Trump condemns alt-right, says open-minded about climate change at New York Times interview

Donald Trump arrives at the NY Times offices (Getty)
Donald Trump arrives at the NY Times offices (Getty)

United States President-elect Donald Trump has disavowed his far-right supporters, waned on his pledge to "lock up" Hillary Clinton, acknowledged climate change and discussed his meeting with Barack Obama in an interview at the New York Times office on Tuesday.

After initially cancelling his visit, Mr Trump arrived for the lunchtime meeting with the newspaper he's slammed in the past as "failing" and "dishonest". 

"I have great respect for the New York Times. I have tremendous respect," he said. "I think I've been treated very rough."

Mr Trump condemned an alt-right conference held in Washington at the weekend where some members performed a Hitler salute and yelled "Heil Trump!" after a speech about white nationalism.

"I condemn them. I disavow, and I condemn," Trump told the New York Times.

When asked about Steve Bannon, appointed chief strategist in Mr Trump's administration, he said: "If I thought he was a racist or alt-right or any of the things, the terms we could use, I wouldn't even think about hiring him".

Mr Bannon formerly worked for Breitbart News - a media outlet with ties to white supremacist groups.

Mr Trump said Breitbart is "just a does cover subjects on the right, but it covers subjects on the left also. It's a pretty big thing."

In the wide-ranging interview, Mr Trump said he thinks there is some connection between climate change and human activity and "clean air is vitally important".

Mr Trump told the newspaper he is keeping "an open mind" on the issue. In the past he has called man-made global warming a hoax.

During his presidential campaign, Mr Trump had said repeatedly he would withdraw from the Paris climate accord. In the interview he said: I'm looking at it very closely. I have an open mind to it."

"I had a great meeting with President Obama," Mr Trump said. "I really liked him a lot."

Mr Obama, a Democrat, met with Mr Trump at the Oval Office on November 10, two days after the presidential election. The two had talked again since then.

"He said very nice things after the meeting and I said very nice things about him," Mr Trump said, adding that he didn't know if he'd like the outgoing Commander-in-Chief.

"He did tell me what he thought were the biggest problems, in particular one problem," Mr Trump said, but he would not reveal to reporters what the particular problem is.

After pledging to "lock her up" President-elect Donald Trump waned on pursuing charges against his presidential rival Hillary Clinton.

Mr Trump said "no" when asked if he is taking investigations off the table. But he did add that he doesn't want to "hurt the Clintons".

"It's just not something that I feel very strongly about," he said, adding that he wanted to move on and move forward.

"I think it would be very very divisive for the country," Mr Trump said.

At the end of the meeting, Mr Trump said the New York Times is "a world jewel. And I hope we can all get along". The comment was a departure from previous comments in which he condemned the organisation for its stories.