Donald Trump gave his first post-election newspaper interview to one of his least favorite publications: the New York Times, which he has called "failing" in numerous tweets but called a "great American jewel" in a wide-ranging talk with reporters and editors at the newspaper's offices Tuesday. The meeting was reinstated after being canceled earlier in the day. Some highlights from the interview, in which Trump walked back several policy positions and "displayed a jumble of impulses, many of them conflicting," according to the Times:
- Trump thinks he received "very rough" treatment from the paper. "I've been treated extremely unfairly in a sense, in a true sense," he said. "I would say the Times was about the roughest of all. You could make the case the Washington Post was bad, but every once in a while I'd actually get a good article."
- Prosecuting Hillary Clinton is not on his to-do list. Asked about reports that he has decided against appointing a special prosecutor to investigate Clinton, Trump said: "I want to move forward, I don't want to move back. And I don't want to hurt the Clintons. I really don't." He added: "She went through a lot. And suffered greatly in many different ways."
- He is "awed" by the job of being president but still feels "comfortable." "It is a very overwhelming job, but I'm not overwhelmed by it," he said.
- He doesn't want to energize "alt-right" groups like the National Policy Institute. "I'm not looking to energize them," he said of the white nationalist group. "I don't want to energize the group, and I disavow the group."
- He thinks controversial strategist Steve Bannon has been treated "very unfairly." "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," he said.
- His position on climate change has shifted. Asked about his campaign promise to pull the US out of the Paris climate deal, he said he would keep an open mind. Asked about the link between climate change and human activity, he said, "I think there is some connectivity. Some, something. It depends on how much."
- He may have done a U-turn on torture. He said he had been very impressed with what retired Marine Corps Gen. James N. Mattis, a potential defense secretary, said about waterboarding. Trump said Mattis explained that building trust was a lot more useful than waterboarding and told him: "I've always found, give me a pack of cigarettes and a couple of beers and I do better with that than I do with torture."
- He might send son-in-law Jared Kushner to the Middle East instead of the White House. "I would love to be able to be the one that made peace with Israel and the Palestinians," Trump said, suggesting Kushner, an observant Jew, would be a "very helpful" peace envoy.
- He's not worried about conflicts of interest involving his business empire. "The law is totally on my side, meaning, the president can't have a conflict of interest," Trump said, adding: "Despite that, I don't want there to be a conflict of interest anyway ... I understand why the president can't have a conflict of interest now because everything a president does in some ways is like a conflict of interest, but I have, I've built a very great company and it's a big company and it's all over the world." He said the Trump "brand is certainly a hotter brand than it was before," though his kids will be taking over the running of his businesses.
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