United States President Donald Trump has posted a complete and uncut version of an interview he did with CBS News’s 60 Minutes program to Facebook ahead of the show’s scheduled Sunday broadcast.
- Mr Trump walked out of the interview after about 40 minutes
- CBS News called the White House’s decision to release the interview “unprecedented”
- The broadcaster said the interview would air on Sunday as planned.
Mr Trump released the footage on the same day that he is set to take on Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden in their final presidential debate.
The footage shows Mr Trump growing increasingly prickly as CBS anchor Lesley Stahl presses him on a host of topics, including his response to the coronavirus pandemic, his slipping support among suburban women, the lack of masks at his rallies, and the Obamacare replacement plan he has long promised but failed to unveil.
“Look at the bias, hatred and rudeness on behalf of 60 Minutes and CBS,” Mr Trump wrote Thursday as he tweeted the Facebook link.
He also once again pre-emptively criticised the moderator of Thursday night’s final presidential debate.
The interview began on a tense footing as Stahl asked the President as the camera started rolling, “Are you ready for some tough questions?” and only grew more testy.
“Just be fair,” Mr Trump said.
Throughout the interview, Mr Trump returns to attacks on Joe Biden’s son, based on an unconfirmed New York Post report, and accuses the media of being too soft on his Democratic rival.
Stahl asked Mr Trump about his demeanour on social media and whether he felt responsible for deep divisions between Americans.
“It’s just attack, attack, attack, attack, attack,” she said.
Mr Trump responds: “It’s not attack, it’s defence. It’s defence against attacks.”
“I’m defending myself and I’m defending the institute of the presidency,” he said.
As Mr Trump continued to throw unsubstantiated allegations at Mr Biden and former president Barack Obama, Stahl tried to explain: “This is 60 Minutes and we can’t put on things we can’t verify.”
But Mr Trump continued to criticise the mainstream media.
“Lesley, you’re discrediting yourself,” he said.
Stahl — who, like Mr Trump, was hospitalised with COVID-19 but recovered — said she could not believe that after a Rose Garden event that led to several people coming down with the virus that the President was not strongly encouraging people to wear masks at his campaign rallies.
“We tell people to wear masks,” Mr Trump said.
“No, you don’t,” Stahl answered.
‘That’s enough. Let’s go’
At the end of the nearly 40 minutes, Mr Trump complained: “Are you ready for tough questions. That’s no way to talk. That’s no way to talk.”
“You’re so negative,” he later commented.
Mr Trump eventually cut the interview short and walked away. He declined to appear with Vice-President Mike Pence.
“That’s enough, let’s go,” he said.
CBS News called the White House’s decision to release the interview “unprecedented,” but said the interview would still air on Sunday (local time) as planned.
“The White House’s unprecedented decision to disregard their agreement with CBS News and release their footage will not deter 60 Minutes from providing its full, fair and contextual reporting which presidents have participated in for decades,” the network said in a statement.
“60 Minutes,” it continued, “is widely respected for bringing its hallmark fairness, deep reporting and informative context to viewers each week.
“Few journalists have the presidential interview experience Lesley Stahl has delivered over her decades as one of the premier correspondents in America and we look forward to audiences seeing her third interview with President Trump and subsequent interview with Vice-President Pence this weekend.”
Stahl interview with Vice-President Mike Pence
When she sat down with Mr Pence, Stahl wondered what just happened.
“Lesley, uh, President Trump is a man who speaks his mind,” Mr Pence said.
“I think it’s one of the great strengths he’s had as President of the United States. The American public always knows where they stand, and he’s always ready to make the case for the American people and the case for the progress we’ve made for the past three and a half years.”
Toward the end of their interview, Stahl said both men had insulted 60 Minutes by giving campaign speeches instead of answering questions.
“There is this kind of anticipation that people in power are held to account and they answer questions from the public,” she said.
“Not from me, the public, and I feel you didn’t do that and I’m upset.”
“Well, Lesley, I appreciate the speech that you just gave,” Mr Pence replied.
“But I’ve answered all your questions and I’ve spoken about things the American people care about. The American people want a president who puts the health of Americans first…”
Stahl replied: “Look at what you’re doing right now. You’re giving a speech.”