Trump taunts 60 Minutes host after interview bitterly cut off

Top News | AGENCIES 22 Oct 2020

US President Donald Trump's electoral-map hopping may be his last chance to alter the trajectory of the 2020 campaign but it is being overshadowed by a series of fights.

In the last two days he has attacked the nation's leading infectious disease expert, Anthony Fauci, and a venerable television news magazine while suggesting that the country was tired of talking about a virus that has killed more than 220,000 Americans.

Before leaving the White House for Pennsylvania, Trump taped part of an interview with CBS 60 Minutes that apparently ended acrimoniously. On Twitter, Trump declared his interview with Lesley Stahl to be "fake and biased'' and he threatened to release a White House edit of it before its Sunday airtime.

"I am pleased to inform you that, for the sake of accuracy in reporting, I am considering posting my interview prior to airtime! This will be done so that everybody can get a glimpse of what a fake and biased interview is all about. Everyone should compare this terrible electoral intrusion with the recent interviews of Sleepy Joe Biden!" Trump tweeted.

60 Minutes said the White House agreed only to record the interview for its archives and said it has a history of interviewing presidential candidates and asking important questions.

But CBS News said Stahl wore a mask as she entered the White House and greeted the president. She removed her mask when socially distanced just before the interview began. The clip Trump tweeted occurred after the interview and shows Stahl speaking with producers, all of whom had tested negative for the virus.

Trump campaign adviser Jason Miller disputed reporting that the interview had ended abruptly.

He tweeted: "Very fake news! No drama, interview was not ended abruptly, and we have the receipts from the interview - all of them! Maybe we need to put the whole thing out so people can see for themselves?"

It is not the first time Stahl has interviewed Trump, who also sat down with her for his first television interview as president-elect in 2016 and again in 2018.

Trailing in fundraising for campaign ads, Trump is increasingly relying on his signature rallies to maximize turnout among his base. His trip to Pennsylvania was one of what is expected to be several visits to the state in the next two weeks.

"If we win Pennsylvania, we win the whole thing, Trump said in Erie county.

The county went for Barack Obama by 5 percentage points in 2012 but broke for Trump by 2 percentage points in 2016. That swing, fueled by Trump's success with white, working-class, non-college-educated voters, was replicated in small cities and towns and rural areas and helped him overcome Hillary Clinton's victories in the state's big cities.

But his aides worry that his Democratic opponent is uniquely situated to prevent that as Biden has built a political persona as a representative of the middle and working classes.

For today's debate, meanwhile, Trump and Biden will each have his microphone cut off while the other delivers an opening two-minute answer to each of the six debate topics.

The mute button will not figure in the open discussion portion.

Melania Trump was supposed to join the Erie trip - in what would have been her first public appearance since she was sickened with Covid-19 - but she had a lingering cough and stayed behind.

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