Monday, January 20, 2020

Philip Rucker and Carol Leonnig

Philip Rucker and Carol Leonnig are the authors of A Very Stable Genius: Donald J. Trump’s Testing of America.

From the transcript of their interview with NPR's Mary Louise Kelly:

CAROL LEONNIG: In July 2017, a group of very, very senior cabinet members and advisers decided, we need to give a tutorial, in effect, to Donald Trump. They'd been having a lot of arguments with him, disagreements about where troops and bases were, trade policy, etc. And he was resisting them time and time again. They basically wanted to have a class and explain to him how things work, how we protect the nation.

KELLY: And the place they chose to do this was in the Tank.

LEONNIG: In the Tank.

KELLY: In the conference room of the chairman of the Joint Chiefs.

LEONNIG: That's right. And this is a sacred space in the military. It's where decisions of war and peace are made and have been since the 1800s. This tutorial did not go well. Donald Trump was bellowing and howling and, at one point, so angry and in such a tirade that he was trying to catch his breath to continue howling at this group about how they were losers. They didn't know how to win anymore. And actually, the last thing that he said was something almost everyone in that room promised they would not talk about publicly, it was such an insult, and that was, I would never go to war with you people.

In the room, Secretary of State Tillerson, who's one of the architects of this meeting, is so upset, and he's watching the military leaders, including the secretary of defense, just bow his head and say nothing. And he finally stands up and tells the president, you're wrong, Mr. President. That's not how it is.

KELLY: What is your read on that - that Tillerson, as then secretary of state, was not in the military chain of command, so maybe felt in a better position to speak up to his commander in chief?

RUCKER: Perhaps. But he wasn't alone in being disturbed. There was a woman in the room who had tears in her eyes. There were other members of the military brass who kind of raised their hands to cover their eyes so that their emotions would not be seen by the president or by the others in the room. And this became a real inflection point for the presidency because...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue