Trump Surrogates Defend His Debate Promise To Put Clinton In Jail

October 10, 2016 12:51 a.m.

ST. LOUIS, MO — Donald Trump surrogates, including a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, defended his promise to sic his Department of Justice on Hillary Clinton, while a Democratic senator supporting Clinton called the remark one of the worst moments of the debate.

Trump said that Clinton “would be in jail” if he was president and that he would “instruct the attorney general to get a special prosecutor to look into your situation.”

In the spin room after the debate, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), one of Trump’s earliest supporters who also sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee, which has oversight over the federal judicial system, seemed a little thrown off, at first, by TPM’s question whether that was an appropriate use of the political system.

“Well, I like that he said a special prosecutor, and so, I, uh, think one might be justified, we will have to see about that, I haven’t studied it,” Sessions said. “But he didn’t say that he was going to direct a prosecutor to bring charges. He just said a special prosecutor to investigate, and that would be an independent prosecutor to investigate, and that would be an independent prosecutor in the special prosecutor system, not one picked by the president.”

(Trump said that he would instruct the AG to get a special prosecutor, and that “We’re going to get a special prosecutor because people have been, their lives have been destroyed for doing one fifth of what you’ve done.”)

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Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO), a Clinton surrogate, brought up the comment when a reporter asked her what Trump’s worst debate moments were.

“The notion that he would stand up there and say, ‘I am going to prosecute Hillary Clinton and you belong in jail,’ it’s irresponsible and it’s insulting to the FBI,” she said.

Former Attorney General Eric Holder responded to Trump’s remark on Twitter, calling it “dangerous” and arguing that Trump was “promising to abuse the power of the office.”

But Trump’s supporters saw no such dangers in the legal and political implication of Trump’s vow.

“Look, there were federal laws that were broken,” Jason Miller, a Trump campaign spokesman and former Senate staffer, said in the spin room. “Why do you think that five people took immunity deals in this? This is why people call her crooked Hillary Clinton, we saw the Fox News poll that came out last Friday, 52 percent think the name ‘crooked’ applies to Hillary Clinton, so it was ridiculous. It was very clear the laws have been broken here. “

Rep. Jason Smith (R-MO) also defended Trump’s promise.

“I have heard several members of Congress do the same thing,” he said.

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