President Donald Trump on Saturday hyped his forthcoming full interview with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos, excerpts of which shook allies and opponents alike this week when the president revealed he would take foreign help if offered in the lead up to the 2020 election.
Trump invited Stephanopoulos to the White House and on a trip to Iowa this past week, breaking away from his routine of calling into or appearing on conservative cable news and opinion shows. During their time together, Trump made comments to Stephanopoulos that ricocheted across Washington, including saying that he would likely accept opposition information from foreign sources if offered in the next presidential campaign.
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In a Twitter thread posted Saturday night, Trump said he had a positive experience with Stephanopoulos, adding that he thought other news outlets misinterpreted his comments. The president also said that he would consider doing more interviews with network news.
“So funny to watch the Fake News Media try to dissect & distort every word in as negative a way as possible,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “Think I will do many more Network Interviews, as I did in 2016, in order to get the word out that no President has done what I have in … the first 2 1/2 years of his Presidency, including the fact that we have one of the best Economies in the history of our Country. It is called Earned Media. In any event, enjoy the show!”
Trump’s interview with Stephanopoulos, which will be broadcast in full on Sunday, comes as his reelection campaign prepares to launch in the coming week. Trump’s tentative plan to do more network interviews and capture “earned media” — where a politician garners free publicity from media hits rather than through traditional campaign ad buys — hints at a strategy he used frequently during the 2016 campaign and also as president.
Trump routinely tweets ahead of time to publicize upcoming cable TV interviews with right-wing talk-show hosts such as Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham and Jeanine Pirro.
Tump’s remarks about accepting opposition information from foreign sources drew nationwide controversy alongside scorn and scolding from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle as well as former law enforcement officials and the chairwoman of the Federal Election Commission.
“It’s not an interference, they have information — I think I’d take it,” Trump said. “If I thought there was something wrong, I’d go maybe to the FBI — if I thought there was something wrong.”
He also said members of Congress often accept foreign help, prompting multiple lawmakers to publicly express indignation at the suggestion that doing so was common practice. Many reiterated that accepting foreign assistance was illegal in U.S. elections.
The president has since walked back the thrust of his remarks, using a 50-minute Fox News phone interview to do so.
Trump also revealed to Stephanopoulos that he had been briefed on increased reported sightings of UFOs by Navy pilots, but cast doubt on the reports.
“I want them to think whatever they think,” Trump said of the Navy pilots. “Do I believe it? Not particularly.”