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Thursday, 12 December 2019

Trump to lay out White House goals in prime-time interview

AFP , Sunday 13 Nov 2016
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Republican presidential elect Donald Trump gives a speech during election night at the New York Hilton Midtown in New York on November 9, 2016. (AFP)
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Donald Trump is expected to spell out his priorities as America's head of state Sunday in the first prime-time interview since his election, as the populist Republican's every move is scrutinized for clues to how he will govern.

Millions of Americans are set to tune in as the billionaire president-elect, who has appeared to strike a conciliatory tone as his Manhattan residence was picketed by throngs of protesters for four straight days, lays out his intentions.

Excerpts from the CBS interview, recorded Friday, have seen Trump reveal plans to keep parts of President Barack Obama's signature healthcare law intact, weigh his use of Twitter and suggest he might ask former president Bill Clinton -- husband of his rival Hillary Clinton -- for advice.

Trump Tower has been a hive of activity as the real estate mogul huddles with his transition team to shape his cabinet -- appointments expected to play a crucial role in setting the tone of an administration led by a 70-year-old political novice.

Campaign manager Kellyanne Conway has told reporters the appointment of a White House chief of staff is "imminent" and that Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus is a candidate for the key post.

The announcement came as a crowd of more than 10,000 people marched toward Trump Tower in Manhattan Saturday, while another 10,000 turned out in downtown Los Angeles and thousands more marched peacefully in Chicago.

As the commotion plays out in the streets, an ABC News/Washington Post poll out Sunday shows that 74 percent of Americans accept Trump's election as legitimate, although that number varies greatly among different groups, reaching 99 percent among Trump's supporters and falling to 58 percent among Clinton's.

US media reported that Trump's lawyers are seeking to postpone a fraud trial over the defunct Trump University slated for late November, stating that preparations for the case would divert the president-elect from his duties.

Trump faces a colossal task in hammering out cabinet picks and filling hundreds of other top government jobs ahead of his January 20 inauguration.

"He's receiving many visitors," Conway said. "These are exciting times."

Among those seen entering the tower Saturday were Nigel Farage, whose UK Independence Party backed the Brexit vote that stunned Britons just as Trump's victory did many Americans. Conway said he and Trump had discussed "freedom and winning."

The provocative documentary filmmaker Michael Moore also made an appearance inside the building -- before his impromptu effort to meet with Trump was blocked by Secret Service agents.

Since his election on the back of an incendiary populist and anti-immigrant campaign, Trump and his advisers have appeared to back away from some of his more sweeping positions.

Trump's U-turn on Obamacare -- he now says he may simply amend a law he branded a "disaster" on the stump -- was prompted by his White House meeting with the outgoing president earlier this week.

Trump told CBS and The Wall Street Journal he may maintain some of the program's more popular elements, such as a ban on insurance companies denying coverage because of so-called pre-existing health conditions.

Asked by the paper whether he would, as threatened, name a special prosecutor to investigate Clinton over her use of a private email server as secretary of state, Trump deflected, saying his priorities were "health care, jobs, border control, tax reform."

Not long ago Trump was leading crowds in chants of "Lock her up!"

Trump surrogate Newt Gingrich also cast doubt on whether Trump would make Mexico fund his proposed border wall -- another rallying cry.

The president-elect also spoke warmly of the election night call he received from the Democrat Clinton conceding his victory, praising her as "very strong and very smart."

Despite his more measured tone, the Republican has yet to respond to mounting calls to reassure Americans who fear a xenophobic crackdown under his authority.

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), which monitors hate groups, tracked more than 200 incidents of election-related harassment in the three days following the vote, with many more allegations emerging on social media.

More than 47,000 people have signed an SPLC petition urging Trump to clearly distance himself from hate groups.

Growing numbers of Americans, including many in Saturday's protests, are wearing safety pins to symbolize solidarity with those his words have targeted, like Muslims, Latinos and women.

Tens of thousands of people said on Facebook they will attend a "Women's March on Washington" scheduled for January 21, the day after Trump's inauguration.

While anti-Trump protesters are organizing on social media, Trump credits the online platforms -- he claims 28 million followers on Twitter alone -- for helping him score an upset over Clinton.

"When you give me a bad story or when you give me an inaccurate story... I have a method of fighting back," he says in the CBS interview to be aired Sunday,

The full interview airs at 7:00 pm (0000 GMT Monday) and also includes conversations with his wife, Melania, and four of his children: Ivanka, Tiffany, Eric and Donald, Jr.

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