- President Donald Trump on Thursday released an uncut video of a recent interview with “60 Minutes” that he abruptly walked out of.
- Trump’s decision to share the video seems to stem from the belief that the footage would would portray him in a positive light.
- But this move is reminiscent of the White House releasing the damning summary of his infamous July 2019 phone call with Ukraine’s president — and does Trump no favors.
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President Donald Trump’s decision to share an uncut video of a “60 Minutes” interview that he abruptly left is reminiscent of his decision to release the summary of his infamous July 25, 2019, phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
In both cases, Trump seemed to believe that releasing the materials would improve his image, but he couldn’t have been more off the mark.
At the start of the CBS News interview, host Lesley Stahl asks the president if he’s ready for “tough” questions.
“No, I’m not looking for that,” Trump replied, asking Stahl to be “fair.”
As president, Trump is the most powerful man in the world. But within the first few moments of the video, which Trump published on Facebook on Thursday, he asked a reporter to go easy on him. When it was clear Stahl would not oblige this request, Trump turned to complaining.
The president repeatedly interrupted Stahl as he peppered her with erroneous claims, such as falsely stating that there are so many COVID-19 cases in the US because the country is doing widespread testing.
Stahl politely challenged Trump throughout the interview, such as when he once again pushed the baseless conspiracy theory that former President Barack Obama spied on his 2016 campaign. He berated her in response.
“I think we have enough,” Trump said before prematurely leaving after roughly 40 minutes, skipping a planned side-by-side portion with Vice President Mike Pence. The president then went on to attack Stahl on Twitter.
—CBS This Morning (@CBSThisMorning) October 22, 2020
The interview made Trump appear as a leader detached from reality and incapable of handling a veteran journalist’s polite, professional questions on important issues. But Trump seemingly believed that the exchange revealed him to be a victim of media bias.
“Look at the bias, hatred and rudeness on behalf of 60 Minutes and CBS,” Trump said in the caption of his Facebook post featuring the uncut video, which CBS News said the president released in violation of his agreement with the network.
Political commentators were perplexed as to why Trump would elevate such a damning, temperamental performance with less than two weeks until Election Day and hours before he was set to participate in the second and final presidential debate.
During the interview, the president also made clear to Stahl that he hopes the Supreme Court will get rid of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. The high court is set to hear a challenge to the landmark health care law shortly after the Election Day, and Senate Republicans are poised to confirm yet another Trump nominee, Judge Amy Coney Barrett, to the Supreme Court on Monday.
Beyond making himself look bad, by releasing the video of the interview, Trump potentially provided former Vice President Joe Biden with an easy line of attack in Thursday night’s debate. Healthcare is a topic American voters have repeatedly cited as an issue of great concern.
—Jon Favreau (@jonfavs) October 22, 2020
—Wajahat “Wears a Mask Because of a Pandemic” Ali (@WajahatAli) October 22, 2020
—Mark Harris (@MarkHarrisNYC) October 22, 2020
—Rebecca Buck (@RebeccaBuck) October 22, 2020
—Parker Molloy (@ParkerMolloy) October 22, 2020
Trump’s impeachment proceedings were much the same.
When the White House willingly released the summary of Trump’s call with Zelensky, the move baffled legal experts who saw the document as an extremely damning piece of evidence that the president abused the powers of his office.
Trump continuously maintained that his call with the Ukrainian leader was “perfect” and encouraged people to “READ THE TRANSCRIPT,” though the summary showed him pressuring a foreign leader to launch investigations into a top political rival. Trump was ultimately impeached last December, and his call with Zelensky was at the center of the charges leveled against him by House Democrats.
Trump has never acknowledged any wrongdoing on his part with respect to Ukraine, and his handling of the “60 Minutes” interview follows a similar pattern of denial.