US President Donald Trump. Picture: CBS/60 Minutes
US President Donald Trump. Picture: CBS/60 Minutes

'PATHETIC FARCE': Drama erupts as Trump Biden debate begins

US President Donald Trump has posted his entire interview with 60 Minutes online, three days before it was due to air.

Mr Trump sat down for the interview with earlier this week, and has since complained repeatedly about the performance of CBS journalist Lesley Stahl.

Today the President followed through on his threat to release the whole interview, putting up the White House's raw footage of it on Facebook.

"Look at the bias, hatred and rudeness," he told his followers.

It came hours before the final debate between Mr Trump and his opponent, Joe Biden. That starts at midday AEST.

Read on for all the details from Mr Trump's interview, and all the other news from the campaign.

It was a joke': Trump's last exchange with Stahl

As you know, this interview did not end well. Mr Trump cut it short after about 38 minutes, and did not return for a planned joint "walk and talk" with Vice President Mike Pence afterwards.

This was the final exchange.

Stahl: "You know, I didn't want to have this kind of angry-"

Trump: "Of course you did. Of course you did."

Stahl: "No I didn't."

Trump: "Well then you brought up a lot of subjects that were inappropriately brought up."

Stahl: "Well I said I'm going to ask you tough questions."

Trump: "They were inappropriately brought up, right from the beginning. Your first question was, 'This is going to be tough questions.' When you set up the interview, your first statement was-"

Stahl: "You're President. Don't you think you should be accountable to the American people?"

Trump: "Listen. Your first statement to me, 'This is going to be tough questions.' I don't mind that. When you set up the interview, you didn't say that. You said, 'Oh let's have a lovely interview.' And here's what I just say, you don't ask Joe Biden - I saw your interview with Joe, THE interview, it was a joke."

Stahl: "I never did a Joe Biden interview!"

Trump: "The interview, 60 Minutes. 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: "OK, but forget him for a minute-"

Trump: "No but you started with me-"

Stahl: "-you're the President. You're President, and-"

Trump: "Excuse me, Lesley, you started with me, your first statement was, 'Are you ready for tough questions?' That's no way to talk. That's no way to talk."

Someone off camera interjected to say the joint interview with Mr Trump and Mr Pence was meant to start in about five minutes, so they would need to wrap up soon.

The CBS crew was fine to keep rolling, but the President said he thought "we have enough", and ended the interview there.

Stahl grills Trump on healthcare

Lesley Stahl grilled Donald Trump on the healthcare plan he has been perpetually promising is just weeks away from being released.

Stahl: "You promised that there was going to be a new health package, healthcare plan. You said that it was going to be great, you said it'll be ready, it's going to be ready, it's all ready-"

Trump: "It will be."

Stahl: "-it'll be here in two weeks, it's going to be like nothing you've ever seen before. And of course we haven't seen it. So why didn't you develop a health plan?"

Trump: "It is developed. It's fully developed. It's going to be announced very soon-"

Stahl: "When? You've been saying that over and over."

Trump: "When we see what happens with Obamacare, which is not good. When we see what happens with Obamacare. And it will be much less expensive than Obamacare, which is a disaster, and it will take care of people with pre-existing conditions."

There is a case before the Supreme Court at the moment that could result in Obamacare being struck down. It's going to hear arguments a week after election day.

If the law is struck down, a bunch of Americans will lose their health insurance - unless something new is passed.

Stahl: "Your plan was to repeal and replace. And if the Supreme Court finishes Obamacare, there will be all these people stranded, because there's no replacement."

Trump: "No, we will make a deal, and we will have a great healthcare plan-"

Stahl: "But you keep saying that."

Trump: "-with less expensive, less expensive, and a much better plan."

Stahl: "Why haven't we seen it?"

Trump: "You have seen it. I've been putting out pieces all over the place. And we actually have plans."

This part got pretty hairy for Mr Trump, as Stahl drilled down on how he would stop Americans with pre-existing conditions from losing their insurance.

Stahl: "What about the pre-existing, people with pre-existing conditions? If the Supreme Court-"

Trump: "I'll protect it. They'll be totally protected."

Stahl: "How?"

Trump: "They'll be protected, Lesley!"

Stahl: "How? How?"

Trump: "I mean the people with pre-existing conditions are going to be protected-"

Stahl: "How?"

Trump: "-as they are now."

Stahl: "How?"

Trump: "In any plan we do, they will be protected."

Stahl: "But there isn't a plan."

Trump: "Lesley, people with pre-existing conditions will be always protected. Always."

The President said he thought and hoped the Supreme Court would indeed strike down Obamacare.

Trump: "I hope that they end it. It will be so good if they end it. Because we will come up with a plan-"

Stahl: "Will!"

Trump: "Yeah, we will."

Stahl: "But you said it would already-"

Trump: "We have large sections of it already done."

'You're so negative': Trump hits back over crowd size remark

Lesley Stahl brought up Donald Trump's recent criticism of Dr Anthony Fauci, one of the top advisers on his coronavirus task force.

Stahl: "You called Dr Fauci and other health officials idiots. And I'm wondering-"

Trump: "Dr Fauci - where did I call him, where did I call him an idiot? What? Where did I call him an idiot?"

Stahl: "You called them idiots."

The remark in question here was made during a phone call Mr Trump held with campaign staff earlier this week. The campaign invited reporters to listen in.

"People are saying, 'Whatever, just leave us alone.' They're tired of it. People are tired of hearing Fauci and all these idiots," Mr Trump said on the call.

"Fauci is a nice guy. He's been here for 500 years.

"Fauci is a disaster. If I listened to him, we'd have 500,000 deaths."

Trump: "Well he's been wrong a lot. I like him, but he's been wrong a lot."

Stahl: "I wonder if you think that masks don't work."

Trump: "Well Dr Fauci originally said-"

Stahl: "What do you say? Do you say masks don't work?"

Trump: "It's a very complicated subject. Well let me just tell you, you mentioned Dr Fauci. Dr Fauci said don't wear masks, then he said wear them."

Stahl: "What do you think?"

Trump: "I feel masks possibly work. But certainly, you want to stay away a certain distance, socially distance, etc. But I would say a mask works, and I have nothing against masks, and I tell people to wear masks."

Stahl: "Tell me then about these rallies you've been having."

Trump: "A lot of people wearing masks-"

Stahl: "People aren't! And I'm watching all these people jammed in together, and I'm seeing most of them without masks. And I'm wondering the message that you're sending with these pictures."

Trump: "Take a look. Yesterday we were in Arizona. Record-setting rallies. Numbers of people like nobody's seen before. Many, many masks."

Mr Trump's rally yesterday was actually in North Carolina (he was in Arizona earlier this week). 

Things turned pretty cranky when Stahl decided to challenge Mr Trump's claim that his rallies were setting record crowds.

Stahl: "You used to have bigger rallies."

Trump: "No, these are much bigger than I ever had."

Stahl: "I don't want to-"

Trump: "You know, you're so negative. You're so negative. These are the biggest rallies we've ever had. You just come in here with that negative attitude. These are the biggest rallies we've ever had. We are having numbers like we've never had."

Stahl: "Tell me about the masks."

Trump: "Excuse me, no, but you made a statement. There's more enthusiasm right now for us than we ever had before. Ever. And you will see that in a short period of time."

The Trump campaign does not release attendance figures, so we don't know the specific crowd sizes he's drawing at the moment. They do quite obviously number in the thousands.

Trump: Coronavirus is 'not my fault'

Continuing that discussion about female voters, Lesley Stahl circles back to the pandemic.

There's a lot of crosstalk here so I'm just going to transcribe it.

Stahl: "They don't feel you're being upfront about the pandemic. And when you say there are fewer, we're rounding the corner-"

Trump: "We are rounding the corner."

Stahl: "-and tell Bob Woodward that-"

Trump: "We are rounding the corner."

Stahl: "-you deliberately like to downplay this-"

Trump: "We are rounding the corner. We are rounding the corner."

Stahl: "-Are you deliberately downplaying it?"

Trump: "We're doing well. We understand the disease. I saved millions of people. You know, 2.2 million people were supposed to die. If you go back and you look at your models, 2.2 million people. We saved tremendous numbers of people."

The model Mr Trump referred to was published back in March, by epidemiology professor Neil Ferguson.

Prof Ferguson modeled what would happen if governments imposed no restrictions at all in response to the pandemic, and found up to 2.2 million Americans could die. Think of it as the worst case scenario.

As things stand, the US death toll is 227,000, which is undeniably better than 2.2 million, but still significantly worse than any other country. Brazil has the second-highest toll, about 70,000 deaths behind.

Trump: "I closed it very early from China, heavily infected, and even from Europe heavily infected. We've done a good job. We've done maybe a great job. What we haven't done a good job on is convincing people like you because you're really quite impossible to convince, but that's OK."

Mr Trump imposed a partial travel ban on China at the start of February. There were exceptions to the restrictions, and thousands of people continued to fly into the US from China. His travel ban on Europe came in mid-March.

Trump: "We got hit by something. Not my fault, not your fault. We got hit by something that came out of China. I got stuck with it. And let me tell you, before it happened, we were doing so good."

'That is such a misleading question'

Donald Trump gets a little more agitated when Lesley Stahl brings up something he said during a recent political rally.

This is the quote in question.

Mr Trump was appealing to suburban female voters, arguing he had "saved" their neighbourhoods by rescinding a housing regulation that was imposed during the Obama administration, making it less likely that low-income housing would be built near their homes.

So that's the context here. At the time, my read on Mr Trump's "please like me" quote was that it was pretty tongue-in-cheek.

"Let me ask you something about suburban women. You said the other day to suburban women, 'Can you please like me?','" Stahl starts to ask.

"Oh, I didn't say that. You know, that is so misleading," Mr Trump interjects.

"I say jokingly, suburban women, you should love me, because I'm giving you security, and I got rid of the worst regulation.

"See, the way you said that is why people think of you and everyone else as fake news. I said kiddingly, suburban women, you should love me. I got rid of a regulation that would bring low-income housing into suburbia, it would destroy suburbia.

"And I said that in a joking way. The way you have is like, oh, like I'm begging. I'm kidding. Play it, and I'm kidding. That is such a misleading question, Lesley."

Technically, Stahl never actually asked her question. She had been using the quote as a way into discussing Mr Trump's problems appealing to women, with whom he is losing badly in the polls. He performs much better among men.

"You're behind with suburban women in the polls," Stahl points out when the President falls silent.

"I doubt it. I doubt it. I doubt it," he replies.

"I'm saving suburbia. He's going to destroy suburbia."

'That's right, we have turned the corner'

OK, back tot he substance of the interview.

"When you're out there saying, 'We've turned the corner. This thing is disappearing,'-" Stahl starts to ask.

"That's right, we have turned the corner," Mr Trump interjects.

"People can see cases going up, all over the Midwest, record numbers of cases in some states," she says.

"We have turned the corner. We understand the disease. We understand the elderly and we're taking care of them at a level that no one has ever taken care of the elderly," he replies.

"We also understand youth, 99.9 per cent. As an example, Barron had it, and it was gone in no time. It was just like, he had it, it was gone. Hardly knew he even had it.

"But we've done a great job, with the ventilators, with the equipment, with stocking governors that were not stocked. We've made a lot of governors look very good."

Trump posts entire 60 Minutes interview

Donald Trump posted his entire interview with 60 Minutes on Facebook, three days before CBS planned to air it.

"Look at the bias, hatred and rudeness," he said of interviewer Lesley Stahl.

CBS responds to Donald Trump

I'll briefly interrupt this string of highlights from the interview to bring you CBS's response to Mr Trump's decision to post it online, three days before their 60 Minutes program airs.

"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," the network says.

"Few journalists have the presidential interview experience Lesley Stahl has delivered over her decades as one of the premier correspondents in America, and we look forward to audiences seeing her third interview with President Trump and subsequent interview with Vice President Pence this weekend."

Trump insists virus cases only rising because of testing

We get to another contentious exchange as Lesley Stahl suggests "it's like the gods have conspired" against Donald Trump's re-election chances, with coronavirus infections and unemployment claims both rising weeks out from polling day.

"I don't think so at all, no. I think we've done a great job with COVID. And we've hired-" Mr Trump says.

"The numbers are going up," Stahl points out.

"Excuse me, 11.4 million people - why, because the last report was just a little bit off," he continues.

Mr Trump is referring to the September jobs report, which found the US had added 11.4 million jobs since losing 22 million in March.

Stahl still wants to talk about the virus numbers.

"No, sir, excuse me. Cases are up in about 40 states," she says.

"OK, you know why cases are up, also? Because we do more testing. If we didn't do testing, cases would be way down," Mr Trump tells her.

"Why are you saying they're not up? You're saying things that people can see-" Stahl starts to say.

"No no, what I'm saying to you, Lesley, is the following. We do more testing than any other country in the world by far," the President argues.

"If we did half the testing, we'd have half the cases. If we did no testing, like many countries, we would have no cases."

Does he think Australia and New Zealand don't do any testing? Honestly, this is a baffling argument. We have been hearing some variation of it from Mr Trump since May, and all these months later I still don't know why he thinks it makes any sense.

"Because we do so much testing - the fake news media loves to say cases are up. The fact is, we've done a very, very good job," he says.

"Cases are up," Stahl tells him.

"That's right, because we're doing so much testing," Mr Trump insists.

"Will you at least say cases are up?" Stahl asks.

"Yes, cases are up. Because we're doing tremendous testing, and we're finding where there is a problem," he says.

"Testing is a good thing, but it's also very misleading."

For the record, daily infections are indeed rising in the US. It is currently recording over 60,000 each day.


'You wouldn't say that to Biden'

We quickly arrive at the section of the interview that featured in 60 Minutes' preview clip, with Donald Trump claiming he created "the greatest economy" in US history before the coronavirus hit and Lesley Stahl telling him "you know that's not true".

"You wouldn't say that to Biden, what you just said to me," Mr Trump shoots back at her.

"If he had it, you would never say that to Biden. We had the best stock market price ever, and we're getting close to that price again. We had the best - everything was the best."

I fact checked this rhetoric earlier, so I won't cover too much of the same ground again, but the US economy was indeed pretty healthy before the pandemic.

The unemployment rate got as low as 3.5 per cent, which was its best point since the 1950s.

Other measures, such as GDP and wage growth, were more average, so Mr Trump is not correct when he claims "everything" was the best. But what we're dealing with here is exaggeration and embellishment, not an outright falsehood.

"Every number, virtually every number was the best. We had the best economy ever," Mr Trump continues.

"The other side was starting to call, 'Let's get together.' There was going to be unity. And then we got hit with the plague."

Trump 'not OK' with tough questions

The raw footage posted by Donald Trump starts with a pretty striking exchange between himself and Lesley Stahl.

"Are you ready for some tough questions?" Stahl asks.

"You're gonna be fair. Just be fair," Mr Trump replies.

"Last time, I remember you saying to me, 'Bring it on,'" she said, referring to previous interview.

"No, I'm not looking for that. I'm looking for fairness, that's all," said the President.

"You're going to get fairness. And you're OK with some tough questions?" asked Stahl.

"No, I'm not," Mr Trump said.

"You don't ask Biden tough questions. It's terrible. It's terrible. You know that."

I'm not sure 60 Minutes would have aired this exchange, as it came before Stahl confirmed the crew was ready to start the interview.




Originally published as 'Look at the bias': Interview angers Trump