President Donald Trump tried to order the Department of Justice to prosecute his former opponent Hillary Clinton and fired FBI Director James Comey but was rebuffed by White House counsel Don McGahn, The New York Times reports.
According to the report, McGahn told Trump that he had no authority to order such a prosecution and said while he could order an investigation, he would be accused of abusing his power.
McGahn asked White House lawyers to write a memo for the president warning him of the potential consequences of such an order, including potential impeachment.
“It is unclear whether Mr. Trump read Mr. McGahn’s memo or whether he pursued the prosecutions further,” The Times reported.
Trump continued to privately discuss appointing a second special counsel to investigate Hillary and Comey and has complained that FBI Director Christopher Wray has not investigated Clinton more aggressively.
It’s unclear what charges Trump wanted Clinton and Comey to be prosecuted for. He has in the past tweeted accusations that Comey illegally shared classified information with The New York Times.
White House silent: The White House has not released a comment for the second straight day about the New York Times report, ABC News reported.
Former Bush AG condemns Trump’s demand: “We live in a democracy, and you don’t go after political rivals,” former George W. Bush Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said in an interview with CNN. He added that even if your political opponents did something illegal, “even then, you do so very, very carefully, because of possible allegations that you’re doing something, you’re going after your political rivals for no reason whatsoever.”
“I think it’s a very, very serious situation, one that requires a delicate touch,” he added.
Ex-Hillary aide condemns: "If this happened in another country we'd have the state department saying it was no longer a Democracy,” former Clinton aide Neera Tanden said in response to the report.