WASHINGTON — In his first major interview since Election Day, President-elect Donald Trump said he is “saddened” by reported incidents of racial harassment committed in his name and urged perpetrators to “stop it.”
Trump also commented on potential Supreme Court nominees, abortion and same-sex marriage among other social issues.
When interviewer Lesley Stahl of CBS’s “60 Minutes” asked Trump about reports of African Americans, Latinos and homosexuals being harassed in his name, Trump replied he was unaware of such episodes occurring on a large scale though he “saw one or two instances.”
Trump then said he would tell violent or prejudiced supporters who are harassing members of minority groups, “Don’t do it. That’s terrible, because I’m going to bring this country together.”
Thousands of anti-Trump protestors demonstrated for the fifth consecutive day Nov. 13 in major U.S. cities, with some protestors turning violent over the weekend in Portland, Ore., according to media accounts.
Reports also surfaced of vandalism, harassment and violence committed in Trump’s name. A Nov. 14 CNN article, suggested 12 cases of racial or religious harassment were linked with Trump supporters.
Among the reports, CNN alleged “Trump!” was written on the door of a Muslim prayer room at New York University and that “Trump” and “whites only” were among graffiti discovered at a Minnesota middle school.
Other media outlets reported similar episodes, including a Trump victory parade announced by a Pelham, N.C., chapter of the Ku Klux Klan and racist vandalism of a sign advertising a Spanish-language service at a Silver Spring, Md., Episcopal congregation.
“I am so saddened to hear that,” Trump said regarding reports of racial harassment. “And I say, ‘Stop it.’ If it helps, I will say this, and I will say right to the cameras: Stop it.”
Trump told those protesting his election, “Don’t be afraid,” and said people “have to be given a little time” following a divisive election to come to terms with the results.
President Obama, in a Nov. 14 White House news conference, expressed a similar sentiment, stating that after a “bitter election … it takes a while for people to reconcile themselves with that new reality.”
Trump also claimed supporters of his former Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton are granted more license to protest than his supporters would have been.
“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,” Trump said. “… There is a double standard here.”
Among other issues discussed by Trump:
- A Supreme Court justice will be nominated quickly to fill the vacancy left by the death of former associate justice Antonin Scalia, Trump said. All justices he appoints “will be pro-life” and “very pro-Second Amendment.”
If the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade abortion ruling is overturned, the president-elect said, the issue will be left to the states.
- In response to a question about fears among homosexual Americans, Trump said same-sex marriage “was settled in the Supreme Court” by the Obergefell v. Hodges ruling of 2015. Legal issues related to so-called marriage equality have “been settled, and I’m fine with that.”
- Trump said he will build a physical barrier along the U.S.-Mexico border, as promised in his presidential campaign, with some portions being a wall and others potentially a fence.
- Deportation of illegal immigrants will focus on “people that are criminal and have criminal records,” Trump said. “After the border is secured and everything gets normalized,” the administration will determine a policy regarding illegal immigrants “who are terrific people.”
- The Affordable Care Act, Trump said, will be repealed and “simultaneously” replaced with a bill that provides “great health care for much less money.”
- Trump said he and GOP congressional leaders agree that three legislative priorities should be “health care,” “immigration” and “a major tax bill lowering taxes in this country.”
The “60 Minutes” interview also featured Trump’s wife Melania and his four adult children.
— by David Roach | BP