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How Donald Trump Might Govern After Contentious Campaign


If the big question this morning was just how Donald Trump pulled off one of the biggest political upsets of all time, there's another one this afternoon. Just what exactly will President-elect Trump do once he's in the White House? NPR's Scott Detrow covered the Trump campaign. He joins us now. And, Scott, what do we know about what sort of policies will Trump push for once he's president?

SCOTT DETROW, BYLINE: You know, one constant in Donald Trump's life and career is that he's shifted his stance on a lot, so we can't really say for sure right now. You know, just one example - abortion rights. He supported them for a long time, but then he said he opposed them when he ran for president.

So in the final weeks of this campaign, Trump did talk a lot about his plan for his first hundred days in office. There were a lot of policies in there - a long laundry list - everything from tax cuts to beginning to renegotiate trade deals to finding and deporting people in the country illegally with criminal records. One big thing that we'll see early that Trump said he's going to do right away and congressional leaders seem onboard with - repealing the Affordable Care Act.

CORNISH: We know that both campaigns had been working on transition plans for months. What do we know about Trump's process?

DETROW: Well, Trump put New Jersey Governor Chris Christie in charge of his transition team. And Christie has remained in that position, despite the conviction of some of his top aides recently for that scheme to clog up traffic on the George Washington Bridge. In fact, Christie could be nominated for a top cabinet spot.

Other names being floated include former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. Another name that has been helping with the transition is former Utah Governor Mike Leavitt. But still, the thing is that not many high-profile Republicans flocked to Trump this year, aside from that group, so there's a real mystery here about how he fills the rest of so many top-level appointments in and out of the executive branch.

CORNISH: Any sense of how Trump will work with the Obama administration on this transition?

DETROW: You know, I think it's going to be really tough. President Obama was out there campaigning against Trump, not just saying he disagreed with them - saying that, fundamentally, Donald Trump was not qualified to be president. He shouldn't have the nuclear codes. Soon Trump is going to begin getting briefed on those nuclear codes. He'll be getting full classified intelligence briefings.

But President Obama did come out today to the Rose Garden and said he pledged to work with the president-elect. And we've seen several cabinet secretaries, including Secretary of State John Kerry, issue similar statements saying they will, too. You know, President Obama and President George W. Bush were very proud of the way that they transitioned power. And those were two people who do not really see eye to eye on many issues, at all.

CORNISH: Finally, Scott, we heard earlier about how President-elect Trump would need Congress to accomplish some of his goals, like repealing Obamacare. But what does he have the power to do from the executive branch?

DETROW: A lot - President Obama did a lot with executive actions. And the benefit of those for a president is you don't need to get them through Congress. The negative - the next president can just get rid of them. A lot of these things take a lot of time to go into place, and it would take a long time to unwind them. But President Trump can instantly start the process by signing paperwork getting that moving.

One big thing that Trump says he's going to try to repeal as quickly as he can - it's the centerpiece of the American contribution to last year's major climate change agreement. That's something that would have cut power plant emissions by about 30 percent over the coming decades. It really would have reduced the country's carbon footprint. But Donald Trump has questioned climate change, and he says that's something he wants to scrap right away.

CORNISH: That's NPR's Scott Detrow, covering the Trump campaign. Scott, thanks.

DETROW: Sure thing. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Scott Detrow is a White House correspondent for NPR and co-hosts the NPR Politics Podcast.

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