Just hours after President Donald Trump announced that transgender individuals would be banned from serving in the military, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders opened the highly anticipated press briefing with a letter.
Written by a 9-year-old boy named Dylan, affectionately known as "Pickle," the move seemed like a calculated distraction from the pressing matters at hand.
"You are my favorite president," the letter read. "I like you so much I had a birthday about you. My cake was the shape of your hat."
Dylan aka Pickle thank you for your letter and hope to meet you soon! pic.twitter.com/XZlJARZ9cs— Sarah Huckabee (@SarahHuckabee) July 26, 2017
It would be cute if the subject wasn't Trump.
Sanders then went on to read aloud the little fan's questions.
"How much money do you have?" Dylan asked.
"I'm not sure, but I know it's a lot," Sanders chuckled in reply.
The presence, or lack thereof, of Trump's tax returns corrupts what could have been a sweet exchange.
"I don't know why people don't like you," Dylan wrote.
"Me either, Dylan," Sanders responded.
The beat of silence that followed spoke volumes.
After concluding the little boy's letter, Sanders opened the floor for questions, and journalists were quick to jump to the topic du jour. However, the press secretary had nothing but vague answers to offer, and at one point, even politely said that she'd "call it a day" unless reporters changed the subject.
Reading letters publicly from citizens is nothing new for presidents, but the only way to keep it from looking contrived is to be genuine. While Pickle's letter was heartfelt, Sanders and the Trump administration's use of it was not and it left an especially bad taste in the mouth.
Banner and thumbnail source: Reuters photographer Jonathan Ernst