The 48th season of 60 Minutes premiered Sunday night with Donald Trump sitting down for a contentious interview with the CBS program’s managing editor Scott Pelley. The usually poised, unflappable Trump was frequently caught off-guard as Pelley questioned the Republican presidential frontrunner on the plausibility of many of his big campaign promises, from fixing the economy and saving Social Security to establishing a better universal healthcare and building his “great wall” across the Mexican border.
Throughout the interview, Pelley tried to trip up Trump with his own doublespeak. The interviewer got Trump to admit that both Republicans and Democrats disliked him, and then questioned how Trump could unify the parties in order to pass any of his big schemes into law. Trump doubled back and said, “I’ve gotten along with politicians my whole life. I’ve made a fortune on politicians,” to which Pelley quipped, “You’re not going to be able to buy them anymore.”
The big reveal of Trump’s 60 Minutes interview was his radical tax plan that would include “a substantial reduction for the middle-income people” and a zero rate for people “in the low-income brackets that are supposed to be paying taxes, [but] many of them don’t anyway.” Pelley reminded Trump there’s a $19 trillion federal deficit, but Trump promised he’s going to “grow the economy so much” by “bringing our jobs back” from overseas. As for Trump’s tax raise on the upper levels of the upper class, Pelley reminded him that the Republican Party’s mantra is to not raise taxes.
When Trump was asked how he plans to stop U.S. businesses from building factories in Mexico, the mogul said he’d heavily tax products coming into America from Mexico, a violation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). “We will either renegotiate it or we will break it. Because, you know, every agreement has an end,” Trump said of NAFTA. “Every agreement has to be fair. Every agreement has a defraud clause. We’re being defrauded by all these countries.” Pelley then informed Trump that free trade “is a plank of the Republican Party.”
The ever-quotable Republican frontrunner was full of headline-making statements, but not all of them were flattering. On Trump’s plan to expel the roughly 12 million illegal immigrants in this country, he promised his government would be “rounding ’em up in a very humane way, in a very nice way.” Trump then suggested America sit back and let the war in Syria continue between the Assad regime and ISIS, at which point, when both sides were adequately “decimated,” the U.S. could swoop in and “pick up the remnants.” Or, “Maybe let Russia do it,” Trump said. (Earlier on 60 Minutes, Vladimir Putin said he’s sending Russian troops to fight ISIS in an effort to save the Assad regime.)
To conclude the interview, Pelley asked Trump about how earnest he is about running for president, and whether the real estate mogul views the presidential race as another reality television show where Trump is the star. “I love my business. I didn’t want to do this,” Trump said. “I just see our country as going to hell. And I felt I had to do it.”