President-elect Donald Trump said Tuesday he no longer wants to launch a criminal probe into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server, despite pledging to do so throughout his campaign.
“I don’t want to hurt the Clintons, I really don’t,” Trump told The New York Times Tuesday. “She went through a lot and suffered greatly in many different ways.”
In an hourlong question-and-answer session at the newspaper’s midtown Manhattan office, Trump said he had not completely ruled out calling for an investigation into Clinton’s handling of classified emails when she served as secretary of state, or looking into the work of her family’s philanthropic foundation.
But he said, “It’s just not something that I feel very strongly about.”
Trump’s remarks came after his top transition aide, Kellyanne Conway, told MSNBC that the president-elect “doesn’t wish to pursue” a probe of Clinton, in an effort to help her “heal.”
“I think 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. She was referring to GOP House members who are considering a probe of Clinton.
In July, FBI Director James Comey said Clinton and State Department aides were “extremely careless,” in their handling of classified emails, but said agents found no evidence any laws were violated.
Comey launched another review of Clinton’s emails shortly before Election Day, after a new batch of emails surfaced in a separate probe into former Rep. Anthony Weiner, husband of one of Clinton’s top aides Huma Abedin. After agents reviewed those emails, Comey again said there was no evidence of criminality.
Clinton, in a conference call with supporters after the election, blamed Comey’s second probe for her loss to Trump.
During the second presidential debate in October, Trump threatened to appoint a “special prosecutor” to investigate Clinton, and often energized crowds at his campaign rallies repeating their chants of “Lock Her Up!”
But in an interview with CBS’ “60 Minutes” after winning the election, Trump said he was “going to think about” appointing a special prosecutor to investigate the Clintons, calling the former first family “good people” whom he did not “want to hurt.”
Also Tuesday, Trump met at Trump Tower in Manhattan with Vice President-elect Mike Pence and Dr. Ben Carson, a former GOP presidential candidate turned Trump campaign surrogate.
Trump on Twitter Tuesday said he was “seriously considering” Carson to lead the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Carson, who told The Washington Post last week he was not interested in a cabinet position when reports surfaced that he was under consideration for secretary of health and human services, left Trump Tower without speaking to reporters.
Trump departed New York after 4 p.m. Tuesday, en route to his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach County, Florida, where he will spend Thanksgiving. He is scheduled to return to New York Monday, his aides said.
— With Emily Ngo