WASHINGTON (AP) — After a campaign filled with Donald Trump’s denunciations of “Crooked Hillary” Clinton, the president-elect declared Tuesday that “I don’t want to hurt the Clintons; I really don’t,” and a top adviser said he had no interest in pursuing further investigations.
Trump also said he saw no potential conflicts of interest between his new job and his worldwide businesses, and he disavowed praise and support from extremist “alt-right” groups.
Trump’s comments in an interview with The New York Times were tweeted out by Times reporters.
Earlier, adviser Kellyanne Conway strongly signaled to congressional Republicans that they should abandon their years of vigorous probes of Clinton’s email practices and 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, “it would be a betrayal of his promise to the American people to ‘drain the swamp’ of out-of-control corruption in Washington,” said the group Judicial Watch.
Conway said 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.”
It wasn’t immediately clear whether Conway was referring only to congressional investigations, or additionally to the Justice Department. FBI Director James Comey has declared on two occasions there is no evidence warranting charges over her use of a private email account. Justice Department investigations are historically conducted without the influence or input of the White House.
The remarks came as Trump worked to populate his incoming administration, tweeting Tuesday that he’s “seriously considering” naming former GOP presidential rival Ben Carson to head the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
He was leaving late in the day for Florida for the Thanksgiving weekend.
In his interview with The New York Times, he was asked about a Friday night event for an “alt-right” group in Washington during which attendees celebrated Trump’s election and gave Nazi salutes.
“I disavow and condemn them,” Trump said.
He said he saw no problems in working out any potential conflicts of interest between his companies and his White House post.
“In theory I could run my business perfectly and then run the country perfectly. There’s never been a case like this,” he said. But he also said he was “phasing that out now” and passing business operations on to his grown children.
Trump’s reversal on further investigations of the Clintons raised questions about the gulf between his fiery campaign promises and what he intends to do as the nation’s 45th president.
Trump fueled chants of “Lock Her Up!” at campaign rallies across the country throughout his campaign and even told her face-to-face during a debate that she’d “be in jail” if he won the election. He vowed in particular to use his presidential power to appoint a special prosecutor prosecute 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.
Conway suggested Trump’s new posture is aimed at Republicans in Congress who have relentlessly investigated the former secretary of state, including whether classified information passed through her private email server and how she acted in connection with the raid on the U.S. compound in Benghazi that killed four Americans.
Trump has been promising to unite the country around his presidency, saying repeatedly he will be president of “all Americans.” Not everyone is buying it — protests continue across the country — but the billionaire has been hosting a politically diverse parade of officials to his golf course in New Jersey as he’s tried to fill out his Cabinet. The visitors have included Mitt Romney, the 2012 GOP presidential candidate who called Trump unfit for office. Trump called him “a loser” who “choked.”
Trump met privately Monday with representatives of the television networks.
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