Fresh from his inauguration last week, newly anointed president of the United States Donald Trump has been nothing if not controversial. One of his first moves as president was to freeze all regulations, and then freeze all government hiring while Trump and his team begin making moves. So far, it appears as though those moves will include making good, at least in part, on a number of controversial promises Trump made on the campaign trail.
The new leader of the free world is already devoting resources to figuring out how to keep illegal immigrants and refugees out of the country, and it looks like taxpayers, not Mexico, will soon pay for the construction of a barrier along the southern border of the US. The Affordable Care Act is also in the president’s sights, as are other key issues that made up the foundation of Trump’s campaign.
These topics and many, many more were covered in an exclusive interview the president granted to ABC on Wednesday.
Here’s the beginning of the transcript from last night’s interview:
DAVID MUIR: Mr. President, it’s an honor to be here at the White House.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Thank you very much, David.
DAVID MUIR: Let me ask you, has the magnitude of this job hit you yet?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: It has periodically hit me. And it is a tremendous magnitude. And where you really see it is when you’re talking to the generals about problems in the world. And we do have problems in the world. Big problems. The business also hits because the — the size of it. The size.
I was with the Ford yesterday. And with General Motors yesterday. The top representatives, great people. And they’re gonna do some tremendous work in the United States. They’re gonna build plants back in the United States. But when you see the size, even as a businessman, the size of the investment that these big companies are gonna make, it hits you even in that regard. But we’re gonna bring jobs back to America, like I promised on the campaign trail.
DAVID MUIR: And we’re gonna get to it all right here.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Good.
DAVID MUIR: Mr. President, I want to start — we’re five days in. And your campaign promises. I know today you plan on signing the order to build the wall.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Correct.
DAVID MUIR: Are you going to direct U.S. funds to pay for this wall? Will American taxpayers pay for the wall?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Ultimately it’ll come out of what’s happening with Mexico. We’re gonna be starting those negotiations relatively soon. And we will be in a form reimbursed by Mexico which I will say …
DAVID MUIR: So, they’ll pay us back?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Yeah, absolutely, 100 percent.
DAVID MUIR: So, the American taxpayer will pay for the wall at first?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: All it is, is we’ll be reimbursed at a later date from whatever transaction we make from Mexico. Now, I could wait a year and I could hold off the wall. But I wanna build the wall. We have to build the wall. We have to stop drugs from pouring in. We have to stop people from just pouring into our country. We have no idea where they’re from. And I campaigned on the wall. And it’s very important. But that wall will cost us nothing.
DAVID MUIR: But you talked — often about Mexico paying for the wall. And you, again, say they’ll pay us back. Mexico’s president said in recent days that Mexico absolutely will not pay, adding that, “It goes against our dignity as a country and our dignity as Mexicans.” He says …
PRESIDENT TRUMP: David, he has to say that. He has to say that. But I’m just telling you there will be a payment. It will be in a form, perhaps a complicated form. And you have to understand what I’m doing is good for the United States. It’s also going to be good for Mexico.
We wanna have a very stable, very solid Mexico. Even more solid than it is right now. And they need it also. Lots of things are coming across Mexico that they don’t want. I think it’s going to be a good thing for both countries. And I think the relationship will be better than ever before.
You know, when we had a prisoner in Mexico, as you know, two years ago, that we were trying to get out. And Mexico was not helping us, I will tell you, those days are over. I think we’re gonna end up with a much better relationship with Mexico. We will have the wall and in a very serious form Mexico will pay for the wall.
DAVID MUIR: What are you gonna say to some of your supporters who might say, “Wait a minute, I thought Mexico was going to pay for this right at the start.”
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Well, I’d say very simply that they are going to pay for it. I never said they’re gonna pay from the start. I said Mexico will pay for the wall. But what I will tell my supporters is, “Would you like me to wait two years or three years before I make this deal?” Because we have to make a deal on NAFTA. We have to make a new trade deal with Mexico because we’re getting clobbered.
We have a $60-billion trade deficit. So, if you want, I can wait two years and then we can do it nice and easily. I wanna start the wall immediately. Every supporter I have — I have had so many people calling and tweeting and — and writing letters saying they’re so happy about it. I wanna start the wall. We will be reimbursed for the wall.
DAVID MUIR: When does construction begin?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: As soon as we can. As soon as we can physically do it. We’re …
DAVID MUIR: Within months?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: I would say in months. Yeah, I would say in months. Certainly planning is starting immediately.
DAVID MUIR: People feel …
PRESIDENT TRUMP: We’ll be having some really good, really solid plans within a short period of time.
DAVID MUIR: When people learn of the news of this wall today there are gonna be a lot of people listening to this. And I wanna ask about undocumented immigrants who are here — in this country. Right now they’re protected as so-called dreamers — the children who were brought here, as you know, by their parents. Should they be worried — that they could be deported? And is there anything you can say to assure them right now that they’ll be allowed to stay?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: They shouldn’t be very worried. They are here illegally. They shouldn’t be very worried. I do have a big heart. We’re going to take care of everybody. We’re going to have a very strong border. We’re gonna have a very solid border. Where you have great people that are here that have done a good job, they should be far less worried. We’ll be coming out with policy on that over the next period of four weeks.
DAVID MUIR: But Mr. President, will they be allowed to stay?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: I’m gonna tell you over the next four weeks. But I will tell you, we’re looking at this, the whole immigration situation, we’re looking at it with great heart. Now we have criminals that are here. We have really bad people that are here. Those people have to be worried ’cause they’re getting out. We’re gonna get them out. We’re gonna get ’em out fast. General Kelly is — I’ve given that as his number one priority.
You’ll find the rest of the transcript right here on ABC’s site, and a full video of the interview is embedded below.