Continuing to peel back some of his harsher campaign rhetoric, Donald Trump is now backing off his support for the interrogation technique known as waterboarding.

In an interview with The New York Times, Trump cited the anti-waterboarding comments of retired Gen. James Mattis, a top candidate for secretary of Defense.

"He said, 'I've never found it to be useful,'" Trump said, adding that Mattis told him of interrogations in general: "'Give me a pack of cigarettes and a couple of beers, and I'll do better.'"

Trump added: "I was very impressed by that answer."

Lawmakers say waterboarding is an illegal form of torture, including key Republicans like Sen. John McCain of Arizona, who say they would never vote to re-authorize the practice.

Since his election, Trump has scaled back on a number of pledges.

The president-elect has said he would like to keep some aspects of President Obama's health care law, suggested that his proposed "wall" along the U.S.-Mexico border could include fencing, and dropped his call for a special prosecutor to investigate Hillary and Bill Clinton.

President-elect Donald Trump waves to the crowd as he leaves the New York Times building following a meeting, Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2016, in New York.

Photo Credit: Mark Lennihan/AP

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