6 noteworthy moments from Donald Trump's first TV interview as POTUS
If early signs are any indication, Donald Trump has not been changed by the presidency.
The 45th President of the United States gave his first interview since taking office with ABC News’ David Muir. During their talk, which aired Wednesday night, Muir and Trump discussed the U.S.-Mexico Wall, waterboarding, violence in Chicago, and more. To start, Muir asked if the job had affected him.
“I don’t want to change too much. I can be the most presidential person ever, other than possibly the great Abe Lincoln,” Trump replied. “But I may not be able to do the job nearly as well if I do that.”
Here are the standout moments from Muir’s mostly cordial, sometimes antagonistic (from the President) interview of Trump.
Voter fraud only affected Clinton
While he conceded he only sought to win the electoral college, Trump continued to assert without evidence that there was rampant voter fraud in the last election. (A claim that has been widely debunked.) He mentioned earlier this week there were 3-to-5 million illegal votes cast — none for him.
“We’re gonna launch an investigation to find out. And then the next time — and I will say this, of those votes cast, none of ’em come to me,” Trump said. “None of ’em come to me. They would all be for the other side. None of ’em come to me.”
Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by almost 3 million votes.
Trump believes torture is effective
The topic of torture — and waterboarding — came up about halfway into Muir’s sitdown. Trump claimed intelligence officials in the last 24 hours had expressed to him that waterboarding worked. In the face of ISIS-led killings, Trump said, “We have to fight fire with fire.”
“I will rely on [CIA Director Mike] Pompeo and [Secretary of Defense James] Mattis and my group. And if they don’t want to do, that’s fine,” Trump said. “If they do want to do, then I will work toward that end. I want to do everything within the bounds of what you’re allowed to do legally — but do I feel it works? Absolutely I feel it works.”
“Afghanistan is not like what’s happening in Chicago”
Trump expanded on his comments about the shootings in Chicago. The president sent a message to the city and Mayor Rahm Emanuel to fix the problem or there would be vaguely described federal intervention. “Chicago is like a war zone. Chicago is worse than some of the people that you report and some of the places that you report about every night in the Middle East,” he told Muir. “I want them to fix the problem. You can’t have thousands of people being shot in a city, in a country that I happen to be President. Maybe it’s okay if somebody else is president.”
Obama’s letter had a clear impact on the new Oval Office occupant
Per tradition, the outgoing president leaves a note for the newly-inaugurated commander-in-chief. Trump called former President Obama’s letter “beautiful … so well-written, so thoughtful.”
“I doubt too many of them were written in this manner,” Trump continued. “He really — in fact, I called him and thanked him for the thought that was put into that letter.”
“That one looks a lot longer than the ones that I’ve seen,” Muir said, pushing for details about its content.
“It was long, it was complex, it was thoughtful,” Trump assured, “and it took a long time to do it, and I appreciated it and called him and thanked him.”
POTUS takes shots at media for coverage of CIA speech
On Saturday, Trump gave a speech at the CIA, in front of the Memorial Wall which honors employees killed in service, and complained about the accurate media coverage of his inauguration. During the interview, Trump said both he and Vice President Mike Pence paid respect to the fallen agents. “That speech was a home run. That speech, if you look at Fox — see what Fox said. They said it was one of the great speeches,” he told Muir, before going at ABC and other outlets. “You and other networks covered it very inaccurately. I hate to say this to you, and you probably won’t put it on, but turn on Fox, and see how it was covered, and see how people respond to that speech. That speech was a good speech. You and a couple of other networks tried to downplay that speech. It was very, very unfortunate that you did.”
Inauguration crowd size is still a sticking point
“Part of my whole victory was that the men and women of this country who have been forgotten will never be forgotten again. Part of that is when they try to demean me unfairly — because we had a massive crowd of people,” Trump said, before claiming he had “the biggest audience in the history of inaugural speeches.” (It wasn’t.)
“I said the men and women that I was talking to who came out and voted will never be forgotten again,” Trump added. “I won’t allow you or other people like you to demean that crowd and to demean the people that came to Washington D.C. from faraway places because they like me, but more importantly, they like what I’m saying.”
At the very end of the interview, Trump took Muir and the crew — noted with a voice-over — to look at a final picture of the inauguration from another angle, pointing out how far the crowd extends in a direction that wasn’t seen in those side-by-side comparisons showing the mall for Obama’s first inauguration in 2009 versus Trump’s.
“This goes all the way down here, all the way down,” he shows Muir. “You don’t see that in the pictures.”