


Juanita Tolliver: Yeah, we’re not going to put you in there. 


Priyanka Aribindi: And we will not be wishing him a happy birthday. I, for one hope he–


Juanita Tolliver: Yeah. 


Priyanka Aribindi: –does not have a happy birthday. 


Juanita Tolliver: Yeah. 


Priyanka Aribindi: I don’t care when it is. 


Juanita Tolliver: Completely agreed. And those are the headlines. 




Juanita Tolliver: That’s all for today. If you like the show. Make sure you subscribe. Leave a review. You don’t look a day over 60 Kim Jong-Un, and tell your friends to listen. 


Priyanka Aribindi: And if you are into reading and not just the horoscopes of dictators like me, What a Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at I’m Priyanka Aribindi.


Juanita Tolliver: I’m Juanita Tolliver.


[spoken together] And sorry you got stood up Dean Phillips. 


Juanita Tolliver: I mean sorry, not sorry. 


Priyanka Aribindi: I’d say I feel bad for you, but I don’t.


Juanita Tolliver: Nope. I think this is testament for why you should have never started this campaign. What a waste of resources. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. Maybe think about why you’re getting stood up. And that feels like maybe that would help you avoid that in the future. 


Juanita Tolliver: Right? Like as you’re sitting on the bumper of your empty coffee service van, just reflect. [laughing]


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. [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. [music break]