Magazine | August 11, 2014, Issue

NSA Surveillance Transcript

DOCUMENT EXTRACT 07.18.14 19:33

Static. Noise on the line.

POTUS: “. . . very concerned. A civilian airliner is never a threat, Mr. President, and I think you owe the world an explanation.”

President of Russian Federation Vladimir Putin: “I find your tone disrespectful, Mr. President. I assure you we had nothing to do with this. As I have said, let’s have an investigation. Let’s look at the facts. But to accuse us of this kind of thing is both absurd and insulting.”

POTUS: “No, thank you.”

PORF: “No thank you? What means this, no thank you?”

POTUS: “I beg your pardon, Mr. President. I wasn’t speaking to you. I was talking to the waiter with the champagne.”

PORF: “You are at a party?”

POTUS: “A fundraiser, actually. Just stepped away for a moment to make this call.”

PORF: “Who is there? Are there many stars there? May I ask a question? Is Cameron Diaz there? I like very much Cameron Diaz.”

POTUS: “Can we please return to the subject matter at hand? This situation is very grave.”

PORF: “Yes, it must be. You even turned down champagne. I am impressed.”

POTUS: “I can multitask, Mr. President.”

PORF: “I guess you can. You seem to be handling a lot these days. The Middle East, the crisis on your own border, now this brouhaha. I’m surprised you have the time for this call.”

Static. Silence.

PORF: “Mr. President?”

POTUS: “I’m here. Was just chewing on a shrimp toast.”

PORF: “Would you prefer to reschedule this call?”

POTUS: “No! This is important. As you know, I have called upon our European friends to consider escalating the sanctions already in place.”

PORF: “This is an outrage. I cannot help but feel this puts our two countries on a very hostile footing.”

POTUS: “Yes, please.”

PORF: “Yes please?”

POTUS: “Sorry. Talking to the waiter with the gougères.”

PORF: “Oh! I love those. The little cheesy puffs?”

POTUS: “Yes, they’re very good. But we’re getting off track here — ”

PORF: “They’re delicious when they’re hot. But when they get a little cool I find that they’re often gummy, you know?”

POTUS: “These are hot. Just fantastic. I was at a fundraiser this morning and they had those little sausages in pastry? Ate about a thousand of those.”

PORF: “We call those in Russia ‘pigs in a blanket.’”

POTUS: “No kidding? That’s what we call them, too!”

PORF: “So you see, Mr. President, we are not all that different. Anyway, it was nice talking to you.”

POTUS: “Wait a minute! Just because I’m at a fundraiser doesn’t mean I’m not busy and focused on the crisis at hand.”

PORF: “Do I hear Jackson Browne singing in the background?”

POTUS: “Yeah. But seriously! Come on, now! This is a real crisis, Mr. President. The world is outraged at this. You cannot, simply cannot, evade your responsibility for this crime. And I want you to know that as president of the United States, I’m going to do everything in my power to make certain you are held accountable. Is that clear?”

Unidentified Female Voice: “Mr. President? I hate to disturb your call, but my son is trying to download a movie. We told him he could watch The Hangover while the party is going on, and he says that you’re hogging all the bandwidth. Any idea when your call will be over?”

POTUS: “Um . . .”

PORF: “Are you hogging the Internet, Mr. President? Bad guest behavior!”

POTUS: “It’s not me, it’s Skype. Uses up so much bandwidth.”

PORF: “You are calling me on Skype? Is this for real?”

POTUS: “I told you. I’m at a fundraiser at a private home.”

PORF: “Ah. Yes. Impressed that you could squeeze this call into your busy schedule.”

POTUS: “Mr. President, I assure you that this is a very important matter to me. Doreen, tell Tyler that I’ll be done in a sec.”

PORF: “Perhaps it would be easier to have this conversation when you’re back at your desk?”

POTUS: “That’s weeks from now, Mr. President. I have 16 fundraisers to attend before I can even think about vacation.”

PORF: “Oh, me too. So much to do. Can’t even begin to think about my summer vacation. Spending it in Crimea. Did I mention that?”

POTUS: “You may think I’m joking, Mr. President, but I assure you I’m not. I want you to know that there will be repercussions. Strong ones. Ones that bite.”

PORF: “Like you bite into that gougère?”

POTUS: “Not funny, Mr. President. I’m serious. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m late for my one-on-one with Jay-Z.”

PORF: “I love Jay-Z! Please tell him Vladimir said hello.”

POTUS: “I will do no such thing.”

PORF: “I see the sanctions have begun already. Enjoy your party, Mr. President.”

POTUS: “Yes, please. I’ll have a glass.”

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