'BROKEN PROMISE': Trump faces backlash from some of his biggest supporters after reversal on Clinton
President-elect Donald Trump's most friendly media ally, as well as others supportive of his presidential bid, on Tuesday criticized his apparent reversal on pursuing an investigation against his former opponent, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
Breitbart News, the outlet run by his recently appointed White House chief strategist, Steve Bannon, blared in a headline on the developments: "BROKEN PROMISE."
The story, however, did not provide a slant against Trump for the evident reversal, which was conveyed by one of his senior advisers on Tuesday.
Breitbart gained a reputation throughout the campaign as being the most pro-Trump source of information.
During a Tuesday meeting with reporters and editors at The New York Times, Trump said the investigation is "just not something that I feel very strongly about" and "I don't want to hurt the Clintons, I really don't. She went through a lot and suffered greatly in many different ways," per tweets from Times reporters.
He also said he doesn't think his supporters will be disappointed by the decision to not prosecute, although he did not give a definiteive answer when asked if it was completely off the table.
"I think I will explain it that we in many ways will save our country," he said.
On MSNBC's "Morning Joe" on Tuesday, Trump senior adviser Kellyanne Conway suggested the president-elect would back off his campaign stance. It hit a boiling point when, during the second presidential debate, Trump promised to appoint a special prosecutor to look into Clinton's use of a private email server while she was secretary of state — an issue on which the FBI cleared her of any criminal wrongdoing — as well as the activities of the Clinton Foundation.
Trump said during that debate that Clinton would be "in jail" if he were president. Throughout the final months of the campaign, chants of "lock her up" roared at Trump's raucous rallies.
"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," Conway said on Tuesday.
In an interview with CBS earlier this month, Trump said he was still "thinking about" appointing a special prosecutor to pursue charges against Clinton because "she did some bad things," but he said he didn't want to "hurt" the Clintons because "they're good people."
Before Conway's interview on "Morning Joe," cohosts Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough reported that a source close to Trump's transition team said Trump felt Clinton had "been through enough."
Clinton "still has to face the fact that a majority of Americans don't find her to be honest or trustworthy," Conway said — adding, however, that "if Donald Trump can help her heal, then perhaps that's a good thing to do."
The conservative legal group Judicial Watch, which led a charge on Clinton over her use of the private server, also chastised Trump on Tuesday for his apparent reversal, saying in a statement that the president-elect "must commit his administration to a serious, independent investigation of the very serious Clinton national security, email, and pay-to-play scandals."
"If Mr. Trump's appointees continue the Obama administration's politicized spiking of a criminal investigation of Hillary Clinton, it would be a betrayal of his promise to the American people to 'drain the swamp' of out-of-control corruption in Washington, DC," the group wrote. "President-elect Trump should focus on healing the broken justice system, affirm the rule of law, and appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the Clinton scandals."
Judicial Watch promised to "vigorously pursue" independent litigation and investigation of Clinton.
Conservative best-selling author Ann Coulter, one of Trump's top supporters on the campaign trail, also criticized the move, suggesting it was not his job to tell the Department of Justice and FBI how to proceed.
Other top Trump allies, however, signaled tepid support of the move. Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who on the campaign trail encouraged the appointment of a special prosecutor, said on Tuesday that "there's a tradition in American politics that after you win an election, you sort of put things behind you."
"And if that's the decision he reached, that's perfectly consistent with sort of a historical pattern of things come up, you say a lot of things, even some bad things might happen, and then you can sort of put it behind you in order to unite the nation," Giuliani told reporters in Trump Tower, noting that he had just seen a clip of the report. "So if he made that decision, I would be supportive of it. I'd also be supportive of continuing the investigation."
"I think the president-elect had a tough choice there. You could go either way," he continued. "If he made the choice to unite the nation, I think all those people who didn't vote against him maybe could take another look at him."