Politics

Trump Doubles Down on Core Promises with Hannity

Eight major takeaways from the president's wide-ranging interview on Fox News

President Trump indicated he has a nominee for the Supreme Court, doubled down on his proposal to build a border wall, reiterated his push to repeal Obamacare, and took characteristic shots at his critics in a wide-ranging interview Thursday on Fox News Channel’s “Hannity.”

Here are eight of the biggest revelations from Sean Hannity’s interview:

“I have made my decision pretty much in my mind, yes. Everything’s subject to change at the last moment. But I think this will be a great choice.”

The Supreme Court. The vacancy created by the death last year of Justice Antonin Scalia was one of the biggest issues of the 2016 campaign. Trump’s commitment to pick a conservative jurist reassured skeptical Republicans during the GOP primary campaign and helped galvanize support from evangelical Christians during the general election.

Trump did not name names but told Hannity that he will announce Scalia’s replacement next week.

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“I have made my decision pretty much in my mind, yes,” he said. “Everything’s subject to change at the last moment. But I think this will be a great choice.”

Trump also affirmed that he would pick from a list of judges he released during the campaign.

Democrats have been powerless to block Trump’s Cabinet nominees because former Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) deployed the “nuclear option” to eliminate the filibuster for appointments other than the Supreme Court. But Trump did not hesitate when asked if he would want Senate Republicans to eliminate the filibuster for the Supreme Court if Democrats block his judicial nominee.

“Because, look, we have obstructionists,” he said. “These are people that don’t want — I almost think they have — what they did to [attorney general nominee] Jeff Sessions, who’s a great man and a wonderful man …”

Building the wall. Construction of a wall along the Mexican border was Trump’s most identifiable campaign promise. He scoffed at fencing that currently exists in some places, calling it “little toy walls” and vowed to fulfill his pledge.

“I’m talking about a real wall,” he said. “I’m talking about a wall that’s got to be, like serious. And even that, of course, you’ll have people violate it. But we’ll have people waiting for them when they do.”

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Repealing Obamacare. Trump reiterated that he wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it with a better alternative — and he wants an aggressive timetable.

He said he is confident Congress will pass a better plan that costs less.

“What’s crucial for me is for the public to understand that Obamacare is a disaster, OK?” he said. “Because now the Democrats are saying, ‘Oh, it’s wonderful.’ It’s a horror show. You don’t have your doctor; you don’t have your plan.”

Changing refugee policies. Trump discussed executive actions he is expected to sign temporarily barring refugees from resettling in the United States and adding extra layers of scrutiny for refugees in certain countries.

Trump said the FBI is conducting more than 1,000 investigations in all 50 states.

“Totally extreme [vetting]. And beyond just those countries, we’re going to have extreme vetting,” he said. “We’re going to have extreme vetting for people coming into our country and if we think there’s a problem, it’s not going to be so easy for people to come in anymore.”

Military vs. the debt. Trump said he wants a balanced budget eventually — but made clear it takes a backseat to addressing deficiencies in the Armed Forces.

“Our military is more important to me than a balanced budget,” he said. “Because we’ll get there with a balanced budget.”

Torture. Trump has been roundly criticized for telling ABC News anchor David Muir this week that he believes waterboarding works. He did not back off of that in his conversation with Hannity but added that he would back his secretary of defense, James “Mad Dog” Mattis, who opposes the practice.

“Now, Gen. Mattis said that he doesn’t intend to use it,” he said. “I’m with him all the way.  Do I believe it works? Yes, I do.”

Trump compared the war against radical Islamic terrorism to the World War II struggle against Nazism.

“Ours is harder because the people that we’re going against, they don’t wear uniforms,” he said. “They’re sneaky, dirty rats. And they blow people up in a shopping center. And they blow people up in a church. These are bad people.”

Trade. Trump, who formally killed the Trans-Pacific Partnership this week, said he intends to try to negotiate one-on-one trade deals with every one of the other 11 countries.

He said bilateral agreements are preferable to multilateral pacts where the United States can get outvoted in any dispute.

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“When you get into the mosh pit, I call it — we have all these countries together — you can’t get out of the deal,” he said. “And you take the lowest denominator.”

Pardons. Trump told Hannity that was was looking into granting a pardon to Christian Saucier, a former Navy petty officer first class convicted of illegally taking photos of the submarine on which he was stationed, a breach of classified information. Saucier became something of a cause célèbre on the Right after his conduct was compared with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton — who was not charged for her handling of classified information.

“I think it’s very unfair in light of what’s happened with other people,” he said.

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