From his calls to jail his opponent to his conflicting statements about barring Muslims from the United States, America’s next president has provoked a striking number of questions about how he would govern. Here is an early — and surely incomplete — list of some of the biggest:
1. Will he seek to prosecute Hillary Clinton?
Trump has egged on his supporters’ chants of “Lock her up,” predicted that Clinton would be “in jail” if he were president and promised to appoint a special prosecutor to “investigate Hillary Clinton’s crimes.” Tuesday night’s victory speech was conciliatory — “we owe her a major debt of gratitude for her service to our country,” Trump said — but on Wednesday, his campaign manager passed up an opportunity to disavow the idea, saying only, “We haven’t discussed that in recent days, and I think that it’s all in due time.” For its part, the White House declined to say whether President Barack Obama might issue a pre-emptive pardon, just in case.
2. Will he divest from his businesses?
Trump promised to hand over his company to his children if he won, but there’s no actual law that requires him to do so — presidents are exempt from most of the conflict-of-interest rules that apply to Cabinet officials. “If I become president, I couldn’t care less about my company,” Trump said during one of the GOP primary debates. “It’s peanuts.” But Trump has provided few details on how, if at all, he plans to untangle himself from the Trump Organization and reassure Americans that he won’t personally stand to benefit from his own policies, or that, say, his foreign policy won’t influenced by his vast web of business interests abroad.
3. Will he tear up the Iran deal?
Trump took a softer line on the U.S.-led nuclear deal with Iran than his GOP primary rivals, declining to say that he’d rip it up on Day One of his presidency. Instead, he’d try to renegotiate its terms. But he’s made his intentions clear, telling the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, “My number-one priority is to dismantle the disastrous deal with Iran.”
Iran is clearly nervous: The country’s foreign minister, Javad Zarif, on Wednesday urged America’s new president to stand by the agreement. Trump has used an analogy from the real estate world to explain his approach: “I’m really good at looking at a contract and finding things within a contract that, even if they’re bad, I would police that contract so tough that they don’t have a chance,” he said in August.
4. Will he forgo a salary?
Whether he’s truly worth $10 billion or a few billion less, Donald Trump will be the richest individual — by far — ever to occupy the Oval Office. In September 2015, he said he “won’t take even one dollar” should he be elected. ”I’m totally giving up my salary if I become president,” Trump said during a video Q&A hosted by Twitter and posted to his account. The president’s current salary is $400,000 a year, but the job comes with a few perks — among them free lodging, an expense account, a travel budget, a presidential retreat at Camp David and the use of Air Force One.
5. Will he build the wall, and how will he get Mexico to pay for it?
It’s hard to imagine Trump reneging on the signature policy proposal of his campaign: Building a 2,000-mile wall along the U.S. southern border, and making Mexico pay for it. It’s just as hard to figure out how he can possibly do it given not just the initial $5.1 billion price tag, but also the difficulty of securing rights to the land and providing for pricey ongoing maintenance — if he’s even able to jam it through Congress. What’s more, Mexico has already loudly shot down the idea that it will pay, and Trump has begun focusing on the idea that by cracking down on remittances sent home by Mexican immigrants, he’d bring America’s southern neighbor to the bargaining table.
6. Will he try to lift sanctions on Russia?
During a July 2016 interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, Trump disputed the notion that Kremlin leader Vladimir Putin had invaded Ukraine, an aggressive move that has made Russia an international outlaw. During a news conference that same month, he said in response to a question that he would be “looking at” whether to lift the sanctions imposed on Russia after its annexation of Crimea. It’s not clear how seriously he took the issue, however — “We’ll be looking at that. Yeah, we’ll be looking,” was all he said. On Wednesday, Russian media reported that Kremlin adviser Sergei Glazyev believes that the U.S. will lift the sanctions under a President Trump. Despite Trump’s warm embrace of Putin, he doesn’t have the power to do it unilaterally, however — only Congress can undo the sanctions.
7. Will he live in the White House?
In many ways, moving to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. would be a step down for Trump. Although it boasts six floors, 132 rooms and 35 bathrooms, White House is much smaller than it looks, and it’s known as something of a gilded cage for U.S. presidents — a suffocating bubble that makes it difficult to interact with old friends and regular Americans. President Barack Obama often chafed at the resulting claustrophobia, relishing long dinners on trips abroad, spending weekend days at the golf course and taking impromptu walks in the immediate vicinity of the White House.
Some have speculated that Trump might set up a pied a terre at his new hotel in the Old Post Office building just down the road. But he’s told interviewers he would “live in the White House because it’s the appropriate thing to do,” though doing so is not required by law. “I would rarely leave the White House because there’s so much work to be done,” he told The Hill in June 2015, working in a shot at Obama for good measure: “I would not be a president who took vacations. I would not be a president that takes time off.”
Would Trump redecorate the presidential mansion in his own latter-day Rococo style? He told People magazine last year that he would “maybe touch it up a little bit. But the White House is a special place, you don’t want to do much touching.”
8. Which people will he keep out of the United States?
After last December’s mass shooting in San Bernardino, Calif., Trump called for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.” After weeks of heavy criticism, Trump eventually called the idea “just a suggestion” and his campaign walked it back, recasting the proposal as focused on people coming from countries with serious terrorism problems. Though he never explicitly repudiated the Muslim ban, Trump now uses the phrase “extreme vetting” to describe his policy. In early October, his running mate Mike Pence explained that the Muslim ban was “not Donald Trump’s position now.” But the campaign has never clarified what, exactly, that position is.
9. How many undocumented immigrants will he deport?
Trump laid out his immigration plans in a speech over the summer, promising to begin shipping out what he estimated to be 2 million “criminal aliens” on the first day of his presidency. But he left ambiguous how he would deal with millions of others not accounted for in his plan — a number some news outlets reckoned at 6.5 million or more.
10. Will he release his tax returns as president?
By law, the president’s tax returns get audited — but he doesn’t have to release them. And given that Trump has said he won’t share the documents until he is no longer under audit, he’s already given himself an excuse never to do so. Presidents do have to file an annual financial disclosure form, however — though if it’s anything like the skimpy document Trump submitted during the GOP primary, it is unlikely to reveal much.
11. Will he continue to have access to his own Twitter account?
Trump’s aides successfully wrestled away control of his volatile Twitter account in the waning days of the campaign, preventing him from making any statements that could damage his candidacy before Election Day -—like his early-morning attack on former Miss Universe Alicia Machado. Trump’s tweets became an applause line for Clinton and Obama, who said his 140-character bursts of invective proved him unfit for the presidency. Even his own allies had urged him to knock it off, with former House speaker Newt Gingrich commenting: “I don’t think you want a president of the United States who randomly tweets. You want somebody who thinks it through, has staff check it out. I mean — I very much am opposed to this 3 a.m. baloney.”
Asked early in his campaign by Fox News personality Sean Hannity whether he would tone it down if he won the presidency, Trump said he would tweet “probably a little bit less.” But, he said: “I do get my point across. You know, it’s funny, for years, if somebody did bad stuff to me, I couldn’t fight back. Now I have @realdonaldtrump, and I can tweet some bad stuff about them. And if people like it, it’s all over the world.”
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