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Trump breaks agreement with CBS News by releasing his own video of ‘60 Minutes’ interview

President Trump followed through on his threat, or promise, to release video of his interview with CBS News journalist Lesley Stahl before it is set to air on “60 Minutes” on Sunday night.

Trump was interviewed by Stahl at the White House on Tuesday but abruptly ended the interview after 45 minutes, declining to participate in a scheduled walk-and-talk that would have included Vice President Pence. Later that day, he said on Twitter that he was “considering” posting the White House’s copy of the video interview, “so that everybody can get a glimpse of what a FAKE and BIASED interview is all about."

Then, on Thursday morning, after he again teased a release of the video (“the vicious attempted ‘takeout’ interview of me”), a 37-minute clip of the interview appeared on the president’s Facebook page.

On Oct. 20, President Trump cut short a taped interview with “60 Minutes.” He released his own video of the interview before it was set to air Oct. 25. (Video: The Washington Post)

In posting the interview, Trump and the White House violated an agreement with CBS News that the White House was taping the interview “for archival purposes only,” said a network source with knowledge of the interview.

CBS, for its part, posted a 90-second-long preview of the Trump interview on social media on Thursday morning, with “More Sunday on @CBS.” (The show will also include an interview of Joe Biden by Norah O’Donnell.)

On Thursday afternoon, the network decried the president’s decision to post the interview. “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. "'60 Minutes', the most-watched news program on television, 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.”

In the clip posted by CBS, Stahl challenges Trump when he says that his administration “created the greatest economy in the history of our country.” Stahl retorts, “You know that’s not true. No.”

In the clip posted by Trump, Stahl begins the interview by asking the president, “Are you ready for some tough questions?” Trump replies, “Just be fair. … I’m looking for fairness.” Stahl says that Trump “is going to get fairness.”

Trump was combative with Stahl throughout the interview, saying at one point, “You’re so negative. You’re so negative.” When asked about his comments urging suburban women to vote for him, Trump called it a “misleading question.”

When Stahl was skeptical about Trump’s claims about his administration’s accomplishments, he responds, “You’re really quite impossible to convince.”

One particularly prickly exchange began when Stahl first asked Trump about calling Anthony S. Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and other health officials “idiots” before asking whether he thinks masks work. “Where did I call him an idiot?” Trump asked, then shrugged and added, “Well, he’s been wrong. I like him, but he’s been wrong a lot.”

Stahl made clear at the beginning of the interview that she did not plan to fact-check the president’s words. “I’m not going to do that,” she said.

“Well, you don’t have to fact-check me,” Trump replied.

But when Trump said that his campaign was “spied on,” Stahl replied: “There’s no real evidence of that. … This is ’60 Minutes'. And we can’t put on things we can’t verify.”

Still, Stahl got Trump to admit that new coronavirus cases are up around the country, though he argued that “cases are up because we’re doing so much testing.”

Stahl tried to press Trump about mask-wearing at his rallies. “A lot of people are wearing masks,” Trump said. “And a lot of people aren’t,” she added. “I am watching all these people jammed together, and I’m seeing most of them without masks and I’m wondering about the message you’re sending with these pictures.”

Trump accused Stahl of “protecting” Biden by giving him soft coverage, saying that she wouldn’t interview the former vice president as combatively.

Stahl said that Trump is trying to “discredit” the media. “You discredit yourself,” he replied. “I don’t have to discredit you.”

Trump said that a lot of Stahl’s questions were about topics that were “inappropriately brought up.” “You’re president,” she replied. “Don’t you think you should be accountable to the American people?”

At the end of the video clip, Trump spends several minutes complaining to Stahl about her questions and then tells her, “That’s no way to talk.”

A man’s voice can then be heard cutting in. “Lesley, one second, we’re — this is the first warning,” the man says. “I think we have five minutes until we have the vice president step in. Is that about right?”

Trump then responds, “Well, I think we have enough. Really, we have enough of an interview.” The president suggests that he and the man “go meet for two seconds,” then turns to Stahl and abruptly gets up to leave, telling her, “I’ll see you later. Thanks.”

Felicia Sonmez contributed to this report.