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Attorney Bill Cowden Comments on Possible Clinton Prosecution

Written by: Federal Practice Group
Written by: Federal Practice Group

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Now that he is President-Elect, could Donald Trump really prosecute former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for her handling of classified emails? Government Executive turned to Attorney Bill Cowden for his insight on the matter and whether or not it would be possible.

Attorney Cowden believes that our current laws would make the task difficult. "He can’t just send officers unless a police officer sees a crime being committed in his presence," he says. "In our federal system, a charging document must be filed, either an indictment, information or a complaint. [Clinton] would have to be indicted under the Constitution, under a grand jury for felony."

On the campaign trail, Donald Trump used the FBI inquiry into Clinton's use of a private email server as a major talking point to not only accuse Clinton of corruption but to further establish himself as a Washington outsider. "If I win, I am going to instruct my attorney general to get a special prosecutor to look into your [missing email] situation," he told Clinton during one debate. "...There has never been so many lies, so much deception."


While it's easy to assess what would be legally possible, Attorney Cowden admits that it's hard to know what any politician—even Donald Trump—may do now that he's actually been elected. "A lot of statements made in political situations are different from statements made after an election," he told Government Executive.

There could be other hurdles too, such as the Supreme Court's recent decision on the Robert McDonnell case, which ruled that federal prosecutors didn't provide enough evidence to convict McDonnell for "pay-to-play" accusations (another Trump accusation against Clinton). As Cowden points out: "The Justice Department and the FBI may say they have other matters to pursue and that this [further investigating Clinton] would be a waste of time and resources."

You can read all of "Could President Trump Actually Have Hillary Clinton Arrested?" and more of Attorney Cowden's insight here.

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