In stunning reversal, Trump says he will not prosecute Clinton over emails
Pursuing campaign pledges to investigate Clinton and put her in jail, is ‘just not something that I feel very strongly about’, Trump says
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.
Watch: Trump backs off pledge to ‘lock her up’
During their bitter presidential campaign, the Republican Trump vowed to jail Clinton and crowds at his rallies chanted “Lock her up.” He now believes she “has been through enough,” MSNBC reported on Tuesday, citing an unidentified source.
Addressing the report in an interview with MSNBC, senior Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway did not deny it and indicated it was correct.
“Hillary Clinton still has to face the fact that a majority of Americans don’t find her to be honest or trustworthy, but if Donald Trump can help her heal then perhaps that’s a good thing,” she said on MSNBC’s Morning Joe programme.
Asked about the reversal in a meeting with New York Times staff, Trump himself said: “She went through a lot and suffered greatly in many ways”.
Going after her, he added, is “just not something that I feel very strongly about.” He predicted his supporters would not be disappointed because the Trump administration would “save our country” in other ways.
“I think it would very, very divisive for the country,” Trump said, according to from the paper’s journalists. “My inclination would be for whatever power I have on the matter is to say, ‘let’s go forward.’ This has been looked at for so long, ad nauseum.”
The Breitbart News website, which strongly backed Trump’s election, posted a story on Tuesday about earlier reports he would abandon a Clinton investigation with the headline: “Broken Promise.”
The FBI investigated Clinton’s use of a private email server while she was secretary of state during President Barack Obama’s first term, concluding earlier this year that her actions were careless but that there were no grounds for bringing charges.
The Clinton Foundation charity has also been scrutinised for donations it received while she led the State Department. Clinton acknowledged her use of a private email server was a mistake and denied links between foundation donors and her work as secretary of state. There has been no evidence that foreign donors to the foundation obtained favours from the State Department while Clinton headed it.
Congress can pursue its own investigations regardless of whether Trump opts to appoint a special prosecutor, as he vowed during the campaign.
US Representative Jason Chaffetz, Republican chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, has said he will continue investigating Clinton’s use of a private server.
Conway indicated Trump would frown on that.
“When the president-elect, who’s also the head of your party now, tells you before he’s even inaugurated he doesn’t wish to pursue these charges, it sends a very strong message – tone and content – to the members,” Conway said on MSNBC.
The New York businessman has been holding meetings since his November 8 election victory to build his administration and fill senior posts before he takes office on January 20.
“He’s thinking of many different things as he prepares to become the president of the United States, and things that sounds like the campaign aren’t among them,” Conway said.
On Monday Trump met with television anchors and news industry executives and reporters in a session The Washington Post described as a contentious but generally respectful.
Trump singled out reporting of his campaign by CNN and NBC that he considered to be unfair, the Post said, citing four participants at the meeting in New York.
Trump, who has never previously held public office, was quick to bristle at unflattering news coverage during the campaign, even as he remained accessible to certain reporters, including several from the Times. “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 said in an early morning Twitter post.
He later changed his mind and went to the Times’ office for an on-the-record meeting with staff, as well as an off-the record meeting with the publisher.
Trump has not held a news conference to talk about his priorities since his election, although on Monday he issued a short video message on his plans for his first days in office.
Additional reporting by Associated Press