Trump softens Day 1 stance
Before lashing press, he airs video that doesn’t mention wall, NAFTA
WASHINGTON — Candidate Donald Trump spent more than a year promising to build a wall, repeal Obamacare and rescind President Barack Obama’s deportation protections for some immigrants in the U.S. illegally.
But on Monday, in his first extensive public comments since winning the election, Trump mentioned none of those issues. Nor did he talk about withdrawing from the North American Free Trade Agreement, banning Muslims from entering the country or ending the Syrian refugee program, some of his other stock campaign pledges.
Trump instead made five more modest promises for his first day in office during a nearly three-minute video. It appeared to be an effort to soften Trump’s message while he establishes an inner circle of hardliners, including Steve Bannon, a top adviser who ran a website that has promoted white nationalism.
In the video, Trump promised to withdraw from the massive Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, “a potential disaster for our country,” and instead pursue bilateral agreements with some of the countries involved. Healso pledged to lift restrictions on energy production, including shale and coal, to implement a rule that any new government regulation must be accompanied by removing two on the books and to instruct the Joint Chiefs of Staff to develop a new cybersecurity plan.
His only discussion of immigration involved the legal kind — a crackdown on visa fraud.
“My agenda will be based on a simple core principle, putting America first,” he said. “Whether it’s producing steel building cars or curing disease I want the next generation of production and innovation to happen right here on our great homeland — America.”
Trump also said his previously announced ethics rules — barring those who work in his administration from lobbying for five years after they leave the government and from lobbying for foreign governments for life — would take effect as soon as he is inaugurated.
Trumpvowed in the video to release more plans in the President-elect Donald Trump released a video Monday outlining five promises. days ahead.
“These are some of our Day-One executive actions,” spokesman Jason Miller said in an email.
Trump’s first installment, though, seemed especially tailored to the voters in the old industrial belt who helped him to his surprise victory.
His focus on legal immigration was particularly striking, and in line with the views of Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., his pick for attorney general and one of Trump’s earliest supporters in Washington. Sessions has been a critic of the visa system, arguing that work visas allow foreign workers to displace Americans.
Trump did not discuss plans to deport millions of immigrants as he frequently did done on the campaign trail. But the omissions were far from a declaration of a newagendaandleft open the possibility that Trump might be recognizing the difficulty of achieving all of his ambitions immediately and might be trying to delay some of his most divisive proposals.
“There’s nothing he can really do about the wall on Day One,” said Jack Pitney, a political science professor at Claremont McKenna College. “He’s probably focusing on narrow, achievable goals that won’t cause too much controversy before Thanksgiving. There will be plenty of trouble down the line.”
Trump has yet to give a post-election news conference laying out his agenda or answer questions about his transition, giving added weight to the video. Trump also addressed criticisms about the disorganized nature of the transition, insisting it has gone “very smoothly, efficiently and effectively.”
Trump did meet Monday with television news executives and some well-known TV journalists and repeatedly told them the campaign reporting about him was “unfair” and “dishonest.”
Participants in the meeting at Trump Tower in New York described it as a contentious but generally respectful gathering.
But if the media elite attended in hopes of improving relations with the forth- coming Trump administration, that wasn’t quite in the cards. The president-elect specifically called out reporting by CNN and NBC that he deemed unfair, according to four people who attended the meeting, all of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity because the meeting was off the record. (The ground rules prevented the networks from reporting the very story they were part of.)
The group included some of the top news media figures that Trump had aimed barbs at during the campaign.
Among the network executives present were CNN Chairman Jeff Zucker and the presidents of the news divisions at NBC, MSNBC, ABC and Fox.
Trump’s video came amid news reports that fueled more uncertainty over how Trump will avoid conflicts of interest related to his worldwide business ties, with new questions arising Monday over a conversation Trump had last week with Argentine President Mauricio Macri.
During the congratulatory call, Trump asked for help with permitting a construction project he is building in Buenos Aires, an Argentine journalist said.
Trump’s transition staff and the Argentine govern- ment both denied the project was discussed.
Trump’s transition team did not respond to a request for a transcript or summary of the phone call and have denied that Trump’s businesses have created even a perception of potential conflict.
But Trump’s ongoing involvement in his companies raises the specter that he will use his position to further his own financial interests.
“Private interest currying favor and buying influence with leaders of countries by dealing with their children is a time-honored tradition in the world,” said Fred Wertheimer, president of Democracy 21, a nonpartisan group that advocates for tighter controls on conflicts of interest in government.
The issue has dogged Trump even as he criticized Hillary Clinton and her husband for enriching themselves from government service and exchanging access at the State Department for cash. Trump has also promised to “drain the swamp,” eliminating outside influence in Washington.