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Divided They Stood

January 6, 2023
Notes
Transcript

Eliot and Eric welcome the husband and wife team of Peter Baker of New York Times and Susan Glasser of The New Yorker to discuss their new book, The Divider: Trump in the White House, 2017-2022. They discuss the chronic dysfunction of the Donald Trump national security team, the relationships among James Mattis, H.R. Master, John Kelly, John Bolton, Mike Pompeo, and other senior officials, Trump’s fixation on Vladimir Putin and other strongmen, and civil-military relations under Trump. They conclude with discussing Trump’s foreign policy legacy.

Shield of the Republic is a Bulwark podcast co-sponsored by the Miller Center of Public Affairs at the University of Virginia. Email us with your feedback at [email protected]

The Divider by Peter Baker and Susan Glasser (https://www.amazon.com/Divider-Trump-White-House-2017-2021/dp/038554653X)

Sarah Longwell’s Focus Group Podcast (https://thefocusgroup.thebulwark.com/)

Tom Wright’s Politico Essay on Trump and Bob Taft (https://app.slack.com/client/TF4LKCU3G/D03NJE7BA83)

January 6 Committee Report (https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/GPO-J6-REPORT/pdf/GPO-J6-REPORT.pdf)

Cassidy Hutchinson’s Testimony’s Transcript (https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/23506946-cassidy-hutchinson-jan-6-committee-transcript)

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This transcript was generated automatically and may contain errors and omissions. Ironically, the transcription service has particular problems with the word “bulwark,” so you may see it mangled as “Bullard,” “Boulart,” or even “bull word.” Enjoy!
  • Speaker 1
    0:00:07

    Welcome to Shield of the Republic a podcast sponsored by the Bulwark and the Miller Center of Public Affairs at the University of Virginia and dedicated to the proposition first articulated by Walter Lyttman during World War two that a strong and balanced foreign policy is the necessary shield of our Democratic Republic. Eric Edelman, counselor at the center for strategic and budgetary assessments, a bulwark contributor, and a nonresident fellow at the Miller Center. And I am joined as always by my partner in crime and all things strategically, Elliot Cohen, the Robert e Osgood professor of Strategy at the school of advanced international studies of Johns Hopkins University here in Washington DC as well as the Arleigh Burke Chair in Strategy At the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Elliott, Happy
  • Speaker 2
    0:00:55

    Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, Well, same same to you. I’ve been having a I’ve been having really a great time until this this horrible thing happened to me, Eric, I had this experience for for hours. It I mean, just imagine what would be like to spend hours with having a couple of brilliant journalists describing and excruciating detail your worst moments in the dentist chair. That that’s what I’ve been going through for the last day or so.
  • Speaker 1
    0:01:25

    And I think with that, you better welcome our two guests. Well, our two guests are Peter Baker and Susan Glasser I think perhaps Washington’s most accomplished journalistic couple, they have been correspondence respectively, together for the Washington Post. Peter is now the White House correspondent of the New York Times, and Susan writes the weekly letter from Biden’s Washington for the New Yorker magazine. Peter has written the breach excellent book about the Clinton impeachment. He also wrote days of fire, which as a former regime element in the Bush forty three administration.
  • Speaker 1
    0:02:04

    I’m happy to say he was I think the very first fair minded book about about that administration. And together, they have written Kremlin rising as well as a terrific biography of Secretary of State, James a Baker, and they are here today with us to talk about their most recent book, the divider about the Trump presidency. Welcome Susan and Peter. Thank
  • Speaker 3
    0:02:28

    you so much for having us. It’s really great to be with both of you. Glad
  • Speaker 1
    0:02:31

    to be with you. I have to confess that like Elliott, I did have a feeling as I read the book that I was being subjected to the the dentist drill. It sort of reminded me of that scene in marathon man where where Justin Hoffman is getting the drill put into his teeth and being asked, is it safe to come out? It is a tremendous book. It is a real accomplishment, I think, because it brings together so much of what happened during the Trump presidency.
  • Speaker 1
    0:03:00

    I think that the Trump presidency, you know, came at us so fast. There were just so many events, so many scandals so many presidential tweets that, you know, it it is hard to remember all the distinct elements of the presidency and like a pointless painting, you guys put all of those dots together in an incredibly compelling picture and it’s extraordinarily well written as well. So, you know, I would like to start by focusing on the dysfunction of the Trump administration’s national security decision making. You guys have covered a lot of presidencies. You’ve written about the Bush forty one presidency, which in some sense was one of the most harmonious presidencies.
  • Speaker 1
    0:03:53

    But I, you know, look, I remember old enough to remember Bob Gates saying during Bush forty three that you know, most of the presidency served, the secretary of state, secretary of defense, or the national security adviser were not on speaking terms, and He relished being part of Bush forty three where Steve Hadley Conde Rice and he all had a very convivial relationship now that we’re actually in business together. This was something very different. I mean, how different was it in your experience? And what do you make of that?
  • Speaker 3
    0:04:24

    Well, thank you, first of all, for the kind words, Eric, about maybe a challenging subject that we certainly didn’t mean to ruin anybody’s Christmas vacation with visions of Trump dancing in their heads. But look, you know, I I’m so glad to be able to be with you today in particular to focus on the dysfunction by design, I would say, of the national security team in the four years of the Trump presidency. Because I think it’s one of the most revealing kind of through lines of the presidency. It’s a really interesting way to track the overall chaos of of the Trump years in the White House. And you’re right.
  • Speaker 3
    0:05:02

    You know, it’s not the first White House to be wrapped by infighting and discord in the administration, but these folks weren’t fighting with each other mostly about policy they had a common enemy in some ways. It was Donald Trump himself, the president, for many of these national security officials, and yet they did not have a common approach to fighting the common enemy. And Trump, of course, is a master of dividing and conquering and using the in fighting of those around him is a way of maintaining his power. It’s how he ran the Trump organization, his business, and it it’s definitely how he ran his White House. I
  • Speaker 2
    0:05:42

    have a question about that. Is that because he’s so brilliant at turning people against each other and using that as as a way of governing. Or is it the fact that, you know, if you say if you look at the people, three people were at the apex of the national security team to begin with. HR McMaster, Jim Mattis, Rex Tillerson, each with undeniable strengths. You know, I know two of them reasonably well, but one has to say these are not people that you would normally have imagined in these positions.
  • Speaker 2
    0:06:12

    I mean, they’re just, you know, I think it was it was a surprise to each of them. That they were selected. I don’t know if you would share that view, Eric. I mean, how much of this function I guess, the this and this is a broader question about the book too. How much of the dysfunction is because of Trump and how much of the dysfunction is because of the people who were willing to work for Trump and who were kind of plucked you know, from whatever it was that they were doing to enter a White House for which they were
  • Speaker 4
    0:06:42

    singularly unprepared? I think that’s a good question, not bad. Look, some of that would have happened under a different president had you had these characters in there. Right? Because they are strong will, because they have their own points of view, because they we’re not necessarily team players in in the same way that others might have been regardless of Trump.
  • Speaker 4
    0:06:59

    Right? So when Jim Mattis and HR McMaster are kinda going at it with each other, it’s against this backdrop of an army three star and a marine four star and you can’t, you know, you can’t separate that. Right? There are these scenes in the book where, you know, Mastery clearly felt discs by Mattis because he was a three star lieutenant general rather than a four star didn’t come from the same marine culture. At one point, Mattis says to him, well, that’s the way a three star would think.
  • Speaker 4
    0:07:25

    So some of that would have happened under any circumstance. But Trump, obviously, I do think Brilliant is one word. I’m not sure the Brilliant is quite the right word, but I think instinctively does stir the pot. He likes to to to to divide people because he he finds that that’s the one way he keeps on top. Right?
  • Speaker 4
    0:07:41

    So had it been even a more cohesive team coming in? He still would have found ways to pit them against each other, I think. And and it’s just it’s it’s the way he operates. He’s you know, somebody comes up to him and say and he says, well, who do you report to? He says, well, I report to the chief of staff.
  • Speaker 4
    0:07:55

    No. You don’t report to me now. So he’s constantly breaking any sense of organization discipline. It automatically therefore sets up his people to be jealous of each other, to be rivals, to be uncertain about their status with him and uncertain with their status with each other. Is
  • Speaker 2
    0:08:12

    this cleverness or cunning on his part? Or is it just, you know, this kind of brutish way of behaving? I mean, That’s enough. Well, you know, I guess what I’m trying to get at and and it’s something that I’ve puzzled about with Trump for quite some time is does he have some very narrow forms of genius? I mean, across the board, I mean, he’s ignorant.
  • Speaker 2
    0:08:36

    He’s awful. He’s depressed. You know, Eric and I are two of the original never Trumpers. So you’ll never hear us say a nice word about the guy. But I I do wonder whether he has certain gifts that we should think about?
  • Speaker 2
    0:08:48

    Well, I
  • Speaker 3
    0:08:49

    mean, if if a gift for fomenting discordant division, in in those who surround him, you know, call do you call that a gift? I don’t know if that’s a, you know, that’s generally not a positive. And in fact, his his his advisors were singularly ineffective. And you actually, Elliot, I can put your finger on one of the reasons why is that Trump had a tendency to appoint people who were notably unqualified for the positions which they attained, and that was part of how he hooked people into him. And and again, this is a a a a modest opera you see with Trump throughout his career.
  • Speaker 3
    0:09:27

    So he would tells and brags a story when he was in business of literally taking, like, the security guard and turning him into one of his company vice presidents. And There are many, many examples in the Trump administration in the White House where he had almost a similar approach. And of course, that engenders a certain I don’t know if you want to call it loyalty to him, but there are many people. There are many ambitious people in Washington who decided to serve Trump even if they didn’t agree with him knowing that they might never have a chance to be the secretary of state or the director of the CIA, like Mike Pompeo, you know, in a different administration. And there are many, many examples of that.
  • Speaker 3
    0:10:10

    So part of it is I think it’s not because he was calculating in in some kind of Machiavellian sentiment. I think that’s often a mistake that critics would make as well as admirers is sort of puffing up this idea of Trump. He’s not a strategist. Arguably, he at times isn’t even very tactical. But he he has a a well honed sense of self preservation and what he’s looking for I used to describe it, and I think it particularly applies to some of these national security type positions, is that he It’s like the island of misfit toys.
  • Speaker 3
    0:10:47

    You know, there’s something broken about all of them. Sometimes it might not be obvious. You know, maybe it’s just their incredible ambition. That suppressed, you know, or their weakness, you know, their their lack of attachment to the constitution. You know, their their tendency to want to fight for turf and power.
  • Speaker 3
    0:11:06

    Their willingness to prefer the limelight over any kind of set of principles. I mean, you know, name your poison. Right? Each each of these folks is different, but Trump had a knack. I think for assembling this because what’s the through line?
  • Speaker 3
    0:11:21

    He he cycled through an extraordinary number of people. This was the highest turnover we ever had in the senior levels in such a short period of time, and yet the through line was consistent of in fighting chaos, discord and division, and I think the through line was Trump himself.
  • Speaker 1
    0:11:40

    The Italians actually, I think, have a word for this, which is Furobou, which It’s it means animal cunning. It it doesn’t really cano, you know, kind of intelligence, but it really represents a a sort of preternatural sense for people’s weaknesses and how they can be manipulated to, you know, his own benefit. You make quite a point throughout the book
  • Speaker 4
    0:12:03

    of Trump’s
  • Speaker 1
    0:12:04

    will to power and the fact that he had bent his whole life everything around him and everybody around him. To his will and succeeded. And I I know from my own experience in government, you know, when you get to people in the White House or senior leadership positions, they tend to recur to what they think got them there. I mean, in in the words that they become, you know, a more extreme version of themselves, if you
  • Speaker 4
    0:12:28

    will. You
  • Speaker 1
    0:12:29

    know, than they were ahead of time. I
  • Speaker 4
    0:12:31

    you know,
  • Speaker 1
    0:12:31

    one of the things that happened a lot during the Trump years in Elliott, I suspect, had the same experience was people inside would tell you no matter how bad it looks outside, it’s really worse on the inside. I’m sure you had many of your own sources telling you that as well. You have a really arresting anecdote in the book about this, which is Margaret Petterland who was Rex Tillerson’s chief of staff. She and our former colleague and former friend, Brian Hook, who was in the John Hae initiative with us, They were the only ones who went to any of the NSC meetings for state under the reign of secretary Tillerson. And you quote Margaret as saying, We didn’t want anyone in the state department to see how bad the process really was, how, you know, how decisions were really being made.
  • Speaker 1
    0:13:20

    I mean, that’s really kind of extraordinary.
  • Speaker 2
    0:13:23

    But do you believe that? I guess the thing that I continue to think about is, to what extent we’re the professionals who did go in to what extent were they kidding themselves that they could do some good? To what extent was it their ambition that got had gotten a hold of them to what extent was that, you know, the seduction of power, you know, to what extent was that they just cut kinda got trapped in to circumstances. And and I have to say, and maybe, you know, I’m less charitable than my friend, Eric, over there. I I think a lot of this was almost willful self deception and craving for power and, you know, principles kind of falling by the wayside?
  • Speaker 2
    0:14:05

    Or is that Am I being I’m probably being too harsh to some individuals, but
  • Speaker 4
    0:14:09

    Well, you are the canary in the coal mine on this. From the very beginning, right, your experience in that transition was the wake up call for a lot of people, do you go in or not? Right? As having been a never tumper, the question then becomes, do you owe it to your country to give it a shot? Try to help, try to make it a better administration.
  • Speaker 4
    0:14:26

    And quickly, you came to the conclusion, no, don’t run run away screaming. I think something that you said something to that effect. Advising your fellow Republicans. And I think that that really is one of the through lines through the book as well. Susan Whiteley says that Trump, obviously, all all roads lead to Trump.
  • Speaker 4
    0:14:41

    One of the real interesting themes of the book for us was all of these people who came to that same, you know, choice in the road that you’re talking about at what point, you know, what mix of patriotism, public service, ambition, vanity, The notion you’ll never get the job like this again, hunger for power. The desire to achieve ideological gold because you can manipulate this guy doesn’t know anything. All of those things, you know, play out, I think, different people are different parts of that spectrum perhaps. And they all fool themselves to some extent by saying, if I go in, I can make it better. Or if I stay, I can make it better.
  • Speaker 4
    0:15:17

    My successor will be worse. Whoever he picks to take my place will let him get away with stuff that otherwise he might not get away with. I think we went into this book looking at that pretty skepticly and pretty cynically. At the same time, the other thing I think we also found was there are times when you can say it made a difference that some of these people were there as opposed to people who succeeded them. And the one example I come up with is January sixth.
  • Speaker 4
    0:15:40

    Right? John Kelly, whatever his flaws, and he, of course, had many, many people would criticize him. Would have thrown himself in front of the door of the Oval Office rather than let Mike Flynn and Sydney Powell and all these crazy people come into the Oval Office talk about martial law and seizing voting machines, whereas Mark Meadows seemed to be an enabler, telling Judy Thomas, yes, this is a fight for the Lord. We ought to be doing this kind of thing. So you can’t I mean, there is clearly evidence that having people in did make a difference even if at times they were fooling themselves as to how much of a Could
  • Speaker 2
    0:16:11

    I just ask a a follow-up on that? And I’m not asking you to burn your sources, which being the outstanding journalist you already wouldn’t do. But but as you talk to these people after, you know, the dust is settled, to what extent do they feel remorse? Do they feel that they kind of violated their better natures? Did or did they say, no, I was completely right.
  • Speaker 2
    0:16:32

    And I actually saved the country, and nobody really appreciates me, particularly in those awful, never trumpers. Who are just, you know, throwing spitballs from the sidelines. Howard
  • Speaker 3
    0:16:41

    Bauchner: You know, it’s a very important question actually, Elliot. And I think that you know, there were just as there were sort of distinct phases to the presidency. Right? You know, because he had so many different advisors that he cycled through. There are different approaches to this issue.
  • Speaker 3
    0:16:58

    Generally speaking, this is not a remorseful or self reflective group, I have to say. And certainly some of them have turned more publicly against Trump than others. You know, John Bolton is on any airwave that will have him trashing Trump, Bill Barr, to a certain extent, has has chosen that course as well. Others to this day haven’t really spoken out. John Kelly has participated to a certain extent publicly in confirming, you know, his qualms about Trump or individual particularly outrageous incidents, but has seemed to not wanna become kind of the public feasts or perhaps a lightning round of criticism.
  • Speaker 3
    0:17:40

    I’ve been struck by generally speaking the lack of willingness to take responsibility by many of these folks. And one of I don’t know about you, but I I find it particularly one of my pet peeves in fact is about the group of people who emerged at the very end arguably in crucial roles, right, of seeking to constrain Trump in twenty twenty, and especially in the aftermath of the election. People like Barr, even people like Mike Pompeo, who’s never publicly, essentially, really admitted the role that he played in trying to constrain Trump. And yet,
  • Speaker 4
    0:18:21

    what I
  • Speaker 3
    0:18:22

    find really infuriating and and Bolton does this too to a certain extent, is this idea that, well, he really went crazy, you know, after I was there or, you know, can you believe that Donald Trump was, you know, like, trying to attack the constitutional basis of how we settle elections says Bill Barr, Well, where was Bill Barr for the month before the election in which Donald Trump was attacking the legitimacy of the election? This this idea that, you know, he somehow snapped and went nuts on November third twenty twenty when he lost the election. When in fact, he’d literally been telling the American public for months. Well, if I don’t win, then I’m gonna not accept the results. Right?
  • Speaker 3
    0:19:05

    So he actually did exactly what he would say he would do. So that’s a particular pet peeve of mine and certainly the folks on the national security and foreign policy side are just as guilty as as any of the other folks in in somehow pretending that it was only the moment when they got off the Trump train that things went to hell. So, you know, that’s one particular issue. But but to your point, I would say that I started out the book project having a very, you know, a stronger view than I did when I finished it about the advisability of them serving in the Trump White House. Because I do think that the record is pretty clear that the constraints, the buying for time, the hemming and hawing, the not really executing on his orders or you know, there were some advisers in the White House such as Rob Porter, the disgraced, but nonetheless kind of crucial staff secretary who they have the three time rule.
  • Speaker 3
    0:20:09

    Right? That, you know, Trump literally would order they’d have to order them to do something three times before they would to make it even at least a half hearted effort to try to carry it out. It is pretty clear to me examining the full four years of the presidency that all of that delay and obstruction made a difference and stopped some very bad things. From happening. And I think that leads to the great forward looking concern about what a second Trump term in office would lead to as he himself became much more aware of the obstruction and became much more effective, I think, at surrounding himself with kind of people who wouldn’t put obstacles in his way, which is another explanation of course for the catastrophic ending of the presidency.
  • Speaker 3
    0:20:59

    So
  • Speaker 1
    0:20:59

    much of this, it seems to me, you know, particularly as you read your book, was so predictable. I mean, it was predictable, for instance, In fact, Elliott and I talked about it at the time that having since Elliott, I both had done time in the Pentagon, that you know, a three star operating as national security adviser with a four star secretary of defense and a four star
  • Speaker 4
    0:21:23

    DHS and
  • Speaker 1
    0:21:24

    then later chief of staff, that
  • Speaker 4
    0:21:26

    they would
  • Speaker 1
    0:21:26

    see him as a three star and that that it would be sort of snake bitten from the beginning. And of course, that as you document is what happened. It was predictable. That Mulvaney as acting chief of staff would enable Trump in in extorting Ukraine because he didn’t care about foreign policy the whole time he was in the Congress. I mean, as far as he was concerned, the o five o, the Department of Defense account, was just another government budget account to be cut like all the others.
  • Speaker 1
    0:21:57

    It was perfectly predictable that Mark Meadows would throw gasoline on whatever fire he was near because that had been his whole record in the congress of the United States. Was this a kind of chronicle of a tale foretold, I mean, in your
  • Speaker 4
    0:22:11

    view? Well, and and and step back for a second and look at Trump. Right? All of this was predictable before he was elected in terms of what he would do. Now I know a lot of people wanted to give him benefit the doubt especially once he was elected.
  • Speaker 4
    0:22:21

    They wanted to say, well, maybe he’ll turn out to be kind of a coalition builders in New Yorker. He doesn’t really have an ideology. He’s he’s a good democrat. He used to be a reformed party guy, whatever. Oh, that’s true to an extent.
  • Speaker 4
    0:22:33

    He could have actually tried to be that if he wanted to, but he didn’t want to. And there were seventy years of history before he took office to look at, which was pretty clear before the election. You know, Susan likes to rightly point out that there were five really good full length biographies of this guy documenting his history in business and reality television long before he stepped onto the election stage, and that we’ve and that we we knew that Susan gathered those fiveographers in what she called a session of the Trumpologists. When she was editor of political to talk through his characteristics, the traits that brought him to where he was, and all of them played out once he became president. And in effect, you know, it’s a cliche in Washington to say it was it was shocking but not surprising.
  • Speaker 4
    0:23:18

    It should not have been surprising because all of these things he fought shadowed an effect in the years leading up to the presidency. So how did he get
  • Speaker 1
    0:23:27

    elected?
  • Speaker 3
    0:23:30

    Well, it’s very interesting, Elliot. I mean, you know, that’s outside the scope of this work, which is which is a history of the the four years in office. But you know, having listened to a series of really fascinating focus groups with with your colleague at the Bulwark, Sarah Longwell, in in the run up to the twenty twenty election. She spent really the whole four years from twenty sixteen on, you know, trying intently to understand that question. How did he get elected?
  • Speaker 3
    0:24:00

    And what would stop Republican or Republican leaning independents from voting for him in twenty twenty. That was her project. And I spent a fair amount of time with her in in twenty nineteen and then a bit later in twenty twenty. You know, trying to understand those voters in that demographic. And consistently, actually, part of what I heard was that these folks didn’t do their due diligence that they believed in the TV cartoon apprentice version of this outsider businessman who was gonna come and clean up Washington.
  • Speaker 3
    0:24:32

    That, as Sarah would often say, that came up in basically every single one of her focus groups. And they they didn’t read the books. And they didn’t know the history of Donald Trump. It was the people who had made a study of Donald Trump who had looked at the information that was, of course, easily out there and available. To them.
  • Speaker 3
    0:24:51

    You know, anyone who had focused on who Trump was. You know, he brought those same characteristics. And I was talked about this and thought of this is that, you know, the bad boyfriend theory of the pet presidency, you’re not gonna change a seventy year old man you know, into being something different than what he always was. And what he always was was a divider, and a charlatan, and a con man, and a gifter. And, you know, so again, the surprise was perhaps that many voters, you know, that they did not take their their job seriously, you know, to a certain extent, or they felt that Trump would be the kind of disruptor and outsider that they wanted.
  • Speaker 3
    0:25:34

    You know, that they they knew perhaps of his personal characteristics. They certainly knew that he wasn’t, you know, a a very honest guy they didn’t care. They thought that there were other things that were more important. And many of the people we read about in the book, by the way, including some of the national security officials, were Also, of that view, they knew Trump’s liabilities, and they chose to serve him or to work with him just as many four leaders did because they saw that they could get out of the Trump presidency what they wanted, and that’s another important theme.
  • Speaker 4
    0:26:08

    I think just
  • Speaker 2
    0:26:09

    to reinforce that, I think some of them I’m pretty sure still feel that way. So I,
  • Speaker 4
    0:26:14

    you know,
  • Speaker 2
    0:26:14

    I haven’t spoke with HR McMaster and I have not had a conversation in about five years. But I think if you were to ask him to compare Barack Obama, Trump, and Biden, he Obama would clearly be, in his view, be the worst foreign policy president ever. And I bet you Biden second, and Trump third. I mean, in other words, I think he I I think you would actually think that Trump is, you know, all things considered not as awful as you might think.
  • Speaker 4
    0:26:45

    Yeah. I mean, look, obviously, it depends on your point of view about foreign policy. Right? I mean, there ironically, in foreign policy is when we’re talking about that there’s actually more, in some ways, more coherence to Trump than there was on the domestic side. In the sense that, you know, he’s not an ideological guy, he’s not a guy with a philosophy per se, except that on form policy, he comes at it with his worldview, which is that the United States is being ripped off.
  • Speaker 4
    0:27:07

    Right? Apply that theory to whatever. To security guarantees, alliances, trade, economics, what have you. And he applied that view to to that. And there’s a coherence to it that was appealing obviously to people of voters who cared about foreign policy.
  • Speaker 4
    0:27:22

    It’s more of an isolationist brand outside of the spectrum. Obviously, it’s less of a sense of responsibility of the world, doesn’t care about allies, but it’s not entirely in coherent. It’s just maybe unproductive or counterproductive. Right? Look at NATO.
  • Speaker 4
    0:27:38

    The great example. He wasn’t the first guy who said NATO allies should pay more money or should pay more through their own defense. Obama said that, Bush said that. Gates made a big point of that. They just didn’t see they just didn’t see that as enough to destroy the alliance.
  • Speaker 4
    0:27:52

    Right? To to pretend it was our protection racket and to trash. People like Angela Merkel, and Emmanuel Macron, Theresa May, and he said harsh in personal ways. I mean, that’s the difference. Right?
  • Speaker 4
    0:28:04

    Is is it Trump made it all personal? He he made it all about loyalty to him or not loyalty to him. But there are parts of his foreign policy that survived today. I mean, China is being a good example. They haven’t taken the tariffs off.
  • Speaker 4
    0:28:16

    There’s some bipartisan consensus right now about China. So Trump, in some ways, with the leading act, he may not have handled the way that a lot of foreign policy professors would have preferred but there were areas where an h r m at master could feel like they can get something done. John Bolton, last last good point. John Bolton specifically, I think, came in with, like, a list of treaties he wanted to get out of, that Trump couldn’t care less about, and that Trump says, sure. Let’s go ahead and get out of the the the INR.
  • Speaker 4
    0:28:39

    Let’s get out of, you know, this side of the other thing. Open skies. Open skies. Exactly. It was like a postal tree.
  • Speaker 4
    0:28:47

    I mean, I think at one point, something that obviously, intermediate range nuclear treaty. And Trump was perfectly happy to go along with that. Bolton is his extent. His way of thinking got some things done that he wanted to get done, otherwise might not have happened under any other president.
  • Speaker 2
    0:29:02

    So, Eric, let me ask you then. Uh-huh. Okay. I have a point. I mean, isn’t you know, Trump, you know, and say NATO.
  • Speaker 2
    0:29:08

    Trump is just your old boss Bob gays with bad manners. And and, you know, and he shook stuff loose and he modernized the nuclear arsenal and the Abraham Accord and add it all up, you know, should should we should we consider that, you know, maybe to what was Cromwell’s word considering the bowels of Christ that you may be wrong? Should that apply to us?
  • Speaker 1
    0:29:33

    No. It’s a short answer. But, I mean, look, even a broken clock is right twice a day. I mean, there were some
  • Speaker 4
    0:29:40

    there were
  • Speaker 1
    0:29:41

    some things the administration got right. I think about foreign policy, but more often than not, that was in spite not because of of Donald Trump. It was people inside the government. As Peter and Susan are just saying, working their own agendas or working on an agenda that was set by traditional conservative Republicans into congress or whatever. I mean, I I think it was Tom Wright at Brooks, then of Brooks now at the NSC staff.
  • Speaker 1
    0:30:08

    Who first, I think, correctly identified the antecedents of Trumpism in Bob Taft. As a kind of tafdi isolationism. I think, Susan, you might have actually edited that piece for political magazine back when it came out and twenty sixteen. I think Tom was really, you know, sort of onto something. I wanted to sort of take us in a slightly different direction a a few minutes ago.
  • Speaker 1
    0:30:34

    Susan, you had a long list of modifiers or adjectives describing Donald Trump very colorfully. One that was not in your list was authoritarian. And, you know, you and Peter wrote one of the very earliest and best, still best books about Vladimir Putin called Kremlin Rising written after or on the basis of the time you the two of you spent together in the Washington Post Moscow bureau. Did that help prepare you in some way to understand the Trump presidency better than perhaps some of your other colleagues in the fourth estate? Well,
  • Speaker 3
    0:31:13

    you know, Eric, I am. I don’t know about that, but I do recall so vividly actually going back to twenty sixteen how it was the Russia hands, you know, both journalists that we knew people who had lived there, people in the government or or outside of the government, but who had been in government, you know, and understood the Soviet Union in Russia, they were the ones who I think were early early on the alert here, not specifically because of the Russian interference in the twenty sixteen election, but because it was so clear that Trump was an outlier, that he was an anomalous and anti democratic, small d figure in American politics. And, you know, there were so many anti any echoes, I think, for for Peter and I, we happen to live in Moscow during the first few years of Vladimir Putin’s rule, which was really the period of his systematic attacks on the fragile, very fragile and very flawed Democratic institutions that had sprung up in the decade after the of the Soviet Union, and the dismantling of those institutions, the rollback of democracy, And, you know, for anyone who was in Russia then or in other countries like Hungary, like Turkey, there is a playbook and the, you know, systematic going after the independent media, the demonization of the fake news and the enemies that the people That’s part of the checklist.
  • Speaker 3
    0:32:44

    The outspoken admiration for the world’s autocrats, dictators, and tyrant, while at the same time, the consistent tearing down of allies and partners. The personal extreme hyper personalization of power. Whenever Donald Trump spoke about his, I have the absolute right he would say. And we have a list in the book of, you know, it’s a very long pair off of all the things that Donald Trump cleaned, that he had the absolute right to do. Just the other day, we were struck again.
  • Speaker 3
    0:33:18

    Putin said something in speaking to an audience in Moscow about the war in Ukraine. And this is before he actually even used the word war, which he’s now. Used for his quote unquote special military operation. But Putin was telling the audience, don’t listen to anybody else, don’t trust anybody but me. And that was one of the things that Donald Trump said.
  • Speaker 3
    0:33:41

    And actually, he said it often in different versions to his followers. Don’t trust your lying eyes. Only trust me. And again, it was it was these habits and instincts of an authoritarian. I actually wrote an opinion piece that was the cover of the New York Times Sunday review.
  • Speaker 3
    0:34:00

    Only two weeks into Trump’s presidency in twenty seventeen in which I said, that’s the Putin comparison that you should be worried about. With Donald Trump. I have no idea whether he’s a Kremlin asset or not. This was right at the beginning, you know, of the investigation that would become the Mueller investigation. But I said, it’s his instincts of authoritarianism.
  • Speaker 3
    0:34:19

    That’s the thing that we haven’t seen before here in the US in in in the modern age. And I also think by the way to your to this earlier discussion that, you know, you three were having about the question of, you know, Trump’s foreign policy record overall. That’s the real outlier that we can say is Trump’s true foreign policy because it came from him personally as opposed to what his staff did or didn’t do. You know, they negotiated the Abraham Accord. They did, you know, many of these other things, but it was Donald Trump.
  • Speaker 3
    0:34:54

    Who took the word of Vladimir Putin over that of America’s intelligence agencies. It was Donald Trump who had a love affair with Kim Jong Un, you know, etcetera, etcetera. So I think that a authoritarian admiration is is one of the keys to the presidency. I would add, by
  • Speaker 4
    0:35:11

    the way, just, you know, just in in in following him around in the for those four years, you just you saw it in his his demeanor’s attitude whenever he met with these guys. I was on Air Force one with him after he had dinner with Xi Jinping down him when it saw his and the sidelines of a summit there. And on the plane ride back, he’s just waxing this, you know, sort of envious for how Xi Jinping didn’t have to worry about a congress or courts or the media that if he wanted to put somebody on trial for for fentanyl, drug distribution. He could put him on trial today and execute him tomorrow, and he spoke of that as if that was a great thing. And so remember where he comes from.
  • Speaker 4
    0:35:45

    Right? What is his experience? His experience is not in a governmental organization where you have to negotiate with other power centers or deal with other equity user figure out how to navigate a complicated system. His experience isn’t even in a typical business with a public own company. There are no shareholders in the Trump organization.
  • Speaker 4
    0:36:00

    There’s no board of directors. There’s only Trump. And so he answered to himself, basically, and his lenders who finally gave up on him for for the vast part of his seventy years. So he comes into government, the only president in our history. Does have a single day in public office of the military.
  • Speaker 4
    0:36:18

    Right? Never been part of something larger than himself. And so, of course, he looked at the Oval Office the way he did the twenty whatever floor of Trump Tower when he was singularly in charge. Do
  • Speaker 1
    0:36:30

    you
  • Speaker 2
    0:36:30

    think he learned anything about foreign policy. I mean, I certainly take the point that he learned something about the levers of power in Washington and you know, that the John Kelly’s of this world cannot actually be trusted to do exactly what you tell them to do because they have these weird ideas about the constitution. But in in strictly foreign policy terms, was there any evolution or is he down to this very day still the same chaos muppet? That he always was.
  • Speaker 4
    0:36:58

    Donald Trump
  • Speaker 3
    0:36:59

    doesn’t think in terms of foreign policy. You know, we went down. We interviewed him twice for this book in Mar a Lago. Once in the spring of twenty twenty one and then again in November of twenty twenty one. And, you know, we thought, well, he’s gonna be fominating a lot about the rigged election and whatever.
  • Speaker 3
    0:37:14

    So we’re gonna try to put that part off and try to ask him about other stuff including foreign policy. And it was very clear. We started trying to run through a list of questions like that. Questions about Afghanistan and about Russia and Putin. And it was very clear that those topics had never really come up at all.
  • Speaker 3
    0:37:37

    You know, as far as we could tell since he had left the White House, he has no interest in the world at large. His worldview, in fact, not only is largely unchanged, but, you know, you can go back as as people including We Report in the book. Angela Merkel did. And you can read a Playboy interview that he gave. In at the end of the cold war, in nineteen ninety.
  • Speaker 3
    0:38:06

    And you can discern basically a blueprint of Trump’s thinking, you know, and kind of world view that as long as you substitute the word for the word Japan is is more or less largely undiminished today. And I I think that, you know, he he is who he is as far as that goes, and look at the comments that Donald Trump made in February of this year at the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. He praised Putin as a quote unquote genius and said, you know, that he was making a smart move. Now, of course, he tried to, you know, walk that back a bit, you know, once it was clear that might not have been to a smart. But he continued he’s continued to oppose the billions in military assistance that a bipartisan majority in Congress has voted for multiple times.
  • Speaker 3
    0:39:02

    And I I think that, you know, Trump not only hasn’t changed his worldview, but it’s kind of more undiluted now that he doesn’t have any John Kelly’s and John Bolton’s around him. You know, he is who he is. In in his office in Marlboro when
  • Speaker 4
    0:39:17

    we were there, by the way, in addition to the classified documents sitting on his desk that we
  • Speaker 1
    0:39:22

    that
  • Speaker 4
    0:39:22

    we noticed
  • Speaker 3
    0:39:23

    We failed to notice.
  • Speaker 4
    0:39:24

    But the only thing You needed to
  • Speaker 1
    0:39:26

    get into the
  • Speaker 4
    0:39:28

    closet, Peter. We should have gone through. Who knew? We didn’t nobody mentioned that to us before we went. But the only pictures of anybody else other than himself and his family on the walls are him with Elizabeth the second and him with Kim Jong Un.
  • Speaker 4
    0:39:42

    In other words, royalty which he loves because royalty is for to him the ideal. And Kim Jong un, who he, of course, the Susan said, had this love affair with And on the floor, leaning against a wall was a gift from Bolsonaro of Brazil, portrait of Trump made out of shell casings, bullet shell casings. That was the the gift he had on his wall. So not not a lot of Democrats, small d, or or or, you know, American heroes, if you will. So I wanna turn to
  • Speaker 1
    0:40:11

    a subject you cover with some of the most interesting stories in the book. And not least because we have one of the world’s leading experts on civil military relations, you know, sitting with us today or that is Trump’s love affair gone bad with my generals as you described. And this is like really to me remarkable. I mean, First of all, the infatuation with Marshall, m a r t I a l, not, you know, m a r s h a l, symbols that starts right from the inauguration day. I had never seen the story that you recount in which she instructs, he wants his inauguration parade, not to have any floats, but he wants helicopters and tanks, and he wants it to look like North Korea.
  • Speaker 1
    0:41:00

    Sort of a rare moment of self awareness, I guess. But then you have the the you tell the story really of the souring relationship with Mattis, with McMaster, with Kelly, with the Pentagon generals, you have this incredible story about Paul Silva, the vice chairman of the joint chiefs of staff who when Trump sounds him out about the big military parade he wants to have on the fourth of July after having seen the best deal day parade in Paris. And and Solva says, look, I grew up in Portugal, you know, which was a leadership and they have lots of parades like that. We don’t do that in the United States of America. So Trump says, oh, so you don’t like the idea?
  • Speaker 1
    0:41:43

    So it’s
  • Speaker 4
    0:41:43

    like, I mean, tell us a
  • Speaker 1
    0:41:45

    little bit. I mean, this seems to be a moment, and you also have some terrific stuff about the difficulties Mark Milley had, you know, managing, dealing with Trump right up until
  • Speaker 4
    0:41:57

    the end.
  • Speaker 1
    0:41:58

    This seems to have been a real test of civil military relations. How do you think the, you know, the military did in this instance and how
  • Speaker 4
    0:42:11

    did the
  • Speaker 1
    0:42:12

    civilian masters in the Pentagon, you know, Mattis, Shanahan, Esper, how did they do in your view?
  • Speaker 4
    0:42:19

    Well, again, we’re
  • Speaker 3
    0:42:19

    talking with the experts here. So I I await the verdict, you know, that you will issue. I think that I’m glad that you spotlighted this because for Peter and I, it was some of the most extraordinary reporting that we have done in several decades of reporting in Washington. You know, there’s just no question that is sobering and alarming to find when we received you know, the draft of Mark Milley’s resignation letter, you know, at the time it was people were aware of that you know, kind of rift that had opened up between Milly and Trump over, you know, the kind of explosive ending in the presidency, but not really. And for me, you know, getting obtaining that draft and and and looking at the language in it was something that I think was one of the most amazing, you know, pieces of reporting that that I’ve done, you know, in that letter which Millie decided ultimately not to time concluding that it was, you know, we don’t have a tradition of resignation in protest, you know, by the chairman of the joint chiefs for for some important reasons and that he would stay and sort of essentially fight Trump from the inside.
  • Speaker 3
    0:43:32

    But, you know, in that letter, he says things like, you know, that Trump was doing, quote, grave and irreparable harm to the country that he was, quote, destroying the international order. That he did not subscribe to many of the values and traditions that the United States was fighting for in World War two. You know, this is certainly without precedent, even if you go back to perhaps the end of the Nixon presidency, but even there, it strikes me that it was a more limited you know, sense of the Pentagon acting to, you know, constrain or reign in a president that they feared had gone rogue. You know, so that was amazing, but I think it was important and I’m glad that we were able to go back to the earlier parts of the presidency and to show that wasn’t just like some kind of a personality fight or disagreement over a specific issue between Lilly and Trump. But actually, Joe Dunford, a very different character.
  • Speaker 3
    0:44:35

    He was the first chairman of the chewing chief’s marine general, much more reserved in us steer where Milly is, you know, loquacious and and filled with bluster. You know, Dunford too had, you know, a serious, serious fear, I think, or about Trump and for the country, a similar set of concerns about Trump’s efforts to politicize the military and a similar desire to push back. And that Paul sell the story, which is one of my, you know, I think, classic stories in the book. That happened in in the fall of twenty seventeen, very early on in the presidency. So to me, part of the story that we’re telling is is an institutional story that, you know, actually was consistent regardless of the very different personalities of the individuals who clashed with
  • Speaker 4
    0:45:27

    Trump? You
  • Speaker 1
    0:45:28

    know, my judgment is and I’d be I really would like to hear Elliott on this because he’s the real expert. But I really feel that Mark Esper does not get as much credit, you know, as I think he deserves. I think, Mark and I’m, you know, partially I’m sure affected by the fact that he was a colleague in, you know, in government, but Mark, you know, I think tried very hard right up until the end to prevent Trump from pulling out of Afghanistan precipitously and, you know, in a very dangerous way in past year of the administration for political reasons. Second, to keep crazy people from being appointed to senior positions, you know, in the Pentagon. And and third, certainly from the summer of twenty twenty on after the Fair at Lafayette Square in June of twenty twenty after the George White protest.
  • Speaker 1
    0:46:25

    He’s trying to keep
  • Speaker 4
    0:46:26

    the military from
  • Speaker 1
    0:46:27

    getting dragged in into anything to do with the election. And, you know, for his pains, he gets derided as Mark Jesper by Trump and, you know, gets summarily fired the day after the election. Elliot, am I wrong? Is that I mean, does that not No. No.
  • Speaker 1
    0:46:43

    I
  • Speaker 2
    0:46:43

    think that’s right. I guess, I have three points actually. One is, I think the the Milli story is gonna this is gonna be a case study in war colleges, those kinds of venues of military relations under extreme conditions. And I know for a fact, Millie was advised by a whole bunch of people don’t quit. And he actually had those conversations at the beginning of his of his tenure as chairman and not just in the midst of the crisis.
  • Speaker 2
    0:47:11

    And I think he made the right call. Now there are other areas where to include, you know, should he be divulging if if it was him divulged the text of the letter and so on. There’ll be there’ll be a lot of questions, I think, to be asked. But it but it’s gonna be a really interesting case. And I think on the whole, he behaved very you know, quite admirably.
  • Speaker 2
    0:47:30

    I I find Trump’s fascination with the military, with parades and stuff like that. I think that’s just a window into his character. This is a guy who’s obsessed with strength because he’s actually weak. Because there’s nothing inside. I think it’s, you know, it is interesting that despite all the bluster and so on, you know, he he shrinks he actually ended up shrinking for military options in Syria or in Iran that would have caused collateral
  • Speaker 4
    0:47:57

    damages, not
  • Speaker 2
    0:47:57

    that I think he cares about.
  • Speaker 4
    0:48:01

    Anybody’s life other
  • Speaker 2
    0:48:01

    than his own. But I think there’s actually a certain level of, I wouldn’t say, timidity, but you know, when push comes to shove he’s actually more elected than you might think. For me, the most dangerous part of that story though is what happens aftermarket Esper? And I think this goes to your the points that the three of you have made earlier on that he and he gradually figured stuff out. So at the end, it’s not just the new secretary of defense miller, but people like Kash Patel who he says in who are You know, Shakespeare is this one there’s this wonderful phrase that Henry Bolingbrook uses at Richard II.
  • Speaker 2
    0:48:37

    He talks about the caterpillars of the Commonwealth. Doug Wrigger. Yeah. No. And there are a whole bunch of those caterpillars of the Commonwealth who are either nuts themselves or so completely, you know, craven, you know, so it was slavish in their devotion who would do anything.
  • Speaker 2
    0:48:57

    And and that’s the really scary part. And thank God, he only figured that out at the very end.
  • Speaker 4
    0:49:04

    There’s a scene, by the way, in this January sixth commission report that just came out that hasn’t gotten a lot of attention. It’s really striking to me on this that he talked on January sixth about having the National Guard accompany him to the capital. In other words, literally marching with the military in effect to the capital himself to try to disrupt the transfer of power, which is I think is exactly what Mark Milley and Mark Esper and so many of these guys had feared for so long. And one of the reasons why, probably, the military was slow to get to the capital on January sixth. Right?
  • Speaker 4
    0:49:35

    Because there was this fear that that Trump would somehow use it, that this was about Trump militarizing politics. And and obviously, they try to learn this lesson from Lafayette Square, and, you know, you could argue they’re learning the wrong lesson. We needed to get to the capital in order to protect it. But they worried desperately that what Trump wanted to do was militarize his election and his failure to win the election. And in fact, you know, when Trump goes around saying, oh, I’m the one who said that they should have ten thousand national guards there to protect the capital on January six, what he actually said according to several military people.
  • Speaker 4
    0:50:07

    Is I wanted ten thousand people there in order to protect my people, my demonstrators from the left wing aditators that he presumed or accused or whatever of having them there. He was not interested in protecting the capital. He wanted to use the military for a very political purpose. And so Mark Milley, I think, was left in this really very, very, if not unprecedented, certainly, nearly unprecedented position of of having to make a decision about how far you go as a sworn officer who is loyal to a commander in chiefs law for orders. Right?
  • Speaker 4
    0:50:40

    In our book, we talk about him saying, no, I’m not gonna turn in this letter of resignation that Susan talks about. I’m gonna stay and fight. Well, that raises all kinds of civil military in the cases. Right? And you’re right.
  • Speaker 4
    0:50:51

    This will be taught and should be taught for years to come. What does that mean? You’re gonna fight the commander in chief. But I what I think he means, right, is I’m going to fight any unlawful orders. Any disruption of our democratic system, small d, where the military does not take size and a partisan slug fest.
  • Speaker 4
    0:51:06

    And and that’s an unbelievable drama that was playing out right in front of us even if we didn’t quite see it. Howard Bauchner: I would
  • Speaker 2
    0:51:12

    add just one other thing to all this that what this whole episode teaches us is, I mean, thank goodness, there were there were constitutional buffers, there were legal buffers, there were individuals like milli and and others who acted as buffers. But at the end of the day, you know, this constitutional system is still vulnerable to having chief executive who’s completely out of control, completely ruthless, completely unprincipled. And, you know, you’re you’re vulnerable I guess that leads me to a different kind of question, guys, because I think we’re coming, unfortunately, to the end of our time. So I don’t quite understand why he would wanna talk to you since he had to know what your views of him are, but I’m glad he did. Has he changed in any ways?
  • Speaker 2
    0:51:57

    Do you think he is a more sophisticated operator? Not in terms of getting the bureaucracy to to do whatever he wants to do, but just nationally? Or should we take some solace of the fact that he’s spending a lot of his time devising non fungible tokens of himself and superman capes and stuff like that and trying to run yet another
  • Speaker 4
    0:52:20

    grip. You
  • Speaker 3
    0:52:21

    know, the older people get, right, Elliot, sadly, we’re all seeing this in our own lives. The more like themselves they become Donald Trump is ever more like himself. You see the man, you know, in some ways, ever more clearly, when it’s just himself at Mar a Lago, you know, spooning for the adoration of a crowd, even a crowd of paying customers on the patio at dinner applauding him. And, you know, there’s a sort of pathos to the guy, you know, the aging con man, you know, the Norma Desmond, you know, was another image that was invoked in a good piece recently in New York Magazine. And Donald Trump is who he is.
  • Speaker 3
    0:53:08

    And you know, he is consumed by grievance, consumed by a need for enemies, you know, for causes and controversies. If they don’t exist, he’ll create them. And the essence of the man is is rooted in an ideology of one. You know, it’s it’s a story and a narrative about himself, and thus it ever will be. And, you know, look, we’re we’re not done with him yet.
  • Speaker 3
    0:53:38

    He is not only running for president, but he is in the absence of any other contenders for twenty twenty four gotta be looked upon as at least the front runner for the Republican nomination. And I think that you know, the point that you just made
  • Speaker 4
    0:53:55

    is the
  • Speaker 3
    0:53:56

    one that I would leave us with, which is the the point about
  • Speaker 4
    0:54:02

    what do
  • Speaker 3
    0:54:02

    you do with a rogue president? And that in some ways, what we learned in four years of having a rogue president is that the institution really doesn’t have a good answer to that question. And if anything, the four years of the Trump presidency proved that impeachment is really not a viable option for constraining a president in this situation of extreme polarization and division that currently exists within the country. And so by some measures, there’s less accountability now there’s less ability to rein in a rogue president than there were before Donald Trump took the office in January of twenty seventeen. Well,
  • Speaker 1
    0:54:45

    on that grim note, which is very typical for shield of the Republic to end that way.
  • Speaker 3
    0:54:52

    Or your core demographic I’m referring to say. Unfortunately,
  • Speaker 1
    0:54:56

    we could go on for hours with Susan and Peter I can’t believe how quickly the time went by. I do have one just, you know, tiny
  • Speaker 4
    0:55:05

    factual question.
  • Speaker 1
    0:55:06

    Peter, you made reference to
  • Speaker 4
    0:55:08

    the January
  • Speaker 1
    0:55:09

    sixth committee report, which actually struck me in the same way as your book, which is to say
  • Speaker 4
    0:55:16

    there there
  • Speaker 1
    0:55:16

    was a lot that we already knew, but the amount of stunning detail in it and the construction of the timeline, it it parallels really what you’ve done for the whole administration a lot of ways. Will you be using that to do a revised edition for the paper back version to try and incorporate all that material work?
  • Speaker 4
    0:55:35

    Oh, Eric, you just want us to work, work, work, we haven’t even we just wanna get through the holiday. Yeah. Well, we haven’t decided yet or talk to our editor about how we would incorporate that. We have a little bit of paper back in the fall. In some ways, we’ll try to, I think, do something to update, obviously.
  • Speaker 4
    0:55:51

    I think a lot of the main points in the January sixteen report, fortunately, are in our book, but they do have some wonderful, remarkable, telling, revealing, and important significant details, and I don’t know what the editors will say, the publishers will say about how we could use that, but we’ll talk about it for sure. Yeah. I’ve been reading the
  • Speaker 3
    0:56:08

    transcripts. I don’t know about you, but, you know, even more than the report itself, that’s I’m grateful that they are putting all those transcripts out. A
  • Speaker 1
    0:56:17

    record number. Cassady Hutchison transcripts are really astonishing in a lot of ways. Our guests have been oh, I’m sorry, Elliot.
  • Speaker 4
    0:56:25

    Go ahead. So I I
  • Speaker 2
    0:56:26

    just wanted to ask one last question. This is this is actually not about Trump. This is the author in me. So I’ve co authored a couple of books with friends. The friendship survived it.
  • Speaker 2
    0:56:36

    The idea
  • Speaker 4
    0:56:37

    of writing a book with
  • Speaker 2
    0:56:40

    one spouse just strikes me as filled with nightmarish possibilities. How do you manage it? Well,
  • Speaker 4
    0:56:49

    you know, Jimmy Carter, wrote one book with his wife, Rose Lynn Carter, and it was so traumatic that they had to have their publisher fly down from New York to mediate for them. He said he built hardest thing that they ever did in their marriage. But for us actually, you know what? This is where we started. We started together as reporters in the newsroom of the Washington Post.
  • Speaker 4
    0:57:09

    Actually, she was my editor at the time. She doesn’t like to admit that. But we our our beginning of our relationship It’s always been professional and personal at the same time, and I think that we’ve always enjoyed collaborating. It’s our third book together. It can be tough obviously, but I think that we are stronger because we do it together.
  • Speaker 4
    0:57:25

    And I think that for us, it’s a great gift.
  • Speaker 3
    0:57:30

    Well, thank you, Elliot. As you can see, we’re more or less on speaking terms with each other. So it’s it’s worked out okay. But, you know, look, anything as all consuming as a book like this done in a remarkably short amount of time. Thank goodness, we were working on it together.
  • Speaker 3
    0:57:46

    That’s when I think there would be a real rift in the family if I was, you know, one of us was living in the world of Trump, Trump, Trump all the time, and the other wasn’t. So
  • Speaker 4
    0:57:57

    So it was it was
  • Speaker 1
    0:57:58

    therapeutic then.
  • Speaker 4
    0:58:00

    And that’s how they can argue with
  • Speaker 2
    0:58:03

    the results. So, you know, well done. Our
  • Speaker 1
    0:58:07

    guest in Peter Baker and Susan Glasser, their book, the divider, is available through Amazon or wherever you buy books. If you got a Hanukkah or Christmas present, if you got an Amazon gift card or a Barnes and Noble gift card or even a Visa gift card, I highly recommend that you use it to buy the divider. It’s, I think, the absolute best book on the Trump administration And Peter and Susan, we hope to have you back in the future. Maybe when the paper back comes out. If you do do an epilogue, we can We could talk about that, but you’ve been great guests, and thanks so much for joining
  • Speaker 4
    0:58:46

    us. Thank you so much for having us. A lot of fun. Good conversation. Great to be
  • Speaker 3
    0:58:49

    with you, both. Thank you.