With the Trump administration officially underway, America has been watching anxiously to see what kind of commander in chief Donald Trump will be. Now, five days after he took the oath of office, his comments on ABC’s President Trump: The First Interview suggest that what we’ve seen is what we’ll get: The man in the Oval Office looks, acts and speaks pretty much exactly like the provocateur we saw on the campaign trail.
President Trump sat down one-on-one on Wednesday, January 25, with World News Tonight anchor David Muir. Here are the most interesting, revealing and occasionally eyebrow-raising moments from Trump’s first sit-down interview in the White House.
Our President Doesn’t Agree With “Fools” About War Crimes
Trump’s interview included very few direct answers, but this was the one area in which some straightforward info slipped through: Asked about waterboarding, Trump expressed dismay that Secretary of Defense James Mattis had come out against the practice, affirming that he himself considers it effective. “Do I think it works? Absolutely,” Trump said. And in a later conversation, he repeated an inflammatory statement we last heard him make on the campaign trail about U.S. involvement in Iraq: “We should have taken the oil.”
When Muir pointed out that Trump’s critics have said repeatedly that pillaging Iraq’s oil supplies would have been a war crime, the president scoffed, “I don’t call them critics — I call them fools.”
There’s a New Payment Plan for the Infamous Wall
On the campaign trail, Trump had a wildly popular call-and-response routine in which he and his audience would holler back and forth about building a wall and making Mexico pay for it. But President Trump started walking back on that promise after the election, and now it seems to have morphed yet again. American taxpayers will pay for the wall and “be reimbursed at a later date,” he said. When Muir pointed out that the Mexican president has vowed not to fork over a dime, Trump doubled down but gave no details.
“There will be a payment. It will be in a … form,” he said. “Perhaps a complicated form.” As far as what he means by “complicated,” it was unclear.
Talking About Chicago
One of the more peculiar moments during the interview came when Muir questioned President Trump about his recent tweet decrying gun violence in Chicago and threatening federal intervention in the Midwestern city. Asked to clarify, Trump made this surprising and vague comment: “I will send in what we have to send in. Maybe they’re not going to have to be so politically correct.”
Barack Obama’s Mysterious Message
It’s a tradition for the outgoing POTUS to leave a welcome letter for his successor, and in the Oval Office, Donald Trump flashed what looked like an epic note from Barack Obama. (Even Muir commented on its length, as compared to other letters of its ilk.) Trump gushed that the message was “so well-written, so thoughtful,” to the point where he called and personally thanked Obama for having written it. But don’t hold your breath to find out what advice the 44th president gave to No. 45; Trump dodged several requests to share a line or two from the letter and then abruptly changed the subject.
He’s Still Holding Grudges
President Trump’s sensitivity to slights, perceived and otherwise, is pretty much legend at this point, but this interview made it clear that taking office has not appeared to give him thicker skin. Trump’s attitude toward Muir (whose network the president has accused, along with many others, of being “unfair” in its coverage) ranged from disdainful to outright hostile, and he peppered his answers with self-aggrandizing sidebars about the size of his inaugural crowd, his controversial speech at the CIA and his victory in November’s election. The impression left by the interview was that our president is easily angered and continually resentful over not getting the approval and accolades he feels he deserves. Will he maintain this tone throughout his first 100 days in office?
Tell Us: What did you think of Trump’s first TV interview as president?
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