Magazine | December 3, 2018, Issue

Office of Independent Counsel — Wiretap Surveillance Transcript

(Mike Segar/Reuters)


Static. Sound of aerosol spray.

potus: . . . just to get some on my fingers, and then I can use it to tack the strands down, you see? Don’t spray the head. Spray the fingers, and then use the fingers for a more accurate application of the hair product. Do you get it?

Ringing phone.

unidentified male voice: Hello? Mr. President?

potus: Yeah, hey, just a second. And then you dab it. It’s a dabbing motion. Gentle. Be nice to it. Be nice to the hair. Okay, yeah, back. Listen, can we talk, like, honestly? We gotta do something about John Bolton. He’s not getting the job done. Is it a whole thing if I fire the guy, I mean, you fire the guy? Should you fire him?

unidentified male voice: Sir, I am John Bolton. You called me.

potus: I know that. I was just raising the issue, on a think-about-it basis.

unidentified male voice: Are you unhappy with my performance, sir?

potus: No. Of course not. We have a tremendous relationship.

unidentified male voice: I’ve always thought so.

potus: I’m just thinking out loud here, you know. I’m not saying I want to fire John Kelly, but if I did want to, who would do it?

unidentified male voice: You want to fire John Kelly?

potus: I’m speculating. It’s like when you owe somebody a lot of money and you just think about what would happen if you just didn’t pay them. Like that.

unidentified male voice: Well, sir, me, John Bolton, me, not John Kelly, my feeling is that if you’re unhappy with the job he’s doing for you — and you know, sir, that I, John Bolton, the person you called, never really liked the guy — well, then, you should for sure fire him.

potus: I should?

unidentified male voice: Yes.

potus: Me? You can’t just do it?

unidentified male voice: Technically, sir, he reports to you.

potus: This has been a really wonderful call. Superb.

unidentified male voice: If I may, sir, you might want to think about —

Static. Sound of jars opening and closing.

potus: . . . sweeping gesture, upwards, always blend upwards, it creates a youthful glow, but you have to blend the concealer and the base, you have to contour. Do you know what I’m saying? Sweeping upwards with the sponge, relaxed strokes.

Ringing phone.

unidentified male voice: Yes, Mr. President?

potus: Just to pick up on what we were saying. Couldn’t it be Ivanka or Jared or someone like that?

unidentified male voice: For what task, sir?

potus: The whole Kelly thing.

unidentified male voice: The Kelly thing?

potus: Yes. I need to fire Kelly and I don’t know how to do it.

unidentified male voice: I am John Kelly, sir.

potus: Seriously? What is wrong with this phone?

unidentified male voice: Sir, if you are unhappy with my work, just say so.

potus: Unhappy? We have a fantastic relationship. It’s like a love fest without the kissing and the stuff!

unidentified male voice: Ohhhhh-kay.

potus: Plus, we just won the midterms! We’re a winning team.

unidentified male voice: Ohhhhh-kay.

potus: But for purposes of hypothetical information, how would I do such a thing as to fire you, my chief of staff? Is there a person, or a service I use?

unidentified male voice: No, sir. You just say, “John, you’re fired” and I’m out. Pretty simple.

potus: And is there a replacement process? Can we talk about that?

unidentified male voice: Sir, are you asking me to help find and vet my replacement?

potus: I’d really appreciate it. Right after you fire yourself.

unidentified male voice: I see.

potus: But do it nice because you really have been a tremendously superb chief of staff.

unidentified male voice: I see. Understood. And is there a timetable you’d prefer? As soon as possible? Next week?

potus: Well, not right this second. Let’s say, tee it all up and we’ll go from there. Next week, maybe during the holidays when everyone’s all crazy and running around and this is just one more thing.

unidentified male voice: Understood.

potus: Wait until there’s some other mishagas going on.

unidentified male voice: Sir?

potus: Mishagas. Yiddish for craziness. Learned it from my son-in-law. He said, “Boy, Mr. Trump, you sure do love a lot of mishagas,” and you know what? He’s right!

unidentified male voice: Sir, how about if I just wait for you to make it clear that —

Static. Silence.

potus: See! Look at me! You got the hair in the right swoop and it’s firm, like raw spaghetti, just like it should be. The face is maybe too subtle? I want to say more concealer but I like the blending. Really terrific blending. Look at me. I look great. And to think that some people would want me to go out into the rain! After all this work!

Ringing phone.

potus: Just checking up on Arizona! So much winning!

In This Issue



Books, Arts & Manners


Most Popular


In Defense of the Electoral College

Senator Elizabeth Warren has joined a growing chorus within the Democratic party in calling for the abolition of the Electoral College. Speaking at a forum in Mississippi on Monday night, Warren said that she hoped to ensure that “every vote matters” and proposed that “the way we can make that happen is ... Read More

Stick a Fork in O’Rourke

If, as I wrote last week here, Joe Biden may save the Democratic party from a horrible debacle at the polls next year, Beto O’Rourke may be doing the whole process a good turn now. Biden, despite his efforts to masquerade as the vanguard of what is now called progressivism, is politically sane and, if ... Read More
National Security & Defense

In Defense of the Iraq War

Today is the 16th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, and Twitter is alive with condemnations of the conflict -- countered by precious few defenses. Yet I believed the Iraq War was just and proper in 2003, and I still believe that today. When Donald Trump condemned the war during the 2015 primary campaign and ... Read More

Beto-mania and Our Cult of Personality Politics

Robert “Beto” O’Rourke’s biggest fans and supporters insist he is a forward-thinking, future-oriented visionary, but no contender for the Democratic nomination feels more familiar than the former three-term congressman from El Paso. That’s because he has the highest combined score in both déjà vu ... Read More