WASHINGTON - The guests, in their witches' hats and Princess Leia buns, were not too adorable to hear some difficult truths from their commander in chief.
"I cannot believe the media produced such beautiful children," President Donald Trump marveled, surrounded in the Oval Office by the Halloween-costumed offspring of White House reporters. "How the media did this, I don't know."
The children stared vacantly. The candy had not yet arrived.
For some 180 seconds on Friday (Oct 27), these visitors inspired a quintessential Trump performance - part executive gripe session, part grandfatherly charm, part open-mic night for the under-12 set.
But one throughline was clear: Trump regretted to inform his new friends that their parents, while surely nice enough at home, were not to be trusted.
"These are beautiful, wonderful children," he began, pausing for a beat behind his desk. "Ughhh. You going to grow up to be like your parents?" He waved his hands horizontally.
"Mmm, don't answer," he decided, as a Leia and a Batman looked on quizzically. "That can only get me in trouble, that question. No. You have wonderful parents, right?"
There was more: "So, how does the press treat you? I'll bet you get treated better by the press than anybody in the world, right? Huh? I think so. Hi, sweetheart."
And some for the parents: "Well, congratulations, folks," he said, turning to the journalists and gesturing towards the children. "You did a good job. You did a good job. Here, you did a good job."
He pointed to himself. "I wouldn't say you did very well here . But really, beautiful children."
The group did not leave empty-handed. As Trump riffed, the White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, delivered him a collection of sweets to distribute.
"What is this? Ooohhh," Trump said. "Well, I don't think they want any gifts or candy, right? You ready? So this is from the White House, look. See what that says?"
"Ooh, they're Hershey's Kisses," a girl observed.
"Who likes this?" the President asked. "And you have no weight problems. That's the good news, right?" The joke did not kill in this room.
Other efforts to connect were more successful.
When a younger child, unnerved by the cameras, appeared on the verge of tears, the President reached over, hoping to console her.
"Are you crying? Come here, sweetheart," he said.
"She's Japanese," another child said.
"She's Japanese!" Trump replied, flashing a quick smile. "Beautiful. She's Japanese. I'm going to be in Japan. In two weeks, I'll be in Japan."
"I know," another girl said, nodding in a green-trimmed witch's hat.
Some outfits seemed to pique the President's interest more than others.
On a Darth Vader mask: "Scary outfit," he said twice.
On the girl with purple hair: "What colour is that? Purple?"
With this, Sanders indicated that it was time to wrap up. She and Trump thanked everyone.
"They can stay," Trump said of the children, with a smirk and a sweep of his hand. "The parents, maybe not so much."