60 Minutes aired its interview with Donald Trump as planned on Sunday — the closing chapter of what CBS News' Lesley Stahl acknowledged on air was "an all-too-public dust-up" that included the president leaking his own version of the contentious sit-down.
Stahl, a longtime broadcast journalist for the CBS weekly news show, initially spoke with Trump, 74, last Tuesday at the White House.
She said on Sunday's broadcast that she had planned to ask about him a range of pressing topics, in the final days of the presidential campaign. However, Trump immediately chafed when Stahl, 78, asked if he was prepared for some "tough questions."
"No, I'm not. I mean—," he replied, later adding, "I want them to be fair. You don't ask [Democratic nominee Joe] Biden tough questions."
The president — who has long relished fighting with reporters and criticizing coverage he dislikes as "fake" — returned to that argument late in his interview, in the moments before he abruptly cut it short.
After Stahl told him that she had not wanted a "kind of angry" exchange, he told her, "You brought up a lot of subjects that were inappropriately brought up."
"Well, I said, I'm gonna ask you tough questions," Stahl replied.
"They were inappropriately brought up. Right from the beginning. No, your first question was, 'This is going to be tough questions,' " Trump said. "You don't ask Joe Biden, I saw your interview with Joe … I see Joe Biden giving softball after softball. I've seen all of his interviews. He's never been asked a question that's hard." (Stahl noted that that was another 60 Minutes interview, not one she had done.)
"But forget him for a minute," she said. "You're president—"
"Excuse me, Lesley, you started with me," Trump interjected. "Your first statement was, 'Are you ready for tough questions?' "
"Are you?" Stahl asked him.
"That's no way to talk," Trump said. "That's no way to talk."
In the video of their interview, a man off-camera briefly cuts in, which Stahl said in voice-over was a producer doing a reminder on the time.
The president, however, told an aide: "I think we have enough of an interview here … okay? That's enough. Let's go."
He did not return, though Vice President Mike Pence's interview with Stahl went forward as scheduled.
When Stahl asked Pence what happened, noting Trump "walked out," he said: "President Trump is a man who speaks his mind. I think it's one of the great strengths that he's had."
This was not the first time the public saw this moment play out.
Last week, apparently angered by the questioning from 60 Minutes, Trump publicly complained about the interview and took the unusual step of leaking his version of it early as a way of getting back at Stahl for her inappropriate "tough questions."
On Thursday, Trump posted nearly 40 minutes of unedited footage recorded by the White House (which CBS said was captured only on the agreement that it was being recorded by the president's team for archival purposes).
The footage did not show any material difference from what aired on 60 Minutes, where Stahl asked Trump about his much scrutinized handling of the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic, his stance on the Affordable Care Act and healthcare and substantiating uncorroborated claims, among other topics.
CBS News said in a statement that the "White House's unprecedented decision to disregard their agreement with CBS News and release their footage will not deter 60 MINUTES from providing its full, fair and contextual reporting which presidents have participated in for decades."
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During the version of the interview Sunday night, the TV news magazine added fact-checking to some of Trump's misleading statements.
After the interview, a White House spokeswoman brought Stahl a large tome which she described as the president's healthcare plan — though Stahl said that, inside, there was no such plan.
Trump had also tweeted a short clip of Stahl not wearing a mask, which a person at CBS News familiar with the interview told PEOPLE was taken immediately following the interview, while she spoke to her producers. (Stahl recovered from the coronavirus earlier in the spring.)
All of the CBS team had tested negative for the coronavirus disease COVID-19 before entering the White House, the network source said.
Elsewhere in his interview, Trump complained to Stahl that he feels reporters are tougher on him than his Democratic rival.
"I wish you would interview Joe Biden like you interview me. It would be so good," he tells Stahl, to which she says, "You like this, I thought. I thought you like sparring."
The episode separately included an interview with Biden, 77, in which he faced questions about the Supreme Court as well as his tax plan and more.
60 Minutes airs Sundays (7:30 p.m. ET) on CBS.
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