A brief history of Trump’s calls for Clinton to be investigated


President Trump raised eyebrows and concerns this week when he publicly pressured the Department of Justice to investigate his former 2016 presidential rival Hillary Clinton in what critics think looks like an effort to deflect attention from special counsel Robert Mueller’s deepening probe into alleged ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Trump began calling for Clinton to be investigated and jailed for her use of a private email server as secretary of State in the early days of the 2016 presidential campaign. But critics warn that he is abusing his power as president if he continues to do so.


Trump’s already critical rhetoric toward his own attorney general and Justice Department has increased since he took office. He has referred to the Justice Department as a “laughing stock” and a “joke.” Much of his criticism seems to stem from his belief the department is not focusing its investigations.

Chants of “Lock her up” were welcomed by Trump and his surrogates during the campaign, and became a regular occurrence at his raucous rallies. 

Here’s a look back at some of the moments Trump supported calls for an investigation of Clinton.

Dec. 22, 2015

Then-Republican primary candidate Trump tweeted a picture of what appears to be one of his own supporters wearing a “Hillary for Prison” shirt.  


June 2, 2016

As Trump was closing in on the GOP nomination, he intensified his attacks on Clinton, who also appeared poised to take the Democratic nomination. 

Trump called for Clinton to be jailed during a campaign rally in San Jose, Calif., calling her “guilty as hell.”

“Hillary Clinton has to go to jail. She has to go to jail. I said that,” he said. 


Aug. 22, 2016

Trump called on the Justice Department to appoint a special counsel to investigate whether Clinton foundation donors received special treatment while Clinton was secretary of State. 

“The Justice Department is required to appoint a special prosecutor because it has proved to be, sadly, a political arm of the White House,” he said at a rally in Akron, Ohio. “Nobody has ever seen anything like it before.”

Trump’s comments came after the Clinton Foundation announced that it would no longer be accepting foreign donations if Clinton was elected president. 


Oct. 9, 2016

Trump publicly warned Clinton at a debate in St. Louis, Mo., that he would look into her private email server if elected president. 

“If I win, I am going to instruct my attorney general to get a special prosecutor to look into your situation. There has never been so many lies, deception — there has never been anything like it,” Trump told Clinton. 

“When I go out and speak, the people of this country are furious. In my opinion, the people who have been long-term workers at the FBI are furious,” he continued. 

Clinton pushed back at Trump’s characterization of the situation, saying, “It’s good that somebody with the temperament of Donald Trump is not running this country.”


Oct. 28, 2016

Trump reacted to then-FBI Director James Comey’s letter to Congress that said new emails pertaining to the probe into Clinton’s emails had been discovered. 

“I have great respect for the fact that the FBI and the Department of Justice are now willing to have the courage to right the horrible mistake that they made,” Trump said, referring to Comey’s previous announcement that charges would not be filed against Clinton. 

“Hillary Clinton’s corruption is on a scale we have never seen before. We must not let her take her criminal scheme into the Oval Office,” Trump said. 


Nov. 22, 2016

President-elect Trump appeared to walk back his previously aggressive rhetoric toward Clinton, saying that he did not feel as strongly about prosecuting her for the use of a private email server. 

“I don’t want to hurt the Clintons, I really don’t. She went through a lot and suffered greatly in many different ways,” Trump told The New York Times. 

“My inclination would be for whatever power I have on the matter is to say let’s go forward. This has been looked at for so long, ad nauseam,” he continued.  

Trump quickly faced backlash from his supporters, most notably the conservative media site, which ran a headline blasting Trump’s “broken promise” to his base. 


July 25, 2017 

Trump was in the midst of launching a slew of attacks on his own Attorney General Jeff Sessions, when he lashed out at him for his weak position on Clinton.  

The president went on to rip then-acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe for not investigating Clinton.  


Sept. 22, 2017 

Trump told supporters at a campaign rally in Alabama that they would have to “speak to Jeff Sessions” after the crowd chanted “lock her up” in response to a reference to Clinton. 

“You’ve got to speak to Jeff Sessions about that,” Trump said. 


Nov. 2, 2017

Trump said that he hoped the Justice Department was investigating Clinton and that he was “frustrated” that he couldn’t be involved in the process. 

“Hopefully they are doing something,” Trump said of the Justice Department probing Clinton during a radio interview with host Larry O’Connor on Washington’s WMAL. “At some point maybe we’re going to all have it out.”

“The saddest thing is, because I’m the president of the United States, I am not supposed to be involved in the Justice Department. I am not supposed to be involved in the FBI. I’m not supposed to be doing the kind of things that I would love to be doing and I’m very frustrated by it,” he continued. 


Nov. 3, 2017

Trump doubled down on his call for the Justice Department to investigate Clinton and Democrats after former acting Democratic National Committee chairwoman Donna Brazile said the party tipped the scales in Clinton’s favor during last year’s primary.

“I’m really not involved with the Justice Department. I’d like to let it run itself, but honestly, they should be looking at the Democrats,” Trump told reporters outside of the White House. 

“They should be looking at Podesta and all of that dishonesty, they should be looking at a lot of things, and a lot of people are disappointed in the Justice Department, including me,” he said, referencing the former chair of Clinton’s campaign.

Tags Donald Trump Donald Trump; Hillary Clinton; Jeff Sessions Hillary Clinton Jeff Sessions

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