6 takeaways from Donald Trump’s New York Times meeting
(CNN)President-elect Donald Trump brushed aside his campaign promises to jail Hillary Clinton, batted away questions about conflicts of interest over his business empire and denounced the neo-Nazi movement that is celebrating his victory.
Answering questions for just the second time since his election, Trump met for 75 minutes on Tuesday with reporters, editors and columnists from The New York Times.
It wasn’t broadcast live, but some Times reporters tweeted Trump’s remarks in real time. And, since Trump has not held a news conference since his upset win two weeks ago, the entire political world was glued to Twitter through it all.
About his campaign promise to jail Hillary Clinton, Trump said he doesn’t want to “hurt the Clintons” and that doing so would be “very, very divisive for the country.”
He heaped praise on President Barack Obama, saying he appreciated Obama’s handling of the transition of power and liked him personally. “I didn’t know if I’d like him. I probably thought that maybe I wouldn’t, but I did. I really enjoyed him a lot,” Trump said.
And of New York’s Chuck Schumer, the new Senate Democratic leader: “I’ve liked Chuck Schumer for a long time.”
It’s his fellow Republicans — particularly those who ran away from him in the general election.
Trump bragged that he “helped numerous senators” win, and took a shot New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte, a Republican who narrowly lost after distancing herself from Trump. “No, thank you,” he said he told Ayotte about a post in Trump’s Cabinet.
He also mocked Nevada Rep. Joe Heck, a Republican who lost his Senate race after similarly staying far away from Trump. Heck, he said, fell “like a lead ballon.”
Trump was also cautious about the Republican congressional leaders — House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
“Right now they’re in love with me,” Trump said. “Four weeks ago, they weren’t in love with me.”
Trump brushed aside questions about how his actions in the White House could benefit his businesses with a startling declaration.
“The law’s totally on my side. The president can’t have a conflict of interest,” Trump said.
It was reminiscent of Richard Nixon’s comment to journalist David Frost that by definition, a president’s actions don’t violate the law. “Well, when the president does it, that means it is not illegal,” Nixon said.
Trump acknowledged his businesses will benefit from his victory, saying his new hotel in Washington is “probably a more valuable asset than it was before” and that its brand is “hotter.”
But he said…