Donald Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway dismissed as “a quip” the Republican nominee’s threat at Sunday night’s debate to "jail" Hillary Clinton for her handling of government secrets if he becomes president.
The debate-stage exchange came during discussion of Clinton’s use of a personal email server while she was secretary of state, a move that FBI Director James Comey said represented an “extremely careless” handling of classified information. Trump repeated his pledge that if elected, he would instruct his attorney general to appoint a special prosecutor to examine Clinton’s email practices, to which Clinton replied that “it's just awfully good that someone with the temperament of Donald Trump is not in charge of the law in our country.”
“Because you would be in jail,” Trump shot back.
“That was a quip. And I saw in NBC’s own reporting it was referred to as a quip, so I'll go with NBC on it. He had already finished his statement. She said something like ‘that's why you'll never be president,’ and he said ‘you’d be in jail.’ And so that was his answer,” Conway said Monday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”
But Trump’s own social media director and senior adviser, Dan Scavino Jr., tweeted out the "quip" at around 2 a.m. Monday, complete with a black-and-white photo of a resolute-looking Trump standing at a lectern.
Conway said Trump was not joking about the special prosecutor but was instead “channeling the frustration he hears from thousands of voters out on the stump every day. And they're very frustrated that she has a different set of rules for her.”
Trump’s remark about jailing Clinton called to mind the political processes in other nations where the prosecution of political opponents, often by dictators or other government strongmen, is the norm.
Immediately after the debate, Clinton’s campaign manager Robby Mook seized on Trump's comment, saying the Republican nominee was a dictator-in-training. “He was talking like he would become some dictator of a banana republic,” Mook said.
But Conway said the Manhattan billionaire’s line was little more than a response to a “snide comment.”
“She made a snide comment to him, because she said ‘this is why you can't be president’ and he said she’d be in jail. Whether she goes to jail is not up to Donald Trump. It's up to whoever adjudicates whatever crime she has or has not committed.”