15 Feb, 2019FORTUNE.COM
The next time you catch White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders casually tapping away on her iPhone’s Notes app, be warned: It may be an emergency.
On Thursday, Sanders--who’s served in the Trump White House since 2017--tweeted an announcement confirming the president would sign a border-funding bill to avoid a government shutdown. She also noted the president planned to make good on his promise to declare a national emergency in order to further his goals for border security.
And she did it all apparently by using Notes, the bare-bones, highly informal text-based software used for such mundane tasks as writing out to-do lists, sussing out grocery items--or now, apparently, proclaiming a massive executive-branch power-play that could impact the entire country.
“President Trump will sign the government funding bill, and as he has stated before, he will also take other executive action--including a national emergency--to ensure we stop the national security and humanitarian crisis at the border,” Sanders wrote in her message, which featured the grey, textured background commonly associated with Notes. “The President is once again delivering on his promise to build the wall, protect the border, and secure our great country.”
Statement on Government Funding Bill: pic.twitter.com/DrNv9D4rEi
— Sarah Sanders (@PressSec) February 14, 2019
In past administrations, such a news-making declaration would occur at an official press briefing. However, Sanders rarely holds such briefings anymore, much to the chagrin of the White House press corps (but to the apparent delight of her boss).
Thursday’s announcement wasn’t the first time Sanders has apparently used the app to make a point. Last October, she posted a message condemning the explosive devices sent by Cesar Sayoc to multiple politicians. That missive was also clearly created using Notes, which allows iPhone owners to quickly write out a message, take a screenshot on their device, and then post the image to Twitter--effectively working around the platform’s 280-character limit.
In recent years, Notes has become a go-to medium for celebrities wishing to issue statements (and apologies) to fans and the media: YouTube star Logan Paul used it last year to address his controversial suicide video; comic Amy Schumer employed Notes in 2015 to counter complaints about the stand-up’s material; and Ariana Grande took to Notes that same year to explain her donut-licking scandal. Sanders’ screenshot appears be the first time the highest office in the land has used the default iOS app to announce major policy initiatives--and it likely won’t be the last.