On Sunday (September 17th), the veteran journalist took over as the moderator of the renowned weekly news program, highlighted by her interview with the former president which was heavily promoted by NBC and its networks. But it was soon apparent that even Welker had difficulty in limiting the chaos that Trump often stokes in his sit-down interviews.
A prime example of this was when she asked him about his whereabouts as the events of the attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6th, 2021 commenced. “Tell me how you watched this all unfold,” she asked the former president. “Were you in the dining room watching TV?” Trump retorted, “I’m not going to tell you. I’ll tell people later, at an appropriate time.”
Welker followed up by asking: “What did you do when the Capitol was under attack, though?” The twice-impeached former president responded: “Did you see the statements I made in the Oval Office and just outside of the Oval Office?” Trump would then issue a flurry of indirect comments, not answering Welker’s questions and again reiterating the false claim that the 2020 presidential elections were rigged, calling his words that day a “beautiful statement”. At one point Welker broke in and asked, “That was 4 o’clock in the afternoon, three hours after the attack started. I want to know who you called on that day.”
Trump would then shunt blame to then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) in an attempt to blame for the rioters wreaking havoc.
Despite the disarray, Welker kept her composure and even managed to get Trump to provide a somewhat direct answer on some topics. “I don’t think you should be allowed to have abortions well into a pregnancy,” he said in response to a question she posed about Republican governments exerting strict bans on abortions. He also dismissed fears about going to jail despite four impending trials. “When you say, do I lose sleep? I sleep,” he said. “I sleep. Because I truly feel that, in the end, we’re going to win.”
Meet The Press also provided multiple fact-checks broadcast on-air during the interview and afterward. “He is the former president,” she noted to a panelist during the show, undoubtedly preparing to head off critiques of the show choosing to interview Trump. “He’s facing four indictments, as journalists just set the scene, the backdrop why there is still news value and value for the public to hear from him.”