Confidence Man: The Making of Donald Trump and the Breaking of America by Maggie Haberman:
That Friday, while in Colorado for an event, Trump sat down with George Stephanopoulos to tape an interview that would air Sunday morning on This Week. Trump started out on a high, boasting how much larger television ratings had been for the Republicans’ convention than for the Democrats’. He had a feisty response when asked about the criticism he had received from Khizr Khan, whose son, a U.S. soldier, was killed in Iraq in 2004; Trump insinuated that the young man’s mother had not been permitted to speak because the family was Muslim. (In reality, she was just too overwhelmed by grief.) But his mood darkened fast once Stephanopoulos asked, “What exactly is your relationship with Vladimir Putin?”
When Trump said he had “no relationship with him,” Stephanopoulos responded by citing instances, including around the 2013 Miss Universe pageant, in which Trump had claimed otherwise. “Because he has said nice things about me over the years. I remember years ago, he said something—many years ago, he said something very nice about me,” Trump said. Stephanopoulos pushed on the inconsistency. “Well, I don’t know what it means by having a relationship,” he said. “I mean he was saying very good things about me, but I don’t have a relationship with him. I didn’t meet him. I haven’t spent time with him. I didn’t have dinner with him. I didn’t go hiking with him. I don’t know—and I wouldn’t know him from Adam except I see his picture and I would know what he looks like,” Trump said.
Stephanopoulos then turned to Trump’s finances. “You said you have no investments in Russia. But do you owe any money to Russian individuals and institutions?” he asked. No, Trump said definitively, maintaining—despite the significant outstanding loans on some of his properties—that he owed little to anyone of any nationality. The interview amounted to the most extensive and focused questioning Trump had faced on the topic of Russia after a campaign season in which he praised Putin and seemed to invite further cyberattacks during the election.