Behind the Lens: When the President Heard the News of the Supreme Court Decision on the Affordable Care Act
The President was in the middle of his daily briefing on Thursday when Brian Mosteller, the director of Oval Office operations, abruptly opened the door at 10:10AM.
Knowing a series of Supreme Court decisions were pending, I instinctively switched to my camera with a telephoto lens to zoom in on the President. Brian told the President that, in a 6–3 decision, the Court upheld a critical part of the Affordable Care Act, preserving affordable coverage for millions of Americans.
For one split second, the President’s face was blank as if he was trying to comprehend the news. He then reacted in jubilation.
The President wanted to seek out some other staff members. As he walked into the Outer Oval Office, Chief of Staff Denis McDonough was waiting for him. They exchanged hugs and fist-bumps.
The briefing soon resumed until the Vice President joined the meeting. He and the President exchanged congratulations.
White House counsel Neil Eggleston and Deputy Chief of Staff Kristie Canegallo interrupted the briefing to congratulate the President and to further explain the details of the decision.
As they were talking, I noticed that the clock in the Oval Office still read 10:10am. But it was actually almost 10:30am.
So, when the briefing finally ended, I asked Denis McDonough to come back into the Oval Office and showed him the clock stuck at 10:10am. I then showed him the back of my camera, where he could see the photo of the President first being told about the decision. The camera time read 10:10am.
What a coincidence on a historic day.