Trump's Maine Squeeze | Crooked Media
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January 02, 2024
What A Day
Trump's Maine Squeeze

In This Episode

  • Former President Donald Trump on Tuesday appealed the decision by Maine’s Secretary of State that bars him from the ballot due to his role in the January 6th insurrection. That comes after the Colorado Supreme Court last month removed Trump from the state’s ballot, which he is also likely to appeal soon.
  • The deputy head of Hamas along with two other leaders of its armed wing were killed on Tuesday in Beirut, Lebanon by an Israeli strike. Meanwhile, the UN reports that half of Gaza’s 2.2 million residents are at risk of starvation following the onset of the war between Israel and Hamas.
  • And in headlines: Harvard President Claudine Gay announced her resignation, at least 57 people in Japan are dead after a series of earthquakes, and Disney’s copyright on the earliest version of Mickey Mouse expired in the U.S. on New Year’s Day.


Show Notes:



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Priyanka Aribindi: It’s Wednesday, January 3rd. I’m Priyanka Aribindi. 


Juanita Tolliver: And I’m Juanita Tolliver and this is What a Day, the podcast that missed you these past two weeks. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, a lot of things went down. I can only imagine the jokes we would have made about the now former staffer who made a sex tape in the Senate hearing room. 


Juanita Tolliver: Oh, yikes. Oh, God. I, no words.


Priyanka Aribindi: Sadly we weren’t here to make the jokes. We weren’t here. You’ll never know. [music break] On today’s show, Harvard’s president, Claudine Gay, resigned after a conservative campaign accused her of plagiarism. Plus, Disney’s earliest copyright of Mickey Mouse just ended. And there’s already a trailer for a slasher film with a killer dressed as the character. 


Juanita Tolliver: But first, buckle up, y’all. We are officially in the presidential election swing. And while we are only 12 days away from the first primary competition in Iowa yesterday, former President Donald Trump filed an appeal to challenge Maine’s Secretary of State’s decision to bar him from the ballot due to his role in the January 6th insurrection. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yes. Okay. I feel like there has been definitely some news over the break around this same topic. So fill us in. What is going on here? 


Juanita Tolliver: So in the appeal, Trump’s attorneys argue that Secretary of State Shenna Bellows has no jurisdiction in the matter and that she should have recused herself due to her previous statements and that she relied on, quote, “untrustworthy evidence” in making this decision. Now, Maine does have different rules, and the secretary of state decision is the first step in the ballot process in Maine. In an interview with the Associated Press on December 29th, just after she announced her decision, Bellows backed up her move, saying this: 


[clip of Shenna Bellows] I’m mindful that no secretary of state has ever deprived a candidate of ballot access under Section Three of the 14th Amendment. But no presidential candidate has ever engaged in an insurrection under Section three of the 14th amendment.


Juanita Tolliver: I mean, it’s pretty straightforward to me. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Very [laughter] I mean, she laid it out, it is open and shut, I feel. But what does this mean for Trump in Maine? 


Juanita Tolliver: Bellows stated last week that her ruling was paused pending a decision on appeal. And now that the appeal has been filed, it’s in the hands of the Kennebec County Superior Court. State law requires that that court decides the issue by January 17th, and depending on the outcome, we should brace ourselves for appeals to the Maine Supreme Court and then potentially the U.S. Supreme Court. Sadly, another factor we have to consider here is what this means for Bellows, as she has faced harassment in the five days since issuing the ruling. Last Friday night, Bellows’ home was swatted and her home address was posted on social media. She’s also been receiving violent messages targeting her, her family and her office. I mean, all of the security threats towards the officials who call out an insurrectionist for, you know, being an insurrectionist are just one more stark reminder that Trump shouldn’t be anywhere near the White House ever again. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Absolutely. Plain and simple. Over in Colorado, the state’s Supreme court there ruled a few weeks ago against Trump being on that state’s ballot. But there are new updates on that situation. So give us the latest. What is going on here? 


Juanita Tolliver: This is another case that Trump is likely to appeal. And while he hasn’t submitted an appeal just yet, the Colorado Republican Party submitted an appeal to the Supreme Court just last week, and that triggered an extension on the initial stay from the Colorado Supreme Court’s ruling. That appeal also means that Trump’s name will appear on the ballot unless the U.S. Supreme Court justices declined to hear the case or affirm the state’s Supreme Court’s ruling. In an attempt to get the justices to take up the case. Yesterday, the secretary of State, Jena Griswold, filed a brief with the Supreme Court asking it to decide whether Trump can be disqualified from the Colorado ballot. Similar to Maine, there have been threats made against the Colorado Supreme Court justices who decided this case. But interestingly enough, authorities claim that the armed man who broke into the court building and opened fire yesterday is entirely unrelated to this case. 


Priyanka Aribindi: [sigh] Well, um okay, then, I guess. 


Juanita Tolliver: Right. Huge pause, because what? 


Priyanka Aribindi: Seriously. All right. So how is all of this playing out uh politically here? 


Juanita Tolliver: Of course, Donald Trump is playing the victim. Of course, he’s fundraising off of all of this. And of course, his base of supporters is eating this up. But what I will be watching for is how Republicans and the conservative Supreme Court justices contort themselves around their tried and true notion of let the states decide. You know, that’s their favorite line. I mean, when it comes to abortion rights, it’s all about letting the states decide. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Right. 


Juanita Tolliver: When it comes to gun violence prevention. It’s all about states rights. But I got a hunch that this concept won’t apply to Trump in this case, you know? 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, very funny how selectively that works. But anyways, thank you so much for that update, Juanita. Great to get the scoop on all of these headlines that we have been seeing. Switching now to the latest in Israel’s ongoing war against Hamas. Yesterday, the deputy head of Hamas, Saleh al-Arouri, along with two other leaders of its armed wing were killed in Beirut, Lebanon, by an Israeli strike. According to Hamas leadership, seven members of the group were killed in a strike. Senior U.S. officials said that Israel was responsible. The U.S. was informed about the strike as it was happening, so they didn’t have prior knowledge. But as of now, Israeli officials declined to comment on this publicly. 


Juanita Tolliver: So what does this mean for the general state of fighting in the Middle East? 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, this strike is significant for a few reasons. Of course, it’s been Israel’s stated goal to eliminate Hamas and the group’s leadership from the beginning. But this notably took place in the capital city of Lebanon. Throughout this conflict, the IDF has traded fire with the Lebanese military group Hezbollah on Lebanon’s southern border. That fighting has displaced tens of thousands of people in Lebanon. But this is the first time that violence related to this conflict has reached Beirut directly. Many in the international community have long been concerned about this conflict spilling over into other areas in the region. And this strike, which took place in the same part of the city that Hezbollah operates out of, could do just that. In a statement, Hezbollah condemned what they called a, quote, “serious attack on Lebanon” and a, quote, “dangerous development in the course of the war.” They are also allied with Hamas. So what happens next here remains to be seen. An anonymous U.S. official told The New York Times that this is likely the first of many covert strikes that Israel will carry out against Hamas officials, many of whom we know are not located in Gaza and are in fact, abroad. 


Juanita Tolliver: Yeah, and this is also the regional escalation that the U.S. has been working to avoid from jump. So, yikes. Now back to Gaza. What can you tell us about the situation on the ground there? 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, so in the time that we last spoke, the humanitarian disaster in Gaza has only grown. According to a new United Nations report, half of Gaza’s population of 2.2 million people are at risk of starvation following the onset of the war between Israel and Hamas. A staggering 90% of them have said that they have gone regularly without food for an entire day. Just–


Juanita Tolliver: Wow. 


Priyanka Aribindi: –really hard to even wrap your head around for so many of us who are–


Juanita Tolliver: Yeah. 


Priyanka Aribindi: –listening to this on your way to work or at home like it is so far from our reality. Of course, many countries and organizations are offering aid, have been offering aid, but the free flow of that food and those supplies has been limited and subjected to a lot of hurdles by Israel. Officials from practically every leading humanitarian organization have stressed that they have never seen anything like this at this scale and at this pace before. 


Juanita Tolliver: And the tragic reality here is that Israel has been able to enact these hurdles because they’re not new. Right. Like this type of bottlenecking of resources into Gaza has been policy for years. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. 


Juanita Tolliver: But what about the military operations there? 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, so the Israeli military started withdrawing thousands of troops from parts of Gaza on Tuesday. As of now, we do not know the total number of troops deployed that hasn’t been shared publicly. So we’re not able to say, you know, what percentage or how significant this withdrawal is. 


Juanita Tolliver: Right. 


Priyanka Aribindi: That is also in part in an effort to boost the country’s economy, which actually has lagged as reservists across the country have left their jobs to join the war effort. Some analysts also say that it’s the start of a shift towards a more limited and targeted approach, that is one that the U.S. has been pushing for recently. We’ll you know see if that sticks. According to Palestinian news reports, these troop withdrawals have happened in several parts of northern Gaza, but the airstrikes notably continue. In southern Gaza, the Palestinian Red Crescent Society said that its headquarters in Khan Younis were hit by Israeli shelling that killed at least five displaced people who were sheltering there. The head of the World Health Organization called the strikes, quote, “unconscionable.” 


Juanita Tolliver: There were a lot of other developments in the area during our time off. Can you get us up to speed on what we need to know now? 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, I will do my very best. So most recently on Monday, Israel’s Supreme Court struck down a law that was passed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right wing government that limited the powers of the court itself. This reversal, as well as the law itself, were really big deals in Israel. The law would have prevented the court from being able to overturn government actions and laws that it deemed unreasonable. And it was one of the only checks on the power of the single chamber parliament, and they wanted to take it away. Allies in Netanyahu’s Likud Party immediately took issue with this ruling. They said it was, quote, “in opposition to the nation’s desire for unity, especially in a time of war.” But many Israelis were in the streets earlier this year to protest this government’s efforts to overhaul the judiciary. And for them, this is a welcome decision to prevent government overreach. 


Juanita Tolliver: Right. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Also, very notably, about a week ago, The New York Times published a large scale investigation into Hamas’s sexual violence during their attack on Israel on October 7th. There’s been a lot of back and forth about this for some time now. But in this report, many people spoke about the atrocities they witnessed firsthand against women in Israel. It is an extremely, extremely harrowing read. If you missed that over the break, we will link to it in our show notes. We will, of course, continue to follow 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: Harvard President Claudine Gay announced that she would resign her position yesterday, ending her six month tenure in the position. The calls for Gay to step down initially came after appearing before a congressional hearing about anti-Semitism on college campuses almost a month ago. Remember that University of Pennsylvania President Liz Magill stepped down just days after that hearing. But more than 700 Harvard faculty members rallied to support Gay in keeping her presidency. And yet the public scrutiny didn’t end there. And I’ll give you one guess why. Gay’s academic career came under fire after conservative, quote unquote, “activists” uncovered several instances of alleged plagiarism in her past work. Last month, Harvard’s board investigated the allegations and identified two of Gay’s published papers that were missing citations. But they clarified that Gay didn’t violate the standards for research misconduct. Days later, they found two more examples of, quote, “duplicative language without appropriate attribution,” saying that Gay would update her doctoral dissertation and request corrections. Ultimately, Gay’s decision was explained in her announcement letter, which stated that she chose this path, quote, “so that our community can navigate this moment of extraordinary challenge with a focus on the institution rather than any individual.” She was the first Black president and second woman in Harvard’s nearly 400 year history. She’ll return to the school’s faculty as a professor of government in African and African-American studies. But it isn’t yet clear when. And sadly, this treatment of Black leaders in academia, I think, follows a trend we saw in UNC, Texas A&M, and now Harvard’s on this list. And I fear that this playbook is only going to be used again and again to target Black academics across the country. 


Priyanka Aribindi: At least 57 people in Japan are dead after a series of earthquakes struck the western side of the country on Monday, the largest of which was a magnitude 7.6 quake. That death toll is as of our recording time on Tuesday night. The quakes caused a fire and power outages, collapsed buildings and triggered tsunami warnings and evacuation orders. Tens of thousands of homes were also destroyed, according to Japanese media. Officials continued to search for people trapped in the rubble and tsunami warnings were lifted yesterday. Officials also warned that more aftershocks and new tsunami warnings could still be in store for residents in the area. Meanwhile, in Tokyo on Tuesday, a Japanese Coast Guard aircraft and a passenger plane collided while landing at Tokyo’s Haneda airport and erupted into flames. All 367 passengers and 12 crewmembers aboard the passenger flight were safely evacuated within 20 minutes. That is really just miraculous. 


Juanita Tolliver: Right? 


Priyanka Aribindi: But five crew members on the Coast Guard plane were sadly killed in the crash. And according to officials, the Coast Guard plane was headed to deliver aid in western Japan where the major earthquake struck on Monday. Japan’s transport minister said in a news briefing that the cause of the accident is unknown. 


Juanita Tolliver: Now to a couple of immigration stories in Texas. First, the Justice Department has given the Lone Star State until today to refrain from enforcing a new law that would allow state and local police to arrest migrants they suspect of crossing the border without authorization. Emphasis on suspect. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Right. 


Juanita Tolliver: Which translates to racial profiling and racism and all the harmful ways that Latino people will be impacted by that. Like, what? 


Priyanka Aribindi: Mm hmm. 


Juanita Tolliver: If the state refuses to do so, the DOJ has threatened to sue Texas to stop enforcement of the law. That’s according to a letter sent last week by Justice Department Assistant Attorney General Brian Boynton to Republican Governor Greg Abbott. In it, Boynton wrote that the law known as Senate Bill Four, quote, “violates the United States Constitution” and, quote, “will disrupt the federal government’s operations.” Abbott signed the law last month and it’s set to take effect on March 5th. And staying in Texas, the Biden administration yesterday asked the Supreme Court to allow U.S. Border Patrol agents to remove razor wire installed by Texas on the US-Mexico border. The emergency appeal filed by the Justice Department comes after a federal appeals court last month ruled in favor of Texas and ordered agents to stop cutting the wire along the banks of the Rio Grande near Eagle Pass. The Justice Department asked the high court to put that ruling on hold as the case plays out in court. We’ll be sure to keep you updated on any developments out of Texas. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, the cruelty is just bigger in Texas, apparently. 


Juanita Tolliver: Come on. Right. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. I hope the DOJ sues the shit out of Texas for Senate Bill Four. It’s really, really just unfathomable what they continue to do because they hate brown people. It really is just that. 


Juanita Tolliver: And I want to emphasize the Brown people, because so many migrants are coming through that border crossing now. And it’s not just Latinos. Just to amend my previous reaction, like I’m talking about Haitian migrants like–


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. 


Juanita Tolliver: Anybody else trying to get in, access to seek asylum. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. A list of nearly 200 names of Jeffrey Epstein’s associates could be released any day now, ending widespread speculation about who the convicted pedophile and sex trafficker kept in his close circle. This comes after New York Judge Loretta Preska ordered hundreds of court documents to be unsealed in the case of Epstein’s former partner and coconspirator, Ghislaine Maxwell last month. Maxwell was sentenced to 20 years in prison in 2021 for helping Epstein groom underage girls for sex. The Miami Herald newspaper asked the court to reveal the identities of Epstein and Maxwell’s associates, victims, or witnesses who were only named as John and Jane Doe’s in the official documents, and Preska granted that request, saying that records would be released to the public on New Year’s Day. Some of the names on the so-called Epstein list will remain redacted because they were minors when Epstein abused them, and some have already been revealed in other court documents or news reports like Prince Andrew, who resigned from public duties in 2020 after being tied to Epstein and his island. In all, just uh not a great day to be a terrible rich person, I guess. 


Juanita Tolliver: Yeah. 


Priyanka Aribindi: We will see who is on this list. 


Juanita Tolliver: And finally, Disney’s copyright on the earliest version of Mickey Mouse expired in the U.S. on New Year’s Day, meaning that everyone is now free to use the character in their work without repercussions. To be clear, Disney says it still owns the rights to Mickey as a corporate mascot. The version of Mickey that’s up for grabs is from the 1928 short film Steamboat Willie, which– 


Priyanka Aribindi: Oh! 


Juanita Tolliver: –entered the public domain on January 1st. Yeah, I had to [laughter] stifle a laugh that was creeping out there. [laughing] Just hours after it was official, two companies dropped trailers for their own scary spin on the beloved mouse. A group of independent filmmakers dropped a trailer for a low budget Mickey Mouse horror movie called Mickey’s Mouse Trap. 


[clip from Mickey’s Mouse Trap] Where the hell did he go? [ominous sound]


Juanita Tolliver: What? [laughing]


Priyanka Aribindi: I’m sorry. No, this is a family friendly character. I hate it. I hate it. 


Juanita Tolliver: So in it, a man wearing a Mickey mask corners a group of mediocre actors in an empty arcade with the tagline, quote, “The mouse is out.” 


Priyanka Aribindi: Geez. 


Juanita Tolliver: Meanwhile, a new horror video game featuring Mickey Mouse was also announced on New Year’s Day called Infestation: Origins. 


[clip from Infestation: Origins] They’re everywhere. Exterminators are our last hope. Please help us before– [dial tone] 


Juanita Tolliver: Uh, that sounds really questionable. It’s giving call of duty. Like, I don’t understand. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Even less appealing. No.


Juanita Tolliver: Right? The trailer for the game follows the story of a rat outbreak seemingly caused by Mickey himself. And the player must find a way to survive the vermin before time runs out again. Highly questionable. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Now I live in New York City. I don’t need a game of that. That’s just my real life. 


Juanita Tolliver: [laughing] Yikes. But Mickey wasn’t the only character released from Disney’s copyright on January 1st. Tigger of the Winnie the Pooh franchise was also released into the public domain on Monday, along with some of the company’s other 1928 works. Maybe we’ll see him in a rom com by Valentine’s Day. I’m actually not opposed to that idea because Tigger was friendly, lovable, adorable. I would love to see Tigger find love. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Listen, this is what we want and what we get is like a Tigger slasher film. So [laughter] I don’t know if someone out there can actually give the people what they want. That would be appreciated. Otherwise, I’m sorry. I’m going to have to be anti all of this. 


Juanita Tolliver: Also, if you’re going to do this, invest the money. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Right. 


Juanita Tolliver: Get some production value. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Seriously. 


Juanita Tolliver: What we heard from Mickey’s Mouse Trap sounded awful like put some money behind it. 


Priyanka Aribindi: This is amateur hour. I’m not into it.


Juanita Tolliver: And those are the headlines. 




Juanita Tolliver: That’s all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe. Leave a review. Get fired up for 2024 and tell your friends to listen. 


Priyanka Aribindi: And if you are into reading and not just the list of everything else that’s now public domain like me, What a Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at subscribe. I’m Priyanka Aribindi.


Juanita Tolliver: I’m Juanita Tolliver.


[spoken together] And WAD squad 2024.


Juanita Tolliver: I feel like a power ranger. Like, are we supposed to level up? Like what it what’s supposed to happen? 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah explosions [laughter] do I like put my hand up. I don’t know I’m into it, though. I feel like this could be this could be our best year yet. [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.