Donald Trump seems to be backing off from some of what he said on the campaign He now says that he won’t prosecute Hillary Clinton, that the Wall with Mexico will mostly be more of a fence, that he may not use torture after all, that maybe climate change is real, that he won’t apply libel law to the press.
The press is reporting these apparently more moderate positions as criticisms, as if they believe Trump changing his mind from policies they denounce is a bad thing.
Do you think he is going soft? Are these violations of campaign promises? Or is it a relief that the president-elect is willing to change his mind?
After stoking cries of “Lock her up!” at campaign rallies by vowing to prosecute Clinton, Trump expressed empathy toward his former rival. He said he has no interest in pressing for Clinton’s prosecution over her use of a private email server or for financial acts committed by the Clinton Foundation.
“I want to move forward,” he said. “I don’t want to move back. I don’t want to hurt the Clintons, I really don’t.”
The president-elect’s turnabout on the need for torture as a tool in the fight against terrorism, which he repeatedly endorsed during the campaign, was remarkable. Trump suggested he has changed his mind about the usefulness of waterboarding and other forms of torture after talking with James N. Mattis, a retired Marine Corps general, who headed the U.S. Central Command.Torture, Trump said, is “not going to make the kind of a difference that a lot of people are thinking.”“He said, ‘I’ve never found it to be useful,’” Trump said, describing the general’s view of torturing terrorism suspects. He added that Mattis found more value in building trust and rewarding cooperation with terror suspects: “’Give me a pack of cigarettes and a couple of beers and I’ll do better.’” He added: “I was very impressed by that answer.”
Trump repeated that Mattis was being “seriously, seriously considered” to be secretary of defense. “I think it’s time, maybe, for a general,” he said.
On climate change, he refused to repeat his promise to abandon the international climate accord reached last year in Paris, saying that, “I’m looking at it very closely.” But he said, “I have an open mind to it” and that clean air and “crystal clear water” were vitally important.
He held out assurances that he did not intend to embrace extremist positions in some areas. He vigorously denounced a white nationalist conference in Washington over the weekend where attendees gave the Nazi salute, criticized Jews and spoke some words in German.
Asked about his antagonism with the media and his vow to rethink libel laws, he told the group, which included The Times’ publisher, Arthur O. Sulzberger Jr., and other executives: “I think you’ll be happy.”
Photo by Gage Skidmore [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons