Editor’s Note: The Axe Files, featuring David Axelrod, is a podcast distributed by CNN and produced at the University of Chicago Institute of Politics. The authors work for the podcast.
President-elect Donald Trump is prepared to take on Republican congressional leaders if they oppose his tough stance on trade, says incoming White House press secretary Sean Spicer.
“He’s not looking for permission. He’s going to do what he thinks the American people need to spur economic growth, to create jobs, to put the American worker first,” Spicer told David Axelrod on “The Axe Files,” a podcast from the University of Chicago Institute of Politics and CNN.
“This isn’t a guy who has spent the last year and a half asking people for permission to do things,” added Spicer. “I think he wants input. He values ideas, opinions, analysis and facts – and then he makes a decision and he goes with it.”
Asked whether Trump would govern with some humility, given that the country is sharply divided and he lost the popular vote by nearly three million votes, Spicer said the President-elect will presume a mandate for the policies on which he ran.
“I think you gotta go forward with the things you campaigned on,” Spicer said.
On Trump’s ongoing war of words with the intelligence community over Russia’s role in election-year hacking of the Democratic National Committee, Spicer said it was inappropriate to draw any conclusions until the chiefs of key intelligence services present their final report on Friday.
The conclusion of the intelligence community has been that Russia was behind the hacking, which led to the expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats and additional punitive measures against the Russian government.
But Trump’s spokesman refused to say whether the President-elect, who has been openly skeptical of the conclusion that the Russians were behind the hacking, would be prepared to accept their verdict if the intelligence chiefs make a persuasive case.
“I’m not going to prejudge the actions that he’s going to take,” Spicer said. “He’s going to listen to them and then he will decide whether or not to make his opinion known.”
Spicer also defended Trump’s tweet Wednesday in which the President-elect cited the denial by Julian Assange, the fugitive founder of WikiLeaks, that Russia was the source of Democratic Party emails his organization dumped during the campaign.
“(Trump) threw out the idea that this is a guy who’s out there saying he didn’t do it,” Spicer said. “And we need to ask the intelligence community, ‘If he’s denying this, is it that he’s not telling the truth? Is it that he has a reputation for not telling the truth? Or is there actual evidence in facts and intelligence that connect him to it?’ “
To hear the whole conversation with Spicer, which also covered what to expect from the Trump administration in the first 100 days, and much more, click on http://podcast.cnn.com. To get “The Axe Files” podcast every week, subscribe at http://itunes.com/theaxefiles.