President Trump sat down for an interview Monday with Time's Massimo Calabresi, Brian Bennett, Tessa Berenson, and editor-in-chief Edward Felsenthal. While they were discussing the 2020 Democratic field, according to a transcript of the interview released Thursday, Trump abruptly told the reporters: "Okay, now I'm going to show you this letter. So this was written by Kim Jong Un. It was delivered to me yesterday. By hand." Then they went off the record and the letter wasn't mentioned again until Trump started pushing back on details from Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report.
The Time reporters noted that Trump confidante Corey Lewandowski had testified "under threat of prison time" that Trump told him to order then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions to limit the Mueller investigation. Trump had just denied trying to limit the investigation. Things got weird:
Trump: Excuse me — Under Section II — 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, 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. Okay? 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. ... With all I've done and the success I've had, the way that Time Magazine writes is absolutely incredible. [Time transcript]
The interview is the basis for Time's June 17 cover article.