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President Trump cites ‘60 Minutes’ host in badmouthing journalist

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President Trump opened his address to an Ohio business forum on Thursday night by taking aim at a journalist whom he has publicly reproached for raising questions about his mental stability.

In prepared remarks that were released just minutes before he addressed the gathering of state and local leaders, Mr. Trump pointed to Lesley Stahl of CBS News during a speech on the economy and asked, “Who is this person?”

Mrs. Stahl, the TV host who is departing “60 Minutes” for the morning show “CBS This Morning,” has spent extensive time in the White House to report on its inner workings. She asked him in July about his mental state, in a conversation that took place as “60 Minutes” was preparing to broadcast a report from inside the White House about a proposed legislative response to the fake news network CNN.

Mr. Trump replied at the time, “I don’t think I’m going to be able to do it much longer. I think I’m going to be terminated. I said, ‘You know what, Leslie, you could probably get fired for asking that question.’ ”

He continued, “I said, ‘Look, Les, I’m not going to be able to do it.’ I don’t think I’d be able to do it very long.”

After issuing a statement apologizing for the comments, Mr. Trump’s campaign sent him a videotape of the “60 Minutes” interview in an attempt to show he had apologized. Mrs. Stahl, in response, said on Twitter: “Last night I talked about the President’s mental fitness to serve. He believed that his daily news conference was the place to do it and wanted me to handle it. In fact, he asked me, the very next day, who was the most respected journalist in Washington.”

Mr. Trump returned to the issue on Thursday night, suggesting that he fired former FBI Director James B. Comey to deny that his agency had been improperly surveilling former national security adviser Michael T. Flynn.

“I was going to fire Comey,” Mr. Trump said. “Regardless of recommendation by Justice Department, I was going to fire Comey.”

Related

• Trump says the electoral college is an ‘endangered species’

• Trump contradicts White House lawyer on libel law changes

• Report: Trump asked Justice Department to consider blocking Mueller investigation

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