The White House internship program found itself in the headlines Monday after President Donald Trump rolled his eyes and told a reporter to “be quiet.”
The eye-roll moment happened when a reporter asked the president questions about Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the Republican healthcare bill during his photo shoot with White House interns.
The reporter is Catherine Lucey from The Associated Press. She called out, “Mr. President, should Jeff Sessions resign?” The question didn’t sit well with President Trump. His picture-ready smile evaporated as he rolled his eyes. This sparked laughter from the crowd of interns who were circled around the president for a group photo.
Lucey doubled down, “Do you have a message on health care?” The follow up question forced President Trump to lash out. He told Lucey to “be quiet,” which nudged the interns into another outburst of laughter.
Responding in part to the laughter, Trump said, “You see, they’re not supposed to do that. But they do it, but they’re not supposed to.” He continued, “She’s breaking a code back there. But they don’t care. They don’t care about breaking codes.”
For Trump, it was business as usual — another uncomfortable moment with a member of the mainstream media he has come to despise.
But it was also a great moment for Trump.
Surrounded by the young men and women who work at the White House as interns, Trump appeared to be in his comfort zone. Taking photos is something he loves to do, and for a guy who hosted a TV program called “The Apprentice,” the smile on his face reflected his appreciation for being a significant part of the memories the interns are accumulating this summer.
According to the White House website, “[T]he White House Internship Program provides a unique opportunity to gain valuable professional experience and build leadership skills. This hands-on program is designed to mentor and cultivate today’s young leaders, strengthen their understanding of the Executive Office, and prepare them for future public service opportunities.”
Today, a letter written by an existing intern was posted on the White House website. It is entitled, “Intern Series: Immortalizing the Moment When a Bill Became a Law.”
The letter as it appears on the website:
As an intern in the White House Photo Office, I was given the opportunity to photograph President Donald J. Trump signing the Veteran Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017. Just half an hour before the signing began, I was told to grab a camera and follow one of the Official White House Photographers to the East Room. The room was already filled with people, and dozens of video and still cameras were pointed at a stage at the front of the room. I was taken to stand between the press pool and the stage, about six feet away from the desk where the bill lay, waiting to be signed by the President.
Soon after I got into position, Secretary of Veterans Affairs Dr. David J. Shulkin came to the podium and introduced U.S. Army veteran Sgt. Michael Verardo. Sgt. Verardo spoke about his experiences with the Department of Veterans Affairs after being injured by an improvised explosive device while serving in Afghanistan with the 82nd Airborne Division. Then, President Trump arrived and addressed the room, and as he spoke I snapped photos from my spot by the stage. It was intense to be shooting at such an important event, but after a few minutes I was so immersed in my work that I forgot about the pressure. My focus became capturing as many moments as possible.
President Trump sat at the desk and signed the Veteran Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act. It occurred to me as the President penned his signature that I was standing just feet away as a bill officially became a law. It was literally history in the making, and I caught it all on my camera.
For me, the best part might have been after the event, when President Trump posted two of my photos on his Instagram account. One is of him signing the bill, and the other is of him shaking hands with Sgt. Verardo. It was surreal to see my images posted by the President of the United States. The experience has been one of the defining moments of my time as a White House Intern.
Claire Barnett is from Clarksville, Tennessee and is a freshman studying Human and Organizational Development at Vanderbilt University. Claire is a member of the Summer 2017 White House Internship Program in the Photo Office.
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