On Monday, at the Oval Office, Donald Trump was interviewed by a team of reporters from Time magazine. The interview took an odd and unexpected turn when Trump threatened one of the journalists with prison time.
On Thursday, Time magazine published the entire interview transcript and that is when Trump’s comments began to garner national attention.
During the interview, Trump showed the four Time journalists a letter that he claimed was written by Kim Jong Un.
“It was delivered to me yesterday. By hand,” Trump stated. After making that statement, he then asked to go off the record. He said he wanted to make comments that would not be recorded.
Soon after making the request a Time journalist tried to take a photo of the contents of the letter. Sarah Sanders informed him that he “can’t take a picture of that, sorry.”
The interview continues as the journalists ask Trump about who he sees as his toughest political opponent for 2020.
“Uh, I don’t know. Look, I think I’ve done so much. Could you bring the list of things, please, give me four of them,” Mr. Trump tells an aide, who quickly presents one, saying it was made “for today.”
The interview progressed and one of the journalists brought up the fact that Trump tried to “limit Mueller’s Russia probe to only future election meddling.”
The Time reporter said, “he testified under oath under threat of prison time, that that was the case, Mr. President.” Trump, who apparently felt cornered immediately lashed out and brought up the letter that he claimed was from Kim Jong Un.
The following comes directly from Time’s transcript:
TRUMP: “Excuse me… Well, you can go to prison instead, because if you use, if you use the photograph you took of the letter that I gave you confidentially.”
TIME: “Do you believe that people should be —”
TRUMP: “confidentially, I didn’t give it to you to take photographs of it — So don’t play that game with me. Let me just tell you something. You take a look —”
TIME: “I’m sorry, Mr. President. Were you threatening me with prison time?”
TRUMP: Well, I told you the following. I told you, you can look at this off-the-record. That doesn’t mean you take out your camera and start taking pictures of it. O.K.? So, I hope you don’t have a picture of it. I know you were very quick to pull it out — even you were surprised to see that. You can’t do that stuff. So go have fun with your story. Because I’m sure it will be the 28th horrible story I have in TIME Magazine because I never — I mean — ha. It’s incredible. With all I’ve done and the success I’ve had, the way that TIME Magazine writes is absolutely incredible.”
Trump continued ranting about the magazine’s coverage of his presidency. “Someday within the next 20 years,” Trump said, “maybe you’ll pick me as Man of the Year. O.K., big deal.”
It is unclear if the Time journalist really captured an image of the letter, but a spokesperson for Time has stated that “at various points during the interview, the President asked to go off-the-record, and TIME is honoring those requests.
Trump has long had an interest in Time magazine. In the past, he has actually printed off fake copies of the magazine with photos of himself on the cover. Those fake magazine covers can be found framed on display at his golf courses.