DENVER – Americans got their first look at what a Donald Trump White House will look like Sunday in an interview with “60 Minutes,” and the president-elect is already tamping down expectations for some of the promises he made during the campaign season.
Trump’s interview with Leslie Stahl was done last week and released Sunday. The two talked about the election, taxes, the Affordable Care Act, foreign policy, immigration and the economy, among other subjects.
But Trump backed off some of the core subjects of his campaign in the interview just days after he was elected.
THE BORDER WALL
“Yeah, it could be – it could be some fencing,” Trump told Stahl after she asked him if he was going to build the wall along the southern border promised so many times during the campaign.
“For certain areas I would, but certain areas, a wall is more appropriate,” Trump said.
Seconds later, Trump backed off his original plan to deport up to 11 million undocumented immigrants, saying there were “probably 2 million, it could be even 3 million” that could face deportation. He said that “people that…have criminal records, gang members, [and] drug dealers” in America illegally would be subject to his new rules.
Trump said his first priority before determining who will be deported is to “secure our border.”
“DRAIN THE SWAMP”
After promises to “drain the swamp” toward the end of his campaign – a premise built off the idea to get anti-establishment politicians out of power in Washington and to remove the power of corporate lobbyists in the White House and Congress – Trump has already appointed an array of lobbyists and Washington insiders to his transition team, which Stahl asked Trump about.
Trump deflected when Stahl pointed out his transition team is “filled with lobbyists,” including some from Verizon and the oil and gas industries.
“That’s the only people you have down there,” Trump responded. “We’re doing a lot of things to clean up the system. But everybody that works for government, they then leave government and become a lobbyist. I mean, the whole place is one big lobbyist.”
When Stahl pointed out that he is relying on them to get him through the transition and asked how he would get rid of the lobbyists, Trump said he was “going to phase [them] out.”
THE SUPREME COURT
The two moved on to the subject of the U.S. Supreme Court, which Trump will now have a huge say in since Congress has refused to hold hearings on President Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland.
Trump will likely appoint a new nominee and could have the chance to appoint several more during his time in office should any current justices retire or die.
The Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade, which established a woman’s right to abortion, had been a hot-button topic during the campaign, and Trump promised to put judges on the court who would overturn the four-decade-old decision.
But he backed off that statement in the “60 Minutes” interview, saying “the judges will be pro-life” and saying that if Roe were ever overturned, the issue of abortion “would go back to the states,” adding that “[women will] perhaps have to go…to another state” to get an abortion.
“Well, 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,” Trump said.
The Supreme Court also legalized same-sex marriage nationwide in a decision last year, which some had feared would be in jeopardy under a Trump presidency. But the president-elect quelled some of those fears in the “60 Minutes” interview.
“It was already settled. It’s law. It was settled in the Supreme Court. I mean it’s done,” Trump said. When Stahl pressed him on whether it might face issues in a conservative-dominated Supreme Court that Trump has promised, Trump reaffirmed his position, saying again, “It’s done…they’ve been settled. And I’m fine with that.”
Stahl also pressed Trump on the Affordable Care Act, which Trump promised to “repeal and replace” during the campaign.
As reported last week when “60 Minutes” released portions of the interview, Trump said he will look to keep portions that require insurance companies to cover people with pre-existing conditions and let children stay on their parents' insurance plans up to age 26.
Trump said that should the changes he is seeking ever take hold, there would be no coverage gap.
“We’re not going to have, like, a two-day period and we’re not going to have a two-year period where there’s nothing,” the president-elect said.
THE ELECTORAL COLLEGE
Though Trump had previously railed against the Electoral College, calling it a “disaster” after Obama won re-election in 2012, he said he “respect[s] the system” in the interview.
“I would rather see it where you went with simple votes…there’s a reason for doing this because it brings all the states into play,” Trump said.
But he still didn’t back off his earlier statements the election was “rigged.”
“Yeah, some of the election locations are. Some of the system is,” Trump said.
THE PRESIDENTIAL SALARY AND TAX RATES
He added that he would not take the $400,000 presidential salary, saying that he would take the $1 a year required by the office.
Trump also said he was “going to substantially simplify and lower the taxes” in America, which is only partially true.
Trump’s plan cuts income taxes across the board, but caps deductions for wealthy people and reduces the business tax to 15 percent (it’s currently at 35 percent) and eliminates the estate tax.
He also wants to narrow the number of tax brackets from seven to three, which would mean single-filers earning between $9,275 and $37,650 would see slight decreases in their rates; people earning between $37,650 and $91,151 would see rates stay about the same, and most people earning more than $190,000 would see their rates go down.
The biggest tax breaks would come for the top percent of earners, who would see their incomes go up by nearly 3 percent, according to the Tax Policy Center. Trump’s increased wealth from his tax break would mostly offset the presidential salary.
The Tax Policy Center says Trump’s plan will cut federal tax revenue by $6.2 trillion over the next 10 years – much of those savings seen by those earning more than $700,000 a year.
TRUMP ON OBAMA, CLINTON
Trump said he had a productive meeting last week with Obama, saying he found the president to be “terrific…very smart and very nice.” He said the two talked extensively about the Middle East, North Korea and the Affordable Care Act, and that he “got a good part of [Obama’s] view.” The president has said he will work with Trump in the future.
Trump called Hillary Clinton “very strong and very smart” and said he had a “lovely call” from her after she conceded.
TRUMP TALKS PROTESTS, HATE SPEECH
Trump also called for people, some of whom have been supporters of his, to stop harassing Muslims, Latinos and other groups who have been targeted by violence and hate speech since Trump’s election.
“I am so saddened to heart that. And I say, ‘Stop it.’ If it – if it helps. I will say this, and I will say right to the cameras: Stop it,” Trump said.
But he pointed out that he thinks some of those protesting his election – as has been the case in major metro cities across the country since last Wednesday – are “professionals,” though that hasn’t been confirmed, and that “it would have been a much different attitude…a double standard” if it had been his supporters protesting in the event of a Clinton win.
And though he blamed journalists on Twitter over the weekend for supposedly encouraging the protests, he told Stahl he will be “very restrained” in his use of social media in the future.
Trump received both criticism and praise Sunday for his hiring of Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus as his chief of staff and ex-Breitbart head Steve Bannon, who has ties to the alt-right and white nationalist movements.
But House Speaker Paul Ryan, who had been critical of Trump in the past before throwing his support behind him, said he was looking forward to working with Trump and his new team.