ST. LOUIS — After Sunday evening’s presidential debate, Hillary Clinton’s campaign fired back against Donald Trump’s comment that as president he would “instruct” his attorney general to appoint a special prosecutor to go after Hillary Clinton.
“That is the comment of a dictator that you expect to hear in a banana republic — the idea of jailing your political opponents,” Clinton campaign spokesman Brian Fallon told Yahoo News after the debate.
During the bout, Trump invoked Clinton’s use of a private email server while secretary of state and said he was not satisfied with the FBI’s recommendation not to prosecute the case. “I’ll tell you what, I didn’t think I’d say this, and I’m going to say it and hate to say it,” Trump said. “If I win, I’m going to instruct the attorney general to get a special prosecutor to look into your situation because there’s never been so many lies, so much deception.”
Clinton said that Trump’s allegations about her emails were false, adding, “It’s just awfully good that someone with the temperament of Donald Trump is not in charge of the law of our country.”
Trump then retorted: “Because you’d be in jail,” as some in the audience cheered and laughed.
After the debate, Trump’s campaign doubled down on the assertion:
The attorney general works under the president, but traditionally, attorneys general have tried to keep a wall of separation between who they prosecute and the president’s politics. The Clinton campaign made the case after the debate that Trump was saying he would not respect this wall and personally order his political opponents jailed. For months, supporters at Trump’s rallies have led chants of “Lock her up,” referring to Clinton.
Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., made the case that Trump was not saying he would personally order a prosecution, merely that he would call for a special prosecutor to be set up through an independent process. “He’s tired of this. So he feels strongly about it,” Sessions said after the debate. “But he did say a special prosecutor, which would be one appointed through an independent process — not by a president. And they would do an investigation, that’s what a special prosecutor does. And if they find sufficient evidence, then they bring a charge.”
But Ben Carson, another Trump surrogate, seemed less eager to clarify Trump’s comments. “Let me put it this way: If our justice system worked the way that it should, she would be in jail. He’s speaking the truth,” Carson said.