US television channel ABC has been criticised for airing an advert during its screening of an interview with Donald Trump that alluded to a fictional president being shot.

The advert, publicising new drama Designated Survivor starring Keifer Sutherland, aired during a break in David Muir's hour-long interview with the president — was watched by 7.5 million viewers on Wednesday (25 January).

The short features a fictional US president attending a swearing-in ceremony for a congressman, which goes terribly wrong when a gunshot rings out — suggesting the fictional president may have been killed, The Hill reported.

The timing of the advert prompted criticism on social media, with some people suggesting the channel should not have shown the advert during Trump's interview.

Others questioned whether the timing of the advert was in fact coincidental, instead suggesting it may have been a calculated statement.

Outside the commercial breaks, the president discussed several topics during the TV special, including immigration, which was a key focus of his speech at the GOP retreat in Philadelphia on Thursday (26 January).

Trump has signed an executive order giving the go-ahead for construction of a wall on the country's southern border with Mexico, and has spoken about his desire to deport undocumented immigrants who have committed crimes in the US.

However, he is currently insisting the wall will be paid for by Mexico, which has caused tension between Trump and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, who insists his country will not be paying for the construction of a wall.