Behind the scenes with NBC's chief White House correspondent.
Julie Tsirkin compiled this report in collaboration with Hallie Jackson.
WASHINGTON — It was 11:16 a.m. Monday when the world found out about the press briefing happening just three hours later. It had been 42 days since our last one. And while some folks find the briefings less than helpful, given the ducking and weaving from the podium, we'll take any chance we get to ask questions to those in the White House.
Our team at NBC's White House Unit always has a list of questions prepped and ready to go — for the president, for his aides, or for whoever else we're able to corner. You never know when you might get scrambled to an impromptu press conference. (Seriously: you never know.) So we updated that with a few key questions, including some related to the president's explosive — and false — comments suggesting Democrats hate Jewish-Americans.
With a flurry of hands shooting up around the room, correspondents know they'll likely get just one shot at a question, if that. It means there's a limited opportunity for follow-ups. That's why, when I heard a colleague ask about the president's remarks about Jewish Americans — and didn't hear an answer from Press Secretary Sarah Sanders — I thought it was important to press again.
You know how that went.
And so, on Monday, the press briefing came and went, much like the other six briefings since Labor Day. It's much more common now to see and question officials on the West Wing driveway. That's more chaotic and much less formal, but for now it'll have to do.
Boeing ban: Better late than never?
All eyes turned to the United States after countries around the world banned the Boeing 737 Max 8 and 9 following the deadly plane crash in Ethiopia. But President Donald Trump didn't follow suit at first, even as the pressure built.
Behind the scenes though, I'm told the president and his acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney were busy working the phones. A senior White House official told me on Wednesday, half an hour before announcing his decision in the Roosevelt room, Trump called the Boeing CEO to let him know he was going to move to ground the jets. The president then publicly referenced his meetings with the FAA and DOT, who provided additional data and evidence from the crash.
First time for everything, veto edition
Although the 12 Republicans who voted to terminate Trump's declaration of a national emergency on the southern border may have surprised some, such defiance didn't surprise the White House. One official told me that the administration expected that anywhere between 10 to 15 GOP senators would vote in favor of blocking Trump's declaration.
Regardless of the final vote, the president was always sure about one thing: he would veto the bill as soon as it hit his desk. And while the signal sent from Congress was unmistakable — they want to pump the brakes on unfettered executive power — so was the underlying political dynamic: the president still has sway with Republicans looking out for their short-term interests, like re-election in 2020. After all, the president's approval rating is close to 90 percent with GOP voters.
And while the Republican rebellion may have been embarrassing for the president, he also plans to use it as an election issue to argue he's the one fighting the establishment on border security.
Every major press organization works out of its own little space in the White House. Picture a mini cruise-ship cabin, or a row of four seats on an airplane: that's about all the space we have. You spend hundreds of hours inches away from your colleagues.
As you might imagine, days in the White House can be kinda stressful, and we're not exactly sitting around popping bon-bons. But the thing that makes it work is the camaraderie — and it's a side of our unit that viewers almost never get to see.
So in a random moment of not-so-divine inspiration, I started doing this silly thing on my Instagram stories dubbed "Booth Buds." Random moments, funny songs, weird filters. Turns out, you guys really dug it. So I posted a few more — with the assistance of my ever-patient colleagues who put up with my snapping and posting. Check it out below: