Politics

Trump Won't Pursue Campaign Promise of Investigating Clinton

If law enforcement officials decide to further investigate former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, it won't come at the request of Donald Trump.

Trump's former campaign manager Kellyanne Conway told MSNBC's Morning Joe that the president-elect would not pursue one his most explosive campaign promises.

Conway presented the president-elect's decision as a move toward healing the nation.

"I think when the President-elect, who's also the head of your party, tells you before he's even inaugurated that he doesn't wish to pursue these charges, it sends a very strong message, tone, and content," Conway said.

In addition to endorsing his supporters frequent chants of "lock her up" throughout the campaign, Trump said during the second debate "If I win, 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."

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Conway added that Clinton "still has to face the fact that a majority of Americans don't find her to be honest or trustworthy."

This apparent abandonment of a campaign promise has prompted criticism from some of Trump's most ardent supporters, including Breitbart.com

However, as several legal scholars have pointed out, Trump never truly had the authority to fulfill the promise.

It's not within the powers of the president himself to order an investigation, nor does he have the unilateral power to "lock up" someone without due process.

Columbia University professor Daniel Richman told the Washington Post this morning that, though the president can lay out broad priorities for the Department of Justice, "there are a considerable number of conventions, protections and institutional frameworks in place to keep presidents out of particular cases.”

Fortune Magazine reached out to a number of legal experts and former attorneys general at the time Trump made the promise to appoint a special prosecutor, and they were all clear: this is not an action the president has the power to take and Trump's threat was without precedent in American history.

Update, 2:16 PM PST

After this story was published, President-elect Trump told a gathering of New York Times staff members that he had NOT completely ruled out prosecuting Secretary Clinton...

...then later in the same meeting, reiterated that he likely won't attempt to prosecute Secretary Clinton.