President-elect Donald Trump sat down with 60 Minutes’ Lesley Stahl on Friday in his penthouse home in Trump Tower to talk about the election, his plans going forward, what he and President Barack Obama spoke about in their closed-doors meeting and what he thinks of those people protesting him across the country.
Trump said in his interview with the CBS newsmagazine, which aired Sunday night, that he wasn’t surprised he won, given that he’d been giving speeches for 21 days in a row and even gave a last-minute 1 a.m. speech the morning of the election that drew 31,000 people. “When I left, I said, ‘How can I lose?'” Trump said, adding that he realizes that winning the election is “enormous. I’ve done a lot of big things; I’ve never done anything like this. It’s so big, it’s so enormous, it’s so amazing. … This is a whole different life for me now.”
He said he spoke with both his rival Hillary Clinton and her husband, Bill, in separate phone calls after the election. “It was a tough call for [Hillary], I can imagine it was tougher for her than for me, and for me it would have been very difficult. She couldn’t have been nicer.” Trump added that Bill was “gracious.”
Asked if he had any regrets about anything he’d said during the campaign about Hillary, he replied: “They were tough, and I was tough. … I wish it were softer, nicer, more about policy. But I will say that it really is something that I’m very proud of. It was a tremendous campaign.”
Later in the interview, Trump was asked if he still plans to appoint a special prosecutor to look into Hillary’s emails. “I’m going to think about it,” he replied. “I feel that I want to focus on jobs. I want to focus on healthcare, the border and immigration. … I want to focus on all these things we’re talking about, and make it a great country. She did some bad things. … I don’t want to hurt [the Clintons]. They’re good people. I don’t want to hurt them, and I will give you a very, very good definitive answer the next time we do 60 Minutes together.”
Trump also declined to comment on whether he’ll ask for FBI director James Comey’s resignation. “But I would certainly like to talk to him … before I answer a question like that. He may have had a very good reason for doing what he did.” he said.
Trump also revealed a little about what he and President Obama spoke about during their post-election meeting, which was scheduled for 15 minutes but lasted 90. “It could have gone on for four hours,” he said, praising Obama as “very smart and very nice. … It was almost hard breaking it up because we had so many things to say.” Trump said it wasn’t awkward despite the fact that each has made very harsh comments against the other in the past and during the campaign.
Trump said he didn’t want to get into specifics, but topics included the Middle East, North Korea and healthcare. On the latter, he said that President Obama told him both “the merits and the difficulties.” Later in the interview, Stahl asked if Trump would repeal Obamacare and leave those Americans using the plan without healthcare for a period of time. “It’s going to be simultaneous; they’re going to be just fine,” he said. “We’re not going to have a two-day period or a two-year period where there’s nothing. It’s going to be replaced, and it’s going to be great healthcare for much less money. That’s not a bad combination.”
Asked if his election win was a “repudiation” of Obama’s presidency, 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. We’ve been fighting a war for 15 years. We’ve spent $6 trillion in the Middle East; we could have rebuilt this country twice. Look at our roads and bridges and tunnels and our airports. It’s a repudiation of what’s taken place over a long period of time.”
Stahl asked if Trump might conduct himself differently as president than he did during the campaign. “I’ll conduct myself in a very good manner, but it depends on what the situation is,” he responded. “Sometimes you have to be rougher, when you look at the world and the various places that have taken advantage of our country. We’re losing this country. That’s why I won the election. … Sometimes you need a certain rhetoric to get people motivated.”
As for other promises he made during his campaign, Trump still plans to build a wall but would accept a fence in some areas. Regarding immigrant deportation, he wants to focus on getting “people who are criminals and have criminal records, who are gang members, who are drug dealers — there are probably 2 million, could be 3 million — getting them out of the country, or we’re going to incarcerate them.” He also says lowering taxes is a priority and was a major focus when he recently met with Republican leaders.
Trump also plans to name a Supreme Court appointee very soon who is pro-life and pro-Second Amendment. As for concerns that Roe v. Wade might be overturned, Trump said: “It if were overturned, it would go back to the states. … We’ll see what happens. That has a long way to go.”
He also noted he’s been a supporter of the LBGTQ community and said his feelings about marriage equality are “irrelevant because it was already settled. It’s law. It was settled in the Supreme Court. I mean, it’s done. … And I’m fine with that.”
Trump also refused to talk about his plans to defeat ISIS, indicating he didn’t want to give away details that could harm his effort: “Why do I have to tell you that? I don’t want to tell them anything.”
While he himself isn’t scared about taking on such a great responsibility, Trump added that those people protesting him also shouldn’t be scared and are protesting only because “they don’t know me.” He also reiterated a sentiment that he believes some of the protesters are “professionals” getting paid to do so, based on what was revealed in leaked emails posted on Wikileaks.
Asked what he would tell the protesters, Trump said: “I would tell them, ‘Don’t be afraid. … We are going to bring our country back. … We just had an election and you have to be given a little time.’ If Hillary had won, and my people went out and protested, everybody would be saying it’s a terrible thing, and it would be a much different attitude. There is a double standard here.”
He also encouraged his supporters to stop any acts of violence and racism and said he’d not been aware of the full extent of what was happening. “I am surprised to hear that,” Trump told Stahl. “I hate to hear that. I’ve seen some instances, a very small amount. Don’t do it. It’s terrible. I’m going to bring this country together. I am so saddened to hear that, and I say, stop it. If it helps, I will say this, and I’ll say it right to the camera: Stop it.”
At times, Trump’s tweets were a major focus of his campaign. He said he doesn’t plan to stop tweeting, noting that he has 28 million followers on his various social media platforms combined. “It’s a modern form of communication,” he said, noting that it’s his way of fighting back against inaccurate media reports. He added that if he does continue using social media after he’s sworn it, he’ll be “very restrained.”
As for his comments leading up to the election that the system was “rigged,” Trump said: “I’m not going to change my mind just because I won. But I would rather see it where you went with simple votes. you know, you get 100 million votes and somebody else gets 90 million votes and you win. There’s a reason for doing this because it brings all the states into play. Electoral College and there’s something very good about that. But this is a different system. But I respect it. I do respect the system.”
Trump’s wife, Melania, also sat down for part of the interview, along with Trump’s four grown children. Melania revealed that Donald did sit down with his entire family to ask permission to run for president and that she does let him know when he needs to restrain himself. “Sometimes he listens, sometimes he doesn’t,” she said.
Trump, who added that he’ll release his much-discussed tax returns “at an appropriate time,” also said he doesn’t plan to collect the $400,000 salary the president typically receives, nor will he take a vacation.
He also isn’t concerned about whether the Trump brand has taken a beating. “This is big-league stuff. This is our country. Our country is going bad. We’re going to save our country,” he said. “I don’t care about hotel occupancy. It’s peanuts compared to what we’re doing. Healthcare, making people better. It’s unfair what’s happened to the people of our country and we’re going to change it. As simple as that.”