Rudy Giuliani, former New York Mayor and the leading contender to be President-elect Donald Trump’s attorney general, said that President Obama shouldn’t pardon Hillary Clinton.
He said that a preemptive pardon of Hillary Clinton for mishandling classified information would “seal Obama’s legacy as one of the worst presidents ever.”
President Obama “should leave it to the system we all believe in,” Giuliani told Fox News.
The White House on Wednesday wouldn’t rule out issuing a pardon to protect Clinton from prosecution by the incoming administration over her use of a private e-mail server as Obama’s secretary of state, an issue that dogged the Democrat’s presidential campaign.
Trump during the campaign proposed appointing a special prosecutor to investigate Clinton. During one debate with Clinton, Trump said that if he were in charge of U.S. law enforcement, Clinton “would be in jail.” Chants of “lock her up!” were a staple at his rallies.
Giuliani suggested the question of pardoning Clinton isn’t just tied to her e-mail, but also to her family’s charitable foundation, which he said is under investigation.
Giuliani said the U.S. has two traditions that are in conflict with each other. One, he said, is that “we try to get over the anger and everything else about an election after it’s over with and put it behind us.”
“I don’t like to see America become a country in which we prosecute people, you know, about politics,” he said. “On the other hand, there are deep and disturbing issues there in which if you don’t investigate them — ”
“They’re going to continue,” one of the Fox News hosts said.
“And also, it’s hard to investigate other people,” Giuliani said. “What do you say to a foundation that — where you have a fraud of $50,000 when you haven’t looked at a foundation where there is an alleged fraud in the millions or hundreds of millions of dollars? Now, it may be true it’s not true, but it hasn’t been investigated.”
“That’s a very tough balance and that’s why I don’t think President Obama should pardon her,” Giuliani said. “I think President Obama should leave it to the system we all believe in to determine, is she innocent or is she guilty?”
Turning back to the issue of classified information that was at the center of the FBI probe into Clinton’s server, Giuliani said that if she were pardoned, David Petraeus and James Cartwright also would have to be.
The FBI’s New York field office opened an inquiry into the Clinton Foundation, a step short of a formal investigation. FBI agents sought approval in February to advance the inquiry further, with tools such as subpoenas and wiretaps, but the Justice Department declined to grant the request because officials found the evidence too weak, according to a law enforcement official.
Foundation spokesmen Craig Minassian and Brian Cookstra did not immediately respond to request for comment.
FBI Director James Comey said in July that while Clinton’s handling of classified information was extremely careless, it didn’t warrant criminal prosecution. That decision was a central piece of Trump’s argument that U.S. politics and government were “rigged.”
Clinton during the campaign said her use of private e-mail was a “mistake” but cited Comey’s conclusion clearing her.
Comey sent a shockwave through the presidential race on Oct. 28 by announcing a review of newly discovered e-mails that appeared pertinent to the Clinton investigation, sparking an outcry from Democrats. Two days before the election, Comey, who has seven years left in his term, affirmed his recommendation not to prosecute Clinton.
As Trump goes to Washington to meet with Obama on Thursday, Giuliani said that while he’d “love to be the person that comes up with the solution to cybersecurity,” he’d be open to a role in the new administration.
Giuliani, 72, was mayor of New York City and ran for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008. He was the U.S. attorney for the southern district of New York and an associate U.S. attorney general in the 1980s.