As president, Donald Trump would have the power to carry out his vow to have a special prosecutor reopen the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails, if not to guarantee his threat to her that “you’d be in jail” if he ran the country, says the New York Times. Such a move would take U.S. democracy to a dangerous new place, legal specialists across the ideological spectrum said. “It’s a chilling thought,” said Michael Chertoff, a former federal appeals judge who was secretary of Homeland Security and head of the Justice Department’s criminal division in the George W. Bush administration. Chertoff, who has announced that he will vote for Clinton, said, “It smacks of what we read about tin-pot dictators in other parts of the world, where when they win an election their first move is to imprison opponents.”
In Sunday’s debate, Trump cited the DOJ investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server while secretary of state. “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,” he said. “This is a manifestation of the same tendency to be willing to use the machinery of the state to go after one’s political enemies, which is very dangerous,” said David Rivkin, a White House and Justice Department lawyer under the first President Bush who has criticized the decision to close the Clinton email investigation without charges. “There is nothing historically that would be comparable.” Under federal regulations, special prosecutors are appointed in sensitive cases where senior officials may have a conflict of interest. If Trump were president, “he has the power to do it, whether it’s a wise thing to do or not,” said Dick Thornburgh, who served as attorney general in the Ronald Reagan and George Bush administrations.