Donald Trump on 60 Minutes: The 10 Most Surprising Revelations
President-elect Donald Trump — yes, it’s still strange to say that — sat down with CBS’ 60 Minutes on Sunday to discuss what he plans to accomplish when he takes office in January. And some of his comments were nearly as surprising as his campaign’s victory.
In an in-depth conversation with 60 Minutes correspondent Lesley Stahl in Trump Tower on Friday, a noticeably subdued Trump addressed which of his campaign promises he intended to keep, his post-election conversations with Hillary Clinton and President Obama, and his reaction to the acts of racially charged violence being carried out in his name across the country.
Here, the ten most surprising revelations from Donald Trump’s 60 Minutes interview:
1. He’s already made nice with many of his opponents.
This presidential campaign was one of the most bitter we’ve ever seen, but Trump struck a conciliatory note with the candidates he battled against. He said of Hillary Clinton’s phone call to concede: “She couldn’t have been nicer. She’s a great competitor. Very strong. Very smart.” He noted that Bill Clinton and both President Bushes called to congratulate him. And he described his meeting with President Obama in cordial terms: “I found him to be terrific. I found him to be very smart and very nice. Great sense of humor.”
2. The “Wall” may be more like a fence.
Stahl asked Trump directly about his campaign promise to build a wall along the U.S./Mexico border, adding that some have said it’ll really be more like a fence. Would he accept that, she asked? “For certain areas, I would,” he responded, adding, “I’m very good at this. It’s called construction.” But he doubled down on his plan to deport millions of undocumented immigrants: “The people with criminal records, we’re getting them out of our country, or we’re going to incarcerate.” He did note, though, that some of those immigrants are “terrific people.”
3. He’s already working with lobbyists… but he doesn’t like it.
Trump railed against the lobbyists and special-interest groups that dominate Washington during his campaign, but Stahl noted that he’s already added a number of lobbyists to his transition team. Trump copped to this, saying “I don’t like it, no,” but they’re “the only people you have down there. That’s the problem with the system. We’re gonna clean it up. They know the system right now, but we’re gonna phase that out.”
4. He wants any of his supporters attacking minorities to “stop it.”
Trump feigned ignorance when Stahl asked him about the rash of racially charged attacks on minorities since his election: “I’m very surprised to hear that. I hate to hear it.” (He added, “I think it’s a very small amount.”) What would he say to Trump supporters taunting and attacking minorities? “I say stop it. If it helps. I’ll say it right to the camera: Stop it.” He later added, “I think it’s horrible, if it’s happening.” But he cautioned: “I think it’s built up by the press.”
5. He credits social media for his big win.
Trump is a notorious tweeter, and he intends to continue using Twitter and other social media in a “very restrained” manner as President: “It’s a great form of communication.” He sees it as a way to get his message out when he’s criticized by the mainstream media: “I have a method of fighting back.” And he thinks it was instrumental in his victory: “I think it helped me win all these races where they spent much more money than I did. I think social media has more power than the money they spent.”
6. He won’t commit to locking Hillary Clinton up.
Despite promising that he would appoint a special prosecutor to put Hillary Clinton in jail if he won, Trump’s stance has softened. “I’m gonna think about it,” he says. “I want to focus on jobs. I want to focus on health care.” He insists “she did some bad things,” but he showed sympathy for the Clintons: “I don’t want to hurt them. They’re good people.” He’ll keep us in suspense on this one, he tells Stahl: “I’ll give you a very good and definitive answer the next time we do 60 Minutes.”
7. Even Melania thinks he goes too far sometimes.
Future First Lady Melania Trump also sat down with Stahl, and she addressed his aggressive approach on Twitter: “Sometimes it got him in trouble, but it helped a lot as well.” Did she ever tell him he crossed the line? “I did. Of course I did. Many times. Sometimes he listens, sometimes he doesn’t… I think he hears me, but he will do what he wants to do in the end.”
8. He won’t fight to overturn gay marriage.
Opposition to LGBT rights has been a part of the Republican platform for decades, but Trump signaled that he doesn’t want to continue that fight. When Stahl brought up the LGBT community, he proudly replied, “I mentioned them at the Republican national convention.” And he’s not planning to oppose gay marriage in the courts, he says: “It’s irrelevant, because it’s already settled. It’s done. I’m fine with that.”
9. He’d be in favor of ditching the electoral college.
The electoral college system gave Trump the win (Hillary won the popular vote), and Trump, shockingly, isn’t against switching to a straight popular vote count. “I would rather see it where you went with simple votes,” he said. “You know, you got 100 million votes, someone else gets 90 million votes…” But he added, in defense of the electoral college: “There’s a reason for doing this, because it brings all the states into play. And there’s something very good about that. I do respect the system.”
10. He’ll only take a dollar per year in salary.
Trump doesn’t need the salary that comes with the office of president — around $400,000 a year — and he confirmed to Stahl that he’ll forego that salary: “I think I have to, by law, take one dollar. So I’ll take one dollar a year.” He didn’t even know how much the president makes, and had to ask Stahl. But he reiterated: “I’m not taking it.” The savings won’t pay off the national debt… but it’s a start.