The Washington Post Reporters Write Book about White House, Trump as 'A Very Stable Genius"

Ameera Butt
January 31, 2020 - 2:30 pm

Is President Trump a very stable genius?

That's what Washington Post reporters Philip Rucker and Carol Leonnig stopped by KNX 1070 News to discuss with KNX In-Depth hosts Charles Feldman and Mike Simpson based on their new book.

"A Very Stable Genius: Donald J. Trump's Testing of America" clocks in at 417 pages on the president and his knowledge -- his decision making, his logic, foreign policy (with Russia, for instance), protocols and much more.

President Trump is currently embroiled in an impeachment trial in the Senate - something that could have a final acquittal for acquittal next week.

"We chose this title and these words because they were the president's own words, and we thought it was important. Not only did he say it in response to criticism about his fitness for office in 2018, he tweeted it then... he said it four more times since. We chose this word not to mock the president but to hold up a mirror to his own definition of himself, stress-test that definition, his moniker for himself with the people who know him best, the people in the room where it happens " Carol said. 

She goes on to say Trump is a genius in "some respects" when it comes to his mastery of the "megaphone," his ability to communicate and to connect with voters.


​Carol Leonnig is an investigative reporter for The Washington Post while Philip Rucker is the White House bureau chief for The Washington Post and both​ received the 2018 Pulitzer Price for reporting on Trump and Russia.

The book is out now and includes more than 200 sources including Republicans, senior aides, do not view him as a genius or stable, according to Carol.

"He says it because he believes it and he has such a superior view of his own intelligence, his own instincts and charisma and his own leadership qualities that he sees himself not only as a very stable genius but as a historical figure in our country, as the greatest, the best, the smartest and you see that in his public commentary so often but according to the people we interviewed for this book, you also see it in private and the way he talks about himself with the people who work for him," Philip said. 

Philip laid out a typical day for the hosts that begins in the residence where Trump wakes up, and watches cable news and sometimes grabs his phone to tweet out the messages of the day.

"You have administration officials, cabinet secretaries, staff in the West Wing who are reacting every minute of every hour of every day to what the president wants done, to what he's thinking what he's ordering, what he's tweeting , the statements he's making even if they contradict the statements made the previous day," Philip said. "There's a daily scramble for political survival in the Trump White House that we document in the book."

Carol said one of the greatest revelations they found was how people, who had never spoken to the reporters before, felt about the presidency.

"They told us, in large measure, they view him as a danger to the nation," Carol said. "His decision making is impulsive, and rash. That's not a shock to most Americans that he makes impulsive decisions, but the idea that people who want to be in this White House to serve a specific, conservative agenda and philosophy and the fact that to the degree to which they are worried and distraught was a real sobering takeaway. They view him as sometimes they are laughing behind his back and sometimes they are cringing." 


Philip said the sources they use in the book are senior administration officials, members of his inner circles outside the government, lawmakers on Capitol Hill, many of whom are Republicans and more.

When asked which reality was right - the reality of the book with Trump being an unstable genius or the reality of how so many Americans voted for him for president, the reporters gave Trump credit where credit is due.

"Phil and I think it's really important to give the president credit for the places he genuinely has a special talent. His special talent is the way in which he has connected with and electrified a part of America that has felt forgotten and disdained, to be clear, by the political elite, by both parties in some respects, forgotten by even the Democratic party for white, working-class folks. They view him as a fighter and a champion and even though his policies haven't really delivered for them or improved their lives, they like the way he talks," Carol said. 

Philip said they got a full picture of the president and were able to get inside the room and understood what motivated him to make the decisions that he made.

"What were the areas where he didn't have knowledge of our country's history?" Philip asked.

According to a Washington Post story, Trump didn't grasp the history around the Pearl Harbor attack.

“Hey, John, what’s this all about? What’s this a tour of?” Trump asks his then-Chief of Staff John F. Kelly in the story the Post wrote, as the men prepare to take a private tour of the USS Arizona Memorial, which commemorates the December 1941 Japanese surprise attack in the Pacific that pulled the United States into World War II.