President-elect Donald Trump said he doesn't "feel very strongly" about further investigations of onetime rival Hillary Clinton, backing away from fiery campaign rhetoric in which he pledged to appoint a prosecutor to probe her email server and foundation work.
"I don't want to hurt the Clintons, I really don't," Mr. Trump said in an interview with the New York Times on Tuesday. When pushed to say whether he had ruled out prosecution of Mrs. Clinton, he said: "It's just not something that I feel very strongly about," according to comments published by the Times.
In the interview, Mr. Trump also said he disavowed the so-called alt-right movement, which has been tied to racism and anti-Semitism.
"It's not a group I want to energize. And if they are energized, I want to look into it and find out why," he said to the Times. Asked about a video that showed white nationalists gathered in D.C., he said: "I disavow and condemn them."
In other comments, Mr. Trump said he has an "open mind" on whether to pull the U.S. out of an international climate accord. On his business dealings, he said that when it comes to conflicts of interest, "the law's totally on my side, the president can't have a conflict of interest." He added: "In theory I could run my business perfectly and then run the country perfectly."
Earlier, a top aide said Mr. Trump wouldn't push for prosecutors to investigate Mrs. Clinton for her email practices or the operations of the Clinton Foundation.
"I think when the president-elect, who's also the head of your party, tells you before he's even inaugurated that he doesn't wish to pursue these charges, it sends a very strong message, tone and content" to others, Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway said on MSNBC.
Mr. Trump, during one of three debates with his Democratic rival, had said he would direct the attorney general to launch an investigation of Mrs. Clinton, whom he regularly referred to as "crooked Hillary." He said repeatedly that she should be in jail, and his supporters often yelled "lock her up" at his rallies.
"If I win, I am going to instruct my attorney general to get a special prosecutor to look into your situation," he said during a debate in October.
Mrs. Clinton couldn't immediately be reached for comment.
In the days after the election, he showed signs of wavering, telling The Wall Street Journal in an interview that he hadn't decided how to proceed. "It's not something I've given a lot of thought, because I want to solve health care, jobs, border control, tax reform," he said at the time.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation probed Mrs. Clinton's email practices, which involved the use of a personal server while serving as secretary of state, and didn't pursue charges. It concluded she and her aides were "extremely careless" in handling sensitive information but that "no charges were appropriate."
Mr. Trump repeatedly said on the campaign trail that Mrs. Clinton broke the law. During the second presidential debate, he said that she should be "in jail."
Mr. Trump's campaign trail rhetoric was widely criticized for violating longstanding norms in politics against politically motivated prosecutions of rivals. Decisions about prosecution are made by the Justice Department without White House involvement to ensure that political considerations aren't a factor and to preserve the independence of prosecutors.
Some Republicans in Congress have said they intend to continue pursuing Mrs. Clinton. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R., Utah) after the election said his "task No. 1 is to get what are literally tens of thousands of documents out of the State Department."
The Trump campaign's statements could complicate the confirmation process of his attorney general pick, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R., Ala.), who will likely be pressed by Democrats about what conversations, if any, he has had with Mr. Trump about Mrs. Clinton.