Photo of Donald Trump

Interview with Lesley Stahl on CBS News "60 Minutes"

November 13, 2016

Stahl: Well, congratulations, Mr. Trump.

President-elect Trump: Thank you.

Stahl: You're president-elect.

President-elect Trump: Thank you.

Stahl: How surprised were you?

President-elect Trump: Well, I really felt we were doing well. I was on a string of about 21 straight days of speeches, sometimes many a day and the last two days I really-- I really had a pretty wild time. I did six speeches and then I did seven and--

Stahl: But everyone thought you were going to lose.

President-elect Trump: I know, I did my final speech in Michigan at 1:00 in the morning and we had 31,000 people, many people outside of the arena. And I felt-- when I left, I said, "How are we gonna lose?" We set it up a day before. And we had all of these people. And it was literally at 1:00 in the morning and I said, "This doesn't look like second place." So we were really happy, I mean, it was-- these are great people.

Stahl: On election night, I heard you went completely silent. Was it a sort of realization of the enormity of this thing for you?

President-elect Trump: I think so, it's enormous. I've done a lotta big things, I've never done anything like this. It is so big, it is so-- it's so enormous, it's so amazing.

Stahl: It kind of just took your breath away? Couldn't talk?

President-elect Trump: A li-- a little bit, a little bit. And I think-- I realized that this is a whole different life for me now.

Stahl: Hillary called you. Tell us about that phone call.

President-elect Trump: So Hillary called and it was a lovely call and it was a tough call for her, I mean, I can imagine. Tougher for her than it would have been for me. And for me, it would have been very, very difficult. She couldn't have been nicer. She just said, "Congratulations, Donald, well done." And I said, "I want to thank you very much, you were a great competitor." She is very strong and very smart.

Stahl: What about Bill Clinton? Did you talk to him?

President-elect Trump: He did, he called the next day.

Stahl: Really? What did he say?

President-elect Trump: He actually called last night.

Stahl: What did he say?

President-elect Trump: And he-- he couldn't have been more gracious. He said it was an amazing run. One of the most amazing he's ever seen.

Stahl: He said that.

President-elect Trump: He was very, very -- really, very nice.

Stahl: It was a pretty nasty campaign. Do you regret any of the things you said about her?

President-elect Trump: Well, it was a double-side nasty.

President-elect Trump: I mean they were tough and I was tough and-- do I regret? I mean, I'm sitting here with you now and we're gonna do a great job for the country. We're going to make America great again, I mean, that's what-- it-- it began with that and that's where we are right now. There are so many--

Stahl: So no-- no regrets about--

President-elect Trump: I can't regret. No-- I wish it were softer, I wish it were nicer, I wish maybe even it was more on policy, or whatever you want to say. But-- but I will say that-- it really-- it really is something that I'm very proud of I mean it was a tremendous campaign.

Stahl: Can we talk about yesterday with President Obama?

President-elect Trump: Sure.

Stahl: 90 minutes. You were scheduled for what? 15?

President-elect Trump: 15 max.

President-elect Trump: This was just going to be a quick little chat and it lasted close to an hour and a half. And it could have gone on for four hours. I mean it was-- just-- in fact, it was almost hard breaking it up because we had so many things to say. And he told me-- the good things and the bad things, there are things that are tough right now--

Stahl: Like what?

President-elect Trump: Well…

Stahl: Give us some meat.

President-elect Trump: Well, look I don't want to divulge, but we talked about the Middle East, that's tough. It's a tough situation. I wanted to get his full view and I got his, you know I got a good part of his view.

Stahl: Uh-huh.

President-elect Trump: And I like having that because I'm going to be inheriting that in a short period of time. I found him to be terrific. I found him to be-- very smart and very nice. Great sense of humor, as much as you can have a sense of humor talking about tough subjects, but we were talking about some pretty tough subjects.

President-elect Trump:–and we were talking about some victories, also, some things that-- that he feels very good about. But--

Stahl: Like--

President-elect Trump: Well, what I really wanted to focus on was-- the Middle East, North Korea, Obamacare is tough. You know, healthcare is a tough situation.

Stahl: Oh, I bet he asked you not to undo it.

President-elect Trump: Well, he didn't ask me, no, he told me-- you know, the merits and the difficulties. And we understand that.

Stahl: You looked pretty sober sitting there in the Oval Office, did something wash over you or--

President-elect Trump: No, I think I'm a sober person. I think the press tries to make you into something a little bit different. In my case, a little bit of a wild man. I'm not. I'm actually not. I'm a very sober person. But it was respect for the office, it was respect for the president. Again, I never met him before, but we had-- we had a very good chemistry going. And-- and I really found—it might not be that I agree with him, but I really found the conversation unbelievably interesting.

Stahl: Was it at all awkward, at all, given what you've said about each other? You said he was not born in this country, he said things about you, he said you're-- unqualified--

President-elect Trump: You know what, it was a very-- it was a very interesting thing because-- I mean, few people have asked me from my family, what was that first period of time like?

Stahl: Yeah.

President-elect Trump: We never discussed what was said about each other. I said terrible things about him, he said terrible things about me. We never ever discussed what we said about each other—

Stahl: There was no awkwardness?

President-elect Trump: I'll be honest, from my standpoint zero, zero. And that's strange. I'm actually surprised to tell you that. It's-- you know, a little bit strange.

Stahl: Do you think that-- that your election is a repudiation of his presidency?

President-elect Trump: No, I think it's a moment in time where politicians for a long period of time have let people down. They've let 'em down on the job front. They've even let 'em down in terms of the war front. You know, we've been fighting this war for 15 years--

Stahl: This was the message of your campaign.

President-elect Trump: We've spent $6 trillion in the Middle East, $6 trillion, we could have rebuilt our country twice. And you look at our roads and our bridges and our tunnels and all of the-- and our airports are, like, obsolete. And I think it was just a repudiation of what's been taking place over a longer period of time than that.

Stahl: You know, you surprised everyone by winning the primaries, beating 17 other Republicans or 16, whatever-- people are really surprised that you won this election. Are people going to be surprised about how you conduct yourself as president?

President-elect Trump: You know, I'll conduct myself-- in a very good manner, but depends on what the situation is, sometimes you have to be rougher. When I look at-- when I look at the world and you look at how various places are taking advantage of our country, and I say it, and I say it very proudly, it's going to be America first. It's not going to be what we're doing—we, we've lost-- we're losing this country. We're losing this country. That's why I won the election. And by the way, won it easily, I mean I won easily. That was big, big.

Stahl: Are you going to sometimes have that same rhetoric that you had on the stump? Or are you going to reign it in?

President-elect Trump: Well, sometimes you need a certain rhetoric to get people motivated. I don't want to be just a little nice monotone character and in many cases I will be.

Stahl: Can you be?

President-elect Trump: Sure I can. I can be easily, that's easier. Honestly to do that, it's easier.

Stahl: So let's go through very quickly some of the promises you made and tell us if you're going to do what you said or you're going to change it in any way. Are you really going to build a wall?

President-elect Trump: Yes.

Stahl: They're talking about a fence in the Republican Congress, would you accept a fence?

President-elect Trump: For certain areas I would, but certain areas, a wall is more appropriate. I'm very good at this, it's called construction.

Stahl: So part wall, part fence?

President-elect Trump: Yeah, it could be – it could be some fencing.

Stahl: What about the pledge to deport millions and millions of undocumented immigrants?

President-elect Trump: What we are going to do is get the people that are criminal and have criminal records, gang members, drug dealers, we have a lot of these people, probably two million, it could be even three million, we are getting them out of our country or we are going to incarcerate. But we're getting them out of our country, they're here illegally. After the border is secured and after everything gets normalized, we're going to make a determination on the people that you're talking about who are terrific people, they're terrific people but we are gonna make a determination at that-- But before we make that determination-- Lesley, it's very important, we want to secure our border.

Stahl: So you were with Paul Ryan, you met with the Republican leadership, what was the-- one thing that you all agreed you want to get done right away?

President-elect Trump: Well, I would say there was more than one thing, there were three things, it was healthcare, there was immigration and there was a major tax bill lowering taxes in this country. We're going to substantially simplify and lower the taxes--

Stahl: And you've got both Houses?

President-elect Trump: And I have both Houses and we have the presidency, so we can do things--

Stahl: You can do things lickety-split.

President-elect Trump: It's been a long time since it's happened.

President-elect Trump: And they gave me a lot of credit. Don't forget, I was abused four or five weeks ago, they said I was going to-- instead of having all three, we would lose all three. So that was good. But those are the three things that we really discussed.

Stahl: You said that lobbyists owned politicians because they give them money.

President-elect Trump: Yeah.

Stahl: You admitted you used to do it yourself. You have a transition team—

President-elect Trump: And when you say lobbyists, lobbyists and special interests.

Stahl: And you want to get rid of all of that?

President-elect Trump: I don't like it, no.

Stahl: You don't like it, but your own transition team, it's filled with lobbyists.

President-elect Trump: That's the only people you have down there.

Stahl: You have lobbyists from Verizon, you have lobbyists from the oil gas industry, you have food lobby.

President-elect Trump: Sure. Everybody's a lobbyist down there--

Stahl: Well, wait

President-elect Trump: That's what they are. They're lobbyists or special interests—

Stahl: On your own transition team.

President-elect Trump:–we are trying to clean up Washington. Look--

Stahl: How can you claim--

President-elect Trump: Everything, everything down there-- there are no people-- there are all people that work -- that's the problem with the system, the system. Right now, we're going to clean it up. We're having restrictions on foreign money coming in, we're going to put on term limits, which a lot of people aren't happy about, but we're putting on term limits. We're doing a lot of things to clean up the system. But everybody that works for government, they then leave government and they become a lobbyist, essentially. I mean, the whole place is one big lobbyist.

Stahl: But you're, but you're basically saying you have to rely on them, even though you want to get rid of them?

President-elect Trump: I'm saying that they know the system right now, but we're going to phase that out. You have to phase it out.

Stahl: Let's talk about your cabinet.

President-elect Trump: OK.

Stahl: Have you made any decisions?

President-elect Trump: Yes.

Stahl: Tell us.

President-elect Trump: Well, I can't tell you that, but I have made--

Stahl: Oh, come on—

President-elect Trump: You know the amazing thing to show you the incredible nature of our country. First of all, every major leader and probably less than major le- has called me, I've spoken to many of them and I'll call the rest of them, but and I said, "Boy, this really shows you how powerful our country is." France and U.K. and I mean everybody, all over Asia—and very, just to congratulate. But it really shows the power of our country.

Stahl: One of the things you're going to obviously get an opportunity to do, is name someone to the Supreme Court. And I assume you'll do that quickly?

President-elect Trump: Yes. Very important.

Stahl: During the campaign, you said that you would appoint justices who were against abortion rights. Will you appoint-- are you looking to appoint a justice who wants to overturn Roe v. Wade?

President-elect Trump: So look, here's what's going to happen-- I'm going to-- I'm pro-life. The judges will be pro-life. They'll be very—

Stahl: But what about overturning this law--

President-elect Trump: Well, there are a couple of things. They'll be pro-life, they'll be-- in terms of the whole gun situation, we know the Second Amendment and everybody's talking about the Second Amendment and they're trying to dice it up and change it, they're going to be very pro-Second Amendment. But having to do with abortion if it ever were overturned, it would go back to the states. So it would go back to the states and--

Stahl: Yeah, but then some women won't be able to get an abortion?

President-elect Trump: No, it'll go back to the states.

Stahl: By state—no some --

President-elect Trump: Yeah.

President-elect Trump: Yeah, well, they'll perhaps have to go, they'll have to go to another state.

Stahl: And that's OK?

President-elect Trump: Well, we'll see what happens. It's got a long way to go, just so you understand. That has a long, long way to go.

Stahl: Are you in any way intimidated, scared about this enormous burden, the gravity of what you're taking on?

President-elect Trump: No.

Stahl: Not at all?

President-elect Trump: I respect it. But I'm not scared by it.

Stahl: Now you're not scared, but there are people, Americans, who are scared and some of them are demonstrating right now, demonstrating against you, against your rhetoric--

President-elect Trump: That's only because they don't know me. I really believe that's only because--

Stahl: Well, they listened to you in the campaign and that's--

President-elect Trump: I just don't think they know me.

Stahl: Well, what do you think they're demonstrating against?

President-elect Trump: Well, I think in some cases, you have professional protesters. And we had it-- if you look at WikiLeaks, we had--

Stahl: You think those people down there are—

President-elect Trump: Well Lesley—

Stahl: are professional?

President-elect Trump: Oh, I think some of them will be professional, yeah--

Stahl: OK, but what about – they're in every city.

Stahl: When they demonstrate against you and there are signs out there, I mean, don't you say to yourself, I guess you don't, you know, do I have to worry about this? Do I have to go out and assuage them? Do I have to tell them not to be afraid? They're afraid.

President-elect Trump: I would tell them don't be afraid, absolutely.

Stahl: But that's not what you're saying, I said it-

President-elect Trump: Oh, I think, no, no, I think-- I am saying it, I've been saying it.

Stahl: OK.

President-elect Trump: Don't be afraid. We are going to bring our country back. But certainly, don't be afraid. You know, we just had an election and sort of like you have to be given a little time. I mean, people are protesting. If Hillary had won and if my people went out and protested, everybody would say, "Oh, that's a terrible thing." And it would have been a much different attitude. There is a different attitude. You know, there is a double standard here.

[Stahl raises the issue of ongoing protests]

President-elect Trump: I am very surprised to hear that-- I hate to hear that, I mean I hate to hear that--

Stahl: But you do hear it?

President-elect Trump: I don't hear it—I saw, I saw one or two instances…

Stahl: On social media?

President-elect Trump: But I think it's a very small amount. Again, I think it's--

Stahl: Do you want to say anything to those people?

President-elect Trump: I would say don't do it, that's terrible, 'cause I'm gonna bring this country together.

Stahl: They're harassing Latinos, Muslims--

President-elect Trump: I am so saddened to hear that. And I say, "Stop it." If it-- if it helps. I will say this, and I will say right to the cameras: Stop it.

Stahl: I want to ask you about the tweet that you put out, I think it was last night or the night before, about these demonstrators.

President-elect Trump: Yeah.

Stahl: You said that they were professionals—and you said it was unfair.

President-elect Trump: I said some of them. Some of them are --

Stahl: But are you going to be tweeting and whatever you're upset about just put out there when you're president?

President-elect Trump: So it's a modern form of communication, between Face-- you know, Facebook and Twitter and I guess Instagram, I have 28 million people. 28 million people--

Stahl: So you are going to keep it up?

President-elect Trump: It's a great form of communication. Now, do I say I'll give it up entirely and throw out, that's a tremendous form-- I pick up-- I'm picking up now, I think I picked up yesterday 100,000 people. I'm not saying I love it, but it does get the word out. When you give me a bad story or when you give me an inaccurate story or when somebody other than you and another network, or whatever, 'cause of course, CBS would never do a thing like that right? I have a method of fighting back. That's very tough--

Stahl: But you're going to do that as president?

President-elect Trump: I'm going to do very restrained, if I use it at all, I'm going to do very restrained. I find it tremendous. It's a modern form of communication. There should be nothing you should be ashamed of. It's-- it's where it's at. I-- I do believe this, I really believe that, um-- the fact that I have such power in terms of numbers with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, et cetera, I think it helped me win all of these races where they're spending much more money than I spent. You know, I spent my money. A lot of my money. And I won. I think that social media has more power than the money they spent, and I think maybe to a certain extent, I proved that.

Stahl: Are you going to ask for a special prosecutor to investigate Hillary Clinton over her emails? And are you, as you had said to her face, going to try and put her in jail?

President-elect Trump: Well, I'll tell you what I'm going to do, I'm going to think about it. Um, I feel that I want to focus on jobs, I want to focus on healthcare, I want to focus on the border and immigration and doing a really great immigration bill. We want to have a great immigration bill. And I want to focus on all of these other things that we've been talking about.

Stahl: You-- you know, you--

President-elect Trump: And get the country straightened away.

Stahl: You called her "crooked Hillary," said you wanted to get in jail, your people in your audiences kept saying, "Lock em' up."

President-elect Trump: Yeah. She did--

Stahl: Do you—

President-elect Trump: She did some bad things, I mean she did some bad things--

Stahl: I know, but a special prosecutor? You think you might…

President-elect Trump: I don't want to hurt them. I don't want to hurt them. They're, they're good people. I don't want to hurt them. And I will give you a very, very good and definitive answer the next time we do 60 Minutes together.

Stahl: You know, I asked your husband if he was at all intimidated and scared about what lies ahead. The enormity. You're about to be first lady. Are you a little nervous about it? Little tense? A little--

Mrs. Trump: Well, there is a lot of responsibilities. And it's-- a lot of work needs to be done. And-- it's-- your-- stuff on your shoulders. And-- we will take care of it-- day by day. I will stay true to myself. I'm very strong and um-- tough and confident. And I will listen myself and I will do what is right and what feels to my heart.

Stahl: What kind of a first lady do you think she's going to be?

President-elect Trump: She will be terrific. She is very strong and very confident, but she's very warm. And I think she'll have a platform where she'll really be able to do a lot of good. And that's what she wants to do.

Stahl: You know, first ladies usually have a cause. And you've already said you're interested in speaking out against bullying on social media.

Mrs. Trump: I think it's very important because a lot of children and teenagers are getting hurt. And we need to teach them how to talk to each other, how to treat each other and to, to be able to connect with each other on the right way.

It's an ironic choice since her own husband sent out a stream of pretty nasty tweets during the campaign.

Stahl: What about your husband's tweeting?

Mrs. Trump: Well, sometimes he -- it got him in trouble. But it helped a lot as well. He had unbelievable following.

Stahl: So you never say to him, "Come on"?

Mrs. Trump: I did.

President-elect Trump: She does--

Mrs. Trump: I--

Mrs. Trump: You know, of course, I did many times, from the beginning of the campaign. But…

Stahl: Does he listen to you?

Mrs. Trump: Sometimes he listens, sometimes he doesn't--

President-elect Trump: I'm not a big tweeter. I mean, I don't do too many, but they hit home. And they have to get a point across.

Stahl: If he does something that you think crossed a line, will you tell him?

Mrs. Trump: Yes, I tell him all the time.

Stahl: All the time?

Mrs. Trump: All the time.

Stahl: And does--

Mrs. Trump: And--

Stahl: --he listen? Does he--

Mrs. Trump: I think he hears me. But he will do what he wants to do on the end. He's an adult. He knows the consequences. And I give him my opinion. And he could do whatever he likes with it.

Stahl: Did you ask Melania sort of, for permission, in a way, to run for president? Did you get her approval?

President-elect Trump: Well, I actually sat down with Melania and my whole family and we talked about it. Don, Ivanka, Eric, Tiffany. Barron to a lesser extent, but Barron too. Um, because in a way he's affected every bit as much. Maybe more.

Stahl: Maybe more.

President-elect Trump: And so we all had a dinner and I said, "I would like to do this. I think I can do a great job." And I wanted to get, number one, a consensus and number two, ideally, their permission. And they all agreed.

Stahl: Your son Barron, what is he, 10?

Mrs. Trump: 10.

Stahl: 10. He was on camera the whole time you were giving your acceptance speech. Does he get it? Does he know?

Mrs. Trump: He knows. He knows--

Stahl: He knows?

Mrs. Trump: --what's going on. And, he's very proud of his dad.

Stahl: Now-- you met with Michelle Obama yesterday. Was there any awkwardness, given--

Mrs. Trump: No.

Stahl: --what everybody was saying about everybody in the campaign?

Mrs. Trump: No. I didn't feel it.

Stahl: Not at all?

Mrs. Trump: No.

Stahl: Tell us about the meeting.

Mrs. Trump: Yes, she was a gracious host. We had a great time and we talk about raising children in the White House. She was very warm and very nice.

Stahl: You know, she raised the two kids in the White House. But she had her mother living there. That's an enormous help. Your parents are here, right?

Mrs. Trump: They're here.

Stahl: Will they go to Washington with you?

Mrs. Trump: They might. We will see. We will discuss that.

Stahl: Are you prepared, both of you, for the lack of privacy and the intense scrutiny? And you know, first ladies are really criticized if one little hair's out of place. Are you both prepared for this?

Mrs. Trump: We are used to it.

President-elect Trump: I will say, it is on a different scale now, 'cause I've had a lot. But I've never had anything like this.

Stahl: You won't be able to walk down the street--

Mrs. Trump: I didn't do that for two years already, so you know, it will just continue. It's another level, but it will continue.

Stahl: FBI director James Comey. Are you going to ask for his resignation?

President-elect Trump: I think that I would rather not comment on that yet. I don't-- I haven't made up my mind. I respect him a lot. I respect the FBI a lot. I think --

Stahl: Even though they leak so much?

President-elect Trump: Well, there's been a lotta leaking, there's no question about that. But I would certainly like to talk to him. And see him. This is a tough time for him. And I would like to talk to him before I'd answer a question like that.

Stahl: Sounds like you're not sure.

President-elect Trump: Well, sure, I'm not sure. I'd wanna see, you know, he may have had very good reasons for doing what he did.

Stahl: Are you gonna release your tax returns?

President-elect Trump: At the appropriate time, I will release them. But right now I'm under routine audit. Nobody cares. The only one who cares is, you know, you and a few people that asked that question. Obviously, the public didn't care because I won the election very easily. So they don't care. I never thought they did care.

Stahl: Now, for months, you were running around saying that the system is rigged, the whole thing was rigged. You tweeted once that the Electoral College is a disaster for democracy.

President-elect Trump: I do.

Stahl: So do you still think it's rigged?

President-elect Trump: Well, I think the electoral ca-- look, I won with the Electoral College.

Stahl: Exactly.But do you think--

President-elect Trump: You know, it's--

Stahl: --it's rigged?

President-elect Trump: Yeah, some of the election locations are. Some of the system is. I hated--

Stahl: Even though you won you're saying that--

President-elect Trump: I hated-- well, you know, I'm not going to change my mind just because I won. But I would rather see it where you went with simple votes. You know, you get 100 million votes and somebody else gets 90 million votes and you win. There's a reason for doing this because it brings all the states into play. Electoral College and there's something very good about that. But this is a different system. But I respect it. I do respect the system.

Stahl: What about vacations? You're not going to take any vacations? You've said that.

President-elect Trump: We have so much work. There's so much work to be done. And I want to get it done for the people. I want to get it done. We're lowering taxes, we're taking care of health care. I mean, there's just so much to be done. So I don't think we'll be very big on vacations, no.

5-Minute Fix newsletter

Keeping up with politics is easy now.

Stahl: Are you gonna take the salary, the president's salary?

President-elect Trump: Well, I've never commented on this, but the answer is no. I think I have to by law take $1, so I'll take $1 a year. But it's a -- I don't even know what it is.

President-elect Trump: Do you know what the salary is?

Stahl: $400,000 you're giving up.

President-elect Trump: No, I'm not gonna take the salary. I'm not taking it.

Donald J. Trump, Interview with Lesley Stahl on CBS News "60 Minutes" Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

Simple Search of Our Archives