Trump lukewarm about prosecuting Clinton, condemns alt-right group in Times interview

A top adviser to Donald Trump suggests that the U.S. president-elect wants to help Hillary Clinton "heal" and not pursue a probe of his former Democratic rival's private email server.

U.S. president-elect pedals back climate change denial, disavows white nationalists

President-elect Donald Trump walks through the lobby of the New York Times following a meeting with editors at the paper on Tuesday. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Donald Trump told the New York Times Tuesday he wasn't planning on following through on his campaign promise to prosecute Hillary Clinton, but he didn't rule it out entirely. 

Earlier in the day, Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway said on MSNBC that Trump is setting a tone for congressional Republicans by refraining from calling for more investigations. She said that "he doesn't wish to pursue these charges."

Days earlier, Trump told CBS's 60 Minutes that he wants to think about whether to look more into Clinton's homebrew email server and the Justice Department's decision to not recommend charges against her.

Now Conway says that, "if Donald Trump can help her heal, then perhaps that's a good thing."

During the election campaign, Trump vowed to put his Democratic presidential rival "in jail" over the matter.

Meeting cancelled, uncancelled

Also on Tuesday morning, the Trump team reversed course twice on a meeting with reporters, editors and columnists at the New York Times. 

Trump initially called off the meeting via Twitter, accusing the organization of changing the agreed-upon conditions "at the last moment." The newspaper denied the charge and said Trump's aides had tried to change the rules.

A few hours later, Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks said the meeting was back on and he'd be "going to the New York Times" later in the day.

New York Times reporter Mike Grynbaum tweeted that Trump was in a "sales mode" during the 75-minute interview.

Trump had a similar, off-the-record meeting with top-level TV executives and some well-known network journalists on Monday, according to reports in the Times, the Washington Post and other news outlets. Trump is said to have complained that coverage of his campaign was "unfair" and "dishonest." 

When Trump did meet with the Times, he was lukewarm about prosecuting Clinton. 

Trump said "No" when asked if he would rule out investigating Clinton over her family's charity or her use of a private email server while U.S. secretary of state, according to Twitter posts during his interview with the newspaper.

But he said he did not want to "hurt the Clintons" and wants to move on. "I'm not looking to go back and go through this," Trump said, according to a Times reporter. 

Breitbart News, the outlet once led by Trump's chief strategist, Steve Bannon, published a story on Tuesday under the headline, "Broken Promise: Trump 'Doesn't Wish to Pursue' Clinton email charges."

'Open mind' on climate change

Trump also told the Times he was keeping "an open mind" on climate change. 

Though he's previously called man-made global warming a hoax, he said Tuesday that "I think there is some connectivity" between humans and climate change. 

Conflicts of interest 

Trump also discussed concerns about the potential for conflicts of interest.

He told the New York Times that "the president can't have a conflict of interest," but he's in the process of handing over his business to his children, anyway.

Trump is facing questions about whether he and his children face a conflict of interest by having roles in the presidential transition and the Trump Organization.

He said of his critics, "If it were up to some people, I would never, ever see my daughter Ivanka again" to avoid any business-presidential conflict.

Former rival considered for cabinet

Tuesday afternoon, Trump commented on Twitter he is "seriously considering" retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson to head the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Trump's announcement comes a week after Carson let it be known that he is not interested in being considered for any position in the Trump administration.

In Tuesday's tweet, Trump says: "I am seriously considering Dr. Ben Carson as the head of HUD. I've gotten to know him well — he's a greatly talented person who loves people!"

Last week, Carson business manager Armstrong Williams said Carson had opted out of being considered for any position, but he has since indicated otherwise. 

"The president-elected asked him to consider it and he's considering it," Williams said Tuesday.

The alt-right 

Trump condemned an alt-right conference in Washington over the weekend where some members performed a Hitler salute and yelled: "Hail Trump!" after a speech about white nationalism.

"I condemn them. I disavow, and I condemn," he said. 

Rejecting charges by some critics that his chief White House strategist Steve Bannon is a racist, Trump said: "I've known Steve Bannon a long time. If I thought he was a racist, or alt-right ... I wouldn't even think about hiring him."

Conversation with Obama

The White House has also confirmed that Trump has spoken with President Barack Obama since they met in the Oval Office.

Spokesman Josh Earnest wouldn't discuss any details of their talks. He says the White House has traditionally not unveiled details of calls that Obama has had when consulting former presidents, and that's a precedent it wants to protect with Trump.

With files from Reuters and CBC News


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