On several occasions, President Trump raised the idea of prosecuting Hillary Clinton, which he had repeatedly pledged on the campaign to do once in the White House.
Trump raised the subject with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Matt Whitaker, who was then-chief of staff to Jeff Sessions, according to CNN. “The President also wanted his previous White House counsel, Don McGahn, to ask the Justice Department to prosecute Clinton on numerous occasions, but McGahn rebuffed doing that,” CNN said.
The New York Times reported that Trump raised the notion last spring, asking questions about prosecuting Clinton and also former FBI Director James Comey.
McGahn reportedly “rebuffed the president, saying that he had no authority to order a prosecution. Mr. McGahn said that while he could request an investigation, that too could prompt accusations of abuse of power. To underscore his point, Mr. McGahn had White House lawyers write a memo for Mr. Trump warning that if he asked law enforcement to investigate his rivals, he could face a range of consequences, including possible impeachment,” the Times reported.
Throughout the 2016 campaign, Trump had vowed to investigate Clinton. “I will ask, to appoint a special prosecutor. We have to investigate Hillary Clinton, and we have to investigate the investigation,” he said at one Florida campaign rally.
In 2017, Trump pressed then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions to study whether Clinton misdeeds called for further investigation, but Sessions pushed back on the idea of appointing a special counsel to oversee such a probe.
In a November 13, 2017 letter, the Justice Department informed Republican members of the House Judiciary Committee that Sessions had “directed senior federal prosecutors to evaluate certain issues” the committee raised, which includes Clinton’s role in approving the sale of Uranium One and alleged illegal Clinton foundation dealings. Also on the list was Clinton’s use of a home-brew server on which she sent thousands of unrecorded emails.
The letter directed members to “make recommendations as to whether any of the matters not currently under investigation should be opened, whether any matters currently under investigation require further resources, or whether any matters merit the appointment of a Special Counsel.”
By March 2018, Sessions rejected calls from Republican lawmakers to appoint a second special counsel to investigate alleged abuse by the FBI and Department of Justice.
“I take the concerns you raise seriously,” Sessions wrote in a letter to three Congressional committee chairmen Thursday, The New York Times reported. “No institution is perfect,” he said.
Instead, Sessions tapped Utah’s top federal prosecutor, John Huber, to look into the allegations against the FBI and DOJ, and accusations that Clinton’s alleged involvement with Uranium One were not fully investigated, CNN reported.