Star News Network’s Senior Reporter Laura Baigert Describes Her 30 Minute Private Interview With Former President Donald Trump

Star News Network’s Senior Reporter Laura Baigert Describes Her 30 Minute Private Interview With Former President Donald Trump


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.

(Commercial break)

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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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to the Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.











Star News Network’s Laura Baigert Talks Fulton County Suspicious Preferential Treatment Regarding Request for Chain of Custody Docs

Star News Network’s Laura Baigert Talks Fulton County Suspicious Preferential Treatment Regarding Request for Chain of Custody Docs


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 recent story regarding the investigation and request into chain of custody documents from Fulton County, Georgia’s Board of Registration and Elections Board.

Leahy: On our newsmaker line now, Tennessee Star, Star News Network, The Georgia Star News ace reporter Laura Baigert. Good morning, Laura.

Baigert: Good morning, Michael. How are you today?

Leahy: Well, you know, it’s been a very busy week for you, hasn’t it?

Baigert: Well, for all of us. (Laughter)

Leahy: So the big news was a week ago Monday you had a groundbreaking story and tell us what you discovered in that story. And then I will follow the chain of events from that story.

Baigert: For six months, we’ve been trying to get the chain of custody documents for the absentee ballots that were deposited by voters into drop boxes in Fulton County where Atlanta is located.

And we’ve got a bunch of documents from Fulton County, but not all of them. So we’ve followed up and followed up as a team to Fulton County asking for those documents. Finally, they came back and said, we have to admit that there are a few forms missing due to COVID and some quarantining that they back in October, that they misplaced documents.

This was after we showed them how many documents were missing and how many ballots they represented. But they disagreed with us on some of our numbers. But this is the first time that someone had any elections official had admitted that there have been any irregularities with their elections.

Leahy: Exactly. Their official spokesperson, Mariska Bodison, who’s the board Secretary for the Fulton County Board of Registrations and Elections, said a few forms were missing and paperwork may have been misplaced. (Chuckles) Procedural paperwork. That’s what she said.

Baigert: Right. And she really kind of dismissed in that terminology that these are critical chain of custody documents that go back to where those ballots even came from. And granted, anybody could do anything with these forms.

But the emergency rule that Secretary of State Raffensperger and the state elections board put into play in July, circumventing the legislature, which is what’s required by the Georgia Constitution, at least they should have followed that.

Leahy: And then the story gets more interesting because Monday afternoon, after our story, by the way, Mariska Bodison, the spokesperson who represented the Fulton County Board of Registrations and Elections admitted, a few forms may be missing.

We show that of the 1,565 transfer forms that should have been there to document chain of custody, they had only 1,100. So 385 are missing.

Leahy: It’s about 24 percent of them. But it’s a little bit more, right? (Chuckles)

Baigert: Right. It’s a little bit more than a few.

Leahy: So then that afternoon, Secretary eight Raffensperger announced that he’s investigating Fulton County for their absentee ballot chain of custody problems.

Baigert: Right after he exonerated them in April, three very tiny counties that only accounted for about a third of a percent of that absentee ballots were the only ones that were out of compliance.

Leahy: Then on Wednesday…

Baigert: Wednesday, the Georgia Public Broadcasting, the taxpayer-funded arm of NPR in Georgia, reports that they got all the documents between Monday afternoon or sometime Monday after our story came out and Wednesday in enough time for them to look at all of them and confirm that they received every one of the 1,565 documents.

And they evaluated them for no duplicates and everything else that they were able to publish a story and debunk as their fact check.

Leahy: That was their claim except they didn’t produce any of the transfer form documents as we did. We produced all of them that we got from Fulton County. And the other part of the story is the election director there, Richard Barron, admitted in public on Thursday that he dedicated 200 man-hours to finding these ‘missing absentee ballots,’ verifying your reporting, in essence.

Baigert: Right.

Leahy: Wednesday he gives a flash drive to this reporter for Georgia Public Broadcasting and doesn’t give it to us.

Baigert: Right. And at the same time, he could have just sent that file over and said, hey, we have it here.

Leahy: I think it was on Saturday when this Georgia Public Broadcasting reporter, Stephen Fowler, puts a tweet out with a little partial image of two of these supposed 377 transfer forms.

We haven’t seen 375 of them, we just saw the top of them. And you looked at that form and what did you find out?

Baigert: In looking at that, compared to other documentation that Fulton County has provided us in the way of a spreadsheet where they tracked all of their 37 dropbox locations in the 41 days that they collected during early voting and Election Day that the numbers that they recorded on their spreadsheet don’t match up with what Stephen Fowler reported in his report.

And it was off by 21  ballots between the two locations. He may have been trying to help (Laughter) Fulton County, but I think he might hurt them even more.

Leahy: Yeah, because this is a discrepancy now and another discrepancy with this partial information. By the way, you’ve asked again, very politely on Friday for Fulton County to produce the flash drives that apparently have this data that they gave Georgia Public Broadcasting on Wednesday, but still haven’t given it to us.

Baigert: Right. And for an explanation as to how they got a 48-hour turnaround in getting the documents that we’ve been waiting months for. And in the same tweet by Stephen Fowler implies that it was his skills that allowed him to get the documents and not us. (Leahy laughs)

And if we could only tell Fulton County what documents were missing. Well, it would seem that the people who run the election would be the subject matter experts in how many documents they have to administer the election rather than us knowing how many documents they have.

Leahy: Yeah. That’s their duty. It’s a Secretary of State’s duty to obtain those before he certifies the election. That was way back in November. He didn’t do that. Where do you think this particular story is going to go? Will Fulton County respond to us?

Baigert: I would say not likely. If they didn’t voluntarily turn those over and say, hey, we located the documents you’ve been asking for.

And since, by the way, Steven Fowler at the Georgia Public Broadcasting reported that at the same time, he got a flash drive from Fulton County last week that the documents were turned over to state investigators who were now, as Raffensperger said, the Secretary of State was going to investigate this. So they turned it over to them, but not the people who originated the request.

Leahy: Yeah, that’s a little fishy, wouldn’t you say?

Baigert: Yes. (Leahy chuckles) I’d say it’s doubtful that they’ll respond to us today. We basically haven’t asked them for much at this point. By state law, they’re also supposed to reply to you within three days. They did give us an automated response last week.

Leahy: Yeah, we got your request. We’ll process it. (Laughter) They had a different response to Georgia Public Broadcasting. Okay, here they are but you can’t share them with anybody else, and you can’t make them public. And you can only put partial information about two of these 377 transfer forms. (Chuckles)

Baigert: And what’s really interesting about it is that there were six full days that we didn’t get documents for. It’s an interesting scenario and it’s obvious that not all public document requesters are treated equally. And I think that is something that Rasmussen pointed out in a tweet after Steven Fowler touted his prowess and his amazing skills.

Leahy: (Chuckles) Well, it’s probably illegal, actually, to treat different requests for records differently. And we just might have something to say to Fulton County about that. Wait, and stay tuned. Laura, thanks so much for joining us this morning. Great reporting.

Baigert: Thank you, Michael. Have a great day.

Listen to the full second hour here:

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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to the Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.













Tennessee Star Sr. Reporter Laura Baigert Follows the Money in the Case of Randy Boyd Development in Knoxville

Tennessee Star Sr. Reporter Laura Baigert Follows the Money in the Case of Randy Boyd Development in Knoxville


Live from Music Row Thursday 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 Tennessee Star Senior Reporter Laura Baigert to the newsmakers line to discuss following the money in regards to legislation that conspicuously supports the inadvertent taxpayer-funded Randy Boyd development in Knoxville.

Leahy: Joining us on the newsmaker line our lead reporter on Capitol Hill for The Tennessee Star Laura Baigert. Good morning, Laura.

Baigert: Good morning, Michael. How are you?

Leahy: I’m great. As always you’re breaking news left and right. You had this very interesting article the other day that talked about five sponsors of a bill enabling Randy Boyd’s taxpayer-funded baseball stadium in Knoxville. They received more than 90,000 campaign funds from individuals with ties to the project. What on earth is going on here Laura?

Baigert: That’s a good question. And you know for the folks who think that only swamp lies in Washington, I think that they could see that it’s going on here too. I mean one of the first things we always ask is or say is to follow the money. And it’s hard to just ignore how much money came from the same individuals repeatedly to the same people. It can’t be a coincidence that the same group is giving to all of these people who just end up as sponsors on the bill.

Leahy: So let me lay this framework out here and it’s in your story. I’ll read it and then kind of get your reaction to it. So, Randy Boyd is the owner of the Tennessee Smokies minor league baseball team was currently playing at Smokies Park in Sevier County. You can see it I think as you’re driving up to Sevierville on Highway 40. The team previously known as The Knocks was owned by the Haslam family until 2013. I think it’s a Class A minor league baseball team.

They’ve moved from Knoxville in 2000. Randy Boyd’s contract with Smokies Park expires at the end of 2024. Boyd is currently the executive chairman of Radio Systems Corporation, the company founded that includes Pet Safe and Invisible Friends Brands. And he sold the company in 2020. It has annual sales of well over $300 million. You made a boatload on that and congratulations to him for that. He served as commissioner of Economic and Community Development and ran for governor in 2018 and lost. A very brutal and negative campaign.

Baigert: That he spent $19 million on.

Leahy: He spent a lot of money on it and lost but it was you know, the famous Randy Boyd attack. It’s Diane Black attacks Randy Boyd and Bill Lee slips in and wins the governorship. Boyd is currently the president of the University of Tennessee. Now they own property in Knoxville. What does this bill do and how does Randy Boyd benefit from this bill?

Baigert: Well, the first step of this activity of moving the team over to Knoxville out of Sevier County was to form a sports authority. And that had to be approved by both Knox County and the City of Knoxville. That passed by both legislative bodies in late December 2020. So the next step now is how do we fund it.

And this is a mixed-use development with residential apartments and probably restaurants and things like that and to emulate what happens in Chicago near Wrigley Field. So you have these rooftop viewing areas if you will and can visualize it. It’s a very nice development. There’s no doubt about that. But it’s mixed-use.

Randy Boyd is going to get the funding for the $142 million estimated to build the residential commercial property. But then the 65 million, that’s just the entry fee plus a contingency plus all the interest that’s going to be paid. You are probably talking $100 million by the time it’s all said and done. And it would be the taxpayer paying for the stadium and his team.

Leahy: Let me see if I understand the mechanism. So this bill would then give all of the state sales tax and local sales tax within a quarter-mile of the proposed stadium. All of those revenues would then go back to fund the stadium. Is that how it works?

Baigert: That’s correct. Thanks for connecting those dots. So right now there’s no sales tax revenue there.

Leahy: Nothing’s going on.

Baigert: Right. Nothing’s going on here. But what happens when the sales tax does not meet the requirements? There are $4 million a year in interest estimated in bond payments if this were to go through. And in fact, these estimates are only that these sales taxes will only accommodate a payback of 30 percent of that four million dollars. Where’s the rest of the money going to come from?

Leahy: Well, the other issue that I have with the sports story authorities and I just don’t think it’s on principle even if there would be an increase in sales tax because of the development, I don’t think on principle taking state funds and giving it to private entities for whatever purpose is a good policy no matter whether it’s coming from sales tax increases or what. I don’t think that’s just good public policy. It looks to me like insider dealing. that’s my view. What are your thoughts on that?

Baigert: Oh, agreed. Insider dealing one. If it were so profitable how come Randy Boyd can raise 142 million dollars for the mixed-use part, but not for the stadium?

Leahy: We need to get them in here and talk about that.

Baigert: That would be great. The other thing is where in the constitution does it say that we should be funding things like this in the first place? We’ve seen in Nashville what a disaster it’s been when you get a sports authority that there they are set up as a private entity. You can’t look at their books. They do whatever they want with the money.

If you remember when we had the NFL draft in Nashville, there was so much money spent on extra police. And the sports authority can decide whether they want to or not pay for the police. And yet they reap all the profits but they don’t have to have the expenses. They never set up these sports authorities to carry their own weight.

Leahy: Yeah, exactly.

Baigert: Zero accountability. It’s like another story that you’ve been covering in The Tennessee Star with the oversight board where these unelected people have no responsibility and no accountability to the people.

Leahy: So my question on this is and this is what we want to ask Randy Boyd. It’s a little bit of conflict of interest here in the sense that he’s the president of the University of Tennessee and he’s going to benefit from taxpayer money. Now granted it increases sales taxes around the proposed stadium, but he’s going to benefit fit from it. And I just think that’s fundamentally morally wrong. That’s my view on it.

Baigert: And this isn’t the first time. Two years ago we had a bill sponsored by then State Rep. Eddie Smith that would have put money to set up a transit improvement district so that passenger trains could come from the Alcoa-Maryville area up to this old city area right where all of Randy Boyd’s property is for people to come into the UT game supposedly.

And so that would have been set up as a district that would have had a special tax rate to charge people for how they wanted that district to look. And there would have been very strict rules about what lamppost you could have and what kind of flowers could be hanging outside. And setting up all this all of this district just to benefit his area.

Leahy: Yeah exactly. So here’s what is interesting to me. I really want to talk to Randy Boyd about this. And then my question to him is why don’t you just fund this privately. Why do the taxpayers have to fund it? I think that’s a legitimate question. Don’t you?

Baigert: Yes. Absolutely legitimate question. It also raises a question like every time we venture into another one of these it backpedals into something else. So over there in Knoxville, they want a soccer team to be able to play in that and they’re all excited about it. We want to have a Knoxville soccer team and somebody already is looking at expansion and all of that. And those are some of the people who contributed to the five legislators sponsoring the bill. Yet in Nashville, we have to have a separate stadium.

Leahy: It’s crazy. Laura Baigert, will you keep us updated on what happens with this bill? I hope it doesn’t make it out of committee but we’ll see.

Baigert: And the way it’s scheduled for committee is very very interesting there too because it’s going directly in the House to a finance subcommittee. Why it’s not being considered in the local government and state government or something along those lines is very interesting.

Leahy: Well, I’m on the record Laura saying, this is a bad bill, and we shouldn’t pass it. But we’ll see. Get some of the folks that are sponsoring it on here to talk about it Laura Baigert. Thanks so much for joining us today. Keep up the great investigative work.

Baigert: Have a great day.

Listen to the full third hour here:

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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to the Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio









The Tennessee Star Sr. Reporter Laura Baigert Gives First Hand Account of Trump Rally Held Wednesday Afternoon in Washington

The Tennessee Star Sr. Reporter Laura Baigert Gives First Hand Account of Trump Rally Held Wednesday Afternoon in Washington


Live from Music Row Thursday 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 Tennessee Star Senior Reporter Laura Baigert to the newsmakers line to describe what she experienced on the ground at Wednesday’s Trump rally in Washington.

Leahy: We’re joined now on the line by Laura Baigert of the Tennessee Star who stayed in D.C.  Welcome to the Tennessee Star Report. Tell us your experience at the rally and subsequently. Good morning Laura.

Baigert: Good morning, Michael. Good morning, Carol. It’s good to hear your voices.

Swain: Good morning.

Leahy: So tell us about the rally and what you saw during the rally and after.

Baigert: We left our hotel, about a little after 7:00 a.m., and took the subway up to the Ellipse Park area. The park itself was closed off and you have to go through secret service, but we stood in a large field like outside of that fenced-in area where there was a monitor there. When we first got there there were people but within a very short period of time this field and everywhere around that we could see, no one could move. We were just stuck there like a Times Square type of New Year’s Eve event. It’s hard to describe.

Those of you who have been to these kinds of rallies know. But if you haven’t been to one, there is love and camaraderie. Everybody had signs and flags. And it was just great. And then, you know people were cheering and chanting USA. Then the speakers came out. Very calm, peaceful, and very very cold. We stood there for more than an hour waiting for the President to come out.

Leahy: He gave a speech and what was your reaction to that speech?

Baigert: Honestly, I think people thought it went a little too long and we were freezing. And we were probably hoping for a little bit more action and that we’ve done the talking and so forth. But we were hoping for something more definitive. But course, you know, we love our President. And so everybody was enthralled to have him out there. And he spoke for more than an hour. So that was a pretty impressive thing for him to come out like that and to spend that much time there. And then he said let’s walk together down Pennsylvania Avenue to the Capitol.

Leahy: CNN is reporting that he incited violence. Did you hear him incite any violence?

Baigert: No. Not even close to anything like that. He never said anything that was like that or that would even imply something like that unless you were trying to read into something. Not even that. I don’t know how anybody could say something like that.

Swain: Laura, I noticed that he actually said we were going to walk peacefully to the Capitol.

Baigert: Peacefully. And walk together. It was a walk. It wasn’t like we were going to storm down there. He didn’t say anything like that.

Leahy: So how long did it take you to walk from the the mall down to the Capitol? And what did you see? And when did you first learn that the Capitol had been breached?

Baigert: Okay, so it probably took more than half an hour. We walked down Constitution Avenue because we were kind of in the middle of the field. So when you came out of the field you landed right on Constitution Avenue. And as we crossed all of the cross streets we could see as many people walking on Pennsylvania Avenue and then on the other parallel street in the other direction.

We were probably 20 people wide walking and it probably took more than a half an hour to get from the park to the Capitol. And I can walk really fast. I walk five to six miles a day. So but you could not move because there were so many people. And people were chanting USA. And you know, just again everybody being very kind to each other and no problems along the way. I will say there were people who a couple of times chanted the F expletive Antifa.

Then we got over to the Capitol and there were so many people that were outside the circle around it that you didn’t really even know what was going on. By the time we got there, there were people on the steps of the Capitol. But nobody really thought anything of it. And then after we got closer into that inner circle and we could see that there was some smoke on the balcony and we couldn’t really tell what was happening.

A metro police officer told us, said I would advise you not to go there, over there. And he said there’s trouble And I said, well, what do you mean by trouble? He said, well citizens. And I said but what kind of citizens what do you mean? And he wouldn’t elaborate on anything. So we walked over just to see more of what was happening and we could see smoke bombs going off and tear gas. The fire extinguishers were being sprayed, but I think that was by protesters.

Part of the reason it looked so strange was that they were setting up for the inauguration. And that’s why the fencing was up because they’re putting all the stuff out there for that. So there were people calling with a bullhorn saying move forward or else they’re going to push us out of here and come up onto the bleachers.

I mean, this is somebody with a bullhorn and the only person you could hear and that’s all they were saying was move forward, move forward. Nobody was telling anybody to go into the building or breach the building. And I would have to say that anybody who was over there was already there and got into the building was already there and had that planned much earlier. Because you could not have walked from where we were to get over there in that amount of time.

Leahy: So the people in the front, were they Trump supporters? There have been some reports that they were Antifa wearing Trump gear. Do you have any indication one way or the other as to who the people at the Capitol were?

Baigert: All I’ve seen is what’s been on social media. So you know, I don’t put any faith or stock in that. There was someone reporting from The Blaze last night. There were many people on the ground from Blaze TV that were interviewing people on that. They were Trump supporters. But the thing that you need to understand is that we have people with us who were here in 2010 during the Tea Party and Glenn Beck’s rallies and there were like a million people here.

And they said there was every bit as many people there and maybe more yesterday. How many people went into the building? 20 or 30? This is not the typical Trump supporter. None of us would sanction this. I think it’s just starting to be resonating with us this morning, as we think about it, is that this is the people’s House. As soon as we start going down the path of we have no right to be there to see our elected officials doing the people’s work we have born into the wrong argument here.

And this is much different than what happened over the summer where private property was destroyed. Somebody was killed yesterday. Did we riot? Burn anything down? Or damage anything because she was killed? That’s one of us. And another really disturbing thing is the Democrats and many of the Republicans went and sanctioned and endorsed this kind of behavior with breaching the Capitol when Kavanaugh was being sworn in.

Leahy: That’s a very very good point. Laura Baigert, thanks so much. And be safe coming back here to Nashville. We really appreciate your report.

Listen to the full second hour here:

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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to the Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.
Photo “Trump Rally” by Elvert Barnes. CC BY-SA 2.0.