President Trump on Thursday released nearly 38 minutes of video footage from a “60 Minutes” interview that he walked out of Tuesday after claiming bias from correspondent Lesley Stahl.
“Look at the bias, hatred and rudeness on behalf of 60 Minutes and CBS. Tonight’s anchor, Kristen Welker, is far worse! #MAGA,” Trump wrote on Twitter, linking to video of the interview. He released the footage hours before the final presidential debate, hosted by Welker of NBC News, in Nashville, Tenn.
It’s unprecedented for a president to release footage of an interview — recorded by a government crew for archival purposes — before its television broadcast.
Stahl began the interview asking Trump, “are you ready for some tough questions?” before kicking off the talk asking him why he wants to be president.
Stahl and Trump tangled over jobs numbers, Obamacare and COVID-19 statistics, with Trump telling her she had a “negative attitude” and that she wouldn’t ask tough questions of Democratic candidate Joe Biden.
At one point, Stahl insists Biden “is not” mired in a corruption scandal, reported by The Post, involving his son Hunter’s overseas business dealings. The content of a laptop formerly belonging to Hunter that ties the elder Biden to deals in China and Ukraine “can’t be verified,” she said.
Trump then accused Stahl of being “like Big Tech, you’re protecting him,” referring to Twitter and Facebook‘s censorship of The Post’s reporting on the hard drive.
“He’s a corrupt politician, and he’s walking with ice cream. And the question the media asks is what kind of ice cream, what flavor ice cream?” Trump said, referring to a Biden campaign stop recently.
The interview spiraled before Trump was supposed to hand over the hot seat to Vice President Mike Pence, who was waiting to be interviewed by Stahl.
“You brought up a lot of subjects that were inappropriately brought up,” Trump told her.
Producers appear to say they are ready for Pence as Trump says instead, “That’s enough, let’s go.”
In a statement Thursday, CBS News said: “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.”
Piquing Trump’s rage, Stahl attempted to tie him to a foiled plot to kidnap Michigan Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, citing his harsh criticism of her COVID-19 lockdown policies.
“You want to lock her up,” she said.
“Of course not,” Trump shot back. Stahl insisted, however, that Trump had said so at a recent rally.
“Lesley, it’s such a vicious thing that you just said. I never said lock up the governor of Michigan. I would never say that. Why would I say that? Because she’s doing lockdowns?” he said.
Stahl also disputed Trump’s assertions on new COVID-19 case statistics and on the economic recovery, with Trump touting recent job gains.
“Excuse me, cases are up in about 40 states… why are you saying they are not up?” she said.
“Yes, cases are up because we’re doing tremendous testing,” Trump responded.
Stahl went on to press Trump on the possibility of people with pre-existing conditions losing protection if the Supreme Court invalidates Obamacare — a key Democratic election talking point.
“If there’s no plan, a replacement plan, and the Supreme Court says Obamacare goes away, people with pre-existing conditions will be stranded,” Stahl insisted.
Trump said, “Obamacare essentially was terminated” with Congress’ 2017 repeal of its individual mandate forcing people to purchase private health insurance. “Now we have the carcass of Obamacare,” he said.
“I want to see what happens [in the Supreme Court]. If we win, we will come up with much better healthcare for much less money, always protecting people with pre-existing conditions,” Trump said.
President Trump speaks during an interview with “60 Minutes” correspondent Lesley Stahl.Facebook
In another portions of the interview, Stahl asked Trump about his large re-election rallies and attendees who don’t wear masks.
“We tell them to wear the masks,” Trump said.
Asked about his “name calling” in alleging news is “fake,” Trump told Stahl, “I don’t need to discredit you. You’ve discredited yourself. Lesley, you’ve discredited yourself, when you say that you’re not going to cover Biden. you’re going to ask what flavor ice cream he has.”
“That’s not me!” she said.
Pence later sat for an interview after Trump walked out. On Thursday afternoon Trump posted a 14-minute clip of Pence and Stahl, writing on Facebook, “More bias, hatred and rudeness on 60 Minutes with our Great Vice President.”
“Are you not going to answer our questions?” Stahl asked Pence before a relatively amicable discussion that touched on his wife Karen, a part-time art teacher, returning to the classroom amid the COVID-19 pandemic and Thanksgiving plans.
Stahl then smacked Pence with a departing statement: “This was not just a campaign speech to the public. This was supposed to be an interview, and the same with the president. And I feel that you both have insulted ’60 Minutes’ and me by not answering any of our questions and by giving set campaign speeches.”
Pence replied, “Lesley, what question haven’t I answered?”
“You didn’t answer any of my questions, you just gave speeches,” she said.
“I’d like to know which question I haven’t answered,” Pence insisted.
Stahl said she wasn’t satisfied with his answers, including about Trump’s feelings about infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci.
“Well Lesley, I appreciate the speech that you just gave, but I’ve answered all of your questions,” Pence said.
Trump vented about Stahl’s conduct this week and accused her of hypocrisy for not wearing a mask.
“Lesley Stahl of 60 Minutes not wearing a mask in the White House after her interview with me. Much more to come,” the president tweeted on Tuesday to his 87 million followers.
The CBS News program on Thursday released a snippet of the interview with Trump that showed the veteran reporter pushing back at the president’s claim that he created the “greatest economy in history.”