ABC may have snagged an interview with Melania Trump while she was in Africa, but CBS managed to get the president to do a sit-down on the most controversial issues surrounding his presidency right now. In an interview that aired Sunday, Lesley Stahl questioned him on a range of issues, from the UN's climate change report to his comments about Christine Blasey Ford. A handful of these
moments from the Trump are almost guaranteed to take you aback. 60 Minutes interview
Trump's interview comes just weeks before November's midterm elections, where a number of congressional seats are up for grabs. Part of what will convince Americans to vote one way or the other will be Trump, his agenda, and his record of accomplishments so far, CBS News noted, as much as the local candidates themselves.
During Trump's interview with Stahl in the White House, the network found him to be "confident and boastful" while eager to tackle certain issues on the economy as well as on China and Russia. However, the president didn't provide straightforward answers to all of Stahl's pressing questions. All the same, his responses to several questions in particular are definitely worth reading if you didn't get a chance to tune into the special.
On How "Everybody" Leaves Washington
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Trump has been known to present the White House as a well-oiled machine. When Stahl asked him about reports of chaos and staff turnover, Trump denied it all.
"It's — wrong, it's so false. It's fake news," Trump said. "I'm changing things around. And I'm entitled to. I have people now on standby that will be phenomenal. They'll come into the administration, they'll be phenomenal."
Stahl then asked about General Mattis and whether he was going to leave.
"Well, I don't know. He hasn't told me that. I have a very good relationship with him. It could be that he is. I think he's sort of a Democrat, if you want to know the truth," Trump said. "But General Mattis is a good guy. We get along very well. He may leave. I mean, at some point, everybody leaves. Everybody. People leave. That's Washington."
On Mocking Christine Blasey Ford
After Dr. Christine Blasey Ford's testimony, Trump mocked her during a rally in Mississippi, ridiculing how she could not remember all the details of the alleged sexual assault (Brett Kavanaugh has denied the allegations). During the interview with Stahl, Trump
denied that he made fun of Ford before insisting that he would not discuss the matter any further.
"I didn't really make fun of her," said Trump. "Well, I think she was treated with great respect. ... You know what? I'm not going to get into it because we won. It doesn't matter. We won."
On Scientists' Supposed "Political Agenda"
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"I think something's happening. Something's changing, and it'll change back again. I don't think it's a hoax, I think there's probably a difference. But I don't know that it's manmade," said Trump. "I don't want to give trillions and trillions of dollars. I don't want to lose millions and millions of jobs. I don't want to be put at a disadvantage."
Stahl then referred to the scientists worldwide who have warned about the catastrophic effects of climate change.
"Look," Trump said in response. "Scientists also have a political agenda."
On Saudi Journalist Jamal Khashoggi
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Trump spoke on Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi columnist for the
Washington Post who is suspected of being murdered by Saudi agents, and what the United States' reaction would be.
"There's a lot at stake. And maybe especially so because this man was a reporter. There's something — you'll be surprised to hear me say that — there's something really terrible and disgusting about that, if that were the case," said Trump. "So we're going to have to see. We're going to get to the bottom of it and there will be severe punishment."
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"I do trust him, yeah, I trust him. That doesn't mean I can't be proven wrong," Trump said. In response, Stahl called Kim a "bad guy" and reminded Trump of Kim's "cruel kingdom of repression, gulags, starvation."
"I know all these things. I mean, I'm not a baby," Trump answered. "Let it be whatever it is. I get along with him really well. I have a good energy with him. I have a good chemistry with him. Look at the horrible threats that were made. No more threats. No more threats."
On America Being The "Stupid Country"
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Trump has long argued that the United States has gotten the bad end of a deal, with both tariffs and military aid agreements abroad.
"The European Union was formed in order to take advantage of us on trade, and that's what they've done," Trump said. "We've been the stupid country for so many years."
On Not Shutting Down the Mueller Investigation
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At one point, Stahl asked if Trump is willing to pledge to not shut down the Mueller investigation into
whether Russia interfered with the 2016 election. The president flat out said no, then questioned why he should even do so in the first place.
"I don't pledge anything. But I will tell you, I have no intention of doing that. I think it's a very unfair investigation because there was no collusion of any kind," Trump said. "There is no collusion. I don't want to pledge. Why should I pledge to you? If I pledge, I'll pledge. I don't have to pledge to you. I have no intention of doing that."
On How Putin Was "Probably" Involved In Assassinations
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"I think I'm very tough with him personally. I had a meeting with him. The two of us. It was a very tough meeting and it was a very good meeting," Trump said, referring to the
Trump-Putin summit in July.
Stahl then asked if Trump agrees that Putin is involved in assassinations and poisonings, referencing the
nerve agent attack on a former Russian spy.
"Probably he is, yeah. Probably. I mean, I don't..." Trump said, before moving on.
"I'm President — And You're Not"
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As Trump broaches the subject of the media, the two start a rapid back and forth about how the interview has gone so far. Then Trump makes this point to Stahl.
"Lesley, it's OK. In the meantime, I'm president — and you're not," Trump said.
While CBS pressed him on a number of controversial issues, the interview overall served to reaffirm what much of the public already knows about the president's style and stance.