President-elect Donald Trump says he is not intimidated by the job he will inherit in two months, vowing to immediately work with Congress on what amounts to a conservative push to undo parts of the 2010 health care law, slash taxes and deport millions of undocumented immigrants.
Also on the incoming chief executive’s to-do list is a legislative package to overhaul the country’s immigration system. But even before that, Trump told CBS’ “60 Minutes” he will waste no time in deporting as many as three million people who are in the country illegally and who have committed crimes.
Trump also reaffirmed to CBS’ Lesley Stahl his goal of bringing jobs back to hard-hit areas also will be an early focus.
Those priorities, coupled with Trump’s Sunday announcement that Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus will be his White House chief of staff, begin to paint a portrait of a conservative presidency built on the billionaire’s populist campaign themes.
The day after he met for 90 minutes with President Barack Obama in the Oval Office, Trump told the Wall Street Journal that he would aim to keep two parts of the outgoing president’s health care law: a provision allowing individuals with pre-existing conditions to purchase plans at no additional charge and another allowing young adults to remain on their parents’ plan until they hit their 26th birthdays.
Trump called the former “one of the strongest assets” of the law, signaling it almost certainly would remain in place. He acknowledged the latter provision would add costs, and said only that he would “very much try and keep that.”
He pledged a new health insurance law to address other parts of the Affordable Care Act that would be repealed. But Trump’s comments raise further doubts about whether he or his allies in Congress have a detailed alternative ready.
“We’re going to do it simultaneously. It’ll be just fine. 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,” he said. “It will be repealed and replaced. And we’ll know. And it’ll be great health care for much less money.”
His remarks mirrored the bold yet vague rhetoric Trump used on the campaign trail.
He offered few additional specifics on his immigration plans in comments that nonetheless will likely further enrage some Hispanics and liberals.
Trump vowed to “get the people that are criminal and have criminal records, gang members, drug dealers, we have a lot of these people, probably 2 million — it could be even three million — we are getting them out of our country or we are going to incarcerate.” Decisions on other immigrants, he said, would be made only after “the border is secured and after everything gets normalized.”
Some congressional Republicans have expressed interest in a border fence rather than the reinforced steel-and-concrete wall that was a centerpiece of Trump’s campaign promises. The president-elect said he would likely accept that for some parts of the U.S.-Mexico border.
Trump said he had a productive meeting Thursday with Speaker Paul D. Ryan, who had criticized some of Trump’s most bombastic rhetoric and actions on the trail. He and Ryan agreed on putting health care, immigration and “substantially” cutting taxes and simplifying the tax code at the top of their to-do list.
Trump also described the kinds of Supreme Court nominees he would send to the Senate, saying: “The judges will be pro-life” and “they’re going to be very pro-Second Amendment.”
Concerning his vow to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark high-court case that established a right to abortion, Trump said he would seek Supreme Court nominees who would want to reverse that decision. Pressed about the implications of such a change, Trump said only that the matter would then “go back to the states.” He sidestepped Stahl’s question about whether he would be fine with women crossing state lines to get abortions.
Trump appeared to back off his threat to imprison his Democratic presidential foe Hillary Clinton for her handling of classified information on a private email server as secretary of State.
“I feel that I want to focus on jobs, I want to focus on health care, I want to focus on … doing a really great immigration bill,” he told Stahl. “We want to have a great immigration bill.”
Trump has promised to be harder on the Islamic State than Obama has been saying he would “bomb the [expletive] out of them.” But he has not laid out a detailed plan for how he would achieve that, something he continued Sunday. “I’m not going to say anything. I don’t want to tell them anything,” he told Stahl.
And he kept up his harsh critiques of the U.S. military commanders who have led the ISIS fight, advising Stahl to “look at the job they’ve done. … They haven’t done the job.”
Some pundits have called Trump’s election a repudiation of Obama’s presidency. Asked if he agrees, Trump replied: “No, I think it’s a moment in time where politicians for a long period of time have let people down. They’ve let them down on the job front. They’ve even let them down in terms of — the war front.”
Trump also announced he will not accept the president’s $400,000 salary: “I think I have to by law take $1, so I’ll take $1 a year.”