Jeffrey Toobin on Writing About Trump

The Book Review


Jeffrey toobin joins us now from northern Connecticut. His latest book is called True Crimes and misdemeanors the investigation of Donald, trump, it's already a New York Times Bestseller Jeff Welcome back to the podcast. It is a pleasure to be here Michelle. Well, we are talking about probably an unpleasant topic you've been covering this regularly for the New, Yorker, talking about it on CNN, the investigations of Donald. Trump plural I think and the impeachment process at what point did you think to yourself? Okay. This should be a book as well. Right at the beginning you know I have a special interest in fun for independent investigations of the presidency. I was one of the prosecutors in the Iran Contra -CATION in the Lawrence Walsh Investigation wrote my first book opening arguments about that did a book about. The Starr investigation of Whitewater Lewinsky in the Clinton years and so I know that the behind the scenes, stories of these investigations are always interesting. But what was a nerve ing as I started in was that I didn't realize that Muller which completely shut down all access I had to trust that eventually, I would get access to the Muller Office, but it was incredibly unnerving journalists to. Spend almost two years working on his side of the investigation really from the outside even though you've written about impeachment, you've written books about investigations. This book feels different and I'm curious to hear your take on what makes this book in the process of writing the book different from those previous books. Trump makes it different? The president is such an enormous figure in American history, his complete disregard. For norms his constant lying his inability or unwillingness to play by rules that Democrats and Republicans have played for all of certainly my conscious life it makes everything about these last three and a half years just feel different from anything I'd ever covered in anything I've ever felt as a citizen we've had conservative presidents. We've had liberal presidents, but we've never had a president like trump and. Both he as a protagonist in my story and the people who gravitate to him just make it totally different. Okay. Here's one way in which it feels different to me and I'm curious to hear your take and it's about trump but it's also about the reception of trump among Americans or certain group of Americans and it's that every single time there are some kind of event trump takes. Some action that seems to be a game changer. There's this expectation or there has been the expectation. Okay. Well, now, this is the end of this changes things, and that goes back to his not filing his tax returns during the campaign, but then I think the next point was with access Hollywood tapes and it's been that way ever since where where something will happen and people will say. Well now, that's it. You know there's gotTa be a consequence and then there really isn't a consequence I. Think you're right in part I mean you know and and you can go through others whether it was praising the white supremacists in Charlottesville standing by Vladimir Putin, in Helsinki, and disparaging the American intelligence agencies firing James Comey which seemed like complete departures from how we expect presidents to behave. Another theme of my journalistic career has been the evolution of the Republican Party that if you go back to Richard Nixon the turning point in Watergate was when seven Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee voted in favor of impeachment and then ultimately Barry Goldwater Hugh Scott John Rhodes went to Nixon and say we can't support you anymore those three famous Republicans The Republican Party has turned into a trump call. And the ability of the president to do absolutely anything no matter how outrageous and retain the support of that forty percent of the country. Is. Something we've never seen before it's been building through the past couple of decades, but I think that's what accounts for the phenomenon you describe, which is no matter what he does the the political architecture of our time really never changes anymore because fifty five percent of the people are appalled forty forty percent of the people stick with trump and thus we have the election we have. So you're saying it's essentially the fact that he's not held. Accountable is a result of the fact that the party has sort of been entirely captured by trump. He has captive and very loyal audience among Americans, and then presumably the other arm of that is what's happened with the media and that certain is catering to and delivering that message. I. Can just add one thing. You know a lot of people like what trump is doing. It's not like this forty percent says, well, you know it's bad that he fires Komai. It's bad that he says, all these races. Thanks their gladis says racist things. I. Mean there are a lot of people in the country who have the same attitudes and I think that's what's chilling for people like me who was. I like to think is not a racist, but the way trump behaves in public it's a feature, not a bug people don't support him in spite of his excesses they support him because it's

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