The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Donald Trump is a ‘smart person’ in case you forgot

Donald Trump (REUTERS/Carlo Allegri/File Photo)

Donald Trump sat down with "Fox News Sunday" host Chris Wallace over the weekend. In the interview, he made clear that he has no plans to abandon the free-wheeling style that got him elected. Using Genius, I annotated it. You can too! Sign up for Genius and annotate alongside me! To see an annotation, click or tap the highlighted part of the transcript.

CHRIS WALLACE, HOST: According to the Washington Post, the CIA has concluded that Russia intervened in the election to help you win the presidency. Your reaction.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT-ELECT: I think it's ridiculous. I think it's just another excuse. I don't believe it. I don't know why and I think it's just -- you know, they talked about all sorts of things. Every week it's another excuse. We had a massive landslide victory, as you know, in the Electoral College. I guess the final numbers are now at 306—da-- and she -- you know, down to a very low number. No I don't believe that at all.

WALLACE: You say you don't know why. Do you think that the CIA is trying to overturn the results (CROSSTALK) of the election?

TRUMP: No, I don't think they're saying anything.

WALLACE: Or somehow to weaken you in office?

TRUMP: Well, if you look at the story and you take a look at what they said, there's great confusion. Nobody really knows, and hacking is very interesting. Once they hack if you don't catch them in the act you're not going to catch them. They have no idea if it's Russia or China or somebody. It could be somebody sitting in a bed some place. I mean, they have no idea.

WALLACE: So, why would the CIA put out the story that the Russians wanted you to win.

TRUMP: Well I'm not sure they put it out. I think the Democrats are putting it out because they suffered one of the greatest defeats in the history of politics in this country. And frankly, I think they're putting it out. And it's ridiculous. We ought to get back to making America great again, which is what we're going to do. And we've already started the process.

WALLACE: You’ve said repeatedly you don't believe the intelligence community's analysis, that the Russians were involved.

TRUMP: They're not sure. They're fighting among themselves. They're not sure.

WALLACE: But the question is, these are the folks you're going to have to rely on --

TRUMP: Sure.

WALLACE: -- to know what's going on in the world.


TRUMP: Of course, I've made changes, you know, at the top. I mean, we're going to have different people coming in, because we have our people. They have their people, and I have great respect for them. But if you read the stories -- the various stories, there’s disputing -- I mean, they're disputing. And certain groups don't necessarily agree. Personally, it could be Russia. It -- I don't really think it is, but who knows? I don't know either. They don't know and I don't know.

The Washington Post's Jenna Johnson explains what attracts Trump to the former generals he has tapped to serve in his administration. (Video: Bastien Inzaurralde/The Washington Post, Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

WALLACE: I just want to ask you about your skepticism about the intelligence community. You are getting the presidential daily brief --


WALLACE: -- only once a week.

TRUMP: Well, I--I get it when I need it.

WALLACE: But is it -- is there some skepticism –


TRUMP: You know, I get -- first of all, these are very good people that are giving me the briefings. And I say, "If something should change from this point, immediately call me. I'm available on one-minute's notice." I don't have to be told -- you know, I'm, like, a smart person. I don't have to be told the same thing in the same words every single day for the next eight years. Could be eight years -- but eight years. I don't need that. But I do say, "If something should change, let us know." Now, in the meantime, my generals are great -- are being briefed. And Mike Pence is being briefed, who is, by the way, one of my very good decisions. He is terrific. And they're being briefed. And I'm being briefed also. But if they're going to come in and tell me the exact same thing that they tell me -- you know, it doesn't change, necessarily. Now, there will be times where it might change. I mean, there will be some very fluid situations. I'll be there not every day, but more than that. But I don't need to be told, Chris, the same thing every day, every morning -- same words. "Sir, nothing has changed. Let's go over it again." I don't need that.

WALLACE: President Obama just ordered a full review of Russia's involvement -- hacking in the election. And Democrats are now calling for hearings. Do you think this is part of an effort to undercut you?

TRUMP: Well, it could be. I think President Obama has been terrific. He's been, you know, very respectful of the process and everything else. So, I saw that. But – and--and I want it, too. I think it's great. I think -- well, I don't want anyone hacking us, and I'm not only talking about countries. I'm talking about anyone, period. But if you’re gonna to do that, I think you should not just say "Russia." You should say other countries also, and maybe other individuals. It's not necessarily just –


WALLACE: But you think there's a political effort here.

TRUMP: It could be. I mean, it could be. Hey, look. We had -- many people are saying -- one of the great victories of all time. They're very embarrassed.

CHRIS WALLACE, HOST: We're calling this program "The Trump Way," because I've got to tell you, in almost 40 years of covering presidential transitions, I have never seen anything like this. You are setting markers for foreign countries. You're telling corporations and unions what to do, and you're not even in office yet. What can we expect when you're actually the president?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT-ELECT: My attitude? I want us to make good deals for this country. I don't need a $4.2 billion airplane to fly around in, okay? I don't need that. And especially when it's totally out of control, because you know, they've lost control of it and I let them know that I don't want this. I just see things that's so incredible. If you look at the F-35 program with the money, the hundreds of billions of dollars and it's out of control, and the people that are making these deals for the government, they should never be allowed to go to work for these companies. You know, they make a deal like that and then a year later, or two years later, or three years later you see them working for these big companies that made the deal. I'm going to put a very -- you know, lobbyist I’m doing. This is bigger than the lobbyists. When people order from these massive companies, these massive deals, I don't want the people that are making these horrible, and they're horrible, deals, the over-runs, the cost over-runs, I don't want them going to work for the companies after the deals are made. They should have a lifetime restriction.

WALLACE: In the last few days you have named cabinet heads, department agency people, at EPA, at labor, at health and human services, education who are diametrically opposed to what those agencies have been doing for the last eight years. Fair to say that you're going to take a wrecking ball to the Obama legacy?

TRUMP: No. No. No. I don't want to do that at all. I just want what's right. EPA, you can't get things approved. I mean, people are waiting in line for 15 years before they get rejected, okay? That's why people don't want to invest in this country. I mean, you look at what's going on and you can look at a jobs report, but take a look at the real jobs report, which are the millions of people that gave up looking for work, and they're not considered in that number that's less than 5 percent, okay? I mean, we have jobs that are in the pipeline and I deal with all the executives, the big ones and the small ones. I have really gotten to know this country and when you have to wait 10 and 15 years for an approval and then you don't even get the approval, it's no good.

WALLACE: So let me ask you--

TRUMP: So we're going to clean it up. We're going to speed it up and, by the way, if somebody is not doing the right thing we're not going to approve.

WALLACE: Let's talk about the environment, because in the last week you met with Al Gore and you met with Leo DiCaprio, famous environmentalist.

TRUMP: Sure, and they were good meetings.

WALLACE: And on the other hand you appointed Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to be the head of the EPA.

TRUMP: Speed up the process.

WALLACE: He's been suing EPA.

TRUMP: Sure.

WALLACE: At one point in the campaign you said it's a hoax.

TAPE: Donald Trump- Climate Change- The O’Reilly Factor- December 3, 2015

“I think it’s a big scam for a lot of people to make a lot of money. In the meantime, China is eating our lunch because they don’t partake in all of the rules and regulations that we do.”


WALLACE: On the other hand you told the New York Times that you're open-minded about it.

TRUMP: I am open-minded.

WALLACE: So, where are you on the environment?


TRUMP: I'm very open-minded. I'm still open-minded. Nobody really knows. Look, I'm somebody that gets it and nobody really knows. It's not something that's so hard and fast. I do know this: other countries are eating our lunch. If you look at what China's doing. If you look at what -- I could name country after country. You look at what's happening in Mexico where our people are just -- plants are being built and they don’t wait 10 years to get an approval to build a plant, okay? They build it like the following day or the following week. We can't let all of these permits that take forever to get stop our jobs. I won because of the fact that people that are great, great American people have been forgotten. I call them the forgotten man and the forgotten woman. They've been forgotten. And you, in all fairness, and all of the folks in your world and business you forgot about these people. They're not going to forget about them in four years. They're already trying to figure out what happened, but I understood it because I understand our country.

WALLACE: Let me ask you a couple of specific questions. Will you still pull out of the Paris Climate Agreement, which has been signed by more than a hundred countries, to reduce carbon emissions. Will you restart the Dakota Access pipeline, which the Army just stopped?

TRUMP: Okay. Let me not answer the Dakota, because perhaps that’ll be solved by the time I get there, so I don't have to create enemies on one side or the other. But I will tell you, when I get to office, if it's not solved, I'll have it solved very quickly.

WALLACE: Meaning you're going to start it.

TRUMP: I'm not saying anything. I'm just saying, something will happen. It'll be quick. I think it's very unfair. So, it’ll start, one way or the other --

WALLACE: And Paris?

TRUMP: -- you'll have a decision one -- pretty quickly. And also, the Keystone pipeline, you’re gonna have a decision fairly quickly. And you'll see that. Now, Paris, I'm studying. I do say this. I don't want that agreement to put us at a competitive disadvantage with other countries. And as you know, there are different times and different time limits on that agreement. I don't want that to give China, or other countries signing agreements an advantage over us.

WALLACE: You have already named three retired generals to top positions. Any concern about having too many --


WALLACE: -- military men at the top of your administration?

TRUMP: Well, President Obama named three generals also. And-and you know, these are tremendous people. Sort of -- in certain cases, they transitioned into civilian life. But I like generals. I think generals are terrific, you know? They go through schools and they sort of end up at the top of the pyramid. And it's like a test. They passed the test of life. That's how they got to be a general, and other people didn't. So, I sort of like generals. And I like the three that I have very, very much.

WALLACE: Have you settled on a Secretary of State?

TRUMP: I'm getting very close. I'm getting very, very close.

WALLACE: Do you know who it's going to be?

TRUMP: I just have -- I have someone in mind that I think will be really fabulous. I think we're going to have one of the great cabinets ever put together.

WALLACE: So, let me ask –


TRUMP: And we're getting that kind of review, which is –


WALLACE: So, let me ask you about Rex Tillerson.

TRUMP: Okay.

WALLACE: Head of Exxon Mobil. Why does a business executive make sense as the chief diplomat?

TRUMP: Well, in his case, he's much more than a business executive. I mean, he's a world-class player. He's in charge of, I guess the largest company in the world. He's in charge of a- an oil company that's pretty much double the size of his next serious competitor. It's been a company that's been unbelievably managed. And to me, a great advantage is he knows many of the players, and he knows them well. He does massive deals in Russia. He does massive deals for the company -- not for himself -- for the company.

WALLACE: He's the Secretary of State.

TRUMP: No. No. But I have tremendous respect for him. He's a world-class player.

WALLACE: I'm trying to get you to say –


TRUMP: But I have others. I know you are

WALLACE: [laughs]

TRUMP: And you're doing very well. But I have others, also, that I think -- I mean, Bob Corker is a fantastic guy. Mitt Romney -- I've really gotten to know him, and I get along with him really well. But these are -- you know, these are all very different types of people. But when you ask me about Rex, I mean, he's a world-class player. There's no question about it.

CHRIS WALLACE, HOST: You recently took a call from the President of Taiwan. And on the Sunday shows, including ours, some of your top aides said, "Oh, it was just a congratulatory call." But the next day, some of your top aides said, no, in fact, you had been thinking about this for weeks in advance, to send a message.


WALLACE: So, which is it?

TRUMP: No, no. It's all wrong. Not weeks. I took a call. I heard the call was coming probably an hour or two before. I fully understand the One-China policy, but I don't know why we have to be bound by a One-China policy unless we make a deal with China having to do with other things, including trade. I mean, look, we're being hurt very badly by China with devaluation, with taxing us heavy at the borders when we don't tax them, with building a massive fortress in the middle of the South China Sea, which they shouldn't be doing, and frankly with not helping us at all with North Korea. You have North Korea. You have nuclear weapons and China could solve that problem and they're not helping us at all. So, I don't want China dictating to me and this was a call put into me. I didn't make the call, and it was a call, very short call saying congratulations, sir, on the victory. It was a very nice call. Short. And why should some other nation be able to say I can't take a call. I think it actually would've been very disrespectful, to be honest with you, not taking it.

WALLACE: You recently intervened with Carrier to save about a thousand jobs --

TRUMP: Right.

WALLACE: -- from moving to Mexico and you’ve said at one of your rallies you're asking for a list of 10 companies that are thinking of outsourcing so you can call them as well. Should the president of the United States be calling companies? I mean, how would you have felt if Barack Obama gets on the phone and says Hey Donald, here's how I want you to do business?

TRUMP: I would've been honored. So let me just tell you.

WALLACE: Honored?

TRUMP: I don't have to do it myself. I have great people. We have top, top smart people. But it's so easy to do and we're going to have to impose a major tax on companies that leave, build their product and think they're going to sell it right through our border like we're a bunch of jerks.

WALLACE: But what about the free market, sir?

TRUMP: That is--that's not free market when they go out and they move and they sell back into our country.

WALLACE: But that's the free market. They made a decision and it makes --

TRUMP: No. That's—that’s the dumb market, okay? That's the dumb market. I'm a big free trader, but it has to be fair. So what's happened is we have lost over a period of years, short years, 70,000 factories in this country. Chris, 70,000. I always say to people I think it's a typo. How could it be so many? Seventy thousand factories. We're being stripped of our workers. We're being -- I mean, we're being stripped of our jobs. Our good jobs are really going down, and we've got to stop it. And the only way you're going to stop it, the nice way, is we're reducing taxes very substantially for companies so they're not going to have to leave because of taxes. We'll be reducing regulations. Now those are the nice ways of doing it and everyone loves it and everyone is happy. Business is way down. Also middle class, but way down, the taxes and regulations. But when a company wants to move to Mexico or another company, or another country, and they want to build a nice beautiful factory and they want to sell their product through our border, no tax, and the people that all got fired so we end up with unemployment and debt, and they end up with jobs and factories and all of the other things, it's not going to happen that way. And the way you stop it is by imposing a tax. Now, I've come up with a number of 35 percent. There is no tax if you don't leave. There is no tax at all. You know, people have said they don't understand really what I'm doing. I read the Wall Street Journal the other day. Honestly, their editorial board doesn't get it. I don't think they understand business. I don’t think the Wall Street Journal editorial board, and I know some of them, they're really nice. I don’t think they understand business. They don't understand what I'm saying. There's a 35 percent tax, but there is no tax if you don't move. But if you move your plant or factory and you want to sell back into our country, you fire all your people, there are going to be consequences for that. There are going to be consequences. And you know what's going to happen?


TRUMP: I'll tell you. Nobody's going to move. They're not going to move. They're not going to leave. They're going to stay here.

WALLACE: You're keeping your stake in Celebrity Apprentice. According to the New York Times you're going to shift operations, but you're going to keep your stake in your real estate business.

TRUMP: Well, essentially I'm not going to have anything to do with the management.

WALLACE: I know, but isn't that a huge conflict of interest, sir?

TRUMP: When I ran everybody knew that I was a very big owner of real estate all over the world. I mean, I'm not going to have anything to do with the management of the company. You know, when you sell real estate that's not like going out and selling a stock. That takes a long time. It takes – I have--I'm going to have nothing to with it. And I'll be honest with you -- I don't care about it anymore. That -- I'm so focused on doing a great job as president. I don't care if our rent [inaudible] , well , goes up a little bit or down -- I couldn't care less.

WALLACE: But you never --

TRUMP: My executives will run it with my children. It's a big company, it's a great company. But I'm going to have nothing to do with management.

WALLACE: But you hammered Hillary Clinton over the Clinton Foundation and pay --

TRUMP: Well, that's different, because --

WALLACE: -- and wait --

TRUMP:-- she was taking massive amounts of money from foreign countries and other things.

WALLACE:-- and pay to play.

TAPE : Donald Trump/Rally/Austin, TX/August 23

It is impossible to figure out where the Clinton Foundation ends and the State Department begins. It is now abundantly clear that the Clintons set up a business to profit from public office.


TRUMP: This is different.

WALLACE: Well, wait a minute. You're going to be making a massive amount of money --


WALLACE: -- wait, wait --

TRUMP: What – If someone rents --

WALLACE: -- foreign --

TRUMP: -- a hotel room?

WALLACE: Wait. Foreign countries are already booking events at the Trump Hotel in D.C. You've got business operations, deals with foreign countries.

TRUMP: Chris, this is all stuff that’s --

WALLACE: I mean, isn’t this on --

TRUMP: -- done --

WALLACE: --isn’t this on steroids --


WALLACE: They --


WALLACE: -- foreign interests trying to curry favor with the president of the United States.

TRUMP: If I were really going to do new deals right now -- I am turning down billions of dollars of deals. I will tell you, running for president -- the money I spent is peanuts compared to the money I won't make, and that's okay, because this is so important. What I'm doing is so important. This is a calling. This is so -- this is a movement. Not just me. It's millions and millions of people. And you got to see it firsthand. I'm not going to be doing deals at all. Now that would be -- I don't even know if that's a conflict. I mean, I have the right to do it. You know, under the law, I have the right to do it. I just don't want to do it. I don't want to do deals, because I want to focus on this. But, by my not doing deals -- I turned down seven deals with one big player, great player, last week, because I thought it could be perceived as a conflict of interest. It was --

WALLACE: But your kids are going to be able to do it?

TRUMP: -- probably a billion dollars of deals that I turned down --

WALLACE: But if your kids --

TRUMP: -- because --

WALLACE: -- do it, isn't it going to be the same thing?

TRUMP: No. It's totally different. They're not president. I mean, they're not president. But they're not going to do it either. Oh, I see what you're getting at. No. They're not making deals either, for my company.


TRUMP: They're not making deals. And they're going to run my company -- I have a lot of property and great stuff. They're going to run it. They're going to run it. Hopefully they're going to run it properly. I'm sure they're going to run it properly. But I'm not going to do deals. And I think -- you know, I think that's going to be good.

WALLACE: How many times have you spoken to Barack Obama since you were in the Oval Office with him? What do you guys talk about? And has he persuaded you on any of his policies?

TRUMP: So, we disagree on things, but we haven't really discussed things that we disagree on. I've spoken to him another time. I'm going to be speaking to him today, actually. He has treated me really well. He's made us feel very welcome.

WALLACE: But on -- the Iran nuclear deal, relations with Cuba?

TRUMP: Well, I don't want to tell you what we discussed. But -- and some of it I've agreed with him. A lot -- you know, people don't read about the stuff that you agree on. But there are things that we disagree on, and probably never going to be able to change that. But we do get along well. I’m-- I'm surprised at how well we get along, and I think he might say the same thing. I think you're seeing that from him.

WALLACE: Mr. President-elect --

TRUMP: Thank you.

WALLACE: -- thank you for your time.

TRUMP: Thank you very much.