Philip Rucker & Carol Leonnig: Trump’s Is A Presidency Of One

Philip Rucker & Carol Leonnig: Trump’s Is A Presidency Of One

February 7, 2020 100 By Sebastian Fry


HEY, EVERYBODY, WELCOME BACK. MY NEXT GUESTS ARE
PULITZER-PRIZE WINNING JOURNALISTS WHOSE NEW BOOK,
“A VERY STABLE GENIUS,” IS THE NUMBER-ONE “NEW YORK TIMES”
BESTSELLER. PLEASE WELCOME PHILIP RUCKER AND
CAROL LEONNIG. ♪ ♪ ♪
( APPLAUSE )
>>Stephen: HI, CAROL! THANKS SO MUCH. HEY, PHILLIP. COME ON UP. WON’T YOU PLEASE. THANKS FOR JOINING US HERE ON
THE LIVE NIGHT.>>WE’RE GLAD TO BE HERE.>>Stephen: OKAY, THE BOOK IS
“A VERY STABLE GENIUS.” AS I SAID, IT’S NUMBER ONE ON
NONFICTION. YOU’RE BOTH BONA FIDE TRUMP
EXPERTS. YOU SPENT YEARS RESEARCHING THIS
BOOK. WAS THAT THE STATE OF THE UNION
OF ALL EXPECTED?>>A LITTLE BIT. I MEAN, HE WAS– HIS TYPICAL
MODE, WHICH IS “I MADE THIS COUNTRY BETTER. I MADE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN. I ACCOMPLISHED ALL THESE AMAZING
THINGS.”>>Stephen: MADE IT GREATEST,
ACTUALLY, GREATEST.>>BETTER THAN EVER BEFORE.>>Stephen: STRONGEST UNION OF
ALL TIME.>>AND HE WAS– HE WAS NOT GOING
AFTER HIS ENEMIES AS MUCH AS I THOUGHT HE MIGHT. YOU KNOW, HE HAS A THING ABOUT
GOING AFTER PEOPLE THAT HE THINKS ARE ATTACKING HIM, AND HE
DID LESS OF THAT TONIGHT.>>Stephen: THERE WAS– PEOPLE
WERE SAYING THERE WAS A BIT OF A REALITY SHOW TOUCH TONIGHT, THAT
HE AWARD A SCHOLARSHIP, AWARDED A MEDAL OF FREEDOM, REUNITED A
SOLDIER WITH HIS FAMILY. BUT PLOAS HEHER OWN MOMENT WHEN
SHE RIPPED UP THAT SPEECH. WAS THAT SURPRISING TO YOU,
BASED ON WHAT YOU KNOW ABOUT HER AND THEIR RELATIONSHIP?>>WELL, LAST YEAR, SHE DID THE
CLAP, REMEMBER?>>Stephen: YES.>>SO, THIS YEAR SHE RIPPED UP
THE SPEECH. WE ACTUALLY HAVE A SCENE IN THE
BOOK THAT’S REALLY TELLING ABOUT PELOSI. EARLY ON IN THE ADMINISTRATION,
A COUPLE OF DAYS AFTER THE INAUGURATION, WHEN THE PRESIDENT
IS HAVING A RECEPTION AT THE WHITE HOUSE WITH CONGRESSIONAL
LEADERS, HE’S GOING ON ABOUT HOW THERE WAS VOTER FRAUD, HE REALLY
WON THE POPULAR VOTE BECAUSE THREE TO FIVE MILLION PEOPLE
VOTED ILLEGALLY IN CALIFORNIA– AND THAT WAS NOT TRUE. PELOSI CONFRONTED HIM ABOUT IT
AND STEVE BANNON WHISPERED TO OTHER ADVISERS, “”SHE’S AN
ASSASSIN. SHE’S A TOTAL ASSASSIN, AND
SHE’S GOING TO GET US.” THAT’S THE PELOSI WE SAW
TONIGHT, THE ASSASSIN MOVE RIPPING UP THE SPEECH.>>Stephen: AND THAT WAS
BEHIND HIS BACK. HE COULDN’T SEE HER DO IT. THAT WAS A SMART WAY TO DO IT. HE WILL FIND OUT AFTER WHEN
PEOPLE TELL HIM.>>HE WILL SEE THE CLIPS.>>Stephen: HE DIDN’T MENTION
IMPEACHMENT AT ALL.>>NO.>>NO, HE REALLY DIDN’T.>>Stephen: DIDN’T BRING IT
UP.>>AND PRESIDENT CLINTON DIDN’T
BRING IT UP, EITHER. ONE OF THE THING’S THAT’S
INTRIGUING ABOUT THAT IS WE HAVE SPENT THREE YEARS COVERING THIS
PRESIDENT, AND ONE THING HE IS A MASTER AT, I MEAN, A GENIUS AT–
OUR BOOK IS CALLED “A VERY STABLE GENIUS–” WHICH IS THIS,
CONVINCING PEOPLE THAT, YOU KNOW, HE’S THE BEST AT– THE
BEST OF HIS OWN LAWYER. HE’S THE BEST COMMUNICATOR. HE’S THE BEST… INSTINCT. HE’S GOT IT ALL. AND IN THIS INSTANCE, HE DOESN’T
MENTION IMPEACHMENT, BECAUSE WHY? HE’S– HE’S BEAT IMPEACHMENT
ALREADY.>>Stephen: HE’S ABOVE IT,
LIKELY ACQUITTED TOMORROW. THE MUELLER INVESTIGATION DIDN’T
GO ANYWHERE.>>HE BEAT THE SPECIAL COUNSEL.>>Stephen: EVERYBODY IS
FALLING IN LINE. ARE OUR CHECKS AND BALANCES
BROKEN AT THIS POINT?>>WE INTERVIEWED MORE THAN 200
ADMINISTRATION OFFICIALS FOR THIS BOOK, ADVISERS TO THE
PRESIDENT. AND A LOT OF THEM TOLD US IN THE
INTERVIEWS THAT THEY ARE BROKEN, THAT THE SYSTEMS ARE NOT WORK
THE WAY THEY SHOULD. THE INSTITUTIONS ARE BEING
ERODED AND BEATEN DOWN BY A PRESIDENT WHO SEES HIMSELF ABOVE
ACCOUNTABILITY. AND WE SAW AFTER THE MUELLER —
>>Stephen: IS THAT THE FAULT OF THE PEOPLE WHO SHOULD BE
CHECKING HIM?>>THE PEOPLE WHO ARE IN THAT
ROOM WHO HAD AN OPPORTUNITY TO HOLD HIM ACCOUNTABLE– A NUMBER
OF REPUBLICAN SENATORS NOW SAID THEY’RE GOING TO ACQUIT HIM, BUT
THEY THINK WHAT HE DID WAS WRONG OR IMPROPER OR NOT PROPER, WITH
UKRAINE.>>SOME OF THE PEOPLE THAT WE
INTERVIEWED SAID THAT THIS IS THEIR NUMBER ONE FEAR, IS THAT
HE’S LOWERING THE BAR. THESE ARE REPUBLICANS WHO SPOKE
TO US, BROKE THEIR SILENCE FOR THE FIRST TIME, AND FINALLY SAID
TO US, “LOOK, IF YOU’RE GOING TO WRITE A HISTORY BOOK, I WANT YOU
TO GET THE HISTORY RIGHT. HERE’S WHAT HAPPENED IN THE
ROOM.” AND THEY’RE GENUINELY CONCERNED
THAT NOW IT’S GOING TO BE OKAY TO USE TWITTER TO GO AFTER
ANYBODY WHO TELLS THE TRUTH– A CAREER SERVANT LIKE LIEUTENANT
COLONEL ALEX VINDMIN.>>Stephen: WHEN HAS HE BEEN
CONSTRAINED BEFORE? PEOPLE HAVE SAID NOW THAT
IMPEACHMENT IS LIKELY TO NOT HAVE HIM REMOVED FROM OFFICE
TOMORROW, NOW HE’LL BE OFF THE CHAIN. WHEN HAS HE EVER BEEN ON THE
CHAIN? I DON’T THINK WE’LL SEE ANY
DIFFERENCE AT ALL. MAYBE FROM HIS FOLLOWERS OR THE
PEOPLE WHO FEEL LIB RAIPTED BY HIS ACQUITTAL. I THINK HE’LL BE THE SAME.>>IN 2017, HE DID HAVE PEOPLE
GUIDING AND GUARDING AND ADVISING HIM AND TRYING TO KEEP
HIM IN SOME BOUNDARY.>>Stephen: THAT WAS THREE
YEARS AGO.>>I KNOW. THAT GUARDRAIL IS GONE. THE PRESIDENCY PHIL AND I SEE
NOW IS THE PRESIDENCY OF ONE. THERE IS ONLY ONE PERSON MAKING
THE DECISIONS AND HE’S USUALLY BARKING AND BELLOWING THEM. THE GUARDRAILS THAT TRIED TO GET
THE PRESIDENT TO RECOGNIZE THE LAW, RECOGNIZE THE INSTITUTIONS
THAT WE AHEAD DEAR, RECOGNIZE THAT THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT IS
BLIND. IT IS NOT A PARTISAN APARATCHIK. WE HAVE A SCENE IN THE BOOK
WHERE HE’S SCREAMING AT THE TELEVISION, “WHY ISN’T MY F’ING
JUSTICE DEPARTMENT DOING SOMETHING FOR ME.” YOU.>>Stephen: CALLED THE
REPORTS ON HIM REQUESTS DIZZYING.” WHAT WERE THE MORE DIZZYING
MOMENTS?>>YOU KNOW, IT’S BEEN CHAOTIC
REPORTING ON HIS ADMINISTRATION. THAT’S WHY WE WANTED TO HIT THE
PAUSE BUTTON AND DO THIS DEEPER REPORTING, AND WE WERE SHOCKED
BY SOME OF WHAT WE FOUND– THE LACK OF KNOWLEDGE HE HAD ABOUT
WORLD HISTORY AND AMERICAN HISTORY. HE DIDN’T KNOW WHAT HAPPENED AT
PEARL HARBOR, FOR EXAMPLE, HAD TO ASK HIS CHIEF OF STAFF TO
EXPLAIN IT WHEN HE WAS TOURING THE USS “ARIZONA.” BUT WHEN HE SAT DOWN WITH THE
INDIAN PRIME MINISTER, HE SAID, “IT’S NOT LIKE YOU HAVE CHINA AT
YOUR BORDER.” IT’S A LONG BORDER, INDIA AND
CHINA.>>2,000 MILES.>>Stephen: WE’VE GOT TO GO
BECAUSE WE’RE LIVE. BUT THE TITLE IS “A VERY STABLE
GENIUS.” IS THAT PURELY IRONIC, OR DO YOU
THINK HE IS A STABLE GENIUS OR ANY ONE OF THOSE WORDS?>>HE CHOSE THIS TITLE BECAUSE
IT’S HIS DEFINITION FOR HIMSELF. HE SAID IT FIVE TIMES NOW. WHAT WE WANTED TO DO IS HOLD UP
THE MIRROR AND TALK TO THE PEOPLE WHO WORK WITH HIM DAY IN
AND DAY OUT AND SEE IF THEY AGREE. MOST OF THEM DO NOT.( LAUGHTER ).>>Stephen: I’M ONE OF THE
MOST. CAROL, THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR
BEING HERE. FILM, NICE TO SEE YOU. “A VERY STABLE GENIUS” IS
AVAILABLE NOW. PHILIP RUCKER AND CAROL LEONNIG,
EVERYBODY! WE’LL BE RIGHT BACK.