WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump wanted to order the Justice Department to prosecute two political foes, his one-time presidential opponent Hillary Clinton and former FBI director James Comey, in the spring, but his White House counsel rebuffed him, the New York Times reported on Tuesday.
Don McGahn, the White House counsel at the time, wrote a memo to the president outlining consequences for Trump if he did order these prosecutions.
The outcomes ranged from the traditionally independent Justice Department refusing to comply, to congressional probes and voter outcry, the Times reported.
The New York Times also reported Trump’s lawyers privately asked the Justice Department to investigate Comey for mishandling sensitive government information and his role investigating Clinton’s use of a private email account and server, but law enforcement officials declined.
It was not clear if Trump read the memo or pursued the prosecutions further, the New York Times said. It was also not clear what specific charges Trump wanted the Justice Department to pursue against Comey and Clinton, the Times reported.
Trump has publicly railed against Clinton’s private email use during her tenure as U.S. Secretary of State, as well as her role in the Obama administration’s decision to allow a Russian company to buy a uranium mining firm.
He has also accused Comey, without evidence, of leaking classified information.
The White House and the Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
(Reporting by Makini Brice; Editing by James Dalgleish)