President Trump’s long campaign to weaponize the Justice Department against Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party may be about to enter a new and dangerous phase.
News outlets report that Attorney General Jeff Sessions is considering appointing a special prosecutor to investigate whether Clinton rewarded donors to the Clinton Foundation by pushing the Obama administration to allow a Russian nuclear agency to take control of Uranium One, a Canadian firm with mining rights in the western U.S.
Sessions also has asked senior prosecutors to review former FBI Director James Comey’s decision last fall to publicly exonerate Clinton of any criminal liability for her handling of emails she sent and received as secretary of state.
There is no evidence that Clinton was involved in the decision to approve the Uranium One sale, and the transfer did not permit the exporting of any U.S.-mined uranium. But Trump and some congressional Republicans have been relentless in pushing for an investigation of the sale and the Clinton Foundation.
During last year’s campaign, Trump repeatedly promised to have Clinton investigated and prosecuted. Chants of “Lock her up,” became a staple of his rallies.
But after winning the presidency, Trump backed away from a potential Clinton prosecution. He has revived the possibility in recent weeks as Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russia’s attempts to influence the 2016 election and the Trump campaign’s possible involvement in that meddling has intensified.
“Honestly, they should be looking at the Democrats,” Trump told reporters shortly before leaving on a 12-day Asian tour earlier this month. “And a lot of people are disappointed in the Justice Department, including me.”
No less an authority than former Attorney General Michael Mukasey, a Trump supporter, has warned against any Clinton prosecution, suggesting it would be appropriate only in “a banana republic.”
“Putting political opponents in jail for offenses committed in a political setting, even if they are criminal offenses — and they very well may be — is something that we don’t do here,” Mukasey said last year.
And earlier this year, during his Senate confirmation hearing, Sessions said he would refuse a direct order from Trump to pursue Clinton. “This country does not punish its political enemies,” he told the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Sessions is on Capitol Hill this morning for a regular oversight hearing with the House Judiciary Committee. Answering questions about a possible Clinton investigation, he promised that Justice Department decisions will not be influenced by politics.
Office: Common Cause National