The Impeachment Questions We Were Afraid to Ask

ImageA third grader brought our reporter the hard-hitting questions.
Credit…Bianca Giaever/The New York Times

Our producer Bianca Giaever on meeting Leo:

For the past few days, I’ve been fielding text messages, phone calls and social media messages all asking: “Where did you find Leo?”

Leo is the 8-year-old we featured in Wednesday’s episode, “A Third Grader’s Guide to the Impeachment Hearings.”

As Michael Barbaro mentioned in the episode, I just joined “The Daily.” My mission is to incorporate kids into our news coverage, and I wanted to do a story for kids about impeachment.

I was driving to a murder mystery dinner party on Halloween weekend, and asked if anyone knew a kid interested in impeachment. My friend’s colleague mentioned that her third-grade nephew had been following the impeachment inquiry. Soon, I was on the phone with Leo. He assured me that he was “very, very interested” in the subject.

I went to Leo’s house in New Jersey, where we had 24 hours to prepare for his interview with national security reporter Mike Schmidt. Leo is an artist, and had been making impeachment-inspired drawings. He was very informed, but there were some gaps in his understanding. For example, Leo thought that “whistle-blower” was an elected position in government. There was also some confusion over whether it was Joe Biden or his son running for president (because Biden’s name is technically Joseph Biden Jr. — it’s confusing!).

Talking to an 8-year-old in a critical moment for our country was a risky move. We had no idea how the conversation would go. Mike Schmidt travelled from Washington to New York on an early-morning train, because he wanted to be there in person. He showed up in a suit and cufflinks.

Leo sat with me, Mike and Michael in the studio. His parents watched from the control room as he consumed a hot chocolate in under 30 seconds. We knew the show would work as soon as Michael said, “Right, same concept. Do not chase after dolphins. Do not ask the president of Ukraine to do you a political favor.”

When Mike explained “this big thing called the Cold War,” we got to hear Leo learn American history in real time. I had hoped that our story would be funny and informative, but I hadn’t expected it to also be moving.

We plan to continue doing stories with kids. If you’re a parent, we want to hear your kids’ questions. The questions can be about the news (“What is happening with the Supreme Court and DACA?”) or about anything they want to learn (“How are pencils made?”). If you can record your kids asking questions on your phone and pass along the audio, that’s even better than a written question. And if your kids want to send us a song they made up, we’ll take that, too. Say hello at thedailykids@nytimes.com.

Talk to Bianca on Twitter: @biancagiaever.


ImageLeo (b. 2011). “Whistle-blower,” 2019. Colored pencil on paper.

Release the drawings,” one person tweeted at Michael after hearing Leo describe his impeachment artwork on Wednesday’s episode. “I just hope that in your newsletter you can include that drawing,” another connoisseur of fine things emailed us. Well, dear listeners, we’ve got you.


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Friday: Amanda Taub on the protests in Chile: “What’s happening in Chile goes to this question that countries all over the world are asking, which is basically: Is more capitalism always better?”


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