Lesley Stahl told Vice President Pence that she felt he and President Trump had “insulted ’60 Minutes’ ” by giving “set campaign speeches” instead of answering her questions in contentious interviews that the White House preemptively released.
“Mr. Vice President, this was not a rally. This was not just a campaign speech to the public. This was supposed to be an interview,” Stahl told Pence in the interview, which was posted to Facebook in full by President Trump.
“And the same with the president. And I feel that you both have insulted ’60 Minutes’ by not answering our questions and by giving set campaign speeches that we’ve heard both of you give at rallies without answering our questions,” she added.
“Lesley, what question haven’t I answered. What questioned haven’t I answered right now,” Pence responded.
Stahl pointed to her question about whether Pence had any comment on Trump calling Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious diseases expert, a “disaster,” which the vice president didn’t directly address. He instead said the scientists involved in the White House coronavirus response have provided a “great public service.”
“I think the both of you, there is this kind of anticipation that people in power are held accountable, and they answer questions for the public, not for me. For the public, and I feel you didn’t do that,” Stahl said. “I’m upset.”
“Well, Lesley I appreciate the speech that you just gave, but I answered all your questions, and I’ve spoken about things the American care about,” Pence said before launching into remarks praising Trump’s record and accomplishments in his first term.
Trump posted Stahl’s 14-minute interview with Pence in full on Facebook hours after publishing his own sit-down with Stahl, which showed the president bristling at tough questions about his agenda and allegations about his opponents.
The president abruptly ended the interview before Stahl was able to conduct a walk-and-talk segment with Trump and Pence together.
Stahl raised the incident with Pence, who was standing off camera when it transpired.
“Why did he walk out and end the interview like that?” Stahl asked. “You walked out with him, right?”
“Lesley, you spent the better part of an hour with the president, and the American people heard the passion that he has for this country,” Pence said. “His determination to bring the country all the way back and then some.”
The vice president spent his interview repeating many of the same talking points he delivers in his campaign stump speeches, hailing Trump for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic that has killed more than 220,000 Americans and insisting that he’s kept all of his promises he made in 2016. Stahl pointed out the latter point is not true, noting he hasn’t delivered an infrastructure deal.
The White House has spent days attacking Stahl and “60 Minutes” in advance of the interviews airing on Sunday. During Trump’s interview, he bemoans that Stahl opened the segment by asking if he was ready for “tough questions,” calling it “no way to talk.”
CBS News said earlier this week that the White House agreed that they would tape the interview “for archival purposes only.”
“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,” CBS News said in a statement after Trump posted the interview.