President-elect Donald Trump appeared on "60 Minutes" on Sunday night, using much of his interview to attempt to reassure the millions of Americans who are terrified of his impending presidency.
"Don’t be afraid. We are going to bring our country back. But certainly, don’t be afraid," Trump told CBS' Lesley Stahl, before segueing to complaints about an alleged double-standard between himself and his former Democratic opponent. "You know, we just had an election and sort of like you have to be given a little time. I mean, people are protesting. If Hillary had won and if my people went out and protested, everybody would say, 'Oh, that’s a terrible thing.' And it would have been a much different attitude. There is a different attitude. You know, there is a double standard here."
— 60 Minutes (@60Minutes) November 14, 2016
Nevertheless, Trump was uncharacteristically generous in his assessment of the former Secretary of State. "So Hillary called and it was a lovely call and it was a tough call for her, I mean, I can imagine," Trump told Stahl. "Tougher for her than it would have been for me. And for me, it would have been very, very difficult. She couldn’t have been nicer. She just said, 'Congratulations, Donald, well done.' And I said, 'I want to thank you very much, you were a great competitor.' She is very strong and very smart." Of course, Trump was evasive about his notorious campaign promise to appoint a special prosecutor and "lock her [Clinton] up" if he won the election. "Well, I’ll tell you what I’m going to do, I’m going to think about it," he said before attempting to move on to subjects like health care and immigration reform. When pressed, Trump insisted that "I don’t want to hurt them. I don’t want to hurt them. They’re, they’re good people. I don’t want to hurt them." That said, after being asked if he regretted any of the vicious things he said during the campaign, Trump claimed "Well, it was a double-side nasty."
"We are getting them out of our country." Trump tells 60 Minutes he'll deport between 2 to 3 million illegal immigrants w/ criminal records. pic.twitter.com/VHc5XSaIGY
— ForAmerica (@ForAmerica) November 14, 2016
Inevitably, Stahl also asked Trump how he planned on proceeding with his campaign promise to deport millions of undocumented Mexican immigrants from this country.
"What we are going to do is 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 3 million, we are getting them out of our country or we are going to incarcerate," Trump told Stahl. "But we’re getting them out of our country, they’re here illegally. 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 — But before we make that determination — Lesley, it’s very important, we want to secure our border."
Although Trump still insists that he will secure the border, though, he is not inflexible about the exact method for doing so. When asked if he still planned on building a wall or would accept a compromise such as a fence, he replied, "For certain areas I would [accept a fence], but certain areas, a wall is more appropriate. I’m very good at this, it’s called construction."
Trump's answers were somewhat less specific when it came to Obamacare, which he spent much of the 2016 election pledging to repeal. After assuring Stahl that his health care bill would retain the provision protecting people with pre-existing conditions "because it happens to be one of the strongest assets," and stating they would also "very much try and keep" the rule allowing children to stay on their parents' plans until they turn 26, Trump addressed the concern that millions of people would lose their health insurance if Obamacare was repealed right away.
"It’ll be just fine," he told Stahl. "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. It will be repealed and replaced. And we’ll know. And it’ll be great health care for much less money. So it’ll be better health care, much better, for less money. Not a bad combination."
Trump was also asked about his stance on the Electoral College, which allowed him to win the presidency despite losing the popular vote to Clinton. Surprisingly, when Stahl alluded to a tweet he had sent out years earlier that the Electoral College was a "disaster for democracy," he conceded that the current system was not ideal.
"I’m not going to change my mind just because I won. But I would rather see it where you went with simple votes," Trump replied. "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."
Occasionally Trump expressed opinions that are sure to alienate his base. Despite tapping his running mate Gov. Mike Pence, a notorious foe of anti-LGBTQ rights, to head his transition team, Trump refused to roll back gay marriage. "It’s law," he told Stahl. "It was settled in the Supreme Court. I mean it’s done."
There was one subject on which Trump refused to give details: His much-touted plan for destroying ISIS.
"I’m not like the people going in right now and fighting Mosul and they announced it four months before they went into Mosul and everybody now is — it’s a tough fight because, number one, the people from the — leaders of ISIS have left," Trump told Stahl when she pressed him on his anti-ISIS plan. "What do you — why do I have to tell you that?" He later added, "I’m not gonna say anything. I don’t want to tell them anything. I don’t want to tell anybody anything."
That said, he didn't backtrack his earlier controversial claim that he knew about fighting ISIS than the generals.
"Well, I’ll be honest with you, I probably do because look at the job they’ve done," he proclaimed. "OK, look at the job they’ve done. They haven’t done the job. Now, maybe it’s leadership, maybe it’s something else. Who knows? All I can tell you is we’re going to get rid of ISIS."
Trump may not want his opponents to be afraid, but so long as he continues making absurd statements like the aforementioned claim to knowing more about military strategy than our own generals, the less likely it is that anyone's fear is going to subside.