Who Asked You: The Phat Impeachment Episode

Marissa Martinez and Gabby Birenbaum

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MARISSA: Hello and welcome back to “Who Asked You?”, the Daily’s first talk show.

GABBY: We’re your hosts Gabby and Marissa. We are once again recording from Madrid, Spain, where they are marching into elections, but not impeachment, and it’s very hard to explain to Spanish people. So don’t try is my recommendation.

MARISSA: Every time I try to bring up the subject with my host family, I’m like, “Oh, yeah, like our president has to leave, blah, blah, blah.” They’re like, “OK, why don’t you just kick them out?” I’m like, “Ma’am, that’s a very complicated process. That’s the entire point.”

GABBY: There’s a lot lost in translation and a lot lost in how complicated impeachment actually is.

MARISSA: Exactly. But, we’re here to break it down for you in this very phat, P-H-A-T, impeachment episode.

GABBY: She is thicc. Let me tell you.

MARISSA: Yes. So Gabby, why don’t you explain for people who are a little unsure about what’s going on — give us like the 30-second version of what is happening right now with impeachment.

GABBY: Just to start: the Democratic caucus has sort of been searching for some sort of charge to implicate President Trump since the Russia stuff started coming out a few years ago. And they seem to have finally settled on something that is both a) alarming and illegal and b) alarming and illegal enough to unite the Democratic caucus. In September, a whistleblower came forward. This person felt that President Trump’s conduct on a July 25 call with the new president of Ukraine — President Zelensky, my favorite character in this whole ordeal — President Trump had essentially asked him to investigate Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden’s time on the board of a Ukrainian company and by asked, we do mean threaten to withhold military aid.

MARISSA: As you do!

GABBY: As one does, to try to pursue an investigation against the political opponent. So essentially involving a foreign government for personal gain, which is illegal, and also attempting to use illegal channels to discredit a political opponent, which is what Nixon got in trouble for with Watergate. In his case, it was burglary. In Trump’s case, it’s literally involving multiple foreign powers. A lot more stuff has come out since then. The White House released a memorandum — it’s not a transcript.

MARISSA: Not a transcript!

GABBY: Right. Even this, like, I’m sure edited document, really showed that President Trump was at the very least suggesting that they might withhold aid. He asked President Zelensky to do him a favor and absolutely asked him to investigate the Bidens. Then, he publicly said on the White House lawn Ukraine and China should investigate the Bidens. New stuff keeps coming out. Trump talked to Xi Jinping about investigating the Bidens and Warren. Trump told Putin he didn’t care about election meddling. Information came out that there’s a private server in the Justice Department in which records of Trump’s shady foreign calls are kept that people can’t access. A second whistleblower with more direct knowledge of the call has come forward. There’s been information that the US ambassador to the EU was told that the plan was to withhold military aid to Ukraine until they began and text messages between two people involved in the State Department were released where it literally explicitly states that they’re going to withhold aid unless this investigation is pursued. So essentially, a ton of illegal conduct has been unearthed at literally record speeds. It’s very hard to keep up with, especially on a time difference.

MARISSA: It’s kind of like when you’re like popping a pimple by accident and then you get all of the junk –

GABBY: It all just comes out.

MARISSA: And then it just literally explodes. You’re crying. You’re like, it’s Picture Day tomorrow.

GABBY: Basically, my thought is that this is a lot like Watergate, but worse because involving a foreign government and the administration is too dumb to do a decent cover-up — i.e. Trump going on South Lawn and saying, “Yeah, I did exactly what I’m accused of.”

MARISSA: Yeah, I feel like Trump is his own Deep Throat in this case. He’s really spilling the tea on himself.

GABBY: You don’t even need a Deep Throat. Just Trump’s Twitter fingers.

MARISSA: A transcript of his tweets.

GABBY: For those who don’t know, who haven’t lived through an impeachment, like us, do you want to tell us a little bit about what the process involves? And what can be coming down the pipe?

MARISSA: Yes, here is a grand overview. Miss Nancy Pelosi has announced an impeachment inquiry. And that means that several House committees, such as the Intelligence Committee, the Foreign Affairs Committee, ones like that — they’re starting to submit evidence of all the potential impeachable offenses that Trump has done to the Judiciary Committee. So that’s kind of the stage we’re at right now. So if they don’t end up finding enough evidence, which, I mean, let’s be real, there’s plenty of evidence pointing because it’s right there, then nothing would change. But if there is sufficient evidence of this wrongdoing, the Judiciary Committee will send the Articles of Impeachment fully to the House of Representatives, who will have a floor vote on said articles. If the simple majority of the House votes to impeach, then Trump is impeached. Then it’s going to move to the Senate, which is currently Republican-controlled. They could hold a vote to see if they want to dismiss the Articles of Impeachment or not. If they say, let’s keep going with impeachment, then we go to a trial. The Senate is a little bit like the jury. And the Chief Justice is like the judge in this case. Then there are representatives who are kind of like the prosecution. And then Trump’s lawyers, of course, of the defense. And so they all go through these hearings. And so at the end of the trial, if at least two-thirds of the Senate votes to convict, then Trump will be removed from office, but if less than two-thirds of the Senate votes to convict Trump of these crimes, then Trump will stay in office and who knows what will happen next. But if Trump is removed from office, of course, Pence becomes president.

GABBY: I mean, then civil war? Question mark? As you can imagine, that’s very hard to explain.

MARISSA: Oh my gosh, yes. Trump, if he were to be fully ejected from office, that’d be the first time that would have ever happened because only four presidents have been up for impeachment trials: Johnson and Clinton both stayed in office and then Nixon resigned before anything could really happen. So it’d be really interesting. I would say if Donald Trump is kicked out — definitely historic for a lot of reasons. But we’ll see if we get there.

GABBY: Historic for definitely a lot of reasons. I think most of all, that Trump invoked the Nickelback “look at this graph” Vine in defense of himself.

MARISSA: This is the first impeachment of the Twitter age. Yes.

GABBY: This is the first impeachment in which Nickelback issued a copyright on Twitter.

MARISSA: That was actually the stupidest thing alive. And I’m so mad I never got to see it. I had to see screenshots of it hours later.

GABBY: I know! Yeah, by the time we saw it, it had already been taken down. Alright. So at this point, so this is as of Tuesday, Democrats are doing all the, like, impeachment proceedings not publicly, which is an interesting choice. As a lover of gossip and drama myself, I wish it were public. I think the Trump administration went to the Tom Wambsgans School of Covering Up Crimes, for all my Succession fans out there. The Trump administration is blocking people from testifying, starting with Gordon Sondland, who was the ambassador to the EU, who had agreed to testify. The Trump administration is now blocking that. The Dems have also subpoenaed Giuliani, Pompeo, a bunch of other people. And it looks like the White House is going to prevent them from testifying, which the Democrats have then said, Adam Schiff has then said will essentially be viewed as an obstruction charge that can be brought as an article of impeachment.

MARISSA: So yeah, this is a lot to follow from anywhere, but especially from another country.

GABBY: New things come out literally every five seconds. It’s very hard to keep track of, which is funny, especially for the Republican defenses, because one minute they’re like, “Oh, look, there’s no quid pro quo.” And then the next minute, they’re like, “OK, maybe there was but it was a joke.” And then they’re like, “Maybe he didn’t actually even say that on the South Lawn. This is fake news! It’s all a deep state cover-up by Adam Schiff.” Like, there is no end. But honestly, I’m enjoying it. I’m here for the ride.

MARISSA: So what is your take on kind of how the different sides are handling this? So we know, like, the key Republican players like Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s lawyer, is handling this very poorly. But how would you say the parties as a whole seemed to be dealing with this issue?

GABBY: Yeah. To start with the Democrats, the reason to not impeach always, for Pelosi and for leadership, was, ‘We don’t want to make democrats in vulnerable districts lose in Trump districts.’ And it was, ‘We don’t know how many people we can get. We don’t know. And will this make Trump a martyr for conservatives?’ So, I think they’re sort of trying to play both sides and ginning up the base. And honestly, like, the fast pace of the news has, I think, made the base excited, but by doing everything in private, they’re trying to get this done quickly and know if they’re going to move forward with impeachment by the end of the year. So that way, in theory, it wouldn’t interfere with the election, which is kind of like playing into a Republican talking point, but I digress. How do you feel like the Democrats are handling it, before we get into the Republicans?

MARISSA: It’s been such a long time coming for the Democrats, especially since there was a whole bunch of people who seem to be either elected or really campaigning on the fact that they wanted to get Donald Trump out. Like Maxine Waters has obviously not been campaigning on impeachment —

GABBY: She’s been there.

MARISSA: She’s been in that camp, for God knows how long. Same with AOC, same with a bunch of people.

GABBY: They, like, pitched the tent.

MARISSA: Yeah, And so now all people had to do is stand under it, and they were really admiring the DM tent from afar. But now they’re finally in it, they donated $400, they’re ready to go. So I’m really excited to see…

GABBY: Nancy’s on the stage saying, it’s like only hour two.

MARISSA: She’s the MC.

MARISSA: Yes, we’re in for a marathon, not a sprint. And on the Republican side, I think it’s going to be really interesting to see how they band together. So it’s like, do you stand behind Trump, someone who…

GABBY: Is the party, for better or worse at this point.

MARISSA: Right. Same time, Trump’s impeachment is more popular than Nixon’s impeachment was back during Watergate. And we all know how that turned out. So yeah, it’s really going to be really interesting to see how they choose their battles.

GABBY: Republicans have been all over the place. So, at first Trump’s tactic was like. ‘Oh the whistleblower is second hand.’ And also like maybe threatened to kill the whistleblower?

MARISSA: Jury’s out on that one, but it was not good, whatever it was.

GABBY: He said, “You know what we used to do spies.” Yeah. Oh, also apparently — this is really funny. Trump has become obsessed with polygraphs in the White House and wants everyone to start taking them whenever there’s a leak, which is just like a funny image.

MARISSA: Like dude, that would indict you!

GABBY: Yeah, he doesn’t remember what he said five minutes ago, so…

MARISSA: I mean, to be fair, that would be a really clean polygraph then because he genuinely has no long-term memory.

GABBY: That’s true. I think he definitely believes everything that he says.

MARISSA: Exactly.

GABBY: Then Trump and his allies are saying it’s a deep state conspiracy perpetrated by Adam Schiff, who they like really love to… I don’t know why like Adam Schiff in particular draws so much ire from the.

MARISSA: Shifty Schiff is hard to say, also, it’s not even catchy.

GABBY: And then Mitt Romney kind of broke the ranks and said this needs further investigation when Trump went on the South Lawn and said that China and Ukraine stuff.

MARISSA: The cheese stands alone.

GABBY: Yeah, The Donald called him a pompous asshole, making like the pearl-clutching Republicans clutch their pearls, but not sure which way to put them. This has just been a complete circus. I think my favorite moment has been that press conference with the Finnish president when Trump went actually off the rails and the President of Finland was just like sitting there. And he’s like, “Ask him a question!” That was my fave. This is also another favorite moment of mine — is that they said Trump was joking when he asked Ukraine to investigate the Bidens.

MARISSA: It’s a classic situation where you’re texting your crush, and you’re just really spitballing, and you’re like, “Oh, no.” Haha just kidding.

GABBY: Ha, ha, ha, you should investigate the Bidens. Just kidding! Unless…

MARISSA: Unless!

GABBY: Some election updates: I think the biggest one to talk about is that Bernie Sanders had a heart attack.

MARISSA: Yes. It didn’t even come out that it was a heart attack until a few days later.

GABBY: And the way the media’s covering it, they’re like, Bernard Sanders, blah, blah, blah, blah. But it’s fine. As compared to when Hillary fainted one time. And they were like, “Is Hillary on her deathbed? Sources say yes.” That’s really frustrating to me.

MARISSA: Yeah, that was a really interesting play of the whole “feeble candidate thing.” And it’s like, you know, Bernie is old.

GABBY: He’s very old!

MARISSA: I think it’s OK to say that a candidate is old. Is there a stigma of “old person having old ideas?” Of course. And I think honestly, both of us have probably leaned into that a lot in our daily lives. But at the same time, it’s okay to say that someone is old, because that’s the facts.

GABBY: And if somebody is having a heart attack a year out from the election, like, an election that will define so much for so many generations, I do think it’s, like, fair to ask, “Should he be in the race? Like, is he healthy enough to be in the race?”

MARISSA: And he will be on the debate stage in October, and it definitely seems like his campaign is not slowing down whatsoever. And maybe it doesn’t necessarily even have to, but it is important to think about the health of candidates overall. And that includes mental health, physical health, emotional health, as they enter, like you said, a very contentious race. So I mean, again, I hope that Bernie Sanders is actually OK, and —

GABBY: Well wishes to him.

MARISSA: He’ll continue his candidacy. But it does raise a lot of questions about what it means to be in the White House because we’ve seen those pictures, you know, the before and after of Obama when, you know, he’s young, he’s smiling, has all black hair, and then eight years later, you know, full of gray, he’s a little more tired. And it does take a physical toll on you, and I think that’s not talked about enough.

GABBY: Speaking of the debates, we have some new fresh hell of 12 candidates who will be on the stage. Including everyone’s favorite Russian prop Tulsi Gabbard, and her sister’s choice of candidate. And billionaire and constant “Why is he still doing this?” man, Tom Steyer.

MARISSA: So this one is going to be on October 15th, and it’s gonna be Westerville, Ohio. Not sure how close that is to Youngstown, Ohio, which is the most popping spot in the entire state. And like Gabby said, there will be 12 candidates. I…

GABBY: The same ten as last time, plus Tulsi and Tom.

MARISSA: So what do you hope that they talk about during the next debates?

GABBY: I would absolutely love it if they talked about women, because that has just not been a topic of debate at any of these debates. And I would love to hear — Joe Biden has made many a racial gaffe. I’d love to hear a gendered one. I just feel like we need more of that. I need more of that, just for the content.

MARISSA: The gender thing is huge. The race thing is huge. I feel like they haven’t handled those topics, particularly gender, very well. It’d be nice to get maybe an intersectional question in there. Because you know, people do, like have more than one identity.

GABBY: No way! Stop! Shut up, that’s not true.

MARISSA: Yeah, I don’t see that happening any time soon. This one is hosted by CNN and The New York Times. So, I mean, CNN really… OK, one prediction for the debates: CNN allows the candidates to speak for more than five seconds at a time. Like, that was actually ridiculous last time, and we made it very clear that we were not a fan.

GABBY: If you don’t know our thoughts on that, you’re not a loyal listener.

GABBY: Another topic that we wanted to broach in this here, podcast is some annoying fan bases and political stans that we’ve encountered. And it’s starting with what Marissa and I refer to as the Bernie Porn Video. It’s a video that’s been circulating on Twitter, by Bernie supporters, and then by like Shaun King. It’s essentially trying to promote the narrative that mainstream media, like, lies about Bernie. So it’ll be like, some talk show host being like, “The Bernie Bros are sexist,” and it’ll show three videos of Bernie hugging a woman and some young woman being like, “Bernie is my candidate.” Because obviously, three instances disprove a trend, as is math.

MARISSA: Something that I find interesting, and something that I’ve written about for The Daily actually before, is this whole kind of stan culture, and lifting up these politicians to be more than just their policies. When you uplift these candidates and think that they can do no wrong — and that goes for any candidate. It’s not just, you know, Bernie and Andrew Yang, who seemed to have really high fan bases. Any candidate at all, whether it’s Warren, Harris or, you know, Marianne Williamson, they’re going to do something wrong eventually. That’s just how politics works.

GABBY: It’s how people are.

MARISSA: This is an over, overcrowded field. And choosing a favorite this early in the race is — I mean, you know, to each their own — but allow people to have criticisms and have questions and think about the way they want to vote for their candidate and really listen to the primaries. Because if you jump ship, you know, from Day One, you’re like, “OK, this is my candidate. I am for Bernie Sanders.” That’s great for you. But a majority of the country is still not decided yet.

GABBY: A lot of Bernie supporters will say things like, “Bernie created all these progressive ideas like Medicare for All and free college.” They’re like, “Warren’s just like piggybacking off of them.” And I’m like, first of all, Bernie didn’t create socialism. I know he’s old — he’s not that old, OK. He does deserve a lot of credit for pushing the party to the left.

MARISSA: Oh, absolutely.

GABBY: Even the distance that Hillary moved in 2016. And the dissonance between 2016 and now on conversations of healthcare, education, etcetera. He deserves recognition for that, that doesn’t mean he’s the only one.

MARISSA: And I think it’s fine to criticize candidates early in the campaign.

GABBY: Or to have legitimate criticisms of the Bernie Bros who have like…that’s a real phenomenon, who have, like, expressed a lot of sexism and directed a lot of anger towards Hillary in a way that wasn’t productive. And that was sexist. And continue to do so towards other candidates.

MARISSA: My favorite tweet was one where someone tweeted, “Frida Kahlo, if she was alive, she would vote for Bernie. If Helen Keller was alive, she’d vote for Bernie. If Nina Simone was alive, she’d vote for Bernie,” and I was like, what? Are you kidding me? Have you opened a history book? First of all, Frida Kahlo would literally not care / not have been for any candidate because, like, what?

GABBY: And let’s talk about the Yang Gang, because they are so much. They seem to be the kind of people who are like, who don’t vote, I think that’s like…

MARISSA: Yeah, he’s tapped into a new base of voters, which is cool, but…

GABBY: Which he deserves commendation for, but like to say, like, it’s only Andrew Yang, and anybody else I wouldn’t vote for, that’s not productive.

MARISSA: Especially when a lot of his policies are very like, like his immigration policy very dog-whistley.

GABBY: Well, a lot of his policies go back to one policy, which is universal basic income.

MARISSA: All candidates, I’m sure, have aggressive people in their camps, which, you know, is normal. But it’s very dangerous to use the stan culture that we would apply to a celebrity who ‘can do no wrong’, which is also, in this day and age, is very problematic. But you can’t apply that to politics. Especially this early in the game, when there’s so many candidates still left. I mean, there’s gonna be 12 on that debate stage next week.

GABBY: Right.

MARISSA: And I think it’s important to, you know, maybe have a favorite, maybe you have a few favorites, but you don’t know. Your candidate may drop out within the next few weeks. And then what?

GABBY: Hopefully they will!

MARISSA: I know, we hope it gets narrowed down to like five maybe. Or six.

GABBY: But yeah, I think now we need to turn to the most important political news, possibly of the decade, definitely of the year. Jacob Wohl, everyone’s favorite conservative whackjob, was like, “I’m having a press conference to announce this scandal about Elizabeth Warren.” I was like, OK. It was in Arlington, Virginia, in my hometown. Shoutout. And basically they brought out this ex-Marine, was like Elizabeth Warren had BDSM-type sex with him to the point that it was so rough that she, like, physically scared this man. Elizabeth librarian, like cardigan, little glasses, soft voice Warren. And I think this is amazing, because if true, we have to stan. And if not true, which it’s not true, you know, we still have to applaud Warren for that amazing tweet she did in which she talked about going to University of Houston and said “GO COUGARS!” in all caps. Great social media day for Warren when that came out, and just like, great moment for the political discourse.

MARISSA: True.

GABBY: I loved every minute of it.

MARISSA: Also, Warren’s sex life has really been in public lately, because during the debate, she was like, “Oh, when I was a teacher, I was fired because I was pregnant.” And obviously, that is illegal now.

GABBY: But it wasn’t then.

MARISSA: It was a little, kind of a gray area before. And so, now all of these people are like, “Well, there’s no record of that.” And it’s like, “Well, okay. Yeah, like, no one’s gonna write down, “Hey, I fired this chick because she’s pregnant.”

GABBY: They’re not gonna write down ‘Reason Fired: Pregnant’.

MARISSA: Like, at least people have like that dignity, I guess. There is one source that came out and said that she worked in the same environment and said, like, well, she cannot corroborate exactly that Warren was fired, there was a culture of that happening. So, I mean, I don’t know. For me, that’s enough.

GABBY: She’s like, “Yeah, that happened all the time.”

MARISSA: Like, it just is a fact. Women were discriminated against.

GABBY: There’s just no reason not to believe her. Like, why would she make that up? That’s so random. That’s a very specific thing to make up. Because it’s not like that’s a hot button issue, firing people who are pregnant.

MARISSA: So good for Warren, I guess. Really having her entire personal life out there.

GABBY: Yeah. I mean, listen, you can get fired for being pregnant. And, you know, that may suck but decades later, you can have extremely hot BDSM sex with a Marine.

GABBY: On the topic of weird things that have happened: for today’s Something Fun, I’m gonna ask Marissa some multiple-choice questions about some weird moments of the impeachment so far, slash weird, strange things that have happened. And we’re going to see how many she gets right. So we have four questions.

MARISSA: Okay.

GABBY: First question.This is the easiest one. Which member of the Cabinet, whose department seemingly has nothing to do with this, did Trump blame everything on? A, Betsy Devos, Secretary of Education? B, Rick Perry, Energy? Or C, Elaine Chao, transportation?

MARISSA: Rick Perry, right?

GABBY: Correct. And that is because he actually has been to Ukraine multiple times trying to get some sort of gas deal going on. And it might actually be illegal.

MARISSA: Yeah. And then isn’t he stepping down soon?

GABBY: Yeah, apparently he’s gonna step down in November.

MARISSA: Bye-bye.

GABBY: So Rick Perry will probably step down before any more Democratic candidates drop out.

MARISSA: Right.

GABBY: Which adjective did President Trump not use to describe his call to Ukraine? A, No pressure.? B, perfect? C, congenial? Or D, super lit?

MARISSA: Okay, super lit. I mean…

GABBY: Correct. I was just surprised he knew the word ‘congenial’. But maybe someone else wrote that one. All right. Why didn’t the Department of Justice investigate Trump’s Ukraine connections and Ukraine demands after a Trump appointee in the CIA urged them to do. A, because the referral came via call and they only investigate things that come in writing? B, because they have a policy of never investigating President Trump? Or C, because there was a ketchup stain on the report?

MARISSA: Oh, wow. Okay. C?

GABBY: Nope, it’s cause the referral came via call and they claim they only investigate reports that come in writing.

MARISSA: Okay. Okay. I knew it was A, but, like, I really wanted C to be true.

GABBY: Honestly, that would be hilarious.

MARISSA: That was a wishful thinking guess.

GABBY: I made that up because Trump apparently smothers all his meat in ketchup. So I thought it was somewhat realistic. What did Stephen Miller, who, I’m not even sure — I think he’s just like an immigration ‘expert’ in the Trump administration. I don’t know what his role is these days. But, what did Steven Miller call the whistleblower report? A, “a little Nancy Drew novel”? B, “deep state fan fiction”? C, “Sisterhood of the Traveling Lies”?

MARISSA: Oh my God, I want it to be B.

GABBY: No, it’s a little Nancy Drew novel.

MARISSA: Oh my gosh. Okay. That makes sense. Like, as it is a very dated reference.

GABBY: Is he trying to publicize the new CW show Nancy Drew? Like, this is a CW evaluation podcast now.

GABBY: You’ll be hearing from us next for what looks to be a god awful debate. We will be discussing the debate, what went down and…

MARISSA: The moderators.

GABBY: The moderators, the “Nancy Drew” premiere and whether or not Steven Miller was in the writers’ room.

MARISSA: Everything.

GABBY: I wouldn’t say we look forward to watching the debate but we will continue to monitor impeachment so you don’t have to.

MARISSA: What would you say the odds are of us actually waking up at 2 or 3 a.m. in Madrid time to watch this debate live?

GABBY: Probably the same odds of me finding the Spanish words to explain impeachment, which is a hot zero percent.

MARISSA: Well, we’ll update all of you when we actually watched the debate and we will definitely tell you if we could watch it at 3 a.m. or not.

GABBY: Alright, I’m gonna go eat a tortilla española.

MARISSA: And I’m gonna get out of the closet.

GABBY: Literally nobody asked us, but here we are.

 

Email: mmartinez@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @mar1ssamart1nez

Email: gabriellebirenbaum2021@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @birenbomb

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