A look at Biden’s use of a wartime power, FBI raids Trump’s Mar-a-Lago: 5 Things podcast

On today’s episode of the 5 Things podcast: Biden turned to a wartime power his first day in office. Will he rely on it more?

National correspondent Donovan Slack reports. Plus, FBI agents raid former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home, reporters Jessica Guynn and Jayme Fraser talk about the lack of Latinas in executive roles, Taiwan’s army responds to China with drills and Rudy Giuliani tries delaying his appearance linked to a criminal investigation on election interference.

Podcasts: True crime, in-depth interviews and more USA TODAY podcasts right here.

Hit play on the player above to hear the podcast and follow along with the transcript below. This transcript was automatically generated, and then edited for clarity in its current form. There may be some differences between the audio and the text.

Taylor Wilson:

Good morning. I’m Taylor Wilson and this is 5 Things you need to know Tuesday, the 9th of August, 2022. Today, a look at the Defense Production Act, plus the latest from the FBI raid on Mar-a-Lago and more.

Here are some of the top headlines:

  1. The three men already serving life in prison for Ahmaud Arbery’s murder were again given lengthy prison sentences yesterday on federal hate crime charges. They were already serving time on state charges. They killed Arbery, a 25 year old in February of 2020, after chasing him down in a truck.
  2. Russia has suffered up to 80,000 dead or injured since its invasion of Ukraine, according to a US defense official, the country has also lost some 4,000 armored vehicles.
  3. And Alabama is number one in the first USA Today Sports AFCA coaches poll. Ohio State, Georgia Clemson, and Notre Dame round out the top five.

In its 70 years as law, the Defense Production Act has been used by presidents to order private industries to aid national defense with mixed results. Producer PJ Elliott spoke with National Correspondent Donovan Slack about the laws history and how president Joe Biden is currently using it.

Donovan Slack:

So the defense production act is a law passed in 1950 at the start of the Korean War, and it allows presidents to order private companies, private industry, to produce goods that are needed for national defense. In that case, it was weapons, ammunitions, that kind of a thing. A lot of people may remember it from Trump’s administration when he used it while he was… He used it to help produce ventilators when we were in the throes of the pandemic. There was some controversy though he was criticized for not using it soon enough.

PJ Elliott:

So what type of events have led to presidents using the act since it became law?

Donovan Slack:

Most presidents have used it for military purposes. A couple of standout uses that we came across were under George W. Bush and under Barack Obama. George Bush ordered up body armor for US troops that had been sent to Iraq and didn’t have enough armored vests. So he used the law to make private companies, to order them, to prioritize government’s order of these vests and produce a whole bunch of them very quickly and get our troops in Iraq outfitted with armor. Under Barack Obama, the defense department used the act to speed up the design and manufacture of special vehicles for rugged terrain in Afghanistan. And they actually made and delivered more than 5,700 of the special vehicles within a year.

PJ Elliott:

Well, what about today? How is President Biden using the act, and is there any pushback from that?

Donovan Slack:

Well, Biden’s use of the act has been quite notable and vigorous, experts tell us, simply because of the sheer number of times he’s used it in such short succession and for such a wide variety of uses. He used the act on his first day in office to help speed up the production of supplies for pandemic response, everything from masks to other personal protective equipment. He ended up using it for vaccine production, but then he went on to use it in a bunch of other different areas. I think it was in March, he used it to speed up mining for minerals used in electric car batteries. And then in May, he issued a series of orders to speed up production of solar panel parts and electric transformers and insulation and heat pumps and all these various energy technologies. And then in May, he used it to speed up the production of baby formula.

Now, he’s drawn some criticism for his use of the act from conservatives and others who say he’s kind of twisted it beyond what it was supposed to be used for. It’s an interesting question because the president has broad discretion to use this law. When Congress passed the law in the first place, they said, “We want to give you this power. Presidents need to have this power.” So it’s really up to the president about how he uses it. Technically, there’s supposed to be a determination made that there’s a national defense emergency in order to use it, but the president can also just wave that requirement.

Taylor Wilson:

You can find Donovan’s full story in today’s episode description.

Former President Donald Trump said yesterday that FBI agents raided his home, called Mar-a-Lago, in Palm Beach, Florida. Trump did not say why the agents were there and the Department of Justice declined to comment. But two people familiar with the search told USA TODAY that the action was connected to Trump’s alleged removal of documents from the White House to the estate when his term in office was over. In a statement, Trump also said agents searched his safe. The FBI notified the secret service before the move allowing for federal investigators to access the property. It’s still not clear what documents or other items may have been removed, but Trump remains under investigation for a number of issues. They include the January 6th Capitol attack and Trump family business dealings. An action like this in the home of a former US president has little precedent in American politics. Historian Matthew Dallek said the idea of a law enforcement agency rating a former president’s house is stunning.

Only two Latinas have been CEO of a Fortune 500 company, and there are no Hispanic women currently in senior leadership at a number of major companies. Why is that? In this two part report from Jessica Guynn and Jayme Fraser, they dive into some answers.

Jessica Guynn:

Well, first off I would say this is a piece we wanted to write for a long time because Latinas and Hispanic women face some of the whitest disparities of any major racial, ethnic, or gender group in corporate America. Jayme crunched the numbers for us and Hispanic and Latino women make up just 1.6% of senior executives in the S&P 100, but are disproportionately represented in low paying, low mobility jobs. What I discovered in the process of reporting is that there had also only been two Latina CEOs of a Fortune 500 company. And initially, we reported that there had only been one, which we thought to be the case because we confirmed it with Fortune Magazine, but in fact there was a second Latina CEO. So there was Geisha Williams who ran PG&E and Cheryl Miller who ran AutoNation, but even Geisha did not know about Cheryl, which really highlighted for us the need for this kind of reporting to make visible the experiences of Latinas in corporate America, and talk about some of the reasons why they have not reached the higher levels of these companies.

Jayme Fraser:

Yeah. And I would just add, Jessica talked about there being a difference between the demographics at the top of companies and those at the bottom of companies. Latinas and Hispanic women make up about 7% of the US workforce. And so if you use that as a baseline, the fact that less than 2% are at the top of companies is pretty stark and even more so when you compare that to, they hold like 14% of administrative assistance jobs and 14% of service jobs in this country. So there’s not a lot of upward mobility at America’s most profitable and big corporations.

Taylor Wilson:

Come back tomorrow for part two from Jessica and Jamie, and you can find a link to the story in today’s show description.

Taiwan’s army will conduct live fire artillery drills today in response to Chinese military exercises. Drills will involve everything from snipers to attack helicopters after China said Sunday that it carried out its fourth consecutive day of its own drills in the air and sea around Taiwan. China did so in response to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to the island, which China views as part of its territory. Taiwan sees itself as a sovereign nation.

Additionally, China said last week that it would suspend or cancel dialogue with the US on issues ranging from climate change to military relations and even anti-drug efforts. It called Pelosi’s trip and egregious provocation.

A hearing on Rudy Giuliani’s request to delay his appearance in front of a special grand jury in Atlanta will be held today. Giuliani was originally scheduled to appear as part of a criminal investigation into 2020 election interference. But his lawyer said he had not been cleared for air travel because of a recent heart procedure. That request though immediately drew a challenge from prosecutors. They argue Giuliani has traveled since the medical procedure already. They also have told the judge if Giuliani is unable to fly, they’ll pay his bus or train fare.

Thanks for listening to 5 Things. You can find us every day of the year, right here, wherever you’re listening right now. And thanks to PJ Elliott for his great work on the show. I’ll be back tomorrow with more of 5 Things from USA TODAY.