Trump soft­ens Day 1 stance

Be­fore lash­ing press, he airs video that doesn’t men­tion wall, NAFTA

Baltimore Sun - - TRUMP TRANSITION - By Noah Bier­man and Tracy Wilkin­son Spe­cial cor­re­spon­dent Laura Till­man in Mex­ico City and staff writer Chris Mege­rian and The Wash­ing­ton Post con­tributed.

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.


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