While leaving for his trip to Japan on Wednesday, President Donald Trump stopped to speak with the press on the South Lawn of the White House, where one reporter asked a question that clearly struck a nerve.
Sarah Westwood, a reporter for CNN, asked Trump whether he planned on telling Russian President Vladimir Putin at their upcoming meeting not to interfere in the 2020 election.
“I’ll have a very good conversation with him,” Trump said. Then, with venom in his voice and facial expression, he added: “What I say to him is none of your business!”
Trump frequently lashes out at reporters, but his insults and broadsides tend to seem performative — it’s clear he enjoys lambasting reporters when he gets the chance. But this question really appeared to get under Trump’s skin, eliciting an outburst that showed how sensitive he is about the issue and prompting him to quickly move on to another question. Before this question, he had said of former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation and the continuing probes driven by congressional Democrats, “The Mueller thing never stops! … At what point does it end?”
But his claim that Westwood’s question wasn’t her business was as absurd as it was revealing. When Trump speaks to a foreign leader, he is speaking on behalf of the American people — that makes it every American’s business. And as a White House reporter, it’s literally Westwood’s job to find out what Trump says in situations like this, whether he wants her to know or not. The fact that Trump has been particularly secretive about his conversations with Putin has made their relationship, and his plans for American relations with Russia, even more suspicious. And Trump’s position toward foreign leaders’ potential election interference has become of even greater importance recently when the president suggested he would welcome opposition research on his political opponents from other countries’ governments, even though this could violate the law.
Watch the clip below: