Trump Bump Up; Crime Fraud Exception; Princeton - Transcripts

March 24, 2023

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This week: Asha and Renato discuss Alvin Bragg’s possible legal theory for a Trump indictment - the bump up; Jack Smith piercing attorney-client privilege based on the crime-fraud exception; plus Princeton wins and someone is sneaking into Asha’s Zoom. Youtube: Subscribe to our podcast Follow Asha on Twitter: Asha's Substack: Follow Renato on Twitter: Follow Asha on Instagram: Follow Renato on Instagram: Learn more about your ad choices. Visit


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So Asha, what's Alvin Bragg's legal theory for charging Trump in the hush money case? It's complicated. I'm Asha Rangappa. I teach national security law at Yale University.

I'm a former FBI special agent and a legal and national security analyst. And I'm Renata Mariotti.

I'm a former federal prosecutor, a practicing lawyer and a legal analyst. And we're here to help you understand topics that can't be boiled down to a soundbite or a tweet. Okay. Um, where do we start? So I think today let's, you know, we're basically just in speculative mode now. We're anticipating a grand jury indictment from the Manhattan DA's office. We're pretty sure that it relates to the hush money payments made to Stormy Daniels by Michael Cohen back in 2016. And we know that because she's testified in front of the grand jury and he's testified for the grand jury. But I think that there is some question on what the legal theory is going to be. In other words, how would he brag, design these charges in a way to both be something that he can prove beyond a reasonable doubt to a jury and will hold up against legal challenges and also reflect something that is a crime that, you know, people would be charged with as opposed to some kind of, you know, Frankenstein type of, they've called this the zombie prosecution, like a Frankenstein prosecution of something that, you know, no one's ever seen before.

Is that fair?

Yeah, I think so. I think you want to, what you want as a prosecutor is always to charge a case that is in line with your prosecutions in other cases. And if you're deviating from that, if you're prosecuting something totally new or different, usually, you know, that comes with additional challenges and that's something you want to signal. You know, I had prosecuted a first of its kind case and it was like a big deal, even though it was of somebody who was unknown because that was unusual and hadn't been done

in all of that. So let's start with the very basic part that we are pretty certain he's going to start with, the baseline charge. And the baseline charge here seems to be a falsification of business records because when Michael Cohen paid Stormy Daniels $130,000, he paid Stormy Daniels out of his own pocket and then he was reimbursed for that payment by the Trump organization.

The Trump organization listed this reimbursement as payments for legal services when in fact Michael Cohen did not provide legal services.

And so the like actually documenting that in a way that did not reflect what it truly,

the payment truly was for is itself a fraudulent entry.

That's right. If it's done with the intent of the fraud, and I think we talked about that last week, right? I mean that there's challenges proving intent of the fraud here, we'll have to see what

their evidence is on that. So now the criticism of that is that the falsification of business records charge is only a misdemeanor, a misdemeanor being a crime that is punishable by less than one year, generally considered to be less important or significant offenses. Though I know in our little lawyer chat group, we've had talks about how there are serious crimes like domestic violence crimes that are misdemeanors and sometimes maybe the question should be why is this not actually a more serious crime under the law, right? In other words, the misdemeanor piece I don't think always answers the question of how much we value this in terms of the harm it creates. But in any case, the falsification is itself a misdemeanor, which would be an odd thing to charge first, you know, in this historical indictment against a former president. But New York law, so if we're kind of creating the flow chart here, New York law has a provision that if the falsification of business records is done with the intent to commit, aid in the commission, or conceal another crime, then it can become a felony offense.

Yeah, yeah, that's right. And so I think the question here is, what is the felony? And that's the, there you go, it's like where's Waldo, what's the felony? That's the question for today.

There you go. No, it's like where's Waldo? What's the felony? Yes. And so until now, I think the discussion has largely centered around an assumption that the underlying felony is a campaign finance violation.

Right. And I will just point out, the New York Times hit some reporting on that. Now that may have been speculation from Trump's attorneys, we don't know. But that's why we went down that path last week. Yeah.

Yeah, to be fair. Yeah. And then you get into, again, going down the flow chart, if you go down, underlying felony is campaign finance, this is how my mind thinks. Then you have either possible state campaign finance laws that could have been violated, or federal campaign finance laws that have been violated. And you run into problems in either of those tracks. On the state track, there is the potential legal roadblock, which is that because Trump was running for federal office, that that state law may be what's called preempted by federal law. In other words, it's not something that can be enforced. Correct. If you go down the federal campaign finance law, the roadblock you hit is, it's not clear that the New York statute that allows, I call it the bump up, that allows the bump up includes

federal crimes as an underlying offense. So you're kind-

That would be something that would have to get decided by the New York. Right. So that would require statutory, I think both of those would require statutory interpretation. The first one of the federal election campaign act, and the second one of New York state law, and I think they're both potentially novel questions that could take a while to

figure out. Right. That's sort of like when I said, hey, when you're doing something for the first time, even if you're charging John Doe instead of Donald John Trump, that's a big deal, right?

Either of those would be like a pathbreaking case under New York law potentially. Yes. I think the criticism has been, okay, so you have this pathway to bump this up to a felony, but if you're going to go down this campaign finance route, this is a very risky proposition. It's not something that has really been done before, though I think some of our colleagues disagree and say that there's other precedent. I'm not really sure.

I haven't delved into that, but I think, oh my God, pancake. Pancake is her cat. If you're listening and not watching, pancake, unlike Henry, my dog, is naughty. Naughty. Yes, indeed. Very naughty.

So I think that, and I think that there are people waiting to jump at the whole campaign finance thing and to tear it apart. To be fair to those critics, because of the reasons that we just outlined, it's not entirely clear that Bragg would be able to move forward even as a legal matter on that theory.

Yeah. I think that there's a possibility that both of those questions could get resolved against them in New York courts. By the way, another feature of having, charging things that are so complicated in that novel is that it delays a prosecution. In other words, you have to have this whole court fight beforehand and it wouldn't surprise me if courts are like, we're going to let this be appealed before you even get to a trial because if it turns out that the highest court in New York, which is called the Court of Appeals, disagrees and says, no, this is not a proper legal theory, there wouldn't be a trial at all.

So I could see a court allowing defendants to do that. Right. So yesterday, I was speculating on Twitter as I am what to do. I was thinking, well, he listed these as payments for legal expenses to Michael Cohen in their books, presumably, I mean, one cannot assume, but let's say there was evidence that then Trump organization took this as a deduction on their state taxes because it would be an expense to the company. Obviously, it would be a fraudulent deduction because those services were never received. Then could the underlying crime be criminal tax fraud, which under New York law is basically anything that is done with an intent to evade tax liability or alter your tax liability or reduce your tax liability. Then this morning, the New York Times published an op-ed by our colleagues, Ryan Goodman and Andrew Weissman, which had a slightly different perspective on the tax fraud theory, which is that what the Trump organization did in reimbursing Cohen was they didn't just say, hey, we're going to give you $130,000 in equal installments that add up to $130,000 because Michael Cohen says, wait, when you pay me for legal services, I have to report that as income, and then I pay taxes on that. I'm not actually getting the full $130,000 back because after they take the taxes out of it, it's less than that. The Trump organization paid him more, which he then reported in order to be whole to the tune of at or close to $130,000. We know from previous reporting from when Cohen was charged with his campaign finance or pled guilty to it, that he had sham invoices from the Trump organization. Presumably, these amounts and dates and everything are listed out. What do you think of the tax fraud theory either as a fraudulent deduction taken on the Trump-Ork side, fraudulent income reported to Cohen by the Trump-Ork side, fraudulent income reported by Cohen on his own tax returns?

I mean, to me, this sounds much more straightforward.

Yeah. A couple of thoughts. First of all, just on its face, there's some really appealing things about it. First of all, it sidesteps these sort of novel, unusual legal theories. First of its kind, this is much more bread and butter. Tax crimes are the sort of things that get charged all the time, and people having false business records in relation to tax crimes is pretty commonly prosecuted, including in New York based on some work that others have dug up. That I think is really promising. I will say regarding the first of the two, the Asha speculation theory of the underlying crime being tax evasion or some sort of tax crime by the Trump organization, if the facts bear out, I think that's very strong. The reason that that's strong, I think a couple reasons. One is it rings true, I think, to a jury. In other words, I think a lot of jurors would have trouble getting their head around the idea that paying off Stormy Daniels as a campaign expense, that's going to be a head scratch due to certain jurors. But I think jurors are going to kind of come into this thinking that big corporations try to lower their taxes by any means necessary.

It's trying to convince them that some billionaire in his company are trying to lower their taxes. Lower their taxes in a not entirely honest way is going to appeal to jurors. That's the first thing. Then second of all, there's no question that the state of New York has an interest in making sure that people are debating their taxes. It's completely righteous and normal and accepted and commonplace for the state to bring charges related to tax crimes. I think that would be great. One thing I'll flag though is the tax bill here was not due until after Trump was president. It wouldn't surprise me if because he became president and they thought there would be increased scrutiny that they ultimately didn't go forward and claim this as a business expense. If they didn't, then that would put the DA in an odd position of saying, well, we believe that this was constructed in order to facilitate a tax crime that never actually occurred. It would be like an attempt or something like that. That I think is more... We're back in the realm of things that I think would not ordinarily be charged.

I struggle with whether or not that's the sort of case that would be charged. If there's no actual tax loss to the state of Illinois, because I'm from Illinois, but it's in the state of New York.

I'm skeptical of that, but even then, I think it may be stronger than the campaign finance. Then the underlying crime, you're saying, would have to be a conspiracy to commit tax fraud. Or an attempt. Yeah, something like that. Yeah, or an attempt. Here's the thing. If you look at the prosecution against the Trump organization, the criminal prosecution that just happened, he was continually shut his tax shenanigans even after he became president.

No? Or an attempt. Yeah, something like that.

I don't know. I don't recall... I mean, I would have to go back and check, but I'm pretty sure that it wasn't like, oh my God, a president, got to do everything by the books now. I mean, come on. This is Trump we're talking about.

Well, that would be... That's right. That guy tried to deduct a $5 dues payment to the Boy Scouts as a business deduction. No kidding? Okay. Yeah. I'll take your word of that.

That's amazing. That was amazing. That was actually from the New York, the civil investigation into his foundation that ended

up being dissolved. Okay.

Wow. He paid for Barron's Boy Scout dues, which was literally, I think, $5 from the foundation, which was an inappropriate expense to be paying out of a charitable foundation. And then I guess... so I think that was the fraud, that he was paying for stuff out of that.

I don't know the foundation used that as a paying bank. It was already getting tax breaks, obviously. All right, that makes more sense. I just think in general, if this was done... If they actually went and defrauded the state, then I wonder why... Like, yes, that would be, I think, an obvious way to charge. So I would say from my perspective, the sort of ASHA theory. You can come up with your names. I'll come up with my name. Do I get to get credit? Mine wasn't in the New York Times. I don't know if it matters.

It maybe better than the theory that was in the New York Times. I like that theory. If that pans out factually. The other theory is that this is all done to help out Michael Cohen.

Did I get to get credit? Mine wasn't in the New York Times.

I don't know. I don't know if that rings true. Why would the Trump organization go through all this trouble?

to like help out Cohen, right? I guess the point is to keep him, to keep his mouth shut, to keep him happy. They did that to Weisselberg too. Remember they were paying him. They had a separate set of books. They were giving him an apartment. They were giving, you know, they were giving him all kinds of stuff under the table for him to be able to do his, their

dirty work. Yeah. But then why not just pay, pay it to him? Like why not just characterize it accurately

as a hush money payment and not have it be an income to him at all. Because they didn't want it to be known. I mean, because it was also a campaign finance

violation. Or because, or because they just didn't want, we, I don't know. They either, I mean, there's got to be some way of explaining that, right? Separately. So maybe they'll charge both. Maybe they'll do it both ways. I don't know. I'm, that one I'm a little bit more skeptical of, but it's, it's interesting. I mean, that's just, there's a good of a gotcha element to me with that one. Like the underlying crime is like Michael Cohen's crime. It also, I will just say also puts way more weight suddenly on Cohen's testimony again. I mean, you know,

if this, That's why, and I don't think that's why I don't know that you could actually, that's such a good point that that would be Michael Cohen's crime of misreporting his income, which by the way, would technically be a net gain for New York. Because if he was over reporting income, if he was inflating income, um, that he actually didn't provide services for his fraud, but also presumably New York got its tax money.

You know, you know, I know a lot of you are listening. You're like, I don't really care. I just, let's just get this done. But I'll just tell you that is a, when I look at this as a pro as somebody who had been a prosecutor for a long time, like ordinarily when we're trying to weigh whether to bring a case, like a big thing for us is did the, did the government lose money here? Like did the people actually get harmed? Like that's because ultimately there's like unlimited crimes that could be charged. Like if you're a prosecutor, there's people trying to come to you all the time, like charge this, charge that. And you're trying to make decisions about what the best use of the public's resources are. And so if like, there's no actual loss, like that's why I said, like an attempt, I would find that like a head scratcher, like they didn't actually go through with it or here, like he actually gave, like the public gained money off of this? Like, I mean, it just, it definitely raises more questions about why Bragg thinks that this is worth all of the resources. Because this is going to cost a lot of money in terms of time and resources from the Manhattan DA's office.

So the things to look out for, number one, is there a bump up from a misdemeanor to a felony? To what is the underlying crime that is doing the bump up? Is it a campaign finance violation? Is it criminal tax fraud? Is it conspiracy to commit criminal tax fraud? Or is it something

else that we have not even imagined yet? Yes. And I'm very interested to see, because I think there's been a lot of speculation. I think it is entirely possible that what the New York Times reported was the Trump lawyers speculation about what the charges would be, rather than like an insider account from the Manhattan DA's office. So it may be very different. And in which case, we're going to have to figure that out and talk about those charges whenever they come out on this podcast, which we'll do. But at least this gives you a sense of what's on our minds right now. And I think it's fair to say our reasoning on it's evolving. And I actually really like the idea you

came up with us. So maybe you should go work for the Manhattan DA's office. Thank you. So Renato, I know that recently DOJ, as we pivot to yet another investigation, in its investigation of the Mar-a-Lago documents, requested a court to rule on whether they could question one of Trump's attorneys under the crime fraud exception to attorney-client privilege. Can you want to break that down? Because you were pretty surprised at the outcome of that.

Yeah. I mean, I'll just say, I mean, I've been practicing criminal law for around 20 years, and I have never seen a prosecutor invoke the crime fraud exception. To my knowledge, it was never done at my office, which is one of the largest in the country, U.S. attorneys' offices in the country when I was there. And I've never seen it in private practice. And I did comment about this publicly. I'll just say that in the last days since that came out, I've had multiple defense attorneys on my cases that I've worked with say, I saw your quote, I've never seen it either. It's never happened to me either. It's like crime fraud is something that's often discussed. And you see it discussed on Twitter and elsewhere, but it's rarely actually invoked by prosecutors for all sorts of reasons. But for one thing, judges are very skeptical about piercing attorney-client privilege, for one thing. Second of all, it's something that if you do get a judge to rule in your favor, I mean, it is a very big deal, but the evidence that's generally required is very substantial.

You really need evidence that not only that, let's say the attorney was in on some sort of criminal activity, but that there are communications out there that would be very relevant to that. In other words, that these communications are part and parcel or would be in further and so would have evidence of that criminal activity. And so it just isn't done much, but that happened here. And it really told me a couple of things. The fact that Jack Smith is seeking the, sought the crime fraud, to use the crime fraud exception to get the communications of one of Trump's attorneys really tells me that he's being so aggressive. I don't know if you and I think talked when he was appointed, Asha, and a lot of people were skeptical of that appointment, thought he was going to slow things down. I mean, it was like the exact opposite, right? Super aggressive.

Yeah. So just to break down, because there's so many investigations happening, this presumably, and correct me if I'm wrong, Renato, would have to do with communications between Trump and, what's Corcoran's first name? Evan. Evan. I can't keep track of all his crazy lawyers. I'm assuming that these conversations are the communications that Jack Smith is interested in relate to what was being communicated between Trump and this lawyer in certifying. Evan. Evan. Evan. Compliance with the subpoena to recover the documents. Is that right? Because the question is, and just to emphasize the crime fraud exception, so when you talk to an attorney, those communications are privileged.

However, the crime fraud exception does not privilege communications if the attorney is himself or herself, if those communications are in furtherance of, or to help conceal a crime. So I kind of like to say, you can tell your lawyer where the body's buried, but your lawyer can't go help you bury the body.

That's right. I mean, it's technically two things. It's either that or that you're actually seeking help in commission of a crime. It's very similar, right? So it's one of those two things under the law. And yes, reportedly, I think ABC News is the one who reported this, that it was relating to a conversation regarding that false certification. But you could imagine a number of different, before I saw that reporting, I imagine a number of different conversations this could be about, right? Because there was that false certification. There's also alleged efforts to hide documents, right? Because that was a guy, Nauta, who was supposedly moving documents around. And also, obviously, for example, if there was continued retention of those documents after DOJ already came there, that might be potentially a crime fraud exception. But nonetheless, yeah, it looks like it's about that certification.

And it's worth noting, just to go give some background on the facts of that, what happened was the DOJ served a grand jury subpoena. And actually, they made a personal visit. DOJ, a section chief came out there and was like, hey, we really need our documents back. Please return them, which by the way, my clients never get that kind of courtesy. So they got a bunch of documents from the Trump team and DOJ said, we want a certification that you've returned everything. So this certification was signed by Christina Bob. But her testimony reportedly before DOJ was that, she just, he told her to sign it. She didn't know anything about anything. She signed it as, quote, custodian of records, which is essentially just, hi, I'm the person in charge of keeping the records. That's what custodian records is. And she claims that she made changes to this in order to make it more accurate. Yes.

There you go. Okay. Yes.

So basically, what were the changes? I think there's one, she said, like, protect her more

accurate. She said, like, something to, like, to the best of my knowledge, like, wasn't it? Or, or, yeah, based upon information I've received or something. Right. Exactly. It kind of left this thing of, I'm signing this because someone has told me that we are in compliance. And that person

was Corcoran. Corcoran. And that's why she went in front of, I mean, she took a strategy that, you know, is somewhat risky by going in front of DOJ and just telling him this, taking the position, like, I didn't commit a crime. I'm going to come in and just say the truth. And that's fine. I mean, it can be a risky strategy because DOJ may not believe you or things may get more complicated later, but she did that. So now the pressure's on Corcoran and DOJ must have some evidence.

The other real takeaway here is they have some really good evidence on Corcoran. Right. Yeah. Because they can't just be like, well, we think this conversation between Trump and Corcoran was hinky. That's not going to be enough to pierce that privilege. They would need to have, as you said, to show the court that it's likely that those communications involved, you know,

solicitation to commit a crime or helping or concealing or whatever. Yeah. And that's exactly right. I mean, that's why this never actually usually gets invoked. Like, DOJ, you know, gets all upset about various things and like, will make a bunch of allegations over the phone about you or your client and this and that, but they never amounts to anything like this. So it's really something because it's the sort of thing that not only did Smith seek this, but the judge granted it. Judge, I think Beryl Howell, is that her name? Did right in her last days as chief judge. And so, I mean, this suggests to me that this is really full steam ahead and

they have some very strong evidence. If Corcoran's charged, wow. Yeah. So if they get to these communications just to break that piece down, then Corcoran may be on the hook for obstruction, presumably, would be the obvious thing. Right. And then they can put pressure on him, I guess,

to testify against Trump, provide information, flip, et cetera. Yeah. I mean, just to tease out the implications, or first of all, another obvious crime would be a false statement in the course of a federal proceeding, right? So because the certification's a false statement,

so it's very straightforward. Even though he didn't sign it?

Yeah. Because he caused someone to sign it. So that would be, those would be the likely crimes. And then the tantalizing thing is Corcoran knows all sorts of attorney-client communications with Trump. And given that there's already been a ruling by a judge, that there's a crime fraud exception that applies to certain communications between him and Trump, he may reveal others that they have a taint team, let's say, here and then present to the judge trying to seek permission to use those as a crime fraud exception, under the crime fraud exception, which ordinarily I would predict or handicap is extremely unlikely. But given that they've already had some success there, who knows? And that's fascinating because people are, I'll say from personal experience, people are very unguarded with what they say to their attorneys, understandably, because the whole system is built

around, it's a bedrock of the whole way the system works. And do you think that this is just oral communications? I mean, Trump famously doesn't use email. Yeah, I think it's so- This would be Corcoran so truthfully testifying about his communications, his oral communications

with Trump. I bet he kept notes about what this is about, his attorney notes. I actually don't think, I think it would be very, I think it would be an interesting thing if the judge granted the crime fraud exception just based purely on the say so of an attorney who's under hot water, right? It is looking for somebody to blame. So I think he probably had contemporaneous notes.

That's my gut. Yeah, that makes sense.

So this to me, by the way, is really big news. Like if I was on the other side of this, I'm just, look, I'm just commentating on it. But if I was like in the defense team here, I would be like, super concerned about this. Like this would concern me more than Alvin Bragg and all the

shenanigans that we're talking about in the last second. Yeah. I'm just laughing at like what those notes would look like. Like client requested me to sign the certification, but there are still classified documents in the storage room. I mean, like, you know, would-

Yeah, but if you're him, wouldn't you take those notes and like protect yourself? I mean, most lawyers would back out of their representation right away. So I'll just tell you right now, I mean, and I'll say this as somebody practices criminal law regularly all the time. This is not my day job. I do not spend my time on TV, Twitter, podcasts. It's like my main job. It's like a super side job for me. I spend many hours a day practicing law. And I'll tell you right now, if anyone tries to jam me up, I'm out of there. Yeah, it's not worth it. Oh yeah. And just, I never do one-on-one conversations with my clients.

I mean,

almost never. I have an associate all the time taking copious notes of everything. I'm out of

there. It's not worth it. Well, and that, I wonder if that could be like if Christina Bob could have

been privy. Yeah, I don't know. But I just, I mean, there's a reason why. Like I'm never going to get jammed up. So that's just the way you practice criminal law. And why, frankly, the way you practice law in a lot of circumstances, right? Taking notes.

And this is my, I mean, I don't want to go off on a tangent, but especially for Trump, like every lawyer that has worked for him has gotten jammed up. They've gotten charged criminally. They have been disbarred. They've been suspended. I mean, I'm trying to, and they don't get paid. It's so stupid. Like why would you, there used to be a time when I think representing the president of the United States would be, or a former president of the United States would have like major career.

And now it's just like, who's next in the clown car? Like I think it just tanks your reputation. It's an interesting thing because so when we were at Yale Law School together, I interviewed with the multiple firms. I remember interviewing with Williamson Connolly. And at the time the partner actually who was out at Yale doing the David Kendall. Yeah, David Kendall. Yes. He was the lead lawyer representing Clinton in the impeachment stuff. And that was like a big deal at the time. It was like, Oh, I represent the president of the United States. And that was like a very prestigious thing. And at least that was the way he portrayed it.

Um, yeah, I mean, this is very different. It's interesting. I don't know if you remember, there's that one, you know, rather talented lawyer in Florida who got like a huge upfront money payment to leave his big law firm to represent Trump. Remember that? And he did

the appeal down in the Mar-a-Lago of Yale. David Kendall. In front of Eileen Cannon.

He, no, yeah, he did the, yeah, I think he did the appeal to the 11th circuit and this and that. And it's like, boy, I mean, he got like a huge upfront payment, but it's just, is that even worth it? I mean, if you're talented enough, you could just make money doing other, I break money representing all sorts of people are much

more anonymous than Donald Trump. That was smart though, right? Like getting me upfront payment and you're doing an appeal. So you're just arguing a purely legal issue. Sure. Like you may not even need to like talk to Trump. Like you're just like, I'm just going to

look at the record and the ruling on the lower court and make my legal argument. I think that's where he ended up. I think he originally got a lot of money because he said he was going to handle it all. And I think he ended up doing the appeal because he's,

you know, he doesn't want his reputation destroyed and lose his law license, all that.

Yeah. So, Asha, this was not the only video conference we had this week. I will say there was a lot of interesting things about the conversation we had. That was on your sub stack,

right? Yes. So you and I sort of had an emergency pow wow on Sunday night to go over, you know, cause we were on indictment watch and my sub stack subscribers had a lot of questions. And, you know, I know that it's just always helpful talking through them with you because it's complicated. Um, and, uh, we had a little zoom call, which I then posted and people

really loved it. So just so you know, you have a lot of fans. Oh, that's not was nice. I will tell you, it's clear. You have lots of very huge subscribers have very strong feelings about you, which is fun to say. I will note, uh, you were wearing a Princeton sweatshirt the whole way

through. It was cause it was March Madness, right? Yes. So, um, as you know, I am not a big sports person to put it mildly. Yeah. Yeah. And last week I watched, I voluntarily watched sports in a bar twice, um, which is a huge thing for me. I have to say it was really fun. Like it's kind of fun being, you know, at a bar and strangers and they're all like rooting for your team for whatever reason. I don't know that the people, cause I was in Connecticut and then Vermont, um, that anyone was invested in the other team. Uh, the first round was, uh, Arizona. And then the second round was Missouri.

So I think when they saw me in my orange and, you know, cheering for Princeton, um, they kind of joined in and, and so it was nice camaraderie. Um, and of course then

they won amazing. They won, which was amazing, which was amazing. It was amazing. Yeah. That is cool. I mean, that looks Princeton's always, I think are usually the best team in the, in the Ivy league, but that's how I say it much. Right. So, um, yeah. Yeah. So getting out of the first round, usually like they're there, they're happy to be in the happy to be their camp. So

that's pretty big deal. That's pretty big deal. Oh, um, yeah. Yeah. Yeah. My senior year was when Princeton beat UCLA in the first round. And I still remember being in my dorm room and watching that. And, um, I never went to any sports events at Princeton. Like, so, you know, like, again, it was like one of the few times I was like watching, um, a sports event, um, this time on TV with my friends, we were really drinking. Uh, and that night was just a huge party at Princeton. Um, and the next day on the cover of the daily Princetonian, which is the school paper, the headline was David 49 Goliath 41. And it has a picture of a sophomore on the team, Mitch Henderson jumping up in the air.

Um, that sophomore is now Princeton's current basketball coach. Wow. Um, and the cover story was written by my Princeton classmate, Grant Wall, who was, you know, a pretty well known sports journalist who recently passed away. And so that, that cover is sort of, you know, has a lot of different layers of meaning.

That's really cool. Wow. That's really cool. Yeah. He, he was sports illustrated writer.

I think for a while, right? That's right. That's right. Yeah, he was sports illustrated. And then I think he left sports illustrated after 10 years and how to, had a very popular sub stack

where he covers stalker. Yes. Yes. He did. He passed away in the middle east, right at the at the World cup. I think that's correct. Yeah. So I mean, look, I'll just say, look, I, I'm a huge sports fan. Like, so that's like a big thing for me, but But more pro sports, because unlike you went to Princeton, I went to the University of Chicago. Great school, but it's like Division III. And I'll tell you a secret. I was actually the sports editor of the Chicago Maroon, which was our school newspaper.

I became editor-in-chief the year after, but I did sports editor for a year. And I, during that entire time, did not go to a single Chicago Maroon sporting event. I had a lot of writers who would go to these things, but I just couldn't bring myself to do it. Division III is just not my thing. So I never really got into college sports. I do watch March Madness sometimes. And I saw some games with my father-in-law, who was super into it. So I watched some games with him. But I am so more of a professional sports guy. I was born in Chicago in 1976. So I was eight years old when Jordan joined the Bulls.

So I'm way more of an NBA fan than March Madness.

That's correct. Basketball, you have baseball. I'm a huge White Sox fan and Bears fan. Yeah, you have a lot of different teams. And I think that was what was hard for me, is that I grew up in southeastern Virginia. And we didn't have really any teams. I mean, the one team that I know in high school, there were a lot of people who were fans. And I would kind of get on board was Duke basketball. My girlfriends were all infatuated with Lucretian Latener, who was indeed very cute. And so I was like, I'll watch him. And so later on, I was watching ESPN 30 for 30 on why I still hate Christian Latener. Because I didn't know that there's this whole history here

with UConn. I'm a huge White Sox fan and Bears fan. Yeah, it's no. OK, yeah, as I say. Because I didn't know that. So usually Christian Latener is like the first two words in socks is the word after they came after.

Right, right, right. And there was like a Duke UConn game. And he knocked somebody. I mean, there was some drama that I didn't realize everyone here hates Christian Latener. But in the course of watching that 30 for 30, it turns out that there are t-shirts out there that

say I still heart Christian Latener. Wow. I mean, these girls must be wearing these. Guys are like, this is a pretty white football. Oh my god. I bought one.

You should not admit that publicly. I think there's a photo online of me wearing it because Duke won the NCAA tournament several years ago, I think. There was whatever 2015, maybe, I think. And I was watching it with the guy who was dating at the time who is a UConn fan. And mainly, I was just trying to οrk him. Shocking. We didn't get to continue dating very long. Shocking.

I think.

Shane is shocking. We didn't get to continue dating very long. Shocking but then you didn't make it. Yeah. Wow. OK. Yeah, so I always look I whenever I do my bracket, I never pick Duke. I always pick going against Duke. I don't know. It just feels fun to root against them. They're like those that. They're like the brewery.

Yeah, they're the Villas that's like ready for the Yankees or something, unless you live, I mean, I understand if you live in New York, like I totally get it if you live in the Bronx or something, but like for the rest of us, like let's root against them. Wow. Okay. Now, one thing before we go, there was like a secret surprise in that video conversation we had that I totally didn't notice, which is why I was not the FBI agent. I did not see this. So what was going on in the background at the Rangava residence?

Yeah, so you know, I posted that video on my substag and people were commenting and on the on the substance and, and then I there were some comments that were like, I love the person doing the army crawl was hilarious. And I was like, is this some wacky comment? I don't even know what this is. And I didn't really get it. And then Room Raider posted a clip of our of our zoom call. And what you see in the background, this is happening behind me is basically like legs slithering towards the door. And then you just see a door like slowly open. And it turns out my son was trying to get into my office because he had printed something for his homework. And he was trying to avoid being in our shot. And so he was he was stealthily he was doing a ninja move, which is frankly, hilarious when you watch it.

Amazing. I didn't even see it. I actually when Room Raider posted that I actually had to look for like I had to really look for it to see it. He is very stealthy, much more stealthy than my dog who if he wanted something in my room would be barking like crazy. Amazing.

Yeah, I sent him the Room Raider tweet and he's very embarrassed. I was like, you're famous now. And he said, No, mom, this is super embarrassing.

Oh my god. That's hilarious. Not as embarrassing as wearing the Christian Laitner shirt, but okay.

Maybe I'll wear that for our next podcast.

You voted. I did. You protested. Again. You postcarded. So many

Sundays. You posted on social media. Got some likes. And you're still reeling from all the terrible news. Yeah, but what else can I do? I'm Kelly. I'm Lila. And we're gonna help you figure that out. Each week we'll interview people on the front lines of political action about the things they actually did to take action.

What got them started, who helped them along the way, and

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