‘Lock her up’ puts Trump in po­lit­i­cal bind

Prose­cut­ing Clin­ton im­per­ils bid to unify

Baltimore Sun - - TRUMP TRANSITION - By Del Quentin Wil­ber

WASH­ING­TON—“Lock her up!” was his sup­port­ers’ fer­vent cry.

But it’s Don­ald Trump who may find him­self in po­lit­i­cal shack­les, stuck be­tween his fol­low­ers’ yearn­ing to put Hil­lary Clin­ton in jail and his ex­pressed de­sire to unite a frac­tured coun­try af­ter an elec­tion in which he lost the pop­u­lar vote.

The ten­sion is not likely to dis­si­pate any time soon.

Af­ter hav­ing pledged to ap­point a spe­cial prose­cu­tor to in­ves­ti­gate Clin­ton, Trump faces a dilemma: He can ei­ther drop the mat­ter and risk an­ger­ing his sup­port­ers, or charge ahead with a crim­i­nal in­quiry tar­get­ing his van­quished po­lit­i­cal foe, some­thing never be­fore done in U.S. history.

“It’s a tough de­ci­sion,” for­mer New York Mayor Ru­dolph Gi­u­liani, a Trump ad­viser and a top choice to be the next at­tor­ney gen- eral, told CNN on Thurs­day. “I don’t know what the right an­swer to that is. It’s a tough one that ought to be given a lot of thought.”

The an­swer, of course, rests with Trump.

The pres­i­dent-elect may have sig­naled his in­ten­tions to forgo an in­ves­ti­ga­tion when he told sup­port­ers dur­ing his vic­tory ad­dress that the coun­try owed Clin­ton “a ma­jor debt of grat­i­tude for her ser­vice.”

That doesn’t sound like what you would say when you are about to seek a spe­cial prose­cu­tor, ac­cord­ing to le­gal ex­perts and po­lit­i­cal con­sul­tants. Trump is surely cog­nizant, they said, of the im­mense po­lit­i­cal and le­gal hur­dles of forg­ing ahead.

In an in­ter­view with The Wall Street Jour­nal pub­lished on­line Fri­day, Trump sug­gested he had higher pri­or­i­ties. “It’s not some­thing I’ve given a lot of thought, be­cause I want to solve health care, jobs, bor­der con­trol, tax re­form,” he A young sup­porter of Don­ald Trump dresses as Hil­lary Clin­ton in a prison jump­suit dur­ing a rally. While cam­paign­ing, Trump vowed to ap­point a spe­cial prose­cu­tor to probe Clin­ton. said.

A pros­e­cu­tion of Clin­ton for mis­han­dling clas­si­fied ma­te­rial on a pri­vate email server while sec­re­tary of state would cer­tainly in­flame Democrats and anger in­de­pen­dent vot­ers wish­ing for noth­ing more than to put the night­mare of the 2016 cam­paign be­hind them.

It would also be­come cam­paign fod­der in the 2018 midterm elec­tion and might dis­tract f rom Trump’s ef­forts to build a wall on the bor­der of Mex­ico and re­peal the Af­ford­able Care Act.

“Is there a back­lash to him re­open­ing this? There would be,” said Reed Galen, a Repub­li­can strate­gist. “This coun­try is so highly di­vided along po­lit­i­cal lines. Are you re­ally go­ing to an­tag­o­nize 160 mil­lion Amer­i­cans for the pur­poses of mak­ing the other 160 mil­lion happy?”

“If I were ad­vis­ing him, and I am cer­tainly not, I would tell him to take the (vic­tory) speech he gave and al­low the Clin­tons to fade into Amer­i­can po­lit­i­cal history,” Galen said.

Dou­glas Brink­ley, a best- sell­ing au­thor and his­to­rian at Rice Uni­ver­sity, said ap­point­ing a spe­cial prose­cu­tor would be un­prece­dented and draw com­par­isons to the well-known vin­dic­tive streak of Pres­i­dent Richard Nixon.

“Trump has to be care­ful not to seem Nixo­nian and de­velop his en­e­mies list and de­stroy op­po­nents,” Brink­ley said. “I think he has his hands full with build­ing a wall, and I’m not sure play­ing to the ‘lock her up’ mo­tif gets him any­where. It would just be very bad, a ter­ri­ble prece­dent to start

RJ SANGOSTI/DENVER POST

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