2020 will be remembered as one of the most tumultuous years in American history. COVID-19 tested every country, every government and every political leader in the world. But with the pandemic arriving as Donald Trump launched his campaign for re-election, the world watched aghast as the United States lost more than 500,000 of its citizens to COVID. From hydroxychloroquine and bleach, to making hostility to masks and social distancing emblems of partisanship, Trump’s last year as president was marked by incompetence, tragedy and ultimately, a violent test of American democratic institutions and social cohesion. How did the government of the world’s most powerful nation get so much so wrong? Who were the voices around Trump during this momentous year? And where to from here, not just for the United States, but for close allies such as Australia?

To discuss these issues, the USSC hosted a webinar discussion with The Washington Post's Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker, authors of the new book and New York Times #1 best seller I Alone Can Fix It: Donald J. Trump's Catastrophic Final Year, in conversation with United States Studies Centre CEO Professor Simon Jackman and Non-Resident Senior Fellow Bruce Wolpe. 

Carol Leonnig is a national investigative reporter at The Washington Post, where she has worked since 2000, covering Donald Trump’s presidency and previous administrations. She won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for her reporting on security failures and misconduct inside the Secret Service. She also was part of the Post teams awarded Pulitzers in 2018, for reporting on Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election, and in 2014, for revealing the US government’s secret, broad surveillance of Americans. Leonnig is an on-air contributor to NBC News and MSNBC and the author of Zero Fail: The Rise and Fall of the Secret Service.

Philip Rucker is the senior Washington correspondent at The Washington Post and led its coverage of President Trump and his administration as White House Bureau chief. He and a team of Post reporters won the Pulitzer Prize and George Polk Award for their reporting on Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election. In 2021, the White House Correspondents’ Association honoured Rucker with the Aldo Beckman Award for overall excellence in White House coverage. Rucker joined the Post in 2005 and previously has covered Congress, the Obama White House, and the 2012 and 2016 presidential campaigns. He serves as an on-air political analyst for NBC News and MSNBC and graduated from Yale University with a degree in history.