The American people had plenty of time to learn who “Donald Trump: the candidate” was. In last night’s 60 Minutes interview America got its first look at who “Donald Trump: the President” might be.
For 43 minutes President-elect Trump fielded questions from interviewer Lesley Stahl on everything from campaign regrets (he has none), to whether his children will work in the White House (they won’t), to his plans for his presidency. Trump specifically discussed his views on same-sex marriage, abortion and immigration reform, all of which are of varying interest for the evangelical Christian base which largely voted him into office.
TRUMP IS PRO GAY MARRIAGE … BUT HIS VP IS NOT
The topic of same-sex marriages was rarely mentioned this past election, but the few times it was Trump declared his support for the current laws. “It’s irrelevant, it was settled in the Supreme Court. It’s done,” Trump reiterated in last night’s interview. “These cases have gone to the Supreme Court, they’ve been settled and I’m fine with that.”
Trump’s view stands in stark contrast to that of his running mate, Mike Pence, who several years ago supported gay conversion therapy and last year as Indiana governor signed a “religious freedom” bill that allowed companies to use religious convictions as a reason to not hire someone based on their sexual orientation. Pence was recently made head of the presidential transition team, and some have speculated Trump’s lack of political experience will cause him to lean heavily on Pence for support. All of that to say, it will be interesting to see whether there is any internal ideological clash over the next four years.
TRUMP STILL PLANS TO NOMINATE PRO-LIFE JUDGES
Trump reiterated his intention to nominate Supreme Court justices who were pro-life. When Stahl said this meant some women wouldn’t be able to get abortions, Trump said, “If [Roe v. Wade] ever were overturned, it would go back to the States.”
Stahl then asked if that was OK. Trump responded, “Well, we’ll see what happens; it’s got a long way to go.”
The truth is, what happens with Roe v. Wade has very little to do with Trump once he nominates a judge. The only way the law could be overturned is if a case makes its way to the Supreme Court, which is fairly unlikely. There’s also the issue of Roe v. Wade being the law of the land for over 40 years. Even many conservative judges would be slow to call a law that’s existed that long unconstitutional. However, if a Republican-controlled Congress can push through a ban on late-term abortions, there’s a very high likelihood the Supreme Court could eventually decide on that law’s constitutionality.
TRUMP’S TRUE PRIORITIES LIE ELSEWHERE
Throughout the interview, Trump kept steering Stahl back to topics he is clearly passionate about. When asked whether he would appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Hillary Clinton (he’s not sure yet), Trump repeated a common refrain from the interview: “I’m not focused on that right now. I want to focus on jobs, I want to focus on healthcare, I want to focus on immigration. I want us to have a great immigration bill.”
On the latter Trump says he still intends to build a wall, although in some sections he says a fence might be acceptable. When asked if he really intended to deport all illegal immigrants as promised during his campaign, Trump said, “What we are going to do is get the people with criminal records. We’re getting them out of our country. After the border is secured, we’re going to make a determination about the other people.”
Trump made it clear, repeatedly, that his primary concern is secure borders, jobs and healthcare, of which he said he may keep segments (specifically coverage for pre-existing conditions and children living at home with their parents).
Watching the interview, it seemed clear that while Trump cares enough about traditional evangelical causes to make many Christians breathe easier than Clinton would have, he’s far from an adamant social conservative. This should come as no surprise, as most evangelicals already knew that, but time will tell just how closely the evangelical church is willing to align with President-elect Trump.