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Trump releases audio that appears to refute claim he walked out of interview over 2020 questions

The former president’s communications director released audio that shows reports that Trump had stormed off in response to questions about his election claims were inaccurate.
Image: Former President Trump Holds Rally In North Carolina
Former President Donald Trump speaks at a rally at The Farm at 95 in Selma, N.C., on April 9.Allison Joyce / Getty Images file

WASHINGTON — An audio recording obtained by NBC News appears to show that former President Donald Trump’s highly publicized interview with Piers Morgan did not end with Trump storming off the set, as edited promotional video clips suggest.

Instead, according to the recording, which was provided by Trump's spokesman, the two men thanked each other and laughed at the conclusion of the interview for Talk TV, a subsidiary of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp.

Talk TV, which is set to debut Monday, teased the interview — billed as "the most explosive interview of the year" — in a video summary that is dramatized with cinematic music and portrays Trump as being angry about the content of questions Morgan asked. The video and the alleged walkout were reported in an article by the New York Post, which is also owned by News Corp.

"Turn the camera off,” Trump says at the close of the video clip as he appears to rise from his chair. "Very dishonest."

But the audio of the end of the interview appears to tell a different story. The two men laughed and thanked each other, the recording shows. There are no signs of Trump's storming off set.

"That was a great interview," Morgan says in the audio at the end.

Trump agrees with a "yeah."

"Thank you very much. I really appreciate it," Morgan says.

That's when Trump says, "Turn the camera off." By then, the former president had already risen from his chair, according to his communications director, Taylor Budowich, who supplied the audio to NBC News.

"Piers got caught red-handed," Trump said in a statement Thursday, "and the interview that I rather enjoyed doing is now in shambles."

Budowich alleged that the show's producers deceptively edited the video by splicing the sound of Trump saying "turn the camera off" to make it falsely appear as if he made the statement while he was rising in anger.

As for Trump's saying "very deceptive," he made the comment after a frustrated Budowich called out Morgan for dragging out the interview and falsely and repeatedly saying he had one last question, only to ask more.

Trump had expected the interview to last 20 minutes, Budowich said, but it stretched on for more than an hour. Toward the end, Budowich called for the last question, but the audio appears to show that Morgan asked several more, including one related to "Celebrity Apprentice."

"Is that the last question? You’ve said 'the last question' four times now," Budowich told Morgan. "So I feel like you’re lying at this point."

"I'm not lying," Morgan said.

Trump then said, "Very deceptive."

Morgan then asked more questions.

While the interview appeared to be tough, as Morgan called Trump out for lying about the stolen election, his final question was a figurative softball — about the hole-in-one Trump recently boasted about shooting on a golf course.

After NBC first posted this story, Morgan denied wrongdoing when Trump's son, Donald Trump Jr., took to Twitter to criticize "how misleading and deceptive the Morgan promo edit is."

"I learned all my promo skills from you guys on Celebrity Apprentice! Nothing misleading or deceptive about it, Don - your dad just got very annoyed when I told him I don’t believe the 2020 election was rigged or stolen," Morgan said. "Aside from that, it was a terrific interview."

In a written statement, Trump himself said Morgan had "attempted to ... deceptively edit his long and tedious interview with me. He wanted to make it look like I walked out on the interview when my time limit of 20 minutes went over by an hour. The good news is that the interview was taped by us as a means of keeping him honest."

NewsCorp declined to discuss the matter.

“We have nothing to comment beyond the public information (i.e. the video clip and Piers’ column in the NY Post),” a News Corp spokesperson wrote in an email to NBC News. A producer for Morgan did not immediately reply to an email seeking comment.

Shortly after the promotional clips were first released, Budowich blasted the company.

“This is a pathetic attempt to use President Trump as a way to revive the career of a failed television host," Budowich told NBC News. "It is also another example of President Trump being right, as he told Piers Morgan that the host was dishonest to his face and Piers, for the first time in his life, didn’t disappoint.”

The friction over the interview overshadowed a rare admission from Trump that he wishes he had behaved differently in office — and a familiar defensiveness about his comportment.

"Would I like to be a little bit different? Yes," Trump said, according to the recording. "But if I didn’t act the way I acted, it would have not been a great success."

Trump said he felt "under siege" at the beginning of his presidency, as federal and congressional investigators homed in on allegations that his campaign worked with Russia during the 2016 election.

"I had to fight back, and I had to fight back strong. If I didn’t fight back strong, I wouldn’t have survived," Trump said. "I had two jobs to do: run the country really well and the second was to survive."

At an earlier point in the exchange, according to the video clips released by Talk TV, Morgan told Trump the 2020 election was legitimate — a contradiction of Trump's ongoing lie that he was unfairly robbed of an election win.

"It was a free and fair election," Morgan said. "You lost."

In the clips released by Talk TV, Trump says, "Only a fool would think that."

Trump said in his statement that he liked talking about the 2020 election.

"I never walked out of my interviews with him, he’s easy, but he tried to make it look like I did," Trump said. "Unlike others, I don’t believe Piers is a complete slimeball, but he lost a lot of credibility."