Trump Taunts Lesley Stahl of ‘60 Minutes’ After Cutting Off Interview

Two weeks from Election Day, the president picked a fight with the country’s most popular television news program.

By Michael M. Grynbaum and Maggie Haberman

President Trump abruptly cut off an interview with the “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.

Mr. Trump then threatened to post his interview with Ms. Stahl ahead of its intended broadcast time on 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 on Tuesday after Mr. Trump grew irritated with Ms. Stahl’s questions, according to two people familiar with the circumstances of the taping.

One person briefed on what took place said that Mr. Trump had spent more than 45 minutes filming with Ms. Stahl and her CBS News crew, and that the taping had not wrapped up when the president’s aides had expected it to.

So Mr. Trump cut the interview short and then declined to participate in a “walk and talk” segment with Ms. Stahl and Vice President Mike Pence, the people said.

It appeared that Ms. Stahl’s approach did not sit well with the president. Hours later, Mr. Trump said on Twitter that he was considering posting the interview with Ms. Stahl “PRIOR TO AIRTIME!” He described it as a “terrible Electoral Intrusion” and suggested that his Democratic opponent, Joseph R. Biden Jr., had been treated less harshly by journalistic interlocutors.

Mr. Trump also posted a six-second video clip of Ms. 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, Ms. Stahl had worn a mask at the White House up until the start of her taping with Mr. Trump, including when she first greeted the president, according to a person familiar with the interview.

The video posted on Mr. Trump’s Twitter feed showed Ms. 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.

Ms. Stahl has interviewed Mr. Trump twice since the 2016 election, including his first televised interview after winning the presidency. She also filmed with Mr. Trump at the White House in October 2018. Ms. Stahl was hospitalized with the coronavirus in the spring and has since recovered.

The president and Mr. Pence were participating in a “60 Minutes” episode set to air on Sunday evening. The episode is also expected to feature interviews with Mr. Biden and his running mate, Senator Kamala Harris of California.

Mr. Biden taped his interview with the “CBS Evening News” anchor Norah O’Donnell on Monday. He has not yet tweeted about it.

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