the media

So Here’s What Happened During Trump’s 60 Minutes Interview

Photo: CBS

Lesley Stahl wasn’t afraid to address the controversy around her 60 Minutes interview with President Donald Trump last night, opening the segment by stating, “In what has become an all-too-public dustup, the conversation was cut short. It began politely, but ended, regrettably, contentiously.” She was referring to news that the president exited his interview with her, then posted the White House’s archival footage of the interview to Facebook. “Look at the bias, hatred and rudeness on behalf of 60 Minutes and CBS,” Trump wrote on Facebook at the time. (60 Minutes traditionally interviews the Republican and Democratic nominees for president and vice-president ahead of the election.)

“Are you ready for some tough questions?” Stahl asked Trump, before he replied, “You’re gonna be fair.” He eventually claimed to Stahl, “You don’t ask Biden tough questions.” (60 Minutes later aired a segment with Joe Biden, in which the interviewer pressed the former vice-president on his relationship to the progressive wing of the Democratic Party and his mental ability, among other topics.) Stahl fact-checked Trump from the outset of the interview, telling him, “You know that’s not true,” with a slight smile after Trump claimed he created “the greatest economy in the history of our country.” When Trump later claimed his administration has “done a great job with COVID,” Stahl countered, “Sir, excuse me, cases are up in about 40 states.” (Trump went on to say cases were up because of increased testing, which Stahl disputed, citing data from the COVID Tracking Project.) Stahl later brought up Trump’s pleading, “Will you please like me?” to suburban women. Trump told her, “I said that in a joking way. The way you have it, it’s like, ‘Oh,’ like I’m begging. I’m kidding. Play it, and I’m kidding. That is such a misleading question, Lesley.”

Stahl and Trump went on to spar about various topics related to the pandemic, including his ongoing public clash with Dr. Anthony Fauci, his crowded rallies, and his nonexistent health-care plan. Then Stahl pivoted to the behavior of Trump’s supporters, challenging him about his decision to enable “lock her up” chants directed toward Hillary Clinton at his rallies and stirring up opposition to Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, after the FBI recently stopped a plot to kidnap her. “It was our Justice Department that’s helping her,” Trump claimed of Whitmer, before going on to add, “I think the way she locked down Michigan is a disgrace.” When Stahl said Trump was “encouraging” his supporters to chant “lock her up” regarding Whitmer, Trump called Stahl’s statement “vicious.”

Trump eventually turned the conversation to unproven claims that Joe Biden was involved with allegedly corrupt business dealings by his son Hunter in Ukraine. “I wish you would interview Joe Biden like you interview me,” he said, continuing, “You know, he’s in the middle of a scandal.” “He’s not,” Stahl replied. After a back-and-forth, she explained, “You know, this is 60 Minutes. And we can’t put on things we can’t verify.”

Stahl refused to engage further on Hunter Biden, pivoting to Trump’s use social media. The president claimed he uses social media because “the media is fake,” and Stahl reminded Trump what he told her in a previous interview: “I say that because I need to discredit you so that when you say negative things about me, no one will believe you.” Trump replied, “You’ve discredited yourself.” He then claimed her questions “were inappropriately brought up,” and added, “Lesley, you started with me. Your first statement was, ‘Are you ready for tough questions?’” Stahl replied, “Are you?” to which Trump said, “That’s no way to talk.” At that point, according to Stahl, a producer cut in to remind them how much time was remaining for the interview. Then, Trump said, “I think we have enough of an interview here,” seemingly addressing his aide Hope Hicks. “I’ve got a lot of questions I didn’t ask,” Stahl said as Trump left. Trump’s press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, later gave her a book allegedly containing Trump’s health-care plan (“It was heavy. Filled with executive orders, congressional initiatives, but no comprehensive health plan,” by Stahl’s assessment). When Stahl asked if the interview with the president would continue, McEnany said, “The president has given you a lot of time.”

Stahl’s interview with Vice-President Mike Pence followed, where she asked him about the president’s abrupt exit. “Lesley, President Trump is a man who speaks his mind,” Pence explained. “I think it’s one of the great strengths that he’s had as president of the United States, is that the American people always know where they stand.” Stahl replied, “I’ll buy that.”

So Here’s What Happened During Trump’s 60 Minutes Interview