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tv   Washington Journal Philip Rucker and Carol Leonnig  CSPAN  July 27, 2021 7:48pm-8:01pm EDT

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prepared me to address the elected members of our government who continue to deny the events of that day. and in doing so betray their oath of office. >> u.s. capitol police, along with the washington, d.c., police officers who responded to the january 6 attack on the capitol talked today about their experience defending congress that day. via the house select committee's first hearing vectoring the attack. you can watch that hearing tonight starting at kl eastern on c-span2. -- 8:00 eastern on c-span2. go e
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c-span radio app. joining us now is carol leonnig, washington post investigative reporter as well as philip rucker, a washington post correspondent. they are the co-authors of this new book "i alone can fix it: donald date -- donald j. trump's catastrophic final year." the title from the book comes from a line in donald trump's acceptance speech. [video clip] >> i have joined the political arena so the powerful can no longer beat up on people who can no longer defend themselves.
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nobody knows the system better than me. which is why i alone can fix it. [applause] host: carol, what about him saying that led you to title the book this way? guest: it was an interesting challenge to summarize 20/20, what a painful and lethal year. when we looked back over the many ways, trump -- the many ways donald trump governor that year, he professed that he was such a great governor, that he would be such a leader and defender and he could fix everything because he knew best. philip and i in our reporting
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tried to put former president trump's statements to the test. almost every person who served him concluded with us he did not fix it and oftentimes he made it worse and he put his own personal gain way ahead of the lives of americans and head of the democracy. guest: it picks up on the way we titled our first book, "very stable genius." we wanted to use his words as a stress test as to whether he lived up to the ways he described himself. this was his pitch to voters, he is a businessman and he would know how to cut through the bureaucratic red tape in washington. by the end of the final year, little got fixed. he could not even fix the election. host: you alluded to the people you talked to, can you talk
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about who those people are? when you say they all concluded, what do you mean? guest: more than 140 people we interviewed, almost all of them were front row seat witnesses to this history. they were at president trump's shoulder throughout 2020, some were cabinet members and the most senior level officials, some were friends and aides. what was most striking to philip and me when we set down for this interviews, sometimes five to seven hours at a time, was how consistently even those who were the most ardent supporters of donald trump were near panic at times, frightened by his impulses and the degree to which he was willing to stretch the law or break the law and put people at risk. host: did you talk to the former president? guest: we did.
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we asked to interview him for the book. he is the principal character in our story here. we went down at the end of our reporting progress to mar-a-lago. we were granted an hour of time but he ended up talking to us for 2.5 hours. it was a revealing interview because we could see how he continues to live in this alternate reality of the election. he was trying to persuade us he won arizona and everyone knows he won arizona. he continued to claim the election had been stolen from him and there was widespread fraud, the evidence for which has never surfaced or been produced. it was a revealing capstone to our investigative reporting process. by the time we went out to hear what he had to say, we talked to 140 people worked closest with him. we had a good sense of where the reality was. host: did you challenge him on what is aides and friends and
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cabinet secretary told you? guest: in that interview, we often let donald trump talk and tell us his view. we want to do here his worldview. there may times we said, sir -- there was not hugging and kissing -- he argues that many of the protesters during the capital january 6 were part of a loving crowd. we definitely questioned him. the purpose of this interview was to hear him. it is a little jaw-dropping, the way he is committed to this alternate vision, the way he has hardened his inner narrative so that it has no correspondence, no morning to reality or fact. i want to do as a thing else to your question about buy -- "i
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alone can fix it," which is that trump's toolkit was inadequate. the toolkit he used as a real estate mogul, even in his first 2.5 years as a president, his toolkit was winning the new cycle. it was all about -- the news cycle. it was all about the pr spin. covid was great, it wasn't going to hurt us. that was a failure for 2020. host: the president talking to you, he said it was a waste of time and a work of pure fiction. your response? guest: the book is the truth as we could determine it. there is nothing fictitious about our reporting here. we believe it is solid. his views are reflected in here. i don't think he wasted his time talking to us. i think it is important that carol and i as journalists, trying to get this history
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right, heard what he had to say and understand it and respected his position even if it is not true and if the reporting from many other sources was not credible -- was more credible. host: you can call in if you are a democrat, 202-748-8000. republicans, 202-748-8001. independents, 202-748-8002. you can also text including first name, city, and state that 202-748-8003. stephan, we will go to your first -- to you first. caller: please stop spewing the hate. i am an independent. biden cannot even say two words without stuttering. don't tell me he is going to do a better job than trump. trump is a businessman and he handles it like business. you two have no facts. you say 140 people said this,
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wow. that is so sad. stop spewing the hate. he is gone, you will be okay. we will get another guy and -- another guy or girl in their. -- in their -- in there. do you have anything to say? host: there is no hate in this book. -- guest: there is no hate in this book. just facts. we are not in the business of saying trump is worse than biden, what we are trying to capture is what really happened. two people who think we are hateful, if your job was to document what happened, i think you would come to the same conclusion. you sound like a smart person, i think you would come to the same conclusions we did. i hope that you will read. host: what do you say to people
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who don't trust the mainstream media and don't believe your reporting is accurate? guest: it is frustrating because it is not whether you believe ideologically on the left side or the right side, our reporting is factual. it is what people have told us about what happens behind the scenes and it is cooperated by our review of notes and of calendar entries and of videos and emails correspondence -- and imo correspondence. we tried everything to get this right and we think we do have it right. we help people in the country, whether they support trump or don't support trump, will understand this is accredited -- guest: i just will add that we fact check this with donald trump. host: what do you mean?
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guest: we give him a list with multiple injuries explaining what we will report and ask for his feedback. overwhelmingly, he agreed to certain things happened. he had some disputes and we discussed them. host: did you include them in the book, his disputes? guest: i can't remember every single one but i think there are times when he denies it and we summarize that. host: what is the fact checking process behind what you did? guest: you will find there is a lot of dialogue, there are a lot of scenes where people are talking to one another or things are being said in a meeting and every time someone is quoted by name in the book, whether they were a source of ours or not, we went to them in fact checking process and said we have you in these three meetings and you said these things to the president. is that true? is there any additional context you want to share? is this story right?
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we gave them an opportunity to confirm or deny. if we thought the denials were credible, we took it out the book because we did not have confidence in that reporting. if he thought the denials were not credible and the initial sources were more credible, then we edited in the context. host: in tennessee, republican. caller: do you know the pennsylvania law? you need to read to inform the public. in atlanta, georgia, we saw them jerked out of suitcases under tables and a lady kept running the same paper through the machine over and over again. we start with our own eyes, it was no hollywood script. [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2021] >> all of this available at

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