President Donald Trump threatened a Time magazine journalist with prison after the reporter attempted to take a photo of a letter Trump displayed from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, according to a transcript of an Oval Office interview this week.
A Time transcript of the June 17 sit-down interview with several of the organization’s journalists shows Trump erupted when asked to defend his attempts to influence special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
One of the reporters earlier in the interview had attempted to photograph a letter that Trump said he’d received from Kim, according to the transcript, which Time posted late Thursday. Instead of answering the question about Mueller, Trump changed the subject.
Here’s the exchange from the Time transcript:
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 —
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 went on to call the publication a “disgrace” that wouldn’t quote him “proper anyway.”
Trump regularly bashes the media when he views coverage of him as unfavorable. He has repeatedly called the press “the enemy of the people.” This week, he accused The New York Times of treason for reporting U.S. cyberattacks on Russia’s power grid.
The U.S., under Trump’s administration, ranks 48 out of 180 countries for press freedom, according to Reporters Without Borders.