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President-Elect Donald Trump Meets With 'The New York Times'


President-elect Donald Trump says he will, quote, "keep an open mind" about international climate agreements and that he no longer intends to pursue an investigation of Hillary Clinton. That's just some of what Trump said in a meeting today with reporters, editors and publishers of The New York Times. He also answered questions about potential conflicts of interest and criticism about links to white nationalists who he disavowed today.

We're going to talk about this with one of the reporters who was in the room, Mike Grynbaum. Hey there.


MCEVERS: So there's a lot to cover here, but let's start with climate change. Trump suggested he might not withdraw the U.S. from the Paris climate agreement. What more can you tell us about that?

GRYNBAUM: Well, he was pressed repeatedly on that issue as he was other questions of domestic and foreign policy today. But what he kept coming back to was this phrase. I'm looking at it very closely; I have an open mind to it; I have an open mind to it. It didn't feel like a commitment one way or the other.

And he did take pains to talk about the effects on American corporations and the competitiveness of American industry that could be affected by agreeing to some of the international climate accords. But it certainly was a less hard-line view than we've heard from him in the past.

MCEVERS: During his campaign, Trump said if he won, he would push for a special prosecutor to investigate Hillary Clinton. Now his team has been backing off that promise. What did he say to you about that today?

GRYNBAUM: Yes, he reiterated that essentially she's been through enough. He said Hillary Clinton, you know - she had a - it was a brutal campaign, a difficult defeat. And you know, I don't want to bring anymore - I don't want to hurt the Clintons; I really don't, Mr. Trump told us.

MCEVERS: The New York Times, your newspaper, has been aggressively reporting on the potential conflicts of interest between Trump's business and his administration. What did he say about that?

GRYNBAUM: He was pressed on this issue quite a bit. In fact, we asked about the wind farms on his golf course in Britain which came up the last few days, and he seemed sort of unaware of what the subject was. And he sort of concluded that the president can't have a conflict of interest and seemed to brush aside the notion that there would be an issue rising from his business dealings.

MCEVERS: When he said it can't have a conflict of interest, what did he mean?

GRYNBAUM: You know, I have to defer to his words. He did not elaborate on that. And a couple of reporters did sort of press for a more specific description of what he felt the ethical obligations were of his office and his company. But the president-elect said that he essentially was winding down his involvement in his business, but he didn't see a need to fully shut it down or fully separate himself.

MCEVERS: One of the things people have raised is about his family being too involved with his administration. Tweets today from you and your colleagues reports that Trump said his son-in-law Jared Kushner could actually be someone who could work on peace talks perhaps between Israelis and Palestinians. Is that right?

GRYNBAUM: He did bring that up, and he said that an achievement that he thought could be great for his administration would be bringing peace to Israel and Palestine, saying that it was a goal that had not been accomplished by previous presidents. And he seemed to imply quite heavily that he believed that Jared Kushner, who comes from an Orthodox Jewish family, could play a key role in negotiating that.

MCEVERS: Another issue that's gotten all the criticism for Trump's administration is his choice of Steve Bannon as chief strategist. Bannon ran a website that he himself called a, quote, "platform for the alt-right." That's a white nationalist movement. How did he address that today?

GRYNBAUM: Our executive editor Dean Baquet actually started off the meeting by asking about the celebrations on the alt-right over Trump's victory. At one point, the president-elect said that he condemns the alt-right, that he disavows them. And he said that he had never experienced any anti-Semitic or racist remarks from Stephen Bannon, his chief strategist.

At one point, he told the journalists in the room that if we were to hear something different about Mr. Bannon, that we ought to bring it to his attention so that he could take action on it.

MCEVERS: That's Mike Grynbaum of The New York Times on the paper's meeting today with President-elect Donald Trump. Thanks a lot.

GRYNBAUM: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.