Trump Doubles Down in First Interview as President

Discusses border wall, waterboarding, voter fraud with ABC
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 26, 2017 1:56 AM CST
Updated Jan 26, 2017 6:26 AM CST
Trump Doubles Down in First Interview as President
President Trump sits at his desk in the Oval Office of the White House.   (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

President Trump doubled down on just about every controversial claim he has made in recent days during an ABC News interview that aired Wednesday night. In the first one-on-one interview he has given as president, Trump spoke to anchor David Muir about inaugural crowds, the border wall, ObamaCare, and waterboarding, among other things. Some highlights:

  • Border wall. Trump, speaking hours before signing an executive order, vowed that Mexico would pay for it in some form. "It will be in a form, perhaps a complicated form," he said, promising that construction will begin soon and America will be reimbursed for it.
  • Undocumented immigrants. "Where you have great people that are here that have done a good job, they should be far less worried," said Trump, who went on to tell Muir that the "really bad people" should be worried, because "we're gonna get them out. We're gonna get 'em out fast."

  • Voter fraud. In a long back-and-forth on Trump's claim that voter fraud cost him the popular vote, Trump promised an investigation and again claimed there had been millions of illegal votes. "Of those votes cast, none of 'em come to me," he said. "None of 'em come to me. They would all be for the other side." He rejected Muir's suggestion that it was dangerous to make such claims without evidence.
  • CIA speech. Trump said there was a lot of love in the room when he spoke in front of the CIA's memorial wall for fallen officers. "I got a standing ovation. In fact, they said it was the biggest standing ovation since Peyton Manning had won the Super Bowl, and they said it was equal," he said, describing the speech as a "home run."
  • Inaugural crowds. Trump accused the media of showing "unflattering" photos of the crowd at his inauguration and said his speech had the "biggest audience" ever. "I won't allow you or other people like you to demean that crowd and to demean the people that came to Washington, DC, from faraway places because they like me," he told Muir.
  • Waterboarding. Trump said he believes that torture works, but that he'll leave the decision about whether it can be used legally to his defense secretary, Gen. James Mattis, and CIA chief Mike Pompeo. "Have I spoken to people at the top levels and people that have seen it work? I haven't seen it work. But I think it works," he said. "Have I spoken to people that feel strongly about it? Absolutely."
  • Suspending immigration. "We are excluding certain countries. But for other countries we're gonna have extreme vetting. It's going to be very hard to come in. Right now it's very easy to come in. I don't want terror in this country," Trump told Muir.
  • Taking Iraq's oil. Trump repeated his belief that America should have taken Iraq's oil with it when it got out of the country. "We should've taken the oil. And if we took the oil, you wouldn't have ISIS. And we would have had wealth," he said. When Muir noted that critics say that would break international law, Trump said: "Who are the critics who say that? Fools."
  • ObamaCare. Trump promised that his administration will "unleash something that's gonna be terrific" to replace ObamaCare. Asked if he could reassure people worried about losing coverage, he said, "Here's what I can assure you, we are going to have a better plan, much better health care, much better service treatment, a plan where you can have access to the doctor that you want and the plan that you want. We're gonna have a much better health care plan at much less money."
Click for a full transcript. (More Donald Trump stories.)

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