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White House spokesman mum on Clinton pardon

Greg Nash

The White House on Wednesday refused to rule out the possibility that President Obama would pardon Hillary Clinton to prevent President-elect Donald Trump from prosecuting her when he takes office.

{mosads}But Obama spokesman Josh Earnest stressed that the president is hopeful Trump will continue the longstanding tradition of not using the criminal-justice system to exact revenge on political opponents.

“The president has offered clemency to a substantial number of Americans who were previously serving time in federal prisons,” Earnest said during his daily press briefing. “We didn’t talk in advance about those decisions.”

The spokesman said, however, that Obama was encouraged by Trump’s “tone” during his victory speech early Wednesday morning, when he praised Clinton for a hard-fought campaign and pledged to bring the country together.

“Hillary has worked very hard over a long period of time and we owe her a major debt for her service to our country,” Trump said.

Earnest expressed hope those words are an indicator that Trump would honor “a long tradition in this country of people in power not using the criminal justice system to exact political revenge.”

“In fact, we go to great lengths to insulate our criminal justice system from partisan politics.”

Trump’s tone was significantly different last month, when he threatened to jail his Democratic opponent if he won the election over 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,” the Republican nominee said, “because there has never been so many lies, so much deception.”

Some legal experts have floated the possibility Obama could pardon Clinton before he leaves office for any crimes she may have committed. That could close off any opportunity for Trump to prosecute her.

But Trump’s own advisers appeared to downplay the possibility of Clinton prosecution. 

Campaign manager Kellyanne Conway on Wednesday morning refused to rule out the possibility, but added that Trump “did not discuss [a special prosecutor] last night since his victory.”

“He certainly didn’t address it with Mrs. Clinton on the phone,” she said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

 

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