Monday 27 March 2017

The job appointments continue - Donald Trump offers senior post to Republican rival Ben Carson

President-elect Donald Trump waves to the crowd as he leaves the New York Times building (AP)
President-elect Donald Trump waves to the crowd as he leaves the New York Times building (AP)
Ben Carson listens to a question from a reporter during a campaign stop in Las Vegas, Nevada, February 23, 2016. REUTERS/Las Vegas Sun/Steve Marcus/File Photo

Jonathan Lemire

Donald Trump has offered a senior job to Republican rival Ben Carson and condemned the controversial alt-right movement on another busy day for the president-elect.

He also spoke positively about President Barack Obama and risked further angering some hardline supporters by signalling that he does not want defeated Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton to be prosecuted.

The tycoon has now left to spend Thanksgiving at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, as his advisers said he was focused on matters that are essential in setting up his administration, not on comments he made during the heat of the campaign.

Mr Trump has officially asked Mr Carson to head the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and he is expected to respond after the holiday.

During an interview with the The New York Times, Mr Trump denied there could be conflicts due to a lack of separation between being president and his many businesses.

He said: "The law's totally on my side, the president can't have a conflict of interest."

Ben Carson listens to a question from a reporter during a campaign stop in Las Vegas, Nevada, February 23, 2016. REUTERS/Las Vegas Sun/Steve Marcus/File Photo
Ben Carson listens to a question from a reporter during a campaign stop in Las Vegas, Nevada, February 23, 2016. REUTERS/Las Vegas Sun/Steve Marcus/File Photo

Mr Trump took his strongest stance yet against the so-called "alt-right," a term often used as code for the white supremacist movement.

Though members are celebrating his victory, he said: "It's not a group I want to energise. And if they are energised, I want to look into it and find out why."

Earlier, the president-elect, who has been criticised for being slow to denounce racist acts done in his name, said "I disavow and condemn" a recent "alt-right" conference in Washington where some attendees raised their arms in a Hitler-like salute while chanting "Heil Trump".

But he defended the appointment of Stephen Bannon to a senior White House job. The former head of conservative news site Breitbart has links to the alt-right movement that have drawn widespread criticism from Democrats.

During the New York Times interview Mr Trump said President Obama is "looking to do absolutely the right thing for the country in terms of transition".

And he used to the interview to say: "I don't want to hurt the Clintons, I really don't." Sympathetically, he added: "She went through a lot and suffered greatly in many different ways."

Though he declined to definitively rule out a prosecution, he said: "It's just not something that I feel very strongly about."

The comments stood in stark contrast to his incendiary rhetoric throughout the campaign, during which he accused Mrs Clinton of breaking the law with her email practices and angrily barked at her that "you'd be in jail" if he were president.

His adviser Kellyanne Conway said that Mr Trump "is "thinking of many different things as he prepares to become the president of the United States, and things that sound like the campaign aren't among them".

Some of Mr Trump's conservative supporters strongly disagreed.

The group Judicial Watch said if Mr Trump's appointees do not follow through on his pledge to investigate Mrs Clinton for criminal violations he accused her of "it would be a betrayal of his promise to the American people to 'drain the swamp' of out-of-control corruption in Washington".

And Breitbart headlined its story about the U-turn with "Broken Promise".

FBI Director James Comey has declared on two occasions there is no evidence warranting charges against Mrs Clinton.

Justice Department investigations are historically conducted without the influence or input of the White House.

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