President Donald Trump told his White House counsel earlier this year that he wanted the Department of Justice to prosecute former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, The New York Times reported Tuesday, citing anonymous sources.
Then-White House Counsel Donald McGahn told the president that he had no authority to order a prosecution, according to the report, which did not directly quote the sources. He also warned the president that directing the DOJ to investigate Clinton could risk unraveling Trump’s administration, the sources noted.
McGahn allegedly provided Trump with a memo from White House lawyers that effectively confirmed his warnings. The president has considered possibly appointing a second special counsel to investigate both Clinton and former FBI Director James Comey, the sources note.
He has also expressed annoyance at FBI Director Christopher Wray for not closing in on the failed presidential candidate – Trump has even called him weak, according to one of the sources who claims to have discussed the matter with the president.
“Mr. McGahn will not comment on his legal advice to the president,” McGahn’s lawyer, William Burck, told TheNYT. “Like any client, the president is entitled to confidentiality. Mr. McGahn would point out, though, that the president never, to his knowledge, ordered that anyone prosecute Hillary Clinton or James Comey.”
The president asked McGahn what was preventing him from ordering an investigation, the two sources said. McGahn said he did not have such authority, but warned that making such a request could roil the president in several problems. Congress could then investigate Trump’s role in the prosecution and seek impeachment charges or he could torpedo his re-election bid.
The DOJ has not responded to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for confirmation.
It is not clear which accusations Trump wanted the DOJ to pursue. The president publicly groused after the former FBI director drafted at least seven memos detailing his meetings and conversations with Trump in 2016. He also sarcastically suggested locking up Clinton for using a private email server during her time as secretary of state.
Many conservatives see Comey’s move as dubious and question the legality of those leaks. Four of the seven memos Comey drafted contained confidential information. He leaked four of the memos to Columbia University professor Daniel, who then provided the information to the media. (RELATED: DOJ Will Release Comey Memo To Congress)
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