President Trump reportedly told his then White House counsel this spring that he wanted the Justice Department to prosecute 2016 presidential opponent Hillary Clinton and former FBI Director James B. Comey.
Citing “two people familiar with the conversation,” The New York Times reported Tuesday that counsel Don McGahn flatly told the president that he didn’t have the power to do that and that even the one thing that could be done — request an investigation — would risk ending his presidency.
“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 wrote.
Though The Times called the reported conversation “one of the most blatant examples yet” of Mr. Trump seeing the Justice Department as a political tool, there was no evidence that Mr. Trump’s musings to Mr. McGahn went beyond that.
It is also unknown whether the president ever read Mr. McGahn’s memo, though The Times reported that “according to two people who have spoken to Mr. Trump about the issue,” he has continued to discuss the possibility of a second special prosecutor to investigate Mrs. Clinton, whom he frequently said during the campaign should be imprisoned for her email practices, and Mr. Comey, whom he fired.
Mr. McGahn left the White House earlier this fall.
Both a White House spokesman and an FBI spokeswoman declined to comment to the Times.