A day after Donald Trump met with TV news people and ripped them a new one, for, among other things, running photos that make him look fat, the president-elect met with reporters, columnists, and executives from the New York Times today. The meeting, which Trump canceled early this morning before un-canceling a few hours later, allowed reporters and columnists to ask the president-elect questions on the record.
Trump began by addressing his relationship with the Times itself, which earlier today he called “failing.” He told reporters that he has “tremendous respect” for the Times and hoped to improve his relationship with the paper, which has been the “roughest of all” on him.
Asked about his white-supremacist supporters who call themselves the alt-right, Trump said, “I don’t want to energize the group, and I disavow the group.”
On Hillary Clinton, who won’t be thrown into the hoosegow despite campaign promises, Trump said, “I don’t want to hurt the Clintons, I really don’t. She went through a lot and suffered greatly in many different ways.”
The conversation included a few news-making moments, such as when Trump’s suggestion that he has an “open mind” on the Paris climate accord, which he said he would “cancel” during the campaign. Then he seemed to admit that humans have contributed to global warming, putting him to the left of much of his party.
On the issue of running his business while running the country, Trump insisted, “The law’s totally on my side, the president can’t have a conflict of interest.” But, he added, he is in the process of giving power over to children at his company anyway.
He also defended his senior adviser Steve Bannon from accusations of white supremacy and propping up neo-Nazis.
Near the end of the meeting, Trump made a compelling argument for his son-in-law Jared Kushner’s involvement in his administration. Apparently the 35-year-old newspaper publisher could bring about peace in the Middle East.