President-elect Donald Trump said on CBS’ “60 Minutes” Sunday night he would deport as many as 2 million to 3 million undocumented immigrants with criminal backgrounds.
In his first broadcast interview since winning the election last week, Trump covered a wide range of topics:
- Said he would appoint anti-abortion Supreme Court justices and eventually the issue would go back to the states, noting some women would have to travel to another state for an abortion.
- Said he was “fine” with the Supreme Court’s decision legalizing same-sex marriage.
- Told reporter Lesley Stahl, who pointed out some of his supporters had celebrated his victory with racist remarks and attacks, that they should “stop it” — “I would say don’t do it. That’s terrible, because I’m going to bring this country together.”
- Said when asked whether he would follow through on his campaign promise to appoint a special prosecutor to bring charges against Hillary Clinton for her use of a private email server while secretary of state, “I’m going to think about it. I feel like I want to focus on jobs, I want to focus on health care. . . . I want to focus on all of these other things and get the country straightened away.” He later said of the Clintons: “I don’t want to hurt them, they’re good people.”
- Urged protesters in New York and elsewhere not to be afraid of his presidency.
- Declined to comment on whether he would keep FBI Director James Comey in place, saying he wanted to “talk to him” before making any decisions.
- Reiterated his vow to repeal and replace President Barack Obama’s health plan, but said he would aim to preserve two of its popular provisions, ensuring coverage for those with pre-existing conditions and young adults on parents’ plans.
- Promised to build a wall along the U.S. and Mexico border, but noted that some portions may be constructed solely with fencing.
Trump, who was joined by his wife, Melania, and four adult children, said his priority was job creation, overhauling the nation’s health care system and immigration reform.
Trump said his deportation plan would focus on removing or incarcerating undocumented immigrants with criminal records, gang members and drug dealers, adding that once the border is secure, U.S. immigration officials will then determine how to handle the rest of the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants currently in the country.
He has said his administration would not offer amnesty to those people.
“After the border is secured and after everything gets normalized, we’re going to make a determination on the people that you’re talking about — who are terrific people, they’re terrific people — but we are gonna make a determination at that,” he said. “But before we make that determination . . . it’s very important, we want to secure our border.”
Trump said his victory was a “repudiation” of politicians who have “let down” Americans “over a long period of time,” and gave credit to social media for his political rise. The prolific Twitter user said platforms like Facebook and Instagram allowed him to reach millions of people without spending millions of dollars in campaign advertisements.
“I have a method of fighting back,” Trump said of his social media use, adding that he was going to be “very restrained” using Twitter once in office.
Trump said he did not regret his fiery rhetoric on the campaign trail, telling Stahl: “Sometimes you need a certain rhetoric to get people motivated.”
Trump also was more amicable when describing Obama, saying he shared “very good chemistry” with the president, whose U.S. citizenship he spent years publicly questioning.
“I found him to be terrific,” Trump said when asked about their first meeting in the Oval Office on Thursday. “I found him to be very smart and very nice . . . a great sense of humor.”
Trump, who fiercely traded attacks with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush during the Republican primary, said that both former presidents George W. Bush and George H.W. Bush called to wish him well. The Bush clan did not attend the GOP national convention, and the elder Bush in published reports said he would vote for Clinton over Trump.
Trump’s adult children — Donald Jr., Eric, Ivanka and Tiffany — who have all played an upfront role in his campaign, said they were not seeking jobs in their father’s administration, and instead would take over his company’s business dealings. Until then, they would play a role in his transition.
Ivanka Trump said she would like to play a role advocating on behalf of certain issues important to her, including child care and wage equity, but stopped short of saying she would relocate to the nation’s capital.
Lawmakers on Sunday weighed in on Trump’s interview.
Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan told CNN on “State of the Union” Sunday morning that Congress would not focus on a mass deportation of undocumented workers, and that Republicans are “focused on securing the border.”
“We are not planning on erecting a deportation force,” Ryan said. “Donald Trump’s not planning on that.”
Former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich, a Trump adviser said to be in the running for a cabinet post, also spoke about border security Sunday morning on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”
“There are gonna be substantial deportations,” Gingrich said. “They’re called criminals. I mean, 2 million people would be a lot of people to deport, and if at the same time you gain control of the border . . . you’d be a long way towards then three or four years from now, dealing with the rest of the folks who are here without legal permission.”
Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) said Trump had to follow through with building a wall, since it was “the first promise of his campaign.”
“He’s basically following through on campaign promises,” King said, explaining he also supported deporting undocumented immigrants with criminal backgrounds, whom he called “notorious individuals.”
“I don’t see the issue there,” King said. “As far as I know, Obama has been deporting quite a few … Trump is going to step it up.”
Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) did not watch the interview live, a spokesman said. U.S. Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, both Democrats, could not be reached for comment. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo likewise could not be reached.
With Christine Chung and Valerie Bauman