Trump hints at softened stance on Obamacare

Named to President-elect Trump's team to help with the process of selecting the new Cabinet were (clockwise from left) his daughter Ivanka, his sons Donald Jr and Eric, running mate Mike Pence and Mr Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner.
Named to President-elect Trump's team to help with the process of selecting the new Cabinet were his daughter Ivanka (above), his sons Donald Jr and Eric, running mate Mike Pence and Mr Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner.PHOTOS: REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
Named to President-elect Trump's team to help with the process of selecting the new Cabinet were (clockwise from left) his daughter Ivanka, his sons Donald Jr and Eric, running mate Mike Pence and Mr Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner.
Named to President-elect Trump's team to help with the process of selecting the new Cabinet were his daughter Ivanka, his sons Donald Jr (above) and Eric, running mate Mike Pence and Mr Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner.PHOTOS: REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
Named to President-elect Trump's team to help with the process of selecting the new Cabinet were (clockwise from left) his daughter Ivanka, his sons Donald Jr and Eric, running mate Mike Pence and Mr Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner.
Named to President-elect Trump's team to help with the process of selecting the new Cabinet were his daughter Ivanka, his sons Donald Jr and Eric (above), running mate Mike Pence and Mr Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner.PHOTOS: REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
Named to President-elect Trump's team to help with the process of selecting the new Cabinet were (clockwise from left) his daughter Ivanka, his sons Donald Jr and Eric, running mate Mike Pence and Mr Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner.
Named to President-elect Trump's team to help with the process of selecting the new Cabinet were his daughter Ivanka, his sons Donald Jr and Eric, running mate Mike Pence (above) and Mr Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner.PHOTOS: REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
Named to President-elect Trump's team to help with the process of selecting the new Cabinet were (clockwise from left) his daughter Ivanka, his sons Donald Jr and Eric, running mate Mike Pence and Mr Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner.
Named to President-elect Trump's team to help with the process of selecting the new Cabinet were his daughter Ivanka, his sons Donald Jr and Eric, running mate Mike Pence and Mr Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner (above).PHOTOS: REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

US President-elect also packs his transition team with loyalists and family members

WASHINGTON • Mr Donald Trump huddled with his White House transition team for a second day over Cabinet picks as the President-elect said he is open to keeping parts of US President Barack Obama's signature healthcare law.

The real estate mogul said in interviews last Friday he would consider an "amended" version of the 2010 healthcare law, a shift in his position after vowing on the campaign trail to repeal the measure.

Mr Trump told The Wall Street Journal that Mr Obama had asked him to consider preserving parts of the healthcare law - and that he was open to the idea.

"Either Obamacare will be amended, or repealed and replaced," Mr Trump said. "I told him I will look at his suggestions, and out of respect, I will do that."

The announcement was one of several surprises, as Mr Trump shook up his transition team by putting running mate Mike Pence in charge and naming a cohort of Washington insiders - and three of his children - to help with the process of choosing the new Cabinet.

The reshuffle came as anti-Trump protesters spilled onto the streets for a third straight night, with the Republican facing mounting calls to reassure Americans who fear a xenophobic crackdown under his authority. Throngs of people rallied late last Friday in New York's Washington Square carrying banners reading "Peace and Love" and "Your wall can't stand in our way". Local media estimated a turnout of some 4,000 protesters.

More than 1,000 people gathered in Miami, with weekend protests planned in a number of other cities.

The 70-year-old President-elect has a mammoth task of fleshing out his Cabinet, as well as steering the complex transition of power, and announced last Friday he was elevating Vice-President-elect Pence to lead the process.

Mr Trump included three of his children and his son-in-law Jared Kushner on the transition team - a move likely to raise eyebrows, since the tycoon also announced last Friday his vast business interests will be overseen by the same three children.

And in a clear shift from his abrasive campaign, he added to his transition team a string of insider figures from the very establishment that he had railed against so strongly, including Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus - now tipped as a possible chief of staff.

On the Syrian conflict, however, Mr Trump indicated a possible sharp shift away from the Obama administration's policy.

"I've had an opposite view of many people regarding Syria," he told WSJ, suggesting a closer focus on fighting the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria - and arguing that in seeking to oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, "we end up fighting Russia", the regime's ally.

Meanwhile, in an interview to be aired today, Mr Trump showed a rare softer side, speaking warmly of the election night call he received from rival Hillary Clinton conceding that he had won.

"It was a lovely call, and it was a tough call for her - I mean, I can imagine," he said in the interview, excerpts of which were aired on Friday.

"I mean, for me, it would have been very, very difficult. She couldn't have been nicer. She just said, 'Congratulations, Donald, well done'. And I said, 'I want to thank you very much; you were a great competitor'," he said, praising his vanquished political foe as "very strong and very smart".

He also spoke about a call he received from her husband, former president Bill Clinton, whom he said "couldn't have been more gracious".

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on November 13, 2016, with the headline 'Trump hints at softened stance on Obamacare'. Print Edition | Subscribe