President Donald Trump was in true fighting form on Sunday evening as he spoke to Lesley Stahl of “60 Minutes” about a range of topics, covering ground from Vladimir Putin to Chinese tariffs to the domestic economy. Stahl was as tough as she typically is in the interviewer’s chair, but Trump appeared confident, defiant, and, as always, supremely unwilling to back down from a fight. This dynamic made for one of the more interesting interviews of Trump’s political career – which is saying something given the president’s willingness to court controversy.
After trying and largely failing to “trap” President Trump with some questions about climate change (the questions themselves, referencing recent hurricanes, being wildly inconsistent with even the consensus view of how global warming works), Stahl quickly moved through the current situation with Saudi Arabia and then into Trump’s successful summit with North Korea. It was here that the interview began to develop that familiar Trump/The Media tension.
“I wanna read you his resume, okay?” Stahl said, referring to Kim Jong Un. “He presides over a cruel kingdom of repression, gulags, starvation– reports that he had his half-brother assassinated, slave labor, public executions. This is a guy you love?”
“Sure,” said Trump. “I know all these things. I mean– I’m not a baby. I know these things.”
“I know, but why do you love that guy?”
“Look, look,” Trump said. “I get along with him, okay? That’s just a figure of speech.”
“No, it’s like an embrace,” Stahl argued.
“Well, let it be an embrace,” he said. “Let it be whatever it is to get the job done. 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.”
The interview also turned contentious when Stahl tried to get Trump to “pledge” that no matter what happened with Attorney General Jeff Sessions after the midterms, he would not attempt to shut down Robert Mueller’s probe into the 2016 elections.
“I don’t pledge anything,” Trump said. “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. 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.”
The best part of the interview, however, came when Trump began to rail against the “dishonest” news media following a tense exchange about the administration’s family separation policies at the border. Trump was quick to assure Stahl that she was very much a part of the bias against him.
“Even the way you asked me a question about separation,” he said. “When I say Obama did it, you don’t want to talk about it. When I say I did it, let’s make a big deal of it. I’m just telling you that you treated me much differently on the subject.”
“I disagree,” Stahl said (laughably), “but I don’t wanna have that fight with you.”
“Hey, it’s okay,” Trump finished. “Lesley, it’s okay. In the meantime, I’m president, and you’re not.”