The backlash against Donald Trump from some of those who were his most ardent supporters has already began, fueled on Tuesday alone by his staking positions on climate change and Hillary Clinton’s emails at odds with what they were expecting.
Nowhere is the anger and disappointment likely to be more intense than on the issue of Ms Clinton. Just two weeks after defeating her in a campaign that saw him declaring his determination to see her prosecuted, he was suddenly evincing unmistakable second thoughts.
There seemed to have been just as sharp a u-turn on climate change, when, in an interview with reporters and columnists of The New York Times he said he accepted some possibility of “connectivity” between global warming and human activity and signaled he may after all embrace the new international treaty on emissions.
Not that the left was immediately celebrating. The gyrations from Mr Trump maybe just that, with different sentiments emanating from him depending on the day of the week. It could be betrayal. It could be a president-elect who is all over the place on issues. But some saw betrayal anyway, including members of a Hillary for Prison feed on the Reddit sharing site and Twitter handle.
“Broken Promise,” blurted Breitbart, the radical right new site that loaned its chief executive, Stephen Bannon, to be his campaign CEO and who is now slated to be chief strategy advisor to Mr Trump in the White House. It’s beef: his backing off Ms Clinton and her server.
It was on Twitter that the much of the fury was most evident. Among those venting was Ann Coulter, the rightwing author and commentator, who, like many others, called out Mr Trump not just for seemingly going soft on the Clintons but also taking it upon himself to tell the FBI, an independent agency, and the Justice Department what they should be doing with the case.
“Whoa! I thought we elected @realDonaldTrump president. Did we make him the FBI, & DOJ? His job is to pick those guys, not do their jobs,” Ms Coulter said in one Tweet. That was followed by: “As happy as I am that our long national nightmare's over, NO president shld be blocking investigators from doing their jobs.”
Their bad day began when Kellyanne Conway, now senior advisor to Mr Trump during the transition, first let Mr Trump’s new thinking on Ms Clinton drop during an interview with MSNBC. “If Donald Trump can help her heal, then perhaps that’s a good thing,” Ms. Conway said.
It was during his conversation with the Times, that Mr Trump made clear she had not been mistaken. “I don't want to hurt the Clintons; I really don’t,” he said. “She went through a lot and suffered greatly in many ways”. He added that pursuing the issue was just ”just not something that I feel very strongly about.“
Mr Trump predicted his supporters would get over their disappointment because his administration would “save our country” in other ways. That sentiment is unlikely to mollify Judicial Watch, a right wing group that seeks to influence the country’s legal landscape.
“It would be a betrayal of his promise to the American people to 'drain the swamp' of out-of-control corruption in Washington,” it fulminated later on Tuesday. “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.”
That Mr Trump was departing from his campaign promises was beyond doubt. He frequently egged on his supporters as they chanted “lock her up” at his rallies. At one of the debates he turned to the Democrat nominee and to her face declared: “If I win I am going to instruct my attorney general to get a special prosecutor to look into your situation, because there’s never been so many lies, so much deception.”
The waverings of Mr Trump began before Tuesday. Since the start of his transition, he has also emitted conflicting signals on his attitude towards Obamacare, the law on universal insurance put in place by President Barack Obama that during the campaign he vowed to overturn in its totality. He has now suggested that there are parts of the system he’d like to keep.
In her television interview, Ms Conway was unapologetic if some were seeing gaps between promises made on the trail and some of Mr Trump’s utterances now. He is “thinking of many different things as he prepares to become the president of the United States,” she offered, “and things that sound like the campaign aren't among them.”