Trump will not pursue Clinton investigations, campaign manager says
President-elect Donald Trump has decided that his administration will not pursue criminal investigations related to former rival Hillary Clinton's private email server or her family foundation, his campaign manager said Tuesday.
Trump's apparent decision, conveyed by campaign manager Kellyanne Conway in an interview on MSNBC's Morning Joe, would be an extraordinary break with political and legal protocol, which holds that the attorney general and FBI make decisions on whether to conduct investigations and file charges, free of pressure from the president.
During his campaign, Trump had issued incendiary calls for a special prosecutor to reopen the FBI's closed investigation of Clinton's use of a private server while secretary of state and had also urged investigations of allegations of corruption at the Clinton Foundation. He nicknamed the Democratic nominee "Crooked Hillary" and encouraged chants of "Lock her up!" at his rallies.
But Conway said Trump now sees things differently. "I think when the president-elect, who's also the head of your party, tells you before he's even inaugurated that he doesn't wish to pursue these charges, it sends a very strong message, tone and content" to fellow Republicans, she said. "Look, I think he's thinking of many different things as he prepares to become the president of the United States, and things that sound like the campaign are not among them," she added.
Trump has not spoken directly about his apparent change of heart but hinted at it in a post-election interview with CBS's 60 Minutes.
"I'm going to think about it," he said. "I don't want to hurt them, I don't want to hurt them. They're, they're good people.''
Trump's conciliatory gesture stood in contrast to his continued fights on Twitter. The president-elect escalated his longstanding battle with the media on Tuesday, canceling a meeting at The New York Times and blasting the publication on Twitter hours after he criticized TV journalists at another contentious sit-down.
Trump had scheduled two meetings with the publisher and journalists from the Times on Tuesday, including one on-the-record session. But the president-elect, who frequently attacked the paper during his campaign, suddenly canceled the events in a series of tweets.
"I cancelled today's meeting with the failing @nytimes when the terms and conditions of the meeting were changed at the last moment. Not nice,'' Trump wrote to his nearly 16 million followers on the micro-blogging site. "Perhaps a new meeting will be set up with the @nytimes,'' he continued. "In the meantime they continue to cover me inaccurately and with a nasty tone!''
Times editors and reporters also took to Twitter to deny Trump's account. Clifford Levy, the paper's assistant masthead editor, tweeted out an official response saying it was the president-elect who had tried to change the ground rules by seeking only a private meeting. "We did not change the ground rules at all and made no attempt to,'' Levy wrote. "We were unaware that the meeting was canceled until we saw the President Elect's tweet this morning.''
Times columnist Nicholas Kristof went further, tweeting: "Mr. President-Elect, no reason to be scared of Times journalists!''
The extraordinary spectacle of a man about to become president and one of its leading newspapers engaging in a Twitter war underscores how Trump's always contentious relations with the media have deteriorated even further since his election. The relationship between presidents and those who cover them is often an adversarial one, but media experts say Trump's blasts against reporters - he called them the "lowest form of humanity" during the campaign - have broken new ground.
His Twitter spat with the Times came one day after Trump did sit down with television news executives and some well-known TV journalists — and repeatedly told them the campaign reporting about him was "unfair" and "dishonest."
Participants in the meeting at Trump Tower in New York described it as a contentious but generally respectful gathering.
But if the media elite attended in hopes of improving relations with the forthcoming Trump administration, that wasn't quite in the cards. The president-elect specifically called out reporting by CNN and NBC that he deemed unfair, according to four people who attended the meeting, all of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity because the meeting was off the record.
Instead of striking a harmonious tone to build rapport following the election, Trump was combative, participants said. In a calm and deliberate voice, he told the group sitting around a conference table that they had failed to provide their viewers with fair and accurate coverage, and told them they failed to understand him or his appeal to millions of Americans.
But he made no mention of the enormous amount of airtime that the networks, especially on cable, devoted to his campaign. A number of analyses have noted that Trump's presidential effort was boosted by the news media's fascination with him.
In a sign of another battle with the media to come, Trump also shrugged off the need for a constant press pool covering him, the people said, though he did not delve into specifics. Trump has repeatedly shirked his pool, upending a long-standing tradition of the president and president-elect.
A protective pool, as it is known, is considered necessary for disclosure of what the president is doing and transparency when big news breaks. Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, for example, drew criticism when she left a September 11 memorial ceremony after falling ill without alerting pool reporters.
On the policy front, Trump released a video late Monday in which he said his transition to power, which has at times been chaotic, "is working very smoothly, efficiently and effectively.''
He outlined a series of executive actions in the video that he said he intends to take on his first day in office: issuing notification of intent to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement; canceling restrictions on energy production; putting in place a rule that two regulations must be eliminated for every new one enacted; ordering a plan to protect U.S. infrastructure from cyberattacks and other forms of attack; directing the Labor Department to investigate "abuses of visa programs that undercut the American worker"; and imposing a five-year ban on executive officials becoming lobbyists.
Notably missing from the actions were some of his most prominent campaign promises, such as building a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border to keep out illegal immigrants and developing an early plan to confront the Islamic State terror group.
Though President-elect Donald Trump's first five picks for top jobs in his administration have all been white men, transition officials insisted Monday that the team he ultimately puts together will represent a cross-section of America.
Trump spokesman Jason Miller told reporters on a conference call that the president-elect met with a "high-caliber and broad and diverse group" of job seekers and advisers in recent days and predicted that the top rungs of the executive branch that Trump assembles in the coming weeks "will be very broad and diverse, both with the Cabinet and the administration."
That point was echoed by Conway, who said that assuring diversity - both in backgrounds and political philosophy - is a priority for Trump.
"And diversity means meeting with people across the aisle who are traditionally more Democratic, who are coming together and wanting to offer him advice, perhaps vie for a spot in his Cabinet," Conway said. "But willing to give him counsel and willing to share experiences and have candid conversations about their views and their backgrounds."
The Trump aides were seeking to dismiss speculation that the parade of people summoned by the president-elect - which has included women, nonwhites and erstwhile political foes - has been merely for show.
That skepticism comes in the aftermath of a brutal presidential campaign that was punctuated by frequent incidents in which Trump said and did things that offended women, Latinos and Muslims, while drawing support from white nationalist groups.
Exit polls suggest that Trump owes his victory to white voters, of whom 58 percent supported him. By comparison, he won only 8 percent of African American voters, and 29 percent each of Hispanics and Asian Americans, the exit polls showed.