Weekly Roundup: Friday, October 11 President Trump held his first rally since House Democrats escalated their impeachment inquiry. Plus, the growing divide between President Trump and many of his fellow Republicans over his decision to move U.S. troops in Syria out of the way of a Turkish incursion threatens his delicate alliance with the congressional GOP at a time when he needs their support more than ever. This episode: political correspondent Scott Detrow, White House reporter Ayesha Rascoe, political reporter Tim Mak, senior editor correspondent Domenico Montanaro, and justice correspondent Ryan Lucas. 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: Friday, October 11

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Weekly Roundup: Friday, October 11

SCOTT DETROW, HOST:

Quick note before we get started - we are doing a live taping of our show in Washington, D.C. So if you want to hear what we think about the latest political news or if you've just ever wondered what it's like to see a podcast taped live, join us at the Warner Theatre on November 8. Information and tickets at nprpresents.org. Hope to see you there.

EMILY: This is Emily (ph) in Chicago, Ill. It's the middle of the night here, but I've snuck into my daughter's room so I can be next to her as she goes from being an infant to a toddler. Happy first birthday, Clara (ph). This podcast was recorded at...

DETROW: It is 12:15 Eastern on Friday, October 11.

EMILY: Things may have changed by the time you hear this. For example, my partner Mark and I will officially be the parents of a 1-year-old. OK, here's the show.

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

AYESHA RASCOE, BYLINE: Aw.

DETROW: Hey there. It's the NPR POLITICS PODCAST. I'm Scott Detrow. I cover the campaign.

RASCOE: I'm Ayesha Rascoe. I cover the White House.

TIM MAK, BYLINE: I'm Tim Mak. I cover politics.

DOMENICO MONTANARO, BYLINE: And I'm Domenico Montanaro, senior editor and correspondent.

DETROW: And it is our Weekly Roundup, which we now do on Friday. And there is a lot to talk about today, including a surprising and sudden shift in foreign policy that has had very deadly consequences for Kurds in northern Syria. We're going to get to that in a little bit. First, we're going to start with impeachment, and we're going to start with the reason why, Ayesha, you are joining us from a loud airport.

RASCOE: (Laughter) Yes. So those sounds you hear in the background are the sounds of the Minneapolis airport. I am here in a walkway with a coat over my head, so I hope no one steals from me...

(LAUGHTER)

RASCOE: ...And I'll have to take off running during the podcast.

MONTANARO: Your stuff isn't under the coat with you?

(LAUGHTER)

RASCOE: I have some of it, but I can't get all of it. So, yes, I just - you know, if I start - if you hear me take off, it's because...

MAK: You know, airports are really safe.

(LAUGHTER)

DETROW: Well, tell us what you've been working on, what you were covering last night.

RASCOE: So I was here because President Trump held a rally in Minneapolis last night. And it was his first rally since that impeachment inquiry was started, and so he was able to kind of use the rally last night to make his argument that Democrats are coming out against him because he has been trying to tackle corruption. There was a big push on this idea of he is draining the swamp. That was his argument last night. And that the Democrats don't like it. And he also tried to cast it as him - as the Democrats are trying to reverse 2016, and they're trying to take away the votes of his supporters by going through with this impeachment probe.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: This is nothing but a partisan witch hunt, sabotage. And I'm sure they're going to say, totally unsubstantiated.

MONTANARO: It's almost like he's really bought into the idea that you can just say whatever because people have such little trust in the media and their fact-checking...

DETROW: Yeah.

MONTANARO: ...That as long as he says it, his people will stand by him. And it doesn't matter if it's true or not.

DETROW: Well, Domenico, his people will stand by him. But a new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll that came out yesterday had some pretty startling findings about what independent voters think about all of this.

MONTANARO: Well, yeah. There's been a big uptick with independents. First, let me back up for a second to just give you the lay of the land overall with the poll. A slim majority now of Americans approve of the Democratic House-led impeachment inquiry into President Trump. Fifty-two percent say they approve of the inquiry; forty-three percent disapprove. That's a slight uptick from a couple of weeks ago when we asked the same question, and it was 49%-46% then of people approving.

The big swing here was with independents, as you alluded to. Two weeks ago, a majority of independents were against the impeachment inquiry; now a majority of independents are in favor of it. It was a net 19-point swing.

DETROW: And I just think that's really worth underscoring. A 19-point shift in such a short span is not something we see that often, especially in this era of incredibly steady approval ratings for President Trump.

MONTANARO: Well, I think there's a couple reasons for it. I mean, first of all, with the facts that came out, the last poll that we had, you hadn't seen the whistleblower complaint yet. It was the night before that whistleblower complaint came out. What we saw from people in this poll, 68%, more than two-thirds, said that they thought it was unacceptable for a president to ask a foreign leader for help investigating a political rival. And 61% of Americans said that they do not think that President Trump shares their moral values.

DETROW: So Ayesha is in Minnesota. Tim, you are in South Carolina, and you are there because you are in the district of one of just a handful of Democrats who have not yet come out in favor of this impeachment inquiry. What are you finding?

MAK: Well, what's really interesting here is - you know, I'm in South Carolina's 1st Congressional District. It's a very coastal district. It makes up most of the South Carolina coast, or what's called the low country, from Charleston to Hilton Head. And it's a Trump-backing district, right? That Donald Trump won this district by 13 percentage points in 2016. But very surprisingly, a Democrat, Congressman Joe Cunningham, won the district by a narrow margin in 2018, right?

So this is the front line of whether or not Democrats can hold on to their congressional majority in the house. And the reason I'm down here is trying to figure out how is impeachment playing in a battleground district like this.

DETROW: And Tim, one of the reasons why impeachment really started to gain momentum with Democrats was that you had this big shift in a lot of other moderates in districts that had just flipped, saying, you know what? We've changed our mind. We're now in favor of this inquiry. What has Cunningham said?

MAK: Well, Cunningham has said that he wants to let the investigation play out. He's really been on the fence on this, right? He's one of a very small number, in the single digits - small number of House Democrats who haven't committed to supporting the impeachment investigation.

And what I'm hearing from here is that there are a ton of moderate Democrats, moderate Republicans, who support him kind of staying on the fence right now while the process plays out, that the people who he most needs to win reelection as a Democrat in this deep red district - I think it's fair to say it's a deep red district - those people say, hey, it's the right thing to do to stay on the fence and figure out how to approach the impeachment before jumping in for the inquiry right now.

RASCOE: Tim, are the people that you're talking to there, are they concerned about the whistleblower complaint, or do they feel like they just want to find more evidence before they make a decision?

MAK: One person that I think is really indicative is this guy I talked to named Jimmy Carroll. He's the mayor of a town in the district called Isles of Palms. And he's a Republican mayor, but he supports Congressman Joe Cunningham.

JIMMY CARROLL: We got bigger problems to worry about than impeachment. We've got to worry about our economy. We've got to worry about our education system. We've got to worry about our infrastructure. There are so many larger things than worrying about the actual impeachment process. I really - again, it comes to the president - I think there was probably some lines crossed. But is it worth pursuing? No.

MONTANARO: To underscore the point that Mayor Carroll was making there, you know, almost 6 in 10 people in our poll said that they'd rather see Trump's future decided at the ballot box rather than through the impeachment process. And I think it really speaks to the reticence that a lot of Americans have. They may disapprove of the behavior of President Trump, but they don't trust Congress, they don't trust the media or the information that they're getting from the press, and they'd rather this play out at the ballot box, unless there's overwhelming evidence.

DETROW: Yeah.

MAK: I think the instinct for so many Americans is that impeachment is going to be such a divisive topic in a time of political division that is already so extreme. They feel that there is no endgame here that doesn't leave America deeply, deeply divided in ways that could even be dangerous.

DETROW: Ayesha, from the tone of the rally last night, it's pretty clear that President Trump feels outwardly confident, at least in the way that he's being so combative about all of this. Have you heard from anyone in the White House who's really worried about this big shift in independents that our poll and other polls have noted lately?

RASCOE: I haven't heard that there is concern about it, but I think that there is a realization that when you have a probe like this happening, you don't know exactly where things will go and where things will land. And also, just this idea that - I think the reason why President Trump has lashed out the way he has about this probe is because it is something on his legacy that will be remembered. If he is impeached, he'll be the third president to be impeached, and I don't know that he wants to go down in history as one of those presidents.

DETROW: All right, Tim, we're going to let you keep reporting. We're going to take a quick break. When we come back, why two men were arrested at an airport trying to fly out of Washington, D.C., after having lunch with the president's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

DETROW: We're back. We're joined by Ryan Lucas. Hey, Ryan.

RYAN LUCAS, BYLINE: Hello there.

DETROW: So let's talk about one thing you didn't really expect to be covering this week...

LUCAS: (Laughter).

DETROW: ...As you as you wade through all of the impeachment twists and turns. Two men, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, two associates of Rudy Giuliani, arrested on Wednesday at Dulles Airport as they were trying to board a one-way flight out of the country. Who are these guys? What were they charged with?

LUCAS: So these men are of interest to us because of their work with Rudy Giuliani to try to dig up dirt on the Bidens in Ukraine. That's why we care about them. These charges do not relate to that specifically; these are conspiracy counts as well as a couple of others. The key thing from this indictment that we're really interested in is the fact that they, through political donations, ended up getting in front of a sitting congressman, who campaign records suggest is Pete Sessions - former Republican of Texas - and that these two pushed Sessions to get his help pushing out the then-U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch.

DETROW: Domenico, we just talked about the polls shifting when it comes to impeachment. The arrest of two key associates of Rudy Giuliani playing a central role in all of this seems like the type of thing that could really continue those trend lines.

MONTANARO: Yeah. I mean, look - everyone knows that Rudy Giuliani's been working for Trump's political betterment. He's been flying all over the world to try to get dirt either on the Bidens or figure out what Ukraine's role might have been in the 2016 election, but giving Trump something that he can use for the election. And that's certainly going to make Democrats feel like they're going to go even harder on impeachment.

DETROW: Ayesha, this is Trump's own Justice Department. This isn't Robert Mueller's special team. This isn't the House Democrats doing this. How's he responding?

RASCOE: He's essentially just saying he doesn't know these people; he doesn't know these two men and saying that they are associates of Rudy Giuliani, so you have to ask Giuliani about them. And so he's just distancing himself from the whole situation.

LUCAS: I actually asked Giuliani about them and their indictment yesterday, and Giuliani was not commenting. But I think one thing that we need to bear in mind with this indictment is this raises a lot of questions about Giuliani and whether he has legal troubles hanging over him - in other words, whether this indictment is a move to try to get to Giuliani himself.

DETROW: All right. So let's shift gears here. There was a really abrupt change in U.S. foreign policy that happened this week, and it's had really deadly consequences for Kurds in northern Syria. And it has led to a situation where a lot of President Trump's allies are more mad at him than they've been at any point in his administration. It's kind of complicated. Ayesha, let's start with what the president decided and how much thought went into it.

RASCOE: So basically, President Trump announced really just abruptly that U.S. forces in northern Syria would stand aside and allow Turkey to carry out this operation that is really targeting Kurds, Kurdish forces who have been allied with the U.S. And so what Trump is doing is saying that even though he does not agree with the operation, the U.S. forces will not be there to stop it or to possibly deter Turkey from going into this area and attacking these forces.

DETROW: So, Ryan, you actually covered the Syrian civil war for several years before you joined us.

LUCAS: Right.

DETROW: Can you explain how vulnerable the Kurds are and the complicated dynamics here? They're our allies. Turkey's our allies.

LUCAS: So the - first off, just to re-emphasize that the Syrian Kurds have been a key U.S. ally in the fight against the Islamic State. And they have been really on the frontlines with U.S. support waging that battle. So to just abruptly abandon them is something that is very difficult for them and for other U.S. allies. Now, they are very vulnerable in this position because, one, Turkey is a massive, massive military with a great deal of firepower. And there's really nowhere for the Syrian Kurds to go.

DETROW: And they are being bombed. They are having airstrikes drop on them right now. And they're our allies. And our military has basically just stepped aside. Like, that's not an exaggeration of what's happening right now.

LUCAS: That is not an exaggeration of what is happening right now. And the reason that Turkey is so insistent on going after the Kurds is because of Turkey's own history with Turkish Kurds, who - there's a group called the PKK, which is a Kurdish resistance movement. And they consider the Syrian Kurds to essentially be an outgrowth of the Turkish PKK.

DETROW: And this is being covered all over NPR's various platforms, but moment here where we're the politics podcast. We're going to talk specifically about the politics of this. Domenico, it was really striking. I mean, there's a whole range of things that President Trump does and Republicans either say nothing or say they would've liked him to say it differently or do it differently. The backlash from key Republican allies was fierce and blunt and really angry.

MONTANARO: Yeah. I mean, look; Republicans are outraged by this. The fact is, this is one area where President Trump has always sort of not fit cleanly into either political party's box. You know, he has these sort of non-interventionist strains where he talks about getting out of all these wars, right? And he throws this, you know, sort of blanket statement about - you know, whether it's Iraq or Syria or anywhere basically in the Middle East, Trump feels like the U.S. shouldn't be the world's policeman without realizing the damage that can be done to allies and literally lives lost for people who have had the U.S.'s back at times when not a whole lot of other people in the region did.

DETROW: So, Ayesha, let me read you a tweet from Liz Cheney, top-ranking House Republican, staunch, staunch ally of President Trump. News from Syria is sickening. Turkish troops preparing to invade Syria from the north, Russian-backed forces from the south. ISIS fighters attacking Raqqa. Impossible to understand why President Trump is leaving America's allies to be slaughtered and enabling the return of ISIS. How is he responding to all of this criticism?

RASCOE: So President Trump has said he doesn't think that this operation that Turkey is carrying out is a good idea. He's also said that if they cross this line, which he hasn't quite explained what this line is, but if they go too far in their attacks on the Kurds, that he will decimate Turkey economically, that he will issue these financial sanctions and that he will destroy their economy. But another interesting thing that President Trump has done is that he started talking more about kind of the casualties of war, the cost of war. He's talked about going to Dover and, you know, seeing the bodies return from overseas from service members who have been killed. And he's basically making this argument that this cost for the U.S. is too high. We should make clear that there are still troops in Syria. He hasn't - even though he's saying that he's ending the war, troops are still there.

MONTANARO: Ayesha, is there any indication why President Trump is making this decision now?

RASCOE: He made this decision after talking with Turkey's president, Erdogan. And it's not really clear why at this moment he decided to do this. He has been, for a while, saying that we need to get out of Syria because if you remember, former Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, he resigned over this very issue, the fact that President Trump was saying that he was going to pull out of Syria and leave the Kurdish forces on their own.

DETROW: With a resignation letter that just really spelled out in detail how important he viewed it was to backup promises to allies. I guess the last question on all of this is what happens next? There have been so many stories where the outrage from Republicans or the condemnation from Republicans was much more mild. But the question was, what are you going to do with that? What sort of step are you going to take? What sort of congressional pushback could we see on this?

RASCOE: Well, I mean, we do know that Lindsey Graham and others have said that they are going to put sanctions on Turkey. I think Lindsey Graham said if they step one foot into Syria that he's going to place sanctions on them. So they are supposed to be taking these bipartisan actions to try to keep Turkey from going too far with its operations in Syria.

DETROW: All right. Well, Congress comes back to Washington next week. There's going to be a lot of action on this. There's going to be a lot of action on the impeachment inquiry. We'll talk about all of this then. We're going to take one more break and come back with Can't Let It Go.

All right, we are back. And it is time to end the show, like we do every Friday, with Can't Let It Go, the part of the show where we talk about the things from the week that we cannot stop thinking about, politics or otherwise. Ayesha, what about you?

RASCOE: So yesterday there was - in addition to this rally that I was at - there was also a town hall going on on CNN. And Elizabeth Warren got this question about same-sex marriage. And she had this answer that's been blowing up the internet.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MORGAN COX: Senator, thank you for being here. Let's say you're on the campaign trail. And you're approached...

ELIZABETH WARREN: I have been.

COX: You have been, yes.

(LAUGHTER)

COX: ...And a supporter approaches you and says, Senator, I'm old-fashioned, and my faith teaches me that marriage is between one man and one woman. What is your response?

WARREN: Well, I'm going to assume it's a guy who said that. And I'm going to say, then just marry one woman. I'm cool with that.

(APPLAUSE)

WARREN: Assuming you can find one.

DETROW: That hypothetical guy is feeling embarrassed right now.

RASCOE: Yeah, he's feeling slammed. But, you know, I mean, it speaks to like how much politics have changed. As everyone will remember, President Obama did not at first support same-sex marriage. Changing the law, he had to evolve on that matter...

DETROW: In quotes, yeah.

RASCOE: ...At least publicly. At least - you know, that's what happened publicly. And so it speaks to where the Democratic Party is now on these issues.

MONTANARO: I agree with that. I mean, I think just tonally, you know, such a shift from how Democrats at least used to sort of pay lip service to, you know, saying, OK, these are sincerely held religious beliefs. And, you know, while we understand this is where people are coming from, you know, we believe that people have the right to love who they love, et cetera, et cetera. That is not what Elizabeth Warren did. And I think it really shows you that if she becomes the nominee, it's going to be a very different kind of race that she winds up running than you would have seen from Barack Obama.

DETROW: Yeah. What about you, Domenico? What can you not let go of?

MONTANARO: I cannot let go of the Christmas pickle.

DETROW: Yeah.

MONTANARO: I...

DETROW: Yeah, let's talk about this.

MONTANARO: I don't know if you even know what this is.

LUCAS: I have no idea what this is.

RASCOE: I don't.

MONTANARO: And I have to say, I went down a little bit of a rabbit hole. My son and I went to a dollar store because he had the great idea of getting a bunch of Lemonheads for a dollar. You get an entire pack of Lemonheads. He loves these things. So we did. And we go down one of the aisles, and it's replete with all this Christmas stuff. And we were joking that, like, it's so early.

DETROW: It's early October. Of course.

MONTANARO: Early October, why not? It's just Christmas...

RASCOE: Christmas season.

MONTANARO: And one of the things hanging there was the Christmas pickle. And I was like, what is this thing? Does anybody know what this is?

DETROW: Yeah.

LUCAS: This is a pickle ornament that you hide on the Christmas tree. And whoever finds it wins a prize, right?

RASCOE: What?

MONTANARO: That is exactly correct.

LUCAS: Bam.

MONTANARO: And I find it interesting that Ryan knows this. And probably Scott does, too, because of your...

DETROW: We had a pickle ornament, yeah.

MONTANARO: ...Wisconsin roots, both of you, because this seems like - I'm wondering if it's a Midwest thing because when I read Wikipedia - and Wikipedia knows all about this - Berrien Springs, Mich. apparently was known as the Christmas capital of the world. There was a pickle parade held there from 1992 until 2003.

LUCAS: Wait, was known as the Christmas capital of the world? I feel like that's a self-declared...

MONTANARO: No, no, no. Christmas pickle capital...

LUCAS: Ah.

RASCOE: Oh, Christmas pickle.

MONTANARO: ...Of the world.

LUCAS: That's a different matter.

DETROW: There's less competition for that.

RASCOE: (Laughter).

MONTANARO: I think North Pole might have something to say about the overall thing, but the Christmas pickle capital of the world.

DETROW: Yeah, so I actually was a little surprised by your tweets because there was a pickle ornament in the Detrow family that was actually pretty controversial because my grandma told me it was for me. And then she - at one point, she told my sister it was for her. And then she never wanted to get in the middle of it and kept telling us both the same thing.

RASCOE: (Laughter).

MONTANARO: What?

DETROW: It's my pickle ornament. I did not realize, though - yeah, it was mine. I did not realize that it was a broader thing, though.

RASCOE: Yeah.

DETROW: All right. Well, did you get a Christmas pickle, though? Are you going to...

MONTANARO: No.

LUCAS: Oh, come on, Domenico.

MONTANARO: I'm not getting a Christmas pickle.

RASCOE: Why not? That would be great.

MONTANARO: Seems...

RASCOE: Get a pickle. Hide it.

DETROW: All right.

RASCOE: And then whoever gets it gets the prize.

DETROW: All right.

RASCOE: I mean, it sounds fun. I've never heard of it, but it sounds fun.

DETROW: Ryan, other than Domenico's disinterest in Christmas pickles, what can you not let go of?

RASCOE: (Laughter).

LUCAS: I don't know if I can focus on what I can't let go of now because of this Christmas pickle scandal.

DETROW: It's a pickle we've found ourselves in.

LUCAS: Ooh.

MONTANARO: Does it make you hungry?

LUCAS: I love pickles. Anyways, on a nonpickle note, what can I not let go of this week? Most of my week has been knee-deep in impeachment and Rudy Giuliani and Giuliani's associates. But there's one thing that has drawn a bit of my attention, and that would be this ongoing snafu between the NBA, the National Basketball Association, and China.

MONTANARO: Oh, yeah.

DETROW: Yeah. This was crazy. Long story short, the general manager of the Houston Rockets, a team that has a huge following in China because of Yao Ming - superstar of the '90s (ph)...

LUCAS: That's right.

DETROW: ...Tweeted something that's pretty uncontroversial to most of us, tweeting support for pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong. And China responded pretty aggressively - basically, banned all Houston Rockets coverage in China, really pressured the NBA. China is an enormous market for the NBA. And initially, NBA's commissioner put out a statement that almost apologized for the pro-democracy statement. Now, that's kind of overboiling it down a little bit.

LUCAS: And there have been changes since then in what Adam Silver has said...

DETROW: Yeah.

LUCAS: ...The commissioner of the NBA. But the NBA came under a lot of criticism for the fact that, you know, here in the U.S., it has kind of cultivated this image as a league that's very progressive, wants its stars to be outspoken on social issues here at home. But here you have an executive criticizing an authoritarian regime overseas, and the NBA was seen as knocking it down.

MONTANARO: And, I mean, just to put this in context, you know, it sounds like, oh, the United States, NBA, China - what's the big deal? The Chinese market is a huge one for the NBA. There are billions of dollars at stake, and not even kidding when we talk about that with a B. There - it is their biggest market for expanding, and they've had some success putting on some games in China. And, you know, I think this shows you the difficulty that a lot of American businesses have...

LUCAS: Right.

MONTANARO: ...And are going to have you, no matter how big your brand is. If you're going to try to function within China, it's all run by the communist state. And if you speak up against them, it could be problematic for you.

LUCAS: And it's this tension between values and profits. And in the case of the NBA, which has been very outspoken domestically about values, people pointed to this as a pretty glaring example of hypocrisy. So Scott, is it you now? (Laughter).

DETROW: Yes. So I'm going to end by lightening the mood a little bit.

LUCAS: All right.

DETROW: I don't know if you guys were aware of this, but Taylor Swift was at NPR yesterday playing a Tiny Desk Concert.

MONTANARO: What?

RASCOE: I think I heard that somewhere - a little birdie.

(LAUGHTER)

DETROW: It was...

MONTANARO: Some of us weren't able to get in.

DETROW: Well, yeah. I mean...

RASCOE: And some of us were working (laughter) in Minnesota.

DETROW: The Taylor Swift concert itself is not what I can't let go of. I want to talk about another moment that I really truly cannot let go of, and it makes me very happy, and that is the moment - because Taylor Swift obviously was going to be the most popular Tiny Desk Concert ever. And NPR did something that it's never really done before except for a handful of times. It said - you know, anyone at NPR can go to these Tiny Desk Concerts, but they made us get tickets. And at noon on Wednesday, a link went live that you could click on to get tickets, and it was a very tense moment at the POLITICS desk mostly because...

RASCOE: (Laughter) Quite intense.

DETROW: ...Of our dear friend Barton Girdwood, who sits on the other side of the studio producing our podcast, who, if not the world's top Taylor Swift fan, is in, like, the single digits conversation of finalists.

RASCOE: Top three, top five (laughter).

DETROW: So Barton was very stressed out leading up to noon. I was stressed out as well, even though I'm a much more casual Taylor Swift fan. And I thought it might make sense to kind of roll tape on the moment when we all tried to get the tickets.

RASCOE: (Laughter).

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Four, three, two, one.

BARTON GIRDWOOD, BYLINE: What - an error occurred. What's happening?

DETROW: And that's Barton.

RASCOE: (Laughter).

DETROW: And it continued like this because the site was just overwhelmed, and it started to - it wasn't processing applications. So I'm clicking. I'm clicking. Barton's clicking and clicking. And the tension really escalates.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

GIRDWOOD: Oh, no. It's frozen. Never wanted to be in this position (ph). No. Yes. Yes.

(LAUGHTER)

DETROW: And this is Barton celebrating his success. Barton really needed to calm down.

RASCOE: Wow. But I am so impressed that you rolled tape on that, Scott.

DETROW: Of course. Of course.

(LAUGHTER)

DETROW: So Barton made it to the concert. I ended up getting into the concert as well. And I stood a few people behind Barton, who was bedecked in a shirt covered in Taylor Swifts.

MONTANARO: Many Taylor Swift faces - the whole thing.

DETROW: I think it was the greatest day of his life.

LUCAS: He is nodding.

MONTANARO: He's nodding, yeah.

DETROW: Barton confirms.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "YOU NEED TO CALM DOWN")

TAYLOR SWIFT: (Singing) You need to calm down. You're being too loud. And I'm just like, oh, oh - oh, oh - oh, oh...

DETROW: All right. So the folks at Tiny Desk will post that pretty soon. It's a great show. So that is a wrap for today. And let's end the week by thanking everybody who helped put this show together. Our executive producer is Shirley Henry. Our editors are Masani Mathouri (ph) and Eric McDaniel. Our producer is Taylor Swift superfan Barton Girdwood. Our production assistant is Chloe Weiner. Thank you to Lexie Schapitl, Dana Farrington Brandon Carter and Elena Burnett. I'm Scott Detrow. I cover the campaign.

RASCOE: I'm Ayesha Rascoe. I cover the White House.

LUCAS: I'm Ryan Lucas. I cover the Justice Department.

MONTANARO: And I'm Domenico Montanaro, senior political editor and correspondent.

DETROW: And thank you for listening to the NPR POLITICS PODCAST.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "YOU NEED TO CALM DOWN")

SWIFT: (Singing) You need to just stop. Can you stop? Like, can you just not step on our gowns? You need to calm down.

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