Washington Post national investigative reporter Carol Leonnig is out with her new book, “Zero Fail: The Rise and Fall of the Secret Service,” which chronicles the agency from the Kennedy assassination to the Obama and Trump administrations. Leonnig returns to Washington Post Live to examine her account of the successes and pitfalls of the nation’s presidential protection agency. Join Washington Post columnist David Ignatius on Tuesday, May 18 at 2:00pm ET.


Investigative journalist Carol Leonnig said after Barack Obama won the presidency, but before he’d entered office, the Secret Service fielded ‘nearly four times’ as many threats against him as they had for any other president. “President Obama arrives and is inaugurated into the White House. In the months before he arrives, the director of the Secret Service is pretty worried because the number of threats against Obama’s life as president-elect are nearly four times what the Secret Service has seen before with other presidents in history. And the director seeks hundreds of millions of dollars to try to up basically the security around the White House and around the president.” (Washington Post Live)
Researching the Warren Commission, investigative journalist Carol Leonnig found that “no fewer than nine” Secret Service officers went to a bar the night before the President’s assassination. Some of the officers did not get back to their hotel rooms until between 2:00 and 5:00 a.m. “A group of agents­–no fewer than nine– according to the Warren Commission had gone out the night before they were supposed to shepherd the President on his motorcade through Dallas, to this place called The Cellar. These guys work non-stop and they were run ragged by John F. Kennedy… Kennedy was a jet setter like no other President before him, and they knew they were exhausted, and they knew they couldn’t keep up. However, that night they also needed to get out and blow off some steam, and they stayed up late, having a drink, or three, or four, and some of them got home around two a.m., one of them got home at five a.m. to his hotel room. So the Warren Commission investigation and Earl Warren probably puts this the best… he said ‘There is no person who can tell me that a Secret Service agent that’s out until five o’clock in the morning, even having just a few drinks, is going to have the hair trigger reflexes necessary on such an important assignment as protecting the President.’“ (Washington Post Live)
The investigative reporter said current and former Secret Service officers sent her images of their colleagues’ social media posts applauding the capitol rioters and the insurrection. “I was shocked when colleagues of agents who served and serve on the Presidential Protection Team were sending me screenshots of those agents and officers personal social media accounts in which they talked about the rioters on Jan. 6 as patriots , where they talked about illegitimacy of Joe Biden’s election, and how President Trump had been the victim of a liberal and communist coup, and unjustly denied his rightful second-term.” (Washington Post Live)

Carol Leonnig

Provided by Penguin Random House.

Carol Leonnig is a national investigative reporter at The Washington Post, where she has worked since 2000. A three-time Pulitzer Prize winner and co-author of the #1 New York Times bestseller A Very Stable Genius, Leonnig is also an on-air contributor to NBC News and MSNBC.