On Monday, Thomas Friedman of The New York Times spoke to CNN's Anderson Cooper, following President Donald Trump's attacks on him for calling his behavior racist in a recent article. The president accused him of "kissing [his] a**" in an Oval Office phone call.
Speaking to Cooper, Friedman denied Trump's characterization of their discussion.
"The president tweeted about a private conversation we had and lobbed in a few insults," said Friedman. "Basically, my response, which I put out on Twitter is that I was encouraged by a friend of his to speak to him after the downing of the American drone, because I thought it was wise that we not retaliate, and I thought he was wise not to retaliate, and this friend of his wanted me to encourage him in that, because he was evidently agonizing a little over that not retaliating. And I did that. I began the conversation by saying that 'I disagree with you, Mr. President on many things, but I think you did the right thing on this.' We talked for about four minutes. We also talked about China and we left it at that."
"I believe that when you speak to the president, you should be respectful," said Friedman. "I would encourage him to do that, as well, when he speaks about other people, but the main point was that for me, understand it's not about him or me, It's about America."
"And that's why, on issues where I've agreed with the president, on China for instance, or on not retaliating on Iran, I have no problem saying that, and where I disagree with him, violently and virulently, on issues like labeling four American congresswomen basically as aliens who should go back to another country where three of them were born here, I will speak out as strongly as I can about that, and so that is what it's about," added Friedman.