Trump Cancels and Reschedules New York Times Meeting; Drops Clinton Investigation
Trump backed out of the Times sitdown, tweeting, "They continue to cover me inaccurately and with a nasty tone!" He then rescheduled amid news that he will no longer pursue a probe into Hillary Clinton's emails.
One day after he summoned the TV media to Trump Tower for a “scolding,” Donald Trump canceled and then rescheduled a planned meeting with The New York Times, a sitdown he requested.
"The meeting with the @nytimes is back on at 12:30 today. Look forward to it!" the presiden-elect tweeted at 10:40 a.m. ET after a morning of back-and-forth negotiations with the newspaper.
The meeting with the @nytimes is back on at 12:30 today. Look forward to it!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 22, 2016
After first tweeting that he canceled the planned Tuesday sit-down with executives and journalists at the "failing" Times when "terms and conditions were changed at the last moment," the newspaper's spokeswoman Eileen Murphy confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter that the meeting was on again.
"Mr. Trump's staff has told us that the President Elect's meeting with The Times is on again," Murphy told THR at 10 a.m. ET. "He will meet with our publisher off-the-record and that session will be followed by an on-the-record meeting with our journalists and editorial columnists."
After requesting the meeting on Monday, Trump took to Twitter early Tuesday morning, around 6 a.m. ET, to announce the cancelation, saying the Times "continue to cover me inaccurately and with a nasty tone!" He said the changing of the conditions were "not nice."
I cancelled today's meeting with the failing @nytimes when the terms and conditions of the meeting were changed at the last moment. Not nice— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 22, 2016
Perhaps a new meeting will be set up with the @nytimes. In the meantime they continue to cover me inaccurately and with a nasty tone!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 22, 2016
The Times only learned of the initial cancelation from Trump's tweets. In response, Murphy told THR in a statement that the paper did not change any of the ground rules and that Trump requested a private meeting only, which the Times refused.
"We were unaware that the meeting was cancelled until we saw the President Elect's tweet this morning," she said in a statement to THR. "We did not change the ground rules at all and made no attempt to. They tried to yesterday - asking for only a private meeting and no on-the-record segment, which we refused to agree to. In the end, we concluded with them that we would go back to the original plan of a small off the record session and a larger on the record session with reporters and columnists."
In a follow-up report, the Times cited three anonymous sources saying Reince Priebus, Trump's incoming White House chief of staff, urged the president-elect to cancel the meeting, because "he would face questions he might not be prepared to answer." The story said Priebus told Trump the Times changed the meeting conditions when they hadn't.
Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks confirmed to the Times that the president-elect would attend the rescheduled meeting. (The campaign has not responded to THR's request for comment.)
Trump arrived at the Times headquarters on schedule, and the editors live-tweeted from inside the newsroom. (See the updates from social media here.) Unlike Monday's meeting with the TV press, which was entirely off the record, the Times meeting included an on-the-record question and answer session with reporters and columnists. There will also be an off-the-record session with the newspaper's publisher.
Tuesday's chaos is the latest example of Trump's contentious relationship with the Times. The president-elect has consistently railed against the “failing” newspaper, taking particular issue with its reporting on sexual assault allegations made against him and tax returns that showed a nearly $1 billion loss that likely allowed him to circumvent paying taxes for nearly two decades.
In subsequent tweets early Tuesday morning — before the meeting was rescheduled — Trump said the Times "announced" that complaints are at a "15 year high" — in reference to a Nov. 19 column titled, "One Thing Voters Agree on: Better Campaign Coverage Was Needed." He then said other "great meetings" will take place today at Trump Tower.
The failing @nytimes just announced that complaints about them are at a 15 year high. I can fully understand that - but why announce?— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 22, 2016
Great meetings will take place today at Trump Tower concerning the formation of the people who will run our government for the next 8 years.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 22, 2016
In Monday's meeting with TV press, Trump, true to form, criticized the copious coverage the media gave him on the way to the White House, calling the TV media “dishonest” and claiming he just wants them to report “the truth.” The meeting was yet another example of the erstwhile reality TV star’s instincts for media manipulation; he got to bash the mainstream media at a time when Americans’ trust in the press is at a nadir and also appeal to his most fervent alt-right supporters, who universally revile the press (which they have taken to calling Lügenpresse, a Nazi-era term that translates to "lying press").
One TV news source in attendance said the meeting was not as combative as it was initially described in the New York Post. (“It was like a f—ing firing squad,” one source told the paper.)
But Trump did complain about the "dishonest" media even as he claimed to want a "cordial " and "productive" relationship. CNN and NBC news were particular targets: He called out CNN Worldwide president Jeff Zucker, who was in attendance, by name and seemed to complain about NBC News correspondent Katy Tur, a frequent target during the campaign, though he did not name her.
Meanwhile Reince Priebus, Trump's newly appointed chief of staff, was playing "good cop" and promised to work with the press pool.
In attendance at the meeting were Fox News' Bill Shine and Jack Abernethy; CNN's Zucker and Wolf Blitzer; CBS' Charlie Rose, Gayle King, Norah O’Donnell and John Dickerson; NBC's Lester Holt, Chuck Todd and NBC News president Deborah Turness; and ABC's George Stephanopoulos, Martha Raddatz and David Muir as well as ABC News president James Goldston.
Also on Tuesday morning, Trump's senior adviser Kellyanne Conway said the Trump administration will not pursue further investigations into Hillary Clinton's email practices.
"I think Hillary Clinton still has to face the fact that a majority of Americans don't find her to be honest or trustworthy, but if Donald Trump can help her heal then perhaps that's a good thing," Conway said on MSNBC's Morning Joe.
The decision comes after months of Trump vowing to investigate his Democratic opponent, whom he nicknamed "Crooked Hillary," while on the campaign trail. Inciting his rallies to chant "lock her up," Trump even told Clinton during a presidential debate that if he won the presidency she would "be in jail." Ahead of Election Day, the FBI cleared Clinton, saying there were no criminal charges to pursue.
“I think when the president-elect, who's also the head of your party now, Joe," Conway said to the host, "tells you before he's even inaugurated he doesn't wish to pursue these charges it sends a very strong message, tone."