Trump be­gins back­ing off cam­paign vows on Clin­ton, global warm­ing

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - NEWS - By Jonathan Lemire

Two weeks af­ter his elec­tion vic­tory, Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump be­gan back­ing off cam­paign prom­ises Tues­day, in­clud­ing his hard line on cli­mate change and his vow to jail “Crooked Hil­lary” Clin­ton that had brought thun­der­ous “Lock her up” chants at his ral­lies.

A top ad­viser said Trump is now fo­cused on mat­ters that are es­sen­tial in set­ting up his ad­min­is­tra­tion, not on com­ments he made dur­ing the heat of the cam­paign.

Af­ter a year blast­ing The New York Times, Trump sub­mit­ted to an in­ter­view with re­porters and ed­i­tors at the Times of­fice. Among the top­ics cov­ered, he:

• Pushed back against ques­tions about con­flicts that could arise due to a lack of sep­a­ra­tion be­tween his gov­ern­ment post and his many busi­nesses, declar­ing that “the law’s to­tally on my side, the pres­i­dent can’t have a con­flict of in­ter­est.”

• Took his strong­est stance yet against the “al­tright,” a term of­ten used as code for the white su­prem­a­cist move­ment. Though mem­bers are cel­e­brat­ing his vic­tory, he said, “It’s not a group I want to en­er­gize. And if they are en­er­gized, I want to look into it and find out why.”

• Spoke pos­i­tively not only of fel­low Repub­li­cans in Congress — “Right now they are in love with me” — but also of Pres­i­dent Barack Obama, who he said is “looking to do ab­so­lutely the right thing for the coun­try in terms of tran­si­tion.”

Trump, who left late Tues­day to spend Thanks­giv­ing at his es­tate in Florida, also con­tin­ued to work to pop­u­late his in­com­ing ad­min­is­tra­tion, tweet­ing that he was “se­ri­ously con­sid­er­ing” for­mer GOP pres­i­den­tial ri­val Ben Carson to head the De­part­ment of Hous­ing and Ur­ban De­vel­op­ment.

Ad­viser Kellyanne Con­way said ear­lier on MSNBC’s “Morn­ing Joe” that Trump is “think­ing of many dif­fer­ent things as he pre­pares to be­come the pres­i­dent of the United States, and things that sound like the cam­paign aren’t among them.”

His in­ter­view com­ments on a pos­si­ble prose­cu­tion of his for­mer foe Clin­ton stood in stark con­trast to his in­cen­di­ary rhetoric through­out the cam­paign, dur­ing which he ac­cused her break­ing laws with her email prac­tices and an­grily barked at her that “you’d be in jail” if he were pres­i­dent.

“I don’t want to hurt the Clin­tons, I re­ally don’t,” Trump said in the in­ter­view. Sym­pa­thet­i­cally, he said, “She went through a lot and suf­fered greatly in many dif­fer­ent ways.”

Though he de­clined to defini­tively rule out a prose­cu­tion, he said, “It’s just not some­thing that I feel very strongly about.”

Trump had vowed through­out the cam­paign to use his pres­i­den­tial power to ap­point a spe­cial pros­e­cu­tor to probe his Demo­cratic ri­val for both her re­liance on a pri­vate email server as sec­re­tary of state and what he called pay - for play schemes in­volv­ing the Clin­ton Foun­da­tion. Ad­viser Con­way sig­naled to con­gres­sional Repub­li­cans ear­lier Tues­day that they should aban­don their years of vig­or­ous probes of Clin­ton’s email prac­tices and her ac­tions at the time of the ter­ror at­tacks in Benghazi, Libya.

“If Don­ald Trump can help her heal, then per­haps that’s a good thing,” she told re­porters at Trump Tower in New York.

But some of his con­ser­va­tive sup­port­ers strongly dis­agreed.

If Trump’s ap­pointees do not fol­low through on his pledge to in­ves­ti­gate Clin­ton for crim­i­nal vi­o­la­tions he ac­cused her of, “it would be a be­trayal of his prom­ise to the Amer­i­can peo­ple to ‘drain the swamp’ of out-of­con­trol cor­rup­tion in Washington,” said the group Ju­di­cial Watch.

And Bre­it­bart, the con­ser­va­tive news site whose for­mer head, Stephen Ban­non, is now a se­nior coun­selor to Trump, head­lined its story about the switch with “Bro­ken Prom­ise.”

FBI Di­rec­tor James Comey has de­clared on two oc­ca­sions there is no ev­i­dence war­rant­ing charges against Clin­ton. Jus­tice De­part­ment in­ves­ti­ga­tions are his­tor­i­cally con­ducted with­out the in­flu­ence or in­put of the White House.

As for global warm­ing, Trump has re­peat­edly ques­tioned the idea, sug­gest­ing at times that it is a hoax per­pe­trated by the Chi­nese to hurt U.S. man­u­fac­tur­ers with en­vi­ron­men­tal reg­u­la­tions.

But on Tues­day, he said he would “keep an open mind” about pulling the United States out of the land­mark, multi-national Paris Agree­ment on cli­mate change.

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