Weekly Roundup: Friday, February 14 Attorney General William Barr asked President Trump to stop his social media commentary on Thursday after the flap over the case involving Trump's adviser Roger Stone. The next day Trump tweeted in response.

Plus, with impeachment over Democrats and Republicans in Congress map out what future investigations may look like.

This episode: political reporter Danielle Kurtzleben, Justice correspondent Ryan Lucas, political reporter Tim Mak, White House correspondent Franco Ordoñez, and Senior Political Editor and Correspondent Domenico Montanaro.

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Weekly Roundup: Friday, February 14

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Weekly Roundup: Friday, February 14

Weekly Roundup: Friday, February 14

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DANIELLE KURTZLEBEN, HOST:

Hey there. Before we start the show, we wanted to tell you that we are having a live show next week. It is going to be next Wednesday, February 19, in Thousand Oaks, Calif. We are going to be breaking down the Democratic debate that is happening that very night. You will not want to miss this. Go to nprpresents.org for tickets.

BROOKE: Hey. I'm Brooke (ph).

ERIC: And I'm Eric (ph).

BROOKE: And currently we're sitting on our couch in the apartment we live in together.

ERIC: And that's significant because for the first year of our relationship, we were in long distance.

BROOKE: We were both working at newspapers across the state of Florida.

ERIC: And when we would drive to see each other on the weekends, we would listen to the NPR POLITICS PODCAST.

BROOKE: And then we would talk about it when we were together.

ERIC: Now we both work at the same newspaper and can listen together.

BROOKE: And we're about to celebrate our second Valentine's Day together.

ERIC: This podcast was recorded at...

KURTZLEBEN: 1:11 p.m. on February 14.

BROOKE: Things may have changed by the time you hear it.

BROOKE AND ERIC: OK. Here's the show.

DOMENICO MONTANARO, BYLINE: We are kind of like the glue - right? - that binds a lot of things together, the tie that binds.

KURTZLEBEN: That's what I have in my head every time we do this podcast.

FRANCO ORDOÑEZ, BYLINE: I just love the shoutout for newspapers.

KURTZLEBEN: Absolutely.

MONTANARO: Newspapers?

RYAN LUCAS, BYLINE: That's what Franco takes away from that.

MONTANARO: This is about love, man.

KURTZLEBEN: OK. Hello, everyone. It is the NPR POLITICS PODCAST. I am Danielle Kurtzleben. I cover the campaign.

ORDOÑEZ: I am Franco Ordoñez. 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.

KURTZLEBEN: So the president and the attorney general this week are publicly at odds with another, to put it mildly, after an interview that Attorney General Bill Barr gave with ABC News where he said essentially the president has to stop tweeting for the sake of his job, for the sake of the Justice Department.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

BILL BARR: It's time to stop the tweeting about Department of Justice criminal cases.

KURTZLEBEN: Ryan, set us up here very quickly. What went down between the Justice Department and Trump this week that would cause Barr to be upset?

LUCAS: This all ties back into the case of - who else? - Roger Stone, President Trump's longtime friend, adviser, political confidant, all ties back into that. Stone is going to be sentenced here in federal court in D.C. next week. The government filed a sentencing memo on Monday, recommended seven to nine years. Overnight, Trump tweets about it, says that it was a horrible sentencing memo, it was unfair. A few hours after that, the Justice Department comes out and says basically, you know what? This is an excessive recommendation. We're going to change it. They do. The Justice Department files a second memo requesting a far lighter sentence.

KURTZLEBEN: And it's unusual for the Justice Department to do that.

LUCAS: It is highly unusual for the senior leadership of the Justice Department to weigh in like this. Trump congratulated Barr on Twitter about having done this. The four prosecutors who were handling the case - Stone's case - they withdraw from the case. One of them resigns from the Justice Department entirely. This has all basically blown up.

KURTZLEBEN: Right.

LUCAS: There's been cascading kind of fallout from this since then. And then yesterday Barr gives this interview with ABC News where he, as we say, pushes back against the president on his tweets about the Justice Department.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

BARR: I'm not going to be bullied or influenced by anybody. And I said at the time whether it's Congress, newspaper editorial boards or the president. I'm going to do what I think is right. And, you know, the - I think - I cannot do my job here at the department with a constant background commentary that undercuts me.

LUCAS: Now, there's one thing that I will add on this. A person familiar with this matter tells me that this is something that the attorney general has told the president several times in the past several weeks. So these comments coming out is not something that the president has not heard from the attorney general before. Essentially, this is frustration that has been brewing for the AG for some time.

KURTZLEBEN: Very quick question before we get to how the president reacted. Let's get at the basics here. What does Barr mean when he says, I can't do my job with the president tweeting like this? Why can't he?

LUCAS: Well, he talks about how having the president tweet about the Justice Department, its employees, the cases that they are prosecuting in court and the judges that they're dealing with in court makes it very difficult to represent cases fairly, makes it very difficult for what they are doing to be perceived as free from political interference, from political bias and the appearance of fairness, even-handedness, integrity in the criminal justice system. And the independence of the Justice Department is critical for the public. Barr said that, and this has been one of the key things in this whole event.

MONTANARO: You know, we're skeptical by nature as reporters.

KURTZLEBEN: Sure.

MONTANARO: It's just kind of one of the things people hate about us, but it's what we're like. And there's been a lot of skepticism and suspicion about this interview and what Barr was saying. I wonder, Ryan, what you're kind of picking up from actual reporting and your own experience covering Barr and this Justice Department, how much of this was genuine? How much of this felt like a setup to, you know, appear to be distancing himself from the president for, you know, purposes within the Justice Department, for example?

LUCAS: I think that there is a degree of internal damage control that Barr is doing with this interview. He has come under a lot of criticism from folks within the legal world, from former Justice Department folks and because of this concern over what this means for the independence of the Justice Department from the White House. There's supposed to be a wall between the Justice Department and the White House, and there are concerns that that wall is coming down under Barr's watch.

KURTZLEBEN: Well, so let's swing this over to the White House because the president has reacted on Twitter, of course. And he said the following. It starts off with a quote, "the president has never asked me to do anything in a criminal case" - and he attributes that to AG Barr. And then this is the president speaking here. This doesn't mean that I do not have, as president, the legal right to do so - I do, but I have so far chosen not to - exclamation point. So, Franco, let me ask you, is this true? Can he just do this if he wants to?

ORDOÑEZ: So I'm not a lawyer, but the lawyers and former federal prosecutors that I've spoke to said that, well, yes, technically by the letter of the law he can. He can also reach out and say to the Department of Justice that he sees criminal activity. He can do these things. But it is a very sticky area because he has to be sure that it's not politically motivated and that it also - that it doesn't involve areas that impact him directly. And there are real questions about that in this case because Roger Stone is someone who was tied to the president. They had a very close relationship. The former prosecutors that I've spoken to said it's very clear that the president should have had nothing to do with this. And it's really hurting his role as well as Department of Justice. Frankly, historically, presidents in both parties have long respected these traditions, you know, at trying to prevent kind of political influence from the White House on the Justice Department, especially in criminal cases. But Trump, you know, he's repeatedly done this and, you know, pressured law enforcement to go after political rivals or even drop inquiries of his friends.

LUCAS: And Barr actually said in this in this interview, you know, one thing that you can't do is dictate investigations into political rivals. That is really a red line. But the president does have wide latitude to say, you know what, I have concerns about wrongdoing of this company. It's something that should perhaps be looked into.

KURTZLEBEN: Well, this gets at something that Franco just said, the phrase he used was politically motivated. I mean, you talked about that red line that Barr drew, but it's not always clear how politically motivated something is, right?

LUCAS: Well, look. In the case of Roger Stone, the president's personal involvement is clear. He's a personal friend of Stone's. The lies that Stone was convicted of telling by a jury of his peers, prosecutors said in court he told those lies in order to protect the president. So there's no discussion here as to whether or not the president is related in some way to Roger Stone and what went on in this case.

MONTANARO: You know, one of the things that came out today was that the Justice Department said that it's not going to continue investigating or have a criminal case against Andy McCabe, who was the former acting director of the FBI. Ryan, I kind of wondered, is this a little bit of a test of this red line that Barr says that he's setting up between himself and the president?

LUCAS: It will be interesting to see whether the president is able to restrain himself on Twitter and not unleash, unload a barrage of tweets about Andrew McCabe on this. But look. As far as the relationship between Barr and Trump, these two have had a very strong relationship over the past year. Barr is a very strong, competent attorney general for this president. He has shown himself to be able to implement the policies that the president wants, needs. People have said he's gone so far as protecting the president. I don't think that this interview, you know, signals the end of the Barr-Trump friendship. But I think that there may be a bit of putting the president on alert that there are certain things that he does not want to be pushed on.

ORDOÑEZ: And I'll just add, you know, it was really fascinating to watch all the Republican leaders come out very quickly and kind of surround William Barr. You know, Mitch McConnell, Senate leader, went on Fox News, which is a great way to talk to the president, and said the president should listen to the attorney general about this. If he thinks his tweeting is hurting, then he should listen. And regarding McCabe, if I can also just add, I did - you know, I've spoken with some people about that. And that could help Barr in kind of proving that he is, you know, independent and showing that he's not doing the president's bidding. But what one of my sources told me is like, well, yes, it definitely helps, but at the same time, let's find out if that's the exception or the rule.

MONTANARO: But, I mean, you know, some real talk here. I mean, this is not an endangered relationship the way it was with President Trump and Jeff Sessions when he was attorney general because President Trump was so annoyed that he recused himself from the Russia investigation that the president felt like that was going to help him. And, you know, this president was not restrained in any way by being impeached. People who think he's going to be, you know, restrained or have some check on him, you know, it's not that he's unleashed or he's going even further, it's that he is who he is, right?

And the fact is that the ethical line is not always the legal line. And look. I mean, the fact is democratic institutions are only as strong as the norms and protocols that people follow. President Trump decides time after time that he doesn't need to follow them and that he's going to usurp them and go around them if it serves his interests.

KURTZLEBEN: All right. Well, with that, Franco, we are going to let you go. Thank you so much.

ORDOÑEZ: Thank you, guys.

KURTZLEBEN: And we're going to take a quick break, and when we get back, the future of congressional investigations.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

KURTZLEBEN: And we're back. And we have Tim Mak with us. Hey, Tim.

TIM MAK, BYLINE: Hey there.

KURTZLEBEN: Now, speaking of investigations, yes, impeachment is over, but there are still House Democrats conducting investigations into the president on Capitol Hill. So, Tim, these investigations that are ongoing that our listeners might have lost the thread on, what are they looking into?

MAK: Well, for example, I mean, the Judiciary Committee notes that they still have not finished the post-Mueller investigations that they were trying to do when this whole impeachment inquiry started. So that's one topic that I know that House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler is interested in continuing. But really, you do see a little bit of timidity from House Democrats. They've gone through this kind of enormous process of impeachment, and now you get the feeling they're not that interested in pursuing a lot of these threads further. You know, one of those big questions out of impeachment was, would they subpoena John Bolton, the former national security adviser, even after the impeachment trial was over? Here's what Nancy Pelosi said about that earlier this week.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

NANCY PELOSI: Our priorities are to do our job for the American people, to lower health care costs by lowering the cost of prescription drugs. We passed that bill. We hope that - we worked with the administration to put it together. We hope they don't abandon it, as they seem to have.

MAK: So you get a sense that they have a understanding of some political risks, that it might not be popular for them to continue investigating in the way they have over the last year.

MONTANARO: I mean, they already impeached him. I mean, there's not much left to do accountability-wise. Now, I mean, I would expect that oversight-wise, there will probably be some things, of course, that they'll want to keep looking at. But as a party, they don't want to be branded as just the anti-Trump party. They want to say that they've got a policy agenda that they're following. And clearly that's something Nancy Pelosi always seems to want to try to come back to so that they're not just seen as just living there to be against Trump.

LUCAS: Do you have a sense as to why Nadler really wants to keep on with the Mueller investigation? (Unintelligible). It's unclear to me what the political gain at this point would be for them. What is the calculation that they're making?

MAK: And what is interesting about that is that after Nadler said, you know - I had a conversation with Jerry Nadler in the last couple weeks. And he said it's likely that his committee would subpoena John Bolton. But after that, we heard from Nancy Pelosi, and we heard from Congressman Adam Schiff, and they were both kind of pouring cold water on this idea. And one of the reasons that this might be is because of the political effects that new investigations or continuing investigations or new subpoenas might have. I mean, polling shows that a slim majority of Americans were supportive of impeachment, thought that the trial was not fair, but that the president should have been impeached by the House of Representatives.

On the other hand, you get a sense from polling - there's a poll from Monmouth University that suggests there's a sense of fatigue in this country when it comes to investigations, that most Americans want to put impeachment behind them. Forty-three percent support the House continuing to investigate the Ukraine incident by calling new witnesses such as John Bolton. But a majority of Americans - 51% - say that the Ukraine investigation should end, for example.

KURTZLEBEN: Does that include Democrats' own base? Have - is there any sense that Democrats have tired of investigations into the president?

MONTANARO: I mean, look. Democrats clearly want to continue to hold the president accountable. They think that everything he's done has been really problematic. There's a degree of moral outrage, especially in very liberal districts, in blue districts. And they want to see whatever it takes to try to get - and force President Trump out of office and to hold him to account for things that they see as being unethical.

LUCAS: I want to come back to the Mueller investigation quickly and the fact that House Judiciary Committee says that it wants to continue this. The Ukraine case, they made the call to focus on Ukraine because it was simpler to understand. What do they feel that they are going to accomplish by continuing down the path of looking at the Muller investigation and trying to drag this out?

MAK: I don't know because a lot of people have forgotten what the Mueller investigation concluded already. I mean, this is months ago. And so the idea that they would go back to this topic may be getting a lot of pushback amongst House Democratic leadership.

MONTANARO: You know, look. Democrats don't want to be looking like they're continuing to pull on the same string of the sweater. Now, they might go down a different path. And if we're talking about Ukraine, I think they're going to start to push that to the side. But if you're talking about other things, then you could potentially see Democrats wind up investigating if they see new problems. I mean, we heard Nancy Pelosi say that she thought some of what the president's currently doing is a new abuse of power, so we'll see if that goes anywhere.

KURTZLEBEN: Right. But we should note here that this isn't limited to the House. Republicans in the Senate want to dig deeper on Hunter Biden, son of former Vice President Joe Biden, and Hunter Biden's connections with Ukraine. So we've talked about this before on the podcast. Very quick overview - what would the Republicans in the Senate be planning on digging into here?

MAK: Well, they want to continue digging on Hunter Biden and his role on the board of this company called Burisma in Ukraine. Now, Hunter Biden was on the board at a time when Joe Biden was vice president and looking after American foreign policy interests in Ukraine. And there has been this question of whether or not Joe Biden ever acted improperly with regards to Ukraine or whether Hunter Biden acted inappropriately and tried to solicit, for example, the help of his father in this corrupt organization called Burisma.

KURTZLEBEN: So contrasting this to what we were just talking about with Democrats, we have not been through a big, long on-the-Hill inquiry into Hunter Biden and Burisma. So do Republicans - do they have different risks than the Democrats on this because there might not be fatigue with this Hunter Biden business?

MONTANARO: Yeah. I think there is risk for Republicans. I mean, they can potentially look like they're conducting political retribution for the president of the United States when they - many of them weren't willing to go against him during impeachment, not call witnesses, et cetera. So, you know, I think both parties and their interests, they - leaders of both parties want to move on. I also kind of wonder these kinds of political investigations, you know, if this winds up getting shelved if Joe Biden doesn't become the nominee or looks like he drops out.

KURTZLEBEN: Right.

LUCAS: This is something that they can hold in their back pocket if they feel that they need to use it down the road politically.

KURTZLEBEN: All right. Well, let's turn to one more thing that happened this week. We're going to turn to Republicans' relationship with the president because this week some Republicans in the Senate - eight, to be exact - voted to limit the powers of the president. Tim, what exactly were they voting on?

MAK: Well, so you remember in January, when the president greenlighted a drone strike that killed a top Iranian general. And that led to a series of tensions with Iran. Iran responded by launching ballistic missiles at military bases in Iraq, and that left dozens and dozens of American service members with injuries.

And so the House and Senate have tried in its kind of most recent iteration to limit the powers of the president to conduct military action. And in this case, the Senate was voting on a war powers resolution that would curb the president's ability to send troops abroad to conduct military action against Iran.

Now, a lot of Republicans and a lot of Democrats agree on limiting the powers of the president in this way because they don't think about this as a rebuke of the president in particular, President Trump in particular, but in the ability of presidents to do this sort of action.

MONTANARO: Clearly, there are a lot of Republicans who don't want to go to war with Iran also. You know, and the fact is there was a degree of escalation that I think even a lot of Republicans were pretty uncomfortable with. And they wanted to put at least some check on the president. Now, the president himself has said he would veto this kind of legislation because he said it would tie his hands and it would embolden Iran. So we'll see where that goes. But remember, this is a country that hasn't declared war since 1942. It's not in Congress's interest at all to take a side being more hawkish or more dovish. They just don't want to be involved in it for the most part.

LUCAS: At this point in time, is there any indication that there are the votes to override a presidential veto if it comes to that?

MAK: No. The vote in the Senate was 55-45, right? And, of course, you need two-thirds in the Senate in order to override a presidential veto. And that's not what level of support is there. You know, since Sept. 11 and since the authorization of military force against Iraq leading up to the Iraq invasion, there have been repeated attempts over the course of the last 15, 20 years to limit the president's power and reduce the scope of his ability to conduct military action. Those attempts have failed over and over and over again, due in part to Democratic and Republican lawmakers just not wanting to take these tough votes on military action.

KURTZLEBEN: Although, to be absolutely clear here, though, this is not about reining in the president's ability to send troops wherever. This is purely about Iran in this case, right?

MAK: Yeah. In this case, it's about whether or not the president can use military force against Iran and - due to a lot of the alarm that came up after this escalation in tensions between these two countries, this is kind of a preemptive action by Congress to delineate where the president can go in the future.

KURTZLEBEN: So if there wouldn't be the votes to potentially override a veto, how meaningful is this that this happened this week - or how meaningful isn't it?

MAK: Well, you know, we talk a lot about whether Republicans are with the president. And here in this case, you have eight Republican senators saying we're not going to go with you on this.

KURTZLEBEN: Gotcha (ph). All right. We're going to take a quick break, and when we get back, it is time for Can't Let It Go.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

KURTZLEBEN: And we're back. And it is time to end the show like we do every week with Can't Let It Go. This is the part of the show where we talk about the things from the week we can't stop thinking about, politics or otherwise. And I'm going to go first because I feel like it. So my Can't Let It Go this week, you guys, is Valentine's themed. I know we are all feeling the love in the air, and it would appear that White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer is as well - former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer is as well. I saw this whiz by me on Twitter. I assumed it was a joke. It is not. This is an article from mediaite.com that says that Spicer will record you a Valentine's Day message for your loved one on this website Cameo for just $199.

MONTANARO: Did we get one for this podcast?

KURTZLEBEN: I mean...

MAK: It's not too late. If we can hold the pod for a few hours for Sean Spicer to record...

MONTANARO: We could tell him we want to interview him.

KURTZLEBEN: And for someone to fork over $200 for that.

MAK: That's clearly expensible (ph).

KURTZLEBEN: But - that's true. Call up accounting. No. But, like, so I went to this website. I did not know this existed.

MONTANARO: Make your relationship spicer (ph).

KURTZLEBEN: Get out of the studio.

(LAUGHTER)

MONTANARO: But I went to this website. It is a place where you can go through and find a lot of - celebrities might be a loose term.

MAK: C-list, D-list types.

KURTZLEBEN: Yeah, a lot of reality TV types, and pay X amount of money to get so-and-so to record a video for your beloved or for any sort of thing. So Sean Spicer, for the low price of around 200 bucks...

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

SEAN SPICER: This month, for the entire month of February, my videos that normally cost $400 - over 50% off - $199 is going to give you the best Valentine's Day gift ever. What a way to say I love you, I'm thinking of you this Valentine's Day than a video from me.

KURTZLEBEN: That's what I can't let go. Tim, how about you tell us?

MAK: All right. The Washingtonian did a series of 25 only in Washington, D.C., love stories or stories.

KURTZLEBEN: Oh, man.

MAK: You heard about this? One of the stories is about a former NPR intern.

MONTANARO: Oh, yeah.

MAK: And...

MONTANARO: Greg (ph).

MAK: Greg. Greg 22, who...

KURTZLEBEN: Not his real name.

MAK: ...Says in his story that he would go to parties and the host would introduce him as an NPR person. And then everyone would, quote, "lose their minds and huddle around me." He said he probably got 50 to 60 Tinder dates just as a result of being an NPR intern because people would continually message him OMG NPR. And he said once he left NPR, he did not get very many matches. So he attributes his summer of love to putting NPR on, I guess, his Tinder profile.

MONTANARO: Summer of love?

(LAUGHTER)

MONTANARO: Jesus.

KURTZLEBEN: OMG NPR, let me just say, is a terrible opening line. You got to open better than that, people.

MAK: I have never - not a single time has anyone even mentioned NPR to me in any of my conversations with matches.

KURTZLEBEN: Does your - all right.

MAK: I think what we're trying to say is that no one is getting the NPR, you know, dating app bump except for Greg 22. Best of luck to you, Greg.

MONTANARO: Way to go, Greg. I hope it works out. All right. Domenico, what can you not let go of?

MONTANARO: Well, continuing the love here, I cannot let go of "Parasite," the movie that won best picture. I - you know, admittedly didn't really know a ton about the movie. I heard some stuff about it in the runup to the Oscars last week. And then given the fact that it just swept through and the personality of the director, Bong Joon-ho, he was just so electrifying and so fun that I was like, I've got to watch this movie - and then also seeing #oscarssokorean trending made me laugh. And I love that. And - watched the movie. And by the way, I'm not even giving anything away, it's really, really good. And how funny he is for as dark and spots as this movie is, it's very, very funny.

KURTZLEBEN: Oh, yeah.

LUCAS: I thought you were going to say the thing that I can't let go this week are parasites. And I was, like, Domenico, you don't get to let go of them. They have to let go of you.

MONTANARO: Well, then there's the deeper meaning within the movie.

KURTZLEBEN: Scathing indictment of capitalism.

MAK: I avoided the movie for a long time because I thought it was about parasites. And I was like, is there are a lot of blood, gore? I mean, the name does not - the name is kind of metaphoric.

MONTANARO: It's metaphoric. Yeah, but it's metaphor, though.

MAK: But I didn't realize. I didn't realize.

MONTANARO: Did you see it?

MAK: I haven't seen it.

MONTANARO: Oh, anybody seen it?

KURTZLEBEN: Oh, yes.

MONTANARO: Yeah. Well, if you haven't, go see it.

LUCAS: What can I not let go this week? As a child of the great state of Wisconsin, home to the Wisconsin Badgers and Bucky Badger in particular, the thing that caught my eye this week...

MONTANARO: The Iowan across from you is like rolling her eyes at - There's some Big 10 shade going on here.

KURTZLEBEN: I didn't roll my eyes for a second.

MONTANARO: I don't know.

KURTZLEBEN: I'm pumped about fellow Midwestern news. Ryan, do go on.

LUCAS: Fellow Midwesterner, I will continue.

KURTZLEBEN: Thank you.

LUCAS: East Coast folk. Anyways...

MONTANARO: We always try to cause problems. It's true.

LUCAS: There's a book coming out by two Daily Beast reporters about the Trump White House. The book is called "Sinking In The Swamp: How Trump's Minions And Misfits Poisoned Washington." And there's a portion in there that got some traction on social media that caught my eye because it does relate, in fact, to badgers because former Chief of Staff Reince Priebus is from Wisconsin as well. And apparently, according to this book, in the middle of briefings, Trump would often interject with questions about badgers.

MONTANARO: Are you serious?

KURTZLEBEN: (Laughter).

LUCAS: And according to this account, he wanted to know about their disposition. Are they mean to people? Are they friendly creatures? He was interested crucially apparently in how badgers, quote, "work" exactly.

KURTZLEBEN: Wait. Wait. Wait. I want to get this straight. So Reince Priebus is sitting down with the president saying like, Mr. President, your poll numbers in South Carolina - and the president's like, wait, wait, wait. Tell me about badgers.

LUCAS: Reince, I got to know about these badgers. Yeah, apparently so. It's an odd thing to kind of obsess about but, you know, badgers are odd creatures.

MONTANARO: What is their disposition, Ryan?

LUCAS: They're surly creatures.

MONTANARO: They are surly.

LUCAS: They are surly creatures.

MONTANARO: I mean, there's a reason they're a mascot. They're not going to be totally friendly.

KURTZLEBEN: Yeah. They got to be formidable, you know.

MONTANARO: You know, Wisconsin, I think most important state in the election this year, you know. So, you know, we'll be badgering you for more information.

KURTZLEBEN: Hi-yo (ph).

LUCAS: Oh, boy.

KURTZLEBEN: And with that, between excellent jokes and badgers and dating apps, we've hit all the bases today. So that is a wrap, except we do have to let go of one more thing or person, and that is Tim Mak. Tim, you will be leaving the Washington Desk, correct?

MAK: That's right. I'll be joining the investigations desk. But I won't be going far because I'll be doing Washington investigations, political investigations. So you'll still hear from me from time to time.

KURTZLEBEN: You'll still talk to us. Great.

MONTANARO: We need that badger-like digging. Do they dig?

LUCAS: They are diggers.

KURTZLEBEN: All right. That is a wrap for today. We're clearly out of steam. Our show is produced by Barton Girdwood, Chloee Weiner and Lexie Schapitl. Our editors are Shirley Henry, Muthoni Muturi and Eric McDaniel. I'm Danielle Kurtzleben. I cover the presidential campaign.

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

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

MAK: And I'm Tim Mak. I used to cover politics.

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

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