Trump’s Week of Legal Woes | Crooked Media
February 15, 2024
What A Day
Trump’s Week of Legal Woes

In This Episode

  • Fulton County DA Fani Willis and special counsel Nathan Wade both took the stand on Thursday about their prior romantic relationship. The hearing will determine whether it constituted a conflict of interest that disqualifies Willis from prosecuting Donald Trump for election racketeering in Georgia.
  • Meanwhile, a verdict is expected Friday in New York’s civil fraud trial against Trump, and New York’s hush money criminal trial against Trump got a start date of March 25th.
  • And in headlines: Kansas City officials said Wednesday’s mass shooting at the Super Bowl parade probably started with a personal argument, President Biden is expected to visit East Palestine, Ohio on Friday, and an FBI informant was charged for lying about connections between Hunter Biden and Ukraine.


Show Notes:


What A Day will be off on Monday, February 19th for Presidents’ Day. We’ll be back with a new episode on Tuesday, February 20th.





Josie Duffy Rice: It’s Friday, February 16th, I’m Josie Duffy Rice.


Priyanka Aribindi: And I’m Priyanka Aribindi and this is What a Day where we are getting prepared for this May’s Met Gala. 


Josie Duffy Rice: The theme was announced yesterday and it’s Garden of Time, so I finally have a place to wear all my very old lady floral frocks. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, my invite might have gotten lost in the mail, but I’m prepared too. [music break] On today’s show, Kansas City officials say Wednesday’s mass shooting at the Super Bowl parade probably started with a personal argument. Plus, an FBI informant was charged for lying about connections between Hunter Biden and Ukraine. 


Josie Duffy Rice: But first, there is a bunch of news in the many, many, many, many, many lawsuits against Donald Trump. So let’s talk about the one in Georgia, because two defendants testified yesterday. But these two defendants are also the prosecutors in the election interference case against Trump here in Georgia. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Right. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Fulton County D.A. Fani Willis and special counsel Nathan Wade both took the stand in a case that will determine whether or not Willis should be disqualified from prosecuting Trump, after it came to light that Willis and Wade had a romantic relationship that they did not disclose. Basically, one of Trump’s co-defendants has alleged that because of their relationship, they have a conflict of interest and they should not be allowed to prosecute this case. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yes. So obviously this has all been a major issue in the recent days. Not great. Not a good look for anybody. And the hearing yesterday was really bananas. So tell us a little bit about what happened. 


Josie Duffy Rice: It was nuts like–


Priyanka Aribindi: Truly. 


Josie Duffy Rice: –not a dull moment. A few people were questioned, including Wade and Willis, but also a former friend of Willis has testified that the couple were actually in a relationship far before they publicly claimed. So the friend said that she had, quote, “no doubt that the relationship started as early as 2019,” though Willis and Wade claim it began in 2022. The reason that this matters is because it either happened before the indictment or after the indictment, which makes the question of like, did he get the job because of the, you know, a lot more complicated. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Got it. 


Josie Duffy Rice: So the friend testified, later Wade took the stand where he repeatedly asserted that he and finally Willis had done nothing improper or unethical, though he did admit that they had slept together while he was estranged from his wife. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Some would say that’s not ethical, but like, maybe in a different context. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah. [?] this kind of context unethical. But right. And not only had they slept together while he was estranged from his wife, he had denied that they had done that in his divorce filing. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Not great. 


Josie Duffy Rice: It’s not great. So his testimony went on for a while. And then Fani Willis took the stand. And that is when things got even more interesting. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yes, I know Fani Willis didn’t actually want to testify. Actively tried to avoid it. So how did this go down when she was on the stand? 


Josie Duffy Rice: Oh my gosh, she was heated. She was on stand for over two hours. It got pretty contentious. A number of opposing counsel attorneys questioned her, and all of them were basically trying to prove that their relationship was either improper on it’s face or that like there was improper exchange of money through the relationship. Either Nathan Wade benefited from D.A. Willis financially or vice versa. Willis repeatedly denied that this was the case. She answered question after question about her travel, her spending, and her relationship in a way that signaled pretty strong frustration. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. 


Josie Duffy Rice: From her about the whole thing. So here’s her response to questions by opposing counsel about her financial and romantic relationship with Nathan Wade. 


[clip of Fani Willis] Mr. Wade is used to women that, as he told me one time, the only thing a woman can do for him is make him a sandwich. We would have brutal arguments about the fact that I am your equal. I don’t need anything from a man. A man is not a plan. A man is a companion. And so there was tension always in our relationship, which is why I always give him his money back. I don’t need anybody to foot my bills. The only man who’s ever foot my bills completely is my daddy. 


Priyanka Aribindi: She’s not happy. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Not happy also like, why are you going to hire the guy that says that all women can do is make him a sandwich? 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, like he kind of sounds like he sucks. 


Josie Duffy Rice: If she’s being honest about him, he’s terrible. Anyway, this was kind of the whole tone of the questioning. Like, Fani denied that there had been any misconduct or unethical relationship, but there was clearly some tension there. And she and he made it clear that they are not together. And I don’t think it was a mutual cool breakup. I feel like it was pretty rough. Fani had some memorable lines. She had this one when asked about cash that defense attorneys kept questioning her about. 


[clip of Fani Willis] All my life. If you’re a woman and you go on a date with a man, you better have $200 in your pocket so if that man acts up, you can go where you want to go. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Okay she’s kind of giving a lot of, like, TikTok-y relationship advice. 


Josie Duffy Rice: It was. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Like I feel like this is–


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah. 


Priyanka Aribindi: My [?] [laughing] a little bit.


Josie Duffy Rice: She had a few very rough moments. I thought she got better as it went on, but maybe I just had been watching for long enough and had gotten used to how rough it was. Opposing counsel I will say had a really tough time kind of establishing that she and Wade did anything technically wrong. I thought they did manage to underscore that it was bad judgment, but– 


Priyanka Aribindi: Right. 


Josie Duffy Rice: –as far as like nailing them technically, I don’t think they really managed to do that. But again, there was like moment after moment after moment of acrimony here. And this is like hours and hours of testimony. So Fani repeatedly said that the opposing counsel were liars. Check out this clip. 


[clip of Fani Willis] So let’s be clear because you’ve lied in this this, let me tell you which one you lied in. Right here, I think you lied right here. [indistict talking in background] No no no, no. This is the truth. 


[clip of someone in the courtroom with Fani Willis] Judge. This is–


[clip of Fani Willis] It is a lie! 


[clip of someone in the courtroom with Fani Willis] We’re gonna, Alright Ms. Willis. [indistinct talking in background] Mr. [?] Thank you. We’re going to take five minutes. Be back in five.


Josie Duffy Rice: I so felt for the judge in this case because it was very judge being like you don’t have to answer this. And then she was like but I want to it’s like err maybe not, maybe not, [?] not the [?]. 


Priyanka Aribindi: No, no, no. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Don’t do it. Of course this hearing is not over yet. It will continue today and likely into next week. So there is more to come. 


Priyanka Aribindi: What happens if D.A. Willis is disqualified from this case? Where do we go from here if that ends up happening? 


Josie Duffy Rice: Another Georgia district attorney from a different county other than Fulton would probably get the case. And that prosecutor would be chosen by the Georgia Prosecutors Association, which is not who you want making this choice. It is full of conservative prosecutors from pro-Trump country, which most of Georgia is. I’m willing to bet that that would be the end of Trump facing any consequences, at least in criminal court, for election interference. That would be it. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Really upsetting if that is the outcome of all of this, because they decided that they wanted to date and it didn’t even end up working out. And that’s what we get like?


Josie Duffy Rice: Y’all need to get back together if this is the situation. Because–


Priyanka Aribindi: Seriously. 


Josie Duffy Rice: All of this for that?


Priyanka Aribindi: Why did we do all of this? 


Josie Duffy Rice: Right? 


Priyanka Aribindi: Anyways, speaking of Trump related legal drama, we have some more updates on a few of the other cases that he is involved in. If you have not been listening to the show, uh I hate to break it to you. It is a lot. Um. So let’s start in New York State with his civil fraud trial. That is the one brought by New York Attorney General Letitia James. It accuses Trump and top officials at his company of committing fraud by inflating the business’s financial statements. A verdict is expected today in that case. So stay tuned. It is coming. This follows a trial that started back in October of last year that included testimony from Trump himself, as well as his three eldest children, Don Jr, Ivanka, and Eric. And as a reminder, Judge Arthur Engoron already determined last September that Trump and these executives did engage in fraud repeatedly between the years of 2011 and 2021 by overstating the value of his real estate to gain millions of dollars in economic benefits. He ruled that Trump valued Mar-a-Lago at 20 times the tax assessment. He reported that his own penthouse at Trump Tower was nearly three times as big as it actually is. Like we already know he did this stuff, but now what we’re waiting for is Judge Engoron’s determination on whether they did this intentionally, which I don’t know if I would hold my breath. I’m not the legal expert on the show today. But I’m not too worried there. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah. 


Priyanka Aribindi: And of course, the penalty that Trump and his businesses should have to pay for this. AG James wants a $370 million dollar fine. That would include repayment of the $250 million dollars that was illegally obtained through this fraud, as well as a ban on Trump and his kids doing any further business in New York State real estate. That is a ban that threatens to dissolve his entire business. That kind of ban is very rare, and Trump has promised to appeal if that happens. 


Josie Duffy Rice: So another judge in New York just said another trial date for another Trump case yesterday. So tell us more about that one. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yes. So this one is for the hush money case that dates back to the cursed 2016 election. Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg charged Trump with 34 felony counts. All of them are tied to payments made to adult film star Stormy Daniels and others to keep silent about alleged sexual encounters, we all remember. How could we forget? The judge in that case Justice Juan Merchan rejected Trump’s attempts to get these charges thrown out, and he set a March 25th trial date for that criminal trial. Of course, Trump’s lawyers had many objections to this. This six week long trial would coincide directly with the time that most presidential candidates would want to be out on the campaign trail for an election taking place in November. And they have been pushing hard to delay everything that they can. But also, most presidential candidates aren’t facing 91 felony counts across four separate criminal indictments in four different states. So a little different situation here for uh Donald Trump than anyone else. This case is different from the ongoing federal cases in Washington DC and Florida. I mean, if Trump, God forbid, won the election, he could try and shut those cases down. But he can’t do that here. He can’t pardon himself. He can’t cite presidential immunity. In this particular trial, Trump will face 34 felony charges, and it carries a maximum sentence of four years in prison total. So the jury of New Yorkers here could seal his fate. And finally, earlier this week, special counsel Jack Smith asked the Supreme Court to let the DC trial against Trump move forward. That, of course, is the one where he’s charged with conspiring to overturn the results of the 2020 election. He desperately does not want this to happen before Election Day 2024. Predictably, his lawyers vehemently pushed back on this last night in a filing. And with that, we now wait for the Supreme Court to decide whether or not it will take this case. We’ll continue to follow all of this as it unfolds. If you are still having difficulty keeping track of all of the separate legal dramas. It’s okay, we have your back. But that is 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: Starting with an update on the mass shooting at a Super Bowl parade for the Kansas City Chiefs. The shooting happened Wednesday afternoon and left one person dead and 22 others wounded. Take a listen to what the city’s police chief, Stacey Graves, said about the shooting during a news conference yesterday. 


[clip of Kansas City police chief Stacey Graves] First and foremost, I want to stress that preliminary investigative findings have shown there was no nexus to terrorism or homegrown violent extremism. This appeared to be a dispute between several people that ended in gunfire. 


Josie Duffy Rice: As of Thursday afternoon, two teenagers remained in custody in connection to the shooting and no charges have been filed. There are still no details on the weapons that were seized, and Chief Graves called it a, quote, “very active investigation.” She also said that of the 22 people wounded in the shooting, half of them were under 16 years old. The person who died was local DJ and mother of two, Elizabeth “Lisa” Lopez-Galvan. She was 43. Her adult son was also shot, on Wednesday he was treated and released from the hospital. The local radio station that broadcasted Lopez-Galvan’s show said in a statement on social media, quote, “this senseless act has taken a beautiful person from her family and this KC community.” 


Priyanka Aribindi: It’s awful. 


Josie Duffy Rice: It is. 


Priyanka Aribindi: President Biden is expected to visit East Palestine, Ohio, today, more than a year after the Norfolk Southern train derailment spilled toxic chemicals into the environment and displaced thousands of families. This will be Biden’s first visit to the town since the disaster. According to White House officials, Biden will meet with members of the community to learn how the federal government can support them as they continue to recover from the disaster. Over 200 East Palestine residents signed a letter to Biden ahead of his visit on Thursday, asking him to issue a major disaster declaration, an action that the community has demanded for months now. The letter also cites the need for the EPA to study the effects of the train derailment on residents health and the environment. Biden will also meet with state and local officials to discuss rail safety and how to prevent future derailments. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Republican’s efforts to impeach President Joe Biden appear to be unraveling, and that’s because an ex-FBI informant was charged with lying about President Biden and his son Hunter’s connection to a Ukrainian energy company. Those claims are central to the GOP’s impeachment inquiry. Special Counsel David Weiss filed the charges and the indictment was unsealed yesterday. It charges former FBI informant Alexander Smirnov with falsely claiming that Hunter and his dad sought five million dollar bribes each from the Ukrainian energy company Burisma. Smirnov was arrested in Las Vegas on Wednesday and faces charges of making a false statement and creating a false and fictitious record. He appeared in court briefly yesterday. If convicted, Smirnov faces up to 25 years in prison. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Sure, this happened, but I feel like the lie will have gone so much further than the truth ever will. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah of course. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Like so many people echo this claim, have echoed this claim for years. And for all the people who are saying that, like who is going to be out there correcting every single one. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Right. 


Priyanka Aribindi: No. We know how this stuff works. That’s not how it happens. 


Josie Duffy Rice: The truth is irrelevant to a lot of people. 


Priyanka Aribindi: The seemingly never ending wave of layoffs in the media landscape continued on Thursday, when NowThis news laid off half of its editorial staff. That is according to the Writers Guild of America East, the union representing NowThis employees. The union said in a statement that 26 of its members were notified that they got laid off at 7 a.m. eastern time yesterday. But some members found out earlier in the middle of the night when they were suddenly locked out of their work laptops, email, and Slack accounts. Even if you weren’t familiar with the name, NowThis, you’ve probably seen several of their short viral videos recapping the news on Instagram and Facebook. The company was acquired by Vox in 2022 before becoming an independent entity last summer, and it garnered huge success as a progressive social media based news outlet. Like many of the other media companies that announced layoffs in recent months, NowThis said in a staff memo that the job cuts were necessary to, quote, “ensure a long term sustainable business in the evolving media landscape.” The Writers Guild put out a statement saying, quote, “while we are shocked at how many talented, hardworking people the company let go, we are grateful to the current and past unit members who fought hard for a fair union contract, which includes generous severance packages.” 


Josie Duffy Rice: And finally, earlier this week, a small country radio station in Oklahoma initially declined a fan’s request to play Beyonce’s incredible twangy new single, Texas Hold ‘Em, the fan Justin McGowan posted a screenshot of the radio stations email response on X, which read quote, “Hi. We do not play Beyonce on KYKC as we are a country music station.” 


Priyanka Aribindi: Big mistake. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Huge mistake. [laugh] You are activating a fan base you cannot even comprehend. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Absolutely. 


Josie Duffy Rice: And as you can imagine, the Beyhive went to work. The station had told the New York Times that fans flooded the station with calls and emails to say that the song deserved airtime. 


Priyanka Aribindi: And it did. It’s not even like they’re making a crazy case. 


Josie Duffy Rice: No. 


Priyanka Aribindi: It did. 


Josie Duffy Rice: It’s good. It’s a good song.


Priyanka Aribindi: It’s a country song. 


Josie Duffy Rice: It’s a good song and it’s a country song. 


Priyanka Aribindi: It’s a good song and it’s a country song. 


Josie Duffy Rice: And so, lo and behold, DJ’s from KYKC played the song multiple times on Tuesday night’s set. Just a reminder, or in case you’ve been living under a rock. Beyoncé dropped two surprise singles and an album announcement during the Super Bowl last Sunday. And in this new project, the Queen herself seems to be tapping into not only her own Texas roots, but the Black roots of country music as a whole. 


Priyanka Aribindi: But anyways, we had a little vote between our staff on everyone’s favorites of the two new Beyonce singles. Listen, everyone loves Texas Hold ‘Em. I like it too. It’s catchy, but I got to say like some justice for 16 Carriages because it really is a beautiful, sad, lovely song. I really like it. I think she sounds really good. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Priyanka is in her emo era. 


Priyanka Aribindi: I am and Beyonce’s there for me. I’m excited for this album. 


Josie Duffy Rice: I am too. It’s gonna be amazing. And those are the headlines. 


Priyanka Aribindi: [AD BREAK]


Josie Duffy Rice: That is all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe. Leave a review, say hi to us at the Met Gala’s Garden Party and tell your friends to listen. 


Priyanka Aribindi: And if you’re into reading and not just the Met Gala invite that we totally got in the mail like me, What a Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at I’m Priyanka Aribindi.


Josie Duffy Rice: I’m Josie Duffy Rice.


[spoken together] And we’re here for Beyonce’s domination of all radio. 


Priyanka Aribindi: She earned it. What can’t she do? 


Josie Duffy Rice: The question is, how do we get her on like local NPR?


Priyanka Aribindi: Tiny desk? 


Josie Duffy Rice: Wait, wait, Don’t Tell Me, should she start hosting it? How do we get Beyonce NPR brand deal?


Priyanka Aribindi: How do we get Beyonce on Crooked? 


Josie Duffy Rice: Phenomenal question. [music break]


Priyanka Aribindi: What a Day is a production of Crooked Media. It’s recorded 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.