I Alone Can Fix It: Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker on their bestseller Trump | Books

H History is written by the victors but Donald Trump being Donald Trump, he was never going to take it easy. So when the Washington Post...


HHistory is written by the victors but Donald Trump being Donald Trump, he was never going to take it easy. So when the Washington Post reporters Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker Asked for an interview on the last year of his presidency, Trump invited them to the lavish Florida estate he called his “Winter White House.”

The conversation did not take place in his private office in Mar-a-Lago but in its garish lobby as waiters assembled a buffet dinner that included giant Gulf prawns, oysters on ice, and filling bananas. A model of Air Force One, painted in Trump’s unrealized redesign, perched on a coffee table. Members of the club – a Fox News host and Donald Trump Jr.’s girlfriend among them – stopped to chat on the way to dinner.

“Trump seemed to like the idea of ​​him being interviewed in the theater,” Rucker recalls over the phone. “He could show his club members that those fancy Washington reporters had come down just to hear what he had to say. And he enjoyed the interview. He spoke to us for two and a half hours and then he invited us at the end to come to dinner and sent us to a table in the corner of the patio.

The result of this meeting in March, and private interviews with over 140 sources, is I Alone Can Fix It, a sequel to Leonnig and Rucker’s bestselling Pulitzer Prize winner A Very Stable Genius (both titles are direct quotes from Trump loaded with irony). It is among a wave of books about Trump’s disastrous last year that hit the shelves just six months after leaving office.

Only I can fix it depicts a man who put himself before his country. It is full of mind-boggling revelations about the 45th president’s mismanagement of everything from the coronavirus pandemic (he has no regrets) to racial justice protests (his only regret is not releasing the military on active duty) , but he made the most headlines with his account of America’s flirtation with fascism.

The key figure here was General Mark Milley who, as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, had the monumental task of keeping the military out of politics. His concern took root when he joined Trump for a walk by place Lafayette for a photoshoot at a historic church shortly after the square was violently cleared of protesters. He apologized, earning Trump’s wrath.

Leonnig says, “General Milley had no idea when he walked out of the doors of the White House in his camouflage uniforms that he was joining in this pretty bizarre PR staging and he fell asleep that night. there by swearing to himself and some of his closest confidants and mentors that he was no longer going to allow the military to be used and played in this way for political ends. “

She adds: “Over the months he became more and more concerned that Trump would also use the military to create chaos, to create fear as a distraction, to keep his grip on power – this fear that ‘there is a coup. He vowed he would block this and he spent, according to our reports, hours and hours monitoring the situation in the White House and among fringe groups, trying to make sure that Donald trump wouldn’t be so lucky to have what he called “the guys with the guns.”

Philip Rucker and Carol Leonnig speak to Seth Myers on NBC.
Philip Rucker and Carol Leonnig speak to Seth Myers on NBC. Photograph: NBC / NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Milley’s concerns only grew when Trump refused to admit defeat to Joe Biden in the weeks following the November election. He has become so worried that the president is trying to deploy the military to stay in power that he and other senior officials have discussed ways to stop him, including massive resignations.

Trump replied that he was “not in the coup d’etat” and “has never threatened, or spoken to anyone, of a coup by our government”, only to add that “if I were to do a coup, one of the last people I would want to do it with is” Milley.

Milley even compared Trump’s rhetoric to that of Adolf Hitler when he came to power in Germany, according to the book. “This is a Reichstag moment,” he told his aides, referring to the 1933 fire in the German parliament that the Nazis used as a pretext to consolidate power. “The Gospel of the Führer.

‘It’s incredible’

The inevitability of online discussions reaching a Nazi analogy the longer they last is known as “Godwin’s Law”. Journalists are generally discouraged from making such comparisons. And yet the most senior military officer in the United States was doing just that.

Rucker reflects: “It would have been unfathomable for an American president to be compared to Adolf Hitler. Just think of the history of Nazi Germany and the history of the United States and the different paths the two countries took and it is simply remarkable to contemplate that today, in the 21st century, in 2020, an American president would have such authoritarian impulses. and the rhetoric and demeanor he would draw comparisons with Adolf Hitler. It’s incredible.”

Even before 2020, Trump had long been compared to autocrats around the world because of his mass rallies, his willingness to promote false propaganda, the harsh crackdown on political protesters, contempt for media freedom, designation of scapegoats for minorities, admiration for other strong men and his penchant for hiring family members and putting his name on buildings.

Leonnig says of interviews with first-hand witnesses: “They feared his choice was an authoritarian impulse. One of the most horrific curses the President could throw at any cabinet member or adviser was: you are weak, you act weakly, or it is a weak idea. Being tough and strong was so important to him.

“What we’ve learned from reporting for this book and the previous one is that the president really laughs and admires some of the world’s most authoritarian leaders: Vladimir Putin, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. He has an affinity for them.

She continued: “We would often be surprised to learn that he was very worried about his appearance vis-à-vis other international leaders, almost as if he was on a playing field and worried about it. that the other boys thought of him. “

When Trump learned, for example, that his Health Secretary Alex Azar had purchased millions of doses of the coronavirus vaccine from AstraZeneca, he was furious that it was a UK company and not a US because that Boris Johnson would laugh at him. Leonnig adds: “Trump’s aides were stunned: why is he worried that Boris Johnson thinks he is buying a lot of vaccines to protect his compatriots?

Just days after Milley’s warning about the “time of the Reichstag,” Trump addressed his supporters at a rally in Washington and urged them to “fight like hell.” He then returned to the White House and watched television while they besieged the Capitol, breaking through police barricades, smashing windows and disrupting the certification of Biden’s Electoral College victory.

Members of the Oath Keepers militia stand among Trump supporters on the east porch of the United States Capitol.
Members of the Oath Keepers militia stand among Trump supporters on the east porch of the United States Capitol. Photograph: Jim Bourg / Reuters

Rucker says, “For a while he liked what he saw. People who knew how he reacted to the TV footage said he was happy, that he thought it was a beautiful thing to see so many of his followers act with such force, waving his flags, wearing his hats, marching on the Capitol on his behalf. It was a beautiful spectacle for Trump.

“When things got really, really violent and deadly, he, according to our sources, realized it was a problem and yet he didn’t act or do anything. He was indeed awol. He had abdicated his responsibility as commander-in-chief by then. And so, when it came to organizing a federal response – law enforcement, army and national guard – to try to regain control of the Capitol and bail out the outnumbered Capitol police officers, this did not happen. it’s not Trump who did this coordination. “

Instead, he was left with Vice President Mike Pence, held in a secure underground location, who worked over the phone with Pentagon officials and other senior government officials to coordinate the response and save the Capitol. .

“Trump, according to our information, had no such communication with the Pentagon,” Rucker said. “He had no communication with the vice president. He was just setting there watching TV.

Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, was in the White House and growing worried. Mark Meadows, the chief of staff, urged her to pressure the president to publicly support law enforcement and to tell his supporters to return home. But she was neither forceful nor efficient.

Leonnig says: “Lives were at stake and it took hours for the President of the United States to say anything. Some people have compared Ivanka to a stable pony with a racehorse: she is brought in to calm her father and make him trot at the right pace.

‘For some reason I enjoyed it’

No one, it seems, can stop Trump’s blind gallop. Even after the horror of that day – five dead, over a hundred injured, members of Congress fleeing for their lives – he told Leonnig and Rucker in their interview: “There was a lot of love. I heard that from everyone. Many, many people told me it was a loving crowd.

Trump was also convinced he had won the 2020 presidential election, even though his attorney general, state election officials and many judges dismissed his bogus allegations of voter fraud. He became known as “the big lie”. So, is he knowingly lying or does he really believe in this stuff?

Leonnig comments: “Phil and I spoke to so many people in administration who were literally by his side day in and day out, and they told us they didn’t know what he believed. They had his ear, they’re still not completely convinced that he believes it, although I have to say that when Phil and I were with him at Mar-a-Lago, I was strangely impressed with how the former president said all of these things. on the election being rigged with a completely engaged and unemotional face.

“A lot of things which are absolutely without any basis in fact – have been examined, rejected and rejected by his attorney general -, he still says, are true. And his physical commitment to these lies is as if a person really believes them. “

It was the alternate reality bubble the authors found in Mar-a-Lago, where up is down, two plus two equals five, and a twice-impeached single-term president regularly gives standing ovations. Leonnig and Rucker recall that after the interview and dinner, Trump offered to invite them again if they had any follow-up questions and admitted, “I really enjoyed it. For some reason I enjoyed it.

A rare glimpse into the self-awareness of the man who loves to hate the press?

Leonnig reflects: “I think he has recognized that although we are part of what he calls fake media, he needs us and likes to talk about himself.”

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Newsrust - US Top News: I Alone Can Fix It: Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker on their bestseller Trump | Books
I Alone Can Fix It: Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker on their bestseller Trump | Books
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