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tv   Carol Leonnig Zero Fail - The Rise and Fall of the Secret Service  CSPAN  November 1, 2022 6:39am-7:31am EDT

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epidemic. here's carol on the u.s. secret
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service. ... ...
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and yet over the past couple of decades the reputation of the cervix is to have taken a beating. i'm hoping we can get down to what is happened with the service and what can be done to fix it. so now, please join me in welcoming karol and evan. >> karol good to be with you, congratulations on the book. >> thinking so glad to beer with evan. 's direct think of the book is great. it's not only great read but i learned a lot. honestly i'm embarrassed as a political junkie and history buff i feel like i should have known more of this than i did. let me off the hook, how much of this did you know before researching this book? >> to have to say i really got into this and beats by accident looking at something in 2012 of a terrible scandal. i was really shocked almost every time i delved into another presidency and there's something new to learn. sometimes there is heroin assume, it was security debacle.
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>> as you say this was an outgrowth of your reporting for the post on the presidential trip to south america in 2012. you'll get to that. i want to ask you generally what about that story struck a cord? obviously not everything you write for the paper has a book in it. >> the secret service story, and i was drawn into this in 2012 at least it was just the two sides of this coin. these heroic patriots we all think are the elite of the elite. come down super fit, sunglasses but as i did more immoral reporting about them i was finding out there was a lot of seriously concerning stuff. they were willing to take a bullet for the president. but a lot of times they are dodging a bullet. a lot of times they're covering up, not the secrets of the president but their own mishap. their own misconduct.
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>> of the guy was left thinking about his immediate environment that we are in today. they tell us everything for it we do not have to wonder forget in the whole story. we see both the visible part of the iceberg and the submerged part. but in times past when there were not as many places to get news they are not as many enterprising reporters, i wonder if that's partly what save these guys in the old days was there was just no one to do the digging into report on this. because as you say all this stuff was there. you are revealing it in a way that for us we are going for the first time. but it think it's because no one was there to tell us before, right? >> i mean i think there were some excellent reporters back in the day. there's also a bit of a gentlemen's agreement. we did not cover presidents in the microscopic way that we do now. president kennedy, a lot of reporters knew that he was often trotting off on business
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trips really partially to meet women. they were not his wife. a lot of people knew what was happening behind that curtain. what he's doing at the swim pool at the white house when jackie was away. but the secret service agents are something that are really disconcerting. while they were not judging him morally, they were judging him on a security reason. they felt like he was taking his life in his own hands the way he was interacting with people he did not know. the women that were unscreened on the other side of the door and hotel room the agents could not see or screen. to maximize being ushered into the white house by friend of the president. that his >> will come to though, the kennedy story is one of many that i want to be sure we get into here. let me stay kinda far back from this and asking generally, as you say yourself, you did not go into
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this with a conclusion about the secret service intending to prove it right or yourself right with your reporting. but you did go into with a point of view. though shaped in large part by the 2012 experience. >> absolutely. i thought, evan, when i dug in, again i was asked to help because i am a digger and i convince people to talk to me and tell me their truths. i thought that was going to be the biggest deal in the world. the most humiliating scandal in 100 years. but those agents i met over and over again, so many different ones i met as a result of that reporting and their family members and their friends and officers, they had a much more horrifying story to tell that was more important than boys gone wild in south america. that was they thought a president was going to be killed on their watch. >> in some ways telling the story is the best way for them to cleanse themselves or cleanse their guilt and maybe cleanse the secret service,
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getting it out there. >> they really did not believe their leadership and they had been through several directors. they did not believe their leadership was listening to them. they believe the alpha mail dna of this agency is both amazingly capable of doing heroic and unthinkable things, some sacrifice with their lives but the dna also doesn't admit weakness does not limit the agency is struck to thin. a security system is swiss cheese right now. >> multiple things can be true at once per they can be heroes and a need of some kind of fix. you interviewed 180 people roughly for this book. it sounds like many of them are happy to talk to as long as you did not identify them. how do you feel about the need to rely on anonymous sources? >> well unfortunately in this instance it was absently necessary. agents are currently on-duty
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and officers will lose their job if they speak to me without permission. and so i have to admit and say with great sadness there are agents who lost their jobs for talking to me. anonymity is crucial for them. on top of that even former agents because the backlash from the alumni network. want to burnish the issue of an impenetrable secret service not willing to work out for the current team that is fighting really against the odds and needs help. >> they working report especially in paper like the post we are called upon to relay an anonymous sources to tell us things be aptly need to know, you understand the tension there. so my people distrust the media if they see anonymous sources than they are given permission not to believe what they are reading. you just have to accept that. >> yes. although in this book and in
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my reporting, but especially in this bucket is the beneficiary of copious documents. i can tell you down to the number of mojitos and beers that were served because someone gave me all the internal investigation documents. so many of these agents admitted to me their calendars, their schedules their contemporaneous text and notes. and then they were backed up by again internal documents. >> see you alluded to the premise of this book is the storied organization is stretched too thin it's droning and omissions are great security risk there's distrust between leadership and rank and file. i would also add as we see repeatedly like so much of government there operating out of outdated technology that does not keep up with what they need in the modern world. there's a frat boy culture, this aspect which the service
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has been drawn into political matters onto hope the service is political but maybe it's too much to ask. people hate working there. that's the part i felt most remarkable. you say it finds itself in a state of on precedented peril should we all fear for the country under those circumstances? leave aside the myth of the secret service, as a practical matter they are protecting the most important people in this country. and if they are in this bad of shape shouldn't we all be concerned? >> you could not of said it better. and indeed you voice exactly what my told me agent after agent officer after officer why did they come to me? why did they risk their careers why did they put something on the line like this? because all of the warning signs that they know from history were flaring before kennedy was killed are flaring now. outdated technology stretched too thin staff.
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people back in the day i interviewed luckily some of kennedy's agents. a few of them died in the course of me working on this project. they said they knew they were treading water. they knew they were in trouble. they knew they could not keep up and that's what agents are telling us now. we going to wait for another disaster are we going to pay attention and do something for them. >> that's 50 years ago that's what's external it's been allowed to continue despite the fact it's absolutely not a new thought. as i'm reading this book i'm thinking to myself what does success look like for the secret service? what does the job of these brave men and women? dick kaiser is special agent for nixon and ford said in the book quote is saying in the book for me you've got to keep them safe. this reduces to the old # you had one job.
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one job you've got to keep the principles safe. really nothing else is more important than that. >> it is so vital. the reason the agency matters to me after learning so much about it is it is vital to the democracy. if the president is killed everyone who was live at the time, if you think is a gut punch to the country you cannot imagine how bad it was for the secret service. because it was job one. but this is one of the things this problem with the mission for it on top of job one there are 40 more people the secret service protection. the agency is now protecting vice president stepchildren and presidents and grandchildren and on top of cabinet secretaries. it is a huge mission plus the drink cybersecurity and hacking and financial, they are protecting super bowls, they are protecting olympics. every single event does not
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involve the president they are still there. as one cabinet member told me this agency needs a refresher about mission. we need to match up its mission and the tools with the money and the tools we give them. because right now we cannot accomplish what they are given. >> as you kick that off, and how broad the mission is and how many come to incorporate it's easy to forget back when the secret service came into existence really started at a counterfeit squad. at the time of abraham lincoln. it evolved after mckinley was assassinated into the entity it is today. initially the purpose of the secret service was not to protect it was much more mundane. >> so mundane. basically it starts after lincoln with the idea there's
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all this counterfeit money and we've got to deal with two thirds of the paper floating around the last year submit the secret service was authorized by president lincoln the day he was shot but not launched after his association for bathroom are present to be assassinated before they leader of the free world. and the reason we are so american, we don't want a royal palace. the public recoiled at that. and presidents did not think the taxpayers/voting public would come to this. but after mckinley was killed in upstate new york in
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buffalo, finally people started to say do you know what? this many presidents killed maybe we should actually protect them. >> their salmon things i learned about from your book about the service. the service has grown so much over the last six decades from 500 million-dollar budget to 7000 agents in a two-point to billion dollars annual budget. extraordinary growth. i did not know the first and only secret service officers or die will protecting the president was an assassination attempt on harry truman. i only know that i knew there was an assassination attempt on harry truman. leslie goes out a history now's the one and only right? and you just mentioned the mission of the service as an expanded to do things like protect the vice president. the idea that was not part of the charge for the very beginning is extraordinary. can you imagine kamala harris in this country at this moment without a protected detail?
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>> know i cannot. i cannot. it took the assassination of robert kennedy, he was campaigning and looking like he was headed to become president for lyndon b johnson to announce overnight. that was a really chilling moment. literally in the middle of the night called the director the secret service and said i want details on every single candidate right now. so candidates got protection >> family members as you said pray the protection of the services been expanded to so many people. karol i did not know to read this book that arthur bremmer who shot george wallace actually wanted to kill richard nixon first. and was thwarted. >> that is actually good story for the secret service. he rode in his journal that he was trying to get nixon. but it was too tricky.
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it was too tricky to get. he was struggling because the secret service men made it too hard for him to get a close enough shot. so good for them. kennedy's assassination really made them rebuild that agency from the ground up with rigorous training, majoring security. it's been sleeping for the past couple decades. >> is not aware to something you referred to in this book the exceptional case study project. this is where an analysis was done of 83 people who attacked or came close to attacking prominent figures between 1949 and 1996. they are not all presidents. but that that awful lot of instances of attempts, many more than i knew then we probably remember. the point made among others in this study is that many of them are about wedding faith. this is not political ideologies right? something without about the secret service in this book for sure is that got a much
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tougher job than even we know there are so many more attempts that people probably read about. >> so many. even before obama, president obama was running for office who kinda set the record for the number of threats. there are thousands per month but it registered a one way or another. somebody on a stool had a few too many to drink cities in the kill the president to just an e-mail or more frightening in a white supremacy chatter group. or, more often and was true in these case studies a person mental struggles or maybe in a crisis mental health estate decides the way for them to solve their problem is to kill a president. >> everybody has to be taken seriously that is the point. you do not know someone who sends an e-mail is a serious threat or not you got to investigate everything. a number of times in this book
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we hear more agents, more agents, more agents. we need more ages there's a number of antidotes if you can recount the service itself or others go to congress or they say we need more agents. the problem is were understaffed. is that necessarily after all of your reporting have you concluded the answer to better secret service is it volume, more agents make for better service? >> in some ways yes. but in other ways is too simplistic. as you pointed out, omission is enormous is gotten larger and larger we keep adding to the pile of what the secret service is responsible for. on the other hand you cannot, not protect kamala harris you cannot protect the vice president and family. you have to protect his people. those duties are understandable. but the mission it creates is enormous for the other thing is technology. they are so late 1900s in terms of what they have for
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tools at their disposal. some things have been upgraded. even in 2017 when donald trump was just a few months into his presidency, they had another jumper incident where the person got over five different fences and was on the grounds for 15 minutes without being interrupted, jiggled the door on the east wing to get in and wandered around, again no one catching him, why? the camera, the fence line the alarms, the sensors, so many were failing. this could not be the most protected 18-acre compound if all the sins were on the fritz. >> so there's that problem. not simply about the number of agents. you also have this problem that sometimes a people been protected by the secret service do not want them around. i kept thinking to myself was reading this book the number of people, protect these refused to be protector do not want to be protected.
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use the case of john kennedy the most extreme case of somebody who's trying to cut and run or leave is details you can go off and have his adventures. through other people in this book, president johnson we do even though they know the person having them around is to protect them they would rather not be protected. that's another thing. >> absolute, glad you brought it up. president johnson makes me chuckle because he threatened and one time did shoot out the tire of a secret service agent's follow-up car behind him on his farm in texas and kept threatening to shoot it because he said you guys need to get away from me. i'm hunting out here and you're messing it up. there's another thing about johnson and kennedy in terms of them wanting these agents away,
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separate from john f. kennedy's romantic views but separate from that, the other reason was they didn't think the american public wanted a lot of secret service guards around their president, they wanted to feel they were every man who waded into a crowd, normal joe, say hello to their voters and if you had a bunch of security around you it gave the impression you need to be protected from your own public and they didn't like that and thought taxpayers would be checked off about it, lyndon b. johnson constantly tried to cut the secret service budget or at least his detail because he thought voters didn't like it. >> there's something ridiculous about that, we would rather have a live president with too many people around him than a dead president, the job of the secret service is to protect the president. i find it remarkable that taxpayers won't like this argument holds any water. i'm more sympathetic to the
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argument that while we want to have private lives so whether it is john kennedy or michelle obama we want the secret service to leave us to have our private lives and not impose. it has the word secret in it but they do work for us so that tension, the idea of a culture of the place is steeped in deference and discretion but may reveal the secrets of a president or the first family, that is a concern. >> some presidents have had secret service relationships better than others, the bushes had an incredible relationship with their secret service details, treated them like family, barbara bush always bringing in food from leftovers from the parties. even to the point of telling a detail leader for her husband she wanted him to wear her husband's hat because it was
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cold outside, very motherly attention and welcomed but when the clintons arrived, they were not so sure about these agents looking out for them and in the first few weeks the story leaked in the papers about hillary clinton throwing a lamp in an argument so after that, okay, turns out these agents like the bushes better than us and i don't want them on the second floor of our home, they need to stay downstairs. >> the issue of the secret service's relationship with the clintons handed deference and all that comes to a head during the star investigation when the question of whether the secret service will tell what they saw on the lewinsky matter, it hadn't occurred to me the secret service would be put in a position of having to play that kind of role, maybe i knew it at the time but forgot but
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your book's extraordinary detail. it is such a compelling story, let's get into some presidencies if you don't mind and talk about some of the stuff you present to us, obviously the kennedy assassination is the one a lot of people think about, the image of the secret service, we think about everything that happened that day and after. under the heading of i think i knew this but forgot it or maybe i didn't know it, didn't appreciate jackie kennedy blamed the secret service, bill greer, the driver of the limousine, you have jackie in this book saying if only he had done xyz differently maybe it wouldn't have happens, that is extraordinary. >> guest: this widow is holding onto her husband's brain arts as they arrive. >> host: literally clutching a piece of skull and brain.
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>> guest: and hands them to the doctor in the emergency room. you can't put this president back together again. there were doctors who thought there was a chance but not many but she is this amazing figure of i am going to hold it together for the country which she did for many many days but in private moments she shares that that tap on the break, bill greer, the agent of the limo and when she's writing with her husband, that tap on the break in the plasma, upon hearing the first shot come through the right side of everybody's years is likely the reason forgive me, that oswald was able to get a third and fatal shot that went directly into the jar and year of the president and did result in a part of his brain splattering on the back seat. >> the contrast to that would
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be the assassination, attempted assassination of ronald reagan where unlike jackie kennedy, nancy reagan after the fact says the agent saved them, she believed the system worked exactly as it was supposed to so rather than regulations she felt had it not been for the agents, he might have succumbed. >> absolutely and that heroic moment, so many levels of heroism and split-second trigger refocuses on the part of the secret service, that's the result of the rebuilding after the gut punch of kennedy's death. the director puts everything he has into getting the money, getting the agents, getting the technology, all of that upgrade happens and his choices and the choices of the directors that follow him are completely vindicated by the split-second decision of tim mccarthy to throw his arms up at his chest and take incoming bullets from
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john hinckley or the split-second decision of reagan's detail leader on that square outside the hilton as soon as he hears shots. there is no tap the break or look. he put his hand on his shoulders and shoves the president. >> 7-year-old man, lands on top of him. reagan at one point thinks that his rib is broken because he's having problems breathing and that is because the guy smothered him in the car but saved his life. >> guest: and the agent behind him who literally fold up, didn't know if he was going to break the legs or not but. the legs of the agent behind him who was on top of the president to slam the limo door shut and evacuate immediately. it was like a vietnam efax, unbelievable. they went so fast that the agent who was driving was saying mantra to himself i hope i don't run over to me, to me
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was jim maccarthy -- took the bullet so -- >> chaos on that day, extraordinary. how much worse it could have been. >> guest: but everybody made great decisions, the fact that hinckley was able to be 11 feet from the president was a failure, that is what they did wrong but what they did right so overshadows it. >> host: back to reagan and a second, the reagan and kennedy -- what about nixon? to me the interesting take away from your writing about nixon, the way nixon attempted to politicize the service. by my count the grievous offenses, wanted to use the secret service, he feared kennedy as a political threat either in the 72 election, disabled, nixon is relying on the service to take on a number of expenses, not really
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legitimately renovation expenses to private property and also nixon's attempt to use secret service members to remove protesters, to disable the ability of americans to protest peacefully if not loudly against their government. it reminded me of what happened during the trump years. >> there were so many eerie parallels between nixon and trump just regarding the secret service, this idea of we are going to handle antiwar protesters and anti-nixon protesters by sticking the secret service on demand using them as a tool. president nixon's view of the secret service was very much like donald trump's in that this is another tool of my power, not they are protecting me but more like these are my
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goons and donald trump deployed them the same, nobody can forget the president -- donald trump's wish to look as the law and order president, the tough guy, look tough, don't look weak, and when he was running for reelection he wanted to have these images of these vicious savage protesters fighting with the secret service so those could be the images and that could show the voters who was going to keep them safe, president nixon. >> host: back to reagan. your book reminded me. president reagan, when he was shot, nearly half the blood in his body. i remember being in middle school when president reagan was shot and hearing about it and no one enough to know that it was a big deal but at the same time never thinking that
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he almost died. he lost nearly half the blood in his body. >> guest: it is a stunning thing and hats off to george washington university doctors and the surgeon, they dealt with a lot of challenges but part of the reason you weren't aware of it at the time, the secret service and the white house were seriously keeping it under wraps how close he came to death was very much -- >> only something we learn later. >> guest: so hidden. they dug a devastator bullet out of the side of his lung which was hidden behind a rib, hard for them to find. >> host: you mentioned how everything changed. the presidential detail agent who says every time the service is tested it gets better so the assumption is they go through jfk, then they check the
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security of buildings along the motorcade route to prevent sniper fire and no more open tops after the wallace assassination we change policies regarding roadblocks, after the reagan assassination attempt we add magnetometers and have covered arrivals, all of this seems smart and normal but 20 civilian i'm thinking of course but back to the capital insurrection, after the capital insurrection a couple months ago nancy pelosi and the security detail in that house were going to add metal detectors and is is such a point of controversy as if the answer to every question is subject verb liberty as opposed to these are the leaders of our country and we have to protect them so as much as security protocols evolve over time it is not without controversy. >> guest: you know this better than anyone, the problem is security mixed with politics.
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nancy pelosi has never really wanted and really pretty much resisted a fence around the capital. it looks terrible. donald trump didn't like the new fence design they were using to prevent the jumper incidents, he said it looked like a prison. kennedy didn't want detail agents on the back of his car when they were riding in motorcades. clint hill will tell you they begged, begged to be on the back of that car. >> it might have prevented oswald from having a good shot at the president. >> one hundred%. they would have had a fighting chance to prevent his death and he would have taken that bullet. he would have gotten in between it and the president. we don't want is that but that is what they signed up for. all of these security issues when you mix them with
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politics, you don't get up pure security answer. >> host: always a tension between freedom and security, this is always the tension whether it is the secret service or the capital offense, you want to protect everybody but you also want it to be free. i am moved. i hit this point in the book where where did everything go wrong? the problems you identify had been there for years and we may not have known about them as much out here in the world but there was a us news story you referred to in 2000 to the detailed this long history of bad behavior by agents and yet i can't help but note your chapter on the obama years is titled the wheels come off as if the wheels had been on previously but it was really in the obama years that we really see the problems up close, right? and they seem if anything to
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get worse. >> host: >> guest: they got worse. two things going on at the same time. one is the after clinton's presidency there is an effort especially by president clinton to keep agents away from him and as they get further away from him their ability to secure him reduces. it is the advent of the tv president, you don't want agents in the shot, keep them a little further away, we want a visage of a strong independent president, nobody protecting him, nobody needs to be there so that start to downward cycle in terms of the rigor of their security. there is also the misconduct allowed because of an arrogance and secrecy and lack of transparency in the culture of the secret service. if they can keep classified programs that are important to protect the president secret they seem to believe they can
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also keep their weaknesses, and some of their humiliating episodes secret. and both of those things come to a horrible head during president obama's two administrations, episode after episode of both kinds, security gaps and unbelievable -- >> host: i'm writing everything bad happening in the obama years with a certain amount of i just have to stop because the volume of it was too much. you had the extraordinary racist culture of the service, horrible emails and racist jokes. of course president obama is a special case and that he is in that he is the first black president ultimately, he receives secret service protection the earliest any candidate has received security in the history of the detail. you have the south america trip that was the basis of your
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poster, you go into excruciating detail in the book, the best kind of excruciating so you know every single thing, twist and turn that happens, the fence jumper who gets into the white house in 2014. his name is ortega, is that right? a comedy of errors except it isn't even a little bit funny, like you referred to with the trump incident, how did this guy managed to escape being seen? the agents who drive into the security barrier and for good measure the leaking of jason chaffetz's failed secret service application all in a few years and extraordinary to me that nothing seems to improve. >> guest: var shocker is everybody in the obama white house, threw up their hands after the jumper and after another incident that followed minutes after, and elevator
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guard who was allowed to get too close to president obama with a weapon. >> host: he had history suggest you don't want this person near the president. >> guest: anyone who is not absolutely clean should not have a weapon and be near the president, this person had been charged though not convicted but charged with some crimes that involve use of a gun. >> should have been a red flag. >> guest: a red flag. everybody should have been screened but after these things happen the obama white house is likely are done and ask for pressure for the director's resignation thinking a new leader is going to make things all better but when they bring back father joe, joe clancy who used to be the head of president obama's detail and he feels comfortable, a great coach, when they bring him back
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and they are taking a big sigh of relief like things are going to get better, things do not get better and nothing changes the status quo. two people, one of the highest ranking member of the presidency in charge of all the security at the white house leads a retirement party drunk as a skunk and comes back to the white house compound with another inebriated person, they drive their government car onto the white house complex to collect another car over a suspicious package investigation. this is not the behavior of -- >> host: a functional entity, you don't hear these stories and think this is working out. i didn't even mention the bullets, residents of the white house and mrs. obama goes bananas over. >> host: if you are the first
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lady and you find out from the white house archer five days after the fact that the house your children were in was shot at while you were away it is not a good way to learn, much less the first lady. >> host: we get into the trump years, what's the relationship? there are many costs associated with the trump administration, what we are finding now far in excess of what we know and by normal standards we should have. a lot of people were protected and the trump years by the service significant a more than in the normal administration. >> guest: there were 42 people including the president, at one point the department of homeland security head, john kelly who ended up being chief of staff tries to get some people to give up their details
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because they are not under any kind of security threat. he asks steve mnuchin we don't have enough money to protect the president, can we have your detail, and he goes bananas, wants to keep his details. others give them up, kelly and conway gave up her detail because -- wasn't thrilled about it but she gave it up because it is the right thing to do. >> you mentioned the president wanting aesthetic changes, the fence and all that and remove those movable posts but go up and down. >> guest: the underground security gate that rise and fall. >> when you run over them you make an unpleasant noise. to me thing i suppose i shouldn't be surprised about because he was so concerned about the look of the people around him for four years was his concern that there were
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overweight people on the security detail. i want these fat guys off my detail is an actual quote from donald trump and he said it because he was concerned they wouldn't be in the shape to protect him so there was a physical aspect to it but can't help but think the the president, the casting director for his administration is thinking, people who don't look the image i want them to look, back to what you said about the hollywood image of the service, they were banished. >> you 've drawn such a beautiful through line for something that worries me about the service and part of the reason i wrote the book. donald trump takes over at a time when the service is recovering and trying to rebuild, trying to rebuild. they' ve gone through a horrific twee 8 years, episode after episode after episode. what does donald trump care about? using them as a tool, optics over reality.
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he doesn't care about governing, he doesn't pay any attention to the financial strait, the shortchange nature, instead his travel leads them dry, $30 million is necessary in the spring of 2017, his only been president for a few weeks, the secret service makes an emergency request because they know they won't be able to keep up with even the basic bare minimum because he is going tomorrow lago every other weekend. that is very unusual. it is not unusual for presidents to travel but it is unusual for them to have leisure travel that puts money in the pocket of their own company. >> host: there was concern about the obama expenses in the first few months of the trump years, seems like trump is going to exceed that and some of the money has to go to small businesses. our money to protect the president, higher than we would normally expect day after day and ultimately in the pockets of trump associates.
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>> guest: back to your through line, donald trump arrives, the service needs help, it gets less and less help, it is more shortchanged, more blood dry and the person in charge is focusing on the optics of whether they are fat or not although many agents told me they think he misunderstood who he was talking about, that those were other people with desk jobs but whatever. the optics are more important and the problem is than the service leadership gets to take a path and not look harder at their bigger problems deeper within. >> i think about obama and the trump years, separate but related, the fact that you had the first black president and the nature of the threats to the first black president and his family on the one hand. on the other hand the challenge of the kinds of rallies and the
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kinds of rally goers in the trump years, to me those present real serious challenges even for a secret service at its best little owner secret service that is shortstaffed and under budget. >> true, director clancy, who was still director my forgive me, while donald trump was running against hillary clinton gave an interview in which he said it was the most chaotic campaign he had ever seen in his life and he was more careful in his language than others but agents told me they had dubbed donald trump the chaos candidate because he was inciting violence at his own rallies, with protesters who are anti-trump arrived, he would encourage his rally goers to physically attack them saying he would pay their legal bills. if you get in trouble i will pay your bills so there is a horrible scene where a woman
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from the university in louisville is in a kentucky convention center where the president is speaking, she has come to protest his anti-muslim rhetoric and she is pushed around like a ragdoll, she is black, she is wearing a backpack, she has a phone and she's filming what is happening to her, watching it from up above is horrifying as men spit on her, call her names, racial epithets and almost push her to the ground, but they did so at donald trump's urging. >> guest: the current political environment, and the toxicity of it, the pervasiveness of conspiracy theories that you would have once dismissed as ridiculous and not even worth paying attention to, the kid who shot up the white house and
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the obama administration, you're right, was inspired by and alex jones movie. what must it be like today for the service having to deal with everything else, now suddenly having to deal with these conspiracy fury fueled attacks or conspiracy theory inspired rallies that themselves then create more problems. >> guest: such a wise set of worries, look what happened january 6th, nobody imagined it, nobody imagined it, but nobody really could have handled it other than several phalanxes of national guard, we can't pretend a slightly larger police force could have handled that. just a stunning display of the state in which our country is. nearly civil war proportions. >> as you point out there were a number of secret service
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agents who we learned sympathizer at least empathized with the rioters which comes to the question of whether the secret service can properly be apolitical, we have individuals who have political points of view, the president will choose or not choose to unlock that part of it but they themselves have political points of view and that couple case matters further. >> a law-enforcement agency in america is almost always going to trend conservative, but i was gob smacked to have agents sent me screenshots of their colleagues on the presidential detail cheering for the patriots who had stormed the capital. if you have the most elite agency of protection in the world allegedly and some members are stoking the belief that biden is not a legitimate
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president, how safe is the democracy, how safe is president biden? >> you don't write about biden very much in this book, there is some mention of the new president, do you have any sense of what it has been like, so if there's a paperback version of the book theoretically the new material will be about the first period of the biden administration and whether he was able to reset everything or if it was more of the same? what is your sense? >> i've heard a lot of senior former agents that were close - former vice president biden, are trying to spread the word, partially through my book, pointing to it, but also their own experiences, to say it is time to fix it, let's not wait for a disaster. are we going to pay attention now or are we going to wait until something horrible happens? >> if to the beginning of a
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conversation it took 3 ssi nations before the secret service stepped up and stepped in. we hope it is not going to take another one before these problems get fixed. >> i hope so. >> host: i love this book and it is great to talk to you and i feel like i have really learned an enormous amount not only reading the book but spending this time with you, thank you. >> that was really enlightening. i imagine a lot of you would like to have a copy of this book, "0 fail: the rise and fall of the secret service". we have signed copies available at our lbj store that you can access at >> if you are enjoying booktv sign up for our newsletter using the qr code on the screen to see the schedule of upcoming programs, offer discussions, book festivals and more.


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