Both Republicans and Democrats objected Sunday night to Donald Trump’s threat to jail Hillary Clinton if he becomes President, painting it as dangerously authoritarian.
“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,” Trump said to Clinton during Sunday’s presidential debate, referring to her use of a private email server as Secretary of State. “We’re going to have a special prosecutor.”
“It’s just awfully good that someone with the temperament of Donald Trump is not in charge of the law in our country,” Clinton said in response.
“Because you’d be in jail,” Trump quipped.
Clinton has faced scrutiny for her use of a private email server. After a yearlong investigation, FBI Director James Comey said Clinton and her staff were “extremely careless” in their handling of classified information, but he said there was “no intentional misconduct” and recommended that no criminal charges be brought. Trump has repeatedly attacked Clinton over the findings of the FBI probe.
While some Trump supporters dismissed the Republican nominee’s remarks as a joke, members of both parties said such behavior would blatantly contradict the ideals of a democratic government. The jailing of political opponents has long been decried as antidemocratic throughout the world.
“Winning candidates don’t threaten to put opponents in jail. Presidents don’t threaten prosecution of individuals. Trump is wrong on this,” said Ari Fleischer, former White House Press Secretary for President George W. Bush.
“Be afraid of any candidate who says he will order DOJ/FBI to act on his command,” said Eric Holder, who served as Attorney General under President Obama. “This is dangerous/so is @realDonaldTrump-he’s not qualified.”
“In the USA we do not threaten to jail political opponents. @realDonaldTrump said he would. He is promising to abuse the power of the office,” Holder added.
In a post-debate interview on CNN, Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway said Trump simply wants to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Clinton.
Here’s what others had to say: