Donald Trump continued his two-night feature on Sean Hannity’s Fox News program Wednesday night, accompanied by the sound of GOP consultants across America popping Alka-Seltzer.
Trump’s back-to-back appearances on Hannity—likely scheduled that way to give Fox an extra ratings bump—were the journalistic equivalent of a Swedish massage compared with the questions Trump got from Hannity’s colleagues at last Thursday night’s GOP debate.
Wednesday’s edition came after some more good news for Trump: polling showing that he’s still leading the pack among Iowa’s likely Republican caucusgoers (although many are not fully committed). The respondents said Trump would handle multiple major policies better than any other GOP candidate in the field. Still, it has remained unclear how he would go about doing so.
At the top of his program, Hannity teased that Trump would be “starting to lay out very specific policy proposals.” So, did we learn anything about what a Trump presidency might actually look like? We report, you decide.
On his leadership team:
Hannity asked what Trump’s Cabinet would look like and who he might choose as his running mate for vice president.
“I don’t want to use names,” Trump said.
“OK,” Hannity said gamely.
“I could say, Jack Welch would be great. I could say, Carl [Icahn] and Carl types. You have Henry Kravises. Warren Buffett said the nicest things about me the other day. I have great respect for Warren Buffett, but he said, ‘Trump is here to stay,’” Trump said. “Warren Buffett is a terrific guy and a very common-sense person. I mean, Warren is a very common-sense—”
Hannity: “Makes a lot of money.”
Trump: “And that’s how he makes the money, with common-sense. Smart, but common-sense.”
Only Trump could get Hannity to say something positive about Buffett. However, it’s worth noting that Buffett did not exactly endorse Trump, nor did he say, “Trump is here to stay.” What Buffett actually told CNBC was, “I wouldn’t be surprised if [Trump] maintained quite a solid base for some time.”
Icahn, for his part, appears to be on board:
“We don’t make good deals anymore. We have incompetent people—probably stupid—but incompetent people, they’re making deals. I look at Japan, and I see Caroline Kennedy, who is a very nice person. You know why I say she is nice? Because my daughter thinks she is nice, Ivanka. Anybody that Ivanka likes, I like. But that doesn’t mean I want her as our chief trade negotiator,” Trump said. “Essentially as the ambassador, she’s really is in charge, because for some reason that ambassadorship very important, having to do with trade. They’re killing us. Japan is killing us.”
(Michael Froman is the U.S. trade representative.)
On tax policy:
Unlike the majority of his GOP compadres, Trump said he’s opposed to a flat tax and actually favors progressive taxes on the wealthy. You know, like Warren Buffett.
“I actually believe that people as they make more and more money can pay a higher percentage, OK?” Trump said. “I have guys that are friends of mine, they make a fortune. Hedge fund guys. They move around—at least I build things. I put people to work. These guys move around paper, and half the time, it’s luck more than talent, OK? They’re paid peanuts. I want to make it—I want to lower taxes, but I want to make it so the middle class benefits.”
“You don’t like a flat tax,” Hannity interjected.
“I don’t like where everybody is paying the same,” Trump said. “If I make a billion dollars and somebody else is making a hundred and he’s paying $10 and I’m paying—to me, I don’t know. I like somewhat of a graduation.”
Progressive taxes, single-payer health care, denouncing hedge-fund managers? It sounds like a Trump/Sanders write-in ticket is in order.
On the Keystone XL Pipeline:
“Get it approved,” Trump said. “The more we can have where we don’t have to go to foreign places, really foreign places to get the oil. So there is a simple one. It’s going to create jobs. It’s overall good. But we don’t even need it in one sense because we have so much under our own land we can do it, but we have to get rid of some of the restrictions.”
“That would help the economy dramatically, in my opinion,” Hannity encouraged.
“Immediately,” Trump agreed.
On enforcing the Iran deal:
Again, Trump contains multitudes. While he likes to “honor deals,” he thinks this deal would lead to a “nuclear holocaust.” Still, he says he would be able to fix the Iran deal to make it enforceable to an intimidating degree.
Hannity: “Let me go back to Iran. You said, ‘They will do what I tell them.’ How do you make them do what you say?”
Trump: “They will know I’m not playing games. And you know what, I hate to inherit a bad deal. And I know some of my compatriots said, ‘We won’t honor the deal.’ That’s a little tough. I like to honor deals.”
Hannity: “They have the money.”
Trump: “The problem is, by the time—if I make it—by the time I get there, they will be very rich because Obama will have given them all of these many billions of dollars, et cetera, et cetera. However, all contracts—I study contracts. I am—in golf, I say I’m a plus-five at contracts. I study contracts. No matter how bad this contract is, I will make this contract be enforced to such an extent that they will not be able to do it. And then I will do things that you won’t believe. But listen: It is so important that they not have nuclear weapons. The problem with this deal is, they will have them, and all other surrounding countries are going to be forced to get them, too. You’re going to have nuclear holocaust!”
On fighting ISIS:
Recently, Trump has been touting himself as the “most militaristic” candidate in the presidential race—perhaps to atone for his past offenses toward U.S. prisoners of war. He has simultaneously been touting that he is the only GOP candidate to oppose the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
His solution for stopping the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria? Send in ground troops, “take the oil” in areas controlled by the terrorist group, and “put a ring” of U.S. soldiers around the oil supplies. As Tim Mak explains, this is not a feasible strategy.
On whether he will continue tweeting from within the White House:
“A lot has been made over your Twitter account,” Hannity said. “If you won the presidency, would you still stay on Twitter, would you be out on Twitter at one in the morning tweeting?”
“Probably a little bit less,” Trump said. “I do get my point across. For years, if somebody did bad stuff to me, I couldn’t fight back. Now I have @RealDonaldTrump and I can sort of tweet some bad stuff about them, and if people like it, it’s all over the world!”
On “this whole thing with Megyn Kelly”:
“I tell you what, Ivanka came to me the other day, it was very interesting. And you know, with this whole thing with Megyn Kelly, and it’s really, in theory, it’s not a big deal. But Ivanka said: ‘Dad, you love women. You cherish women.’ She said that. she used the word ‘cherish.’ She said: ‘You respect women. You have so many women working for you—probably more women executives than male executives.’ She said, ‘Dad, you’ve gotta let people know how much you adore women, how you’ll take care of them.’ And right after she said that, Jeb Bush came out with that horrible statement, where essentially he’s not going to take care of women’s health issues. And I said: ‘Wow, that’s incredible. That’s a really stupid statement to make.’ But Ivanka is so much into that whole issue of women’s health and women, and she is my guide on that whole subject.”
Many, if not all of Trump’s answers to Hannity’s questions could ostensibly have been followed up with a, “What?” or, alternately, “What do you mean by ‘things that you won’t believe’?” Luckily for Trump (and for Fox’s ratings), Hannity approaches the Trump campaign with more credulity than perhaps any other political reporter in the United States. So unlike last week, the wrath of Trump was not invoked Tuesday or Wednesday night, and Roger Ailes could sleep a little easier.