More than one-and-a-half years into his term, Donald Trump gave CBS’ 60 Minutes his first interview as President of the United States.
Correspondent Lesley Stahl came armed for bear, quick to call Trump out on baseless claims and his deferral of certain questions. Still, he held firm on some of his more scurrilous stances, including the notion, devoid of evidence, that China is as much to blame for 2016 election “meddling” as Russia.
Here are some of the choicer sound bites from their in-depth exchange.
Regarding his MOCKING OF DR. CHRISTINE BLASEY FORD‘s allegations against then-Supreme Court Justice candidate Judge Brett Kavanaugh, just days before the Senate vote, Trump acknowledged, “Had I not made that speech, we would not have won.” Pressed on why he adopted such a tactic, he deferred (in the video below), “We won. It doesn’t matter [why]. We won.”
Presented with North Korea leader KIM JONG UN’S NOTORIOUS RESUME (“He presides over a cruel kingdom of repression, gulags, starvation… slave labor, public executions”), Trump was asked why he recently trumpeted that he “fell in love” with the controversial figure over a series of meetings and letters. “I’m not a baby, I know all these things,” Trump countered, before explaining: “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 [prior]. No more threats. No more threats.”
Trump promised there would be “SEVERE PUNISHMENT” FOR THE SAUDIS if Saudi Arabia is found to be behind journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s disappearance — though he seems loathe to impose meaningful sanctions, especially when it comes to reneging on a sizeable military equipment contract. (“I don’t want to hurt jobs,” he explained.) Trump acknowledged that son-in-law Jared Kushner gave Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman a ring to personally inquire into the country’s possible culpability and even murder of Khashoggi. “They deny it every way you can imagine,” POTUS related. “In the not-too-distant future, I think we’ll know an answer.”
Invited to PLEDGE THAT HE WON’T SHUT DOWN THE MUELLER INVESTIGATION, Trump declined, saying, “I don’t pledge anything. But I will tell you, I have no intention of doing that.”
On the old chestnut of RUSSIA MEDDLING IN THE 2016 ELECTION to ensure that Trump won, he scoffed, “Do you really think I’d call Russia to help me with an election? Give me a break. They wouldn’t be able to help me at all.”
Asked if he still believes CLIMATE CHANGE IS A HOAX, Trump replied, “I think something’s happening… and it’ll change back again. I don’t think it’s a hoax…. But I don’t know that it’s man-made.” When Stahl followed up with tales of rising sea levels and melting polar caps, Trump argued, “You don’t know whether or not that would have happened with or without man.” When he then offered, “They say that we had hurricanes that were far worse than … Michael,” Stahl had to ask who “they” are. “People,” he answered.