President-elect Donald Trump's policy platform continues to evolve and change dramatically as he prepares to be sworn into office, making a complete and detailed understanding of his governing agenda difficult to discern.
In the two months since being elected, Trump has taken 15 new policy stances on nine different issues.
Call it the post-platform era: the president-elect ran and won a campaign in which he took 141 distinct policy position on 23 issues over the course of 511 days. Trump defended this as being "flexible" and unpredictable, something he argued the country needs more of to better represent itself on the world stage. His supporters championed him as a refreshing break from politicians with carefully-calculated agendas and voting records to back them up, while his detractors argued this was a sign of wildly unprepared and unserious candidate.
In order to better understand the president-elect, we'll track Trump's new policy pronouncements from Election Day forward, along with any potential changes and explanations he offers for such change.
Trump vowed repeatedly to repeal and replace the president's signature legislation during his White House bid, complaining that the coverage was poor and the costs too high and that he could do something better.
"Repeal and replace with something terrific," he said in one interview, tweeting up until the final hours of the election that he'd repeal and replace it with something "MUCH less expensive" and "MUCH better."
1. I do want to keep parts of it, we might amend it
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Trump indicated that he wanted to keep the protections for patients with pre-existing conditions, and the measure that allows parents to keep their children insured until age 26.
"Either Obamacare will be amended, or repealed and replaced," Trump told the Wall Street Journal.
He noted however that there would be no gap between the repeal of Obamacare and the replacement of it with something else.
2. Begin to repeal on day one.
Vice President-elect Mike Pence told Congressional Republicans efforts to repeal Obamacare would begin day one. It's unclear, however, what if any plan there is to replace the healthcare bill.
3. Be careful -- don't take on the bill's liabilities when repealing.
Shortly after Pence indicated that repeal efforts were in the works, Trump warned Republicans to "be careful" about taking on the bill -- and its liabilities -- arguing that it would "fall on its own weight."
Current position: Whatever we do, don't take the blame for Obamacare.
Trump's most explosive campaign proposal — to temporarily ban all Muslims from entering the U.S. — changed rapidly throughout the campaign, taking 15 different forms in total. It was softened — U.S. service members and citizens would be exempt, the campaign announced quickly — and later in the primary Trump and his campaign suggested that country of residence would play a big role in determining who would be barred from entry. Still, throughout the election, Trump never disavowed his initial promise to ban people based on their religion.
1. You know my plans.
Speaking with reporters in late December, Trump inaccurately argued that his plans were clear.
"You know my plans. All along, I've been proven to be right. 100% correct. What's happening is disgraceful," Trump said when asked about the terror attack in Berlin.
2. Taken alone, being Muslim isn't a trigger for the Muslim ban.
Former campaign manager turned White House counselor Kellyanne Conway tried to tie the ban to country of residence.
"That this would be more strictly tied to countries where we know they have a history of terrorism and that this is not a complete ban," she said.
Shortly afterwards she was pressed on CNN, Conway said that being Muslim "in and of itself" is not a trigger, Conway said.
Current position: Being Muslim in a vacuum will not get you banned. Country of residence might.
Trump promised repeatedly during his White House bid not to touch entitlements. "I'm not going to cut Social Security like every other Republican, and I'm not going to cut Medicare or Medicaid," he told The Daily Signal in May, in an article the Trump team put on their own website under the headline "Why Donald Trump Won't Touch Your Entitlements."
1. Reform Medicaid and Medicare
Trump's transition website has launched and now promises reforms to the program, including modernizing Medicare and offering "flexibility" to states' administering Medicaid for "innovative" solutions. These are vague references at reform, but hint at the kind of reforms the rest of his party -- and particularly House Speaker Paul Ryan -- has long championed. It also directly contradicts his initial promises not to touch entitlements.
Current position: Reform Medicaid and Medicare in unspecified ways.
During the Republican primary, Trump said he supported "traditional" marriage and said he opposed the Supreme Court ruling that effectively legalized gay marriage and would consider appointing justices to the Supreme Court who would favor reversing the decision.
1. "Fine" with marriage equality.
Trump said in his first televised interview that he's "fine" with gay marriage now that it's been settled by the Supreme Court.
His views are "irrelevant because it was already settled. It's law. It was settled in the Supreme Court. I mean it's done," he said. "It's done. It-- you have-- these cases have gone to the Supreme Court. They've been settled. And- I'm-- I'm fine with that."
Trump expressed his displeasure of NATO, suggesting he might not honor the treaty if other member nations do not pay their fare share.
1. Honor NATO
Obama said Trump expressed a desire to honor the NATO commitment in their meeting at the White House.
"He expressed a great interest in maintaining our core strategic relationships," Obama said of his meeting with the president-elect. "And so, one of the messages I will be able to deliver is his commitment to NATO and the Transatlantic Alliance."
'DRAIN THE SWAMP'
Trump promised ethics and lobbying reform in October, vowing to institute a five-year ban on executive branch officials taking lobbying roles after they leave government service, and encourage Congress to do the same. "It's time to drain the swamp in Washington, D.C," Trump said then, vowing to make government "honest once again."
1. Hire lobbyists to run my White House transition.
On November 13th in his first televised post-election interview, Trump defended his decision to include a slew of lobbyists in his transition team by arguing that "everyone down there" is a lobbyist and that he'd "phase it out."
2. Get rid of the lobbyists!
On November 15th, Vice President-elect Mike Pence ordered a removal of all lobbyists. It's unclear if all the registered lobbyists, of which there are at least nine, have left their positions. On Nov. 17, the transition announced that candidates being vetted for high posts in the administration must prove that they are no longer a lobbyist.
3. Deregistered lobbyists are OK.
Individuals who wished to work with the transition team were permitted to deregister as lobbyists before securing employment.
4. Don't repeal the independent ethics office
With little warning, House Republicans announced a plan to put the Office of Congressional Ethics under partisan control -- effectively killing the Congressional watchdog. Trump tweeted out his disapproval and the plan eventually died in the House.
Current position: Lobbyists have to deregister to work with us, and I won't support putting an independent ethics watchdog under partisan control.
BUILD THE WALL
Trump vowed a "big, beautiful" wall on the nation's southern border repeatedly during the campaign, insisting that Mexico would be forced to pay for it.
1. It might be part fence.
Trump said on November 13th that the wall might include portions of fencing.
Current position: He'll still build it, but it could include portions of fence.
'LOCK HER UP'
Trump promised to appoint a special prosecutor to go after his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton during his campaign, and "lock her up" was a constant chant amongst supporters on the campaign trail. During one debate, he famously responded that if he were in charge she'd "be in jail."
1. 'I don't want to hurt them'
On 60 Minutes however, he immediately walked that back: "I don't want to hurt them. They're, they're good people," he said, refusing to give a final answer.
Current position: Leave her alone -- for now.
Trump vowed during his campaign to deport the nation's estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants. He shifted on the issue repeatedly, taking 18 different stances on immigration during his bid, but never disavowed this initial plan.
1. Start with the criminals, decide on the rest later
Making good on his campaign promises to start with criminal immigrants, Trump told "60 Minutes" that they'd start with immigrants before deciding on others.
"What we are going to do is get the people that are criminal and have criminal records, gang members, drug dealers, we have a lot of these people, probably two million, it could be even three million," he said in the interview, citing debunked math. "We are getting them out of our country or we are going to incarcerate. But we're getting them out of our country, they're here illegally. After the border is secured and after everything gets normalized, we're going to make a determination on the people that you're talking about who are terrific people."
Current position: Deport 2-3 million criminals. Decide on the rest later.