Winter White House Down | Crooked Media
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August 09, 2022
What A Day
Winter White House Down

In This Episode

  • The FBI raided Donald Trump’s Florida property Mar-A-Lago on Monday. A New York Times source says agents were searching for classified documents the former President might’ve taken with him after he left the White House. But the event was just one of several developments in the past few days involving Trump records kept from the various teams investigating him. Ilya Marritz, co-host of the podcasts “Will Be Wild” and “Trump Inc,” helps us round up all of Trump’s mounting legal battles, including this one.
  • And in headlines: explosions hit a key Russian airbase on the Crimean Peninsula, the average price of gas dropped to $4 a gallon, and Serena Williams plans to retire after the U.S. Open.

 

Show Notes:

 

 

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TRANSCRIPT

 

Priyanka Aribindi: It is Wednesday, August 10th. I’m Priyanka Aribindi. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: And I’m Tre’vell Anderson. And this is What A Day, where we’re working from home because the heat wave has made it impossible to unstick ourselves from our couches. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: I am sticking to every surface in my apartment right now. I’m slowly becoming some kind of climate change spiderman and I never signed up for this. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Who knew that the Marvel Cinematic Universe would turn into this? 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: On today’s show, the legendary Serena Williams announced that she will retire from professional tennis. Plus, we talk about two academics who argue that bachelorette parties are ruining gay bars. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Yes, it’s time to get into that conversation for sure. But first, looks like it’s getting a little hot over in Trump land. And we’re not just talking about the big news of the FBI raid. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Okay, I’m in. I thought we were just talking FBI, [laughter] but I guess we have a lot more. So consider me buckled up. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Absolutely. Buckle up. But first, let’s start with the FBI raid. We were able to briefly mention that the FBI raided Donald Trump’s Florida property, Mar-a-Lago, on Monday, but now we know a few more details and have some of the political reaction. So a New York Times source says agents were searching for classified documents the former president might have taken with him after he left the White House, though that isn’t yet confirmed. But you’ll likely remember that back in February, after months of playing games, Trump gave over 15 boxes of documents to the National Archives that he originally took with him when he left the White House. The National Archives confirmed that some of the documents in those boxes were marked as classified national security information, and they referred the case to the Justice Department. As far as what we know about this search, though, it’s not much. We know that the FBI apparently broke into one of Trump’s safes, but the reasoning has not been publicly disclosed. Nonetheless, we know it’s got to be serious. Right, because the FBI doesn’t just bust up in a former president’s home all willy nilly. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: No, they don’t. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Right. So the FBI would have needed to convince a judge that it had probable cause, that a crime had been committed and that the agents might find evidence at Mar-a-Lago in order to get a search warrant in the first place. And doing such a search would almost surely have required signoff from top officials at the FBI and the Justice Department. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Okay. So if they were to find classified documents as a result of this search warrant, what would this mean for Donald Trump? 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: So there are a couple laws that if he’s charged under, could come into play. But the main one folks are talking about is Section 2071 of Title 18 of the United States Code. I know you’ve never heard of that. Neither have I, but I’m going to explain it for you. Priyanka. It’s okay.

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Perfect. Didn’t even have to ask because you already knew. [laughter]

 

Tre’vell Anderson: So Section 2071 makes it a crime if someone who has custody of government documents or records, quote,”willfully and unlawfully conceals, removes, mutilates, obliterates, falsifies or destroys them.” If convicted under this law, folks can be fined up to $2,000, sentenced to prison for up to three years. And among other things, disqualification from holding any federal office. It’s this last point that many are focused on considering widespread expectation that Trump is going to wreak havoc on our lives once again and run for reelection. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, that seems kind of handy. I don’t know. [laughter] Just eyeing that personally. But what have Trump and um the Republicans had to say about all of this? I’m sure it’s been a lot. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah. So in a statement, Trump said, quote, “After working and cooperating with the relevant government agencies, this unannounced raid on my home was not necessary or appropriate. Such an assault could only take place in broken third world countries,” which I should say to call the United States a third world country is saying a lot. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, that is wild. Also, like you were the president of this country and clearly you think really, really highly of that. Very, very patriotic of you, sir. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Absolutely. Well, he maintains that the investigation is part of this effort to stop him from running in 2024. And a number of Republicans are right there with him citing this as an example of federal overreach. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said, quote, “When Republicans take back the House, we will conduct immediate oversight of this department, follow the facts and leave no stone unturned. Attorney General Garland, preserve your documents and clear your calendar.” 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Just to note objectively absurd. To tell someone to preserve their documents in this instance like that is the whole reason we’re talking about this, that this “raid,” quote unquote, even happened. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Absolutely. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: So very interesting instruction you’re offering there. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Absolutely. Like maybe you should have told someone. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Telling that to the wrong person. Yeah. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah. Anyway, also, Senator Lindsey Graham said, quote, “Doing this 90 days before an election reeks of politics.” 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Great. Okay. Everything Donald Trump is involved in reeks of politics as well. So thank you for that astute observation. Um, but this isn’t the only legal situation that Trump is dealing with now, is it? 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: It is not, for one. A federal appeals court ruled yesterday that the House could gain access to Trump’s tax returns. This upholds a district court judge’s decision last year, but this doesn’t yet mean he has to turn the taxes over, although we’ve all been waiting for it. Reports are almost certain that Trump and his team will appeal once more, this time to the Supreme Court. And we know with the way the Supreme Court has been acting lately, how that might turn out. And then there is New York Attorney General Letitia James’s civil investigation into the Trump Organization’s business practices in that a commercial real estate firm that was held in contempt of court for failing to hand over records on its appraisals of several Trump properties, finally turned over nearly 36,000 documents earlier this week, so that can’t be good for him either. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Okay, lots to unpack there, including all those documents. [laugh] One of my biggest takeaways from all of this is that folks in his orbit don’t necessarily like handing over their records. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: They don’t. But also, if you’re trying to hide something, you might want to keep your information under lock and key as well Priyanka. I don’t know. And we’ve seen this time and time again and really all of the major investigations surrounding Trump. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, this is exactly why I wanted to speak with someone who has deeper knowledge on that specifically, so we could better put Monday’s FBI search into context. So yesterday I chatted with Ilya Marritz. He is an NPR contributor and co-host of the podcasts Will Be Wild and Trump, Inc. I started out by asking him how the recent FBI search falls into the long list of unprecedented events surrounding Trump, including January 6th and his legal battles with the state of New York. 

 

Ilya Marritz: You know, the first thing that I thought of when I heard about this was a fight that’s been playing out really over the same time period this past spring in the state of New York, the New York attorney general, Letitia James, is doing a civil investigation of Trump business practices. And she had been saying that Trump was stonewalling her. In fact, she said that consistently over the three years of this investigation, she’s been trying to get her hands on documents in Trump’s personal custody. And she said that his side only handed over ten documents and she actually got a judge to hold President Trump in contempt. This is the first time that a former president has ever been held in contempt of court. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Right. 

 

Ilya Marritz: As far as I know, paying $10,000 a day fine until he satisfied her that he had done a thorough search and handed over any relevant records. That played out this past spring. At the same time that DOJ and the National Archives were examining what had gone on with these White House records. So to me, that’s enormously interesting. But as you say, the history goes way, way back. It goes back to his time as a businessman. Donald Trump has just always resisted oversight, government intrusion, really taking the attitude that nobody has a right to look at his stuff. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Right. So you also spoke to a presidential archivest for your podcast, Trump, Inc. Can you tell us a little bit about what you learned about their experience and how that is kind of relevant in this instance here? 

 

Ilya Marritz: Yeah, I talked to a federal employee and records analyst named Solomon Lartey, and he had worked in the Clinton, Bush and Obama administrations and his job was determining what was a presidential record and then determining how it was to be preserved. And over those three administrations, the job pretty much remained the same. When Donald Trump came along, it changed radically. And the biggest, most noticeable change was that instead of getting whole pieces of paper, as he was accustomed to, and briefing books and notebooks, he was getting shredded paper and not shredded by like a shredder into strips, shredded by the hands of the United States president. And of course, because we are talking about the federal bureaucracy, they responded by developing a set of procedures and guidelines for how they were going to handle Donald Trump’s shredded documents. So, for example, I remember Solomon Lartey telling me that they had to use the clear tape, not the cloudy tape, to reassemble those documents. So somewhere in Washington, D.C., or some archives somewhere, there are probably a lot of taped together documents that in time historians and others are going to get to see to give us some insight into what was going on in the Trump administration. But to me, it really demonstrated Donald Trump’s disdain or at the very least lack of comprehension as to why we would have laws about preserving presidential records. This is the law that was enacted not long after Watergate, 1978, when there was a real concern about the power of the presidency and about bringing in effective oversight so nothing like Watergate could ever happen again. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Right. I mean, speaking of documents that he’s handled, on Monday pictures were dropped of what’s said to be of crumpled up papers that clogged White House toilets that Trump himself flushed. Let’s talk about that a little bit and how that kind of plays into this larger case as well. 

 

Ilya Marritz: No, I mean. I saw that, too. I think it’s very sort of spicy. I’d like to know the whole story of exactly what was depicted there and who took that picture. [laugh] But if it is what it seems to be, that would be consistent with what we know about Donald Trump. And, you know, you mentioned the January 6th Select Committee. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Right. 

 

Ilya Marritz: That’s one of the most potent places that this has been playing out. The Select Committee requested presidential records from the National Archive. President Trump went to court and asked the Supreme Court for an emergency injunction to block the committee from getting those records. The Supreme Court declined to hear his case. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Right. 

 

Ilya Marritz: And so we know that the January 6th Select Committee has been getting a lot of presidential records. They are using those records to build a picture of what was going on on January 6th. And intriguingly, there seem to be some gaps in those records. The president’s schedule for the afternoon of the sixth appears to be blank. We’re not getting visitor logs, call logs. So it tells you both how useful records can be and also of how little use they are when they’re not properly kept. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Right. 

 

Ilya Marritz: And properly archived. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Right. Exactly. So Republican leaders and other people on the far right have been furious in the last day about this FBI search, saying that it is totally political. They’ve called the FBI a tool for the Democrats. They have called for the FBI to be defunded, which is, you know, separately hilarious. But what do you make of that reaction and the consequences of that reaction on, you know, whatever comes of this search? 

 

Ilya Marritz: Well, there’s an obvious sort of strange echo of Hillary Clinton and the emails that we heard so much about. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Right. 

 

Ilya Marritz: In 2016. And, of course, she was under federal investigation by the FBI. They were examining her record keeping practices. I think the thing that it shows that is very troubling is that in Trumpworld, everything is political. Everything is taken as political. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Right. 

 

Ilya Marritz: If it’s good for my enemies, it’s bad for me. If it’s bad for me, it’s because somebody was out to get me. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Right. 

 

Ilya Marritz: That is the prevailing attitude. And increasingly, we’re seeing many, many Republicans who are not directly affected by the raid and wouldn’t be directly affected by this FBI search weighing in and basically saying the FBI is a lawless body. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. 

 

Ilya Marritz: Sort of ignoring the fact that search warrants have to be approved by a judge. There’s a high evidentiary bar generally to reach one. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Ignoring the whole process, yes. 

 

Ilya Marritz: Ignoring the whole process. Chris Wray, the FBI director, was a Trump appointee and cannot by himself order a raid. So if you really look at the process, a lot of those insinuations fall apart. But what it does is it makes it much harder for committed civil servants to do their job. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Definitely. 

 

Ilya Marritz: In a way that is understood as nonpolitical and do real effective oversight and law enforcement. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. Is there any sense of, you know, when we’ll know why this raid happened or is that kind of anyone’s guess at this point? 

 

Ilya Marritz: I mean, the FBI and the Department of Justice generally don’t talk about their investigative work at all. They try to talk about it as little as possible. Occasionally, they do say something in a very high profile case. I can imagine at some point down the line, maybe we’ll hear what this was all about. Donald Trump could tell us all a lot more if he shared the search warrant, which was shared with him. But big picture here, there are so many different probes around Trump’s business, around his conduct as president, around his conduct specifically on January 6th. And for me and reporters like me who take an interest in this stuff, you sort of don’t know which one is going to pop next. And it actually felt like a little bit of a surprise when we learned about the search yesterday, and we learned that this National Archives matter was the likely cause of it, and we may not hear much about it for quite a while. That’s the slightly frustrating thing about how these kind of stories move, uh which is silently and then fast. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: And Tre’vell, that was my conversation with Ilya Marritz, NPR contributor and co-host of the podcast Will Be Wild. You can check out his show wherever you get your podcasts. We’ll also put a link to it in our shownotes. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Yes, there will definitely be more to follow up on with Trump and all of the investigations into him, but that is the latest for now. [music break]

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Let’s get to some headlines. 

 

[sung] Headlines. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: On Monday, we talked about how New Mexico police are investigating the murders of four Muslim men in Albuquerque. Yesterday, authorities arrested a man in connection with the killings of two of those victims. Authorities say they found evidence in the suspect’s home showing that he knew them and that, quote unquote, “interpersonal conflict between them may have led to the shootings.” Officers said yesterday that they’re working with Albuquerque’s district attorney to discuss potential charges for the killings of two other Muslim men who were fatally shot in past months. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: A grand jury in Mississippi declined to indict the White woman whose accusation led to the lynching of Black 14 year old Emmett Till in 1955. Carolyn Bryant Donham was charged with kidnapping and manslaughter of Till, she accused him of making sexual comments and grabbing her. Officials were able to reopen criminal proceedings against Donham after researchers found an unserved arrest warrant for her dated August 1955. But after hearing 7 hours of testimony, the grand jury decided there was not enough evidence to indict Donham, who is now 88. That makes it unlikely she will ever be prosecuted for her role in Till’s murder. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Awful. A Nebraska teenager is facing criminal charges for an abortion she had earlier this year that violated her state’s law. And police used her Facebook messages as evidence to charge her. The teenager’s mother was also charged for giving her the abortive pills that she used. According to court documents, the teenager had an abortion back in April when she was 23 weeks pregnant. In Nebraska, abortion is illegal after 20 weeks and has been for over a decade. Authorities began investigating the teenager after receiving a tip from someone who claimed to have seen her take an abortive pill. Note to everybody. Do not do this in front of anybody. Do it alone. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Mm hmm. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: And police used a search warrant to obtain Facebook messages between the teenager and her mother discussing the matter. This is one of the very few cases in which law enforcement has used someone’s social media activity to prosecute them for abortion. And many activists have warned that this strategy will become more common post Roe as more states criminalize the procedure. The mother and daughter are currently awaiting trial, and Meta, formerly known as Facebook, has yet to comment on the matter. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Explosions hit a key Russian airbase on the Crimean peninsula on Tuesday, killing at least one person in the Russian occupied province. Local officials aren’t exactly sure what caused the blast. But a top Ukrainian military official told The New York Times that Ukrainian forces carried out the attack. Kyiv has yet to publicly confirm this, but if Ukraine is behind it all, the move would majorly escalate tensions between the two countries, and it’d be a pretty bad look for Russian President Vladimir Putin, who often prides himself on Moscow’s illegal annexation of Crimea. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: If you’re looking for ideas to celebrate the climate bill, one option is to take your car out for a drink. Now that the average price of gas has dropped to $4 a gallon for the first time since March. This happened yesterday morning according to the fuel pricing platform, GasBuddy. As far as what’s driving the drop, one factor is an increase in gas production. Additionally, there has been a drop in consumer demand, partly in response to high prices and fears of a recession. I think if you want to celebrate the climate bill, maybe you go for a walk, [laughter] ride a bike, something that doesn’t involve, I don’t know, anything that would contribute to climate change. But that’s just my, my two cents.

 

Tre’vell Anderson: I was going to suggest everyone go take a road trip this weekend. Why not? But maybe. Maybe not. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. Just get back on the roads. Everybody just keep driving. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Maybe not. You know, a bona fide tennis god announced her retirement from competition yesterday. Serena Williams revealed in an essay for Vogue that she plans to hang up the racket after playing in her 21st U.S. Open later this month. To put some numbers to her very long career, since she turned pro in 1995 Williams has won 73 singles titles, 23 doubles titles and has four gold medals at the Olympics. And she did it while being subjected to a nonstop torrent of barely coded racism and sexism from commentators and participants in the historically White and affluent sport. Williams wrote that she’ll spend her time with her family and on her various other businesses rather than use the word retire. She described her next step as a, quote, “evolution.” 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: I don’t think I can think of a single athlete that has been as dominant as Serena Williams throughout basically my entire lifetime. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Mm hmm. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Wild. She’s just the greatest that’s ever done it. And if you haven’t read her essay, she wrote this herself for Vogue talking about this. You should. It’s great. Everyone in the WAD squad wishes her the best in her next steps. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Absolutely. She’s a living icon. And we are all honored to have, you know, lived in the era– 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Yes! 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Of Serena Williams. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: A good timeline to be in. And those are the headlines. We’ll be back after some ads to become two of the first podcasters ever to say the word hetrification. 

 

[AD BREAK]

 

Priyanka Aribindi: It’s Wednesday WAD squad. And for today’s temp check, we are talking about the destructive power of female friends armed with straws shaped like penises. Bachelorette parties were the subject of a Boston Globe op-ed this week, which specifically focused on how these parties can destroy queer spaces in a process described as, quote, “Hetrification”. The Op-Ed authors are two academics who study gender and in talking to members of the LGBTQ+ community in Provincetown, Massachusetts. They found that the affinity bachelorette partiers have for drag shows and gay bars has the effect of driving queer people out of those spaces. Spaces that were specifically created so queer people could hang out and feel safe. Apparently, these predominantly White women act under the assumption that they are welcome in these spaces. But as the authors so lovingly put it, quote, “Our research shows otherwise”. Withering. Absolutely withering. So, Tre’vell, what were your thoughts on this op-ed? 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Listen, I am right there with the authors. Okay, I didn’t need to do any research to know this. But listen, these White women and their bachelorette parties, they come to the gay bars. They take over. They start violating people’s personal bodily autonomy. Right. They start grabbing on folks. It really changes the energy of a queer space. Right. And then we end up– 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Being subjected to all of the same foolishness that we’re trying to avoid in the real world. So. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Totally. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Yes, we need the bachelorette parties. I know you don’t want to go to the straight clubs, okay? Because you don’t want to deal with the men. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, there are many reasons– 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: I get it. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: –you don’t want to be there. We get it. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: I get it but maybe not take over our spaces. Priyanka, what do you think? 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, just be a little more conscientious. So you know what? I have never been to a gay bar or a drag show at a bachelorette party. I have in other situations, like going out or going to, you know, a drag show, which I think is really fun. But this caused me to think about like, okay, how am I behaving like when I’m in those spaces. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Mm hmm. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Especially like at a drag show? I feel like if you are contributing to like a fun environment and like you’re being supportive and like fun with the crowd and you’re not, like, taking up space that you don’t need to be. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Mm hmm. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Great. But I mean, that’s very easy for me to say. I don’t know if you feel the same way. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: I completely agree. Completely agree. It’s one thing. Bring your money. We will take your money. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Right, take your money yeah. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: You know. Queer people need coins. Right? But there is a difference between supporting a space, enjoying yourself in a particular space, and then taking over. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Taking it over totally. Like I think if you are going to go to a space that’s not necessarily created for you. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Mm hmm. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Like just assess how you’re being, are you being respectful? Are you being cool? Like, just be cool, everybody. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Just be cool, everybody. It’s that simple. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, just like that. We have checked our temps. [music break] One more thing before we go. Crooked Coffee just launched a new product, the Cold Brewer. Just in time for that ugh how is it this hot already at 8 a.m. part of summer. I mean, listen, [laughter] we’ve been there, we’ve been there for quite some time over here in L.A., so– 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Absolutely. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Congratulations that the rest of you are joining us. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: [laugh] It’s a sleek bottle that makes brewing your own cold brew at home super easy. So you never have to pay $60 at Starbucks for a week. Cold brew like all of Crooked Coffee, a portion of the proceeds will go to Register Her to help millions of women across the country vote. Get your Cold Brewer now at Crooked.com/coffee 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: That is all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe. Leave us a review. Use your novelty straws responsibly and tell your friends to listen. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: And if you’re into reading and not just signs at gas stations that say four dollars like me, oh yes, What A Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at Crooked.com/subscribe. I’m Tre’vell Anderson. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: I’m Priyanka Aribindi. 

 

[spoken together] And someone please pull me off my couch. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Actually, please don’t. I would like to stay here for the rest of time. [laughter]

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Priyanka’s like I want to stay home. Leave me alone. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Leave me alone. Let me be. [laughter] What A Day is a production of Crooked Media. It’s recorded and mixed by Bill Lancz. Jazzi Marine and Raven Yamamoto are our associate producers. Our head writer is Jon Millstein and our executive producer is Leo Duran. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.