ABC News(WASHINGTON) — President-elect Donald Trump may not look to investigate Hillary Clinton after he takes office, senior sources close to him suggested to ABC News Tuesday, which would be a reversal of his campaign position.
But several people cautioned that Trump is only “leaning that way,” with one saying, “you know Trump, can’t ever say something is a done deal.”
Trump senior adviser Kellyanne Conway today told MSNBC, “I think when the president-elect, who is also the head of your party, tells you he doesn’t wish to pursue the charges, and it sends a strong message tone and content to the members.”
“I think Hillary Clinton still has to face the fact that a majority of Americans don’t find her to be honest or trustworthy, but if Trump can help her heal, perhaps that’s a good thing,” Conway, Trump’s former campaign manager, said. “I think he’s thinking of many different things as he prepares to become the president of the United States, and things that sound like the campaign are not among them.”
During the second presidential debate, Trump warned Clinton that he would seek to prosecute her if he won the election, promising: “I am going to instruct my attorney general to get a special prosecutor to look into your situation, because there has never been so many lies, so much deception. There has never been anything like it, and we’re going to have a special prosecutor.”
Trump’s choice for attorney general, Sen. Jeff Sessions, as recently as last month, has publicly expressed openness to a renewed investigation of Clinton, saying Trump’s proposal for a special prosecutor “might be justified.”
He has not commented on the Clinton matter since his selection for a cabinet post was announced last week.
In his first interview after winning the presidency, Trump told 60 Minutes that he was “going to think about” whether to appoint a special prosecutor to further investigate Clinton for her private email use and handling of classified information. He added that the Clintons are “good people” and that “I don’t want to hurt them.”
FBI director James Comey issued a letter to Congress two days before the election informing lawmakers that a review of emails from former Rep. Anthony Weiner’s computer was complete and that an investigation did not change the agency’s July conclusion that there was no prosecutable offense committed by Clinton or her team of advisers.
Technically, there is no way for a president to directly appoint a special prosecutor under federal law.
As president, it would be within Trump’s power to ask the attorney general to appoint a special prosecutor, but the decision on whether to do so ultimately lies with the Justice Department, according to the federal code.
And while it is ultimately the decision of the attorney general, according to former senior justice department officials, if presented with an order by the president, the A.G. would have a choice to make: comply or resign.
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