7 things we learned from Donald Trump’s first TV interview as President-elect
Mr Trump suggested some of what he had promised on the stump over the past year would be toned down, while other pledges would soon be put into practice
Published 14/11/2016 | 08:35
In his first televised interview since his shock election victory, President-elect Donald Trump began to sketch the shape his White House tenure might take after all his tough and troubling rhetoric on the campaign trail.
The interview with 60 Minutes took place at Trump Tower in New York on Friday and was broadcast on Sunday evening. Speaking to CBS News reporter Lesley Stahl, Mr Trump suggested some of what he had promised on the stump over the past year would be toned down, while other pledges would soon be put into practice.
1. He plans to appoint a 'pro-life' judge to the Supreme Court
Republicans have worked hard to ignore President Barack Obama's Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland, in hopes of a conservative administration. Now that Mr Trump is the President-elect, he plans to fill the late Judge Antonin Scalia's seat with someone who would likely vote to overturn Roe v Wade.
When asked about this, he confirmed that his appointees "would be pro-life", which could lead to states issuing bans on abortion. He added that women who seek abortions “perhaps have to go, they’ll have to go to another state”.
Ms Stahl asked if he felt that was OK, and he responded: "We'll see what happens. It's got a long way to go, just so you understand. That has a long, long way to go."
2. Up to three million people will be deported
During his campaign, Mr Trump insisted he would deport every last undocumented immigrant living in the US, a group thought to number around 11 million. In his 60 Minutes interview, however, the President-elect said he would only send home "criminals".
Describing migrants without criminal records as “terrific people,” he said his administration would “get the people that are criminal and have criminal records, gang members, drug dealers… We are getting them out of our country or we are going to incarcerate.”
Mr Trump put the number of people who fall into that category at “probably two million, it could even be three million.” Over his eight years in office, Barack Obama has deported more than 2.5 million people, more than any previous president.
3. The ‘wall’ on the Mexican border will be part-fence
Mr Trump launched his campaign last year on a promise to build a wall the length of the US-Mexican border. While many were sceptical that he meant it literally – including his own supporters – the property developer insisted he meant a genuine wall of steel and concrete.
It seems now, however, that people may have been right not to take the pledge entirely seriously. Asked by Ms Stahl whether some of the wall would in fact be a fence, he replied: “There could be some fencing.” In fact, some 700 miles of the 2,000-mile border is already fenced. But, said the President-elect, in “certain areas, a wall is more appropriate.”
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4. He dismisses fears of people of colour and Muslims
Reports of hate crimes spiked in the first days after Mr Trump's election. Muslim women have reported assaults, while vandals have allegedly scrawled pro-Trump slogans and swastikas on homes and businesses across the country. Many credit the wave to his anti-immigrant and bigoted rhetoric espoused on the campaign trail, celebrated by white supremacists.
But Mr Trump sees these reports as minor incidents amplified by a biased media.
"I think it’s horrible if that’s happening,” he said. “I think it’s built up by the press because, frankly, they’ll take every single little incident that they can find in this country, which could’ve been there before. If I weren’t even around doing this, and they’ll make into an event because that’s the way the press is.”
For his part, Mr Trump called on alleged attackers and vandals to stop, if they are in fact carrying out these attacks.
“I would say don’t do it, that’s terrible, because I’m going to bring this country together,” he said. “And I say, 'Stop it.' If it — if it helps. I will say this, and I will say right to the cameras: Stop it.”
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5. Obamacare might not be entirely repealed, after all
Republicans have been saying for years that they want to repeal and replace Obamacare, and Mr Trump took up that cry on the campaign trail. Since meeting with President Obama at the White House on Thursday, however, he has somewhat moderated his tone on the future of the Affordable Care Act.
In the 60 Minutes interview, he suggested he would like to keep the law’s provisions allowing children under 26 to remain on their parents’ insurance plans and banning the denial of coverage for people with pre-existing conditions, which he said was one of the ACA’s “strongest assets.”
Amid fears that repealing Obamacare would lead to a long period without health coverage for those affected, he claimed the law would be repealed and replaced “simultaneously,” saying: “We’re not going to have a two-year period when there’s nothing… It will be great healthcare, for much less money.”
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6. He may turn to Hillary Clinton for advice
In the run-up to election day, Mr Trump was threatening to prosecute and jail Hillary Clinton. By the morning after, he was praising her for her public service and her grace in defeat. When she conceded the loss in a phonecall, she “couldn’t have been nicer,” he said, calling his opponent “very strong and very smart” and noting that the call was “tougher for her than it would have been for me.”
The President-elect revealed that former President Bill Clinton had also called to congratulate him and “couldn’t have been more gracious,” Mr Trump said. “He said it was an amazing run — one of the most amazing he’s ever seen,” Trump said. “He was very, very, really, very nice.”
Most remarkably, Mr Trump said he might even consider turning to the Clintons for advice during his presidency. “I mean, this is a very talented family,” he said. “Certainly, I would certainly think about that.”
7. He won’t be giving up Twitter, but he’ll try to be ‘restrained’
On Friday, as the interview was filmed, Mr Trump promised to be “very restrained” in his use of Twitter as President. By Sunday, when the interview was broadcast, he had already attacked demonstrators protesting his election victory and the New York Times, suggesting both a lack of restraint and a lack of regard for the First Amendment of the US Constitution.
Wow, the @nytimes is losing thousands of subscribers because of their very poor and highly inaccurate coverage of the "Trump phenomena"— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 13, 2016
Describing Twitter as “a great form of communication,” Mr Trump credited social media for his victory in an election fight with the far more organised Clinton campaign. “It does get the word out. When you give me a bad story or when you give me an inaccurate story… I have a method of fighting back,” he said.
“I really believe that the fact that I have such power in terms of numbers with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, et cetera – I think it helped me win all of these races where they’re spending much more money than I spent…. I think social media has more power than the money they spent.”
Independent News Service