JUDY WOODRUFF: There’s been no shortage of attention paid to who might win the presidential election this November, but what promises can they deliver once in office?
Tonight, we examine what the early days of a Trump presidency might look like, and whether the next Congress would be an ally or a thorn in his side.
For that, we turn to Evan Osnos, a staff writer for “The New Yorker” magazine, and Seung Min Kim. She’s a congressional reporter for Politico.
And welcome to both of you.
Evan, I’m going to start with you. You did write a sort a story for the latest “New Yorker” about what Trump would do in his early days in office. Let’s go down the list. You start with suggesting he would renounce this global agreement on climate change. How would that work? What could he do?
EVAN OSNOS, The New Yorker: Well, the campaign is preparing what’s been described as the first day project, which would be an effort to try to do a large number of things right away using the powers of the executive office, using the powers of the presidency.
They’re planning on 25 things. So, if they started, for instance, one of the ones that they are weighing is to renounce the Paris climate change. That — the president has legal authority to do it. It’s much the way that George W. Bush when he came into office in 2001 was able to, for instance, remove the United States from an agreement on the International Criminal Court.
There is nothing that stops a president from doing that. And they could also do other things. For instance, he could roll back some environmental regulations that have been imposed by the Obama administration, and he could also redirect the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms to say you no longer need to deliver background — to do background checks on gun purchases the way that you were directed to do so under Obama.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So he could take some substantive steps in the early days that wouldn’t require any congressional action.
Seung Min, let me return to you.
I think the assumption has been, if Donald Trump wins, he is probably going to keep a Republican Senate and a Republican House. So if he makes moves like this, the presumption is, there is not going to be much pushback from the Hill.
SEUNG MIN KIM, Politico: It depends on the form of his proposals make.
The executive order action part of this is really interesting, because what you have heard from Republicans and here in Congress for the last several years is, they’re basically calling President Obama the imperial president, that he has acted too much on his own without the will of the Congress to accomplish his agenda.
So, a lot of these goals perhaps on climate, environmental issues, a President Donald Trump may share with Republicans in Congress. But if they don’t, it will be interesting to see what they — what their response is to how a President Trump deals with kind of the executive powers — or the powers of the executive branch.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Evan, one other thing we know, one of the many things Donald Trump has talked about is suspending the Syrian refugee program.
The president has been talking about increasing that number to over 100,000. What is it that Trump is looking at doing?
EVAN OSNOS: Trump is — Trump’s advisers have told me that they’re considering on day one suspending the program.
And they can do that under presidential authority, because they can say that refugees from a specific part of the world represent a threat to American security. That’s the sort of legal basis.
And then more broadly, of course, he’s talking about a major change in American immigration. And he would also have the legal power to say we’re going to vastly expand and accelerate the pace of deportations.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And what about the wall?
EVAN OSNOS: The wall, which has been the central promise of his candidacy, would take a little bit of footwork legislatively.
So, for instance, you have — if it’s estimated to cost $25 billion, you’re either going to have to get somebody in Congress to appropriate that for you or, more likely, whatever everybody is telling me, after negotiations, after the horse-trading, he would probably end up with a small symbolic extension of the border fence which has already been in place since 2006. That has been in place since 2006.
Newt Gingrich, who is Trump’s political adviser, tells me, look, he has to do something on the wall for political reasons. If he doesn’t, he has no credibility.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Because it’s been one of the central pieces of his — of everything that he has talked about.
Seung Min, so what about from Congress? If Donald Trump starts to completely get rid of the Syrian refugee intake, if he starts to make moves on the wall and immigration, what’s the reaction likely to be on the Hill?
SEUNG MIN KIM: The reaction is going to be — it depends.
You have seen obviously how Donald Trump has made waves in his campaign with his positions on immigration. Now, in terms of the broader immigration proposals, he is really going to need Congress to appropriate the money, if he does want to ramp up the pace of deportations to build the wall.
But we have also seen — you have to remember dynamics particularly in the Senate next year. Under a Trump presidency, clearly very, very likely that Republicans will have retained control. However, very unlikely that they Will have the 60 votes necessary to advance basically any legislation in the Senate.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Evan, let me turn you quickly to foreign policy, but to trade. Donald Trump has talked a lot about doing away with TPP, the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, and that leads to questions about U.S. relations with China.
EVAN OSNOS: He could renounce TPP. He could renegotiate NAFTA.
And, by the way, he could also impose tariffs on specific categories of goods from China. He can do that on day one. He can direct the Commerce Department to bring cases under the WTO.
What’s interesting too — and I think people don’t — underestimate this from outside — is that if the WTO said, well, your actions are illegal, he could actually withdraw the United States from the WTO.
JUDY WOODRUFF: This is the World Trade Organization.
EVAN OSNOS: The World Trade Organization, exactly, which has been the basis of sort of the rules of fair trade for decades.
If they objected, he could say we’re pulling out, the same way that George W. Bush pulled the United States out of the anti-ballistic missile treaty.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And, Seung Min, if that’s what happens, what’s the reaction on the Hill?
SEUNG MIN KIM: I think, on trade, it’s actually a bit interesting.
Donald Trump on trade, specifically the Trans-Pacific Partnership, has been the one area where he really has had an influence on members of Congress. You see the reaction from Republican senators who are up for reelection next year, people such as Ohio’s Rob Portman, who’s a former U.S. trade representative, and Pennsylvania’s Pat Toomey, who has voted for a multitude of free trade deals in Congress.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Right.
SEUNG MIN KIM: They’re now all running away from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, saying, this has provisions in it that I cannot support, it’s bad for Ohio, it’s bad for Pennsylvania.
So, you could actually see them, obviously, if those senators are reelected, to go along with Donald Trump on ripping up the TPP and starting over. And you would actually have a lot of support from Democrats as well, because, obviously, backed by the unions, Democrats have really disliked the TPP.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Sure.
Just one final quick question to you, Evan. And that is on the Iran nuclear deal. What would Donald Trump do, we expect?
EVAN OSNOS: Donald Trump has said that he would renegotiate the deal.
Now, it’s worth noting that if he says — if he does that, that could constitute a violation of the terms of the deal from Iran’s perspective, which would then give Iran permission to restart its nuclear plant.
JUDY WOODRUFF: There’s a lot to consider here. Much more to go, but this certainly gives us a sense of what the early days could look like.
Evan Osnos and Seung Min Kim, we thank you both.
SEUNG MIN KIM: Thanks for having me.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Tomorrow, we will explore what the early days of a Clinton presidency might entail.