President Donald Trump told the top White House lawyer in April that he wanted to order federal prosecutions of Hillary Clinton and James Comey, The New York Times reported Tuesday.
The Times report, citing two people familiar with the conversation, said recently departed White House counsel Don McGahn told Trump in response that he could not compel the Justice Department to prosecute people and even requesting an investigation could be a step too far. The Times said McGahn went on to have White House lawyers list the consequences of such a demand for Trump.
The Times said it was unclear if Trump read the memo about the consequences of a president having the Justice Department investigate his opponents and that it was also unclear what Trump wanted the prosecutions to cover.
Trump has long called for legal action against Clinton, his Democratic rival in 2016, over her email practices as secretary of state, and he has alleged that Comey, who he fired as FBI director last year, leaked classified information.
Attorney William Burck told CNN that McGahn would not comment on legal advice he had given to the President.
“Like any client, the President is entitled to confidentiality,” Burck said. “Mr. McGahn would point out, though, that the President never, to his knowledge, ordered that anyone prosecute Hillary Clinton or James Comey.”
McGahn left the White House in October, a long-planned departure that followed a tenure marked in part by friction with the President. Tuesday’s report about the April conversation echoed previous reporting about Trump and McGahn, including an order to fire special counsel Robert Mueller, which McGahn was said to have refused. Trump denied last January that he had made such a request.