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In a lengthy Tuesday interview with the New York Times, Donald Trump repeatedly cast aside some of his provocative past statements.
The president-elect’s phenomenal rise to the White House was characterized in part by his boisterous personality and flair for the theatrical. His off-the-cuff responses to journalist’s questions and impulsive attacks against rivals endeared him to conservative voters who wanted a candidate to “tell it like it is.”
But it could be difficult to make governing compromises with the same level of mud-slinging coming from the Oval Office. Trump struck a far more mellow tone during his interview with the Times. Based on early tweets about the session, by Times journalists Maggie Haberman and Mike Grynbaum, Trump backed off of several extreme policy proposals and harsh insults against political opponents. He even backed off his attacks against the Times earlier in the day.
Here are a few instances of times that Trump drastically changed his tune.
During the 2012 presidential election, Trump called the Electoral College “a disaster for a democracy” and said it had made “a laughingstock out of our nation.”
But after he defeated Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton in the Electoral College while losing the popular vote, Trump tweeted that the Electoral College is “actually genius” because it “brings all states, including the smaller ones, into play.”
With the Times, he returned to his previous preference. He told the paper that he would “rather do the popular vote,” and that he was “never a fan of the Electoral College.”
In May, President Obama delivered a thinly veiled critique of Trump by saying that “in politics and in life, ignorance is not a virtue.” Trump quoted the line and declared that it was the reason that Obama was “the worst president in U.S. history!”
But he told the Times that he had a great meeting with Obama, whom he had never met before, after the election and that he “liked him a lot.”
Investigating Hillary Clinton
During the second presidential debate, Trump told Clinton that she’d “be in jail” if he were in charge of U.S. law enforcement. He also told Clinton that he’d appoint a special prosecutor to go after her. During his rallies, he proclaimed Clinton “guilty as hell.”
Trump told the Times, however, that he thinks prosecuting the Clintons would be “very, very divisive for the country.”
"I think it would be very very divisive for the country," Trump says about prosecuting the Clintons.
— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) November 22, 2016
When pressed as to whether he absolutely ruled out prosecuting Clinton, he replied, “It’s just not something that I feel very strongly about.”
“I don’t want to hurt the Clintons, I really don’t,” Trump said. “She went through a lot and suffered greatly in many different ways.”
On Aug. 22, Trump released a statement arguing that the Clinton Foundation, a nonprofit corporation established by former President Bill Clinton in 1997, should be shut down.
“Hillary Clinton is the defender of the corrupt and rigged status quo. The Clintons have spent decades as insiders lining their own pockets and taking care of donors instead of the American people. It is now clear that the Clinton Foundation is the most corrupt enterprise in political history. What they were doing during Crooked Hillary’s time as Secretary of State was wrong then, and it is wrong now. It must be shut down immediately.”
He told the Times that there’s an argument that the Clinton Foundation has done “good work.” He said he’s inclined to use whatever power he will have as president to say let’s go forward.
“This has been looked at for so long, ad nauseam,” he said.
Trump has dismissed climate change as an expensive, money-making hoax and vowed to pull the United States out of the Paris Agreement, in which nearly 200 countries agreed to reduce carbon emissions in an effort to keep the increase in average global temperature to below 2°C.
But he told the Times that he doesn’t dismiss the possibility of man-made climate change, for which there’s an overwhelming scientific consensus.
Tom Friedman asks if Trump will withdraw from climate change accords. Trump: “I’m looking at it very closely. I have an open mind to it."
— Mike Grynbaum (@grynbaum) November 22, 2016
“I think there is some connectivity. Some, something. It depends on how much,” he said of human activity and climate change.
When asked if he’d pull out of the climate change accords, Trump said, “I’m looking at it very closely. I have an open mind to it.”
The New York Times
Another institution that’s been at the receiving end of Trump’s vitriol is the Times itself. He has bashed it as “a seriously failing paper” that’s “becoming irrelevant” with readership “way down.” He also gloated over “how badly” he perceived the Times to be doing.
“The failing @nytimes has gone nuts that Crooked Hillary is doing so badly. They are willing to say anything, has become a laughingstock rag!” he tweeted. Trump further railed against the “failing” Times earlier Tuesday morning when he temporarily canceled the meeting.
But as he wrapped up his interview, Trump called the Times “a great, great American jewel — world jewel.”