Exclusive - John Stanton Extended Interview

November 9, 2016 - John Stanton 11/09/2016 Views: 42,930

BuzzFeed News reporter John Stanton talks about what Donald Trump's first three months as president could include and weighs in on how he will work with Congress. (9:14)

Watch Full Episode

Please welcome John Stanton!

-♪ -(cheering, applause)

-Welcome to the show, sir.-It's good to be here.

You have quitean interesting story.

I mean, I met you a while ago,uh, but, I mean, a lot of people

are looking at you now, and whenI say, uh, BuzzFeed reporter

reporting in Washington, I guessit will come as no surprise

that for 20 years you werealso working as a bouncer

-(laughter) -while coveringwhat was happening

in the Supreme Courtand in Washington.

-Yeah. Yeah, yeah.-That's quite a... a flip.

Not really, actually.It does give you some, um,

some useful skills.

This year, actually,they've come in very handy.

I've been hit in the headwith bottles, uh,

several times at Trump rallies,and so getting hit in the head

with a bottle at punk rock showsor just, you know, drunk jerks

-trying to, you know,have a good time. -Oh, nice.

Nice, nice.I like that your bouncer skills

-are gonna come in useas a reporter now. -Yeah, yeah.

I just feel like now, like, allthe other reporters are like,

"Hey, uh, can youtake us in, John,

-show us a few tricks, and..."-Yeah, yeah.

But let's talk about this worldthat we're now living in.

It is now officiallyTrump's world.

-It is, indeed.-And we are all in it.

That-that is the spacethat we're in.

Trump is preparing his cabinet,he's already...

there are a few namesthat are floating about.

What are the scariest,and maybe-- if there are--

some of the more exciting thingsto look forward to

in the first hundred daysof Donald Trump?

Well, I think one of the thingsthat I'm gonna be watching for

is what he doeswith the repeal of Obamacare.

I mean, I thinkit's a foregone conclusion

that they're going to do it.

Um, if they...The problem with him

is that he hasno sort of self-discipline

or self-control,

and he absolutely isnot a patient human being.

-Yeah. -And in the senate,they can filibuster a bill,

which means theycan basically stop it

-if the Democrats want to, theyhave enough to do that. -Yep.

He will,I think it's more than likely,

try to force Senate Republicans,

and Senate Majority LeaderMitch McConnell,

to-to repeal the filibuster,

which would be an extraordinarything to do.

It's a check on, sort of,the passions of the chamber.

-Yes.-And it keeps,

it keeps them from doing things,uh, with-with haste, right?

-And-and to really think aboutwhat they're doing. -Yeah.

Um, getting rid of thatwould make it possible

to repeal Obamacare,would make it possible

to do pretty muchanything he wants to.

H-how much damage couldrealistically be done?

Let's say you repealthe filibuster,

and now there is, there is nobalance and check,

as you say, in place, and nowhow much damage can you do

in terms of passing laws?

I mean, any law that you canthink of that he may want to do,

he could do pretty easily,especially given the fact

that-that the Republicanshave made it pretty clear

that they're goingto just give into him.

I mean, they've all become very,

you know, almost, um,overly polite.

They look almost like Gollum.

They're, you know,crawling towards him,

saying we're sorry, we're sorry.

-He has, he has the ring.-Right, he does have the ring.

-He has the ring.-He actually does, yeah.

Yeah, but it's funnythat you say that,

because let's-let's talkabout that for a moment.

I-I-I struggle with this,because I go Republicans...

People go, oh,the Republicans won,

and I argue, I'm like, no,the Republicans didn't win.

-Donald Trump won.-Right.

Donald Trump beat the Democrats,

and Donald Trump beatthe Republicans.


That's--there is a difference there,

because now they areat his beck and call.

Yes, they control the Senateand the House,

but now you have a situation

where they'reat his beck and call.

Do they stand up to himor do they bow?

Oh, yeah, no, that's-that'sabsolutely right.

Look, you know,Senator Roy Blunt,

I was in Missouri yesterdayfor his election,

and everybody, including peoplethat have been working

on his campaign,assumed he was going to lose,

uh, hours afterthe polls closed.

And it wasn't only untilwe realized

that Trump was winning Missouri,as big as he was winning it,

that we saw that-that Roy Blunt

was going to be brought backto the Senate.

The only reason thatMitch McConnell

is going to be runningthe Senate,

is because of-of Donald Trump.

And Donald Trump is going to usethat power over him,

and over Paul Ryan,and every other member

of the Republican Party,at any moment.

And, you know,he's made it very clear,

he's used it, he ba-- you know,bludgeons people in public.

He's not the kind of personthat is going to be afraid

to beat up on them and tryto run them out of office

-if they don't do what he wants.-It's-it's ironic that,

during the race,the Republicans, uh,

made it seem likethey didn't need Donald Trump.

They were like,"Vote down the ballots."

And in the end, it turned outDonald Trump didn't need them

-to get into the White House.-It is ironic, yeah.

So-so, now, we're in a positionwhere we're looking at

all these people-- Rubio, Cruz--all these people

who want to be involvedin Washington. Even the, uh,

you know, you've got the, um,people that ran against him.

You've got the Ryans,who didn't want to endorse him.

Donald Trump is, as you say,

a very petty man. Right?

He holds grudgesfor a very, very long time.

Do you see himforgiving these people?

Does he move forward?

Does he just want themto kiss the ring?

What do you thinkhappens from here?

I-I think... I thinkit's a combination of things.

I think he's gonnawant them to kiss the ring,

and I think they're all goingto go kiss the ring, because,

you know, they're, as we sayin DC, "They're weak-ass bamas,"

right?They're gonna go

-and they're gonnakiss his ring. -Yeah.

And-and the problem for them,though, is that they think

that that's going to protectthem somehow. And it's not.

In the end, he is going...If they step out of line

at all-- even if it's-it's aperceived stepping out of line,

and... or a perceived slightagainst him,

he will come back at them.I mean, he's done it

-time and time againin his life, and... -Yes.

Well, he-he always says, "If youhit me, I hit you back harder."

-Right.-He always says that.

Right, and-andnone of these guys

are willing to hit himat all, let alone

try to begin to takeany kind of a principled stand.

People were hoping, potentially,that Ted Cruz would become

the principled conservative thatwould stand against Donald Trump

while he was in Washington and,as we saw with his statement,

-you know, he's clearly notdoing that. -Yeah, he welted...

he just melted like the waxfigure he is. I mean,

it's pretty much what he, uh...Le-Let's look at the ideas

that are... going to besticky issues.

Republicans and Trump--they don't agree

on many, many ideas.

Donald Trump wants to put moneyinto infrastructure.

He's almost proposingsome things

that the Democrats would be for.

Big government ideas.

Pump money into bridges,pump money into roads.

You know, uh, he's proposing,uh, paid leave for women.

He's proposingsome fantastic ideas.

What happens when that clashtakes place?

That's gonna be interestingto watch.

Because, traditionally,Republicans,

the conservativesort of rump caucus

-of particularly the House,-Yeah.

when somebody that they supportcomes forward

and does something like that,they back off really quick.

The problem hereis that they see themselves

very much in Donald Trump.They... He's, you know,

doesn't a care...care if he offends people.

He doesn't... just doesn't carewhat people think about him

-and just says whatever hewants. And that, to them, -Yeah.

is a very sort of muscular,masculine kind of a thing.

They identify with that. Theyhave been much more loyal to him

than they have been to anybodyelse, including Ted Cruz.

And so the-the question becomes,

can he force themto go along with that?

I think Democrats will go along

with a lot of that kindof stuff,

hoping to have some kindof common ground with him.

Um, but, you know,we're really sort of dependent

on whether or notthe-the Freedom Caucus,

as they call themselves,actually have backbones

and will say, "No, no, no,just 'cause we supported you

"for president doesn't meanwe're gonna support you

-to be spending all this money."-So now Donald Trump comes in,

he takes office,he has his first 100 days,

everyone is looking to that.He's laid out his plans.

Which of those plans do youthink are actually realistic?

Which of his plans do you thinkhe will set out to achieve

as soon as he can?

I think he will startthe process of, uh,

Supreme Court nomination,um, 'cause Merrick Garland

is off the table at this point.Uh, I think he will start

the processof repealing Obamacare.

He will begin the processof trying to get rid of NAFTA.

-Mm-hmm. -I wouldn't besurprised if he starts putting

into place some kindof mechanism to build a wall

in Mexico, even if it'sjust sort of a fanciful thing

that, like, will go on forever,

sort of like, uh, RonaldReagan's Star Wars program.

It'll be like, you know, thewall version of it, you know.

It's just gonna be, like, himpicking out bricks every day.

-Yeah.-Just, like, him choosing them.

"We've chosen terra cotta,folks.

Things are going well."Just, like, you know, like,

-a slow process of building.-Yeah.

It's ridiculous that we're evenhaving this conversation,

um, but, you know, hopefully,

your reporting is goingto keep us informed.

I will ask you thatbefore I let you go.

As a reporter,are you a little bit worried?

Because Donald Trump, inthe middle of the campaign said,

"We need to changethe liable laws, folks.

We need to reign in the media."

You are in the media.

You're reporting.

Donald Trump hasthe House and the Senate.

When people stand upto Donald Trump

when he's now challengingthe first amendment,

what happens there?

I don't know. I don't know.

I think there are a lot of usthat are very concerned

that he's going to start tryingto put us in jail,

um, that he will start limitingour access.

We were one of the first outlets

that were bannedby his campaign.

And, um, we were a giant painin his ass

because of that for a long time.

And they eventuallylet us back in.

It appears right nowthat they're not going

to be going down that road,that he has sort of understood

that it's a bitof a bridge to far.

-It's kind of crazy thathe has to... -But that's until

-you write somethingabout him, though. -Right.

When he's president, it's veryunclear what's going to happen.

Whether or not he's gonna tryto take punitive measures

against any of us or all of us,and

that is a big, big concernfor, I think, most reporters.

And if it's not,they're full of themselves

if they think that somehowthat they are protected

because, um, you know,

they have a favorablerelationship with him.

Wow. A scary place to be in.

-At least you can handlethe bottles. -(laughing): Yeah.

-(laughter) -Thank you so muchfor being here.