Trump was so vague and contradictory during his campaigns -- first for the GOP nomination and then for Prez -- that one can argue that his recent "backdowns" are just his general vagueness and nothing new. His decision not to prosecute Hillary, however, is clearly a change. So why?
He has actually told us why. He wants to bring the nation together and for that reason he has been extremely conciliatory. He has been as nice as he can to everybody. And given the big guns in the media, the bureaucracy and the legal system he might see it as simply safer to lay off Hillary. Push the Donks to the wall and you never know what they will come up with. Bribes and threats to members of the electoral college? A cinch. And that is just the start.
And there are two general reasons for him to go easy:
1). He is a most experienced businessman and if you want the best result in business you have to do all that you reasonably can to keep people sweet. To be corny, you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.
2). Nobody seems to be mentioning this but Trump is himself one of the establishment. He may not previously have stood for elective office but he knows most of the main players of old and has donated to some of their electoral campaigns. He is one of the best known people in America. He has long been a celebrity. His marriages and divorces have for decades been front-page news. There is a reason why he is known as "The Donald".
And that is gold. People WANT to know and be seen with a celebrity and Trump is a celebrity. He can hobnob with anybody he wants. He just has to buy them a flash dinner at one of his establishments and the flashbulbs will flash. And lots of people crave those flashes. And guess what? His beloved and devoted daughter Ivanka is close friends with whom? Chelsea Clinton. Would you want to put the mother of your beloved daughter's close friend in jail?
So I think it is clear why Hillary is off the hook. She was always going to be off the hook.
But what of his other backdowns? Obamacare and the Paris climate agreement? Again, as a good businessman he knows the value of compromise and he wants to be seen as fair. "winner takes all" just generates resentment. The way Obama and his minions pushed Obamacare through with out ANY GOP support is an example of where that approach leads. All the effort they put in to get it though now looks like being a complete waste -- a cancelled legacy. So Trump is looking for at least the appearance of compromise.
So what about Obamacare? He has a clear mandate to abolish it and a majority in both houses who are mad keen to do so. Any compromise he offers will therefore be greeted with relief. He can look like the generous man in the middle who reconciles two deeply opposed parties -- And he has already said that he likes some provisions of Obamacare.
So my prediction is that he will negotiate with both sides of Congress to gut Obamacare but leave enough remnants for both sides to feel that they have been heard and been given something. That should achieve what Obamacare could not: A health insurance system that has at least a degree of bipartisan support -- making it resistant to much in the way of future changes. Something as hard-fought as health insurance reform is going to leave people with little appetite for further battles over it. The new system is likely to win general acceptance as the best that can be done. Australia has arrived at that point after similar long battles.
So what could he do with the Paris agreement? There are two things
1). He could present it to the Senate for ratification, which is the legally correct thing to do. The U.S. Congress as a whole has the great distinction of being the only legislature in the world to have skeptics in the majority and the Senate would certainly not endorse the Paris agreement. It would thus lapse and Trump would not be to blame. That blame would fall on the shoulders of the Senate, and they have broad shoulders.
2). He could do nothing. He could accept the Paris agreement but just fail to enforce it. Any time some action is demanded of him he could just say things like: "America comes first in my administration and I am not going to hit the coal miners of West Virginia again. They have already suffered enough". He could, in other words, always find some higher priority than to worry about global warming. I think it is highly likely that he will do one of those two things, most likely the former.
So Trump's "backdowns" actually show his wisdom and experience. People took him for an aggressive and ignorant fool but behind his facade was a cool thinker. They made the same mistake with Ronald Reagan.