Philip Rucker and Carol Leonnig Almost Interviewed with Trump for A Very Stable Genius

Philip Rucker and Carol Leonnig Almost Interviewed with Trump for A Very Stable Genius


-There’s long been this idea
that there were people — And you even lay it out in
the beginning of this book, that there were two people
who would work for Trump right off the beginning —
people who wanted to help him basically discard
the way we’ve done things and do this —
take this new path — and people who were trying to protect the government
from Donald Trump. Sort of the idea that
there were adults in the room. And, yet, a lot of these adults
have left the room, and they still sort of
haven’t spoken out against him. You know, you have a lot of
reporting in this book about, you know, people like John Kelly
who sort of still haven’t come out and said — people like General Mattis
who were very critical in the book and not —
Are you surprised by that? -We can tell you
about some of our sources, who we’re not going to name. Basically, some of them
were afraid of Donald Trump. That’s why they didn’t come out and move from anonymous
to on the record. And some of them honestly
don’t feel that it’s appropriate to criticize a sitting
commander in chief. That’s their DNA. And because we checked with
so many people and their stories were
consistent across the board, we trusted them
with this information. -You know what’s interesting,
Seth? Trump is so fixated on leaks
inside the administration, and the reason
that these officials are afraid to speak publicly is he’s going to rat them out
as leakers. Well, it turns out,
in our reporting, Trump was leaking on himself.
When he met with Chris Christie, the New Jersey governor,
to ask him to be chief of staff, within a couple of hours,
a reporter at Axios, Jonathan Swan, got the hot tip, and Christie called Trump to
say, “How did he find out?” And it turns out Trump said, “I made the call.
He’s a nice guy. I did it.” [ Laughter ] -You did try to speak to
the President for this book. -Yeah. -And you had one conversation
with him about it? -Early in our reporting process,
it was a Saturday morning. I was driving out to
Bed Bath & Beyond to return a can opener
out on the Beltway. And my phone rings — -How bad was the can opener
that you had to — -I didn’t need it.
I already had a can opener. -Okay, gotcha.
Right, right, understood. -I wanted the $15 refund. So, the phone rings,
and it just says “202,” and that’s kind of the Bat
Signal from the White House. And I answered it.
I assumed it was some staffer. Turns out it was
the White House operator. She says, “Please hold
for the President.” So I held and immediately
got off the Beltway and went to a parking lot
to put my car in park. And we took the opportunity
to tell him about the book. And he said, “You know what?
I’m going to talk to you. I want a serious book done.
You’re a serious person. I’ll do it. Come on in.
I’ll do it.” And over the course
of the next year, the war with the media
escalated. He decided not to do
the interview. And we really regret that.
-Yeah. -He treated Phil a little bit
like Bob Mueller, you know? Remember when he said, “I’m really eager to do
that interview with Mueller,” and then he kind of
didn’t do it. -Well, it’s interesting.
You talk about that moment in the book where Trump
does believe and probably still does believe
that if he talked to Mueller, he would’ve been able
to explain it all away. And it was Trump’s legal team
who believed — and the book lays this out — that it would be
legal malpractice to allow him
to speak to Bob Mueller. [ Laughter ] -That’s true.
-Yeah. -They did use legal malpractice
multiple times. And they said that
primarily because they wanted to, like,
flash a red flag. Like, he could say something
that would be wrong, and then that would be perjury. And one person told us, which I thought was
really interesting — somebody who is
very close to him — “He thinks he’s telling
the truth when he’s lying because he’s a big-picture guy.” And he’s like,
“I got the big picture. That’s what I’m focused on.” -And so —
-Right. When it gets granular,
it’s not really his thing. -Not a details guy.
-Not a details guy. One last thing I’ll say. You know, “Very Stable Genius.” I had remembered that he’d
said that about himself. I think it’s very important
to note this is not you guys taking a shot across the bow. This is a thing he —
And i thought it was one time. And you point out in the book that he has said it
four different times. -Five.
-Five times. And in all seriousness, Seth, people might think
that’s a snarky title, but it is a deadly serious book,
and you get that from page one. This is a serious look at
the history of the presidency, and we used his own words there
because we wanted to sort of hold up the mirror
to the President and stress-test whether that
statement, his view of himself, matches the experiences of all of the people
who have been working with him. -It is fascinating. It’s incredibly well-written.
It’s so readable. And even though it’s something
we live through, it is very harrowing
to go through it all again and realize that we’re still
living in this moment. Excellent book. Thank you
so much for being here. I really love
talking to you both. Philip Rucker,
Carol Leonnig, everyone.

100 thoughts on “Philip Rucker and Carol Leonnig Almost Interviewed with Trump for A Very Stable Genius

  1. "He thinks he's telling the truth when he's lying…"

    There's a great book called "On Bullsh*t" by Harry G. Frankfurt that talks about exactly that… he believes every word, even when he knows it's not remotely true. Donnie's a liar, yes… but worse, he's a BS'er… and that's far more insidious.

  2. These people aren't just thinking about their political future. Eventually, whether they leave the Administration on good terms or bad, they'll have to get jobs or run their businesses in the private sector, and no one wants to deal with a person they perceive as lacking candidness… even if it was for a noble cause.

  3. If you hide behind the lie that your "DNA" even as a metaphor, is why you're NOT criticizing a sitting president, you are a coward. This fat orange gas bag has attacked everything this country stands for and he's a disgusting turd leaving a trail of slime and corruption everywhere he slouches, waddles and drags his porcine carcass.

  4. Phil Rucker confirms it: trump is the "leaker". Translate this into a high security information level and we have a serious problem. And trump loves to brag about what he knows…..

  5. If there's a quote in the book about how Trump reads more than anyone else in the world, we'll know they interviewed Sarah Sanders.

  6. Trump said in a televised interview yesterday that an American invented the wheel. What are we even debating about anymore?

  7. It's baffling that an unqualified idiot can get elected President of the United States…Never underestimate the stupidity of the American voter…And it will probably happen again in November.

  8. Trump is deranged. We know this.
    What scares me are those who support him. Are there that many mentally deranged people?
    Mental health is a serious problem.

  9. You know who were also very concerned about leaks? Amongst other, hitler, stalin, mugabe, and the sorts of other dictators

  10. I would rather read this book AFTER trump is out of office. It would be too traumatic otherwise, to not have a happy ending….”look at how horrible this president was, it’s ok now though, he’s gone”.

  11. Those who fear trump are fucking cowards. They sacrificed their values (if they ever actually had any) for the illusion of power.

  12. Sycophants and cowards. Collaborators are just as guilty.
    One good thing you can say about Trump is that he hasn't started a war, at least not yet.
    And that he weakened the US hegemony. They lost a lot of influence which is a good thing.

  13. Would you speak out against John Gotti when he was alive? Trump had Epstein whacked for what he was afraid would come out of his mouth.

  14. The brain isn't a single person. It's a committee of infighting boardroom members, some of whom present summarized info upward to the CEO. That's how people like Trump can lie without lying, meaning to say a thing that part of you knows is false but that part is telling the CEO what it wants to hear, do you don't consciously detect the falsehood. It's insidious because immediately after telling that lie to the CEO at the top of the brain committee, the underlings work to falsify the records and make the lie the official record of events. All the while the CEO doesn't know this is going on and gets mad when accused of lying because he didn't realize his underlings in the brain we're feeding him bullshit so he thinks his edited version of memory is the truth. When he's a narcissist then this happens a lot because the underlings are trying to avoid the flood of bad feelings that come from admitting bad things happened and the only way to do that is to keep the narcissist at the top happy with bogus memories.

  15. Trump is a broken ballast and America is the submarine, it's impossible to fix when the submarine is already crumbled in a heap on the ocean floor.

  16. What does donald trump have on these people that he can brag in public about his impeachable actions. I can't figure out what he has on them!?

  17. 1:01 Modern-day slaves in Mauritania believe they are their lord's property because their captors live in taller houses? How many slaves does government own?

  18. This is so sad. And the problem is people think they know what they're talkin about. I wish people like Seth Meyers and Hollywood would get a clue

  19. Trump is a bully and a malignant narcissist. I don't blame people for not wanting to come forward he would sue them, he sues everybody!

  20. Carol Leonnig's facial expressions as she talks about how Trump's lawyers believed it would be "legal malpractice" to allow Trump to offer testimony on his own behalf pretty much tell the whole story about the last three years.

  21. I think of "afraid" of Trump like an encounter with a rabid dog. You are worried the animal has lost its faculties. Unpredictable. Usually competent professionalism, policy and procedure and all the bureaucratic red tape works to hem in bat sh*t crazy. That's not happening with an unhinged boss like Donald Trump who can't articulate things "granular" or nuanced.

  22. Generals have failed…. your "soldier-boy" DNA of commander-in-chief FAILS as the last oath you took was a CIVILIAN OATH to the CONSTITUTION. ….sad little soldiers

  23. If there is any good coming from this tragedy of errors, it is the heroes still reporting and speaking truth to power. Right does still matter.

  24. He's the most dangerous president in our nation's history. His ignorance and inability to either listen to or understand truth is frightening.

  25. This 'adults in the room' and 'what Republicans say about Trump in private' BS is so 2018.
    “We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.”― Kurt Vonnegut, Mother Night

  26. Donald Trump is a damned fools. Look at the f cking blob. He looks foolish, he talks foolish, he acts foolish, damn! If it walks, talks, and acts, like a f cking moron, trust me it is a f cking moron.

  27. I’m sorry but I do no understand and will not approve of government officials who don’t go public about an individual who has placed Americans and this country in constant jeopardy, whether it concerns ignoring the climate crisis, our national security, the sick and the defenseless, etc. in favor of benefiting the select few, while enriching personal wealth and power. There is no excuse for staying quiet, and the precedent of saying nothing while evil triumphs is unconscionable and indefensible. History has been populated by plenty of fascists. We do not need more of those “destroyers of worlds.” If we stay silent for much longer, there may be nothing left to salvage, except for more death and destruction of all that is right and good.

  28. It must be frustrating that so many books will be written about him that he'll never be able to read. Maybe he's a stone-cold loser.

  29. Afraid to not support a sitting President? Only when it is their party I'm sure they had no problem criticizing Obama.

  30. "A wheel is older than a wall. And I looked, and every single car out there, even the really expensive ones that the Secret Service uses, and believe me they are expensive, I said, 'Do they all have wheels?' 'Yes.' 'Oh. I thought it was medieval.'"

    – A very Stable Genius indeed. 😆😅

  31. How can you possibly think it’s ‘inappropriate’ to criticise a sitting president???!!! If someone is doing a bad job they MUST be criticised & chastised. It happens in every other much less important jobs. Not to mention the fact that Obama was criticised regularly, for doing nothing even vaguely as bad as trump has done.

  32. Senator Graham is, so far, the only person who has figured out that Trump's mind and brain might definitely be wired and programmed to switch "lies" for the "truth".

  33. I'm confused, can someone explain to me how an "idiot" "moron" "stupid person" can manage to lead a billion-dollar business, lead the most powerful country in the world to all-time highs in the stock market and economy and all-time lows with unemployment and successfully negotiate trade deals with the largest economies in the world, and de-escalate potential wars with insane dictators with nuclear weapons? Call me stupid but I see these as a sign of competence…

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