Live from Music Row Monday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed The Star News Network’s Senior Reporter Laura Baigert to the newsmakers line to discuss her one on one private 30-minute interview with former President Donald Trump.
Leahy: We are joined now on the newsmaker line by Laura Baigert, the senior reporter for The Tennessee Star and the Star News Network and the only journalist in America who got an exclusive interview with the 45th President of the United States, Donald Trump, at the Ohio rally. Good morning, Laura.
Baigert: Good morning, Michael. How are you?
Leahy: Did you ever think you’d hear Laura Baigert, the only journalist in America who got an exclusive interview with the 45th President of the United States?
Baigert: No, (Laughter) but I am sure glad to hear it.
Leahy: (Laughs) We put out your exclusive story we published yesterday about three in the morning. We all stayed up late to make sure we got it out there. Your exclusive interview with the President.
Early this morning, we published a pictorial of beautiful photographs of the event. My favorite picture is one of you standing just behind the main stage area right next to the Secret Service guys and one of those black SUVs.
And you’ve got your notepad with you and you’re just standing watching what’s going on, waiting for the end of the rally for your exclusive interview with the former President. You were in the limo with him.
The driver, you, and the President. And you had, like, half an hour for an exclusive interview. Tell us how it happened.
Baigert: Well, that goes back to a couple of weeks ago when we broke the news about Georgia’s Fulton County an election official admitting that they lost and could not locate chain of custody documents for absentee ballots deposited in drop boxes during the November election.
And President Trump was made aware of that story. He’s been quoting stories that we’ve had for some time now about the chain of custody documents out of Georgia that have not been produced since December.
And now we’re going on almost eight months after the election, and we still can’t get these documents. And President Trump has been quoting that for some time. But when he saw that this election official admitted that they couldn’t produce the documents, that really caught his attention.
And he sent out an email to all his followers, crediting my reporting and The Georgia Star News and thanking us for that report. And that led to a conversation with Liz Harrington who is his new spokesperson. And we asked for an interview and they granted it.
Leahy: So tell us what it was like waiting for the interview. As we were going up there, we thought it was maybe a 50/50 chance it will actually happen. Just describe the moments as you are waiting to get the interview and the details of what happened.
Baigert: That evolved over many hours. We didn’t know exactly what time. And it wasn’t until maybe four o’clock in the afternoon that we found out we were scheduled for 6:30, which was very exciting because we knew he was scheduled to come on stage at seven o’clock.
So we said, wow, normally when we talked about this initially, we found out that usually the interviews are scheduled for five minutes at a time, and they gave us 10 minutes. So we already knew we had way more time than normal.
And then when we heard we were scheduled for 6:30, that was really exciting. And they were going to pick us up on a golf cart to take us off of the actual field where the event was going to happen to the site where President Trump would be.
We had to be ready at 5:15 so that we could be staged. This is also encouraging, because if you start running late, then you know that your chances get lower and lower for having that interview. That picture that you see there was after the scheduled interview time.
We were staged and in a golf cart waiting for the motorcade to drive up. And they were running so late. President Trump actually approached me and asked if I would be willing to wait until after the rally and drive with him to the airport, which would have given me a lot more time for the interview.
So that was a stunner moment right there. Well, of course, Mr. President. Anything you say and for 30 minutes, he said that will be a lot better. It was an amazing moment right there that he was just so gracious. That’s the word that keeps coming to mind. And the other thing and this was something that he arranged. It wasn’t staff or security or whatever.
And in fact, it threw kind of a monkey wrench into the wheel for all the people have to arrange all these things because they thought they were just going to drive me in the motorcade and the SUV over with the President from the ground a few moments away. And he corrected them and told them, no, this is the ride to the airport because that’s not nearly long.
Leahy: (Laughs) When we come back, Laura, we’re going to talk about your ride from the rally in the limo with the President and what he said to you.
Leahy: Set the stage for us. Where were you when the President came after the rally and you got it into the limo? What happened?
Baigert: President Trump asked me to walk around the other side of the SUV. When I got in there, he immediately handed me a Diet Coke. And then he offered me a drink, which was very gracious.
This is a man who has a lot on his mind and just delivered an amazing speech for just about an hour and a half. I mean, it was just fantastic. Not only the topics he covered but the inspirational send-off was just great.
So we get in and he checks in with his security guy who was there and asks a couple of questions about how do you think it went? And the size of the crowd. And just overall, very positive about the sense of how the event went.
Both from how he delivered the remarks and how they were received and all that. Then he asked me, what can I do for you? And this was the moment to ask what’s on everybody’s mind. Mr. President, what the people want to know, what they can do for you?
And it’s obvious through the rally that everybody wants him back sooner than later. It was a very nice conversation, just like you see him everywhere else. I think gracious comes to mind. And the other thing is consistency.
He’s the same all the time. What you see is what you get, which just portrays that he’s a very honest, trusting, and truthful person because it was the same all the way through. We discussed how the rally went, what’s going on in the various media outlets, the fake news, as he referred to them numerous times during the rally as he always does.
How the ratings have gone. He asked a lot of questions. So it was interesting. I’m not sure who was being interviewed. He was very interested in how The Georgia Star News is reporting.
He talked a lot about the election results and how all these states are working on it. And it’s not just about any one aspect, as he just issued another statement the other day talking about all the different things in discussing Bill Bar.
All the different things that went wrong in the election in all these different states. As you see, anytime he’s talking, he has this amazing ability to just rattle off all these statistics and facts and observations and people, places, and things.
His mind is constantly working. And you didn’t get the sense he was tired. It was so hot that day. He stood there for an hour and a half, delivering those remarks with such energy.
There was no change in getting there and sinking into the seat. And, boy, I would have been exhausted. Nothing like that.
Leahy: If it had been me and I’d get an hour and a half speech in the hot sun, I would have slumped into the seat and just said, get give me my Diet Coke and let me go to sleep. But there you were. You had one driver in the limo.
Baigert: Driver and the security. And it was so obvious, too, that they had such a good relationship. There was a good rapport where President Trump just kept checking in and talking about different things about the drive over and playing golf and very casual things. He treats everybody is the same.
Leahy: He seems like a normal person in terms of the interaction with you. Regular interaction.
Baigert: Yes. Absolutely. And here’s another thing. As you know, where the fairgrounds were, railroad tracks, bumpy ground on the grass. Gravel areas with little potholes, and then these country roads getting to the regional airport that he flew out of.
And so you’re turning a lot of corners, going over bumps, all of this. Not a thing about geez guys, could we avoid plotholes? Not a thing. It was just amazing how just like a regular person he acted and how you are the only person in the room and the most important thing that’s going on at that moment.
Leahy: You got the sense he’s a pretty positive guy.
Baigert: Absolutely. Absolutely. And even he asked opinions about various political figures that people want certain endorsements and things like that in their races. And he starts off presuming good until they do something different and prove themselves otherwise. And then he’s going to hit them after that.
Leahy: You had a very good interview with him. And the highlight, of course, was the big problem we have to fix is getting to the bottom of the 2020 election because if we can’t have confidence in elections, we don’t have a country anymore.
I think that was the main point, but it sounds like he was interviewing you to get your views on things as much as you were interviewing him.
Baigert: Right. It’s like if you had sat down with a friend and just kind of talked about the state of things the way they are today. I think it sort of makes sense. We have so many things on our minds right now. CRT, China, the virus, BLM, defund the police, and all of that doesn’t matter because we can’t really fix it until we have somebody right that will address it running the country. So it makes sense that the election is the most important thing.
Leahy: He was actually quite animated, shall we say, in his comments on certain individuals? We don’t necessarily have to name them, but they are out there in general. He gave direct assessments of certain individuals. Is that right?
Baigert: Oh, yes. Yes, he did. And it’s very interesting because it’s hard for people who aren’t subscribing to understand that. People just know what he means and understand just instinctually, what the message is that he’s portraying.
And they agree and know exactly what he’s talking about and why he’s saying what he’s saying. And he just gives a fair assessment of people. And, in fact, the person that he endorsed and kind of the purpose of his rally there was for Max Miller, who is seeking to replace Anthony Gonzalez.
And he gave a really great inside story about how Anthony Gonzalez wanted to fly on Air Force One every time he went back to Ohio. And then he turns around and votes to impeach President Trump for something that obviously wasn’t even true.
We can never even imagine all of the things that happen behind the scenes that maybe look like Trump is attacking people. And we have no idea that there’s stuff like that going on where people are taking advantage or have betrayed or presented themselves much differently than they really are.
Leahy: The big question for you. Do you think you’ll have another opportunity to interview the President?
Baigert: He sort of alluded to that at the end because he gave me a pen and said that there’s a story behind that and we’ll have to save that for the next time. It would be hard to top this moment. It’s one of those things where you wish you could just have a movie of it. I’m still pinching myself for such an amazing opportunity.
Leahy: Well, you know what’s interesting, Laura? It seems to me that your reporting has been so outstanding and so fact-based that the left has been unable to refute your reporting on the irregularities in the Georgia election.
I think the President respects that. And my view is that I think you’ve entered the next level of reporting here. I think this is not the one great moment for you. This is the beginning of many great reporting moments, Laura.
Baigert: Well, I sure hope so. We did have a unique opportunity with this Fulton County story. And as you said, we got attacked from the other side trying to refute what actually the Georgia Fulton County elections official admitted to us. It wasn’t our wording.
Leahy: It was theirs, and they couldn’t bring the reporting down. Laura Baigert, great job. Congratulations on that great journalistic get. That great interview with the former President. Thanks for joining us, Laura.
Baigert: Thank you.
Listen to the second hour here:
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