WASHINGTON-In his first interview as President-elect, Donald Trump urged supporters on Sunday to "stop" vandalizing and harassing Muslims, blacks, Latinos and other groups.
"I would say don’t do it, that’s terrible, ‘cause I’m gonna bring this country together," Trump said in an interview with the 60 Minutes news magazine that was recorded Friday.
"And I say stop it, if it helps. I will say this, and I will say right to the cameras: Stop it."
Trump's comments were in response to a question about violence by his supporters against minority groups since he secured the presidency three days earlier.
The incidents are "a very small amount," he said, adding that he was "surprised" and "saddened" to hear about what was happening.
He blamed the media for building up fear against him that he said has led to growing demonstrations in major cities across the U.S.
Trump said he would forgo the $400,000 annual salary as president and instead receive a $1 compensation.
Asked about his controversial decision not to release his federal tax returns, he repeated the claim made on the campaign trail that they are currently under a routine audit but that he would release them "at the appropriate time".
During the campaign the New York Times
released documents that showed Trump declared a $916 million loss in 1995 and may have avoided paying federal income taxes for 18 years. If true, it would run counter to his claims of paying millions in taxes.
The president-elect was surrounded by his wife and children for the interview. Soon-to-be first lady Melania Trump said she was considering a focus on anti- bullying on social media.
"It’s very important because a lot of children and teenagers are getting hurt. And we need to teach them how to talk to each other, how to treat each other and to be able to connect with each other on the right way," she said. The choice of campaign is interesting when one considers some of the rhetoric used by her husband to describe women, immigrants and other groups.
He defended the use of "certain rhetoric" as a way to motivate people.
According to Trump, he won the elections "easily" because he avoided being a "just a little, nice, monotone character."
A lot of that rhetoric was delivered through social media but Trump said he would be "very restrained" while in the White House although he finds the method of communication quite strong, said he believes it helped him win in the primary and general elections without having to spending as much money as his opponents because he has such an enormous following on digital platforms.
A big part of Trump’s campaign was his promise to prosecute Hillary Clinton for her use of a private server when she was Secretary of State. Asked if he would go through with those plans, he said he would consider it but he did not want to "hurt" Clinton and her family who he described as "good people." An FBI probe of the matter found Clinton was careless I handling classified materials but the bureau decided not to prosecute. A separate federal investigation is ongoing into the Clinton Foundation established by her husband, former President Bill Clinton, into whether the couple used the non-profit organization to benefit financially.
Trump said his focus as president would be on creating jobs, health care, immigration and securing the country’s border.
He criticized FBI Director James Comey during the campaign for his decision not to press charges but said Sunday that he was not sure if he would seek his resignation.
"I haven’t made up my mind. I respect him a lot," he said, but wanted to talk to Comey before he made that decision.
Since it became law in 2010, Obamacare has been a major target for Trump’s criticism and has promised to repeal and replace President Barack Obama’s signature health care law.
Trump did not back down from that position but he told 60 Minutes he liked two provisions in the law, including coverage for patients with pre-existing conditions and allowing children to stay on their parents’ health plan well into their 20s.
He was asked very few questions on foreign policy but he promised to destroy Daesh, but did not provide details about his plan.
He blamed generals for not having done their job to destroy the terror group and said it might be due to a lack of leadership or some other reason.
He admitted the campaign was a long, bitter content but did not seem concerned about any possible damage to the Trump reputation.
"Who cares?,” he said. “Our country is going bad. I don’t care about hotel occupancy. It’s peanuts compared to what we’re doing," he added, while surrounded by family. The Trump children said that they would take care of the family’s business in New York and would not get involved with politics.
Trump will take the oath of office Jan. 20 as the 45th President of the United States.
By Esra Kaymak Avci