President Donald Trump abruptly cut off an interview with “60 Minutes” star Lesley Stahl at the White House on Tuesday and then taunted her on Twitter, posting a short behind-the-scenes video of her at the taping and noting that she had not been wearing a mask in the clip.
Trump then threatened to post his interview with Stahl ahead of its intended broadcast time Sunday evening, calling it “FAKE and BIASED.”
The spectacle of a president, two weeks from Election Day, picking a fight with the nation’s most popular television news program began Tuesday after Trump grew irritated with Stahl’s questions, according to two people familiar with the circumstances of the taping.
One person briefed on what took place said that Trump had spent more than 45 minutes filming with Stahl and her CBS News crew, and that the taping had not wrapped up when the president’s aides had expected it to.
So Trump cut the interview short and then declined to participate in a “walk and talk” segment with Stahl and Vice President Mike Pence, the people said.
It appeared that Stahl’s approach did not sit well with the president. Hours later, Trump said on Twitter that he was considering posting the interview with Stahl “PRIOR TO AIRTIME!” He described it as a “terrible Electoral Intrusion” and suggested that his Democratic opponent, Joe Biden, had been treated less harshly by journalistic interlocutors.
At a rally in Erie, Pennsylvania, on Tuesday night, the president told supporters, “You have to watch what we do to ‘60 Minutes,’ you’ll get such a kick out of it,” adding, “Lesley Stahl is not going to be happy.”
On Twitter, Trump also posted a six-second video clip of Stahl at the White House, writing: “Lesley Stahl of 60 Minutes not wearing a mask in the White House after her interview with me. Much more to come.”
In fact, Stahl had worn a mask at the White House up until the start of her taping with Trump, including when she first greeted the president, according to a person familiar with the interview.
The video posted on Trump’s Twitter feed showed Stahl immediately after the interview ended, as she conferred with two of her CBS producers, both of whom were wearing masks. The CBS crew was tested for the coronavirus before entering the White House on Tuesday, the person said.
Stahl has interviewed Trump twice since the 2016 election, including his first televised interview after winning the presidency. She also filmed with Trump at the White House in October 2018. Stahl was hospitalized with the coronavirus in the spring and has since recovered.
The president and Pence were participating in a “60 Minutes” episode set to air Sunday evening. The episode is also expected to feature interviews with Biden and his running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris of California.
Biden taped his interview with the “CBS Evening News” anchor Norah O’Donnell on Monday. He has not yet tweeted about it.