Weekly Roundup: Thursday, April 25 After months of oscillating speculation former Vice President Joe Biden has announced that he will run for president in 2020. Plus, Democrats subpoena former White house counsel Don McGahn to testify about findings in the Mueller Report. This episode: White House correspondent Tamara Keith, political reporter Danielle Kurtzleben, Congressional reporter Kelsey Snell, and national political correspondent Mara Liasson. Email the show at nprpolitics@npr.org. Find and support your local public radio station at npr.org/stations.
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Weekly Roundup: Thursday, April 25

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Weekly Roundup: Thursday, April 25

Weekly Roundup: Thursday, April 25

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BECKY: This is my dad Jim (ph).

JIM: This is my daughter Becky (ph).

BECKY: We're counting down the days to meeting up for the NPR POLITICS PODCAST show in Philadelphia.

JIM: Philadelphia is the birthplace of our country's two most important documents. If you're an NPR listener, you probably have the constitution to declare what they are.

BECKY: This podcast was recorded at...

TAMARA KEITH, HOST:

(Laughter) Oh, the puns. OK. It was recorded at 2:17 p.m. on Thursday, the 25 of April.

JIM: Things may have changed by the time you hear this.

BECKY: One thing that hasn't changed is our love of debating politics, talking history and my dad's puns.

BECKY AND JIM: See you at the show.

(SOUNDBITE OF THE BIG TOP ORCHESTRA'S "TEETER BOARD: FOLIES BERGERE (MARCH AND TWO-STEP)")

KEITH: OK. So our Philly team will be there at the National Constitution Center tomorrow night for a live podcast. And the good news is that there are still a few tickets available. You can find them at NPRPresents.org.

DANIELLE KURTZLEBEN, BYLINE: We know there's at least two people in the audience, then. So there you go.

(LAUGHTER)

KURTZLEBEN: It's good to have a foundation.

KEITH: It'll be great. Somewhere between two and sold out.

(LAUGHTER)

KURTZLEBEN: It's the best size.

KEITH: Hey there, it's the NPR POLITICS PODCAST. I'm Tamara Keith. I cover the White House.

KELSEY SNELL, BYLINE: I'm Kelsey Snell. I cover Congress.

KURTZLEBEN: I'm Danielle Kurtzleben, political reporter.

MARA LIASSON, BYLINE: And I'm Mara Liasson, national political correspondent.

KEITH: All right. So we have a great roundup today. And we are going to start with - I don't know - some surprising news?

LIASSON: Or some not so surprising news.

KURTZLEBEN: This is my surprised voice - oh.

LIASSON: (Laughter).

KEITH: Vice President Joe Biden made it official today - he is running for president.

SNELL: Number 20. We are shocked by...

LIASSON: Twenty for 2020.

KURTZLEBEN: No one else is allowed in. That's it. That's the pool.

KEITH: Well - and that's the max for the two nights of debates...

KURTZLEBEN: Oh, yeah. That's true.

KEITH: ...Max on stage. So if anybody else gets in, somebody is going to get voted off the island.

LIASSON: Oh, man.

SNELL: I mean, you could always have a parking lot debate.

LIASSON: (Laughter).

KEITH: Biden put out a video this morning to make it official.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JOE BIDEN: Charlottesville, Va., is home to the author of one of the great documents in human history. We know it by heart. We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal...

KEITH: He starts talking about the white supremacist march in Charlottesville, Va.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

BIDEN: It was there, on August of 2017, we saw Klansmen and white supremacists and neo-Nazis come out in the open.

KEITH: And that brings him to the president of the United States.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

BIDEN: And that's when we heard the words of the president of the United States that stunned the world and shocked the conscience of this nation. He said there were, quote, "some very fine people on both sides." Very fine people on both sides? With those words, the president of the United States assigned a moral equivalence between those spreading hate and those with the courage to stand against it. And in that moment, I knew the threat to this nation was unlike any I had ever seen in my lifetime. I wrote at the time that we're in the battle for the soul of this nation. Well, that's even more true today. We are in the battle for the soul of this nation. I believe history will look back...

KURTZLEBEN: So, I mean, my initial reaction to this was to think back to 2016 and 2018. I mean, Biden is clearly making an argument that, A, the soul of America is at stake and, B, that Donald Trump is the person who is the big threat to the soul of America.

But running against Donald Trump in 2016 didn't yield victory for Hillary Clinton. I just kept thinking of that ad she had of all the little kids watching Donald Trump speeches. And Democrats very, very clearly didn't run specifically against Donald Trump in 2018. They ran on health care. So I just found myself watching this and wondering, well, would this kind of a message work?

LIASSON: Well, the Biden campaign has a different theory of the case. Number one, Trump is no longer a theoretical president. He's an actual president.

KURTZLEBEN: True.

LIASSON: People - Democrats have seen him and recoiled from him in horror, even ones who weren't quite sure if he would be the same in office as on the campaign trail. Number two, Biden is making the message, I am the strongest general election candidate to beat Donald Trump.

And the second message that he's sending, which is a message not for the general election, but for the primary, is the reason why he focused so much on Charlottesville - is he's got the Democratic base in mind, which is heavily African American. And what I've been told by Biden people is, look; the one thing that unites all Democrats is opposing Trump. It's not like Biden is going to be talking about this every single day.

KURTZLEBEN: Sure.

LIASSON: He's got a whole rollout plan where he's going to be giving speeches about the middle class and about foreign policy and other things - and that he, more than the other candidates, can get away with this or actually prosper by it because everyone already knows who he is. Most people spend their announcement...

KURTZLEBEN: Right.

LIASSON: ...Videos saying, here I am with my wonderful golden retriever...

KURTZLEBEN: Yeah.

LIASSON: ...Or here's the town I grew up in.

SNELL: Or, this is the kind of Democrat that I am.

LIASSON: Yes...

KURTZLEBEN: Yes. Yeah.

LIASSON: ...Or this is the kind of Democrat I am. Right. Right.

SNELL: People know the answer to that.

KURTZLEBEN: Or, here are my policies.

LIASSON: Yeah.

SNELL: Yeah. And, you know, one thing that I heard from a Democrat earlier today was, not only is he able to make a different argument because people know who he is, but he isn't, like, a member of Congress running for office where they have to speak to a relatively small group of people and fight for a relatively narrow middle.

So the middle ground of voters in, say, a congressional district - one congressional district in - I don't know - Pennsylvania is really different than fighting for the middle ground of the country. And that Biden is making the - he's speaking specifically to Democrats right now but setting up the possibility and showing them that he can speak to everybody later.

KEITH: Yeah. And that is this thing that, you know, those of us who've been out on the trail have heard again and again. And it also shows up in polling - this idea of electability that, you know - talk to any Democrat, and at some point, they will say, well, the key attribute I want in a nominee is someone who can beat Donald Trump. And no one really knows what that means for them, exactly.

KURTZLEBEN: Right.

KEITH: ...But Biden seems to be trying to say, hey, it's me.

LIASSON: And it doesn't sound like it's very ideological because what's really interesting about the polls in the Democratic primary right now - and polls don't count for very much...

KURTZLEBEN: They don't mean much.

LIASSON: ...At this early stage...

SNELL: Sure.

LIASSON: ...But Biden is on top, followed very closely behind by Bernie Sanders. But huge majorities - like, 75% of Democrats - say they would be fine with either one. And an Iowa poll recently showed that, for Biden supporters and Sanders supporters, the other - Biden and Sanders are the second choice for each other. And that almost makes no sense. They couldn't be more farther apart ideologically.

KEITH: Right.

LIASSON: It shows you that Democrats really aren't in an ideological frame of mind.

KURTZLEBEN: Yeah. In fact - and this is going back to last year - but, I mean, when Biden has laid out his case - there was a speech he gave at Brookings last year - I believe it was in May of 2018 - where he explicitly said, I - look; I'm not Bernie Sanders. Like, he's - he has made the case that, no, I am not one of those people that Donald Trump could label a socialist - is kind of, essentially, the message I get from him. So it's kind of amazing to think that a voter might see them as, all right, I could go with for either one.

LIASSON: The way it was explained to me is, the worst possible thing that could happen for Democrats in 2020 is an asteroid would destroy the earth. The second worst possible thing is that Donald Trump gets re-elected.

KEITH: (Laughter).

SNELL: Well...

LIASSON: So, I mean, Democrats are focused on the prize here.

KURTZLEBEN: Right.

SNELL: Yeah, but the thing that I think doesn't actually help either Joe Biden or Bernie Sanders is that when people go to vote in these primaries, they don't get to choose both. They have to choose one of them.

KURTZLEBEN: Right.

SNELL: And there will, at some point in time, have to be a thing that distinguishes what it is about any individual - any one of these 20 people - that actually could be presidential, electable and, you know, speak to not just - you know, Democrats kind of have two bases going here, right? They've got the progressive base, and then they have these new moderates that they want to be their base for congressional elections. And somehow, the same person has to talk to both of those.

KURTZLEBEN: Right.

LIASSON: And what's really interesting about trying to put the Democratic field into lanes - 'cause it's very hard - but there is - although, ideologically, Sanders and Biden are not in the same lane, in one way, they are because one of the most important things for Democrats is to have somebody on the ticket that can appeal to Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin - someone with Rust Belt cred. And both of them would argue that they have that.

KURTZLEBEN: I'd also put them in another lane in that they're both white men.

SNELL: Yes.

LIASSON: They're both white and old. That's also true.

KEITH: They're also old. Yes. Yes.

LIASSON: They're very old and white - but I'm talking about in terms of their ability to win. Sanders says, I can get those white, working-class Trump voters back. And Biden says, I'm a son of Scranton...

KURTZLEBEN: Right.

LIASSON: ...And I can do that. And look where he's been. Every event he's had in public has been before a labor union audience. That's where he's going on Monday in Pittsburgh. That - the labor union audience, to me, is a proxy for Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania.

KEITH: Well - and he's actually going to Pennsylvania.

KURTZLEBEN: Yeah. Yeah.

LIASSON: Right. Right.

KURTZLEBEN: A thing about electability that both Mara and Kelsey have brought up here, though, is that - I've been out on the campaign trail this year. And a thing that I hear at pretty much every event - sometimes - maybe often more than once - is some voters saying to me, I would love to vote for so-and-so, but I am afraid that they can't win. So instead, I'm going to go with so-and-so. And often, the second so-and-so is a white guy.

I've had voters say this about women - I would love to vote for a woman, but I don't think she can win. I've had a voter say this to me about Pete Buttigieg - I don't think a gay man can win. And what I find so fascinating about this is two things. One, we just got off of 2018 when Democrats - I couldn't - like, you couldn't go anywhere without Democrats talking about, it is the year of the woman. Look at all of these women. Look at all of these diverse women that we are electing. This year, there is a cautiousness that seems to have made everybody pull a 180.

LIASSON: On the other hand, you also hear Democrats say that what they want on the ticket, in some configuration, is a woman/minority and someone who can appeal to those Rust Belt states.

KURTZLEBEN: Right.

LIASSON: I don't know exactly how that happens, but I would put money that there will be a female person on the Democratic ticket.

KURTZLEBEN: I'm with you on that. The other thing, though, that I'm curious about is that if Democrats - if Democratic primary voters are doing all of these mental gymnastics - instead of saying, here's what I want, they're thinking, here's what I would bet everyone else wants...

KEITH: This is what I bet people in Wisconsin want.

KURTZLEBEN: ...What we're going to end up with is not the revealed preference of the Democratic primary electorate. What we're going to end up with is what the Democratic primary electorate thinks everyone else wants, which is kind of a weird meta way of voting, right?

LIASSON: But that's the same thing as their preference. In other words, whether they're voting with their head or their heart, they're still choosing the candidate that they want, for whatever reason.

KURTZLEBEN: That's fair. Yeah.

KEITH: Yeah, I mean, John Kerry probably got the nomination because everyone thought, oh, he's a veteran. He can take on Bush...

KURTZLEBEN: Sure. Yeah.

KEITH: ...On the Iraq War, for instance.

SNELL: But isn't that always kind of the dilemma of running against an incumbent? - is you face this - no matter which party you're from and - or what year it is, there is that part of trying to figure out, is - are you looking for a brand new, fresh face, or are you looking for some sort of way to triangulate the leftover population that doesn't hate the current person in office?

KURTZLEBEN: Sure. Yeah.

LIASSON: And in the Democratic Party, there are people who want a fresh, young face. They want to fall in love with the next Obama.

SNELL: Right.

LIASSON: And then there are people who just want an end to the chaos. They want a calm, experienced, wise, diplomatic, presidential person.

KEITH: And in a preview of things to come, perhaps, President Trump responded very quickly to Biden's announcement with a tweet of his own. He says, (reading) welcome to the race, Sleepy Joe. I only hope you have the intelligence - long in doubt - to wage a successful primary campaign. It will be nasty. You will be dealing with people who truly have some very sick and demented ideas. But if you make it, I will see you at the starting gate, exclamation point.

LIASSON: That was a boost to Biden.

KEITH: All right. We are going to have a lifetime to talk about this, or at least many, many months. But for now, we're going to take a quick break. And when we come back, the White House move to block congressional investigations.

And we're back. And it's been a week since the Mueller report came out, and House Democrats have now issued a subpoena for what turned out to be Mueller's star witness, former White House counsel Don McGahn. Mara, can you remind everyone who he is?

LIASSON: Don McGahn is the former White House counsel. He spent, I think, about 30 hours with the special counsel, and he provided testimony that has Donald Trump asking him to get special counsel Mueller fired. And Don McGahn didn't do it. And as a matter of fact, the special counsel said that although Donald Trump tried to do things that would be obstruction of justice, he failed, mostly because people beneath him, like Don McGahn, refused to carry out his orders. At one point, Don McGahn is quoted in this Mueller report as saying that the president was asking him to do crazy expletive deleted.

KEITH: There's a lot of expletives deleted in that report. So Kelsey, why do Democrats want to hear from him? I guess it's probably pretty obvious, huh?

SNELL: Well, it is pretty obvious in the sense that he was a star witness in the Mueller report, but he also gets to the part of the Mueller report that Democrats are most interested in right now, and that is the question of obstruction of justice. Now, Mueller left it up to Democrats to decide this question. He says it in the very beginning of volume 2 of that report, saying that it will be up to Congress to decide whether or not they can reach any kind of judgment about obstruction of justice, and he - that's the part where they start talking about the question of impeachment.

So Democrats are doing exactly what they said they were going to do, which is follow the breadcrumbs that they believe were laid out for them by Mueller. And that starts, in large part, with McGahn because he could give them the kind of political stability and framework for everything that they want to do going forward because he is viewed by Democrats and Republicans as a credible person. He is a witness to things as an attorney - somebody who took an oath - somebody who the president himself said he trusted.

LIASSON: And he testified under oath.

SNELL: Right.

LIASSON: So Tam, is Don McGahn going to testify in Congress?

KEITH: If he does, it might be the next Congress. The House Judiciary Committee issued the subpoena. The White House is making it very clear, all the way up to the president, that they do not intend to let him testify.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: We're fighting all the subpoenas. Look. These aren't, like, impartial people. The Democrats are trying to win 2020.

KEITH: So the White House argument here is - as one aide put it to me - what is Jerry Nadler, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, going to be able to uncover that Robert Mueller hasn't already laid out in his report? The White House is saying, we don't have to cooperate. We are done. We - you know, we let everybody sit down for interviews with Mueller's team. We are done playing ball. We are not going to let the Democrats investigate us or - we're not going to make it easy for them.

KURTZLEBEN: I have a very basic question from a legal non-expert. Like, if the House subpoenas people from the White House, can the White House do this? Can the White House just say, nah, no thanks?

KEITH: Well, I mean, they have to give a reason why, and that can be challenged. So that's where we get to the term executive privilege, which is something that presidents can invoke. They can say, this involves conversations and deliberations and violates the separation of powers, and we don't want to allow this testimony. We don't want to turn over these documents.

SNELL: But Tam, I know that you've been looking at this from your side - the White House side - and I've been looking at this a little bit from the congressional side. It's not really settled yet whether or not they can invoke executive privilege with McGahn, right?

KEITH: Yeah. McGahn provided all of this testimony to Mueller. And the White House would argue, we can still invoke this because Mueller was part of the executive branch. We're going to say that McGahn can't testify because that would be a different branch of government and violation of separation of powers.

LIASSON: But they've been boasting about how they waived executive privilege, and they never claimed it just to show how transparent and cooperative they were.

KEITH: Right. And that period is over.

(LAUGHTER)

KEITH: This is going to probably, inevitably be litigated. One fascinating fun fact is that the Trump White House has not yet ever, to this point, invoked executive privilege, and they haven't yet done it with McGahn. My guess is that, you know, McGahn is going to wait as long as possible to respond to the subpoena. At some point, the White House is going to tell him what they want. It turns out the president is the only one who can invoke executive privilege. But my guess is there's going to be a long back and forth before the White House actually invokes privilege, if they do.

SNELL: In a situation where you issue a subpoena and there's an argument about executive privilege with the White House, the person requesting and - or making the - sending the subpoena is probably very well prepared for either outcome and has a political response. I know that Democrats absolutely have a political response for either outcome. They would be happy if the president let McGahn come up, and they would be very happy to say that the president is standing in the way of their investigation into obstruction of justice. It would, in a lot of ways, validate for them and give them a bigger message to say, not only did he obstruct justice, he's obstructing our investigation of obstruction of justice.

LIASSON: Well, one of the big mysteries of Donald Trump was, if he's innocent, why did he and so many people around him lie? Why have they resisted turning over documents about many things - tax returns, financial documents - now, people from his - from the administration going to testify in Congress? And that's really been a mystery. I mean, why - if you say you were exonerated by Mueller, why don't you want to...

SNELL: Right.

LIASSON: ...Let people testify?

SNELL: But doesn't this go back to the whole idea that the Mueller report really just speaks to people's political leanings wherever they are already? - because if you believe the president is innocent and is being persecuted by Democrats, then you say, why should he give up this information and these documents? The requests are political and not founded - where if you believe that the president did something wrong, then you can see him not complying as further evidence that he has done something wrong.

KURTZLEBEN: Right, except, then - on top of that, there's the added layer of, if you do think he's done something wrong and that this is evidence of that, then you have this rift among those people - Democrats - of, OK, what do you do about it? Like, do you investigate? Do you impeach? Do you do this? Do you do that? And that's where, you know, all of the big divides that we've seen on the Hill and in the presidential race come in.

KEITH: President Trump said this is all about 2020. What do voters think?

KURTZLEBEN: I mean, I'll tell you that I have yet to talk to a voter who brings this up when I ask them, what issues do you care about? And I ask every voter I talk to that very question. Like, Mueller has not come up. None of this has come up. I mean, Democrats are convinced that, no, we don't like President Trump. We would rather he were not in office. I'm sure there's plenty of divides among them. This is not a thing I've asked them about.

I'm sure there's plenty of divides about impeachment and what should be done, once again, but their minds are already kind of made up on this. Instead, what they care about is health care and jobs and all of - and racial justice, the Green New Deal, climate change, all these other things that they see as more existential threats.

KEITH: And with that, we are going to take a quick break. And when we get back, Can't Let It Go.

And we're back. And let's end the show like we do every week with Can't Let It Go, where we talk about the things that happened this week that we just can't stop thinking about, politics or otherwise. Mara.

LIASSON: Well, this one is politics and otherwise. A South Korean politician was locked in his office by rival lawmakers for six hours. They were trying to prevent him from taking a vote. Eleven members of the rival party took a sofa and sat on it and put it across his door so he couldn't get out. He was stuck in his office with four of his aides. So what did he decide to do? He decided to open the window, which could only open a little bit, and hold a press conference by yelling out the window.

And the reason that I love this story is, first of all, it reminds me of all those great videos of people scuffling on the floor of the Assembly in Uzbekistan or Slovakia.

KEITH: Sure.

LIASSON: Why didn't he use Skype?

KEITH: Right.

KURTZLEBEN: Yeah, there are so many options.

KEITH: Yes.

LIASSON: With something like that, there's so many options. But apparently, there's a history of this kind of thing in the South Korean National Assembly. In 2004, a scuffle broke out during an impeachment vote. And in 2011, an opposition politician set off a tear gas canister, trying to stop the passage of a free trade agreement with the U.S.

KEITH: Wow.

SNELL: Whoa.

KURTZLEBEN: Well, unlike 2011, everybody's out there doing it for the Instagram now, right? So - and I think that you get a way better Instagram out of shouting out of a window than you do of going on Skype.

LIASSON: The police did eventually come and get them out.

KURTZLEBEN: Maybe we shouldn't publicize this. Do we want our lawmakers to get new ideas? I mean...

KEITH: Hey, you know, I would be all for...

KURTZLEBEN: Yeah.

KEITH: ...Carrying out...

KURTZLEBEN: Kelsey would love this.

KEITH: ...A press conference (laughter).

KURTZLEBEN: I'm going to show up to all of your press conferences where you shout out of a tiny window.

SNELL: Take notes, senators.

KEITH: Kelsey, what can't you let go of?

SNELL: Well, I was in a supermarket in northwest Illinois just a day or two ago. And I was walking past an endcap. And I don't - I'm not around a lot of toys a lot. And this was a Barbie endcap, and it was career Barbies. Now, there were two Barbies right next to each other, and I hadn't seen these ever before. One is actually a Ken doll. And Ken has a couple of career options. And his primary career option, according to Mattel, is barista.

(LAUGHTER)

KEITH: All right.

SNELL: He...

KURTZLEBEN: Recent college grad, underemployed Ken.

SNELL: He has distressed jeans. Ken doll comes with a - looks like it's already printed onto his shirt slash - I don't know - kind of apron combo with a coffee cup. And he's also got a man bun.

LIASSON: He has a man bun. Ken has a man bun. This is a cultural watershed.

KURTZLEBEN: But - now - but hold on. The ultimate disgrace here, I think, is that, while Barbie has actual hair, Ken's man bun is plastic.

SNELL: It does appear to be plastic.

LIASSON: But he has a man bun. That is the most important thing.

KEITH: (Laughter).

SNELL: Well, you know, the thing that I...

LIASSON: We have crossed a line here.

KEITH: (Laughter).

SNELL: The thing that I think is - as much as his man bun is amazing, I think it's amazing, also, that the list of jobs that Ken can have, according to the Barbie website, are firefighter, barista, lifeguard and soccer player. And the careers available to Barbie...

KEITH: (Laughter).

SNELL: ...Range from...

LIASSON: Are CEO, president of the United States, U.S. senator.

SNELL: She gets to be a pilot or an astronaut, but she also gets to run for office. So...

LIASSON: That is awesome.

SNELL: And so...

LIASSON: Look. I think they're overcompensating (laughter).

SNELL: Oh, most definitely.

LIASSON: I think they're overcompensating.

SNELL: And candidate Barbie was the one who was sitting next to barista Ken in the endcap of this supermarket in northwest Iowa. And she - political candidate doll is running for office in a professional look with themed accessories.

LIASSON: That's so awesome.

KEITH: She looks kind of like Selina Meyer.

LIASSON: So you have to explain to our listeners...

SNELL: She does.

KEITH: She really does.

LIASSON: Hey, can we explain to our listeners - what is an endcap?

SNELL: Oh, sure. The endcap is - it's at the very end of the aisle. And this one was prominently displayed next to the Starbucks - the in-store Starbucks at the Hy-Vee (laughter).

LIASSON: Endcaps are designed for...

KEITH: Impulse.

LIASSON: ...Impulse buys.

SNELL: So, like, I just imagine the Ken doll trapped in his little plastic box, looking out at the Starbucks, thinking, I could work there...

(LAUGHTER)

SNELL: ...Someday.

KURTZLEBEN: A boy can dream.

SNELL: He can also pick up a scented candle or some clearance Easter candy, judging by what else was on the endcap. So...

(LAUGHTER)

SNELL: ...Best of all worlds.

KEITH: OK. I think I'm going to go next. So today, there was a briefing at the White House for the first time in 45 days...

SNELL: Hey.

KEITH: ...Though no news came out of it because it was a briefing for children.

KURTZLEBEN: Oh.

KEITH: Today was Bring Your Child To Work Day. I did not bring my children 'cause I figured I was going to be recording this podcast later, and it would be a disaster to have my children in this tiny booth. But - so Sarah Sanders held a briefing for children. And at the end of the briefing, someone shouted, when are you going to hold a briefing for the real journalists?

SNELL: Wait - a kid or a reporter?

KEITH: It was a reporter.

SNELL: Oh (laughter).

KURTZLEBEN: Wait. What kinds of questions do the kids ask? And also, do any journalists try to plant real questions with the children?

KEITH: Well, some of the children - one child had a pretty pointed question - asked about child separation.

KURTZLEBEN: Oh.

SNELL: Oh.

KEITH: But, you know, there were other questions, like, what is the president's greatest accomplishment? And what kind of ice cream does the president like?

SNELL: What was the answer?

KEITH: She doesn't know what flavor, but she knows it's two scoops.

LIASSON: I thought it's vanilla.

KEITH: Well...

LIASSON: I thought he always gets two scoops of vanilla.

KEITH: I don't know.

KURTZLEBEN: I have no idea.

KEITH: She just - she said it was two scoops.

KURTZLEBEN: OK.

KEITH: But, you know, it is a moment of frustration. They also tried to make it be off the record.

KURTZLEBEN: What?

SNELL: Off the record - the president likes two scoops.

KURTZLEBEN: What (laughter)?

KEITH: I know. I know. And it was supposed to be...

KURTZLEBEN: Don't share this.

KEITH: ...Only for children. And parents of children were allowed to attend but were not allowed to cover it. They had to attend in their personal capacity. But everybody just, like, blew up the off the record.

SNELL: That is definitely taking the...

KURTZLEBEN: Oh, man.

SNELL: ...Off-the-record-I-have-some-useless-information-for-you art...

KURTZLEBEN: Taking it far.

SNELL: ...To a new level. That's...

KEITH: To a whole new level. Danielle, what can't you let go of?

KURTZLEBEN: All right. What I can't let go of is a news story that I saw on the Internet this week. It's from boingboing.net - so where all the awesome news comes from.

KEITH: The heavy news.

KURTZLEBEN: Yeah, the heavy news - right. This is about a guy named Matt Carthy. And the opening image on this is of a - you know, the kind of big, giant postcard flyer thing you get in the mail of any political candidate. This is a - he's a member of European Parliament. He's up for re-election. And so he is from the party Sinn Fein.

So it is a card that says Sinn Fein with a big photo of his face on it. And where this photo came from was a tweet that he put out this week. You see, this postcard is also lying on his laptop in this photo. In his tweet, he says, (reading) so I was wondering why the battery on my laptop was running down every time I left it at home - turns out the kids have been using my election leaflets to get through the facial recognition lock.

KEITH: What?

KURTZLEBEN: (Reading) I'm not sure whether to be proud by the wit or concerned by the sneakiness.

SNELL: Wait. I thought, like, facial recognition software's supposed to, like, look at 3D things. Like, it's not supposed...

KURTZLEBEN: I have...

LIASSON: A picture of you is...

KEITH: Oh, that's amazing.

KURTZLEBEN: Wow.

LIASSON: ...Works the facial recognition?

KURTZLEBEN: Apparently. Like...

KEITH: Do not tell my son about this.

SNELL: Wait. What model laptop is that? - 'cause I'm not buying it.

KURTZLEBEN: I can't tell. But, like - yeah, it's either about the evils of technology or the joys of having children or the evils of campaign advertising or some mixture...

LIASSON: Or the failure of privacy technology.

KURTZLEBEN: Well, yes - that.

SNELL: I guess it's all about the innovation of kids today. It is take your sons and daughters to work today or...

KEITH: Yeah - Take Your Children To Work Day.

KURTZLEBEN: Yeah, that's why I picked this, actually. That's exactly it - so can't let it go.

KEITH: All right. That is a wrap for today. We will be back as soon as there's political news that you need to know about. And for those of you in Philadelphia, we will be at the National Constitution Center tomorrow night for our live podcast. Everyone from the pod squad hopes to see you there. To keep up with up-to-the-minute news, follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Just search for NPR Politics. I'm Tamara Keith. I cover the White House.

SNELL: I'm Kelsey Snell. I cover Congress.

KURTZLEBEN: I'm Danielle Kurtzleben, political reporter.

LIASSON: And I'm Mara Liasson, national political correspondent.

KEITH: And thanks for listening to the NPR POLITICS PODCAST.

(SOUNDBITE OF THE BIG TOP ORCHESTRA'S "TEETER BOARD: FOLIES BERGERE (MARCH AND TWO-STEP)")

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