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Report: Trump wanted to order DOJ to prosecute Comey, Clinton

Published

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Donald Trump
Trump
has repeatedly tried to weaponize the DOJ against his
rivals.

Christian
Hartmann/Reuters


  • President Donald Trump reportedly wanted to order the DOJ to
    prosecute former FBI director James Comey and former Secretary of
    State Hillary Clinton.
  • Trump only backed down when then White House counsel Don
    McGahn told him he didn’t have the power to order investigations
    into his political rivals.
  • The move is the latest in a series of documented efforts in
    which Trump has tried to use the DOJ as a weapon against his
    perceived enemies.

President Donald Trump wanted to order the Justice Department to
prosecute two of his biggest political rivals but backed down
when he was told he didn’t have the authority to do that, The New
York Times reported Tuesday.

Trump wanted the DOJ to investigate former FBI director James
Comey and former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton,
according to the report. But when the president floated the idea
to then White House counsel Don McGahn in the spring, McGahn is
said to have told Trump he couldn’t order the DOJ to conduct
investigations.

McGahn reportedly added that Trump could request an
investigation, but that the move would likely spark a public
outcry and accusations that he was abusing his power.

The Times’ report is the latest in a series of documented efforts
Trump has made to exert control over the nation’s top
law-enforcement agency. The DOJ is meant to be independent of the
White House, but Trump has previously shown that he believes it
is a political tool to be wielded against his perceived enemies.

In addition to publicly pressuring the DOJ to prosecute his
rivals, Trump once reportedly asked advisers why he couldn’t have
“my guys” at the “Trump Justice Department” do his bidding.

Trump has long harbored resentment toward both Comey and Clinton.
When he ran against the former first lady in the 2016 election,
Trump and his surrogates regularly led chants calling to “lock
her up” in response to revelations that Clinton used a private
email server to conduct government business when she was
secretary of state.

He initially backed down after he won the presidency, but Trump
soon resumed his calls for her prosecution when Clinton began
criticizing him after the election, and as the FBI began
investigating his campaign’s contacts with Russia.

Comey, meanwhile, moved into Trump’s crosshairs when he publicly
confirmed the existence of the Russia investigation last March,
shortly after Trump took office. Subsequent reporting and
congressional testimony revealed that after Trump learned of the
investigation, he repeatedly pressured Comey to publicly state he
was not personally under investigation, or to drop the probe
entirely. When Comey refused, Trump fired him and later publicly
stated he ousted the FBI director because of the Russia
investigation.

Comey’s firing now makes up the basis of a separate inquiry,
overseen by the special counsel Robert Mueller, into whether
Trump sought to obstruct justice in the Russia probe.

When Comey began publicly criticizing Trump after his removal,
the president called for prosecutors to investigate Comey for
leaking classified information to The Times when he had his
friend share a memo with the paper that documented some of what
Comey believed were his most troubling interactions with the
president. The memo did not contain any classified information.

He has also called for Comey and other current and former FBI and
DOJ officials to be investigated over their handling of the
Clinton email probe during the election.

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