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Donald Trump Threat to Investigate Clinton Over Emails Illegal, Ex-AG Says

Donald Trump's threat to investigate Hillary Clinton's handling of emails would be illegal, according to a former Attorney General. (Photo: Getty)

Donald Trump’s threat to investigate Hillary Clinton’s handling of emails would be illegal, according to a former Attorney General. (Photo: Getty)

Donald Trump’s threat to order the U.S. attorney general to investigate Hillary Clinton over deleted emails if elected president would be illegal and shows a profound lack of knowledge about how the government–and Constitution–work, says a former Attorney General.

Eric Holder, the first African-American to hold that post (2009 to 2015) raised the red flags in a series of Tweets after the debate.

Trump drew applause from the audience when he replied to Clinton’s response with “You’d be in jail.”

But Holder and others were aghast.

“Be afraid of any candidate who says he will order DOJ/FBI to act on his command This is dangerous/so is @realDonaldTrump-he’s not qualified,” he said in a rare tweet.

“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,” he added in a second Tweet.

What Trump apparently failed to understand is the Office of the Attorney General is independent and does not take orders from the president or Congress.

While the president may nominate the Attorney General, the nominee is confirmed by Congress and swears an oath to defend the U.S. Constitution. The office has a long tradition of independence going back to the founding of the nation.

In essence Trump said he would subvert that independence if he were elected president.

“If I win I am going to instruct my attorney general to get a special prosecutor to look into your situation, because there hsa never been so many lies, so much deception, there has never been anything like it,” he said.

Only two sitting presidents have attempt to subvert the independence of the attorney general’s office, Richard Nixon during the height of the Watergate scandal and George W. Bush. Both failed.

Nixon prompted a constitutional crisis when he ask then-Attorney General Elliott Richardson to fire special prosecutor Archibald Cox, who was investigating White House involvement in the Watergate break-in.

Eric Holder, who served as attorney general under President Obama, said Donald Trump would be acting illegally if he tried to order his attorney general to investigate Hillary Clinton. (Photo: Getty)

Eric Holder, who served as attorney general under President Obama, said Donald Trump would be acting illegally if he tried to order his attorney general to investigate Hillary Clinton. (Photo: Getty)

Richardson, along with the Deputy Attorney General, resigned rather than carry out the order.

In the case of Bush, the administration tried to pressure than Attorney General John Ashcroft into authorizing the government to conduct warrantless searches and spying on citizens in violation of the Constitution.

At the time, Ashcroft was near death, hospitalized with pancreatitis, yet he refused to sign the order on his deathbed, according to accounts at the time.

The Bush administration ultimately backed down after acting Attorney General James Comey, and current FBI director, also refused to comply and senior members of the U.S. Justice Department threatened to resign.

Trump has already let it be known that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie would be nominated for Attorney General if he is elected. Whether Christie would display the same level of independence is open to question.

“So @realDonaldTrump will ORDER his AG to take certain actions-When Nixon tried that his AG courageously resigned. Trump is dangerous/unfit,” Holder Tweeted.

In a dramatic news conference in July, Comey laid out in painstaking detail the department’s recommendation not to seek charges against Clinton. The decision followed a months-long investigation.

Comey said “no reasonable prosecutor” would bring a case against Clinton based on the FBI’s investigation.

After the debate, Trump’s surrogates tried to minimize the gaff by claiming that Trump was only joking. But a video of his comments suggests otherwise.

Check out the video below.

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