Carol Joynt welcomed back Washington Post Pulitzer Prize winners Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker to a July 29 Q&A luncheon at The George Town Club to discuss their latest Donald Trump bestseller “I Alone Can Fix It: Donald J. Trump’s Catastrophic Final Year. ”
This past year has been so bizarre that it is hard to imagine that the last Q&A Cafe, held 18 months ago, also featured the same writers’ “A Very Stable Genius” — same subject, also a bestseller.
The capacity crowd on the second floor learned that Leonnig and Rucker had not intended to write a second book, finished on record time (four months), but felt compelled when the aftermath of the 2020 election affirmed the need. The authors shared that there were some overlapping sources. Many Trump high-level appointees had been fired. Some sources found speaking about their experiences “cathartic,” Leonnig said, as they thought Trump was putting American lives in peril.
An unexpected insight from Rucker was that Trump granted the writers an interview at Mar-a-Lago, post-presidency, at which he thought of himself as still commander-in-chief. Trump strategically scheduled a 5 p.m. one-hour taped interview that ultimately ran over two and one-half hours in the lobby as club members arrived for dinner. The former president at one point asked to stop the tape so he could make harder attacks with “overreaching meanness” against perceived adversaries. He basked in compliments by Fox News’s Laura Ingraham, son Don Jr.’s girlfriend Kimberly Guilfoyle — along with Republican Congressman Dan Crenshaw’s remark that life in Palm Beach was obviously agreeing with him.
Trump’s presidency was marked by pitting people against one another and encouraging infighting, the authors said, and he felt that as president everyone should do what he wanted. Gen. Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, objected to the military being used as a prop during the June 1, 2020, incident at Lafayette Square, noting that Trump clearly had never taken a civics course and had no interest in learning “legality.”
Towards the end of his presidency there were fewer “guardrails,” the authors said. The mishandling of the pandemic led to his dismissal of coronavirus team member Dr. Deborah Birx and disrespect for Dr. Anthony Fauci, whose credibility and popularity were an insult to Trump’s ego.
The sad conclusion of “I Alone Can Fix It” is that “Trump prioritized what he thought to be his political and personal interests over the common good.”