A little more than an hour later, Trump threatened to post their interview before the news program is scheduled to air it Sunday night on CBS News.
“I am pleased to inform you that, for the sake of accuracy in reporting, I am considering posting my interview with Lesley Stahl of 60 Minutes, PRIOR TO AIRTIME! This will be done so that everybody can get a glimpse of what a FAKE and BIASED interview is all about,” Trump tweeted. “Everyone should compare this terrible Electoral Intrusion with the recent interviews of Sleepy Joe Biden!”
The news magazine is airing an election show on Sunday featuring separate interviews with Trump, Vice President Pence, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and his running mate, Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.). Trump and Pence were meant to do the signature walk-and-talk portion of the “60 Minutes” interview together, but after cutting off his sit-down with Stahl, the president did not return for that segment.
A person at CBS familiar with the interview said the footage of Stahl without a mask that Trump tweeted was taken “immediately following the interview with the CBS team,” all of whom had been tested for the novel coronavirus. “Lesley had a mask on leading into the interviews as appropriate.”
The person at CBS declined to comment more broadly on what happened during the interview but did confirm that Trump did not do the walk with Pence.
The White House told CBS it was taping the interview for archival purposes only, according to the person at CBS.
During a rally Tuesday in Erie, Pa., in between comments on his crowd sizes and fracking, Trump sneaked in a non sequitur about the interview.
“Oh, and you have to watch what we do to ‘60 Minutes,’ ” Trump said. “You’ll get such a kick out of — you’re going to get a kick out of it. Lesley Stahl is not going to be happy.”
According to a person with knowledge of what happened during the interview, Trump was unhappy that Stahl asked him tough questions regarding his rhetoric about Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) and his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, as well as the size of the crowds at his rallies and his disputes with Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious-disease expert. Stahl also told him during the interview that allegations about Biden’s son Hunter were not verified and that the Obama administration did not spy on the Trump campaign. Many of the questions were about the coronavirus pandemic and his handling of it, said the person, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the interview frankly.
When Trump first walked in, Stahl looked at him and said, “Are you ready for a tough interview?” The president believes “60 Minutes” will cut the interview in an unflattering way and has been talking all afternoon about how to preempt the footage, said the person familiar with the circumstances.
After 45 minutes, Trump looked at staff members and said, “I think we’re done, do you guys agree?”
Stahl believed the walk with Pence was still going forward, but Trump left the room and later complained to aides that Biden would have an easier interview and that “60 Minutes” would “cut it up to make him look bad,” according to an aide.
The person familiar with the interview said that there are no bombshell revelations, but that Trump complained about it all day and wants to take the air out of it by releasing it early. Three aides, who were not authorized to speak publicly, said the president overreacted, and one suggested that he might actually boost the ratings of a tough interview.
A senior White House official said Trump had told aides he wanted to go after Stahl and brainstormed ideas after the session with a group of aides in the Oval Office.
“The interview was not that bad,” a White House staff member said. “It wasn’t a bad interview. She just had a tone he didn’t like.”