Backtalk: Trumpeachment Update

This week, Dahlia and Amy talk about the latest in the impeachment inquiry and whether it means we’ll finally kick Trump out of office. A whole crew of former and current government officials have appeared to testify as to whether Trump engaged in a quid pro quo with the Ukrainian president. The testimonies have revealed a Trumpian shitshow that points directly at that quid pro quo—but will it be enough to dethrone him?



Parasite by director Bong Joon-ho is a film for our times. Bong shows us how capitalism has failed us all in this smart, funny, and anxiety-inducing film. 


The Beautiful Ones, a memoir that Prince was working on before his death, was meant to “be a handbook for the brilliant community,” “a radical call for collective ownership, for black creativity,” and “a book about freedom.” Featuring Prince’s own handwritten memoir pages, the book is also filled with photos, letters, and other rad Prince ephemera


“Rich Man’s World (1%)” by Immortal Technique


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[theme music]
AMY LAM: Hi. Welcome to Backtalk, the feminist response to pop culture podcast. I’m Amy Lam.
DAHLIA BALCAZAR: I’m Dahlia Balcazar.
AMY: And we start off each episode by talking about our favorite pop culture moment. What is yours, Dahlia?
DAHLIA: I don’t know if it’s because the days are so short and so dark lately. I feel like I’ve been hibernating. I’m preparing fully for winter as I’ve just been watching just like very dark documentaries on Netflix for the past few weeks. But there are—
AMY: So on brand for you.
BOTH: [Laugh.]
DAHLIA: But more than usual, but more than usual is what I’m trying to say. And so, what are these? I’ve watched four documentaries in the past couple of weeks. And what’s interesting is that I’ve noticed that Netflix has started putting out these sort of miniseries documentaries that are like four or five episodes. So, they’re even more if you’re interested in these weird kind of documentaries. So, let me recommend these four that I’ve watched that I really enjoyed. The first one—and all of these are on Netflix—I watched The Monster Next Door, which also Amy, you should stop me if you’ve seen any of these. The Monster Next Door is about a Nazi who was found living in Cleveland in the ’80s and extradited to stand trial in Jerusalem and then to stand trial again in Germany. And it is so good and interesting! I had never heard about this story.
AMY: I just started that one, so I hope you didn’t spoil it for me! [Laughs.] Yeah, because they frame it as like is he or isn’t he? But yeah. So, it’s a wild ride for sure.
DAHLIA: Yes. It’s so good. I also watched the documentary Tell Me Who I Am, which is the premise is that there are two identical twins, and one of them is in an accident and gets amnesia. And the only thing that he remembers when he wakes up is that he recognizes his identical twin. And so, the brother who remembers their life helps his brother sort of reconstruct a sense of identity. And it isn’t until decades later or some years later that the brother who had amnesia starts to realize that his brother hid their very abusive childhood from him to keep him from having these memories and this information about his own life. And sort of they actually have a confrontation where they talk about why this brother lied to this other brother about their life for decades. It was so good! I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. The story is just incredible.
Also, I saw the documentary The Family, which is about the people who run the National Prayer Breakfast, which is a presidential tradition that has been observed since Eisenhower, and how powerful those people are in politics. It was wild. And then lastly, I watched the newest of these, I think, the documentary Bikram Yogi Guru Predator about the founder of Bikram Yoga and how he is a rapist. And all of these obviously are quite dark documentaries, but all of them were so good, and I think all are pretty new. So, I’m on a dark, dark documentary kick. [Chuckles.]
AMY: Yeah, and I can’t wait to watch the Bikram one ‘cause we’ve heard stories or read stories about him. I haven’t heard of The Family, the Eisenhower one, but I also did watch Tell Me Who I Am.
AMY: So heartbreaking. So heartbreaking! And the entire time you’re watching, essentially the first act, you’re like, OK. So, something’s up with this.
AMY: You know, it’s like they’re kind of trying to portray it like he has amnesia, but then his brother’s helping him live a better life. And then you kind of get a sense of the dread of what the secret is. And then when the secret comes out, it’s just the most heartbreaking thing. My only advice for that doc is to not watch it while you’re running. [Laughs.] ‘Cause I was trying to watch it while I was running, and I’m like, this is really slow and sad! I don’t know why I can’t run anymore! [Laughs.] But I love your recs.
DAHLIA: Oh, good. It’s like some of these are the kinda movies where you’re like, I cannot believe that this happened. And I think that’s often so surprising and rare to find sometimes in documentaries. So, all of these are just like unbelievable but true stories.
AMY: My favorite pop culture moment is also about a streaming service, [chuckles] coincidentally.
DAHLIA: [Laughs.]
AMY: So recently, I discovered that your local public library—and actually a lot of universities—have a partnership to a streaming service called Kanopy. So, Kanopy is an app—and it’s spelled with a K: Kanopy—that’s connected to public libraries and universities. And it’s free if you have an account with like, if you have a public library card or if you have a university library card. And it has some great films on there, stuff that you can’t find on other streaming services. Or if you’re like me, you have limited access to streaming services. ‘Cause I think I talk about often how I only have Netflix and Hulu and don’t have any of the other ones. So, I don’t have access to other types of films that I wanna watch if they’re not on those two spots. And the thing about Kanopy is that they actually have such an amazing selection. They have great documentaries and indie films. And you know how on let’s say Netflix, they have categories like women-led, spunky—
DAHLIA: [Laughs.]
AMY: —narrative or whatever.
AMY: So, obviously Kanopy has categories like that, and they have a whole category of just A24 films.
AMY: Which made my heart pitter patter.
DAHLIA: [Laughs.]
AMY: And for those who are a little bit familiar with films, A24 is a production company that, or a distribution company, that distributed films like Moonlight, which listeners to Backtalk know I absolutely adore and love and think it’s so beautiful. The film Obvious Child, which starred Jenny Slate and has a story around how she had an abortion. And Lady Bird, Hereditary, The Witch
DAHLIA: So many horror classics, I was gonna say.
AMY: Yes, you know. And so, what I saw, there was a A24 tab. I was like, okay, I am [laughing] so onboard with Kanopy. And it’s fucking free! So, this is my PSA. If you have a public library card or if you’re going to school and you have a library card with your school, I’m guessing that’s what it’s connected to, go to your librarian and ask them, “Does this library have an account with Kanopy?” And then just set up your account, and then you get to watch all this free shit. The only maybe limit to it is that depending on the account that you have with whatever library, there are restrictions to how many things you can watch. So, my partner set his up at another library, and he can watch 10 things per month. And then I have it set up with another library. I can watch six things per month. But he doesn’t ever use his, [laughing] so I use the account and my account.
BOTH: [Laugh.]
AMY: So, double dipping. But that’s the only very minor limit for a free streaming service that actually has such a good, rich selection of films to watch. They also have some really great international films, foreign films. So, I do wanna do a minor shout-out to the film The Third Wife. If you were interested in watching a contemporary telling of historical Vietnam, that’s a really great pick too. But yes, please check out Kanopy app. I think that if you have a public library card and you wanna use the services that your library provides to its fullest, this is one of those perks that like I don’t think we know enough about. And I’m just trying to spread the good word! [Laughs.]
[cutesy bells ring]
AMY: So, I wanna take this time now to thank folks who are taking their time to rate and review us on iTunes. I did notice that recently, we’ve got some new ratings in but no new reviews! My heart is broken! How do I know that you’re listening when you’re not writing kind notes us?
DAHLIA: Oh no! [Laughs.]
AMY: Or like constructive criticism? Come on, you guys! So, I did notice we got some new ratings, which I’m assuming are positive [laughs] because I’m trying to be optimistic! But yes, thank you so much for taking time to even just rate us. It doesn’t matter to me if it’s like one or five stars. Just the fact that you’re taking the time to give us feedback is really important to us.
And I did wanna read a comment that a listener left to the Bitch Media Twitter account about our last episode, the “OK Boomer” episode. Their Twitter handle is Dr. Lois Wiener. So, thank you so much. And they said, “Recalling, ‘Never trust anyone over 30,’ the slogan of many Boomers in their youth, some of us were fortunate enough to have mentors, supporters who believed in our struggles so didn’t see the divide primarily as generational. My take on OK Boomer.” So, I really appreciate that an elder is telling us that when the Boomers were younger, they literally had a slogan that was, “Never trust anyone [laughing] over 30!”
DAHLIA: [Laughs.]
AMY: I don’t know how much more we can say about how this mistrust for older generations is just built into our DNA as people. It’s true. It’s just that note. So, thanks for acknowledging that, understanding that this is just like a cyclical thing, and it’s not an attack or an ageist thing. It’s just saying that older folks have more power, and younger folks are trying to sort of even the playing field because they’re the ones that have the inherent ,the country and earth after the older folks are gone. So thank you so much for that feedback. And we love hearing your remarks and your thoughts. So, if you have some time, please leave us a rating and review on iTunes.
[cutesy bells ring]
DAHLIA: In our main segment, we have to talk about impeachment. A few weeks ago, we did an episode about the beginning of the impeachment investigation and who’s been given the opportunity to publicly lead the Democrats in their strategy against Trump. And big hint, it has not been Congress people of color. But we can’t just leave it there. Amy and I were talking about what we were gonna talk about this week, and I kept being like, “I think we have to talk about impeachment. I think we have to talk about impeachment.”
AMY: [Chuckles.]
DAHLIA: And then I was like, “Is it too much? Are we talking about it too much?” And then I was having like an angel and devil conversation with myself. And then the devil was like, “No! This is like the biggest thing to happen in American history. You have to talk about it.” So, this week, I was also thinking you might be around your family or people who haven’t been following the impeachment, who maybe aren’t eager to talk about it, but the facts are so incredibly damning. And so, we wanted to talk about the facts.
In the past few weeks, we’ve had open door public testimony. I’ve been watching it as much as I can on C-SPAN. Bill Taylor, the U.S. Charge d’Affaires for Ukraine, has testified, as has NATO Ambassador Kurt Volker, ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, the ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland—so much more to say about him later—vice president special adviser Jennifer Williams, Russia former National Security Council official Fiona Hill, and United States Department of State official David Holmes. And that’s like a short synopsis of sort of the key players.
I have been so fascinated to learn as much as I can about these people who’ve been testifying. And during Fiona Hill’s testimony, she’s a very serious, no-nonsense kind of government official. And the GOP has been doing a lot to sort of smear the idea that bureaucrats, government bureaucrats, are good, noble people in a good profession. The GOP has been making them seem the swamp, I guess. And a Senator asked Fiona Hill to recount this anecdote. A senator, a Democratic senator, was like, “Dr. Hill, is it true that when you were in elementary school, a boy set your pigtails on fire during a test?”
BOTH: [Laugh.]
DAHLIA: And Fiona Hill was like—and she has a British accent—she’s like. “Yes, that’s true. I clapped the fire out in my hands, and then I continued to take the test.”
FIONA HILL: [Recorded clip plays.] It is a true story. I was a bit surprised to see that pop up today. It’s one of the stories I occasionally tell ‘cause it had some very unfortunate consequences. Afterward, my mother gave me a bowl haircut.
DAHLIA: Just like incredible moment after incredible moment has been happening during these open door, many-hour testimonies. Many of these officials had already testified in closed door depositions, but now the public has finally gotten to hear what they have to say. And it’s just completely incendiary.
AMY: And I think that if you’re not familiar with how these types of posts work or what the hearing is trying to prove and who all these people are, it’s just a lot of people who you’re unfamiliar with. ‘Cause a lot of these names are, they’re officials, and they have been doing their jobs forever. But I’ve never heard of Fiona Hill before this. I didn’t know who Jennifer Williams was, or I didn’t know that the ambassador to Ukraine was Marie Yo…van, Yovanovitch. [Laughing.] I can’t even say her name!
DAHLIA: [Chuckles.]
AMY: So, it has been kind of confusing in that way. But I think that if there’s any takeaway to all this is that like all these people are here because they’re professionals, and this is their job.
DAHLIA: Mmhmm.
AMY: And they’re telling the truth, the whole truth as they know it to what happened there. And everything that they’re talking about is, like you’re saying, is like where there’s smoke, there’s definitely fire.
DAHLIA: [Laughs.]
AMY: And they’’e all giving us a little, setting the scene of like tons of smoke. But I think that the stand-out witness or person to testify at these hearings, for me, is definitely Ambassador Gordon Sondland.
AMY: Because he’s the European Union ambassador. And I didn’t know that there was one ambassador for the entire EU. I thought that there were ambassadors for specific countries, but I guess there is one. And in my layman brain, I’m like, if you are given the post of being the ambassador to entire European Union, which seems like a really big job, that you would be a sort of like career diplomat, you know. Like this is a job that you’ve been working toward. You’ve had a lot of training, a lot of experience. But with Gordon Sondland. No!
AMY: He was appointed to this position because he gave a $1 million donation to Trump’s inauguration and had no prior diplomatic experience. And there he is. He just shows and thinks he’s gonna do this job! Which, you know, has a lot of security risks involved. You must understand the different diplomatic relations between all these countries and how they work and how it works with the US. But he’s just like this sort of rando who had a lot of money, who got assigned this job. And he’s giving really eye-opening testimony.
DAHLIA: And not only is he like a rando assigned this job but assigned this job with no experience to do illegal things. Like the things that Sondland is describing, even though now he is seemingly being a cooperative-ish witness, he had previously done a closed door deposition when he was giving a lot of “I don’t recall” kind of answers. And he’s been notably more forthcoming in his public testimony. But even though he’s being cooperative, he’s agreeing that he did the things that Trump asked him to do, which are you know. Like his bombshell testimony was that he said, “Everyone was in the loop.” And that’s like the headline that I saw everywhere the day that he testified was Sondland like, yeah. Not only did I do all the bad things that you’re saying I did, but everyone knew I was doing them. And he’d like names. He’s like Vice President Pence knew. Rick Perry knew. Giuliani knew. He’s just like naming, naming, naming. And then he says, you know, all of this was he actually says, “at the express instruction of the president of the United States.” So, this guy who donated a million dollars to Trump, got himself what a cozy little diplomatic post, got involved in crime for Trump, and now has kind of flipped and is like, oh, yes, we did do those things.
AMY: Because if you think about it, the breadth of his experience is that he is the founder and former chairman of Providence Hotel. So, he’s a hotelier.
DAHLIA: Just like Trump.
AMY: Yes! Right? And he’s the cofounder of a merchant bank called Aspen Capital. So, his experience does not extend outside of these very specific industries. And I was listening to something about Fiona Hill’s testimony about Gordon Sondland, because like you said, Fiona Hill is super professional. She knows what she’s doing. And she talked about how when she was engaging with Sondland, she was actually kind of getting really annoyed with him and wondering, why is Gordon’s Sondland acting out of his duties or doing things that are out of the regular channels. And it wasn’t until she saw Gordon Sondland’s testimony that she understood that no, Gordon Sondland thought he was doing everything in channels, in the proper way and not improperly. So, because of his lack of experience in this position and in this post, it really influenced how he did his work. And he actually thought that the work that he was doing was perfectly fine and legal!! But how could you possibly think that when you’re working for Trump, you know!?
DAHLIA: [Chuckles.]
AMY: So, that was such an eye-opening thing, how everybody’s just sort of like pointing fingers at each other, but in a way, all of their fingers lead back to pointing to Trump ‘cause he’s the one kind of asking people wink, wink, you know, like do this for me without saying out loud this is like an illegal activity.
DAHLIA: And like you’re saying, Amy, not only has the larger narrative story here changed as witnesses have testified, Fiona Hill testified like, oh, I watched Gordon Sondland testify. And I understood in new ways what was actually going on and what kind of back channeling was going on. There was also sort of like the slow progression of this story that was early, I think it was like Ambassador Volker, earlier in the testimonies, an ambassador said like, “Oh, I recently learned that someone in my office overheard Sondland just having a phone call with Trump” in a totally unsecure location in Ukraine in a very inappropriate manner. And then slowly, the details of that story kind of evolved. And then finally, David Holmes, who works in the State Department, testified because he is, in fact, the one who overheard this Sondland conversation. And it is wild!
So, here is what happened. David Holmes was in Ukraine with Gordon Sondland, and they’re having dinner, an after-work dinner with a bunch of people. They’re in public. They’re in an outdoor restaurant on a terrace, just hanging out. And David Holmes says that he saw Sondland pick up the phone and get on the phone with President Trump and that David Holmes could tell it was President Trump because Sondland kept putting the phone away from his ear because of how loudly Trump was yelling.
AMY: [Laughs riotously.]
DAHLIA: [Chuckles.] And here. Okay. Unbelievable. So David Holmes says he heard Sondland say, “Don’t worry about Zelensky.” He’s talking about the president of Ukraine. “He loves your ass.”
DAVID HOLMES: Quote, “loves your ass,” unquote. Do you recall saying that?
GORDON SONDLAND: [Chuckling.] Yeah. It sounds like something I would say.
DAHLIA: And that quote, “He loves your ass,” it got picked up by the New York Times, just like picked up here and there and there. Just unbelievable. You know, who knew that all of these serious reporters would have to be like, “And he said, quote, ‘He loves your ass’.”
AMY: [Chuckles.]
DAHLIA: Sondland was asked about this by Congress people. They were like, so, you said, “He loves your ass?” And Sondland, like the goofiest guy, no diplomatic or political experience, he’s like, “Yeah! That sounds like something I would say.”
AMY: [Laughs quietly.] And it sounds like something Trump would say too, you know? And I think that’s the part that’s not unbelievable about it. I think that’s the part that we all agree is a real possibility and that this had happened. And actually Trump responded to the allegations on Twitter—
DAHLIA: Oh my god.
AMY: —with just more nonsensical shit. He said, “I have been watching people making phone calls my entire life. My hearing is and has been great! Never have I been watching a person making a call which was not on speaker phone and been able to hear or understand a conversation. I’ve even tried, but to no avail. Try it live.” So, of course he makes a comment about this, but not saying, “I did not ask Sondland to work on my behalf,” but that this is just how I talk on the phone, guys. Chill!
BOTH: [Laugh.]
DAHLIA: Well, and he’s like, actually, it’s physically impossible for you to overhear someone else making a phone call. I’ve tried it. I’m not a creep. You try. You’ll see. You won’t be able to. It’s just like unreal. It’s like, okay. Let me tell you, Amy! This is a weird pop culture moment intrusion. But recently, I’ve been watching the show Celebrity Couples Therapy.
AMY: [Laughs.]
DAHLIA: And they recently had a person come in who was a, quote-unquote, “human lie detector” and [chuckles]—
AMY: Wait, wait, wait! Is that person my mom?
BOTH: [Laugh.]
DAHLIA: You tell me. The human lie detector was talking about how you can tell when someone is lying. And she said truthful people convey, and dishonest people convince.
AMY: Mm.
DAHLIA: And so, a truthful response would be, “No,” and a dishonest response is, “No. I could never do that. I would never. How dare you!” And now that’s just maybe an obvious thing to say, but it’s so much what I think when Trump responds. It’s like he is trying to do the dishonest convincing, but in just this such a big extreme, sort of flapping his arms around kind of way to be like, not only did he not overhear my conversation, but it’s physically impossible to overhear a conversation. I would know.
AMY: [Laughs.] It’s just I don’t know how any intelligent person could watch these hearings or learn about them or read about them and not come to the conclusion that Trump had all these people working for him to exact quid pro quo, without a doubt. I think that the one smart thing that Trump did is that he never came out and said it explicitly. You know, I think he did a thing where he talked around it, like, well, the Ukraine will get this additional aid from the US to help protect their country if Zelensky will do this thing that he said he promised he would do on his campaign. And so, during Zelensky’s campaign, he campaigned on rooting out corruption. But when that reference comes from Trump, Trump is referring to the fact that he wants Zelensky to investigate the Bidens. When Trump talks about, I’m just trying to get Zelensky to put up his end for it because, you know, like quid pro quo is Latin for “something for something.” It’s to get something to give something or to give something to get something. And in this case, Trump doesn’t have to explicitly ask for anything. I think that in his decades of doing his types of business, he’s learned to never say things very, very explicitly. He talks around things, especially I think he’s understanding that people are listening in on him.
But with all these testimony and with all the timeline about how the aid was given to Ukraine because the White House learned about the whistleblower report, I think, on September 9. And a couple of days later on September 11, the U.S. released aid to the Ukraine. So now, in hindsight, ‘cause it’s November now, they’re saying well, the US released aid to the Ukraine. So, obviously, Trump isn’t trying to get some kind of anything out of Zelensky if the US has released this aid without Zelensky doing this report on Hunter Biden. But he didn’t do it. I don’t think that Trump releases aid out of his own goodwill. I think he released it because he knew that the whistleblower had caught him in something. So, with all these testimonies and with all this information coming out, it just seems so obvious that Trump is not a good person! And he used his role as the president of the U.S. to try to get somebody to interfere with these upcoming elections in 2020. And that’s something that’s highly impeachable, but we still have to go through this go through this sort of pony show and dance of trying to convince the American public this. But I think it’s just so clear, and it’s just so bizarre to me that we have to have all these people come up and say in so many ways, yeah, this isn’t being run correctly. And the person who asked us to behave this way or fired us when we didn’t behave the way he wanted us to is Donald J. Trump.
DAHLIA: I think what’s really dizzying about Trump’s presidency—so many things are dizzying—but one thing is that there’s a lot of investigation and conversation about the hacking of the 2016 election. And there’s so much to learn and understand about that, that it’s hard to, at the same time, be proactively focused on oh, shit. There is a 2020 election. And what if exactly the same thing happens? And it’s like, there’s a sort of a public trial happening, all this public testimony. But time hasn’t paused. And I heard a lot of the people testifying—you know, they are career diplomats, so they know how to say things diplomatically—but I heard them say, like, no, maybe Ukraine didn’t announce the investigation. But Ukraine right now still wants to have a good relationship with the United States. Ukraine isn’t in a position to sour the relationship with the United States. And so, to this moment, they’re trying to figure out what to do and how to maintain a relationship with Trump that will make them feel like they have leverage in their conversations with Putin. And that’s something that like, are they getting that right now? Not at all. So, there are so many things happening at once.
And another thing about, oh, my gosh, the GOP argument that like, oh, well, the aid was released, so something wasn’t given for something. Well, not only had the whistleblower report come out, but that aid that had been awarded to Ukraine was about to expire. September is the end of the fiscal year, and they only had until whatever September 30th to disperse the aid. And I think on top of that, the Trump administration realized, oh, shit, if we don’t disperse it, it’s gonna look even shadier for us. And so, I think they rushed to disperse it because Congress was gonna be like, you know— And! And this aid was appropriated by Congress. And so, Congress was about to be like, what’s up with this aid? Where is it? Why hasn’t it arrived? And so, I don’t know. It’s so ugh. I don’t know why I do it to myself to watch the GOP make their arguments on TV.
AMY: [Laughs.]
DAHLIA: Because it’s like they are gaslighting liars, but they will just try to Jedi mind trick around facts, man. [Chuckles.]
AMY: And I mean, I get it. There’s a lot of stuff going on in everybody’s lives, and there’s a lot of fucking fucked up shit that we’re all worried about. But we should be worried about this. You know, we should put some type of like, I don’t know, I don’t wanna say emotional energy, but some part of us should be aware of what’s going on. Because the aid that was given to the Ukraine and the aid that I think Trump was dangling over their head in order to get them to cooperate and help him win another election is our tax money, is money that we pay for in taxes. It’s our fucking money. And so, essentially, I mean, yes, our tax money goes to support a lot of brutal shit. And I think that this is just one in many. But to think that he is, Trump is literally using our tax money to try to bribe another country to help him win another election in which I don’t want him to win, that fucks me up, you know! And that’s not something I want to even consider that is a possibility. But it is. ‘Cause I think that the older we get, the more we realize how truly corrupt our own officials are. And so, it’s just something that, I don’t know, I sit around, and I think about it a lot, about what we can do, I guess to be proactive citizens and understand the inner workings of the people who set policies that regulate our lives. And I think for you and I, even though it’s kind of hard on mental health a little bit, it’s for us to stay informed and understand what’s happening right now with the testimonies.
DAHLIA: You know, thinking about the arguments that I’ve been hearing from the GOP, it can feel so dispiriting. And as I think we said even weeks ago, the first time we were talking about impeachment, I don’t think that he, Trump, is going to be convicted in the Senate. Impeachment is a bicameral—is that how you say that? I think I learned that in 9th grade civics—both the House and the Senate have to concur. And so, I do not think the Senate is going to impeach Trump. And so, then I asked myself, what is this all for? And I think there is still value in using the processes that we have judicially, like a formal impeachment process and informal processes like protests. I very much hope that everyone is protesting when he isn’t impeached by the Senate. But we’re sort of in a little lull here in Thanksgiving break as the investigation seemed to be at a pause. At the end of last week, it seemed like we had heard the last of public testimonies. Adam Schiff, who had been running the hearings, gave a really impassioned speech that I even kind of teared up a little bit listening to where he was talking about how it is so obvious that the transgressions that Trump has committed are so beyond even what Nixon did. Like, are you people paying attention? Do we care about the values of this country? And it was so impassioned, and so it did seem to signal that it was the end of the House’s work on the impeachment question.
But actually, just a few days ago, a federal district court judge ruled that former White House counsel Don McGahn will have to testify before the House impeachment investigators about Trump’s efforts to obstruct the Mueller inquiry. And the judge, the district judge, also ruled that other senior presidential aides will have to comply with congressional subpoenas. All of this time, Trump has been saying like, oh, those conversations are privileged. And so, this district court judge, he said that those arguments are fiction. And the judge, Judge Jackson, had a really great quote. It’s, “Presidents are not kings. They do not have subjects bound by loyalty or blood whose destiny they are entitled to control.” And the judge sort of reiterated you people owe your allegiance to the Constitution. So, this also means that John Bolton, who is Trump’s former national security adviser, might also be testifying.
And the very latest is that Representative Adam Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, has said that Democrats will deliver a report, “Soon after lawmakers return from Thanksgiving break” to then hand the impeachment inquiry to the Judiciary Committee, which would be the next step. But if John Bolton, if Don McGahn have to testify, if this judge is saying, actually, all of you guys have to testify when you are subpoenaed by Congress, that means that there could be potentially a lot more of explosive material to come in. Because those people know so much about this matter. And we’re just gonna keep hearing more pieces of the puzzle that are like, yes, this happened. Yes, this happened. It’s so bad. It’s so bad. [Chuckles.]
AMY: You know, as you were talking about how there is sort of like, not so much hope going in to the rest of this ordeal, because it’s going to go to the Senate, which is a GOP majority right now. And then they probably will not vote for impeachment, and then the impeachment battle will die. But I was thinking about how, like I said earlier, that one of the things that we can do in order to feel like we have some semblance of power is just be informed about this. But as you were saying that, I realized that often, these politicians can be urged to do things that are maybe against their own interests or what they think is their own interest. It can be for Republicans, you know, they don’t wanna go up against Trump because a lot of their funding for their reelection campaigns are tied to their support of Trump. That’s what drives a lot of their decisions to not call this guy out. But if perhaps more inflammatory evidence comes out that makes it even more obvious that Trump is selling out American people—I mean, we really know that he’s selling us out in very real ways and many different ways—but if there’s more testimony that makes it even more obvious or that can be, I don’t know, that’s more moving to the public at large, perhaps then that can get people to convince their elected officials, their senators, to vote for impeachment. I mean, that seems overly optimistic from me, [laughing] especially. But I don’t know. Stranger things have happened. So, I don’t know.
DAHLIA: [Laughs.]
AMY: Maybe we can our fingers and hope that the Republicans in the Senate have some shred of values and morals and understand that, like…. ‘Cause I have a feeling that intellectually, they all know that Trump is a pile of human garbage horribleness. I think that everybody knows this, but they’re unwilling to stand up to him because it’s going to put their livelihoods in jeopardy and whatever their legacies are in jeopardy. But perhaps they can be convinced by their own constituents that your legacy is to get this guy out of office. It’s not to support him. And I think that for so many years now since he’s been in office, we’ve all tried different ways to try to remove him! And I don’t know if this is going to be the way either. I share your reticence for thinking that, okay, I think this is it. He’s gonna leave. I don’t think this is it. This is the sad thing about us talking about impeachment for Trump, is that the reality is that he probably will not be impeached, especially if there’s no public pressure put on our elected representatives to vote for impeachment. And so, I think that’s just something we have to think about. I mean, I think that the one thing that I appreciate about you and I—
DAHLIA: [Laughs.]
AMY: —and how we talk about these things on this show is that we’re kind of realists. Some people might say that it’s [laughing] pessimistic, but I think we’re realists.
AMY: And I think it’s better to be realistic about what the possible outcomes of this is than to just be like, fuck this guy. You know, they’re gonna kick him out, etc. ‘Cause I don’t know if that’s the true thing that will happen. But I think that by acknowledging and recognizing that that’s not the true thing that can happen, then perhaps we can organize, like you’re saying, and have serious protest to show Senators that no, we will not stand for you not voting for impeachment because it’s so obvious that he’s so fucked up in all these other ways! It just so happens that this is the one very specific way in which he fucked up and that they’re pinning on him at this moment.
So, I guess [laughing] we can go into Thanksgiving, which is also a really fucked up colonial holiday where we celebrate the genocide of Indigenous people in the US and in North America. But perhaps we can go into this season thinking about what was our country founded on?
BOTH: [Laugh.]
AMY: And perhaps we can up end the values of which this country was founded on and make it truly the thing that America espouses itself to be. And that’s like a country where they say that the voice of the people will be heard. And I don’t know if this will happen, but maybe I can hold out a semblance of a little bit of hope.
DAHLIA: I have another rational take, which is that even if none of these GOP Senators vote to impeach, like I said, the thing that they are unable to keep in their heads is that the beat goes on, time continues to pass, and they are on the record as having not, will be on the record as having not, voted for impeachment. And do you think we’re done learning about the bad, criminal, horrible things Trump has done? No! Do you think that’s gonna be done in 2020? No way. We’re gonna be talking about the bad, criminal things that Trump did his whole life for decades. And I don’t know if the GOP is able to think about their legacy [chuckles] as people or as moral politicians. I don’t know if they think about it that way, but I really think, even though I do not believe he will be impeached, I believe that the evidence will just be overwhelming, and the passage of time and history will continue to be very revealing and truthful about what kind of a monster Trump is. And I hope that those Senators and the Congresspeople who protected him during this time feel that stain on their reputation forever.
[cutesy bells ring]
AMY: And we wrap up each episode by giving you recommendations! So Dahlia, you have a read recommendation?
DAHLIA: Oh my gosh, I have gotten my hands on The Beautiful Ones by Prince. It is a memoir that he was working on with a ghostwriter that wasn’t fully completed before he died. But it’s sort of a collection of all kinds of sort of Prince ephemera. There are incredible sort of behind the scenes and childhood photographs of Prince, song lyrics, handwritten portions of his memoir, letters.1 I love Prince so deeply, and just looking at this book is such a delight. And then I read as Prince was talking with Dan Piepenbring, who he cowrote this book with, Prince’s mandate for the book was—these are quotes—that it was, “a handbook for the brilliant community, a radical call for collective ownership for Black creativity, and a book about freedom.” And then Prince said that he wanted the book to be, he said, “I want people to try to create. Just start by creating your day, then create your life.”
AMY: Mm!
DAHLIA: I know. I just love Prince so much. And the book is beautiful. Just to look at this ephemera is so lovely and to see Prince’s handwriting and to hear him talk about his childhood, to see these photos. I love it. I love it. I can’t recommend it more highly.
AMY: I think that when I first met you and knew you—
DAHLIA: [Laughs.]
AMY: —your love of Prince was like the top three things I knew about you.
DAHLIA: [Laughs through the next few sentences.]
AMY: Like, Dahlia loves Prince. [Laughs.] Dahlia loves horror movies. And Dahlia has really great shoes.
DAHLIA: Ooooh! Not bad, not bad things to be known for.
AMY: Yeah.
BOTH: [Laugh.]
AMY: So, I am very happy for you that you found this book!
DAHLIA: Thank you. Oh gosh.
AMY: [Laughs.] So, I have the watch pick. And of course, it is for Parasite that I mentioned in our last episode. I finally got a chance to go see it. It is so good! And you know how, I don’t know this happens with you, but when I’m about to go experience something that’s been really hyped, I kind of get nervous because I’m like, oh, shit, what if it’s been overhyped, and then I’m disappointed? It’s happened with other films or books or music that I’ve been into. But for Parasite, I went in being like, okay, this is really, really hyped, and a lot of people that I know have told me it’s very good. But will it be that good? And it was that good.
BOTH: [Laugh.]
AMY: It is so good. And like I said in the last episode, so it is directed by Bong Joon-ho, who also directed Snowpiercer and Okja, both films that you can also watch on Netflix.
DAHLIA: Oh yes!
AMY: Yes. And like I mentioned last time, he talked about how Parasite is essentially a tale about the effects of capitalism. And Snowpiercer and Okja are also films about capitalism, I think it’s just a theme that he likes to really explore. And so, the thing about Parasite is that I think I saw it promo-ed, and it was packaged in a way that made it seem like it was maybe a horror film. And so, for people who maybe don’t like horror films, I wanna tell you that it is not a horror film at all. But for people who love horror, you will also really love this film even for its lack of traditional horror tropes, I guess. It’s just a really smart film that’s equally funny, thoughtful, and so fucking tense at times. I actually wanna shout at my friend, Joanie, who I went to go watch this film with. And she doesn’t like scary movies, but she will go with me sometimes. And she doesn’t like super tense movies, but she will go with me.
DAHLIA: [Laughs.]
AMY: And so, I asked her to come, and she did. And she was like—I am not exaggerating—she was squirming [laughing] in her seat. She was like climbing all up and down all over it.
DAHLIA: [Laughs.]
AMY: And at one point, she’s like, “I have to go pee.” And she left. And she left at a really tense part, and I was like, oh my god. I hope she got to see. Maybe she’s standing at the back theater and saw this. And she later told me that she did see this really tense part. But then she also told me that she had to leave for a minute because she was getting so [laughing] anxious she had to leave the room! [still laughing] Which made me laugh!
DAHLIA: [Chuckles.]
AMY: But it’s just such smart filmmaking, and the cinematography is beautiful even for such a, I don’t know, maybe a sad or depressing topic at times. It’s just I think that Bong Joon-ho has done such an amazing job at exploring the theme of capitalism and class and the ways we live our lives now and then also imbue that with a sort of like cinematic beauty. There’s like this sort of aesthetic in the film that you’re also like, wow, this is a really kind of sad film at times. But oh, it’s still so beautiful. So, you’re embodying these conflicting feelings as you’re watching this movie. It’s such an amazing experience. I even suggest that you go watch it while it’s in theaters now ‘cause I think it’s a better experience if you’re one of those people who, like myself also, I wait for it to come on to streaming stuff so I can watch it at home. But pay the few extra bucks. Do like I did. I went during matinee. Saved myself a few dollars.
BOTH: [Laugh.]
AMY: And I watched it in a movie theater, and I think that it heightened the experience even more. Please watch Parasite and then tell me what you thought about it. ‘Cause I’m actually really interested if everybody else experienced this roller coaster of emotions as I did when I watched it. So, I’d be super interested to hear. But so, that is my watch pick. It is Parasite. Please check it out while it’s still in theaters now.
DAHLIA: The song recommendation I have is not a new song, but it is so apt for this moment. It is “Rich Man’s World (1%)” by Immortal Technique. Immortal Technique is a Peruvian American rapper out of New York City. This song samples “Money, Money, Money” by ABBA, and Immortal Technique has a persona of being a scummy, disgusting, rich man criminal in this song. And it just like, it is so much Trump, and it’s such a good song but so upsetting at the same time!
AMY: [Laughs.]
DAHLIA: I like Immortal Technique so much, and then this song is so good! So, it is “Rich Man’s World (1%).”
[“Rich Man’s World (1%)” plays]
♪ “Fuck you little credit card-scamming, jewelry-stealing/
Crack-selling, liquor store-robbing motherfuckers! (it’s a rich man’s world)/
Shout out to the homies Carnegie, OG Willy Randolph Hearst, Farouk, Rockefeller—the real Rockefeller/
My main bitch Leona, pour out a little Louis the 13th/
Scott Rothstein, Jack Abramoff, hold ya head/
My Rothschild [n-words]: Let’s get this money!/
I spend my day pairin’ America overseas….” ♪
DAHLIA: Thanks for listening to Backtalk. This show is produced by Emily Boghossian. Bitch Media is a reader- and listener-supported feminist nonprofit. If you wanna support the show and our work, please head over to and donate.
♪ “I hope you got good credit, bitch/
If not, better get a new job with benefits/
While I play golf with [n-words] I get cheddar with….” ♪
by Amy Lam
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Amy Lam was a contributing editor and co-host of Backtalk at Bitch Media. Find her at & Twitter / Instagram.

by Dahlia Balcazar
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Dahlia Balcazar was a senior editor at Bitch Media, the co-host of the podcast Backtalk, and the host of the live show Feminist Snack Break. She’s passionate about horror films, ’90s music, girl gangs, and Shirley Jackson. You can follow her on Instagram and Twitter.