Magazine | May 19, 2014, Issue

NSA Document Extract: POTUS Telephone Intercepts

Begin Extract


“I need you to stop hanging around with Republicans.”

“What do you . . . what is this, Mr. President?”

“I see you on the Instagram or whatever. Out and about. At campaign events. All over the place. And I don’t like that element. I don’t like it.”

“Sir, with all due respect, do you know who you sound like?”

“Do I — what? What?”

“You sound a little like the owner of the L.A. Clippers, that guy, Donald Sterling?”

“Don Sterling? What? What are you talking about? This isn’t a race thing! This is you appearing at campaign events with Republicans.”

“Sir, with all due respect, I’m fighting for my Senate seat. Louisiana is a tough state for a Democrat and I’m — ”

“You should be with your own kind.”

“I don’t understand. I don’t see your views. I wasn’t raised the way you were raised.”

“Well then, if you don’t feel — don’t come to the White House. Don’t bring Republicans and don’t come.”

“Do you know that there’s a whole house of Congress that’s Republican? That the Senate is in play?”

“You just, do I know? I support them and give them tickets to the Kennedy Center and whatnot. Who gives that to them? Does somebody else give that to them? Do I know that there’s a Congress . . . Who makes the government? Who makes the policy? Do I make it, or do they make it?”

“I’m in a tough Senate race, sir.”

“It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you’re associating with Republicans. Do you have to?”

“Do I have to? Yes! I’m ten points behind!”

“I’m just saying, in your lousy Instagrams and your campaign literature, you don’t have to have yourself with, walking with Republicans. Don’t put them on Instagram or commercials for the world to have to see so they have to call me. And don’t bring them to my games.”


“Okay, forget that. That sounded a little Donald Sterling–ish. I take that part back. But only that part. The rest stands.”

“Sir, I’m having a hard time understanding you. As I’ve said, I need to win this race. And that may mean taking a step away from you and your administration. Surely you can see that?”

“I don’t see it that way. I don’t like you hanging out publicly with that element. I don’t like to see Republicans anywhere.”

“That’s like saying, ‘Let’s just persecute and kill everyone who’s different.’”

“You’re a mental case, you’re really a mental case. We’re comparing this with — ”

“Discrimination! Yes!”

“There’s no discrimination here. If you don’t want to be . . . walking . . . into a campaign event with a Republican!”

“You really do sound like the owner of the L.A. Clippers.”

“Stop saying that!”

“Okay, well, in one of those pictures I’m with Lindsey Graham. And I thought, you know, that that would be okay because he’s basically mixed, like me. He’s a RINO squish, so I thought that wouldn’t make you mad — ”

“But he’s one of them, don’t you see? He’s on the other side! It just looks dirty and wrong to see you with one of them.”

“But isn’t that what voters are rejecting? This kind of partisanship? Isn’t that what our message should be when we head into the midterms? That we can build bridges and reach across the aisle?”

“No! Don’t be crazy! There’s nothing we can do about that.”

“But shouldn’t we take a stand for what’s right? And be the change and the difference?”

“I don’t want to change the culture, because I can’t. It’s too big and too [unintelligible].”

“But you can change yourself.”

“I don’t want to change. And if the senator from Louisiana can’t do what I want, I don’t want the senator from Louisiana. I’ll find a senator from Louisiana that will do what I want! Believe me. I thought you were that senator — because I tried to do what you want. But you’re not that senator.”

“I’m really sorry, Mr. President.”

“This may cause our relationship to break apart. And if it does, it does. It’s better to break apart now than to break apart later.”

“Mr. President, are you jet-lagged?”

“What? No! This conversation is over. Debbie, get me Senator Pryor!”


End Extract

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