President Trump is offering a behind-the-scenes look at his upcoming “60 Minutes” interview that’s sparked so much speculation.
The day after CBS News confirmed that the commander-in-chief cut his one-on-one with veteran TV journalist Lesley Stahl short on Tuesday, Trump began sharing still images taken during the contested taping on his official Twitter /zigman2/quotes/203180645/composite TWTR +3.23% account.
The first post included four photos of White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany sharing a hefty, bound report with the “60 Minutes” correspondent, which the president said featured “some of the many things we’ve done for Healthcare” in a tweet. “Lesley had no idea!” he added.
A few more pictures showing the president and Stahl sitting for their interview were also posted, without captions.
And this came the day after Trump tweeted a video showing Stahl without a mask on, along with an enigmatic caption promising “more to come.”
The clip was posted following a CNN report citing two sources that claimed the president “abruptly ended” his interview with Stahl after about 45 minutes, and that he did not return for a scheduled taping of a walk-and-talk with his running mate, Vice President Mike Pence.
Two people familiar with the circumstances told the New York Times that the president had grown irritated with Stahl’s questions, which reportedly focused on the coronavirus pandemic.
Neither the White House nor representatives of “60 Minutes” were immediately available for comment. But Trump went on to threaten via Twitter to post video of the interview before its airing on Sunday “so that everybody can get a glimpse of what a FAKE and BIASED interview is all about...”:
So how could the White House air this interview and these images early? CBS Evening News addressed the situation during Tuesday night’s broadcast, with correspondent Ed O’Keefe reporting that the White House had an agreement with “60 Minutes” to tape the interview, too — but for archival purposes only. What’s more, he shared a statement from “60 Minutes” explaining that the broadcast has a history of “interviewing presidential candidates and asking important questions in the run up to elections.”
A CBS News representative familiar with the situation told MarketWatch that the brief clip Trump tweeted of Stahl not wearing a mask was taken immediately after the interview while she was speaking to her producers, but that she had been wearing a face mask when she entered the White House, and leading up to the time of the interview.
The incumbent Republican president and vice president are scheduled to appear on the CBS News program’s election special this Sunday. Their Democratic opponents, former Vice President Joe Biden and California Sen. Kamala Harris, were also interviewed for this weekend’s program by Norah O’Donnell. CNN reports that while Biden and Harris taped their interviews separately, Trump and Pence were slated to appear on camera together, as they had just before the 2016 election.
Pundits and journalists speculated on Twitter about what had happened during the taping on Tuesday, resulting in Stahl’s name becoming a trending topic on the social-media platform.
Stahl was hospitalized with COVID-19 in the spring and has recovered. President Trump recently spent a few days at Walter Reed Medical Center after he, the first lady and their son tested positive for COVID-19, along with a number of other White House staffers.
The pending “60 Minutes” interview and alleged behind-the-scenes drama also led a 2018 Stahl clip to resurface, in which she shared a conversation that she had with Trump in 2016 about why he attacked the press so much, even when there weren’t any cameras around. She revealed during the talk at the Deadline Club of New York that the president had told her: “ ‘You know why I do it? I do it to discredit you all and demean you all, so that when you write negative stories about me, no one will believe you.’ ”
This story has been updated with images that President Trump tweeted from his account, and CBS News confirmation that the interview was cut short.